HE SAID NO
Written by Sodamade Olamide Tolulope
The shopping mall was hustling and bustling with people from all walks of the city, trooping in and out of the hall, some buying and some selling goods and rendering various services. Amifel was coming out of the ice-cream inn and she was still relishing the taste of her fruit-filled strawberry ice cream when she heard her name from a distance. She looked back on impulse because the voice seemed to be coming from that direction, when she didn’t see any familiar face, she briefly turned sideways to be sure. Just as she moved towards the stairs that led to the ground floor, she felt someone tug at her Ankara print peplum top,
“Hey, Grace!” she said in a voice slightly above a whisper as she tried to release herself from her light grip,
“Amifel, are you now snubbing me? I have been calling your name since you stepped out of that ice-cream shop,” Mrs. Grace said. She held two large shopping bags, that contained some clothes and groceries. They seemed to be heavy too because she put them down while she was talking to Amifel.
“I am sorry Grace, I heard someone call my name but I didn’t see anyone,”
“So, I am now invisible, even as I was waving and waving,” Grace said, demonstrating with her hands, Amifel was clearly tired, she knew that no excuse will suffice so she resorted to fate,
“I am sorry,” Amifel said with a sigh,
“Anyways it’s fine, I forgive you, “Mrs. Grace chuckled, “So, how are you?”
“I am fine, how are you too?” Amifel asked, trying to force a smile,
“I am fine too, and my husband and my adorable baby are fine as well, even if you won’t bother to ask,”
Amifel’s face evolved into a frown, “I am glad to hear that, Grace.” She was already getting irritated, “I am sorry I have to go now, I have an appointment,” she said, even though the only appointment she had was the one with her bed, it was way past 5pm and she was clearly done for the day.
“We know you, always organizing appointments, anyways how is brother and when are we coming to eat rice?” she asked,
“Brother? “Amifel chuckled, “What kind of question is that like you don’t know that I am the only child,”
“Stop pretending like you don’t know what I mean,” Mrs. Grace winked, “How is he, your fiancé,” she stressed,
“Oh, oh… I don’t have one yet but I am hopeful that…”
“Hopeful that what! Hopeful that what, Amifel!” Mrs. Grace said, her voice became alarmingly loud, and people who began to look at them, “You are getting older everyday oh and time waits for nobody, look at me now, I am happily married to a doting husband and I am living my life to the fullest,” she bragged,
“That’s good to hear, I am happy for you,” Amifel said, feeling awkward,
“Thank you for being happy for me but are you happy with yourself?”
“No, tell me, don’t you feel bad or unfortunate?”
“Grace, I won’t have you stand here and insult me, have a good day!” Amifel said as she walked away from her, out of anger, her ice-cream pack fell off and she didn’t wait to pick it,
“Are you angry? I am only trying to help!” Mrs. Grace yelled, “Your ice cream has poured oh!”
Amifel ignored her as she made for the stairs.
As Mrs. Grace Akinwale remembered all that transpired between them that day, she felt so foolish, “why on earth did I pull such a stunt?” she asked herself as she clutched her brown bag tightly to her chest while waiting for a cab. She forgot to order for a taxi before she got out to escape Amifel’s killing stare and decided to get a random cab instead.
“I can’t believe that Grace knows Amifel, she most probably knows about everything, ah! This is a big disgrace!” she thought to herself as she tucked a finger in her mouth. She could remember vividly how Akinwale beat her black and blue that night after the mall incident, because she forgot to buy his burgundy shoe polish.
Apart from their mothers being close friends, they attended the same secondary school and were two classes apart, Grace had always seen Amifel has competition and had been looking for a way to diss her, in spite of their friendship, she never saw nor regarded her as older and Amifel did not seem to care. She was also very happy when Amifel was not able to secure a tertiary admission the same year she graduated, she silently hoped that she wouldn’t gain admission the next year too so that they could be on the same plane.
Fortunately, Amifel gained admission the second year after she graduated and there had been no opportunity for her to be ahead since then. The golden opportunity came knocking when she got married to Akinwale and even gave birth to her first son, Tobi before Amifel who was still on the lookout for a suitor.
She wanted her to feel the pain of being in the background just as she had been. Her excuse was petite but that was just her sincere truth. Even when her marriage started turning sore, she tried to put up a charade so that no one would see her dirty linens.
“You can lie to everyone but not to yourself” she muttered as she silently alighted from the cab and strolled down to her mom’s shop, her navy-blue car wasn’t outside,
“I just hope she’s around,”
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