THE EXCHANGE : 11 – 20

THE EXCHANGE

Episode 11

I told my mum everything, now, I don’t know what to do. I thought she was going to be angry with me since she had warned me severally but to my surprise, she calmly told me to pull myself together. When I had calmed down she called me by the name she uses when I did something that made her extremely happy or when she wanted to tell me something extremely important and said, “Aramide, you need to know what you want in life and in a husband. Don’t make your decisions based on money because money does not guarantee happiness. You are the one that will live with the consequences of your choices, so you have to choose wisely don’t allow unnecessary sentiments cloud your judgment. Tunji has been with us through thick and thin, we know him very well, we attend Church Services together but this new guy also seems to like you anf he’s been around you for the past 5months, trying to show he’s sincere but my daughter, look deeper, look beyond the surface, and beware of ‘Greek gifts’. I hope what I’ve said will help you because you have the final say. I will keep you in my prayers so that God will help you make the right decision. I also want to be ‘àna olówó’ (A wealthy man’s in-law) but not at the expense of your peace and happiness” my mum added as she hugged me and said she had to go out.

My heart was in a turmoil so I stayed home from the Salon because I wasn’t feeling too well. I told my assistant to be in charge since I now have another permanent stylist and a sales girl. I was home for 3 days, trying to figure out what to do and seeking God’s face in prayer. Somehow, Tunji also stayed away as if he knew I needed some quiet time, but the people working at my Salon came after they had closed to see how I was feeling but the next two days, only my assistant came around to give me daily report. My brother Dipo noticed something was wrong and he tried to find out what the problem was. I couldn’t tell him everything but the little I said got him upset and he encouraged me to keep my head in the right place. “Is that why you sent Tunji away?” he asked me harshly, surprised I said no! I hadn’t even noticed he hadn’t come around, I had been too preoccupied with my emotional trauma.
On the 3rd day, Tunji came over, I knew my brother must have been the one who made that happen so I tried my best to look like am very ok because I didn’t want him to become suspicious and be ask questions. However, he seemed preocupied and he was acting strange. He wore a frown face and snapped at everything. I quickly put my matter aside to ask what was wrong with him. He said it was nothing and he didn’t stay for too long. After he left, I started to wonder what could be wrong with him. The following day, I had decided to let things play themselves out so I went back to work. The thought of the Salon I saw in Lagos, the mental picture made my shop undesirable. It was like comparing sleep with death; my heart wanted to own the Lagos Salon; especially since Baba T said he would give it to me without any strings attached.
“But would that be possible? Would he really hand that kind of investment over to me without a motive? What will be his benefit?” I kept questioning myself. I was becoming uninterested in my immediate surrounding that one of my customers actually said I looked “detached”. She asked if everything was fine, I laughed it off and told her I was just going through a rough patch.

Tunji came over later that day and his attitude had not changed. He said a quick hello, stayed for a while and said he had to go. He didn’t wait to take me home neither did he ask me about the business proposal I told him about.
“Could it be that he was being suspicious? Or was he just trying to make this decision easier for me?” I was beginning to get angry with him.

On Friday, two weeks after my trip to Lagos, I was planning to go again for Christmas shopping for the Salon because some of the fast moving products were almost exhausted. I had made a list and trying to build up the money I needed. I also wanted to add some GL and ML jewellery for those who can’t afford real gold. Tunji had become irritable and evasive, refusing to share his problem with me and he made me feel I was responsible for whatever was bothering him so I hadn’t been able to discuss my plans with him. He made me feel so guilty, I almost confessed to him my hidden secret.

That day, I was busy with a client’s hair, when Laide walked in. It was a surprised to see her, she said she worried because she didn’t know what has been happening since I left Lagos, so she decided to come and check on me. She looked around her, said that I had done very well with the Salon; no wonder Baba T wanted me to come to Lagos where I can really flourish. Baba T had been also been bothering her to come find me becauss I did not give him a favourable response when he brought me home the last time. I asked where she parked, she said Baba T drove her down and he was waiting in the car. He didn’t want to come in because of my ‘boyfriend’. I didn’t want him to come in either so I picked my bag and quickly followed Laide to the car. Baba T said he was sorry if he scared me with all the things he said back in Lagos, maybe he said too much too soon but he made me to know that he meant everything but would give me time to work it out if I needed to. He begged me to come back to Lagos on Monday to check out the Salon as it would be completed over the weekend. I could see Laide in the rear view mirror smiling mischievously and nodding. After the brief discussion, Baba T drove to our house to see my mum, but she wasn’t home. He had brought her a lot of ‘provisions’ (Milk, Milo, Corn Flakes, Corned Beef, Titus sardines and the likes) so he dropped them off with an envelope that I could tell had money in it. He left for Lagos after making me promise I would come on Monday.
As at that time, I wasn’t sure if I would go to Lagos but I didn’t see Tunji for two days. I went to his house, he wasn’t there, so I continued with my plans for my business. From the Salon, I had got thirty eight thousand Naira but it wasn’t enough to buy the things I needed but Baba T had made Laide force an envelope containing twenty thousand into my hand. The one he gave 2 weeks ago all totaling to sixty eight thousand Naira.

Finally, I saw Tunji in Church on Sunday but we didn’t talk much but he dropped us at home, promised to come later in the evening. That evening when he showed up looking quite remoseful, I asked where he had been, he got angry and said I didn’t care about him or his future. I was shocked at his reaction. “You are the one acting up since I got back from Lagos. After you dropped me off at home you didn’t check on me anymore, did not ask what became of the business proposal I got in Lagos, you have become unreachable and you dare say I don’t care about you” I yelled at him in frustration.
Tunji got up and started to walk away “When you know what you did, you know where to find me” he said and walked out.
I was so angry that I almost ran after him to make a scene but my parents taught me better than that. I could think of a thousand and one things to say to him as he walked out on me. “Ęni tí à ń’to rí ę gbàwę…tó ń’jǫ sán” (the irony of someone you are fasting for but was caught eating like a glutton).
In annoyance, I left for Lagos as early as possible the following morning and went straight to Laide’s house. My mum was wondering why I couldn’t wait till it was daybreak but I didn’t want to tell her what happened between Tunji and I. She would have wanted to intervened but I didn’t want that. I knew his behaviour couldn’t be because of Baba T, there’s no way Tunji could have known. Even if he had any concerns or I did something, I would have expected him to be matured enough to tell me what it was. I had asked if anything was bothering him.

Laide called Baba T from their home telephone and he said he would come get me on his way to work. He got there in about 30 minutes and said he was dedicating the whole day to me. I told him I wanted to do my shopping first, he said he was at my service.

He first drove me to the Salon, my god! It was breathtaking. It had the exact name of my Salon back at home but in lights and with grandeur. Laide had come with us, although she kept saying “three’s a crowd” she was so excited and happy for me; she kept hugging me as we toured the completed project.
The interior was something else, I thought it was beautiful from outside until we stepped inside.
I didn’t know whether to cry or scream; I didn’t know when I jumped at Baba T and hugged him real tight. “I guess that means you are moving to Lagos?”
He said. I wasn’t sure how to respond.

“She doesn’t have a choice o…when she is not stupid” Laide quickly cut in.

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