Lilian rushed to meet up with Ijeoma as soon as they came down from the plane. The woman wanted to ignore her, she could tell, but she wouldn’t let her. She caught up with them breathlessly. Her luggage bag was already dusty from being pulled recklessly over the ground but she didn’t care for it.
“Ma.” She caught up with them and touched Ijeoma lightly on shoulder.
Ijeoma and her husband stopped to give her a questioning look.
Lilian smiled apologetically at Apham but gave Ijeoma a pointed look. Ijeoma turned to her husband and told him to keep on moving, she would catch up with him.
“What is it?” Her voice was a little harsh but Lilian did not flinch from her stare.
“You can’t just tell me something like that and expect me to keep quiet,” Lilian stated as she stepped in pace with Ijeoma. “I thought about what you told me, and honestly, I think it’s as simple as just walking up to your parents and admitting that you did something wrong. They are your parents, they wouldn’t want to see you suffer too much.”
“And you know this because…?” Ijeoma eyed her.
“Well, I wasn’t always the perfect daughter. Even though I can barely compare to what you did, but all parents are the same. They share the same love for their children, and they wouldn’t want to see their children suffer.”
“If it was that easy,” Ijeoma sighed.
“You won’t know if you don’t try,” Lilian pointed out.
“I know, right? How hard could it get? Maybe they won’t let me into the house.”
“Have a little faith in your family. While I can understand why they would be angry with you for getting married to someone that hurt the family, at some point, they would have to let go of that anger, otherwise, it would keep on hurting the family.” To Lilian, it was that simple. She still couldn’t understand how Ijeoma was able to stay out of touch with her family for four years.
Ijeoma scoffed. “Faith? My sister blocked my number two months after I got married. My father refused to pick my calls, and my mother… well, she came to see me in the hospital. It means something,” she said with an unbelieving look.
“Then go through her. Your sister would listen to her. Take baby steps, get them to be willing to sit with you for more than an hour before broaching the topic. It would take time before they forgive your husband, a very long time, but at least let them get rid of the hatred they have towards your union with him. I think that is what the pastor meant. The longer they keep focusing their hate for him on the marriage, it would ruin you the more. Let them understand why you had to marry him, go against their views. Let them know how happy you are with him, and that the only obstacle in your marriage is that you didn’t get their blessing. Make them think for your sake.”
“Wow!” Ijeoma’s eyes were bright with interest and amusement. “You sound much wiser than your age.”
Lilian smiled briefly. “My family had a similar problem. My parents are divorced, and my father died in prison when one of his girlfriends accused him of rape. My mother still loved him, she organized his funeral and buried him with as much dignity as she could given the cause of his death. So I understand the power of love, especially when it comes to family relations.”
“And your relationship problems? You haven’t given yourself any motivational speech to improve your mood?” Ijeoma folded her arms and raised her eyebrows.
“I don’t have a relationship anymore,” Lilian snorted. “He broke up with me over the phone the day before yesterday.”
“Oh my!” Ijeoma put a hand round her shoulders. “How do you feel? I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it was this bad.”
“It is that bad,” Lilian said drily. “We’ve been together for four years. I was expecting him to propose to me. What do I get?” She brought her hand up and wiggled her fingers. “No ring, no boyfriend.” She laughed. “Funny right?”
“He must be blind not to recognize a gem like you. Stupid as well, to waste your time and stop you from finding someone who does.” Ijeoma rubbed her shoulders.
“Oh, he is. Stupid, blind, idiotic… all of that. I just wished I wasn’t a fool to keep on waiting for him,” she said tiredly. “And what’s worst? He keeps on looking to get proposed to by the rich women that frequent the hotel where he works. Talk about being blind and foolish at the same time.”
“Then he truly doesn’t deserve you. You deserve better than that.”
“I know I do,” Lilian said softly. “But tell that to my stupid heart. It keeps hurting and conjuring images of his ugly face and I don’t know how to tell it to stop.”
They had been walking slowly, but now they had gotten to the exit of the airport where Apham stood beside the car.
“It wouldn’t be easy,” Ijeoma said recalling when she’d had to get over Gabriel whom she didn’t even love after meeting Apham. “If it was easy, the next experience wouldn’t be as precious. You should take time off work.” Lilian opened her mouth to complain. “No, don’t worry. I will tell your people in the hospital that I still need you. Two days should be enough.” Lilian nodded. “I’m sure you would need to pack out of his home-”
“It’s my apartment.” Lilian was quick to put in.
“Oh, even better. Then you need to clear anything that reminds you of him. Clean your house even if it is a cup. If you can, repaint it, and start creating new memories for yourself. It won’t be easy, it is never easy leaving a relationship even a toxic one, but with the passage of time, you will be glad you did.”
“Thank you very much,” Lilian muttered. “I didn’t want to return to Lagos because of it. In Abuja, I could forget that something like that happened, but I can’t keep running away from it.”
“No you can’t, especially delicate matters like this.” Ijeoma pulled out her phone from her bag and handed it to her. “We were always together these past few days, so I didn’t have any need for your number. Anytime you have a problem, just give me a call.”
Lilian typed in quickly then gave her back the phone. “Thank you so much ma.”
Ijeoma hugged her. “It’s nothing. You helped me in so many ways too.” She looked in the direction of her husband, pointing at a car that sat behind it. “A cab would take you home.”
“Thank you ma.” Lilian said again and watched as Ijeoma rushed to get into the car. She waved until the car drove away. With a smile at the taxi driver, she got into the car, mentally preparing herself for whatever drama that was waiting for her at home.