Yemisi is 42 years old. Two weeks ago, she was all stressed out when she got home after sitting in traffic for two long hours. She had taken half the day off to visit her sick half-sister in the hospital and came straight home from there.
She fished out her keys before she got to the gate out of habit and found it open, so she knew someone was home. She did not think much of it because she assumed it was Seye, her boyfriend cum fiancé who owns five large drugs stores with efficient workers and pretty much controlled his own time. She had given him a key to her apartment about a year ago. They had been together for two and a half years now. When Yemisi entered the living room, she saw a pair of bright, red high-heeled shoes on the floor and knew they belonged to her daughter Tolu. She had seen those shoes when Tolu bought them.
For the umpteenth time, Yemisi pondered on the fast rise of Tolu who was only 24 year old. She knew those shoes were very expensive. Yemisi threw herself on the sofa thinking: “How that girl pulls these stunts beats me; high end modelling jobs that paid her millions throughout her university days plus a posh car. The girl was always travelling yet she graduated with a 2:1 in Economics. On top of all that she somehow guaranteed her NYSC posting to Lagos and to a huge bank. It’s like she has magic wand or something.”
Yemisi was proud of her daughter but there was a strain in their relationship: A stain that had lingered for two years and three months. Their relationship had become strained after a peculiar incident. As Yemisi tried to relax on the sofa, the image of Tolu clad in a skimpy towel, batting her eyelids and smiling coyly came to her mind but she immediately dismissed it.
Then Yemisi’s mobile phone rang and as she pulled it out from her handbag her nail file fell out and slipped between the cushions of the sofa. After the phone call, she fished for it, but could not reach it, so she got up and pulled all the cushions off the sofa and found a shiny nylon-like slip next to the file.
When she examined it, she discovered that it was a condom wrapper.
As if by magic, the condom wrapper triggered off the memory she hated the most. This time she did not dismiss it but instead allowed her mind go over the incident of two years and three months ago. She remembered every detail of how she had startled the two of them as they whispered in the corner of the kitchen. She remembered how all the alarm bells had gone off in her head that Saturday afternoon. Then all the other tiny ‘harmless’ incidents, volatile fights, peaceful settlements and reassurances began to play through her mind one after the other. She also remembered how she had battled to shake off the nagging feeling for endless months to no avail.
As Yemisi put the cushions back into place, she told herself that Seye knew better than to put another woman in her face, especially because their wedding was only three months away. This was a wedding she had put off twice. It was the second wedding for both of them. Seye was divorced with no children at 44 while Yemisi’s first husband died in a car crash that cost her two fingers from her left hand. She would have given her entire arm to have him back. That life changing car crash was 11 years ago and she would always miss Greg even though she didn’t cry about it anymore. All through the years Tolu had been a consolation and now she had Seye too.
Nonetheless, she had to look at the condom wrapper in her hand again and as if on cue, the image of Seye whispering into that ear flashed through her mind again. Yemisi started shaking. Then she had yet another memory flash; she remembered that she had cleaned out the sofa herself the night before when the TV remote control had slipped between the cushions. With that recollection she knew that what was in her hand was a fresh condom wrapper and that made her bolt up the stairs.
She banged into her bedroom, and found it empty. Then she dashed to the bathroom and heard the shower running. When she knocked on the door she was praying that it was a strange man in there. She was praying the strangest prayer she had ever prayed in her life: “God please let it be Tolu who brought a man home.”
Yemisi couldn’t speak because she was not herself so she knocked for the third time but there was still no response. Then the shower stopped running and she knocked again. This time she got a response but she froze because even though it was a man’s voice that said “Yes?” it was not a strange man’s voice, it was Seye’s. When the bathroom door opened, Seye stepped out, dripping wet and completely naked.
When he saw Yemisi, the shock in his eyes almost killed her. Yemisi saw that he was surprised to see her at the door and asked herself: “So who else would he step out naked to meet?” At that point she simply lifted the condom wrapper for him to see because she could not bring herself to speak and it was the look of guilt in Seye’s eyes when he saw the condom wrapper that broke what was left of her heart.
Yemisi attempted to flee Seye’s presence but Seye seized her arm; she found her voice and said; “Who? … Where is she?” Seye said “I don’t know what you are talking about?” but his denial was not convincing, so Yemisi slapped him and he released her arm. Yemisi dashed into the guest room and found it was empty.
It was then she remembered the red shoes in the living room and dashed into Tolu’s room. She found her daughter curled on the bed, watching TV. When Tolu turned, her mother lifted up the ‘cheating certificate’ and Tolu asked: “What is that?” Yemisi reigned herself in and said: “What does it look like?” Tolu said: “Let me see it” and approached her mother but she froze before she got to her. Tolu had seen her mother in this state before and she could tell that her mother was livid. Tolu stayed where she was and peered at what her mother was holding up. “A condom wrapper,” she whispered.
There was no expression on Tolu’s face when she said: “I’m so sorry. I would not have believed Seye would cheat on you with another woman after everything you have done for him.” Seye’s denial did not convince her because deep down inside she knew the truth. She remembered the Saturday years ago when she had left a wedding ceremony early and come straight home.
She had found the door open, so she went straight to the kitchen to put her food pack from the wedding in fridge, and there she had seen them whispering to each other and giggling.
Her daughter had a skimpy pink towel on, and Seye was leaning over her as he whispered into her ears. She remembered how they were so startled when she had coughed to announce her presence. At that time Yemisi had been dating Seye for three months. He had begged her to believe him and had done everything to reassure her, but it was all a lie. That day a voice told her to end it with Seye there and then, but her loneliness had gotten the better of her.
Now, two years later, Yemisi knew that she had lost both ways because now she had also lost her only child. Just then Tolu entered the living room to join them. When Tolu tried to speak, Yemisi raised a hand to silence her and said: “I want you both out of my house right now.”
That day Yemisi threw both her fiancé and daughter out of her house and called off her upcoming wedding. As expected, Tolu ran to her aunty in the hospital and twisted the whole story. Tolu said she had brought a lover to the house two days before the condom wrapper was discovered and that she had never slept with Seye. Yemisi’s half-sister has kidney failure and is very dear to her.
The doctor insists that she is too delicate to be upset or stressed at this point so Yemisi really wants to please her half-sister, who is begging her to take her daughter back no matter what. But Yemisi knows that Tolu is still lying because the condom wrapper was not in the sofa the night before she found it and Seye had definitely stepped out naked from the bathroom to meet someone he was intimate with.
What should Yemisi do?