“Hey, girl, how’re you doing?”
I heard a familiar voice behind me and turned around to see Zipporah wheeling her trolley of groceries towards me.
“Hi, Zip.” I smiled as she got to where I stood. I admired her lovely dark brown weave with blond highlights. “Whoa, you look really nice. Who did your weave?”
“I did it at this new place in Ikoyi. The guy is fabulous.” She described the place to me and gave me their contact number.
“I certainly will be paying them a visit soon,” I said, saving the number and tucking my phone back into my bag.
“Please do. It will be money well spent,” she replied.
We talked for a few minutes about the merits and demerits of the salons we had visited. Zipporah was full of praises for this new one, and I believed her because she was always so fashionably turned out.
“How is Zara?”
“She’s good. She’s with her father this weekend.”
“Great. I’m sure she can’t wait for our trip to FaySu resorts. Charlotte can barely keep still,” she said, referring to her daughter. “She’s so excited and can hardly wait for us to go.”
I tried to mask my surprise. The issue of Alex not extending an invite to Zara had still been flitting through my mind since he’d told me. It had been easier to assume Leke and Zipporah were not taking their child with them, and that that had to be the reason why Alex did not want us to go with Zara. But Zipporah’s info had squashed that thought, and I felt deflated.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a great time,” I said for want of something to say then changed the topic and asked her how she was preparing for the women’s program I knew was coming up in her church. I had been seeing the jingles on TV.
We discussed the program for a few minutes, and she extended an invite to me. I didn’t make any promises, being busy enough with my own church programs, but I told her I would see if I could stop by on any of the days.
“Why not tell Alex how you feel?” Fayona said to me the next day when I brought the matter up after our session at the teens’ church. She picked up some books which the teenagers had left lying around and placed them in the cupboard. “You guys really need to discuss Zara’s matter. You can’t keep avoiding it.”
“I know.” A sigh escaped me. “I just don’t want to cause any upset.”
“Upset?” Fayona’s brows shot up. “Why should it cause an upset? He’s going to be a father to that child, and you need to know how he feels about it.”
I straightened some of the chairs and bent to pick up one which the teenagers had left upturned. We really needed to start telling these kids to stay back and help tidy up after church. “He’s okay with Zara’s existence. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have asked me to marry him.”
“We’re not just talking about her ‘existence’ here.” Fayona used her fingers to make punctuation signs in the air. “Zara is a lovely child that Alex would be taking on part of the responsibility of fathering when he marries you, and you guys need to begin to talk frankly about it.”
I rubbed my fingers across my forehead as I felt a headache coming on. Fayona was right, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I had a weakness about confronting issues. It was something I had picked up from my mum. She would rather go around a thorny issue and pretend it wasn’t there than to face it. That was why my father had gotten away with most of what he did. The thoughts were troubling, and my headache intensified. Was I becoming like my mum?
“You need to speak with Alex. You guys really need to thrash it out. Good thing he wouldn’t need to help out financially with Zara’s education since her father handles that well enough, but Zara’s still going to be living in Alex’s home.” Fayona moved towards the tray of sandwiches which had been left for the teachers and helped herself to one.
She eyed me slyly. “Fancy one?”
I gave her the stink eye. She knew I was going out with Alex later that day, and I had said I didn’t want to eat before then. Fayona took a bite of her sandwich, closed her eyes, and made exaggerated facial movements about how good the taste was. I chose to ignore her.
“I know it’s not every time you guys go out for a timeaway that Zara has to go with you,” Fayona continued. “But it’s important to be sure this leaving-Zara-behind-business anytime Alex plans an outing is not going to be a pattern.”
“Maybe I’ll discuss it with him after Zara’s grandma’s birthday,” I said, referring to her paternal grandmother. “It’s quite close now, and I want Alex and me to be really tight when we attend.”
I snickered inwardly thinking how good I’d feel when I introduced Alex to Banji.
Banji always attended his mother’s birthday party with a new woman on his arm while I stood around awkwardly without a date. It didn’t help, too, that the women were proper eye candies who made it very obvious they were dying to be Mrs. Banji Adenle-Coker.
I would have found his girlfriends’ antics funny if not that I was always embarrassed to attend the parties alone. I had tried taking one of my family friends whom Banji didn’t know on one occasion, and I had hoped they would all think we were an item just to save some face. But the silly rascal had seen a girl he fancied at the party and had started making moves on her and had almost forgotten his role as my escort.
I had been so embarrassed because I knew Banji had seen through the act. He had said nothing, but I had seen the amusement in his eyes as he had watched us. Since that time, I had opted to go alone with Zara.
So I was really happy I would be attending the party in a few weeks with Alex. Before then, I didn’t intend to rock any boat.