Burning Coles 3

“It’s so good to see you, Mrs Cole” He said as he walked closer and extended his hand for a handshake.

 “Thank you, Pastor,” she replied as she shook his hand.

“How are you?” He asked.

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“No, I don’t want the cliché response everyone gives their pastor. How are you doing, really?” He repeated himself. This time around, in a more serious tone.

For a split second, Mrs. Cole was tempted to open up to him about all that was going on in her home. After all, he was her pastor but she quickly brushed the thought aside. She didn’t want him to see her or her home as a mess.

“Well, things have been quite challenging but I’m doing okay,” she told him.

“Hmm, ‘okay’ doesn’t seem good enough for me. You want to talk about it?” He offered.

Mrs. Cole thought about it for some seconds and replied, “Nah, that won’t be necessary. Thanks for the offer sir . I’ll be just fine. Do have a great week ahead.” She politely found a way to end the conversation and left without waiting for his response.

As she walked towards the car, she pondered on the offer the pastor had just made. She’d have loved to share her burden with someone but she didn’t want to appear weak or vulnerable.

Mrs. Cole was a very beautiful woman in her early forties. She had always been the envy of many men. Despite being a mother of three, she had a lovely stature and always took good care of herself. It’s a pity her husband never admired her and all the compliments she got were from strange men.

Back in her university days, she was the cynosure of all eyes. Although she never made her looks a priority, she still always appeared beautiful in whatever she wore especially when she went for lectures. She wasn’t really an outgoing person and had only a few friends. It was never news to her when she was told by any of her friends that a particular guy liked her or showed interest. As a matter of fact, she always had the same response, “These guys should just leave me alone.”

“What do you mean they should leave you alone?” Racheal, her then best friend asked her on one occasion, while they remained seated in the lecture hall after an afternoon lecture.

“Racheal, but you of all people know how I need to focus on my studies and have good grades. I’m the first child and my parents pay through their nose to send me to school. I cannot afford to ruin all this by hanging out with these guys,” she explained.

As the conversation went on, one of their course mates walked up to where they sat and greeted her. It was obvious the greeting guy was there for her, he barely said a word to Racheal throughout the five minutes he spent blabbing. He went on speaking about himself, from his name, to where he was from, to his hobbies, his likes and dislikes and on and on he went until Funke stylishly cut him short and told him politely that she had somewhere to be. That was the excuse she used to escape his endless chattering.

She stood up and signalled to Racheal for them to leave.

“I can drop you off wherever you are going even if you want me to drop you in America, I will,” the guy said, in a desperate last attempt at being witty. He was obviously distracted by the beauty and presence of the lady he had always admired; he didn’t realize he wasn’t making any sense and unfortunately for him, he would not have been anything close to Funke’s type even if she had one.

Funke didn’t find his half joke, half trash-talk funny at all. “Thanks, but we are fine. We already have an arrangement,” she told him and walked towards the door of the lecture hall.

As soon as they got out, Racheal who had been silent all along said, “Na wa for that guy o; E no even get chill. No comma; no full stop. He was just pouring like tap wey no get control.

I dey tell you, guys though. They are all the same,” Funke didn’t seem interested one bit.

“Haba, why would you say that? Have you paused to take a look at the guys that like you? Have you ever thought of giving them a chance?” Racheal asked.

“Didn’t you see that guy?” she pointed out.

Abeg, leave Dotun alone jare, that one should go and park well. I’m talking of Arnold. That guy makes sense die,” Racheal tried to convince her. “You are lucky I am not you, Funke; these guys won’t have suffered this much. You need to see how Arnold always calls and texts me up just to ask about you. That guy really likes you, Funke.” Racheal told her.

“See Racheal, the guy is not even a Christian; I’m not interested. Dotun oh, Arnold oh, I don’t want,” Funke made it clear.

“But no one said you should marry any of them. Just give them a little attention that is all.” Racheal still tried convincing her.

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“Nope, it’s not happening.” Funke replied as she continued walking, without giving more than a casual glance towards her companion.

“I’ve heard you o. So where is the arrangement you said we had? See how we are trekking like someone that is in search of employment” Racheal said.

“Ehn, let’s keep walking. We will get a cab at the school gate. I’d rather take public transport than enter that guy’s car,” she said without mincing words.

 “That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you. See, listen to me!” Racheal tried resuming her speech with renewed enthusiasm. She tapped her shoulder as she further made her point, “We really don’t have to suffer like this. You don’t even have to date any of these guys just allow them to spoil you a little, then when you are satisfied, let them know you are not interested. Is that one hard?”

Funke paused and peered at Racheal strangely, “you are joking right?”

“I’m serious, Funke. It’s really not that much of a big deal. You won’t be the first lady to do it or do you think these guys are ready to get married and settle down?  Look, all I’m asking you to do is use your beauty. Even the Bible says that wisdom is profitable to direct,” Racheal tried convincing her.

Funke continued walking and stated through gritted teeth, “I’m no longer having this conversation, Racheal. If you want to date any of them, please feel free. My mind is made up.”

“It’s ok oh; I cannot force you,” Racheal replied and ended their discussion of the issue.

That was first semester 200 level. By second semester 400 level which was Funke’s final year, things were still very much the same except that she was now more receptive to guys but still maintained her standards. She was determined not to settle for just any Tom, Dick or Harry.

She was a Christian and knew she couldn’t date a guy who wasn’t. That was her number one criterion. Others such as good looks, warm personality and so on followed closely on her ‘list’. She was not really keen about him being wealthy; she wasn’t going to turn a guy down just because he didn’t have a car. She knew every guy had a potential to be rich on the long run and those that were rich could lose it in the twinkle of an eye.

She kept scrutinizing guys that came her way until she narrowed them down to one; Emeka. Emeka was three years ahead of her in school. He had graduated from engineering two years earlier but had never stopped liking her and showing her how much he cared for her. On many occasions, he’d buy her gifts and bring them to her on campus. He’d always call to check on her and she knew that he really liked her. The feelings were mutual but she still wanted to be careful in making her choice. 

  After she graduated from school, she finally decided to say ‘yes’ to Emeka. She was so excited about her decision and after about two months decided to tell her parents the good news. But alas, she got the shock of her life from their response.

“Funke after all we did for you, this is how you choose to repay us?” Her mother started.

“Mummy what are talking about?” Funke couldn’t fathom why her parents were displeased with the good news she had just delivered.

The atmosphere in the sitting room that afternoon was really tensed. Her father remained silent as he rhythmically tapped his right foot on the floor.

“Can someone please tell me what I have done wrong?” Funke asked. “I have lived my whole life to please you. I didn’t have a boyfriend in school; I graduated with a good second class upper in accounting, I didn’t get pregnant or anything like that. What else do you want from me?” She said not realizing she was beginning to raise her voice.

“Will you stop shouting at us, are we your mate?” Her mother snapped.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know my voice was raised,” she said, still upset.

“Funke,” her father finally broke his silence.

“Sir,” she replied.

“What is your full name?” He asked.

“Olufunke Owojiru ,” she answered, wondering at the relevance of that question.

“An Owojiru can never and I repeat never marry someone from another town let alone state. Not to talk of tribe,” he informed her.

“What?!” Funke couldn’t believe her ears. She felt a wave of heat flow right from her head to her feet and immediately, she began to sweat profusely. “Nobody ever mentioned it to me,” she told them as she stood to her feet.

“Now we are mentioning it,” her father told her and added “I don’t know what or how you want to tell this Emeka or whatever his name is now but let this be the last time you mention him to us. Is that clear?”

Funke paced back and forth in the old, sparsely-furnished sitting room. She didn’t respond.

“If you like don’t hear, go ahead with the relationship and you cease to be our daughter”, her father stood up and went inside.

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“What?!” Funke turned to him the moment he said it. “Ha daddy” she broke down in tears as she watched him leave. “Mummy” she turned to her mum who was still seated on the tattered couch. “Mummy please help me beg daddy” she pleaded.

“Your father has spoken, you know he doesn’t repeat himself. Don’t make him do as he has said. You have younger ones who are looking up to you. You, of all people must lead by example,” her mother stood up and went inside too.

 Funke remained in the sitting room and cried. Just then, her phone rang; she looked at the caller’s ID and saw it was Emeka. The mere sight of his name made her cry even more. She didn’t pick the call. He called two more times and left her a message which read thus:

“Baby, I’m already at the restaurant, what’s going on? You usually get here before me. Hope you are okay? How did the meeting with your parents go? I can’t wait to hear the full gist.”

She read the message but didn’t reply. Instead she turned off her phone. She didn’t want more messages and texts from him. They only broke her down more.

Emeka tried calling her again and realized her phone was off. “What could be happening?” He wondered. “Maybe her phone battery went flat.” He told himself. He was always positive and optimistic in his thinking. He waited another 45minutes and when she didn’t show up, he left. He called a few of her friends to ask if they had heard from her but got the same response. None of them had spoken to her and when it was getting embarrassing, he stopped calling them.

Days went by and Emeka had still not heard anything from Funke. He could not take it anymore. He got her parent’s home address from one of her friends and decided to find out if she was okay.

He parked his car outside the compound and knocked on the rusty gate which led into the compound that housed their small bungalow.

“Who is it?” A female voiced asked.

“My name is Emeka; please, I’m here to see Funke.” He replied.

There was silence.

Funke’s father came out accompanied by her mother. He opened the gate and asked, “What did you say your name was?” There was evident hostility in his voice.

“Emeka, sir” he replied and greeted “good day sir”. He stretched out his hand for a handshake.

Funke’s father looked at his hand and slowly looked at him from head to toe. “How can we help you?” he asked with an expressionless face.

“I’m looking for Funke; I was told this is where her parents live” he said, wondering the reason for the hostile response he got.

“Well, Funke doesn’t want to see you. She said you should leave and never come back.” The elderly man in his early sixties said.

Emeka was dumbfounded. That was the last thing he expected to hear from them. He stood there speechless.

When the silence was getting too long, Funke’s father made an attempt to shut the gate.

Then Emeka said, “I’ll appreciate it if she comes out to tell me that herself.”

‘Se eti eleyi di ni? (Is this one deaf?)” Funke’s father asked. “I said she cannot see you; you can leave now” he said.

A voice spoke from behind them spoke, “Daddy, please don’t talk to him like that, he at least deserves some respect.” Funke said as she walked towards the gate. Her eyes were red; her hair was so unkempt. She wore an oversized dress.

“Funke, is this true?” Emeka asked still unable to believe his ears.

Funke’s parents moved aside but stood close enough to hear whatever she was going to say.

Funke looked at Emeka and before she could say anything, hot tears rolled down her cheeks.

“No, no please, tell me this is not true, Funke.” Emeka’s eyes were moist with tears.

“I really wish it wasn’t true, Emeka. My hands are tied.” She cried.

“No they aren’t, Funke. You always have a choice and you know it.” He told her.

Funke couldn’t say anything but cry.

“So you have made your choice?” He asked.

Funke tried to hold his hand “please try and understand Emeka.” She begged.

Emeka removed his hand from hers and turned his face away as a drop of tear fell from his eyes. “Have a great life, Funke.” He turned around and left.

“Emeka please don’t go, please” she cried the more.

Her father hissed and went inside while her mother patted her on the back and said, “You did the right thing. Your very own, one from our home town, will come for you.”

Funke looked at her mother with disgust and brushed her hand off her back, “please leave me,” she said and went inside.

Gbo to ba fe gbo; (listen if you want to listen) that is your cup of tea,” her mother said and also went inside.

*********

“Mummy, I’m hungry.” Bolu’s voice cut into Mrs. Cole’s thoughts.

Mrs. Cole had been so lost in thought; her mind was miles away. “Aren’t we on the way home? You will eat when we get home.” She told Bolu.

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“I don’t want to go home,” Bolu said and folded her arms.

“What do you mean you don’t want to go home? Will you rather live under the bridge? Better be thankful you have a place to call home” Mrs. Cole told her.

Bolu remained silent.

“But mummy, it is true.” Seyi joined in. “None of us are eager to go home because we know what we are going to meet at home.” She spoke up and didn’t mince words in stating the truth just as it was.

“Why would you talk like that Seyi, did you keep a monster at home?” Mrs. Cole asked.

None of them responded. Their silence in itself screamed ‘yes’ to their mother’s question.

“This is your father we are talking about, you know?”

“Please let’s just branch somewhere and buy ice cream or something before we go back” Bayo said with pity written all over his face.

Mrs. Cole couldn’t argue with them anymore. She knew they were telling the truth. “Okay, we’ll buy ice cream but we won’t stay long so that your father won’t…”

Seyi cut in, “our point exactly.”

“Hmmm, it is well.” Mrs. Cole sighed, she had no other argument.

She took the next turn to the right and drove into a filling station.

“Yeeeeeeey, thank you mummy.” Bolu, enthused from the back of the car.

Mrs. Cole smiled “what if it is fuel I want to buy?”

“After buying the fuel, you will stop at the eatery and buy our snacks too.” Bolu was so smart and always had a way of getting to their mum’s heart.

“You seemed so sure, ‘B baby’” That was the pet name Mrs. Cole gave Bolu.

“Yes mummy, I’m sure.” Bolu said beaming with smiles as she watched her mum pack the car in front of the eatery.

Mrs. Cole chuckled, “okay, come down everyone; we won’t stay long o.”

Before she could finish her sentence, Bayo and Bolu had flung their doors opened and were out.

Full of excitement, Bayo said, “Mummy I heard they make really nice chicken pie here. Can I have chicken pie pleaasseeeee?” He clapped his hand together and made an innocent face that he knew his mum couldn’t resist.

“Okay, okay, I’ve heard. What do you want?” She turned to the ladies.

Bolu, jumping with so much excitement said, “mummy, me I want scotch egg with my chicken pie.”

“See your mouth B baby, who said you were having chicken pie in the first instance?” Mrs. Cole smiled.

“How about you?” Mrs. Cole turned to Seyi who had been quiet all along.

“Anything,” she said uninterested about what was going on.

“What’s with the nonchalant attitude, young lady?” Mrs. Cole asked her.

“Nothing,” she replied with a straight face.

Mrs. Cole was not ready to have her cheerful countenance altered by one adolescent’s mood swings, so she didn’t pursue it further.

“Let’s go in,” she told Bayo and Bolu, leaving Seyi crawling behind like a turtle.

The eatery was fully air-conditioned. The smell of freshly baked pastries welcomed them and to the left were some chairs and table with a few people seated.

Mrs. Cole didn’t pay attention to any other detail but walked straight to the counter and greeted the young man wearing a red T-shirt and face cap with a name tag which she used to identify him as Daniel.

“Good afternoon,” the attendant greeted. “What can I get for you? He asked politely with a smile.

“Ummmmm,” Mrs. Cole browsed through the snacks in the show glass. “Do you have chicken pie?” She asked.

“Yes we do; it is 380 naira”, the young man said.

“Yes!” Bayo exclaimed.

“How about scotch eggs?” Mrs Cole asked.

“Yes, 150 naira ma.”

“Mummy wait, ask about sausage” Bolu pointed to the sausages.

“Better make up your mind” Mrs. Cole told her. Turning to the attendant, “how much are your sausages?”

 “150 naira”

“So which one do you want?” Mrs. Cole asked Bolu.

“Mummy do it like this, buy scotch egg for me and sausage for Bayo, so that he’ll give me half of his own and I will give him half of my own” Bolu said without even consulting Bayo to know what he wanted.

“Who told you I am to give you out of my own” Bayo asked Bolu with a frown.

Mrs. Cole interrupted their drama “please can I have four chicken pies, two with scotch egg and the remaining two with sausage.”

“Okay ma. Are you eating here or taking it away?” He asked.

“Take away, please” she replied.

“What drinks?”

“5-Alive pulpy”

“Alright ma’am,” he turned around to dish the snacks while Mrs. Cole reached into her bag to bring out her wallet.

Just as she did, she heard a familiar voice call her by her first name, “Funke,” she turned around and couldn’t believe her eyes.

Emeka was right behind her.

To be continued…

Read: 
Burning Coles 1
Burning Coles 2 here if you missed it.

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Emmanuela Mike-Bamiloye
emmanuelaevb@gmail.com

Emmanuela is a trained Medical Doctor and a seasoned writer. She expresses God's love on a daily basis through the simplest situations that surround her.

3 Comments
  • Yetunde Oni-orisan
    Posted at 17:00h, 14 November Reply

    It’s so sad we allow ethnicity determine who we should or should not marry. What if Emeka was God’s will for her life? The back story made me even more sad. She was obedient, stood her ground and still missed it somehow. Parents should be interested in knowing and accepting God’s will for their kids. And not let their judgement cloud their thinking. Emeka is probably married 😔😔.
    I’m quite curious to see how the story goes. And I have questions, can certain marriages permit divorce?? Like funke’s?? Marriage can not change a person, and i doubt mr. Cole is willing to change or turm to God.
    I believe that certain marriages can actually get a divorce, because some of them in the first place were not joined by God. Some people joined themselves together because of attraction, money etc. But, I might be wrong so I’m open to more thoughts.
    I can’t wait to know what happens in the next chapter 😊😊

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