‘Oh God. God. Gooooooood. What will I do now? What? ‘I blow my nose before I continue. ‘Do I mean anything to you? Do I?’ I shake my head as if to answer the question. ‘I don’t. I don’t!!! I dooon’t!!!’ I bury my head in my palms and give lee way to my grief.
‘The sound of the microwave timer brought me back to the kitchen. We were eating in silence. Gbenga looked in my direction.
‘Court of Appeal?’
‘Yeah. We need to do something about spending the whole day in court. I wish I could do some work in there while waiting. I need to put in extra time to deliver on the Fans and Foods Merger.’
He didn’t respond. ‘You doing okay?’ He nodded. ‘Is it me or is there something off at work today?’
He seemed baffled. ‘You actually don’t know.’ I got the feeling it was supposed to be a question. ‘I don’t know what?’
‘When last did you see Mr John?’
I shrugged. ‘I ran into him on the way up. His face was as straight as ever. He was the first person to clock in. How does he do that?’
Gbenga suddenly developed renewed interest in his food. Ibukun, an ordinarily taciturn Senior Associate joined the conversation.
‘His wife died two days ago.’ The food suddenly lost its taste. ‘She complained of severe headache, took some painkillers, slept and never woke up.’
I got off my chair. Gbenga looked at me, ‘Where are you going?’
‘Mr John’s office.’
Ibukun spoke, ‘He won’t talk about it. He didn’t even tell us what happened. He has been acting normal. If not for his sister-in-law, we would not have had any idea. She came to tell Prof. Jegede. Even Double Eff and Dr Onaopemipo tried to get him to take some time off. He won’t listen.’
Gbenga continued, ‘She came today. What if she hadn’t come? We would not have known anything. I am angry, but then I can’t blame him. He is dealing with this the best way he knows how to.’
‘Let me just try.’
Footsteps at the back of the church bring me back to the present time. It is only the cleaner. I return her greetings and stretch out my now numb legs. I lie across the altar with my face facing the ceiling and my hands folded neatly across my belly. I try to pray, but these memories…
I let myself into his office after a small knock. And I sat down without being invited to. For the first time, I saw his real face – void of the straight-face mask he always has on.
‘How was your first day at the Court of Appeal?’ He tried to put on the straight face mask again. I wasn’t having it.
‘Why are you keeping it all in? There is so much pain and sorrow in your eyes that it makes me want to cry.’ And my tear ducts seemed to be ready, As if on cue, they released a few drops of tears. I saw him clench his fist. And it dawned on me.
‘You think God is punishing you for your near infidelity?’
‘Adultery. I thought about it already in my heart.’ I reached out to him. ‘God loves you. Very much. But you have to mourn your wife.’
‘I can’t. I can’t.’ I shook my head. ‘It is a natural process. What about your kids?’
‘They are at home.’
‘If you stay at home, you won’t be alone. Your kids are also there. People will come see you. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Mentees.’
He seemed to think about it for a moment.
‘Let me help you to your car.’
I reach out to clean the tears on my earlobe – a result of my lying position. My throat is raw from my tears and prayers. I am whimpering. I am in so much pain. It is so much. Too much than one person can bear. I close my eyes this time and I hope to see God and ask Him the point of all these.