The story continues from Adio and Miriam’s conversation in his office. Enjoy
“I know this may come as a surprise to you” he began.
“I have not been able to get you off my mind since the last time we had a meeting with you”, he let out.
She gaped, mouth open. He looked down shyly.
“You may wonder why I never said anything earlier since I have known you for years. I can’t explain either. Just believe me when I say that it was like the wool was taken off my eyes. You are the woman of my dreams”, he said solemnly.
She burst into laughter.
“Why are you laughing? “, he was embarrassed.
“Pastor, who put you up to this? Is it Yetunde or Ekene? I’m sure today is not April fool’s day”, she held her chest, still shaking with mirth.
He held her gaze wordlessly, till she realized he was serious.
“Huh?”, she asked.
“I am not joking”, he replied.
“Really? I’m sorry, then”, she attempted to control herself.
“Miriam, I love you and I want us to get to know each other. By God’s grace, it is about time I got married and I believe you are the one for me”, he stated seriously.
She was dumbfounded.
“I see I surprised you”
“You can say that again”
“Let’s discuss this some other time. I’ll call you”, he seemed flustered, suddenly rising to arrange the papers on his desk.
She saw that she had hurt him.
“I’m sorry, sir. Please don’t take it badly”, she rose.
“It’s fine”, he avoided her gaze.
She stood for some minutes in awkward silence.
“Really, It’s fine”, he glanced at her and went back to what he was doing.
She left without another word.
Ijeoma noticed that Magnus was home before her for 2 weeks. She concluded that he never left the house as she could see no evidence of him having left. They usually drove in silence to the counselling sessions, sat tersely through it and returned determined not to change. She pitied the prayer team who was wasting its time praying for them. Even the counselling team headed by a lovely couple who had been married for 25 years, felt like giving up on the stubborn couple. Neither of them would accept the responsibility of changing. They kept playing the blame game.
Ijeoma was sort of upset that Chike had moved on. He seemed to forget that she existed. Rumor had it he was getting married. She hoped she had not lost out on a potential 2nd chance just because she didn’t want to cheat. Kevin and Jonah were spending 2 weeks with Ndidi’s family. School was out and Ndidi had her sister in law to help out with chores. Ijeoma missed them, particularly as she and Magnus were keeping malice.
She got home from work and found him in the clothes he wore to bed the night before, playing with his play station. There was a bag of potato chips on the floor and empty soda bottles all over.
“Magnus, didn’t you leave this house today? “, she blurted.
He turned to look at her, then looked at the mess he had made.
“You haven’t had a bath, have you? “, she asked.
He looked down at his clothes.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
He dropped the controller and placed his hands on his head.
“I lost my job!”, he burst into tears.
She didn’t hesitate. She knelt by his side and took his head and placed it on her chest.
“I’m so sorry”, she murmured.
“I failed. Ij, I failed”, he wept like a child.
“It’s okay”, she murmured.
“It’s not okay. What will I do? Losing my job at this age? Where do I start from? How do I manage?”, he mourned.
“We’ll think of something”
“Can you imagine me applying for work at this age? I’m so ashamed”
“It’s not the end of the world”, she rose to get some tissue for him to blow his nose.
He blew it noisily and sat on the floor, leaning on the bed frame. “This is just so unfair”
“Maybe, God is giving you a sign. You should start your own firm”, she sat beside him, leaning her elbow on the bed.
“I hadn’t thought of that”, he turned.
“Yeah. You can find a partner or go solo till others beg to join you. Who’s to say you won’t make it?”
He took her hands in his soberly. “Ij, I’m very sorry for everything. Please forgive me”
“I’m sorry too. For being impatient, critical, bad-mouthed, and more, I apologise”
“Why did we not just settle our issues by talking about them?”
“I guess it’s easier to pass the buck though”
“Can we give it a second chance?”, he held her gaze.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s too late? Too many things to consider”
“Like?”, he raised a brow.
“You proposed to someone else while still married to me”, Ijeoma burst into tears.
“Me, who you promised to love till death do us part. After all we’ve been through, the children I bore you, the years I stood by you”
He took her in his arms and rubbed her back till she was calm.
“What did you even see in her? Is she prettier than me?”, she raised her head.
He kept mum.
“We lived in Iyana ipaja for 2 years, I had to fetch water for domestic use, and share the kitchen with Mama Debo and Segun’s mom. Even when you got this job, I ……..”
He knelt before her, cupping her mouth to silence her. “How do I make it right?”, he pleaded.
She removed his hand so she could reply. “I don’t know. Regina is planning your wedding. Probably ordered her gown already”, she sniffed.
“I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do?”,he cried.
“I don’t know either. I don’t know”
She rose, picked her bag and went over to the wardrobe to stash it. Magnus watched her, regretting the friction that they had allowed in their marriage, wondering how to turn back the hands of time, hoping it wasn’t too late.
“Good evening, Pastor Adio”, Ekene propped the phone to her ear with her shoulder while stirring her stew pot.
“I don’t know if your friend has called you?”, he asked.
“Which of them?”
“Miriam? Okay. I saw a missed call but when I called back she was probably too busy to answer”, she was reaching for some spices.
“I asked her out”, he blurted.
“Really?”, she stopped, hand mid air.
“Yeah. This afternoon, in my office” he replied. “Wow!”, Ekene squealed. “That’s quite a surprise! What did she say?”
“She didn’t seem happy”, he stated flatly.
“I want you to talk to her for me. Please, I want her to give me a chance”, he pleaded.
“I have to ask. Why her? Why now? You’ve known her for years. I don’t think you’ve ever shown any interest”, Ekene had put off her cooker and plunged into a chair.
“I wasn’t ready to be married, so there was no need looking. That would be tantamount to setting myself up. When I decided I was ready, I started praying about it. She’s just been the one on my mind”, he explained.
“You think she’ll fit into your lifestyle as a pastor?”
“As a matter of fact, I see that potential as a mentor to young women, in her. She may not see it, but, I do”
“Hmmm. I will do all in my power to convince her. Just give her a while to come around” she promised.
“Thank you. Ekene, I promise you, I will make her very happy”, he promised solemnly.
“You had better, else, you’ll have me to contend with”, she warned playfully.
“Haha”, he laughed and ended the call.
TO BE CONTINUED.