Teniola rolled from one end of the bed to the other. She moaned in frustration as sleep refused to envelope her in it cocoon, she adjusted her pillows and pulled the duvet higher but sleep continued to elude her. She was in that state, where you desperately search for more sleep after having more than enough sleep.
Teniola became a wreck after pictures of her unclad and in compromising positions were scattered on the internet. She had endured weeks upon weeks of mentions and mocking Dms on Twitter and Instagram. She had to go private on her Instagram account when the bullying became extreme, it was as if the whole world decided to be against her at the same time. Twice she had contemplated deleting her accounts but there is still a part of her which protested firmly every time she tried to. She began to dread phones, the tone, the beep, the vibration. Every ring makes her heart beat faster than normal, she picks calls expecting barrage of insults from an angry wife or jeers from Florence and her clique.
It was a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings, she prayed for longer nights and wished she could sleep forever just to escape from the torments. When she wakes up, it is to the nightmare that she had become a pariah all of a sudden. Nobody wanted her at their parties anymore, none of the men promising her heaven and earth returned her calls even her friends stylishly avoided her. And there was her brother who still acts as if nothing ever happened, sometimes she wondered whether he never knew or he just decided not to make a big deal out of it. Her mother was her only friend, her confidant, Her backbone.
Only her mother pulls the duvet from her face when she refused to leave her bed till noon. She alone drags her out of the bathroom when she is choking on her tears. Her mother is the one who keeps telling her it is the handiwork of political rivals who are envious of her father. Her mother never berated her for being stark naked with another man old enough to be her dad.
A knock on the door pulled her away from the arms of the sleep she was desperate to cling on to. She hissed as she pulled the duvet down a little to grudgingly ask who was at the door.
‘Me’ came the answer.
She opened the door to see her mother beaming brightly at her. She mumbled a good morning and went back to her bed. Her mother sat beside her and took in the untidy room and the unkempt fellow inhabiting it with a sigh.
‘Oluwateniola, you know you can’t continue like this eh?’ She continued when she didn’t get a reply ‘you have turned yourself into something else all because of that little incident? Oluwateniola? Is it not you I’m talking to? She turned and faced her daughter when she didn’t get a reply.
‘Mummy you don’t understand, you just don’t understand. I have been casted, all my rep and pride everything is gone. Even my friends…’ her voice shook and she swallowed the rest of her words.
‘I know my dear, Arike okin, but you shouldn’t let that turn you into a nuisance. Life is not a bed of roses, we all make mistakes, we learn from them and we move on. There’s no use crying over a milk that is lying on the ground already, I have seen worse and been through worse but look at me today! I get called names and talked about but can they say that to my face? Can they?’ Teniola mumbled a reply and she continued ‘They dare not say it to my face because I have shown them long ago that I am never bothered about side talks and stupid stories.’ She stood up from the bed sharply as she said this and went to stand beside Teniola’s dressing table, she began to look at the arrays of perfumes, wristwatches, make-up and other accesories arranged on it.
‘Emi? Me? I have been through fire and not a string of the hair on my head was touched. Oluwateniola, sit up let me tell you a story’ She leaned against the table and dropped the wristwatch into it case.
‘Here we gooooooooo, must every mummy talk end with stories?’ Teniola rolled her eyes.
‘My friend sit up jor’ Teniola propped herself with a pillow and faced her mother.
‘Good, years ago, when your father was young, stupid and rich, he began to keep a woman. They call her Shanice, Shanice is a stunner, gorgeous skin and hair, perfect nose. Her fair complexion was blemish free and perfect, her mother is British. She was going out with my husband, at first I didn’t think much of it I thought he would soon do away with her like the other women he kept but I was wrong. Their affair stretched into months and then a year and then two. It was a harrowing experience, I never lacked anything from my husband but there was still something inadequate. Then he began to bring her home, they’d be in his room laughing and talking, she would eat out of what I serve my husband with, I get insulted whenever she complained there was too much salt or pepper and my husband would foolishly laugh and say ‘Oyinbo pepper, if you eati pepper you go yellow more more.’
I was treated with scorn in my own house and it was like that for a long time until she got pregnant and your father’s family came to me to accept her as my co-wife. I only smiled and told them she had been my co-wife for a long time. They asked me to give her my blessings and I told them every one is blessed by God already and I am just a mere mortal. They were shocked but they left and did the wedding. Shanice had her child, a beautiful girl who looked exactly like your father and could pass for Olarinde’s twin.’ Her mother smiled when she finished saying this and picked up the almost empty bottle of Bvlgari, she sniffed it and sprayed some on her wrist.
‘So what about her? The girl? The baby? Shanice?’ Teniola asked puzzled.
‘Well, the nurses said after Shanice had her daughter and the doctor had attended to them. They were left in the ward to rest, when my husband’s family got there the baby and Shanice were nowehere to be found.’ Her mother said without emotion.
‘Where did they go?’ Teniola asked.
‘Nobody knew, this perfume is nice I will keep it’ Her mother took the perfume and made to leave the room but Teniola’s voice stopped her. ‘But mummy what about my dad? The family? People? What about you?’
‘Me? What about me?’ She raised a brow
‘Didn’t they accuse you or something?’ Teniola raised her shoulders questiongly as she said this.
‘Of course not.’
‘But what do you think could have happened to Shanice and the baby?’ Teniola asked still concerned.
‘That my dear remains a mystery.’ She shut the door as she said this leaving Teniola to look on in confusion. The door opened again ‘Teniola, you know some things are not worth losing your peace of mind for?’ Her mother winked at her and closed the door again.
Teniola sat still on her bed for a long time and then she stood up and entered the bathroom, she was there for a long time scrubbing herself clean.