Posts tagged “culture

Tunde & Anaya: Part 20

Posted on 27/04/2013

sunset

She couldn’t keep her eyes off him, watching him like a protective hen as he strode back to her carrying two cups of coffee. Anaya lifted to her feet to meet him and her gaze searched his gaunt face, her heart squeezing painfully as she took in his weary eyes underneath that smile.

Waiting until he pulled up another chair to place beside her, Anaya slowly lowered herself to her seat. She cupped the cup in her hands and lifted her eyes to meet his staring curiously at her. She blinked, caught off guard by his open stare. “What?”

Aman smirked good-naturedly. “I just thought of you as a little girl…”

She gave him a wistful smile. “How come?”

He chuckled. “When you were young, you never let your eyes leave me… as if scared that I would leave you alone.”

Anaya lowered her eyes to the swirling mist rising from her cup.

“You’re a good daughter, Ana…” he said softly, provoking the tears that she held at bay. He clucked his tongue when she sniffed noisily. “I hope you didn’t come here to cry. Is it your Tunde?”

She flung her eyes back to him, shaking her head. “He’s good to me,” she said vehemently.

His lips curled in a wary smile. “Good. So why are you here to see me if not to report your husband?” He lifted his cup to his mouth, peeking at her.

“Papa…” She swallowed hard. “Why is Mama still like that?” Why won’t she forgive me?

Aman’s brow furrowed, eyes searching her face. Then he lowered the cup to rest on his thigh. “It’s more than just you, Ana… You must never think this is your fault. Don’t ever let your husband think that.”

Anaya bit her bottom lip that trembled visibly. She didn’t need to tell Tunde anything. He was annoyingly observant and picked up on every thought and mood of hers. She lowered her gaze guiltily.

“That’s not good, Ana,” her father berated her gently. “In the wake of everything else he’s going through, you have to stand with him in this.”

A cold dreadful feeling fell on her shoulders as she lifted her eyes back to him. “What?”

At the chagrined look on her father’s face, Anaya felt the chill down her spine. When he didn’t respond the second time she asked and merely wordlessly lifted the cup to his lips, Anaya was already dreading the worst. “Papa…”

He heaved a sigh. “Ask him when you get home… Surely you didn’t come here to interrogate me.” His brow furrowed begrudgingly. “I don’t see the daughter I gave away for months and she comes only to demand answers from me.”

Anaya blinked at her father’s pouting mouth and shook her head, deciding to push back her concerns with Tunde for later. She placed the cup of coffee on the floor and leaned forward to embrace her father.

Aman chuckled, reaching with his free hand to pat his daughter’s back. “I’ve missed you, my dove.”

Tunde grinned, glancing up from the newspaper as the door flung open and Anaya stepped inside. He folded the paper and stood to his feet. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes, Mrs. Halliday…” Walking around the couch, he hooked an arm around her waist and pulled her into his arms. The searing look she cut into him caught him off guard and the rest of his teasing words hung off his tongue. He raised a brow at her. “What?”

Anaya remained pliant in his arms, although she gave him a narrowed glare. “Don’t you have something to tell me?”

His eyes moved from her lips back to her eyes. “I’m not sure… Why don’t you give me a clue?” He lowered his head to kiss her mouth and sighed when she leaned back. “Will you stop doing that?” he sighed in exasperation, releasing her quickly. “What did I do now?”

Anaya folded her arms across her chest. “What did you manage to tell my father that you can’t tell me?”

Tunde blinked at her. “You met your father?” he asked dumbly. When she slow-blinked him, Tunde swallowed a groan. “Ana, it’s not that big a deal.”

“What’s not a big deal, Tunde, that you could tell my dad and not me?” She asked pointedly, frowning at him.

“I didn’t want to upset you.”

Anaya scowled up at him. “You promised!” There he was again trying to protect her instead of letting her share the pain with him. Tears gathered at her eyes.

He blinked in surprise at her fierce reaction. “I promised what—baby, why are you crying now?” He rubbed his face in frustration. “What did I promise?”

“You said we’re in this together. So why are you not holding your end of the deal?”

Tunde heaved a sigh. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he leaned against the back of the sofa. “Ana… This is not the same thing,” he answered in a low voice. “Besides, I have to figure out how to tell you—”

“See—”Her eyes went wide like tea saucers.

His protest was caught off as Anaya suddenly barreled into him, shoving past him. He turned around and gaped at her as she made a beeline for the bedroom. Groaning that she was about to begin another cry-fest, Tunde rushed in after her. “Ana, come on…” he started to plead but stopped as she pushed open the bathroom door. A cold surge grabbed hold of his spine and squeezed tight. “Ana?”

Only muffled sounds he could hear and Tunde didn’t know whether they were tears or… he moved to the bathroom and his eyes widened, gaping at his wife’s crouched body over the toilet. His jaw slackened as the cold trickled down his back to his feet, knees buckling under him. As his wife’s slender frame heaved violently, expelling the contents in her stomach, Tunde found that he couldn’t look away. The bitter taste of bile filled his own mouth as she sagged after the heaving spell, gripping the edge of the toilet.

He couldn’t even form a word as she wiped her mouth and lifted her eyes to him. Somehow though, when she flushed the toilet, he found his tongue even as he closed the distance between them and helped her to her feet. “Is this what I think it is?” his eyes searched hers.

Anaya’s face warmed under her husband’s eager gaze, her mind mentally counting off the weeks. Something fluttered in her and she gripped his arms. “I think so…” She grimaced as Tunde let out a triumphant yelp and scooped her off the floor, spinning her around. Not bothering to remind him that twirling her around was not a good idea, Anaya allowed herself to smile. For now, their argument was long forgotten as they rejoiced at the news that met them.

“Wow…” Tunde breathed in the dark of their bedroom, holding Anaya in his arms.

She smiled drowsily, liking the feel of his hands bracing her flat stomach. To think that in a few months, his hands would have something to curve around. Her body tingled at the thought of a life growing in her; a life made by two of them.

“Wow…” he whispered, pulling her against his back.

“Our conversation isn’t over, Tunde,” she warned, placing a hand over his.

“What, my love?”

Anaya rolled her eyes but her smile still remained. She was much too happy to argue with him tonight. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against his chest. Things would have to change now that they were going to have a baby.

When Tunde nudged at her bare back, Anaya squinted one eye open. “You’ve made me a very happy man.”

She smiled at the tenderness in his voice.

“I’ll do my very best, with God’s help, to take care of you and this family we’ve made… I promise you that, Ana.” He paused to kiss the back of her head. “I love you.”

Her eyes stung under his ardent words and she knew he thought her asleep already. Not wanting to interrupt his privacy, Anaya quietly took in his words in her heart and soon enough, she drifted off to sleep.

<<Part 19 || Part 21>>

Tunde & Anaya: Part 19

Posted on 25/04/2013

street2

Giselle was beyond inconsolable, openly sulking when Anaya returned to classes the following week. She folded her arms and eyed her classmate, waiting to cluck her tongue once the girl settled in her seat beside her. “So I’m guessing my invitation to your wedding got lost in the mail?”

Anaya managed to look penitent although she was still preoccupied with her own thoughts. “I’m sorry… Everything just happened… so fast.” She snuck a glance at the shiny solitaire diamond on her gold band. Her cheeks warmed, recalling the look in Tunde’s eyes whenever he lifted her hand to stare down at the ring before he breathed softly that she was his. Her body tingled, remembering every moment her husband reminded her of it.

Giselle snapped her fingers in front of Anaya’s face. “Alright, stop showing off already.” She clucked her tongue again and sighed. “Congratulations… although you’re a bad friend for not telling me.”

Anaya smiled gently and nudged Giselle’s shoulder. “I’ll make it up to you.”

“Oh yeah? How? Will you introduce me someone?”

Anaya blinked. “What happened to that other guy you were with?”

Giselle raised a thin brow. “Which one?”

“Never mind…” Anaya twisted her mouth and turned to face the front of the auditorium just as their professor sauntered in, carrying a stack of papers. She swallowed a groan, realizing belatedly that she’d forgotten all about her test.

Tunde peeked up at Anaya over dinner later that evening. “Sorry…”

Anaya lifted her eyes from her plate of untouched food. “Hmm?”

“Your exam,” he said softly. His eyes searched her face. “I’m sure it went better than you think. You’re a smarty pants, remember?”

She gave him that uncertain smile that twisted his insides, driving the stake of guilt deeper. First the break-in and now the possibility of a flunked exam. “It’s okay…” Anaya replied, lowering her gaze back to her food.

As she reached for the fork, Tunde reached over and covered her hand.

Anaya blinked up at her husband’s repentant expression and fought the tears that threatened to spill over. Why did it feel as if she was giving him too much to feel sorry about? Their marriage had caused him alienation with his community, the security of his home threatened because of her… and now he was even apologizing because she’d lost track of her studies? “I’m fine,” she answered in a clipped tone, annoyed with herself for letting him take responsibility for something he didn’t have to, and him for assuming it so quickly. She pulled her hand from under his and pushed away from the table, her appetite lost.

Tunde rose swiftly and blocked her path as she moved toward the bedroom. Anaya wanted to scream when he stepped in front of her and placed his hands on her shoulders, forcing her to look at him. She didn’t want him to see her disappointment and misunderstand, knowing that he would. “Stop…” she whispered.

“No, you stop.”

Anaya blinked up at his firm voice. The hurt in his eyes belied the firm set of his jaw. She swallowed hard.

“Stop hiding your feelings from me,” his voice softened. “Stop running away.”

“I’m…” her throat was dry as his voice wavered. It never did. Her eyes searched his, and regret settled in. She wasn’t being fair to him. “I’m sorry.” Anaya lowered her gaze.

His thumb hooked under her chin and nudged it up, forcing her to look back at him. The tenderness of his gaze took her breath away. “We’re in this together, Ana girl. You hear?” His hands curved around her, pulling her into his arms.

Anaya drew back to look him straight in the eye. “I want you to stop it too.”

It was his turn to blink. “Stop what?”

“Stop blaming yourself all the time.”

He raised a brow.

“And stop apologizing,” she continued in a firm tone. “It’s my fault for possibly failing the exam, not yours.”

His mouth curled in a toothy smile as his fingers traced lines along her spine. “Hmm well, I think I might have to take half the responsibility for that…”

Anaya bit back a smile, feeling her body already stirring to his fleeting touch. “Tunde,” she warned even as she shuffled into his arms.

“Hmm?” He leaned in.

“I’m serious.” Her eyes lowered to his mouth that hovered over hers.

A month and two passed easily and still Hadiza hadn’t uttered a word to her family. For Leeza and Aman, the woman’s cold and silent demeanor was their new reality but Anaya still couldn’t bring herself to accept it. Every time she visited, Anaya sought Hadiza but her mother retreated, stern-faced, to her bedroom.

“Still bothered by it?” Leeza drawled, picking dirt from her fingernails.

Anaya swallowed the hardened lump that had lodged in her throat since she stepped into the living room. She cast a forlorn glance at the closed door to her parents’ bedroom before turning to her sister. “How can you stand it?” she asked, her voice trembling to hold back tears. It was her fault that her family was suffering and her heart twisted that she was still overwhelmed with Tunde’s love and affection to take note until now.

Leeza shrugged. “No other choice. Papa is at work most of the time and when he’s not, she is.” She managed a bitter smile, rubbing her fingers on her knees. “I keep busy with school…” She paused to study her sister, frowning. “As you should too. Especially since you have more responsibilities now.” A smile crept up her face. “How’s my brother-in-law?”

Anaya sighed, pulling her gaze from the door. “He’s fine.” When Leeza nudged her knee with a foot, Anaya smiled shyly. “We’re fine.”

“Any news?”

Anaya tilted her head in her sister’s direction. “Hmm?”

Leeza wriggled her brows suggestively. “Honeymoon baby news?” She giggled when Anaya sputtered in shock. “Papa mentioned it earlier this week.”

She frowned, feeling a pang of envy at the way her sister spoke fondly of their father. She missed her private and warm conversations with Papa and suddenly wanted to see him. “Is Papa working tonight?”

“Miss him already, big baby?” Leeza giggled again when this time Anaya nudged her with her foot. “Yeah…” She sobered instantly, lowering her gaze to her bare feet. “You should check on him. He misses you.”

Her heart stirred painfully, catching the hidden message in her sister’s voice. Things had changed since she left home for Tunde’s. If her mother wasn’t speaking to either her daughter or husband, it was probably eating at her father just as badly as it was for her… or even worse.

A few hours after leaving her house, Anaya trudged across the block to the high-rise building her father worked his night job. The sun was setting fast and the streetlights flickered as Anaya crossed the street. She smiled in welcome when she spotted one of her father’s colleagues standing by the door of the building. “Good evening, Mr. Green.”

The wide-shouldered, freckled-faced man flashed Anaya a wide smile and opened the door for her. “Aman’s daughter! Congrats on your wedding, young lady.”

“Thank you,” Anaya ducked her head shyly as she stepped into the lobby. “How are you and your family? Your son’s graduating this year right?”

He beamed appreciatively from her attentiveness and leaned against the open door. “Oh yes! You have a good memory. I invited you and your family to come. You’ll bring your husband with you?”

She smiled and nodded. “I’ll do that. Thank you.”

Mr. Green eyed her, sobering. “Don’t forget to take care of that old man of yours.”

Anaya’s cheeks warmed, anxious to see her father. “I will…” She picked up her feet and started down the dimmed hallway, around the elevator toward the security station next to the stairwell. Her heart picked up speed as she pushed open the double doors and stepped into the cool and dank room.

“Ana?” her father’s soft and hesitant voice pulled her gaze to her right and Anaya’s heart slammed against her ribs as she caught sight of him. His jaw was shadowed with a few days growth of hair, his mouth was drawn wearily and dark circles framed his eyes.

Anaya’s knees weakened, taking note of his hanging shoulders as he stood by the door. From where she stood she could tell that in the few months she’d been away from home, her father had lost weight with his uniform hanging on his frame. “Papa…” her voice cracked, the lump hardening in her throat.

<<Part 18 || Part 20>>

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