“Mom, you can’t just leave! The party is for you and Dad.”
I ignored Deola and headed for my car.
“Mommy, come on.” Tunde joined Deola. “You guys have been married for thirty six years, can’t you just let this slide?”
I kept my eyes on the road. Even if I wanted to stop, I couldn’t now. I did not want them to see the tears in my eyes. My children always thought their mother was tough. I was not ready to blow that cover after thirty five years.
“Mommy, how about Debola and Dunsin? What do I tell them happened to their grandma?” Tunde said and I stopped.
I loved my children but I adored my grandchildren. I considered wiping my tears and going back to the party. I shook my head, it wasn’t worth it. I resumed my march to the car.
“Glory.” I heard his voice call my name. “I love you.”
I wanted to go on but I couldn’t. I stopped and began to sob. Aloud.
EARLIER THAT DAY
I love parties. At least I used to love them. My husband and I attended a lot of parties in our day, it seemed like ‘our day’ was long gone now. But it was Christmas and my children – Tunde and Deola had planned a special party was us. My old party instincts kicked in and I was up early to get some things ready.
“Where are you going so early?” My husband stirred on the bed.
“The party is today. Remember?”
“Our Christmas party, the one our children are throwing us.”
“That was today?”
I did not respond. I left the room and very soon was lost in preparations. A few hours later, the kids arrived.
“Where is Dad?” Deola asked.
“I’m not sure. Have you checked the room?”
“No, I’ll just see him later. I can’t believe you have been married for thirty six years.” She said.
“You better believe it.”
“Thirty six years is a long time.”
“Well, when you are committed to somebody, it doesn’t matter how long it is, you’ll stay.”
“The power of love.”
“Love? That’s minor. It’s the commitment that counts. The things you people call love – dates, flowers, all that rubbish is not what matters. Your father has not taken me out since our first wedding anniversary but still I’m here.”
“Yeah, that stuff doesn’t matter.” I said. Was I being truthful?
We continued our work in silence. A few minutes later my husband walked into the kitchen looking cross.
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“No, what time is it?”
“I’ve been waiting for my breakfast for hours. Are you planning to starve me?”
“Come on Dad.” Deola said. “We have been busy. The party starts in a few hours.”
“Maybe he has forgotten about the party already.” I said and went back to my work.
Deola ushered him out of the kitchen and promised him food in five minutes. He was so selfish. He did not even care that I was doing a lot of work, all he wanted was his food. A strange longing coursed through me. Maybe I wanted more than commitment.
A FEW MINUTES TO THE PARTY.
“We have sewed this agbada for weeks, why are you doing like this?” I looked at my husband, ashamed of the terrible thoughts going through my mind.
“Look Glory, you know that I don’t wear anko. All the years of our marriage we never wore the same material, why will we start now?” He said.
“I didn’t pick the clothes, the children did. Won’t you just do this to make the children happy?”
“The children…anytime you want to get your way, you always invoke the children.”
“Why won’t I invoke the children when you seem to care about them more than you do me?”
He paused. “That’s not true. Why will I still be married to you if I don’t care about you?”
I wanted opened my mouth to reply him but I changed my mind. I spread the agbada on the bed.
“That’s it on the bed but if you insist you won’t wear it, the blue one is in the wardrobe.” I said and walked out of the room.
The party was already starting outside. Deola saw me and came over.
“We are waiting for you and Dad.” She said.
“We will be with you soon.”
She was about walking away when I saw her ring finger.
“You changed your ring?” I asked.
She smiled and said. “Yeah I did. Bayo bought me another one. Did a lot of drama when giving it to me, it was beautiful.”
“I’m sure it was. When did this happen?”
“Our seventh anniversary.”
I sighed and looked away.
“Are you okay mom?” Deola asked.
“Yes, I am. I’ll go get your father. Tell Tunde and his wife, we will be with you soon.”
She nodded and walked away but I stayed where I was. I tried to empty my mind of all the negative thoughts that were flowing through it. I had to be happy today, at least for the children. I heard a sound behind me and turned around to see my husband. He wore the blue agbada.
“I can’t believe you did not wear the clothe they made for us.” I said.
“We have talked about this already. Let’s just go for the party.” He said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Why? You are the one who has been talking about this party all day. Why are you asking why we are going?”
“I know why I’m going, why are you going?”
He looked at me confused.
“This party is celebrating us a couple. Are we a couple?” I asked.
“Glory, please don’t do this. The children are waiting.”
“The children? That’s what this is about for you? The children?”
“We have been married for over three decades, of course it’s not just about the children.”
“What is it then? You love me?”
He laughed. “We are already knocking on the doors of seventy. Is it now we will be doing lovey lovey?
I shook my head and stormed into the bedroom. I removed my gele and dropped my bag. I picked my purse and the car keys and left the room.
“What happened to your head tie?” My husband said when he saw me. “Where are you going?”
“What do you care? You children are there, go and have your party with them.”
“This party is about us. If you’re not there, we can’t have the party.”
I stopped and faced him.
“Remember how I asked you to let us renew our vows after our tenth anniversary? Hold a little ceremony?”
“Yes. I did not agree and see, twenty six years later and we are still together.”
“Deola showed me her new ring today, she got it for their seventh anniversary.”
“You think her husband loves her more than I love you because he got her a ring?”
“You don’t get it, do you?”
I turned away from him and walked out.
BACK TO THE PRESENT
“Mommy, how about Debola and Dunsin? What do I tell them happened to their grandma?” Tunde said
I continued my march to the car.
“Glory.” I heard his voice call my name. “Please don’t go, I love you.”
I wanted to go on but I couldn’t. I stopped and began to sob. Aloud. My husband had not told me he loved me in thirty years.
He walked to me and held me.
“I’m sorry Glory.”
I leaned unto his shoulder, it was a great feeling to be held again. I did not know how much I missed it.
“I love you, as much as I did thirty six years ago.”
“And it took you all these years say so?”
“I thought you knew.”
“I knew but I wanted to hear it from you.”
“How about we use this Christmas party to renew our vows?”
I smiled. “Does it mean, I’ll get a new ring too?”
“Well yeah, you’ll have one before the end of the day.”
“Does it also mean we will wear our anko?”
He laughed. “Yeah.”
“Are you serious?”
“No. I really don’t like that stuff.”
“I guess, I can compromise on that.”
“I love you, a lot.”
“I love you a lot too.”
I didn’t care for much for the ceremony or the ring – I was a grandmother for crying out loud. I was just glad to hear my husband tell me he loves me again. It was the best Christmas gift I could ever get.