Another Trial (4)

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Bolu’s fifth birthday was a funfest. Her father had asked that the party be held in his place despite the fact that he planned on being absent with a ready excuse of being busy at work. Aanu who’d been extremely busy with work prior to the d-day had left everything in the hands of Yemisi who was more than glad to organize the whole party liaising with the grandmother and family help. It was a sultry Saturday noon affair.
Mayowa who had gone to pick Genesis from the airport, had briefed him on the goings on but he hadn’t expected that his compound would have transformed into a mini theme park with bouncy castles, ball tubs, and a tent under which the guests sat eating and drinking while some kids played musical chairs. They parked the car outside as there was no way to get into the garage. The compound was littered with sweet wraps, candy sticks, drink bottles, food crumbs here and there and about fifty other kids of Bolu’s age.
“Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” Bolu squealed as soon as she caught sight of her father, and emerging from the sea of little heads playing around and supervised by the adults, broke into a run towards him, trailed by her wingman and woman for the day. Genesis swept her off her feet and tossed her in the air, grabbing her almost simultaneously. He repeated this for a number of times before setting her down and wishing her happy birthday while the ready and waiting photographer for the event took candid shots.
“Daddy, you’re late,” she accused.
“I am so sorry, I could-” he bent down and took her hands, “daddy is terribly sorry.”
She smiled in acceptance.
“But I am here now,” he brightened up, “what’s good?”
“Hat or garland,” she asked.
“What?”
She picked a hat from her wingman’s basket and a garland from the wing woman’s and presented them to him.
“Wow. Which do I want now?” He pondered.
‘Hat,’ she made a choice for him. “Bring your head.”
He obliged and she fixed a party hat on his head.
“Have a great time,” the three chorused and scampered off.
“Wow!”He proceeded to the tent.
“Welcome late comer,” Aanu met him as he came under the tent.
“Thank you so much,” they hugged. “This is massive,” he looked around.
“You can say that again.”
“Did I pay for all these?”
“I’m not sure,” she rejoined and they laughed.
“You owe Yemisi a world of gratitude though. She made this happen, really.”
“She did?” He courtesied at Yemisi who glanced in their direction just then. She was trying to decide who sat first between the last two kids for that round of musical chairs. She waved back at him. He proceeded to greet his parents and a few other adults who’d accompanied their wards to the party and in another five minutes, was battling with a high rise mountain of jollof and turkey with chilled wine. Bolu chose turkey over any other meat or fish any day.
By sunset, the party was over and the last of the guests were leaving. Genesis offered to call his cleaning agency to come clean up the whole place the next day which was a Sunday and so eased the women of the stress. But if anyone thought that was the end, they were wrong. Next item on the program was a gift opening and juice drinking session in Genesis’s living room and everyone gathered in. There was Mama and her nephews and niece, the Philips, Yemisi and Eniola, the celebrant and her father. His parents had returned home leaving Agnes to keep an eye on Bolu and bring her home the next day.
“I’m not too sure about this though,”Yemisi observed as Aanu mixed up a potpourri of fruit juices. “This is an open invitation to congestion. ”
” No, it’s not. I’m the expert here, trust me.” She opened yet another carton of juice and added it in turns to the glasses of juice on the table. Genesis strode into the kitchen just then.
“Hi ladies.”
“Hey,” they chorused.
“What are we making here? ”
” Quintessence’s special fruit juice cocktail,”Yemisi scoffed.
“Pay her no attention dear, this is-”
“Mummy your phone is ringing!” It was New. Aanu excused herself to get the call.
“Looks good.”
“Good? I think it looks like we’re going to be needing much more toilet services than envisaged tomorrow,”Yemisi quipped and they laughed.
“Aanu says you’re responsible for all these, the party and all. I just want to say thank you. I’m really grateful.”
“You are? You weren’t going to come?” She sneered.
“Of I was and come, I did.”
“Late, when the party was almost over? I mean it’s your daughter’s fifth birthday, you only get one of that with her and-”
“I was held up by work.”
“Really? On a Saturday?”
“It’s been really busy at work lately, I explained to Aanu and if our client hadn’t canceled the Monday meeting at the last hour I wouldn’t even be here.”
“Wow. Really? You wouldn’t be-”
“Look I am sorry if it upset you in anyway, I know you put a lot into this but-”
“It’s not about wha I put into this? I’m concerned about the child.”
“Well she’s happy, she obviously had and is still having a great time.” They could hear the kids running around noisily in the living room, sometimes chasing themselves towards the kitchen door and running off again.
“Thanks for making this happen really,” he spoke again.
“I’ll do anything for Bolu.” She started to pack up the juice cartons into the refrigerator
“And about the other time, the last time we saw, I know you’re probably still mad at me for snapping at you and-”
“Oh please, don’t overrate yourself. I’ve got better things to keep in mind.”
“Wow,” he laughed at himself. “She’s got better things to keep in mind,” he repaeted to himself for want of what to say.
“Could you get the bin please? It’s in the balcony.”
“Of course,” he obliged her. She packed up the used cartons into the bin and swabbed spilled juice off the table top while he stared at her.
“Nice hair by the way.
Hmmm,” she scoffed and looked at him. “That’s a lame line, try another one.”
“What? You think I’m-”
“I know what you’re up to,” she stopped him. “And I also know that this bird,” she pointed at herself, “is taken. So taken.”
“Wow! That’s a bit presumptive. You didn’t even… ”
” Are you guys going to bring the juice over or is the kitchen going to drink it?” Aanu called from the doorway.
“Be there in a moment!” She began to arrange the glasses in the tray while he looked on.
“You want to help?”
“Sure, sorry.” He joined her.
That night, they all slept in the living room. This was an age long tradition at Mama’s when Aanu was still unmarried. On such nights, especially when Yemisi was sleeping over, they pushed back the living room furniture and all slept in the living room, right on the carpet with slow music serenading them while chit chatted until they all drowsed off one after the other. The women and children took the living room and banned the two men in the house to the bedrooms. The celebrant who was particularly ecstatic on this occasion regaled them with funny experiences she’d had in the about-to-end-school session one after the other until she drowsed off to sleep. And so did everyone.
At about two in the morning, Eniola woke up to urinate and then woke his mother up for drinking water. She quietly got up and went into the kitchen where she found Genesis typing away on his PC at the kitchen table.
“Hey,” he said.
“What’re you doing in here at this time?”
“I’m working. The internet connection is better here.”
“I see.”
She proceeded to the plate rack to get a cup. There was no cup as all had been used up during the day. She tiptoed to get a wine glass in the cupboard and almost tripped.
“Let me get that, ” he rose.
” No,no, I’ll get it,” she stopped him and  again.
“Would you please stop staring at me!” She said without looking at him as she steadied from falling.
He chuckled.
She tiptoed again and got the cup this time drawing a glass of water for herself first before getting one more glass for Eniola.
“There’s warm coffee here,” he offered.
“No thanks,” she smiled. “Well done,” she added.
“Thanks.” She turned to go.
“So now that you’ve seen how busy I am for yourself, you think you want to apologise for pre judging me?”
“Nope.” She spat. “No apologies for you.”
He smiled to himself.
“Get back to work, ” She left.

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