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ANOTHER SHOT AT LIFE

She was running very fast to catch up with his car. For some strange reason, her legs couldn't move as fast as she wanted them to and soon, he drove out of the compound. She didn't give up hope, even then, because she knew that she just had to stop him. She lengthened her strides and ran as fast as she could, to keep him in sight.
Soon, he made a stop to pick up someone, who had obviously been waiting for him. She thought she could catch up with him then, but just as she was getting close to his car, he drove off again.
She was frustrated and was very tired because she had run for a very long time but she knew how important it was to get him to stop.

The traffic light changed to red just before he crossed an intersection, so his car came to a halt again. With a renewed sense of hope, she ran faster till, panting, she pulled to a stop beside his car. She took a look at his passenger and quickly looked away as those haunted eyes stared back. She quickly went round to his side and rapped frantically on his window. He turned his head to look at her with stormy eyes and drove off without a word to her.
She knew then, that she had lost him. She stood with her hands over her mouth and tears streaming down her face as she watched him leave. She saw the commuter bus that came hurtling from his left towards his car. She couldn't stop the shrill scream that came out of her mouth as the bus slammed into his car, sending it into a crazy spin. She saw his car slam into two of the cars that had been behind him. She heard the screeching of brakes as other commuters forced their cars to a halt. She saw people leaving their cars in a hurry and scampering to safety.
All she could do was scream.

"Wake up, Timi. Wake up, my daughter," her mother said, cradling Timi, whose screams gradually subsided to whimpers as she became aware of her surroundings.
"Oh, Mama, I had that dream again," she cried and started sobbing brokenly. "I tried to get him to stop. I tried to warn him, Mama. But, he didn't even stop to listen to me, Mama. He just stared at me like I was a stranger whom he hated. Then, he drove off with her. Why didn’t he listen to me, Mama? All these would have been averted."
"My daughter, your mind is only playing tricks on you because you were not even there. How could you have been able to stop your husband from getting hit by that careless driver when you neither had a premonition of those events nor were even at the scene? Your husband doesn't hate you, Timi. These nightmares torture you so, I hope they stop soon," Ireti, Timi's mother, replied.
"Mama, what am I going to do? How do I raise our three children alone? How do I go from one day to the next, knowing that the last conversation I had with my husband was one filled with a lot of animosity. We fought all the time but all those fights seem so unimportant now, Mama. I would do anything to change how coldly we had treated each other before he left the house that morning. I would do anything to tell him one more time just how much I love him."
"My child, you are putting the cart before the horse. Your husband is not dead; yet, you talk about him like he already was. You were the one that encouraged me when I was very ill. You told me not to give up hope. You told me to trust God to heal me. Where is that faith now, Timi? Is it not a miracle that Deji even survived that horrible accident that took the lives of others? We can only pray that..."
Cutting off her mother, Timi cried, "Mama, Deji lies on that hospital bed, completely broken and unrecognizable. He is fighting for his life. The doctors are not very optimistic that he'll make it because they say that his injuries are extensive. I haven't lost my faith, Mama. I pray everyday for him to get better, regardless of what the doctors say. Mama, it's not the head injury that scares me so much. I'm fearful of the outcome of that but I'm even more afraid that if he, by some miracle, becomes okay, I would have still lost him."
"She's dead, my daughter. You are alive and you are his wife. You have a family together. You've made good memories over the years and you can still make more," Ireti responded, still cradling her daughter.
"Mama, she was pregnant! We had more than our fair share of problems but I never cheated on my husband. I always believed that our relationship would get better with time. He obviously didn't share that belief, Mama. At the hospital, while I shed tears of joy that he was alive, he opened his eyes and called out her name. As if that was not enough, Mama, he asked if her baby was safe. Those were his only words to me, after surviving such horror. Can’t you see that means that he cared about her, a great deal? Even if he gets better, what sort of marriage can we have now?" Timi responded and sobbed even harder. While her mother consoled her, Timi allowed her mind to drift.


For the two years they had dated, her relationship with Deji had been great. However, shortly after they got married, they started having incessant arguments about everything, ranging from the ridiculous to the serious. She remembered now, the day they had argued about books that had been left on the dining table.
He had been reading on that table earlier and after he was done, he had not put away his books. She had waited for him to move them and when he hadn't done so by the third day, she had put them away neatly on his bookshelf. When Deji noticed that the books were gone from the table, he had not been amused and had said that she was disrespectful for moving his books without asking him first. In the ensuing argument, he had said that she had to learn who wore the pants in their relationship and that had made her mad. They had always been very close so she couldn't understand why things had to change all because they were now married. That was in the beginning.

Later, they argued about the number of children they would have. She had wanted three while he thought that two was enough. When she got pregnant a third time during their fourth year of marriage, he had accused her of deliberately getting pregnant against his wishes. The pregnancy had come as a shock to her so she had been hurt by that accusation. Their relationship had deteriorated and it was only the birth of a girl who looked a lot like his mother that had healed the rift between them.

They had argued a lot about money too. Deji didn't think that his wife needed to know how much he earned and what he did with his money, as long as all his financial obligations to the family were met. Timi hadn't wanted a splitting of financial responsibilities. She would have preferred it if they pooled their resources together to run their home from a common purse but he would have none of that. So, she ended up taking care of all the household expenses herself while he took care of the children's school fees and all other major expenditure.
She knew nothing about investments that he made. She had asked him in the past but he had thought her too inquisitive and had always been vague with his answers. Even though she still resented that, she had finally accepted that he wasn't as open as she was and had stopped asking him.

Her relationship with his mother had been another source of problems between them. Her mother-in-law had never hidden the fact that she would have preferred it if her son had married the girl she had picked out for him. Theresa was her best friend's daughter, after all and would have made an excellent wife for Deji. Yet, he had gone ahead to marry that Ijebu girl against his mother's wishes. She wasn't overtly unfriendly but she hadn't welcomed Timi with open arms. Deji and Timi had been married for six years; yet, his mother hadn't warmed up to Timi.

Recently, when her mother-in-law's home was being renovated by her children, Deji had wanted his mother to move in with them for a while. But, Timi had vehemently refused. After countless arguments with Deji, she still did not budge so the senior Mrs. Akinola had moved in with her first daughter, Bunmi.
That had further deteriorated the relationship Timi had with her husband.
"You cannot spare a little warmth for my mother yet, I've always shown love to yours," he had accused. "She was not going to live here forever, you know."
"My mother has always shown a lot of love to you too so, it's only right that you reciprocate," she had countered. "On the other hand, your mother has never hidden the fact that she still thinks that I'm not good enough for you. Why would I want her living with us for any length of time when I know that all she'll do is criticize me every opportunity she gets?"
He had stared at her and then, stormed off. Their relationship had become even more strained after that. He had started keeping late nights and they had argued about that.

They used to go on dates before but they hardly went anywhere together now. Judging by the number of strangers she had met in the hospital since the accident, he had friends whom she knew nothing about. They had argued about that too.
Thinking about their life together, she realized that they had argued a lot. "We laughed a lot too," she remembered now.

She remembered grumbling when the kids came to wake them very early on Saturday mornings. She would point them in their father's direction and the three of them would jump on him till he woke. They would all roll around the bed, tickling each other and laughing. Saturdays had always been family day for them. Neither of them made plans with anyone else that didn't involve the entire family. That was one rule they had never compromised.

She remembered how good it had felt to sit alone with her husband, on the nights they were not fighting about anything, and watch a movie, after the kids had gone to bed. Some nights, they had just held each other and caught up on each other's day.

She remembered taking a trip with him to Calabar last year for the annual festival, while Timi's mother had stayed with the kids in Lagos. It had been the first time they had taken a trip together since they had the children and that had been a honeymoon of sorts for them. There had been none of the usual arguments between them so that holiday had been a time of re-discovery for both of them. Except for phone calls from and to their family, they had not been in touch with anyone else.
However, when they came back home, they had gradually slipped back into their old life.

Timi sighed deeply now.
"Mama, I'm okay now. You need to get some rest," she said.
"Are you sure, my daughter? I can stay here with you till you can fall asleep again," Ireti replied.
Timi hugged her mother. "Mama, I don't know how I would have been able to cope if you hadn't been here since the accident. You have been my rock. But, I need you to remain strong so you do have to go to bed now."
After hugging Timi back, Ireti left. Timi lay on the bed, willing sleep to come. After some minutes passed, she found that she still couldn't sleep so she got up and picked the novel she had been reading on the day of the accident. She turned a few pages without really seeing what was on them. Her mind drifted off again.

I should have known that he was having an affair, Timi thought bitterly, setting her book aside.
Deji had suddenly developed a love affair with his phone and made sure it was always close to wherever he was. In the past, he used to tease her for chatting with her friends a lot on her blackberry phone. Suddenly, he had started doing the same thing. When she had teased him about that, he had become defensive about it and they had fought yet again.
Reaching for his phone one morning to shut his alarm off, she had noticed that the phone had been locked with a password. That was a new development but as she had never been one to snoop, she had merely shrugged and let it go.
A few days later, Timi had misplaced her phone somewhere in the house and had needed to call it with his so as to locate it. She had taken his phone from the stool beside him and asked him for the password. Without a word, Deji had retrieved his phone from her, unlocked it and called her phone, himself.
That's strange, Timi had thought, with some irritation. However, because they hadn't fought about anything for over a week, she had kept silent as she hadn't wanted to rock the boat.

She berated herself now for being very naive. When her husband had casually told her, on Monday, about his best friend's fortieth birthday party in Port Harcourt, she had thought nothing of it. On Friday morning, he told her that he had taken the day off work so that he could attend the party. She had been shocked because nothing he had said earlier suggested that he had planned to travel to Port Harcourt for the party.
"How can you spring such news to me just now?" Timi had asked Deji, who had been busy packing. "Your flight is scheduled to leave in a few hours and you just thought to tell me now that you are going to be away for the entire weekend."
Without looking up, he had replied, "Sweetie, I decided only yesterday to go for the party. You know Wari is one of my closest friends; so, it wouldn't be right for me to be absent."
"You could have told me of this decision when you made it. It's wrong for you to tell me about it while packing your bags to leave, Deji."
"I had to be sure that I would be given time off work today. I also had to search for available flights to Port Harcourt as well as make hotel reservations. I couldn't tell you till I had made all the arrangements. I'm sorry about that."
"You came home early, last night and we had dinner together," Timi had insisted. "You could have told me then."
"Listen, Timi. I've said that I'm sorry and that should suffice," Deji had snapped. "Don't be such a nag."
Timi had stared at him angrily for some seconds and had left him to finish up his packing while she got ready for work.

She had been having breakfast with the kids when Deji came out of the room with a small suitcase. She hadn't say a word to him as he played with their kids till he turned to her and said, "I'm leaving now. I'll take my car with me and park it at the airport. That way, I won't bother you when I get in."
"Bother me? I've never told you that taking you to the airport and bringing you back home any time you go on a trip was a bother to me. I already called the office, telling them that I would be a little late this morning," Timi had protested.
"If you take me, you'll be more than a little late, my dear and we can't have that. Don't worry about me, I'll sort myself out," he had disagreed. "How I get to the airport is not a big deal, anyway."
She had been hurt by that. They hardly spent time together these days so it was a big deal to her anytime she could have him to herself.
"He obviously doesn't feel the same way," she had told herself.
She had always been more affectionate than he was but that morning she had been too hurt to hug him. She also hadn't told him to have a safe trip. He had given the kids quick rubs on their heads and had let himself out. A few minutes later, still fuming, she had sent the kids off to school in their school bus and had driven to work in her own car.
When he hadn't called her to say that he had arrived Port Harcourt safely, she had assumed that he was mad at her too. By late afternoon, she had been filled with regrets at how they had parted. At this point, even though Timi still hadn't heard from Deji, she had decided to call him.
His phone had been switched off; so, she had become worried. She didn't have Wari's number and hadn't known who else to call. She hadn't also had a clue about the hotel he was supposed to stay in. She was almost frantic with worry by the time two of his colleagues had shown up in their house in the evening.

Ah, Deji’s not home o! He travelled to Port Harcourt this morning,” Timi had said with a laugh, as soon as she opened the door for Adam and Jinadu. “Good evening, jare.”
“Good evening, Timi,” both men had responded, simultaneously. When Adam turned to look at Jinadu, the latter had added, “We know about the trip; he wasn’t at work today.”
“Oh, okay. So…” Timi had said, puzzled. She hadn’t understood why both men had come to visit, since they had known that their friend wasn’t in town.
“Can we come in, please?” Adam had asked.
With a sudden feeling of dread, Timi had opened the door wider and had stood aside for the men to enter the living room.

Timi and her husband had hung out with Adam and Jinadu on several occasions. But, the men that had quietly declined her offer of refreshments were nothing like she remembered. Adam had always been warm and talkative but that evening, he had been strangely quiet.
“Is anything the matter?” Timi had asked, almost certain she didn’t want to hear the answer.
Linking his hands together, Adam had stared hard at Jinadu, who quickly looked away. Sighing deeply, Adam had looked down at the linked hands on his laps. He had sighed again as he looked up and then said, “I’m afraid we have some bad news.”
With her heart thudding in her chest, Timi had gripped the arms of the sofa she had sat on.

Adam had informed her that Deji had been driving with another colleague of theirs when another driver had run into his car, while running a red light, at an intersection very close to the airport. According to eye witness accounts, Deji's car had spun uncontrollably, hitting other cars. The driver and some of the passengers of the bus that had hit him had died on the spot. Deji and his colleague, Nana, had been hurt very badly and were barely hanging on to life. The occupants of the other cars which had been involved in the accident had been lucky to have escaped with few injuries.
Deji and Nana had been rushed to the hospital but no one had known who they were till Nana's handbag had been recovered in the afternoon from the wreckage that had been Deji's car. Her ATM cards and her business card had led policemen to their office. Some of their colleagues had rushed to the hospital to confirm if she was the one. By the time they got to the hospital, Nana had been in surgery for a ruptured spleen. They had been taken to Intensive Care Unit to see if they could identify the man she had been with at the time of the accident. They had been shocked to see that it was Deji.

Timi had been almost hysterical at this point. Jinadu had held her firmly, as she started crying hard.
“He’s alive,” he had reassured her over and over again. Adam had stood there awkwardly, not sure what to say to Timi.
Soon, she had left with them for the hospital, leaving the children with their nanny. When they got to the hospital, Timi had barely recognized her husband. His left leg and his right arm had been broken during the accident and were already in casts. His head was bandaged and his face was swollen. She had been told that her husband had sustained an injury on his head, which had bled profusely. As a result, Deji had needed a blood transfusion. When she approached his bedside, she struggled not to cry.
"Sweetie," she had said softly, touching his uninjured hand.
Deji had struggled then to open his swollen eyes. "Nana," he had said, weakly.
"She's fine, sweetie. Don't worry about her," Timi had said, trying to smile.
"Thank God," Deji had said. "The baby?"
Timi had been confused at that. As she had stared at her husband, he had slipped into unconsciousness.

Timi remembered Nana from the last Christmas party she had attended in Deji's office. She had seemed warm and friendly and they had chatted briefly. On Deji's birthday, Nana had given him a bottle of his favourite perfume.
"I must have mentioned that was my favourite perfume during a conversation with her," Deji had said, in response to his wife's curiosity about Nana's gift choice.
Timi had known then that her husband and Nana were closer than she had first thought but she hadn't been suspicious about that friendship.

She had been surprised when she heard that Nana's luggage had been recovered from her husband's car. She realized then that they must have planned to travel together. Deji didn't earlier tell me of his plans to be in Port Harcourt today, she had thought. But, he had obviously made plans with Nana. That explains why she had been with him at the time if the accident.
"Why did he ask me about a baby? Is Nana pregnant?" she had wondered.
"Yes, madam. Your friend had been pregnant but as a result of the accident, she had suffered a miscarriage," one of the nurses had confirmed later.
"Is she out from surgery now?" Timi had asked.
"Yes, she is. But, she's not yet in a stable condition and can receive no visitors, yet."

Nana's parents had been contacted by her colleagues. They also lived in Lagos and had arrived shortly after Timi did. Mrs. Salako had desperately clasped Timi’s hand, as soon as they had been introduced.
“Do you have any news?” the older woman had asked. “No one wants to tell us anything. They only say that my daughter has had surgery and is under observation. They said that she’s in no condition to receive visitors and won’t even let me see her. I’m her mother o! They don’t want me to see my baby.” With that she had started crying. Timi had held Nana’s mother, without saying a word, till her husband had gently led her to one of the chairs in the waiting room, just outside the Intensive Care Unit.

Timi had gone back to her husband’s bedside then. Soon, the sound of Mrs. Salako’s wailing had drawn Timi from the room where her husband was barely hanging on to life. Going inside the waiting room, she had seen Nana's mother grab the white coat of the doctor that had been speaking to she and her husband.
Mrs. Salako had cried out then, "I spoke with Nana this morning o! How can you tell me now that she's dead?"
As Timi approached the grieving woman, Nana’s mother turned on her and cried, "Your husband has killed my daughter! She had not told me that she planned to travel this weekend. Where had he been taking her to? Why had my Nana been pregnant? Your husband had better give me answers o!"
As Nana's father quickly stepped in and took his crying wife away, Timi had come to the same conclusion as Nana's mother.
Deji had been having an affair with Nana, she had thought, miserably.

Later that day, Deji had started having seizures. A CT scan had revealed that he had some swelling in his brain as a result of the head injury he had sustained. He had been sedated and was now hooked unto a ventilator to help with his breathing. His doctors were monitoring the pressure in his skull. They had placed him on some medication but had talked about the possibility of inducing a coma if he didn't respond favourably to the medication he had been placed on. They said that the extent of the damage to his brain would be known only if he survived. They also talked about the possibility of some permanent damage.
As she lay on the bed, Timi said another prayer for her husband and finally fell asleep.

The first thing Timi noticed when she entered Deji’s ward in the Intensive Care Unit, the next morning, was that her husband’s bed was empty.
He must have been taken out for tests, she thought. But almost immediately, she noticed that none of the machines that had surrounded Deji since his accident were by his bed any longer. Timi broke out in a cold sweat and covered her mouth with her right hand.
This can’t be happening, she thought, moving slowly to the bed. She ran her hand along the length of the neatly made bed, as the tears started to fall. Sitting on the bed, she wrapped both arms around her body and swayed from side to side. I never said good bye. Now, I can’t anymore, she thought, starting to sob brokenly.

Nurse Eniola came into the ward then. She had gone to ease herself and hadn’t seen Timi come in. Hurrying to the crying woman, she asked, “Madam, what is the matter?”
Looking into Eniola’s face, Timi sobbed, “Can you tell me why my husband had to die this young? He was only thirty-nine, you know.”
“Die?” the nurse asked, with some confusion. As understanding dawned, she said, “Oh! You’re wrong, madam. Your husband is not dead. About three am today, the doctors observed that the swelling in Mr. Deji's brain has gone down so he was taken off the ventilator. When he remained stable, by this morning, he was moved out of the ICU. His bed is empty because he’s in a private room now.”
Timi collapsed on the bed in relief and cried harder. Eniola drew her up and gently said, “Come, let me take you to your husband.”
The relief Timi felt when she saw her husband was immense. He was still looking all bruised and banged-up but the slow rise and fall of his chest let her know that he was breathing on his own. Leaving her in the room, Eniola hurried away to get the consultant in charge of Deji’s case. Dr. Adegbite assured Timi that Deji would, most likely, wake up that day as soon as the sedation wore off.

Timi had left the house in a hurry and had not eaten breakfast. After an hour of sitting by Deji’s beside while waiting for him to wake up, she couldn’t ignore the hunger pangs any longer. So, leaving Deji’s room, she went in search of food at the hospital cafeteria.
She saw Lola from her husband's unit at work making inquiries at the nurses' station. "Good morning, Lola," Timi said with a smile.
Turning in Timi’s direction, Lola said, "Oh! Good morning, dear." Taking long strides, Lola closed the distance between both women and hugged Timi. "I was just asking about Deji. I was out of town all weekend and came here immediately I dropped my luggage off at home. How is he? The nurses wouldn't give me any information."
As they continued walking towards the cafeteria, Timi said, "My sister, I thank God o! Deji's condition had been critical since the accident. However, by the time I came here this morning, I was informed that he was doing much better. I had a scary moment for a while, though, when I thought that he had died."
Lola halted in her tracks then to look at Timi. When Lola raised her eyebrows, Timi explained, “My sister, I found his bed empty when I got her this morning and I just assumed the worst. I bawled like a baby till a nurse reassured me that he had been moved to a private room as a result of significant improvements they had observed in him.”
"Ah, that's good news indeed. The news I got from some of our colleagues was that it wasn't yet certain if he'll recover from his injuries. Thank God o!"
"That had been my fear too because the doctors had informed me of what the best and worst case scenarios could be. Also, I think that, thanks to the internet, I know more about his injuries now than I ever would have. So, I was aware of all that could go wrong. Of course, he sustained a lot of injuries so he's not completely out of the woods yet but, the doctors say that he's made very good progress. I'm anxiously waiting for him to wake up."

They continued on their way and by the time they got to the cafeteria, Lola wanted to have some breakfast as well so both of them placed their orders at the food counter. While they waited for their food to be served at their table, the women chatted.
"I'm sure you must have heard about Nana," Timi said. "I heard both of you had been close friends."
"The news of her passing came as a huge shock to me. I don't even know what to tell her parents when I see them later today," Lola said quietly. "She had been so excited about her trip to Abuja. I didn't know..."
"Abuja?" Timi asked, cutting her off.
"Yes. She had been on her way to Abuja to see her boyfriend. Initially, she hadn't been enthusiastic about making that trip but, she had later changed her mind."
"Her boyfriend?" Timi had asked, even more confused. "I thought..." When she broke off, Lola looked at her carefully, and correctly interpreted the look on her face. Timi's brow was knitted into frown.
"Oh, my. You thought that she had been dating your husband. You must have thought that was the reason they had been together at the time of the accident."
When Timi didn't answer, Lola said, "Listen, Nana had been dating this guy in Abuja for about five months. Because of the geographical distance and work commitments, they hadn't seen each other for over a month. However, she realized a few weeks ago that she had got pregnant for him. She decided to keep the baby but had been afraid of what his reaction to that would be. Both of us were friends with your husband so we knew him to be a great listener; everyone knows he is. She told Deji about her pregnancy and sought his opinion on the matter of letting her boyfriend know about it."

One of the waiters brought their food so Lola paused for a while till he left.
"Deji encouraged her to let her boyfriend know about the pregnancy since she was sure that it was his," she continued, taking a sip of water. "He had been of the opinion that the guy might want to be involved in her life or at least, in the child's. So, Nana had taken permission to be off from work on Friday so that she could go to Abuja. That's why they had been heading to the airport together."
The feeling of relief Timi felt was over-whelming. It was quickly followed by a strong sense of shame. "Why was it so easy for me to believe that Deji had been cheating on me? I had merely been toying with that idea but immediately Nana's mother insinuated that Deji was somehow responsible for her late daughter's pregnancy, I was quick to accept that. What kind of a woman does that make me? I've never suspected my husband of adultery before so why did I, this time?"
Surprised at what Timi had said about Nana's mother, Lola asked, "Nana's mother thinks they were having an affair too?"
Timi told her about the incident that had occurred immediately after Nana demise. "I'm so ashamed of myself for haven thought ill of Deji. I’ve been miserable since the accident and it wasn’t only because my husband lay critically ill here. The thought that Deji was emotionally or physically involved with someone else was such a torment. I hope he never finds out that he had lost my trust at any time."
When Timi said that, Lola replied, "Don't beat yourself up too much. There were things about the accident that most likely didn't add up for you and because it's only human to want answers, you had arrived at the most probable one. I would have thought the same if I were in your shoes."
By the time Lola was ready to leave, Deji was still asleep so she promised to come back the next day after work.

Just as the doctors had promised, Deji woke up sometime that afternoon. He was up for only a little while but that had been enough for Timi who had been elated. She quickly called his mother to give her the good news. The accident had emphasized how unpredictable life really was and Timi realized that there was no point in holding grudges.
She made up her mind to become more accommodating towards her mother-in-law. She didn't care how long it took but she was determined that they would be friends someday. Already, a bond had developed between them in the two days since the accident. This had been brought about by a realization that they could lose a man they both loved very much. Timi fervently hoped that bond would get stronger, even when Deji was fully recovered.
The feeding tube that had been inserted in Deji's throat was removed that evening and Timi fed her husband as much chicken broth as he could handle. She knew it was going to be a long journey but she was determined to make the best at the second chance her family had been given.

Timi was telling Deji a funny story about the kids when Lola returned the next day. Lola looked very pleased to see Deji up and he smiled gently to her as he said, "Hi." His speech was a little bit slurred. The doctors said that only the passage of time would tell if it would get better.
"How are you?" Lola asked.
"Grateful," he replied.
At that, Timi laughed. She understood exactly what Deji meant.
"I'm sorry about your friend," he said softly. "If I hadn't convinced her to go to Abuja, she would have still been alive."
"We don't know that. Maybe, it was her time to go," Lola replied. "From what I heard, the accident was not your fault in at all. So, please, don't feel guilty about her passing. It is a sad time for me but I have learnt that it is important to live every moment right because death might come calling any time. Nana was the victim now but it could have been anybody else, really."
"I know exactly what you mean," Deji said, very slowly and in low tones. "I've been so sober since I regained consciousness yesterday. It's a feeling that I hope never fades. It’s very easy to get carried away with the act of living that a lot of things are taken for granted. It’s also so easy to make avoidable mistakes. I hope I never forget how easily I could have lost everything that I had."
Slowly, he laid his left hand on Timi's right hand and gave it a little squeeze.
Lola stayed for a while with the couple before she told them she had to leave.
"Thanks for coming, Lola." Timi said, standing to hug Deji's colleague. Whispering in Lola’s ears, she said, “I really appreciate all you’ve done.”


Walking to her car, Lola had tears in her eyes. She understood that she and Deji had been saying good bye to each other in that hospital room.
Deji was a very good-looking man and Lola had suddenly become physically attracted to him. They had worked together for two years; so, while she hadn't understood her new feelings for him, she hadn't wanted to ignore them.

Lola had started paying Deji compliments all the time and when she realized that he was flattered by them, she had intensified her efforts. It wasn't long before he started reciprocating that attention. Soon, they had started flirting with each other, and had sent countless suggestive messages to each other on their phones. That had gone on for over two months. However, they had been careful not to let anyone in their office know that they were more than colleagues.

They had not yet been physically intimate but from all the signs, they had been headed there. A casual touch here and there, seemingly innocent hugs that seemed to linger, a bold pat on his bottom when no one was looking and smiles that seemed full of secrets suggested that it was only a matter of time before their  relationship spiraled out of control into a full-blown affair.

One of Lola’s closest friends, Ibinabo, had got married in Port Harcourt on Saturday. So, Lola had finally taken the bull by the horn and invited Deji to be her date at the wedding. She had wanted to take their relationship to the next level of intimacy but it had been difficult getting him to agree to her suggestion of a weekend get-away. However, on Thursday, his defenses had come down and he had finally agreed to go to Port Harcourt with her. He had refused to be her date, however.
"I can't disrespect my wife in that manner," Deji had said. "Someone could see us together." He had planned to attend Wari’s party instead.
Lola had been quick to agree because she hadn’t wanted to give him an excuse to renege on their agreement. That’s alright for now, she had thought. By the time I have you all to myself, you won’t be thinking about that wife of yours. That’s for sure.

Deji and Lola had made hotel reservations together, making sure to take rooms that were adjacent to each other. They had planned to drive to the airport together but Nana had overheard Deji telling Adam that he was going to the airport the next day and had asked him for a ride. Nana had been oblivious to the flirtations between Lola and Deji and because Deji had wanted it to remain that way, there had been a change in the plans he had made with Lola.
“She’s my close friend so she’s bound to find out about us, one of these days.” Lola had protested, in a whisper. “Why can’t it be now?”
“You seem to have forgotten that I’m a married man and that both of us work in the same office,” Deji had countered, frowning. “Some affairs are not meant to be flaunted. I can’t afford to have my life become the subject of rumours.” He had stood from the chair opposite her and had walked away from her desk. That had been the end of the matter.
When she had not seen Deji at the airport, Lola had called him. She had been more than a little upset that his phone had been switched off. She had also called Nana several times but none of the calls had been picked. In a fit of annoyance, Lola had boarded the flight to Port Harcourt.
Deji's just a chicken, she had thought, while waiting for the plane to take off. Why couldn't he be man enough to tell me that he had changed his mind? Who does he think he is, to treat me so disrespectfully?

Ibinabo had a hen party that night and it wasn't till Lola got back to her hotel room, after the party, that she had seen several messages on her phone from a few of their colleagues. She had been in a daze when she realized that Nana was dead while Deji was critically ill in the hospital. She had been too numb to cry.
The next day, Lola hadn't been herself at the wedding, as she kept thinking, I could have been the one lying on a cold slab now. I could have been the one critically ill in the hospital.
On the flight back to Lagos, she already knew what she had to do. She wasn't going to waste this second chance she had been given.

As she drove off now, she was glad that Deji felt the same way. She really liked him and hoped that he'll eventually be fine.  But, she wasn't going to waste time chasing after another woman's man.
Maybe, I'll give Jinadu a chance, after all. He’s been unrelenting in his pursuit of me and he seems like a great guy. He’s no Deji but he doesn’t look bad, either. The bobo get raps too. Let’s see if he’s as romantic as he sounds. That would be weird, though. All this coded office romance, sha.

Six months later, Deji and Timi held hands as they walked along the beach. They had gone to a resort in Badagry for the weekend while his mother had looked after the children. Apart from a few scars, he had no other visible signs of the accident. His speech had also gone back to normal. Their life had assumed normalcy too but they had not gone back to the way they had been.
They knew that most people didn't get another shot at life so they were determined to make the most of their second chance.

Comments

  1. Brick's momma6:59 pm

    Yes Ola, we may not all be lucky to get a 2nd shot at life....let's make the most out of the present chance we have without waiting for a 2nd chance. No need wasting energy on most likely empty suspicions, bitterness and stuff.let's live every minute like it's our last....God helping us.
    wonderful write up dear. Keep up the good work

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  2. Ngoo2kii7:28 pm

    Awww lovely! Live, love, laugh.....second chances don't always come.....forgive, tolerate, accommodate cos u don't know wotchu gat till it's gone! Nice one babes.

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  3. Ola, this is a golden piece. Enjoyed the twists n turns. Grace to u

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  4. Nwachinaemelu10:38 am

    A beautiful and thought provoking piece.

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  5. Ita very unfortunate how much time we spend not appreciating the people in our lives only to wish later there was a second chance to create a first impression.

    Thanks nne nwando for this wonderful and thought provoking piece

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  6. colette8:39 pm

    Nice one dear. Life is a gift.

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  7. Brick's momma; Thanks, dear.. Yeah, living every minute (the right way)just as if its the last we have is very important in our quest to make the best of our first chance.

    Ng; Thanks, sweetie. Yeah, we usually don't know what we've got till it's gone. How sad.

    HisPearl; Thanks for your golden comment ;) Amen to your prayer.

    Nwachinaemelu; Thank you :) Thanks for dropping by.

    Henry26; Thank you, dear.

    Colette; Yeah sis, life sure is a gift.

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  8. Gustalicious10:51 am

    Let walk on this path as if we have got just this once....we all dont get second chance to live!
    what a beautiful piece, thanks Ola.

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  9. Gusta; thanks, sis :)

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  10. i was talking with some friends a few weeks back,complaining that we no longer have young Nigerian writers.you have proved me wrong.Keep up this exceptional work..

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  11. Uzo; Thank you!!! :):)

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  12. chiney11:07 am

    Nice piece! Very apt too!
    I haven't been as conscious of the temporality of life as I have been this year; having lost 1 cousin, 1 very close friend, classmate and colleague, 1 friend and colleague in the Dana crash,2 high school buddies to cancer and stroke... I hate to count!
    Lord teach us to number our days that we might gain wisdom of heart.

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  13. Chiney; Thanks, love. We share the loss of two of those people you mentioned. Very sad, considering how young both of them were.
    Amen to your prayer, dear.

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