Past Affairs

Mr. Badmus got home a couple of minutes after he dropped Mrs. Cole off at her house. He was late than usual and he knew he had a lot to explain to his son. But on entering the house, he saw no one in the sitting room. It was where his son usually sat to await his arrival. He decided to go to his son’s room to see if he was asleep. He found him reading a book instead. Bayo was so engrossed that he didn’t notice his father, standing at the door to his room. Though, he heard him drive into the compound but he decided not to go and welcome him.

“Bayo!” Mr. Badmus called after standing at the entrance for about a minute, realizing that his son hadn’t seen him and probably didn’t hear him come in.

“Oh! Daddy, you are back! Welcome sir,” he greeted without much enthusiasm, as he was used to whenever his father returned from work. His father, who was still standing by the door, remains unchanged by his son’s reaction.

“Yes I’m back” – Mr. Badmus strolled into the room – “and if you could just put that book aside and greet me properly, I would be pleased.”

“You always came back before 8 PM.” Bayo glanced at the wall clock in his bedroom. “This is past 10. Why would I welcome you properly? You know I’m all alone in this big house and remember your promise.”

“I’m sorry, son,” Mr. Badmus apologized. “The traffic was just too much,” he lied. The truth was that he had waited on Mrs. Cole at the office and also took her to a restaurant on their way home. He had wanted to treat her to a nice dinner. If not that she refused, he would have been late than he was. Thinking about it now, he was glad she refused the treat and had only agreed on take away.

“Yes, you are sorry.” Bayo dropped the book on his reading desk. “Of course! You are! I should have known you would say that. That was the same thing you said when mummy died. You promised me you will always be there for me, you would always be home before 8.” He turned to look at his father with tears in his eyes but his father was quiet and seemed worried too.

Five years ago Bayo’s mother had tripped and somersaulted from the top of the staircase. The father, Mr. Badmus was not back from work at the time of the incident. He was still at work as late as 11 PM that horrible night. Bayo, a 10-year old at the time, couldn’t help his mother, and so she bled out profusely without any help. By the time Mr. Badmus arrived home that night, she was barely alive. He immediately took her to the nearest hospital but it was already too late. Due to the amount of blood she had lost that night, she gave up the ghost while lying on the hospital bed. Her last few words were ‘take care of my son, Peter’. Mr. Badmus blamed himself for what had happened that night and had made a promise to the little boy to never stay out later than 8 PM. Ever since, he had lived with guilt and managed to fulfill his promise to his son but Esther Cole had walked into his life, at a time he hadn’t expected. And that had changed everything. Nothing remains the same, again.

“Dad, I’m sorry to say but in the past few weeks” – Bayo shook his head – “It’s like you are someone else.” He looked at his father’s face. “It’s like you don’t care about me anymore.”

“That’s not true, son and you know that. I do care!” Mr. Badmus protested, moving closer to his son.

“Don’t even tell me that dad! You don’t care about yourself, how would you care about me?”

“How do you mean Bayo?” Mr. Badmus placed a hand on Bayo's shoulder. “What are you driving at?”

“Remarry!” He wiped his tears. “Dad, remarry. Then I will believe you really care. I need a mother and you need a wife to take care of you. Please, dad! Listen to me, this once.”

Mr. Badmus was surprised by Bayo’s request. He was lost for words. He misses Bayo’s mom every now and then and agrees with Bayo, partially. ‘Do I need to remarry?’ he asked himself. His mind drifted to Esther Cole, then he instantly knew what he wanted or at least, what he thought he needed. ‘A woman to care for him.’

“I will think about your request.” 

“I don’t want you to think about it, Dad! Just say yes and I'll be glad.”

“You do know I can't just say yes.” Mr. Badmus carefully selected his next words. “I mean, I can't just come across any lady on the street and ask her to marry me! That will be ridiculous!”

“Not just any lady?” Bayo rolled his eyes. “What about Mrs. Cole.” He noticed his father's countenance change, as he struggled with words but none came. “Your colleague at work! Ayo's Mum.”

“Stop already! She’s just my secretary.”

“Seriously?” Bayo forced himself to laugh. He didn't expect his Dad to deny such an act. Still yet, he pushed on. “She came by our school today and she asked me to take care of her daughter for her.”

“So?” Mr. Badmus shrugged. “It’s just a friendly gesture, since you happen to be older than her daughter?”

“Good point! But I wonder how she knew me.”

Mr. Badmus went quiet again. He already knew where the conversation was heading to but he didn’t want to concede.

“She came by the house thrice” – he held out three fingers to show how true his words were – “in the past two weeks!”

“On business issues.”

“You used to say we should never miss business with pleasure. Business stays at the office where it belongs and…”

“Enjoy the comfort of your home for pleasure.”

“Exactly, Dad!” Bayo smiled. His father smiled back. That, in his mind, meant acceptance. So, he stood up and threw his arm around his father's neck. He was almost as tall as his father, who was of average height. He had taken after his late mother. “I'm almost as tall as you!” he exclaimed.

 His father laughed. “You take after your mother.”

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