“Who’s there?” a voice called out as Babs pushed open the metal gate to the vicarage. He recognised his father's voice and called out a greeting as he followed his friend into the compound.
Kingsley briefly greeted his father before moving down to the small guest house behind the main building. Babs went closer to the ground floor balcony where his dad sat alone.
“Ekushe, sir,” he greeted, prostrating fully to the ground.
“Welcome, Babatunde. I hope you and your friend did not have any problems out in the town?”
“No, sir. Everything was OK.”
“Wait a minute; I want to talk to you about something.”
Babs went back to the balcony and leaned on the rails, waiting for his father to speak.
“I was speaking with one of my parishioners some minutes ago, Mrs. Sofola. You know her, don’t you? We met her…”
“Yes, I remember her.”
“She said you interrupted her meeting with her future daughter-in-law, the Fayemi’s first child, is that true?”
That wasn’t exactly how it happened, but Babs saw no need to split hairs so he simply nodded. Feeling like a schoolboy being reprimanded, he continued listening to his father.
“She complained to me that you spoilt her chances of getting to know the girl, and she was afraid you had distracted the girl.”
Babs didn’t know whether to be outraged that the woman was spreading rumors about him, or happy to know that Dunni had been not unaffected by their encounter that day.
“What happened that day?” his father asked.
“Have you forgotten, you sent me to get you something from your desk.”
“Yes, I remember now. But that was before the time I scheduled for Mrs. Sofola’s meeting with…” his father stopped, and then pushed on, “never mind. I just thought to mention it. You’ve helped me around here in the past, and I wouldn’t want you to spoil that. The Fayemi’s and Mrs. Sofola are arranging a marriage between their children, and they’ve asked me to do what I can to support them. Please don’t interfere.”
“Aren’t we adults, Dad?”
“What do you mean?”
“Yes, I actually met Dunni Fayemi in your office, but while I don’t mean to upset your parish members, I won’t live my life to their dictates.”
“I should’ve known you’ll say that.” His father sighed. “Are you planning to marry her?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“So the answer is no. And it is my business because you also met her in my office for crying out loud.”
“I actually met her somewhere else first.” Babs replied.
“Look, Babatunde. Her parents and future in-laws are my parishioners. The young girl needs to be married for her sake and for everybody concerned, and you shouldn’t take that lightly.”
Babs knew his father as well as his father knew him. They had passed the stage where the other was trying to establish dominance over the men. It had happened subtly, but by the time he turned 30, he had noticed that his father spoke to him no more like a child, but like he did to other men. Their relationship, while still not effusive, had become even better after he began to help his father with fundraising and his general church administration.
But he was also not the young man he used to be; hot-headed and fierce, chaffing at the restrictions that always surrounded them as children of a priest. Don’t do this, don’t do that, remember who your father is, his mother would usually say. Maybe that was why he had been so rebellious in his late teens and early twenties. His mother would often sigh in relief that he’d not gotten any girl pregnant during his wild days. It had become easier after he got a job and moved out, and then of course, his parents had left Lagos and couldn’t keep such a close eye on him.
“Babatunde, I’ve tried not to comment on your personal affairs even though your mother regularly fills my ears, but this one is right under my nose! Show some respect.”
“I will never disrespect you, Dad, and you know it. But what’s done is done. I’ve made my feelings known to Dunni so the rest is up to her. Now, I’m going to bed…”
“Promise me you won’t push her.”
“Goodnight, Dad. I’m not promising anything.
“Don’t call her, and don’t encourage her to break the marriage arrangement.”
Babs did not reply as he walked away.
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas? Enjoy!