A few minutes ago he had kissed her goodbye at the door. A few minutes ago, she had gotten into her car and driven out of the garage pretending she was on her way to work. He had also left home a few minutes ago, ostensibly on his way to work as well. Yet here they were, still parked in front of a famous crèche in Ikeja. She couldn’t see him but he could, her. She wasn’t even trying to hide or be discreet about any of it. Last week, Bode’s colleague had casually mentioned seeing Imoke near the crèche his three-year old son went. Bode had brushed it off until yesterday evening at church when someone else had again mentioned the creche and Imoke in the same sentence.
It was one of the best known crèches in town. A couple of people they both knew brought their kids here.
He could see why she chose to come here. It was peaceful somehow despite the blaring of horns, the chattering of kids on their way to school, the yelling of harried parents hoping to drop off their wards on time.
It wasn’t too hard at all to understand why she would come here. It wasn’t too hard to understand why she stayed until the last child was safely cocooned in their classroom.
He was going to be late for work, He had foreseen that and so he called in sick. He wondered what excuse Imoke gave her boss every morning for showing up late. Knowing her and how highly regarded she was at work, he doubted that her tardiness mattered much.
He waited till the traffic of the parents and their children had thinned out before he got out of the car. It was June and yet it hadn’t rained in weeks. Bode wasn’t sure if it was the rain he missed or the woman who loved to stare out of their bedroom window and make up stories about the rain.
‘Maybe an angel is doing the laundry?’
‘Can you just come back to bed? Where in the Bible have you read that angels wash clothes?’
‘How come their clothes are always pure white then?’
He would laugh then because he couldn’t argue with that.
‘Maybe these raindrops are the tears of all the babies in heaven that can’t wait to be born.’
He would stop laughing and get out of bed to hold her.
‘Maybe it is just rain and God is telling you to stay home today, in bed with me.’
‘You wish…’ She would respond, her smile, a shroud for tears she was trying to keep from falling.
He knocked on the car window now, startling her.
‘Please open the door.’ He said, smiling when she wound down.
‘What are you doing here?‘ She asked as he made himself comfortable on the seat beside her.
‘I could ask you the same thing but I won’t.’ He answered.
She kept quiet then and they stayed that way for a while, both of them looking into the distance, into a future that might be devoid of the noise of children.
‘Did you see the little girl with the Power Puff school bag and pink ribbons?’ She finally ventured.
‘Yes. Like anyone could have missed her with that massive tantrum she was throwing? Her mother looked like she was just about ready to abandon her for good.’
They both laughed and he reached for her hand. Somewhere in the distance it thundered.
‘It is going to rain soon. We should get out of here.’
‘Yeah, I hope the kids aren’t frightened of thunder.’
‘Our kids won’t be.’ He said.
She didn’t reply.
‘We can adopt, we can do the whole surrogate mother route… Dammit we are Christians, Imoke, we believe in God, just because the doctors have said no doesn’t mean God has said no.’
‘I know, Bode. It is why I come here every day before work. To imagine what it would be like when I have to drop them off. I come here in faith. I come here to remind God that I can do everything these mothers do and much more. I come here and I pray, promising Him, that even if our little girl has a twisted fashion sense and wants to wear Power Puff branded clothes to school, I will be nice and indulge her. I won’t force her to be anything she doesn’t want to be. I will take good care of His children. I will be the best mother ever.’
The thunder was closer than before but there was still no sign of rain, except in their eyes. He wiped away her tears with his hand and she returned the favor.
‘I will race you home.’ He said.
‘Last one is a chicken and has to do dishes for one week.’
‘Deal. But you don’t get to start your car till I am in mine.’
‘I love you.’ She said.
‘More than words.’ He replied.
They both made it home before the babies in heaven, waiting to be born, started to cry.