A Christmas Visitor – Part II
by Sinmisola Ogúnyinka
I loved Tobi like my life depended on it. She was my high school crush, but she never said yes to me until several years out of college. She couldn’t be pregnant from another man three weeks to our wedding. My head rang, my heart hurt, my teeth, my bones, my blood pumped. Tobi couldn’t be pregnant from another man!
Dad was having dinner alone when I pushed the door open. He immediately knew something was wrong. He shoved his meal aside.
“Tobi is pregnant.”
“Ah,” my father’s wrinkled face lit up, then sobered. “Pastor shouldn’t know. He may want to call off the wedding.”
“I’m not the father of the baby.” I dropped into the double couch in the small sitting area. The truth hitting harder than I imagined. “Oh, dear Lord!” I covered my face and touched warm tears as they trickled down. “Where did I go wrong?”
My father did not say anything for the longest time. He just let me sob and speak in between. I loved Tobi. Still do. I can’t remember any time I had not loved her since I bumped into her in the high school hallway in our freshman year, thirteen years ago.
“How did you know?” Dad had stood from the dining room and come to sit on the couch with me.
“She just told me.” I sniffed. “Just this evening.”
“What are you going to do? She doesn’t even show yet.” Dad frowned. “In our Nigerian culture, you will just let her go.”
I couldn’t! I didn’t care about any culture. As a first-generation American, just like Tobi, we only got to know culture from when our parents talked about it. I had never visited the country of my parents’ birth.
“Three weeks to the wedding, Dad!” I stood and paced. “Oh, my dear Lord! Why?”
“Does she know who the father is?”
“Some old guy she introduced as her uncle months ago. She said it was a mistake.” I sighed. “What kind of temptation is this?”
“You should just let her go.”
“If Mom did this, would you have let her go?” Suffice to say my mom had had two sons from two different men before she met and married Dad. They had three of us, were married for almost forty years before she died last year.
Dad moaned. “Deji, your mother was special.”
Indeed, she was. But then I felt Tobi was too. Maybe I should not have stomped out the way I did. I took a shuddering breath. We would have been married a long time ago if we had not kept procrastinating and then this would not have occurred. Would I divorce her if this happened after marriage? Would she leave me if it was the other way around?
“I’ll see her tomorrow. Good night, Dad.”
“I’ll be praying for you,” Dad said softly.
I nodded and walked into my room, too overwhelmed to respond.
All night, I prayed. I loved Tobi. I had dreamed for the past two years of marrying her and spending the rest of my life with her. This wasn’t fun, but I would not throw her away because of one mistake.
The following day was Sunday, and we met in church. I apologized for walking out on her the previous day and asked to take her out to lunch. She agreed. Over lunch, we both did not speak of the huge matter between us. We enjoyed our favorite Mexican cuisine and over dessert, I started to speak.
“No, let’s get home,” Tobi said.
“Great.” I nodded. “But I want you to know I love you. And I’m all in. I’m ready to build my life with you and the baby.”
She glared for a moment, nodded and stood. “Let’s go home.”
Maybe I was reading something differently. At our house, Tobi asked me to wait at the door. She ran inside and came back with a check.
She handed it to me. “I’m sorry, I forgot it. I wanted to take it to church.”
“Your half of the rent.” She heaved a heavy sigh. “Look, Deji, I really wish things could work between us, but I can’t raise my baby with a man who would always treat him differently.”
“Of course not, I…what’s this, Tobi?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. I…you have to go.”
She shut the door. She shut the door in my face.
Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!
About the Author
Sinmisola Ogúnyinka is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer and movie producer, and the published author of Under a Red Delta Sun and Blue Dawn. She has a bachelor’s in Economics, an MFA in Creative Writing and is a Craftsman of Jerry B. Jenkins’ former Christian Writers’ Guild. She lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA.
You can read Sinmisola’s “Flash Fiction” column on the 4th Tuesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.