Tunmise stepped into her room and took it in. This was her part of the house, she thought. She was so attached to this room she had decorated her place in Ibadan similarly.

But who could blame her?

She had stayed here practically all her life and her mother had kept on redecorating to accommodate her age as she grew up. It had started as her nursery and then progressed through the years.

She could still remember her excitement when she clocked fifteen and her mother had finally let her decorate it with little interference.

It had gone through changes too since then but mostly, to Tunmise, it just looked more mature.

It was a large but cozy room with its own bathroom en suite. A door at the far end opened to a roomy walk-in closet where she kept all her belongings. The main room itself only contained a three-seater complete with a center table, a love seat, a television set and a medium-sized cabinet containing her books and her bed.

In here, she felt a sense of propriety, not just something that belonged to her personally but also represented her.

She took her bag into the closet and dumped it on the floor, and headed to the bathroom.

It took her less than ten minutes to shower and change into black flannel slacks and an oversized top.

With her stomach growling, she made a beeline for the dining room and noted thankfully that a place had been set for her.

She also noticed that her mother and brother were done eating and were whispering at each other.

Those two were always conspiring, she mused and it would have delighted her if they moved their discussion away from the room and let her eat in peace.

She knew though that there was no chance of that happening and resignedly settled down to eat.

She had barely eaten two spoons when Pamilerin turned to her, “so, what have you been up to?

“Nothing much”

“New guy?” he asked innocently even though she was certain he did that deliberately.

She shot him a stern look and continued eating.

“Well,” Pamilerin persisted.

“None of your business,” she almost barked with her mouth full and she managed to spill some on the table. “Now, let me eat in peace.”

Tunmise heard her mother sigh and her head shot up immediately, now directing the glare to her mother.

“I did not say anything now, did I?” Esther said, spreading her hands in surrender. “And actually, I’ve decided to stop pestering you guys. When you’re ready, you’re ready,” she continued.

“Really?” Pamilerin and Tunmise said together. “You are letting us off the hook?” Pamilerin finished.

“No, I am not, I still want those grandchildren. I’m just not going to talk to you about it again, I’m changing my methods.”

“Why don’t I find that comforting?” Tunmise asked her brother, dryly.

“I guess because I don’t either,” he answered in the same tone.

Before their mother could reply, they heard a cheerful, “Well, nobody gave me the memo on the family meeting.”

“Daddy!” Tunmise shouted, ran and threw herself into his arms.

He caught her and returned the embrace, laughing.

“Well, if I had known I would get this kind of welcome, I would have delegated the delivery I had.”

Tunmise laughed as he had expected. They all knew nothing could pull him away from his job.

“How come we didn’t hear the door-bell?” she asked her father.

“The door was unlocked,” Dr. Badejo replied.

Dr. Adeyemi Badejo moved his bulky frame farther into the room. He was dark and not particularly tall but he had a tall appearance that could be associated to his hugeness.

His physical appearance was in contrast to the man inside; he was a very warm, optimistic man and that made him always cheerful.

His perkiness came in handy in his chosen profession because a lot of patients got reassured just by Dr. Badejo’s impeccable optimism.

And that was also why he had chosen that career path or rather, that the career had chosen him, as he was known to say.

“Good afternoon, daddy,” Pamilerin said.

He tapped his son on the head as he made to pass him and flashed his one-dimpled smile at him. “Hello, son.”

He moved to his wife and gave her a kiss on her cheek. “How are you, dear?”

“I am fine but I would be better if you aren’t just coming home in a week,” she sulked.

Adeyemi rolled his eyes at his children over his wife’s head. The woman wouldn’t stop bickering about him retiring or slowing down. He was just sixty for crying out loud and he was in perfect condition. He thought it best not to mention that he still had about ten years to put in.

“I told you I’m not yet ready to retire,” he harrumphed. And envisioning an argument, he quickly said. “Why don’t you tell these two to get married and give you grandchildren to spoil?”

“Oh! Thanks Dad,” Pamilerin and Tunmise said simultaneously, as if on cue.

It was a familiar trick, one he had resorted to since they were young. Anytime his wife started on him, he immediately directed her to the children to distract her.

“Sorry kids, I had to save my neck,” he replied, smiling.

But when three pairs of eyes just kept staring at him, the smile turned to a chuckle. “I guess I’m too old to be running from my problems or using my children as shield.”

“Yes, Dad. Way too old,” Pamilerin said with too much vehemence and seriousness for the situation, they all burst into laughter.

Esther, despite herself, joined in. “I can’t believe I didn’t see this when you were begging me all over Ibadan to consider you.”

She was rewarded with more laughter.

“Poor me,” Adeyemi replied solemnly, with a hand to his heart.

At a corner, by the kitchen, Sandra watched the banter with a warm feeling and she thought, “If only.” If only, she wished. Oh, how she wished.

To be continued next week Friday.

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