Read Chapter XXI here.
The image of Fiifi and the unknown woman kept eating at Bisi so much that after she was done with laundry, she went on Facebook and found the photos that Ewuresi had shown her earlier. She was staring intently at the photo when Nhyira came to her and took a look at what she was so engrossed in.
He looked at the photo for a second time and said, “I’ve seen this woman before.” Bisi looked at him.
“You have, where?”
“Daddy’s office. When I went there after school, she was in his office.” Bisi frowned, a little puzzled.
“My birthday. John took me to his office because Kuks and Esi had club meetings.”
Yeah, she remembered. So they knew each other. Maybe they worked together. She wished she could convince herself with that but it didn’t settle down well with her spirit.
“How was she like?” She probed.
“She was okay. She wished me happy birthday and she left.”
“She doesn’t work at the office?”
“I’m not sure. Dad called her his friend.”
“I see. Thanks for telling me, Nhyira.”
“You’re welcome.” Kukuaa and Ewuresi came downstairs.
“Mum, we’re off to wash and braid our hair.”
“Okay, get me my purse.”
“I brought it down.” She gave it to her and she opened it. She did a quick calculation of how much it would cost and handed some notes to Kukuaa. She counted it and made a face.
“It’s not enough.”
“Not enough? How much is hair washing now?”
“A little more, please.”
“For a pair of earrings and some ribbons,” Ewuresi added.
“So how much should I add?”
“Another twenty note wouldn’t hurt.” When Bisi looked at her, Kukuaa gave her a broad smile.
Bisi shook her head and looked into her purse. She gave another twenty note. Kukuaa peered into it and drew another note.
“Hey! Give it back!”
“Don’t worry; I’ll bring you the change. Let’s go, Esi.”
“Thanks, mummy,” Ewuresi said, pulling her cheek.
“See you, Nhyira.”
“Bye.” They started towards the door.
“Have you cleaned your rooms?”
“And emptied the waste basket?” Ewuresi nodded; Kukuaa made a gesture implying she’d do it when she returned. She blew her a kiss and walked out.
“What about you, big boy?”
“I’ve arranged my books.”
“Okay; and your bed?” He shook his head.
“Let’s go and make your bed.” When they got up, Fiifi entered.
“Hey buddy. I’m back.” He ruffled his slightly grown hair with his hand. Bisi forced herself to give him a welcome home smile.
“How was it?”
“Very sweaty but it went well. I wish you would have come with me.”
“I saw the photos online. Quite a number.”
“Oh already? I see.”
“Okay, since you’re home I’d just rush to the market and do some shopping. I didn’t want to leave Nhyira here all alone.”
“Why, where are the girls?”
“Off to the salon. It’d take them quite a while to get back.”
“What about my bed?” Nhyira asked Bisi.
“Let daddy help you with that, okay? I have left you breakfast so you can help yourself.”
“I’ll be back soon, Nhyira. Be good, okay?” He nodded. Bisi took her car key and purse and left.
This mysterious woman captured online with her husband kept nagging at Bisi. She had intentionally mentioned the photos were online so Fiifi would have a look and then explain himself without her having to confront him. What unsettled her was that she knew she had met the woman before but couldn’t remember who she was. Maybe she was fussing about nothing. Fiifi couldn’t possibly cheat on her, could he? She shook her head rigorously to banish those doubtful thoughts from her mind and concentrated on making a mental grocery list.
Fiifi decided to have a look at the photos as he ate his breakfast. He smiled and laughed at some as he recalled the events. He paused when he saw the one with him and Constance. Oh no, had Bisi seen this one? Well, even if she did, it didn’t mean anything. Just two people talking. But Constance and Bisi had met at the cocktail. It would look suspicious if Bisi actually remembered her. Did he have to explain to her or just let it lie? What if she brought it up? Was he going to lie to her or man up and tell her the truth? Maybe he shouldn’t be thinking about it too much or he’d give himself away and Bisi would sense his uneasiness. It’s just a harmless photo, period.
Bisi returned about an hour later and busied herself in the kitchen. Fiifi went there to keep her company. He realized she wasn’t talking much so he offered to clear the air.
“I saw the photos you talked about. I don’t know if you saw the one with me talking to some lady…”
No reaction from Bisi. She just kept on chopping.
“She’s an old friend; been a while since we saw each other so it was quite a moment when we ran into each other at the event.”
“One of your exes?” she asked, not making eye contact.
“No; we kind of worked together at a point.”
“I see; how long has it been since you last saw her?”
“Um…six years, I think.”
“Really? Wow. It’s funny but she kind of looks familiar. I can’t seem to place my finger on where I’ve seen her.”
“Well, it’s possible you’ve met. It’s such a small world after all, right?”
“Right.” After a moment of silence, he asked, “I hope the photo didn’t bother you.”
“Not so much. Was wondering if one of your past loves had just popped up. What unsettles me is that I can’t seem to remember her. I have a feeling I’ve met her not too long ago. What’s her name?”
“Nana Yaa,” he said from the top of his head. Oh why was he lying? He couldn’t believe himself.
“The name doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Don’t worry your head about it. I’m sure it will come to you.”
“Yeah, I hope so.” Fiifi’s phone rang. He excused himself and walked out.
Nhyira had said he saw her some weeks back and Fiifi claimed it was the first time in years. Who was lying? Maybe Nhyira didn’t see right. Maybe they looked alike. No matter how hard she tried to convince herself that Nhyira made a mistake, something kept plaguing her.
The girls returned home just in time for lunch.
“Awww…aren’t you two looking sweet? Now I feel like getting my hair braided,” Bisi said admiringly.
“We bought you a pair of earrings. We thought it would look nice on you.” Kukuaa gave it to her.
“Not bad. Thanks. I hope that doesn’t mean there was no change left.”
“I am a good girl, mummy,” she said, handing over the change to her. Bisi smiled contentedly.
“I’m hungry; is lunch ready?” Ewuresi asked.
“Yeah, you came just in time. Just set the table and we’re good to go.” Ewuresi nodded and headed to the kitchen.
“I’m going to empty my bin.” Bisi nodded. Kukuaa smiled and raced upstairs.
As they ate, Kukuaa brought up the photo issue again.
“We saw a photo of you talking to some woman. Who is she?” He cleared his throat.
“Some old friend.”
“I saw her at daddy’s office on my birthday,” Nhyira blurted out. Fiifi’s and Bisi’s eyes met.
“She’s pretty,” Nhyira continued.
“Um…yeah, I kind of forgot she came around some weeks back.”
“Wow, it seems the brilliant Fiifi Pratt is suffering from partial memory loss,” Bisi chipped in. No one could dispute the pitch of sarcasm in her voice.
“What difference does it make? We chatted for a while and we parted ways. No big deal.”
“It would have if I was the one who made such a narrative mistake,” Bisi pressed.
“What are you getting at?” Fiifi asked, his temper rising. Bisi shrugged.
“It kind of seems there’s more to the story.”
“Are we having trust issues here, B?”
“Should we?” She asked back.
“I can’t believe this,” Fiifi said with a chuckle.
“Which part, you lying or you being caught?” The youngsters could feel the tension rising in the room.
“Okay…should we give you the room?” Kukuaa said, attempting to get up.
“Sit down and finish your meal,” Bisi ordered in a stern voice. Kukuaa sat down.
“I have a feeling that you know how I know who this woman is but you’re reluctant to remind me.”
“Oh, so now it is my responsibility to reboot your memory?” Fiifi threw at her.
“Dad!” Kukuaa called out.
“You’re hiding something and I can smell it from here, Fii. You putting on a defensive stance tells it all.”
“Oh great, at least we know one of your senses is working just right,” and with that, he got up and walked out. Bisi bit her lower lip to keep herself from breaking down in front of the three pairs of eyes fixed on her.
“I’m sorry for ruining lunch,” she managed to say, avoiding eye contact with any of them.
“I’m sorry for bringing it up,” Kukuaa apologized.
“I’m glad you did. He’s hiding something; I can feel it. Why he won’t come clean, I don’t know.”
“Maybe there’s nothing to hide,” Ewuresi said.
“I understand your concern about seeing a voluptuous woman talking with dad online. But if dad says there’s nothing to it, why not trust him? He has you, why would he go out to see someone else?”
“Well, I gave him you two but he still went out and brought…” Ewuresi impulsively kicked her mother to stop her before she spilled the beans in front of Nhyira. Bisi pressed her lips together. She had already said too much. When she gathered the courage to look at her son’s face, he was looking at her with a puzzled look.
“I’m sorry guys; my emotions are all over the place. Can we just eat?”
After a few minutes, it was obvious, all appetite had been lost. Bisi felt bad about that. After the table had been cleared, Kukuaa and Ewuresi offered to do the dishes but Bisi refused.
“Thanks but I’d rather do them myself. I need some time alone.”
“Okay, make sure not to break anything.”
“I’ll try.” When the three had left to their rooms and Bisi was all alone in the kitchen, she broke down into sobs. She covered her mouth to muffle the sound. What was wrong with her? How could she accuse Fiifi of doing something wrong when she had no evidence? Why attack him on a mere hunch?
The drive to church the next day was a very quiet one. Fiifi was clearly offended and Bisi still had that suspicious look on her face. When they entered the church, Bisi had planned on sitting anywhere else except beside him but unfortunately the usher urged her to sit next to him. She reluctantly obliged. They were both absent-minded throughout the service, each one absorbed in his/her thoughts. The words of the sermon entered one ear and exited the other. Then it was time to take the Holy Communion. When it got to their row and the deacon got to them, Bisi reached out to take the flat bread but Fiifi held her hand and put it down. Bisi glared at him and attempted it again but Fiifi held her hand and put it down again. He gestured to the deacon to pass them by. He released her hand when the deacon was far gone. Bisi folded her arms with a scowl on her face.
After service, the youngsters bought some pastries, spring rolls and chilled sobolo drinks and ate in the car on the drive back home. Bisi distracted herself with her phone. Fiifi’s brain was tired of thinking about the issue. It was obvious Bisi wasn’t planning on letting this go unless she was convinced that the woman in the photo was no threat. So far, she hadn’t figured out that it was Constance and that was his safe zone. If she found out, she might be able to connect the dots and he was afraid of what would happen next.
When he entered the bedroom, Bisi was already undressing.
“Next time, don’t you interrupt me when I’m worshipping,” she warned.
“You know very well we were both not in the right of frame of mind and spirit to be taking the communion today. You must be thanking me for saving you from incurring God’s wrath on yourself.”
“Whatever,” she muttered. She knew he was right but she wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of admitting that. She heard him sigh behind her.
“I really wished you could take my word for it. But if you can’t, I’d do whatever it takes for you to have your suspicions clarified. Should I arrange a meet for the two of you? Will that make you feel better?” he proposed. It was a dangerous gamble, one he hoped Bisi would decline. She turned to look at him.
“Whatever makes you sleep at night, Fii,” she said and left the room.
This wasn’t good, Fiifi thought worriedly. How could he have been so reckless to have spoken to Constance that long in public? What was he to do?
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XXIII here.