Read Chapter 14 here.
“Congratulations to the latest MP contestants on the block,” Ayesha said, handing glasses of champagne to Tariq and Omar.
“Thank you. It’s been one heck of a ride.”
“Can’t possibly imagine,” Ayesha said, giving a glass to Nadia and taking the last one. She put the tray down.
“A toast to next level things,” Nadia proposed. They clinked glasses and sipped.
“I can’t believe you’re politicians now. We are going to be political babes now, Nadia.”
“I know. Who knows, our social media pages will soon be sources of content for the bloggers.”
“On that note, I need you two to be very careful about who you hang out with and talk to, alright? We can’t have any blowbacks from any loose talk from seemingly close friends of yours,” Omar said.
“Yes, Honorable,” Ayesha said teasingly.
They all turned when they heard the front door open.
The door closed. The four waited as they listened to the approaching steps.
“Hi. Nice to see all of you.”
“Mum?” Nadia called out in surprise. She put her glass down and ran into Ida’s arms. Ayesha quickly concealed her shock with her typical charming smile.
“Auntie Ida! You’re back! So good to see you!” Ayesha said, walking up to Ida and hugging her.
“Nice to see you too, dear. Look at you two, looking all big and womanly.”
“Thank you, Auntie. You’re looking great yourself.”
“Thanks, hon,” Ida said and her eyes met Tariq’s.
“Hey Ida.” They hugged.
“Nice to have you back. Why didn’t you call? We could have come to pick you up.”
“That’s okay. Wanted it to be a surprise.”
“And it’s such a pleasant one, mum,” Nadia said, unable to control her excitement.
Ida turned to Omar.
“Aren’t you going to welcome me home?” Ida asked with a nervous laugh.
“I’m still wondering if this is a dream or you’re actually here. God knows I’ve waited for so long to see you back,” Omar said. They hugged. Omar’s gaze met Ayesha’s as he rubbed Ida’s back.
“It feels good to be back,” Ida replied.
“Let me take your bag to your room,” Nadia said, pulling the suitcase Ida came with.
“I’ll help,” Ayesha said, grabbing the arm of a duffel bag. The two left the room.
When the bedroom door closed behind them, both Ayesha and Nadia let out a deep sigh.
“What the hell? Did you know she was coming?” Ayesha asked.
“No. She called three nights ago but gave no hint that she’d be returning.”
“But why now? Did she know about their political ambitions? Is that why she’s back so she can enjoy the status of being a politician’s wife?”
“Well, she has always known. My dad wouldn’t stop talking of his plans for himself and Uncle T.”
“I see. Well, maybe she isn’t staying for long. Perhaps she will leave again soon,” Ayesha said hopefully.
“Why would you say that? That’s a mean thing to say, Ayesha,” Nadia asked, puzzled.
“What do you mean?”
“She’s my mum, Ayesha! She left me and dad and she’s back and your first wish is that she leaves soon?”
“You want her to stay?” Ayesha asked, surprised.
“Of course I want her to stay. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because…if she’s here, we can’t…you know, hang out. Is that what you want?”
“I can’t think about that right now, Ayesha. I’ve always prayed for my mother to return and she has. Let that sink in and don’t make this about you,” Nadia said and left the room. Ayesha sighed and followed her.
“Congratulations, you two. I’m so proud of you both. Oh how I wish Tam was here. She’d have been so excited,” Ida was saying when the girls joined them.
“I know. I miss her every day,” Tariq said. Nadia sent a nervous glance Ayesha’s way. Tariq noticed how awkwardly the girls stood behind them.
“I think we should be on our way now. This is a special moment for you as a family so we are going to leave you. It’s good to have you back, Ida,” Tariq said and hugged Ida.
“Same here, Riq.”
“And I miss your cooking. I hope you’ll be doing some housewarming party for us – this place hasn’t been the same without you.”
“Oh Tariq, you’ve always been a smooth guy. Yeah, maybe. We’ll see how tonight goes.”
“Let’s go, Ayesha.”
“Welcome back, Auntie,” Ayesha said, hugging Ida again. When Ayesha’s eyes met Omar’s this time, he looked down at his feet as he nervously shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his hands pocketed.
“Bye, Uncle Omar.”
Ayesha and Nadia waved at each other. Tariq and Ayesha left the house.
For the first five minutes, none of them spoke. Tariq exhaled loudly.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Tariq spoke out.
“Uh huh. Did you know if Uncle Omar knew she was coming?”
“Not too sure. He never mentioned anything of the sort. Although he did pass a comment recently that he wished Ida was back so he could have the family man appeal to have more supporters,” Tariq said.
“Do you think she’s back for good or she’d be heading back anytime soon?”
“I don’t know, Ayesha. Could be either.”
Tariq turned to look at her when she grew quiet after that. She was nervously biting down on her nail.
“I know there are a lot of things running through your head right now but I’d advise you not to lose sleep over this. Things will sort themselves out.”
“For me, I’d appreciate some reprieve with Nadia and her drama.”
“Good for you. I don’t appreciate the interruption her arrival puts into our routine,” Ayesha said, pissed.
“I thought things were getting serious with Jamal,” Tariq remarked.
“It’s not the point, dad.”
“Don’t worry about it. Things will work out just fine,” Tariq said, sure of himself.
Ayesha stared at her father in disbelief and shook her head.
“For all the many months I’ve been by myself, I’ve thought long and hard about what I want and I’ve realized, I need you, Ida,” Omar said. Ida smiled at him. Omar’s phone beeped. Incoming call from Ayesha. He ignored it. The call came through again. He ignored it again.
“Are you sure you don’t want to take that?” Ida asked.
“Nah, it’s nothing.”
“Not one of your booty calls, is it?”
“Haha…no. It’s actually Ayesha. I’m sure she’s calling to say they have arrived home or something,” Omar said, showing her his phone screen with Ayesha’s missed call notification displayed.
“But why would she call you? She could have just called Nadia.”
“Maybe Nadia is in the bathroom or something. Don’t worry about it,” Omar said dismissively.
Ayesha groaned in frustration when her calls to Omar weren’t going through. She threw herself on her bed and hugged her pillow.
“I really missed you too, Omar,” Ida said emotionally as they played with each other’s fingers.
“Please tell me you’re back for good,” Omar pleaded softly.
“If you really want me to.”
“Of course I want you to. I need you to, sweetheart. I’m stepping into a new terrain and I need a strong partner by my side so I can fight confidently for my seat on the table.”
Ida stared into his eyes for a minute, hoping she could read Omar’s mind and figure out his true intentions.
“Okay? Is that a yes?”
“It means let’s see.”
Omar leaned forward and kissed Ida. Ida sighed into the kiss. She had really missed this.
Ida checked up on Nadia on her way to the bedroom. Nadia smiled when she saw her mother.
“Good to see you back, mum.”
“Good to see you too, princess. Have a good night.”
“You too, mum.”
“Aha, spoken to Ayesha?”
“You mean after she left? No, why?”
“She kept calling your dad and he said it was because she was trying to reach you.”
“Oh okay,” Nadia said, picking her phone. She touched the home button and the screen lit up.
“Missed call from her?”
“Yeah, two. Surprised I didn’t hear them. Thanks, mum,” Nadia said with a tight smile.
“Don’t mention. Goodnight.”
Nadia sighed when her door closed. She put the phone down and stretched on the bed.
Okay, this is awkward, she thought to herself.
Ayesha tapped both fingers on the table, impatiently. She stopped when Omar entered the restaurant. His eyes located her and walked up to her.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” he said as he sat.
“Not surprised. With having your estranged wife back in your bed, it would take an earthquake to get you out,” Ayesha said cynically.
“I’m going to ignore that tone for now but do well not to re-use it,” Omar said and signaled a waiter.
“A glass of mango juice, please.”
After the waiter had left the table, Omar asked, “So how are you?”
“How am I? How do you think I am? Auntie Ida drops back into our lives out of the blue, putting our lives and relationship in a state of uncertainty and you’re asking how I am?” Ayesha asked in a harsh whisper.
“Come on Ayesha, it’s not the end of the world. You’re still young. You can pick up where we left off with someone else. You said there was a Jamal, right?”
“Did you know she was coming back? Better yet, have you been in contact with her, asking her to come back?”
“And if I was?”
“What happens to us? I thought we were both into each other.”
“We were…we are but if I’m going to have a chance at a political career, I need to have a solid family appeal. Being separated and secretly sleeping with my best friend’s daughter doesn’t exactly spell trustworthy in the voter’s eyes,” Omar explained.
“Oh I see. So what, she’s going to stick around till you actually win the MP seat or she’s back for good?”
“Soon to tell. Ida has a mind of her own and who knows, she could pack up her bags tomorrow morning and leave. But for my sake and Nadia’s, I believe her staying is best. You know Nadia is a mummy’s girl and Ida’s absence really hit her hard. Having her back in her life would bring some sort of stability to her.”
“And if she leaves again? What happens to that stability? Won’t she be left worse off? The last thing we want is Nadia suffering abandonment issues,” Ayesha said.
“Exactly my point. Ida needs to stay.”
The waiter served Omar with his juice and left. Ayesha shook her head. Omar placed his hand on top of hers.
“We had our fun while it lasted, Ayesha and I’ll never forget it. From the way I see it, we can still see each other but we have to be extra discreet about it or we call it a wrap. Either way is fine with me. Why don’t you think about it and let me know your decision?”
Ayesha gave him a stern look and removed her hand from under his. She picked up her bag and got up.
“Enjoy your juice, Uncle Omar,” she said and walked out.
Nadia was setting the table whe Tariq arrived. Omar was watching the news.
“Hey, you’re finally here. Was just about to call and check in if something came up,” Omar said.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Did a few rounds which took longer than I anticipated. Hi Nadia.”
“Hi Uncle T.”
Ida came out of the kitchen.
“Oh you’re here! Great, dinner is ready. Where’s Ayesha?” Ida asked.
“Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it. Suffering from some bad stomachache.”
“Oh, sad about that. Is she getting better?”
“She had taken some medication and finally been able to take a nap. She said she’d call if anything comes up.”
“Nadia, did you know? Have you checked up on Ayesha?” Ida asked.
“Yeah, some hours back. She still wasn’t sure if she would be able to make it.”
“Oh okay. I’ll also call her. Let’s move to the table, please.”
“Oh finally,” Omar said with a sigh.
Tariq and Nadia exchanged a look as they sat.
“Tariq, I’d like to thank you for being present in the girls’ lives together with Omar. I was going through the girls’ timelines on social media and I love how close you’ve all become. Stepping in to co-parent Nadia when I wasn’t around was really thoughtful of you. Thank you,” Ida said.
“Oh don’t mention it, Ida. I was glad to. Because of the bond Nadia shares with Ayesha, being there for her was natural. Nonetheless, I’m glad you’re back. There are some things only a mother can best teach or support her daughter with,” Tariq said.
“I’m glad to be back too. I’m sad Ayesha couldn’t make it. Made her favorite Shepherd’s pie.”
“Don’t worry; you could pack it up for her. She’d appreciate it.”
“Okay, will do.”
While Nadia cleared the table after dinner, Ida called Ayesha.
“Ayesha, your dad told me you were unwell. How are you feeling now?”
“A little better. I hope to feel much better by morning.”
“Alright; if it persists, let me know. I can take you to the hospital.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that. You know I don’t fancy hospitals.”
“No one does but it’s necessary to go sometimes. Get well soon, alright? I’ve bagged some Shepherd’s pie for you.”
“Oh you have? I’ve missed it!”
“I know you have. Enjoy it and I hope it makes you feel better.”
“Oh it will. Thanks, Auntie Ida. Really good to have you back.”
“Same here. Take care of yourself.”
“You too. Bye.”
Ida smiled with satisfaction as she ended the call.
“Ayesha is excited about the Shepherd’s pie. She says she feels a bit better.”
“That’s great,” Omar said.
“Here you go,” Ida said, handing Tariq a paper bag.
“Thanks, Ida. You’re officially welcome back,” Tariq said, hugging Ida and kissing her on the cheek. Ida laughed.
“Let me escort you to your car,” Nadia offered.
“Thank you. Buddy, we’ll talk.”
“Sure.” They shook hands and did the bro hug.
Nadia and Tariq stepped outside.
“Is Ayesha really sick or is she just being…Ayesha?” Nadia asked.
“I think you know the answer to that,” Tariq said, opening his car door.
“I know mum’s presence makes everything sort of awkward but we can figure something out, right?”
“What do you mean?” Tariq asked, settling into his seat.
“I mean us. We will still see each other, right?” Nadia asked hopefully.
“Let’s see how we settle into your mother being back. We’ll see how it goes.”
Tariq started the engine.
“You look pretty today. What’s the secret?”
“Wearing a smile. Thank you.”
“Goodnight, honey,” Tariq said and drove away.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2020
Read Chapter 16 here.