Read Chapter 15 here.
One weekend, Ida took Nadia and Ayesha out for a girls’ hangout. They went to the spa and had lunch. They were returning to Ida’s car from an ice-cream shop when Ida heard her name. They all turned.
“Yaw. Oh hi. Long time no see. Girls, please get in the car. Will be with you in a moment.”
Yaw walked up to Ida as the girls sat in the car.
“Where have you been? Felt like you vanished out of thin air. Tried reaching you and always met a blank,” Yaw said.
“I know; I’m sorry. Had to skip town for some time. Had some issues to sort out.”
“With your husband?”
“Um…yeah, something like that.”
“So you being back means everything is fine now. Things have gone back to normal?”
“Well, something like that.”
“So…are you coming back? We could pick up where we left off.”
“Please Yaw, I’ve my girls with me,” Ida said with gritted teeth.
“I’m sorry. But will you come? I’ve come up with new exercises I’m sure you’ll enjoy,” he said with a mischievous wink.
“I’ll think about it,” Ida said, opening the driver’s door.
“Same number, I hope?”
“Yep.” Ida sat in the car.
“Great. See you soon.”
“Bye,” Ida said and drove away.
“Who was that, mum?” Nadia asked.
“My former gym trainer.”
“I see…that explains the muscle. He wants you to come back?”
“He suggested it, yeah.”
“And will you?”
“You don’t think I should?”
“You already look great, mum. I don’t think you need gym time to look any better.”
“Come on Nadia, if working out in a gym keeps Auntie Ida’s shape tight and spirits up, why discourage her? If you miss it, by all means, go back,” Ayesha countered.
“Thanks, Ayesha. But I told him I’ll think about it. I hadn’t considered going back though but if the motivation comes back, why not?” Ida said with a shrug. Nadia rolled her eyes and looked away as Ayesha chuckled.
“I know why you were in support of mum going back to the gym and that’s pretty selfish of you, Ayesha,” Nadia accused when they entered her room.
“What are you talking about?” Ayesha asked innocently.
“You know a major reason why my mum and dad separated had got to do with this gym guy. And now that she’s back and you can’t hang out with my dad, you want her out of the way and this guy provides the best distraction, isn’t it?”
“Wow Nadia, you give me too much credit. My point is, our dads go out to do whatever they want whenever they want. Why should your mum not enjoy her fair share of the pie?”
“This isn’t because you care about women’s rights, Ayesha. In case you’ve forgotten, I know you and I can read you very well.”
“Fine. Think whatever you want. Don’t you miss how things were before she came? Because I do. The truth is, none of us are saints, including your mother. Look at us all tiptoeing around her like rats, hoping she wouldn’t suspect anything. Sooner or later, she would unless she has a distraction of her own. This way, we are all even in terms of skeletons in our closets,” Ayesha said.
“The fact that you lost your mother doesn’t mean I should lose mine too, Ayesha. She’s staying,” Nadia said firmly.
“That’s fine. Then know that, my dad is also out of bounds.”
“That’s not up to you to decide.”
“Oh honey, if only you knew.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I could say the same to you about my dad, you know,” Nadia said.
“No, you couldn’t,” Ayesha said coolly and sighed.
“Why can’t you understand that I love my family to be together? If your mum was alive, wouldn’t you wish the same?”
“Of course, I would. Alright, I’m sorry; I take back what I said. I hope Auntie Ida stays as that will make you happy; and I mean it. Let’s just hope that she doesn’t take up on the gym guy’s offer.”
“Yeah, let’s hope.”
“Mum! What are we having for supper?” Nadia asked as she entered her parents’ room.
Ida was in the bathroom but the door was open.
“I thought we could have rice with the vegetable sauce from yesterday. So kindly cook some rice.”
“Oh okay. I thought we were going to try out a new recipe today.”
“Oh sorry, honey. Another time,” Ida said, coming out. Nadia gave her a once-over.
“You stepping out?”
“Yeah. Heading to the gym. Won’t keep long. It’s been just a couple of weeks since I’ve been back and I feel heavy already,” Ida said, packing her gym bag. Ida turned to look at her daughter when she realized Nadia hadn’t moved.
“What is it, Nadia?”
“You are going back to the gym,” Nadia said, more of a glaring statement than a question for verification.
“Yes, I am. Why, what’s the problem?”
“Back to the same instructor?”
“Yes, I’ve a membership there.”
“You just got back, mum and you’re already going back out there?”
“What are you talking about? I’m only going to train, honey…”
“Please mum, let’s not pretend that’s the reason for going.”
“Pretend? What do you think is my reason?”
“Why did you leave in the first place, mum?” Nadia challenged. Ida exhaled deeply. She zipped up her bag.
“Your dad said he’s meeting up with his campaign team to discuss strategy so might be home a little late. Take care of yourself. Will be back soon,” Ida said and left with the bag.
“Can’t believe this,” Nadia said, shaking her head as tears filled her eyes.
Nadia entered Tariq’s house. She heard male laughter coming from the dining room. Omar saw her first.
“Hi dad. Hi Uncle T.”
“Hey. How are you doing?”
“Good. Miss me?”
Ayesha entered with two plates of food.
“Hey sis! What a pleasant surprise!” Ayesha said, setting the plates before Tariq and Omar.
“You came right on time. Want to join us for dinner?”
“Great. Have a seat while I fix you a plate.”
“Mum said you were going to have a campaign strategy meeting.”
“Yep. Finished not too long ago.”
Ayesha came in with two plates and handed one to Nadia and sat next to her father, opposite her.
“I happened to overhear the budget for this year’s campaign. It’s mad.”
“General elections are like Christmas holidays coming early.”
“So how long has this been going on?” Nadia interrupted. They all looked at her.
“How long have you been meeting here in the name of campaign strategy?”
“Is there a problem?” Ayesha asked.
“I’ve been meeting up with T long before you were born and that’s not going to change.”
“And leaving me out of it? I thought we all had an understanding.”
“I thought you said you wanted to spend more time with mum…to make up for time lost,” Ayesha interjected.
“So what, you’re punishing me for it, huh? You get to have both your dad and uncle lover while I get nothing?”
“Hey, hey, let’s not turn this into a fight, okay? At least, let’s finish dinner and we’ll talk like adults,” Tariq said.
“Talk like adults? How am I talking right now? Like a toddler?”
“Calm down, Nadia. I agree with T, let’s finish dinner first. Let’s not waste this great meal over a tense conversation,” Omar pleaded.
“I don’t mean for it to be a tense conversation. I just asked a simple question.”
“You know the answer, Nadia. Perhaps the real question is, why are you here? You said you were having mummy-daughter time today,” Ayesha said.
Nadia looked down onto her plate and started playing with the fork.
“She went to the gym.”
“Did she now?” Ayesha asked, smirking.
Tariq and Omar shared a glance.
“I see. It seems things are going back to normal,” Omar remarked.
“Who would blame her if her husband is meeting up with his niece lover under the guise of campaign meeting?” Nadia accused.
“I’m meeting no niece lover or whatever you call it. I did have a campaign meeting with Uncle T.”
“Who does a campaign meeting with a member of the opponent party?”
“We do because we are friends, not enemies. The plan is for both of us to win our seats. The fact that Ayesha is here is a pleasant bonus, of course,” Omar said.
“And me? You’ve barely looked at me since my mother returned, Uncle T,” Nadia said.
“Because it’s obvious you want to spend time with her. And I understand. Who wouldn’t?” Tariq said defensively. When Nadia stared at him with sad eyes, Tariq kissed her forehead.
“I’ll always be here for you.”
“We are always here for you,” Ayesha repeated with a smile, placing her hand on top of Nadia’s.
“Whoa honey, you look like you’ve run a marathon,” Omar said when Ida entered the house.
“That’s because I have. I ran 1 kilometer today.”
“Wow. That’s great.”
“Yeah, I feel great.”
They shared a brief kiss.
“Let me go shower and join you shortly. Had dinner?”
“Yeah, had some at Tariq’s.”
“Ok great. Do you mind if we have a night cup?”
“That would be nice. I’ll boil the water.”
Later as Ida leaned against Omar on the couch, Omar muttered, “For a moment, I wondered if you had gone back. Gone back there…to him.”
“I thought about it. Almost did actually. But I remembered the promise we made to each other and I changed my mind. I want us to work, Omar; I don’t want to lose my family again.”
“Thank you, Ida. I love you.” They kissed.
“Are you sure you don’t want to join us?” Ayesha asked as she brushed her hair edges, staring into the mirror.
“For the tenth time, no. I don’t feel like going out,” Nadia said, flipping through a magazine.
“Okay…just wanted to give you yet another chance to change your mind,” Ayesha said, putting on lipstick.
“And be a third wheel on your date? No thanks.”
“It’s a music concert, Nadia; not an intimate dinner. Who knows, you could meet a cool guy on location as well.”
“Thanks but I’m good.”
“So you’re going to be all by yourself?”
“I’m not a kid, Ayesha. I’ll be fine all by myself.”
“But I don’t want you to. I can’t in good conscience go out and have fun while you coop up in here.”
“Who says I don’t have plans of my own?”
“Oh do you? Someone I don’t know?”
There was a knock on the door.
“Must be Jamal. Okay, I’m off. In case you’re feeling lonely, just text me, yeah? I’ll hurry right back,” Ayesha said and kissed Nadia on the cheek.
“I won’t be so have fun. We’ll have our own hangout this weekend.”
“Of course. Take care!”
Ayesha opened the door. Jamal whistled.
“You’re looking fine!”
“I’m a fine looking girl, gentleman. My dad always tells me. Want to say hi to Nadia?”
“Sure. Hey Nadia.”
“Hi Jamal. How are you doing? You dress up nice.”
“Thanks. If I’m taking your sister out, I must dress the part, right?”
“Of course. Have fun, you two.”
Nadia waited ten minutes after they had left. Then she took her phone and purse and left the room.
Tariq was watching a movie and having a drink when the doorbell rang. He checked the time on his watch and got up.
“Nadia? What are you doing here? It’s pretty late,” he said as Nadia entered. He closed the door.
“I know. Thought I’d spend the night here.”
“Out with Jamal. I’ve missed you,” Nadia said and kissed Tariq.
“You came with your car?”
“No; Uber. Let’s go to your room,” Nadia said impatiently, dragging Tariq by the arm.
They were in the throes of passion when Tariq heard a car horn.
“Who could that be?”
“Nobody. It could be the next house,” Nadia said. The car honked again. Tariq looked out of the window.
“No. It’s here.”
“Oh come on, who comes visiting at night?”
“You did,” Tariq said, getting up. He quickly dressed up and got out of the room.
Tariq opened the door and Ida came in crying.
“Ida? What’s wrong? You had a fight with Omar?”
“No, it’s not Omar. It’s me, Riq.”
“What do you mean? Come and sit down.”
They sat down together.
“I broke my promise, Tariq. I swore I wouldn’t go back but I did. I went back to him.”
“The gym guy? What was his name again?”
“Yaw. Yes, I did. I feel terrible, Tariq.”
Tariq rubbed her back soothingly.
“Was a moment of weakness, Ida. We all face them. The most important part is, is this going to be a one-off thing or do you intend for it to continue?”
“I don’t want to, Riq but I don’t trust myself. Sometimes I feel lonely and most times, Omar isn’t around and… what do I do, Tariq?”
“Do you want your marriage to work, Ida?” Tariq asked.
“You know I do but being married to Omar isn’t easy. You know that. He says he’s not sleeping around anymore but something tells me it’s not entirely true.”
Tariq said nothing. “Is it?”
“You know better than to expect me to spill any beans, Ida.”
“Yeah, yeah, the bro code and all.”
“But anytime you feel tempted to go to meet this guy, why don’t you call me up? I could help distract you from him.”
“That would be great, T. Thanks.”
“I’ll get going. Thanks for hearing me out.”
“Anytime. We’re family, remember?”
Tariq walked Ida to her car and opened it for her. They hugged.
“You’re a good woman, Ida; just not perfect. But don’t worry, we all love you just the way you are.”
“Thank you. Needed to hear that.”
She got into the car and drove away.
A few minutes later, Tariq returned to the bedroom.
“Wow…didn’t know my mum made late night visits here too.”
“She just wanted to talk.”
“Uh huh…offloading her guilt on you. How generous of her.”
“You were listening.”
“Of course I was. For a moment, I feared you were shagging both of us.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
Nadia laughed as she pulled Tariq on top of her.
“Where were we?”
(c) Josephine Amoako 2020
Read Chapter 17 here.