Read Chapter 17 here.
Jamal took Ayesha out to dinner on his graduation night. They clinked glasses and took a sip.
“So how does it feel, being out in the world, ready to change the world?” Ayesha asked.
“Hmm…exciting and a bit frightening. I mean, thousands of us have graduated from different institutions. And we both know jobs are not easy to come by these days. I’m optimistic that my national service office would retain me; that’s why I’m going to work my butt off there,” Jamal said.
“You’re the most diligent person I know. They will retain you if they pay attention to the hard work you’re going to do.”
“Thank you for believing in me. Although I’m glad to be done with school, a part of me is sad that I’m sort of leaving you behind…for those silly boys on campus to take their shot.”
Ayesha chuckled. “You were once a silly campus boy.”
“Yeah, until I met you. And I don’t want to lose you, Ayesha. I know you come from a good home and your father has done his best to provide you with everything. I know I’d have big shoes to fill to be able to provide as much as or even more than your father has and I’m ready to take on that challenge. I love you, Ayesha and I’d like us to be together forever.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m asking if you’d marry me, Ayesha.”
Ayesha gasped. “Is that a yes?”
“Yes, yes, it’s a yes.”
Jamal brought out a ring and put it on her finger.
“This is beautiful, Jamal. I don’t know what to say.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
“I do. Oh, I can’t wait to show this to my dad and uncle.”
“Speaking of which, I’d like to meet him.”
“Who, my dad?”
“Yeah…to introduce myself. I want to present myself as a responsible in-law to be.”
“Huh…you want to score points in my daddy’s book, huh?”
“I love you too, Jamal.”
Jamal kissed Ayesha’s finger with the ring.
“Let me see,” Tariq said, holding Ayesha’s hand and taking a good look at the ring.
“Not bad for a graduate. Hope he didn’t break his account for this.”
“Come on, dad. Am I not worth it?”
“Of course you are. But is he worth it? I don’t want some punk worming himself into your life because of your background,” Tariq said.
“He’s no punk, I can assure you of that. He is worth it. He has a heart of gold.”
“So I’m guessing he doesn’t know about Uncle Omar.”
“Oh he does…that he is like a second father.”
“So what, are you going to end things with Omar and get serious with the dude now that he’s put a ring on it?”
“End things? Which ring, this one? Come on dad, this is nothing. It’s a lame attempt to keep other guys off now that he’s out of campus. We are serious, just not me ending things with Uncle Omar level of serious,” Ayesha said.
“Don’t you think it’s about time? I mean, Ida is back and…”
“Having her own fun at the gym,” Ayesha chipped in.
“Nonetheless, Omar is her husband and if she were to find out, things could get ugly. Speaking of which…I was thinking of…”
“Ending it with Nadia?”
“Making things official with Bibi,” Tariq clarified.
“You’re going to propose?”
“Thinking of it. Omar thinks it’s a good idea.”
“Does he now?”
“Yep, works for the brand.”
“So maybe you should um…give Nadia a heads up? She could be the one to end things. I don’t mind.”
“Nadia won’t give up on you, dad. She’s pretty hung up on you.”
“This has got to end at one point.”
“Then it must be on her terms.”
“So I have to incite it? Make her catch me red-handed with Bibi? Why isn’t she like you?”
“Like me? Like what?”
“You are a player, Ayesha. I’ll give you that.”
“Thank you. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
They both chuckled and sipped from their glasses.
“Oh Ayesha, I wonder what your mother would think if she saw us sitting and talking like this.”
“That I’m indeed your daughter?”
“No doubt. Anyway, congratulations on your relationship with Jamal. Cheers.”
Ayesha entered Nadia’s room.
“Hey. You texted code red. What’s up, who died?” Ayesha asked as she dropped her bag on the bed. Nadia sat up.
“I think I’m pregnant.”
“What? Are you assuming or you know for sure?”
“That happens. Late by how long?”
“A week, five days…I know I’m late.”
“Okay…who’s the father?”
Nadia gave Ayesha an incredulous look.
“Is that a joke?”
“No. I could ask you the same thing, Nadia. For goodness sake, you’re not a naïve teenage girl. You know better than to let this happen.”
“I’m sorry if I was entertaining the idea of conceiving your half-sibling,” Nadia said sarcastically.
“Oh you knew what you were doing? And you think it was a smart move? What were you thinking? That my dad was going to take you to the altar?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong? Our dads are public figures now, Nadia. You are not just any young woman. You are my best friend. How do you want the public to accept that?”
“Since when did we care about what the public thinks? I thought we bragged about being unconventional.”
“Not at the risks of our fathers’ careers. And your mum? Do you think she’ll accept it?”
“With her personal dirty linen, I don’t think she has got the right to judge mine.”
“Okay back to the subject, what are you going to do about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you plan to do moving forward?”
“I’m not getting rid of it, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Girls! Dinner is ready. Come set the table!” Ida called out.
“Coming, Auntie!” Ayesha replied. “Let’s hope this is your period coming in late because springing up pregnancy news isn’t what we need right now,” Ayesha said and left the room.
Nadia entered the dining room to see the full table set.
“Why, who else is joining us?”
“Hopefully, the newest member of the family,” Ida said with a wink. Nadia glanced at Ayesha who shrugged. Omar entered.
“Hi Ayesha,” he said and hugged her sideways.
“Hi Uncle Omar. You smell nice.”
“Oh thank you. Now where’s your father?” Omar said, checking his phone.
“Speaking of the devil. Hey T! Was just about to call you.”
Nadia was about to say hi to Tariq when she saw Bibi behind him. She looked at Ayesha who seemed surprised to see her too.
“I can see you brought Bibi,” Ayesha said.
“Yes, I did. We were going to have dinner when Omar invited me over so I asked Bibi, would you like to come with? And she said yeah. So here we are.”
“You’re welcome to our home, Bibi.”
“Thank you, Ida.”
“Please sit, everyone.”
“Grace, anyone?” Bibi asked as the rest started digging into their plates. Ayesha and Nadia exchanged a curious look.
“Sure,” Tariq said and took Ayesha’s hand in his as Bibi’s hand found his. They all held hands. Ayesha saw Nadia rolling her eyes as Bibi said grace and she stifled a chuckle. They started eating afterwards.
“I hear you gave our man here a big boost with his campaign. Thank you very much,” Ida said gratefully.
“It’s been my pleasure, really.”
“Uh huh…making some of us wishing that we had a secret admirer to sponsor us,” Omar said teasingly.
“Bibi is a godsend to me,” Tariq said, holding Bibi’s hand. Nadia scowled. Ayesha kicked her beneath the table. Nadia cast a sharp glance at her. Ayesha shook her head at her and mouthed to her to chill.
“And I have some good news to share with you all. In this point of my life and career, I need someone whom I can trust and support me through thick and thin. Although I know no one can replace your mother,” Tariq said, looking at Ayesha, “I know she’d want me to move on and also give you a mother figure to be there for you…”
“She has my mother for that,” Nadia interrupted.
“Of course but it wouldn’t hurt to have another. You two have always had the privilege of having two mothers and fathers and I think it’s about time we balanced the equation once more. That is why I’ve asked Bibi to marry me,” Tariq announced.
“As thank you for sponsoring your campaign?” Nadia asked.
“Nadia! Please forgive my daughter. The girls are so fond and protective of these two gentlemen that sometimes I feel like I’m their rival,” Ida said, glancing at Ayesha who smiled back.
“That’s alright. I know it’s uncomfortable for us women to have another come into our space and compete for the attention we have so I get it. And I assure you Ayesha, I won’t come between you two,” Bibi said. Nadia was about to say something but Ayesha kicked her again.
“I hope so, Bibi. As long as you make my father happy, we’ll be okay. Isn’t that right, Nadia?”
“Uh huh,” Nadia said with a plastered smile.
“And I’m not the only one with the good news. So Ayesha’s guy proposed,” Tariq said.
“Yeah. Show them the ring, Ayesha.”
Ayesha raised her hand and showed off the ring.
“Wow…that’s pretty. Congratulations, honey. When are you inviting him over?” Ida asked.
“When would you like him to come over, Auntie?”
Ida glanced at Omar. “When are you free next week, dear?”
“Not sure. Have to check my calendar first.”
“Alright. Will let you know when your uncle confirms his free days.”
“Congratulations, Ayesha,” Omar said.
“Thank you, Uncle Omar.”
After dinner, Nadia went to her room. Ayesha washed the dishes while the adults chatted in the parlor. She went to Nadia’s room afterwards. Nadia was lying on her bed.
“Hey…are you alright?”
“So there has been a development.”
“My code red earlier today.”
“False alarm. Aunt Flo just came. Apparently, I miscalculated.”
“Right. Good news then.”
“How is that good news? This would have been perfect to break them up,” Nadia said, sitting up.
“Nadia, I don’t know where your head is at but you’ve got to stop this. It’s not healthy and you risk exposing us all,” Ayesha warned.
“Exposing what, you are officially someone’s fiancée now, right?”
“Exactly and that’s because you said we should put a stop to it for the sake of your mum.”
“And you haven’t exactly held your end of the bargain, have you?” Nadia asked.
“I don’t have issues handling my side of the court, Nadia. And you need to get your act together. Whether you like it or not, this Bibi chick is going to be part of this family. The best thing you can do is to act cool with her so she doesn’t become suspicious of you. It’s no big deal. My dad’s intended marriage to her is for his image. So why are you losing your cool over this?”
“I don’t like to share, that’s why,” Nadia replied, throwing herself back onto the bed.
“Umm…we have been sharing each other’s daddies since forever, sis.”
“That’s different. This woman is going to be my rival of sorts and I hate the idea of it.”
“You don’t have to see it that way. You just have to own your space. I don’t see your mum as a rival. I refuse to label it that way. It’s safe for my heart and blood pressure,” Ayesha said.
“I don’t know how you do it, Ayesha. It’s like you were born for this.”
Ayesha laughed as she joined her on the bed, lying next to her.
“It’s going to be fine, Nadia. Don’t stress yourself over it.”
Jamal opened his door.
“Hey, finally! Hope Google Maps didn’t throw you off.”
“Nah. Pretty smooth,” Ayesha said and they hugged. He closed the door as Ayesha looked around.
“Not bad for a bachelor,” Ayesha said.
“That’s why I have you. You’re going to make my life better,” Jamal said as he held her hand and led her to the sofa. They sat.
“What would you like to drink?”
“Water is fine. Treated myself to some smoothie on the way.”
“Is that your beauty secret, smoothie?” Jamal asked as he got up. Ayesha winked at him.
“Will be right back.”
He returned with a bottle of water for Ayesha.
“So how’s this place like? No landlord or co-tenant issues, I hope?”
“Oh it’s cool. So far no issues, I hope that doesn’t change.”
“And work? Any secret admirer yet?”
“Well, you know the ladies love me so…”
“It’s okay. Just being about seven weeks since I started so can’t complain.”
“Great. So before I forget, my family wants to invite you for dinner hopefully next weekend. We just need to confirm my dad’s and uncle’s free time first so keep that in mind,” Ayesha told him.
“Whoa…meeting both dad and uncle, huh? Gosh, why do I feel I’m going to get double-grilled?”
“Well yeah, that’s to be expected. But they are cool dads so don’t worry. Just be yourself.”
“Yeah but they are not just cool dads, are they? They are Members of Parliament as well. That sets the pressure point a bit high.”
“I live with them and I’m telling you not to worry. Just be your cool charming self and they will love you just as I do.”
“Talking of MPs, did you hear of the scandal with Hon. Foli and some social media influencer?”
“Don’t pay much attention to such news. They were having an affair?”
“Yeah. The lady leaked a video apparently.”
“Sheesh. I don’t know why they do that. Very immature of them.”
“Most MPs and ministers get caught in the web. I hope your dad and uncle don’t fall into this trap.”
“You can say that for sure?”
“I can. They are not saints but they wouldn’t stoop low to be with such silly girls. That I can bet my last coin on,” Ayesha said.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2021
Read Chapter 19 here.