Read Chapter 18 here.
Ida inserted the key card and the door opened. She entered with Yaw behind her.
“Cool. So I get an upgrade now that I’m messing around with an MP’s wife, huh?” Yaw asked as he looked around.
“Yes. People know my husband now and believe it or not, there are people watching us…me especially. Those bloodthirsty bloggers are looking for stories about whether I’m good enough for the ‘Honorable man’ Omar. As if he’s an angel,” Ida said, dropping her bag on the sofa.
“Neither are you,” Yaw said, wrapping his arms around her.
“Oh I know that. I’m very human,” Ida said as she wound her arms around his neck and kissed him.
Later on the bed as they lied in each other’s arms, Yaw asked Ida, “As you lie in my arms here, do you think there’s another woman in your husband’s?”
Ida sighed. “I think so. He says he’s done messing around and I’m tempted to believe him as he comes home much earlier than he used to but I still feel there’s someone in the picture. I feel her presence almost distinctly…when we lie on the bed, it’s as if she’s there with us.”
“Does that scare you? This unknown woman?”
“I don’t know if scare is the right word but it’s uncomfortable, to say the least. But knowing my husband, whatever they have going on won’t last long. He seems to get bored with them quite easily,” Ida said.
“Yeah, except me. I guess I’m the lucky one,” Ida said with a chuckle.
“You know you’ve spoilt it for me, right? I can’t seem to commit to anyone for long,” Yaw confessed.
“Oh I didn’t peg you for a one-woman kind of guy. We can end it here so you can go find yourself a wife. No hard feelings.”
“Not interested. Not now anyway. Not when I have you,” Yaw said and kissed Ida.
Ida and Bibi spent one afternoon together to acquaint themselves. They had lunch together while they spoke on lighter matters and shared laughs. They later found an ice-cream shop where they sat down to eat.
“So tell me about the girls. Sometimes I get confused. Nadia is your daughter, right?” Bibi asked.
“Yes, she is,” Ida said with a laugh. “I don’t blame you. Nadia and Ayesha are closer than twins actually. I was also very close to her mother, Tamar. We became like sisters. So we basically raised them together. I’ve always raised two girls and the girls have always had two sets of parents.”
“Aww…that’s nice. Lucky them. I wish we could also become close. Even if not like sisters, as least as friends now that I’d be joining the family.”
“I’d love that, really. Losing Tamar was like losing a part of me. Having to deal with her loss and my own marital issues turned me into a runaway coward, leaving the girls to the fathers to raise.”
“Huh. Now I understand why they seem pretty overprotective over Tariq and Omar.”
“Oh yeah, they are. When I returned, it took a while for them to fully accept me back; especially Ayesha. They felt betrayed by my leaving and were reluctant to receive me with the fears that I might leave again,” Ida said.
“Will you? Leave again?”
“I don’t intend to but who knows? I never thought I’d be the one to leave but I did.”
“Being Tariq’s wife by proxy since Tamar’s passing, any titbits or words of advice for me?”
“Well, Tariq is similar to my husband in several ways. He’s a sweetheart, no doubt but you can’t slack. I’m sure you’ve already seen that the ladies love him. Riq is a darling boy and he loves the attention. You just need to figure out how to manage him and please don’t have any expectations. Tariq and Omar are great guys but they have their flaws.”
“Naturally. Thanks for the heads up, Ida,” Bibi said.
“Oh my gosh, is that grey hair?” Ayesha teased as she held out a strand of grey hair from Omar’s chin. Her head was on his lap. Omar caught her hand as she tried pulling it. Ayesha laughed.
“Hey, put some respeck on it, alright?”
“It looks sexy on you though.”
“Is that right?”
“Uh huh.” Ayesha propped herself up on one elbow and kissed Omar.
“We are back!”
Ayesha quickly got off Omar’s lap and sat down, straightening her hair.
“Hey…what are you two up to? Got us some pizza. With vegetarian toppings,” Ida said, making her way to the dining room.
“Oh but why? Who upset you, Auntie?” Ayesha asked.
Ida laughed. Bibi came in, taking in the sight of Omar and Ayesha.
“Hi Bibi,” Omar greeted.
“Hi Omar. Father-daughter bonding, I see.”
“Yep. Just as Nadia is doing with my dad,” Ayesha rebutted with a tight smile.
“Where are they?” Ida asked as she reentered the living room.
“Outside, methinks,” Ayesha replied, sending Nadia a quick text.
“I’ll find them,” Bibi said, turning around.
“Oh don’t worry. They are coming in,” Ayesha said. Bibi gave her a wary look and nodded. She sat. Tariq and Nadia walked in a minute later.
“Hey babe,” Tariq said with a smile and kissed Bibi on the cheek.
“How was your hangout with Ida?”
“Really nice. I see us becoming friends already.”
Nadia rolled her eyes as she plopped herself down on the couch.
“Maybe we can have another girls’ hangout…next time with the girls as well. What do you say?” Bibi asked.
Ayesha and Nadia shared a glance and then turned their gaze on Bibi.
“Girls?” Ida called out with a warning tone.
“We’ll check our schedule and get back to you,” Nadia said.
“That’s fine. Will be on standby. Okay, so I’ll be on my way now. Ida, thanks for your lovely company today. Really enjoyed spending the afternoon with you,” Bibi said, going to Ida for a hug.
“Aww…don’t mention it, honey. It was my pleasure,” Ida said as she hugged Bibi back. Ayesha raised a brow. Ida rolled her eyes at her as she pulled out of the hug.
“Can’t wait for us to do it again.”
“Tariq, could you walk me to my car? Bye, Omar.”
“Bye, Bibi. Thanks for hanging out with my lady.”
Tariq stepped out with Bibi.
“I’m glad you had a good time with Ida,” Tariq said to Bibi as she opened her car door.
“I did. There’s one thing I find a bit odd.”
“Yeah, what is it?”
“Your cross relationship with the girls. When I came in and saw Omar with Ayesha, I don’t know, I had this sense of something going on. And you and Nadia as well…coming from wherever. Is there something I need to know, Tariq?”
Tariq chuckled. “We are super close and protective of one another, Bibi. That’s how we’ve always been. I thought you understood that,” Tariq explained.
“I thought I did but I just couldn’t shake my instincts away when I came in today. Am I going to find a rival in Nadia?”
“What? Come on, don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m being serious here, Tariq. Since you are all so close and protective of each other, then maybe I should stay away. The last thing I want is to be the misfit in the family, and making life awkward for everyone.”
“Don’t say that, Bibi. I admit, it will take a while for the girls to warm up to you but I assure you, they are really sweet girls. You will love them, I promise,” Tariq assured Bibi, rubbing her cheek with the back of his palm.
Bibi sighed. “I hope so, T. I really hope so.”
They hugged. Tariq kissed her cheek. She sat in the car and Tariq closed the door. He waved as she drove away. Tariq entered the house.
“Gone to the bedroom. Why?” Nadia asked.
“We need to talk. Bibi smells something fishy,” Tariq said as he sat down.
“Oh boy, why am I not surprised? I knew she didn’t have those weird eyes for nothing. What did she say?” Ayesha said.
“She said there was something off about you two. Were you two in a compromising position when she entered?” Tariq asked.
“Not at all. We wouldn’t be that careless,” Ayesha replied.
“We were just sitting together, T.”
“Well, she suspects something is going on between you two and us two as well. Even to the point of her reconsidering our marriage.”
“Hallelujah!” Nadia said, raising her arms in mock worship.
“Which I can’t allow to happen,” Tariq continued, giving Nadia a wary look.
“But why not?”
“Because she suspects something. And if they do break off, who knows what rumors she’ll start spreading about us? We can’t have her spreading Chinese whispers and undermining our well-calculated career lives,” Omar said. Tariq nodded.
“So what, we invite the python into the lion’s den?” Ayesha asked.
“What caucus meeting are you guys having?” Ida asked as she entered. They all sat up.
“Surprise…surprise. Can you guess it?” Nadia asked with a wink.
“Hmm…I would rather wonder. Ready for your veggie pizza?” Ida asked, walking back to the kitchen.
“Do we have a choice?” Ayesha asked.
“No, you don’t actually. Come help me with the serving,” Ida said with a laugh. “You too, Nadia.”
The girls got up and followed Ida into the kitchen. Omar and Tariq stared at each other grimly.
“We’ve got to be more careful,” Omar said.
“And Bibi? Jump ship or set sail?” Tariq asked.
“Here you go,” Nadia said, walking in with two plates of pizza slices. She gave one to her father.
Ayesha came in and also handed one to her father. She placed her plate down and went back into the kitchen. She returned with a tray of glasses filled with juices. Ida joined them and sat. Ayesha served them and sat as well.
“So, queen of the family, what’s your assessment of Bibi after spending time with her?” Omar asked and bit into his slice.
“She’s nice. I think she’ll blend in well. She was particularly curious about the girls; about how over-protective you are of your fathers.”
Nadia’s eyes met Ayesha’s. Ayesha kept a blank face.
“Really? What did you tell her?”
“That they were all you had when I was gone. She really wants to make you happy, Riq. And she fears her presence might upset the harmony of the family…”
“And she’s right. It’s better for us all if she stays out,” Nadia said.
“And why is that, Nadia?” Ida asked. All eyes were on her.
“I just think…we are fine the way we are.”
“Well, we may be fine but your uncle might not necessarily be. He is a man and needs his womanly comfort to warm his bed every now and then,” Ida said.
“He doesn’t need a wife for that, does he?”
“That may be true but he’s a public figure now and we can’t have slay queens revealing private messages on social media and stirring controversy, can we?” Ida asked.
“So what, we open our arms wide in warm welcome for the greater good?” Ayesha asked.
“Looks like it.”
“Why does the greater good always have to involve sacrifice?”
“Everything we do demands a sacrifice, honey.”
“But do you love her, daddy? Like you loved mum?” Ayesha asked.
“I can never love anyone as much as I did your mother, Ayesha; but I do like Bibi. She makes me happy,” Tariq confessed. Nadia almost choked on the pizza she was chewing. Omar tapped her back.
“Here, drink some juice.”
“Okay girls, I know this is a bitter pill to swallow but you have to swallow it. Bibi is joining this family and the earlier you accept, the better for all of us,” Ida advised.
“You must be Jamal,” Tariq said as he entered the living room with Omar. Jamal stood.
“Yes sir. Good day, Honorables.”
“Good day, young man.”
They both shook hands with him and sat.
“Have a seat.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jamal said and sat.
“My daughter mentioned that you had requested to meet with us?” Tariq asked.
“Yes sir. Ayesha and I have been dating for almost a year and I’ve graduated now. I intend for her to become my wife and that’s why I’ve decided to work really hard at my national service to retain my job so I can give her a good life.”
“Where will you be doing your service?” Omar asked. Jamal mentioned a financial institution.
“But why propose to her before you step out into the world? You have the chance to see a lot of older, more matured women and Ayesha gets to notice some more young men on campus. Why lock yourselves down this way?” Omar asked.
“Well, that might be a little selfish on my part but I do love Ayesha, sir and I’ve decided that it’s her I want as my life partner. And I believe she feels the same way about me. I’m ready and willing to make it work between us.”
“And what kind of life do you think you’d be able to secure for her? Since her mother died, she has been my most important treasure. How can you assure me that you can cherish her the same way or even better than I do?” Tariq asked.
“I know Ayesha grew up in a good home and you have done an amazing job raising such a true lady, sir. For now, I may not be able to provide her the same luxuries that she is used to. That is why I’m highly motivated to succeed in my career so I can give her the life she deserves,” Jamal replied.
“When do you plan to have your wedding?” Omar asked.
“We haven’t decided on a date yet.”
Tariq and Omar shared a look. Tariq picked up his phone and called Ayesha.
“Please come to the living room,” he said and ended the call. Ayesha walked in soon after.
“Why don’t you have a seat beside your boyfriend, Ayesha?”
She sat down, wondering what this was all about.
“We’ve talked to Jamal and he appears to be a decent guy; the type I’d naturally want for you. But I’d like to warn you clearly, if you ever take advantage of my girl or cause her to hurt in any way, I won’t take it lightly at all,” Tariq warned.
“He also says you’re yet to set a date for your wedding. Well, I have a pre-wedding gift for you anyways. Whenever you plan to have it, let me know. I’d like to pay for the wedding expenses,” Omar said.
Ayesha gasped. “Really Uncle Omar?”
“Of course dear. You are my sweetheart and it’s only appropriate that I send you off with your dream wedding, isn’t it?”
“Oh thank you!” Ayesha went to sit beside him and hugged him.
“Don’t mention it, dear.”
“Thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate it,” Jamal said.
“If you are done with the conversation, may I invite you all to the table? Lunch’s served.”
“Yes please,” Tariq said, getting up. He shook hands with Jamal again.
“Welcome to the family, son.”
“I’m honored, sir.”
Jamal glanced at Ayesha whose smiles lit up his heart.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2021
Read Chapter 20 here.