Read Chapter 21 here.
Tariq and Omar sat facing the sea, holding glasses of whisky and smoking cigars.
“How does it feel being a husband again?”
“Fulfilling, exciting, frustrating….”
“I had forgotten how much attention they crave on the daily.”
“Welcome back to my world. And Ayesha? How’s she adapting?”
“Pretty okay; much better than I feared. She chooses not to get too close to Bibi; although I can tell Bibi wishes she would open up more to her. Ayesha would rather drive to your end and hang out with Ida and Nadia than buddy up with Bibi,” Tariq said.
“Yeah but she’s acting pretty matured about it. I thought she would give Bibi a hard time a little bit but she’s really cool.”
“You must be proud of her.”
“When was the last time you saw her?” Tariq asked as he sipped his drink.
“The last time you came over.”
Tariq gave him a wary look. “You know what I mean,” Tariq said and rolled his eyes.
“Again, the last time you came over. She’s pretty serious about this Jamal guy, you know. I hear she’s planning the wedding with Ida and Nadia. Speaking of which, what about you and Nadia?”
“Met for lunch last week.”
“How’s she handling your marriage to Bibi?”
“Pretty well. Our girls are matured now, Omar.”
Omar’s phone beeped and he swiped the screen.
“You must be kidding me.”
“A video of Hon. Bentum and his side chick has leaked. He’s trending, T.”
“Geez. Why do the old dudes always get caught in cheap affairs like that?”
“Because they don’t know how to play the game like we do, buddy.”
“Then let them learn. Their mess-ups give politicians a bad rap.”
“That’s what you’re worried about?” Omar asked, laughing.
“What should I say? They make it look like all MPs are suckers for going for university chicks.”
“Anyway, I miss the old days, you know? When we would go out of town, have fun and come back home?” Tariq said.
“Why do you think we are here?”
Tariq looked at his friend. “You have made plans?”
“Of course, T. I never ask you to come away with me without sorting you out, do I?”
Tariq smiled as their glasses clinked. They both sipped. Omar’s phone beeped.
“Spa time is up, T. Let’s go,” Omar said, getting up.
“What would I do without you?”
“Playing husband like a 30-year old man.” They both laughed as they walked back inside the resort.
“When was the last time you were with my dad?” Nadia asked Ayesha.
“Been quite a while. Because of the wedding planning and all…why?”
“Have you noticed our dads have resumed going out of town all of a sudden? That was the trend when we were young, before your mum passed and even after until…”
“We stepped in,” Ayesha finished it for her.
“And now, they have reverted to their old ways because we are not exactly available. Which is not my fault, by the way; your father went ahead to get married! And you are also about to.”
“What are you bothered about, really?”
“Didn’t you hear the Hon. Bentum scandal with some girl in level 300?”
“I did, so?”
“Don’t you ever worry that one day it could be our dads?”
“Oh no; they are pros, Nadia.”
“But with these things, they always catch up with them, don’t you see?”
“So what are you saying? We stage an intervention for our dads?”
“I don’t know…I think it was much safer when it was us…but with social climbers out there, you’d never know when they decide to pull a stunt and record an intimate moment and post it online.”
“I hear you, girl. We will sit our fathers down and talk to them.”
“So is your marriage to Jamal a cover up or is it the next chapter for you?”
“You mean, am I going to stop seeing your dad after I say I do? I don’t know, do you want me to? I know you wanted me out of the way when your mum returned but…”
“Yeah but since she’s still seeing that gym guy…”
“He must really be rocking her world for her to be risking her marriage like this.”
“You don’t feel the same about your father, do you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t feel your father is risking his marriage by going on weekend trips doing God know what but your mum is? Where’s the women’s support?” Ayesha asked.
Nadia shook her head. The door opened.
“Hey girls, I’m off to the gym. Would you be darlings to…”
“Actually, we were thinking of coming along with you today, Auntie,” Ayesha said.
“We were?” Ida asked with a raised brow.
“Really?” Ida asked.
“Yes, you see…I’m not exactly the size I need to be for my wedding dress and the time is drawing closer so I thought, why not hit the gym?”
“Ah…sure. Do you have workout clothes?”
“I’ll borrow Nadia’s. I know she has some.”
Ida looked at Nadia. “Yeah, sure. Let me get them.”
“Alright. Hurry up please. Don’t want to get caught up in traffic,” Ida said and closed the door.
“Seriously, Ayesha?” Nadia said as she got off the bed and opened her wardrobe.
“What? Aren’t you curious to see more of this gym guy?”
“Not exactly. I’m not your typical ‘I-smile-at-you-but-I-hate-you’ kind of girl. I tend to wear my feelings on my sleeve.”
“Don’t I know that? Something you need to work on, sis. Hurry and let’s go before we give your mum a reason to go without us.”
Yaw smiled when he saw Ida entering but she kept on a straight face. He started walking towards her with open arms but Ida gave her a slight shake of the head. Then he noticed Ayesha and Nadia behind her.
“Hi…I can see we have two visitors. I hope you are going to sign up,” Yaw said cheerfully.
“We’ll see. Just wanted to check out the place,” Nadia said.
“Feel at home. I’m at your service.”
“Just like you’re at my mother’s?”
Ayesha nudged Nadia. Yaw glanced at Ida.
“Don’t mind my daughter. She has always had a smart mouth. Go on, girls. Try the place out. Will join you soon.”
“Sure. I’m Ayesha, by the way,” she said, offering her hand. Yaw shook it.
“Yaw. Nice to meet you.”
“Nadia,” she said and walked away.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Yaw said after her. He glanced back at Ida.
“I know…they ambushed me about wanting to come and I couldn’t find a reason to say no.”
“That’s fine. Does your daughter suspect anything?”
“I don’t know; I don’t think so. She’s just mean sometimes. She’s protective of her family and gives anyone who tries to come close a hard time. She’ll come around.”
“So a moment in my office?”
“No; not today. Can’t give the girls a reason to be suspicious, can we? Now, go be a sweetheart and attend to my girls, would you?”
“Are you ready?” Jamal said to a blindfolded Ayesha in front of a door.
“Ready to take this off.”
Ayesha heard a door open and her hand in Jamal’s as they entered. He took the blindfold off. She blinked and looked around the empty room.
“Where is this place?”
“A place for both of us after we get married. What do you think?”
“Well…it has potential…”
“Oh you don’t like it.”
“Oh no, I do. I’m just picturing the place with everything in it, you know.”
“The place too small for you?”
“Not at all. I’m sure we’ll manage just fine.”
“No, we won’t. You don’t like this place. Took me a while to find a residence with a favorable lease, and in a good neighborhood. But if you’re not impressed, I’ll keep looking,” Jamal said.
“Oh no, please don’t assume that I don’t like this place, Jamal,” Ayesha said, holding his hands and facing him.
“I appreciate your efforts in ensuring that I get to be comfortable when we move in together. But I want us both to be comfortable. Besides, life is in stages, right? We start from here; hopefully we will upgrade in a couple of years. Sooner or later, we would be living in our dream house so please don’t worry too much about it, okay?”
“But how can I not worry, Ayesha? You’re your father’s only girl…only child. You are his world. I need to assure him I’m capable of taking care of you.”
“I know you will, Jamal. I know how much you love me and that’s all that matters to me,” Ayesha assured him, touching his cheeks.
“You come from a good home, Ayesha so that’s what you’d say but no, love isn’t enough. My ability to provide for you is equally important.”
“And I believe in your ability, Jamal; that’s all I’m saying.” Ayesha kissed him on the lips.
“You have a big heart, Jamal and I’m lucky to have it beating for me.”
Jamal smiled as he held her closer to himself. “No, I’m the lucky one.”
He kissed her back.
“Good evening, dad, Bibi,” Ayesha greeted when she arrived home several hours later.
“Good evening. Where are you coming from?”
“From Jamal’s. Guess what, he took me to see the new place we would be staying,” Ayesha said as she sat down.
“Oh yeah? How was it like?”
“It wasn’t bad. Very modest for a fresh couple. Was actually impressed by his efforts.”
“I see. Seems to be a guy with his head screwed on right,” Tariq remarked.
“Yeah, definitely. He’s someone you’ll be proud to have as a son-in-law, dad.”
“Maybe you should go check out the place, Bibi. See if it’s befitting for Ayesha,” Tariq told his wife.
“Yeah, maybe I should. We wouldn’t want our baby girl living in an uncomfortable space just because a charming young man whisked her away, would we?”
“Come on, it’s not bad, really. He’s hard working and I see the potential he has. We will be fine.”
Tariq and Bibi shared another look.
“I think I should still take a look. Just to be sure,” Bibi said.
“I agree,” Tariq said with a nod. Ayesha shook her head and got up.
“Going to freshen up.”
“Left some macaroni for you if you’re interested,” Bibi said.
“You know I love macaroni. Will be right back,” Ayesha said and went to her room.
Tariq slid his hand into Bibi’s and squeezed it. “Thank you, honey.”
“For warming up to Ayesha. I know girls her age aren’t the easiest to get along with but I appreciate the effort. Really.”
“That’s alright. Ayesha’s a sweetheart. Really cool to hang out with. Unlike Nadia.”
“I know. Nadia’s a tough nut to crack. But once she opens up to you, you’d realize she’s as a darling as Ayesha,” Tariq said.
“Is that so? How do you know?”
“I raised her alongside Ayesha. She’s my baby girl as well.”
“No wonder she has a crush on you.”
“Aha! I don’t know if I should tell you this but since I’ve no one else to gossip with but you, I might as well. I happened to pop in at the gym you recommended to me because Ida works out there and…”
“It seemed the lead trainer was acting a bit too familiar with Ida.”
“Did Ida see you?”
“No, she didn’t. I left not long after I saw them. I hate awkward moments.”
“I see. She’s been working out there for quite some time. It’s only natural that she’d be friendly with the trainer,” Tariq said.
“Yeah but that wasn’t the vibe I got. Call it a woman’s instinct but I think I can tell an affair when I see one,” Bibi said.
“Wow…my wife has got a strong instinct. Should I be grateful or scared?” Tariq asked with a nervous chuckle.
“Do you know something?” Bibi asked curiously.
“About whether Ida is shagging her trainer? Um…no, first of, that’s not the kind of information a woman would tell her husband’s best friend and second, I don’t have your strong sense of instinct, honey,” Tariq replied with a tight smile.
“Whatever. Going to shower. Want to join?” Bibi asked, getting up.
“In a minute. Expecting some important correspondence to drop.”
“Okay. Don’t keep too long.” Bibi kissed him and walked away. Tariq waited for Bibi to close the door behind her. He called Ida.
“Hey T! Was just thinking of you. How are you doing?” Ida said when she picked up.
“Are you alone?”
“In the house? No, Omar and Nadia are both home. Trying to reach Omar?”
“Can you move to a room where we can talk privately?”
“In the kitchen alone. What’s up?”
“Close the door.”
“You’re scaring me, T,” Ida said, closing the door.
“For crying out loud, Ida, if you’re still entertaining your gym boy toy, at least be a little smart about it,” Tariq scolded.
Ida swallowed hard. “Why, did someone see us? Who, where?”
“At the gym of all places! Can’t you try to be discreet a bit?”
“Wow…we have…I thought I was. Gosh, who was it, T?”
“Your new wife? What was she doing at the gym?”
“You recommended it to her, remember?”
“Why didn’t she call so we go together?”
“Does it matter? It seems nothing misses her attention so please, do the needful.”
“Which is what? Call it quits with him? What about you and your bestie? And don’t give me ‘it-was-just-a-business-trip’ line, T.”
“Do you want to keep your marriage or not?”
“Anyway, thanks for the heads up. So what, we have a spy among us now?” Ida asked.
“Don’t worry; I’ll handle it. Take care, dear.”
“You too, hon.”
Tariq ended the call as Ayesha plopped herself next to him.
“Fire on the mountain?”
“Will be quenched in a minute.”
“Fill me in?”
“No, honey; it’s above your confidentiality clearance.”
“Oh please, let me guess…Aunty Ida with Yaw the trainer.”
“How did you know?”
Ayesha smiled. “I’m your daughter, dad. Give me some credit.”
“Honey?” Bibi’s voice was heard behind them. They turned.
“Oh yeah, sure.” Tariq got up.
“Goodnight, dad. And remember, you have a daughter not too far from your room.”
Tariq laughed. “Will keep that in mind.”
Ayesha chuckled as she took the remote control and flipped the channel.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2021
Read Chapter 23 here.