Read Chapter 25 here.
Nadia picked up her phone at the second ring.
“Girl! Are you back already?” she asked excitedly.
“Yeah, sis. Just got home. How have you been?”
“Stressed out. My mother has been on my case every spare minute she gets. I don’t know why I agreed to work with her. She’s something else.”
“Haha…yeah, you’ve got to love Auntie Ida.”
“Anyway, are you up for some outing? Got us some tickets for Glitz Africa Fashion Week.”
“Oh great. Is Atafo showing?”
“Oh yeah. So are Duaba Serwa and Christie Brown.”
“Oh count me in! Miss you so much. We have loads to catch up on.”
“I know. Guess what, Taye wants us to be exclusive.”
“Oh yeah, that’s great! Told dad yet?”
“Yours…and mine, I think.”
“Not yet. As for yours, there’s no way I could even if I tried; not with Bibi all over him every single minute. Geez, that woman needs to get a life.”
“Haha…she happens to take her role as wife very seriously, Nadia. Maybe your mum needs to choose her as her next bestie. She might inspire some fidelity in her,” Ayesha said.
“Oh please, we both know that ship has long sailed. My regards to Jamal. We haven’t had much time to acquaint. When am I coming for dinner?”
“Anytime soon. Maybe next weekend.”
“Alright. Get some rest, sis. Let’s talk soon.”
“Alright. Is your mum around?”
“She has gone out for lunch. We both know what that means.”
“Same guy? Wow, sounds like a marriage to me.”
“Beats me. Anyway, bye for now. Love you.”
“Love you too, Nadia. Bye.”
Jamal entered the room.
“Who were you speaking to?”
“Nadia. Since you two haven’t really gotten time to acquaint yet, she’ll be joining us for dinner soon.”
“That’s great. Looking forward to it. Is it possible we would be joining your family for dinner also?”
“Very possible. Nadia’s mum would love to host us now that we’re in town.”
“Great. Thanks for the heads up. I always have to psyche myself up before sitting down with your two fathers.”
“Ah…what do you mean by that? My dad and uncle are not scary monsters.”
“Didn’t say they were monsters but they always watch me like a hawk.”
“Well, you came to marry their daughter. There’s nothing odd about that.”
“Maybe not for you. Put yourself in my shoes for a second and let it sink in.”
“So what, is that your way of saying you don’t want to be present at a family dinner?”
“If it is possible, yeah. Would appreciate it if we could keep it to a bare minimum.”
Jamal walked up to Ayesha and kissed her cheek. “It doesn’t mean I love you any less, sweetie.”
Ayesha entered an apartment and closed the door.
“Hello? Anybody here?”
Omar walked in, sipping a drink.
“My girl is back!”
“So good to see you!” Ayesha said excitedly, rushing into his arms. He kissed her cheek.
“Miss you too, dear. How was your honeymoon?”
“It was fun. Went sightseeing, had great meals, spent quality time together…it was good.”
“Good to know.” They both sat down.
“Is this place your new hideout?” Ayesha asked.
“You could call it that. Booking hotels is no longer a convenience now that I’m a public figure. You may never know who’s watching. I think it’s even more economical this way.”
“I see. How many chicks have you brought here?”
“Come on Ayesha, I don’t do that…anymore. I’m a responsible man now. I got this place a week ago.”
“Just for me?”
“You know you are a special one,” Omar said, pulling Ayesha’s cheek.
“So how have you all been holding up since I’ve been away?”
“Committee meetings here and there. I get to hang out with your dad whenever we get the time…did I mention Bibi seems to be quite the leech?”
Ayesha laughed. “Like father like daughter. Nadia calls her even worse. I don’t know why she has taken on the burden of policing my father. It would only end in tears for her.”
“Someone tell her that for me.”
“Do you have any food around? I’m kind of hungry.”
“Yeah, I ordered in. Help yourself.”
“Thank you,” Ayesha said, getting up. “So how long are you staying here for?”
“As long as you can. How’s your husband? Is he treating you well?”
“He’s fine. We’re still in the honeymoon stage. A bit too soon to tell, don’t you think?”
Ayesha walked in with fries. She sat back down and bit into one.
“Is he good…you know, under the sheets?”
“He tries. We’ll get better. We are learning together, you see?”
“Learning? You mean…you two never?”
“It never came up and besides, I was occupied.”
“So does he think he married a virgin?”
“I never gave him that impression but I’m holding my horses. Don’t want him to know how much I know…”
“Geez…that must be frustrating,” Omar said with a laugh.
“No, it’s amusing. Seeing him try so hard to please me. I think you’ve spoiled me.”
“Haha…let’s see him catch up.”
“Please don’t do that. He’s already trying to avoid family dinners. Don’t let him feel any rival vibes from you,” Ayesha pleaded.
“Of course, I won’t. But I’ll keep him on his toes, that’s for sure. Not going to tolerate any slackness from him.”
“I appreciate that.” Ayesha placed her head on his shoulder. Omar rubbed his palm on her arm and kissed the top of her head.
Tariq entered the kitchen to find Bibi dishing out jollof rice.
“Hey, you’re back! Right on time. Dinner is ready,” Bibi said as Tariq kissed her cheek.
“I’m afraid I’d have to take a rain check. Just coming from Omar’s place. Shared a meal with him. Sorry.”
“That’s fine. How’s Ida though? Been a while since I last saw her.”
“She’s fine. She’s been taking her job as general manager of the company pretty seriously.”
“I see. If I didn’t know better, I’d have said she’s avoiding me.”
“Avoiding you? Why would you say that?” Tariq said, taking a piece of meat from her plate and eating it.
“I don’t know…she hardly picks my calls. And on the few times she does, she’s always in a hurry to end it like I caught her in a bad time.”
“Could it be that is the case? Calling her at a bad time?” Tariq asked, taking another piece of meat.
“Every single time? Come on Riq, I can’t be that unlucky. Did you tell her what I said about meeting up with her trainer back in Lagos?”
“Come on, Bibi; give me some credit. I do know how to keep a secret.”
“I do hope so. Cause I’d hate for her to tiptoe around me because she doesn’t trust me.”
“I can assure you it’s nothing like that. Ida would love to be friends with you.”
“Yeah maybe but we can never be like how she was with Tamar, right?”
Tariq cleared his throat at the mention of his late wife’s name.
“I’m sorry. I know it still hurts to think of your late wife.”
“Yeah, I know it shouldn’t after all this while but it still does. I guess it’s because she deserved better than I offered her. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that.”
Bibi placed her hands on his cheeks, forcing him to look up at her.
“You may not be perfect T, but you are a great man. And I’m sure Tamar knew that as well. Please don’t keep punishing yourself over your past mistakes. At least you have the renewed opportunity to redeem yourself by loving me right.”
“That’s true. I promise to do just that,” Tariq said and kissed Bibi on the forehead.
“Wow…you seem to be getting better at this, T,” Omar said when Tariq’s golf ball fell into the hole.
“Isn’t that the point?”
“So I heard from the grapevine that you’re being considered for the Deputy Information Minister position.”
“Yeah and I think it’s a good start, T. You should accept it.”
“How did you get to know what’s happening in my party’s government?”
“We are birds of a feather, after all. We are all related somehow. Nothing happens without someone knowing,” Omar said.
“What’s the end game here?”
“As high as you can go, my friend. If we play our cards right, we can earn a foothold in our respective parties, T. We can play this game for as long as we want.”
“Well, when you first suggested we get party cards, I wasn’t thinking we would get here.”
“And yet, here we are! And this is only the beginning. Just think of the influence, power, not to mention the money…”
“Well, you do make a point.”
‘’So you’re going to consider it?”
“Yeah, I guess there’s no harm in trying. How are things between Nadia and her new guy?” Tariq asked.
“I think they are hitting it off well.”
“Okay great. At least, I can close that chapter. Don’t want her hovering around when more eyes are going to turn my way.”
“I think Bibi has been policing you enough to ward her off you,” Omar said, laughing.
“I know. I think it’s what I need right now. Women are a distraction at the moment.”
“But you must admit, some distractions are necessary, you know.”
They both chuckled.
“How are things between you and Ida? You two in a good place?”
“Yeah, I think so. She’s always around when I need her. But I can’t tell for sure if she’s still seeing that gym trainer.”
“And if she were?”
“I’d have to find time and deal with said man in a special way. He has no respect.”
Tariq burst out laughing.
“It’s not funny, T. How would you feel if you found out someone was unscrupulously bedding your wife considering your position in society now?”
“Well considering our own record, I don’t know if we have the right to get offended, Omar.”
“Hey, the women who lie with us use it as a bragging right. We are a catch, T. Imagine him sneering when he sees me on his TV screen and thinking to himself that, my wife warms his bed on the regular.”
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If you don’t mind women using you as a bragging right, then it is to be expected that someone else would do same.”
“Whose side are you on here, T?”
“You know I always have your back, Omar. I just don’t want you going to do something stupid that would cost all of us in the end. So whatever you plan to do, make sure you do it tactfully.”
“Of course. I know what’s at stake here, T.”
They both hit their balls.
Ayesha and Jamal arrived at Omar’s house with a bottle of wine. Nadia received them and offered Jamal a seat while she and Ayesha headed into the kitchen.
“Dad and Bibi are not here yet?”
“No. He called to say he was being held at a cocktail party so he’d be coming a bit late.”
“Oh okay. Good evening, Auntie,” Ayesha said, hugging Ida.
“Hi sweetheart. How are you doing?”
“Not bad. Miss your cooking.”
“Aww…I’ll pack some for you, okay?”
“Thank you! I’d really appreciate it.”
“Have you served your husband anything?”
“No…let me get him water.”
Ayesha took one bottled water out of the refrigerator and went to give it to Jamal.
“Would you like a drink?”
“No, I’m good. Thanks.”
Ayesha handed him the TV remote.
“Please help yourself. I want to give Auntie Ida a helping hand in the kitchen, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure, that’s fine.”
“Would you like plantain chips? You can munch on that while we get dinner ready.”
Ayesha joined Ida and Nadia after serving Jamal the plantain chips.
“So how’s le marriage?” Ida asked curiously.
“Not bad. I haven’t started throwing plates at him yet so I guess, we’re good.”
“Interesting standard you’ve set for yourself,” Nadia said.
“Oh yeah, I’m managing my expectations.”
“Where’s Uncle Omar?”
“He said he was meeting up with someone for a drink. He should be back anytime soon.”
“Why don’t you check in on your hubby? Maybe he’s bored being by himself,” Ida suggested.
“He’s not a baby who needs my constant attention, Auntie.”
“Huh. Sooner or later, you’d realize they are just big babies, honey. And yes, they need your constant attention.”
“Then why don’t you pay dad his required constant attention?” Nadia asked her mother.
“Geez, your dad is something else. No matter the attention you give, he craves more.”
Ayesha laughed as she walked out of the kitchen. Omar entered the house.
“Sweetheart! Baby girl!” Omar exclaimed with his arms open. Ayesha widened her eyes to signal him they were not alone. But Omar was too excited to notice. He hugged her and lifted her off the ground slightly and kissed her loudly on the cheek. He put her down when she whispered into his ear.
He turned and met Jamal’s eyes.
“Hi, son. How are you doing?”
“I’m doing well, sir,” Jamal said, taking in the sight of Omar’s arms around his wife. Ayesha moved out of Omar’s hold on her.
“That’s great. You’re looking well. She must be doing a hell of a job taking care of you.”
“I try,” Ayesha said.
“Yeah, she is. Oh you are watching the match? How’s it going?” Omar asked, sitting down.
“Get me a drink, please.”
“Yes, Uncle Omar.” Ayesha’s eyes met Jamal’s for a moment before she walked away.
“He’s back,” Ayesha announced as she opened the refrigerator and took out a drink.
“Okay, we are almost done,” Ida said.
Ayesha brought the drink to Omar.
Another look from Jamal. Ayesha shrugged and left them alone. Ayesha sat next to Nadia in the kitchen and texted her father.
“Could you drop your phones and start setting the table, ladies?”
Nadia and Ayesha dropped their phones simultaneously and got up. Ida smiled at herself.
Both girls turned their heads when they heard Omar’s words, “Honourable deputy minister!”
Omar and Tariq hugged.
“You are one good lucky charm, Bibi. You have brought nothing but good fortune to T since you came into his life,” Omar said.
“Oh I’m flattered. But I think I’m the lucky one.”
“Oh please,” Nadia muttered under her breath as she rolled her eyes. Ayesha stifled a laugh.
Jamal stood and extended a hand to his father-in-law.
“Congratulations on your new position, sir.”
“Thanks, son. Where’s my girl?”
“Oh my baby girls,” Tariq said admiringly as he opened his arms to both of them. He hugged both of them and kissed the top of their heads.
“Thanks, dear. Feels so good to have you all here to celebrate with me. And where’s the best second wife in the world?”
Ida walked in with all smiles. “Congratulations, Riq. So proud of you.” They hugged.
“Let’s toast to his success, shall we?” Omar suggested.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2021
Read Chapter 27 here.