Read Chapter 26 here.
Nadia and Ayesha met up for lunch one afternoon to catch up. By the time Ayesha arrived, Nadia had already ordered for samosa and was eating them.
“Wow…hungry much? Couldn’t wait for your sister?” Ayesha asked as she sat.
“You’re almost always late to our appointments, Ayesha. This was to while away the time.”
“Come on, I’ve been late just once or twice. I know how to keep to time.”
“Uh huh; only when Papa calls.”
Ayesha chuckled as she took one samosa from Nadia’s plate and bit into it.
“So how’s work? Is my mum stressing you out like she did to me?”
“Actually, we seem to work pretty well together. I always anticipate what she would need so there is hardly any issue.”
“Mother and niece cum side chick working together in uncle cum sugar daddy’s company….if mum ever finds out…” Nadia said.
“She won’t,” Ayesha cut in, “because we are no longer active.”
“Oh you two have wrapped it up?”
“I’m someone’s wife now, Nadia. I need to pay attention to my new marriage.”
“Well, my dad was, no actually is someone’s husband but you had no qualms being the third presence in their marriage.”
“Your mother was hardly available, Nadia; please let’s not do this. We’ve already had this argument and moved on. Besides, this is crucial. Jamal is beginning to suspect.”
“Please let’s order first.”
Nadia called the waitress who walked over to take their orders. After they had been served and tasted food from each other’s plate, Nadia asked again, “What exactly is Jamal suspecting, Ayesha?”
“So on the day that we came over for my dad’s congratulatory dinner, your dad, oblivious to Jamal’s presence in the room, hugged me a little too excitedly.”
“Yeah and Jamal wasn’t exactly amused about it.”
“I smell trouble,” Nadia said in a singsong manner.
“Yeah, so I need to back off for a little while.”
“Maybe if he could see me with your dad, perhaps he would realize it’s just a family thing and not make a fuss about it.”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to give him the chance to make me choose between him and my family.”
“Any man who attempts that has already lost the woman,” Nadia said.
“Well, I don’t want to lose him.”
Nadia raised a brow. “You really do love this guy, don’t you?”
“I do. He reminds me of how good I can be, how much goodness I deserve despite all the wrong I’ve done.”
“And if you were to find out he was cheating on you, how would you take it?”
“I know I should take it as karma but it would hurt me, I must admit. Enough about me, what’s up with you and Taye?
“We are alright. He’s cool. But I think I feel a bit dissatisfied because of who I’ve to measure him by. From Uncle T to Taye, it’s like getting used to iPhone and then being handed a Samsung. Quite underwhelming.”
Ayesha laughed. “Oh so you testify that my dad is quite the lover boy. Don’t worry, when you take your time to appreciate your Samsung, you realize it is actually quite good. You can survive without an iPhone.”
“Is that what you’re doing with Jamal, surviving?” Nadia asked. Ayesha shrugged.
“Like you, I’m having to appreciate what life’s like before phones turned smart, you know? It’s humbling but quite a learning experience. I think I understand why you need to go to high school before attempting college.”
They both burst into laughter.
“They have spoiled it for us, haven’t they?”
“Omar?” Tariq called when he entered the house.
“T? Over here! In the dining room,” Omar replied.
Tariq walked up to Omar to find an earthenware bowl of ‘ampesi’ and ‘nkontomire abom’.
“What? Don’t remember the last time I had some.”
“Join me then.”
Tariq sat down and washed his hand in a bowl of water on the table.
“Ida prepared this for you? Where’s she?” Tariq said when they started eating.
“She’s out. She made this before leaving. We seem to have an understanding. As long as she feeds me, she can go and stay out as long as she wants.”
“You don’t mind that she could be seeing someone?”
“Oh I do but I haven’t found time for that vagabond yet. Have a lot on my plate at the moment. So what brings you here, brother? This wasn’t just a courtesy call, was it?”
“You know about the bill presented to the House to be passed, right?”
“Uh huh, what about it?”
“We need your side to support it so we can have it passed.”
“Huh…the perks of having a hung parliament. Sure, what’s in it for me?”
“From me personally or from the government?” Tariq asked. Omar looked at him.
“What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine so why would I ask for anything from you?”
Tariq sighed. “Okay…are you asking for yourself or for your party?”
“You need me to convince enough people to pass the bill, right? I’d need some contracts for my company.”
“Deal. You know that goes without saying, Omar.”
“I call first dibs on every contract in my area of interest.”
“Sure. So do I have your word that your side would be co-operative?”
“I’ll do my best but yeah, you have it.”
Omar’s phone beeped. He checked the screen and ignored it. The beeps continued for the next minute.
“Who’s that…Ayesha?” Tariq asked when he read his daughter’s name on Omar’s phone.
“Are you two still…? I thought it was over since she walked down the aisle.”
“It was…it is. That was the plan but it seems the transition is going to take some more time than previously anticipated.”
“End it, Omar. If it’d take you to ignore Ayesha for her to get the message, do it. We have a chance to keep this to the four of us and I’d very much like to keep it that way. We have a better chance of taking it to our graves than letting outsiders in on it.”
“I know and I’ll do just that. You have my word.”
Ayesha and Nadia entered a busy pub one night.
“Did he say where he was seated?” Ayesha asked as Nadia looked around.
Taye got up when the ladies approached.
“Hi babe.” He kissed her on the cheek. They all sat.
Nadia took the menu while Taye signaled a waiter. When he got to their table, Nadia ordered cocktails for herself and Ayesha.
“Did I get that right?” Nadia asked Ayesha when the waiter walked away. Ayesha smiled and nodded.
“Huh. You do know each other well.”
“We are sisters after all.”
“So how’s marriage treating you?” Taye asked.
“Not bad. Are you planning on take my sister to the altar anytime soon?” Ayesha asked.
“Wow…trying to get him to bolt out the door, huh?
“We are not there yet but I really do like Nadia and if she sticks around till we are both ready, we can take that chance.”
The drinks arrived and the ladies sipped.
“So do you miss this? Chilling out, dancing and drinking the night away?”
“Your question seems to suggest I don’t get the chance to hang out when I feel like it. I’m not fun-deprived in any way, Taye; that I can assure you.”
“Oh I see. Nadia tells me you grew up together and practically share parents. You two are lucky. Not everyone gets that.”
Ayesha glanced at Nadia. “Uh huh. Yeah. We are really lucky. Blessed to have a pair of fathers.”
Nadia winked at her as she sipped her cocktail.
Back in the car, as Ayesha drove, she asked Nadia, “So how much have you told your boyfriend about our family?”
“Nothing much. Just tell him what on a need-to-know basis.”
“You are sure you haven’t alluded to our relationship arrangement, right?”
“Of course not. How stupid could I be to reveal any of that?”
“Not at all. I just had this vibe that he was fishing for some information. So please be careful with him. Don’t drink too much when you’re alone with him.”
“Okay grandma, I hear you. Have a little faith, geez.”
“I’m sorry if I sound annoying. My father is a state minister now and yours is quite popular in the House as well. We can’t afford any slip-ups,” Ayesha cautioned.
“Gosh, is that what marriage has done to you so soon? You sound like a mom already.”
Ayesha hit her arm playfully. They both chuckled.
“You know I’m only looking out for us, right?”
“Sure, I know. Just pulling your legs.” Nadia held Ayesha’s hand and squeezed it.
Tariq was coming out of the kitchen, holding a glass of red wine when Bibi entered the house.
“Hey…was wondering where you could be. Tried calling but your number couldn’t be reached,” Tariq said as they hugged.
“I’m sorry. My battery died. Have you had dinner?”
“Not yet. Thought I’d come in earlier so we could dine together.”
“Great. Give me a few minutes and let me warm up something for us.”
She put her handbag down and went into the kitchen. Some minutes later, a plate of jollof rice was warmed and set on the table. Tariq poured a glass of wine for Bibi and they sat to eat together.
“Um…honey, I heard some odd news about your brother today.”
“Yeah…he seemed to be the bone of contention between two women. You know him best, is he the type to sleep around?” Bibi asked. Tariq cleared his throat.
“What exactly were the women fighting about?”
“One woman came at the other accusing her of snatching Omar from her. She even threatened to oust her on social media. I don’t think Omar needs that kind of attention right now.”
“I’ll talk to him.”
“You didn’t answer my question, T. Is Omar that kind of guy?”
“What kind of guy?” Tariq asked, staring at her.
“The cliché type: promiscuous, the choice sugar daddy for university girls.”
“No,” Tariq replied and resumed eating.
“Really? Because it’s okay if he is. It wouldn’t surprise me. He kind of looks like the type. And since you two are practically brothers, it begs the question…are you…no, have you ever led that kind of life? I’m not going to judge you by your answer, T. I just want to know so I’m prepared for any blast from the past.”
“Well, after my wife passed, I did find myself hanging out with a couple of women from time to time. I’m not exactly proud of my actions but I guess, I didn’t know which other way to grieve at the time. That’s why I’m so glad you came into my life, Bibi,” Tariq said, taking her hand into his.
“You’ve given my life a sense of stability ever since Tamar passed. You are heaven sent, Bibi.”
“The feeling is mutual. So please tell your buddy to quickly clean house before it goes public. Who can blame him though, with his wife messing around with the gym trainer.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to him.”
Bibi raised her glass. “A toast to us: to a happy, faithful marriage…always having each other’s back and taking one day at a time.”
“Cheers.” Glasses clinked.
Nadia entered her parents’ room to find Ida packing a bag.
“Hi mum, going somewhere?”
“Um…yeah honey, I’m traveling. For work purposes, actually. Should be back in ten days.”
“I see. Going alone?”
“Yeah…I’ve some meetings booked I need to attend to.”
“Right,” Nadia said with a nod. “Safe trip, mum,” Nadia said and turned to go.
“Want me to get you anything?”
“Nothing in particular. So surprise me, mum.”
“Alright. Come here,” Ida said, opening her arms. Nadia hugged her.
“My baby girl…you know I love you, right?”
“Yes mum. Love you too.” She pulled out of her mother’s embrace.
“Let me leave you to pack. I’ll attend to dad. I’m sure he’s done with his supper.”
Omar dropped a chicken bone onto the plate as Nadia walked in. She pulled a chair next to him and sat.
“Do you know your wife is traveling?”
“Why, is she leaving tonight?”
“I didn’t ask but she’s packing.”
“Oh okay,” he said and picked up another piece of chicken to bite into.
“You’re not worried?”
“That she’s leaving? She said it was for work.”
“And you believed her? You don’t fear that she could be leaving us again?”
“On what grounds? I’m a better husband now, I think.”
“If she decides to live abroad for some time, it’s fine. Most couples live that way these days.”
Nadia watched her father suspiciously. “You seem to be very cool about this. Why do I have the feeling you have something up your sleeve?”
“Who, me? I’ve a lot on my mind…more pressing issues. If your mum wants to fly out and blow away some steam, why not?”
“If you say so. Are you done?”
Nadia took the plate away to the sink.
Ida entered an apartment and was surprised to find it empty.
“Yaw? Babe?” She called out as she searched the place. No sight of his bag or anything belonging to him. She checked her phone and realized it was still on flight mode. She disabled it and switched on the Wi-Fi. She sat down and waited for the phone to connect. A few minutes later, the phone started beeping as the messages started coming in. She gasped and stood.
“What the hell?”
She made a WhatsApp call. Took a minute for it to get answered.
“Yaw? Just saw your messages. What’s going on?”
“Someway somehow, as my luggage was being searched at the airport, they found cocaine in my stuff.”
“Cocaine? But how? Did you leave your bag unattended to?”
“I didn’t. I don’t know at what point someone managed to plant it on me. I’m being set up, Ida.”
“By whom? This is unbelievable. So where are you now?”
“At the police station. I was lucky to get hold of a lawyer friend who is trying to get more info about this. I spent the night behind bars, Ida. Still can’t believe it. It’s not looking good.”
“I’m so sorry, babe. I wish I knew what to do to help. I just arrived and was surprised you weren’t here.”
“You know the worst part? It’s in the news.”
“Oh no! That’s terrible! How could be behind this?”
“I’m sorry but the only one who comes to mind is your dear husband, Ida.”
“Oh how? He didn’t know you were traveling too.”
“Maybe he did. This must be his way of punishing me for encroaching on what is his.”
“Ridiculous. And I can’t even confront him about it. Damn it.”
“I know. I’ll keep you updated.”
“Please do. Be safe, dear.”
“You too, sweetheart. Bye.” The call ended.
A message dropped from Omar.
Hi darling, arrived safely? 🙂
(c) Josephine Amoako 2021
Read Chapter 28 here.