Read Chapter 39 here.
“How is it possible that one woman can give birth to two babies with two fathers at the same time?”
“Everything in this world is possible, Jamal; just that some things are highly unlikely.”
“Is there any man in her life you can suspect as being Kareem’s father?”
“No…she does get her fair share of male attention, she’s a beautiful woman after all. But no, no particular man comes to mind.”
“Come to think of it, she’s pretty close to her uncle or should I say her godfather? He’s her father’s best friend.”
“You don’t think…?”
“I don’t think anything, Jamal. As I said earlier, you know your wife.”
His conversation with the doctor kept playing in his mind as he drove. God, let this be a nasty joke. Kareem is mine. He’s my son! Jamal screamed in his head.
Ida was packing her things together with Omar’s when she discovered a bottle of pills. She held it and read the inscription. She scowled in bewilderment. Omar entered the room.
“Woman, what are you doing, going through my things?” Omar asked as he snatched the bottle from Ida.
“What do you mean? I’m packing for us both, or would you do the honors?”
Omar put the pill back into the bag and zipped it up. He straightened himself up to meet Ida’s gaze.
“Are you going to tell me what the pills are for?”
“Male vitality,” he replied with a shrug.
“Seriously, Omar? I think I can recognize Viagra when I see it. What are you hiding from me? You’re not dying, are you?”
“Oh you’d love that, wouldn’t you?” Omar asked, turning around.
“Don’t walk out on me, Omar. If there’s something I need to know, please tell me. I’d rather hear it from you than to hear it from someone else like an outsider.”
Omar sighed. “It’s nothing, really. I don’t want to get you worried. I’m fine.”
“If you were, you wouldn’t be carrying pills with you.”
“Oh how? Don’t you carry dietary supplements with you everywhere you go?”
“At least you know what they are. If they were similar, you wouldn’t have a problem just telling me, would you?”
“Let it go, Ida.”
“I’m not packing your stuff until you tell me, Omar.”
“I’m not dying, Ida.”
“Is that for an STD?”
“What? How old am I? STDs are for immature guys who don’t know how to control themselves.”
“I’m sorry but I won’t be at peace until I know what those pills are for, Omar.”
“And I’m telling you they are for male vitality; take it or leave it, Ida,” Omar said and turned to leave.
“Upon a second thought,” he said as he took the bottle of pills from the bag and left the room.
Jamal was watching TV and drinking a bottle of beer when Ayesha came in with Kareem and a bowl of cereal. She placed Kareem on his lap and handed him the bowl.
“Could you kindly feed him while I shower Panyin?”
“Um…but you usually handle Kakra all on your own.”
“Well, I need your help this time. Please?”
“How about I shower Panyin while you feed Kakra?”
“You’re watching TV. You’d miss it to bathe Panyin?”
“He’s my son, right? Why wouldn’t I do that for him?”
“And Kakra isn’t?”
“I…I…didn’t say that.”
Ayesha could only blink and stare at him, not sure what was up with her husband.
“So, what’s it going to be? You feeding Kakra while I bathe Panyin or?”
“No, I’ll bathe Panyin. You sit here and bond with your son,” Ayesha said and started walking away.
“I’ve been asking for it for months…why now?”
“Better now than later, right?” Ayesha retorted and started walking out of the room. Jamal glanced at Kareem and the cereal bowl. Kareem began to squirm.
“Yeah, okay, let’s do this,” Jamal said and started feeding him.
“Just so you know. We will be having a family dinner on Saturday as Uncle Omar and Auntie Ida will be arriving in the morning. Will head over and join Nadia prepare for the dinner.”
“So how are things between you and hubby?” Nadia asked Ayesha as they prepared dinner.
“Tense. And I don’t know why. He’s brooding over something and I keep pushing; hoping he’d blurt it out once and for all but I must say, he has a high endurance level.”
“You have no idea what could be eating him up?”
“No. But it has to do with the boys.”
“Do you think he knows?” Nadia whispered.
“How could he? The hemophilia thing could just be an unfortunate thing that Kareem picked up somewhere in the atmosphere.”
“Yeah could be. But let’s talk plan B. What if he knows or finds out pretty soon, what’s our game plan?”
“Knows what exactly? The answer determines the plan.”
“That Kareem isn’t his, what else?”
“If that is the case, then we throw in the doubt that he could have been switched at birth.”
“But that’s unlikely. You were the only one delivering at the time, if I remember correctly, Ayesha.”
“Someone delivered before me, someone did deliver after me. Human error happens, Nadia.”
“So that’s the plan? Blame it on human error?”
“Can you think of any other believable reason?”
Nadia sighed. She continued her chopping in silence.
They both looked up when the kitchen door opened.
“Bibi!” Ayesha called out and wiped her hands dry. She walked up to her and hugged her.
“How are you? You’ve been missed.”
“Oh same here, dear. It does feel great to be missed. Hi Nadia.”
“Hello Bibi. Welcome back.”
“Thanks, Nadia. How are you doing?”
“Hope you’ve been steering clear of you-know-who?”
Nadia gave her a cynical smile and rolled her eyes. Bibi chuckled and smiled at Ayesha.
“How are you doing, Ayesha?”
“I’m good, I think. It’s good you’re back. My dad was getting lonely.”
“Oh was he? Should I be excited?” She said with a laugh. Nadia groaned silently.
“Anything I can do to help?” she offered.
“We’re fine; thank you. This dinner is for you as well since you flew in yesterday. Why don’t you grab a drink and relax?”
“Okay, what do you have?”
Ayesha opened the refrigerator. Bibi pointed to a can of Ceres. Ayesha took it out and handed it to her.
“Did you come with dad?”
“No, he was called into a meeting but he’ll be here.”
Bibi left the kitchen.
“Is it me or she’s glowing?” Nadia asked.
“She’s been trying to get pregnant. Who knows, she could finally be!”
“Good for her then.”
Ayesha put her arm around Nadia and rocked her.
“Don’t worry; you’ll find a man much better than my daddy pretty soon.”
Dinner was almost ready when Omar and Ida arrived. Nadia got up to hug her father while Ayesha hugged Ida.
“I’ve missed you very much, Auntie,” Ayesha said to Ida.
“Missed you too. How are my boys doing?”
“Hmm…Kakra got ill. It’s been pretty crazy since then.”
“Oh really? What happened?”
“Why don’t you settle down and I’ll fill you in?”
“I smell something nice. I hope dinner is ready,” Omar said.
“Yes dad; Ayesha and I will set the table right now.”
“Welcome back, Uncle Omar,” Ayesha said.
“Thank you, dear.”
Nadia pulled Ayesha by the hand away from them. They got to work on setting the table. The doorbell rang and Jamal entered with the twins. The boys ran to Ayesha and she hugged them both. She stood upright to face Jamal.
“I hope the boys weren’t too much trouble.”
“It’s fine. It’s all part of the father-son bonding process,” Jamal said, ruffling Karim’s hair with his fingers. Ayesha looked down to see Kareem looking longingly at her. She carried him and kissed his cheek.
“I know, I missed you too, honey,” she whispered when Kareem wrapped his little arms around her neck. Her eyes met Jamal’s.
“Please make yourself comfortable. Dinner is almost ready.”
Ayesha took Kareem into the kitchen. Nadia beamed at the sight of the boy.
“Hello, sweetie. I’ve missed you!” she said gleefully as she took him from Ayesha’s arms.
“Ayesha, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
They heard a car pull into the compound.
“Must be your dad.”
Ayesha went out through the kitchen door and ran to her father’s car. When Tariq got out, Ayesha hugged him.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Tariq asked, alarmed as he hugged her back.
“Something’s wrong, dad. I can feel it.”
“Wrong with who, Kakra?”
“No, Jamal. Something’s up.”
“Like what, he’s cheating?”
“Oh gosh, no. What if he knows?”
“About the twins.”
“Oh how? Did you have a slip of tongue or something?”
“This hemophilia thing, dad. I feel it has exposed me.”
“Why would it? Omar doesn’t have it.”
“You know that for sure?”
“I know Omar. If he was sick, I’d know. Besides, he wouldn’t lie to you, right? Just calm down. If you’re anxious, it’d make him curious enough to find out why.”
Ayesha nodded her okay. Tariq took out a gift bag from the back seat and handed it to Ayesha. It contained two bottles of wine. He put his arm around her and they entered the house.
Omar met Tariq and they shook hands and tapped each other’s backs. Omar noticed Ayesha’s sullen look as she walked past and stopped her.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah, just tired a bit.” With that, she left to the kitchen. Omar looked at his friend questioningly.
“She’s worried hubby might be in the know.”
“Know of what?”
“You know what. Hey sweetheart,” Tariq said and hugged Bibi, giving her a brief kiss. Omar glanced at Jamal who was engrossed with playing with Karim.
“What did you girls make?” Ida asked as she peeked into the serving bowls.
“Hope they don’t have a lot of salt and spices in it.”
“They don’t…but when did that become a problem?” Nadia asked her mother.
“Well, your father and I are not growing any younger and now that he’s popping pills for God knows what, we should be cautious about these things.”
“Popping pills for what, diabetes?” Ayesha asked.
“I have no idea. He’s been pretty secretive about it.”
Ayesha and Nadia exchanged a glance.
“Please start moving the bowls. I’m hungry,” Ida said and walked out of the kitchen.
“I do hope that he didn’t freaking lie to me about it, Nadia.”
“Let’s finish dinner and we can ask him about it, alright?”
Kareem began fussing on Ayesha’s laps. Nadia offered to take him but he refused. Omar got up to take him. He calmed down not too long after.
“Is he okay now? You mentioned he was ill? Is that why he’s being fussy?” Ida asked Ayesha.
“Yeah, he’s getting better. I don’t know about now; he could just be seeking attention.”
“What was wrong with him?” Bibi asked.
“Hemophilia. Still wondering where that came from,” Jamal remarked. Everyone’s eyes were on him.
“Hemophilia? Isn’t that genetic?” Ida asked.
“It is. But we both don’t have it so…”
“Then how does he have it?” Ida asked, puzzled.
“I don’t know, auntie. It’s a mystery.”
“Mystery, it is,” Jamal said.
“Young man, if you have something to say, just say it,” Tariq dared him. Jamal stared at his father-in-law for a few seconds before turning his gaze to Ayesha.
“If you think the baby is not yours because of the condition, that’s fine. I’ll raise him by himself,” Ayesha said.
“Oh I know Jamal isn’t that type of man…to neglect his child because he has a condition. Isn’t that right?” Ida asked him.
“I usually wouldn’t but it gets tricky when there is the possibility of another father factor.”
“What the hell are you accusing her of?” Omar asked. “You better watch your mouth.”
“Are you implying you’re not the father of the twins?” Ayesha asked.
“I know for a fact that Panyin is mine.”
“And Kakra isn’t?” Ida asked.
“This is not the place for this discussion,” Ayesha said.
“I agree,” Nadia chipped in.
“Perhaps but since this is particularly close-knit family, I just thought to myself, what if everyone knows and I’m the only one in the dark about this?”
“Enough, Jamal. I won’t let you disrespect my daughter and this family. If it’s a divorce you want, say it and you have it,” Tariq said.
“I don’t think we have gotten there yet, honey,” Bibi said.
“Is that what you want, Jamal?”
“ I want to know who Kakra’s father is.”
“And who says you are not?” Ida asked. Jamal took out the folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to Ida. The table went dead silent as everyone watched the piece of paper in his hands.
“Go on, see it for yourself.”
Ida took it. She glanced at Ayesha then at Tariq and Omar. She tore it into half when her gaze fell back on Jamal.
“I think you should leave,” Ida said coldly. Ayesha started sobbing. The chair creaked as Jamal pushed it back and got up.
“I’d like to take my son with me if you don’t mind.”
She only sobbed harder with Nadia rubbing her back in consolation.
“Just go,” Ida said. Jamal carried Karim and left the house, his footsteps making the only noise in the house.
“What the hell was that about?” Bibi asked.
Tariq and Omar shared a look and got up.
“Excuse us. We’ll be in the study.” They left.
“Ayesha, what is going on? How can Kakra not be his?”
“I don’t know who put that idea in his head, auntie. I don’t know. He’s been on edge since we were informed of Kakra’s condition.”
When Omar closed the door behind him, Tariq turned to face him.
“Be straight with me, Omar. Do you have it?”
“The damn hemophilia! This sickness is threatening to ruin my daughter’s life and I won’t allow it.”
“I do have it.”
“Since when? Why haven’t you mentioned it?”
“Found out a couple of weeks ago. I figured my denying it will help Ayesha if this came up.”
“Who else knows about it?”
“No one. But Ida found my pills. Yet to know what they are for.”
“Oh hell no! If she figures it out…”
“I know…she’ll kill us both. I’m fully aware.”
“How is it possible to have twins belonging to two fathers, anyway?” Bibi asked, confused.
“Can I spend the night here, please?”
“Of course; this is your home. You’re welcome to stay as long as you want, honey,” Ida said.
“If there’s something we need to know, you’d tell us, right?”
Ayesha looked at Ida. She nodded. Ida hugged her. “Everything will be fine.”
(c) Josephine Amoako 2021