“So what are your plans for the naming?” He had asked
“We’re doing it at our house. There really isn’t much to do, I have a very good caterer in mind and one of my friends will handle the drinks. The other smaller things my younger brother will sort out.” He had replied earnestly.
“That’s your plan?” His father-in-law had asked incredulously. “Banke told us you were planning to do this but I refused to believe it. I said “The Kunle I know can do better than that, he knows he married the daughter of a popular man” but now I see I was wrong.”
“Sir…” Kunle had attempted to explain.
“On the other hand I quite understand your predicament because Banke told us your finances are unstable because you just got married. She is a little worried but I’ve told her that it will be alright because I know you’re not a lazy man. You have to understand that you married a girl who has known nothing but wealth so deal wisely with her. It’s not everything you tell a woman. Anyway back to the matter, that plan of yours will not work. This is my first granddaughter, all my important friends and acquaintances will be present and I’m sure you know what you have planned will be very unsuitable for them. This is what we will do, let me know how much a befitting ceremony will cost then come to my office tomorrow and I’ll give you a cheque or drop it with my secretary.”
“Er… sir that won’t be nece…” Kunle was saying.
“Don’t worry” Banke’s father laughed “It’s a gift not a loan”
“Thank you sir… But sir….” Kunle tried again
“So, come around tomorrow” he said and hung up.
Looking at the cheque again Kunle tried to remember the last time he had collected money from his own father for anything. He couldn’t remember. He sighed feeling out of control and very angry with Banke.
Peace missed her family terribly but she had also come to accept that living with the Afebioyes wasn’t bad at all. The madam was nice, at least most of the time, she ate very good food, she had new clothes and shoes, she was going to a better school and most of all she had a boyfriend- at least she liked to think so. That first night when he had seen her panties, she had been unaware of her sitting position but when she saw the effect she had on him she decided it was a mistake she would repeat more often.
He spoke nicely to her and wasn’t mean to her like Joke was. The brat! She couldn’t understand why the girl always antagonized her but she became irrelevant when Ayodele looked her way and smiled. She was the same age as he but she looked older, she was slightly plump and her adolescent body had begun to blossom. She was in the boys’ room now, sweeping out all the smuggled food from under the bed. The door suddenly burst open, and she jumped up from under the bed in alarm.
“Oh Ayodele it’s you!” she said holding her chest
“Yes…did I scare you?” he asked laughing, throwing his backpack on the bed.
“Yes now!” She replied trying to keep a straight face.
“Sorry” he said staring at her.
“I will tell Mummy that you and Posi bring food into your room. See everything…bones, biscuit, rice, beans, bread.” She said mischievously.
“I know you won’t tell her!”
“You think I’m joking!” she said seriously
“Oya don’t tell her now. Okay if I hug you will you tell her?”
Peace stared at Ayodele trying to decide if he was teasing her or if he was serious. Her silence made Ayodele think his offer wasn’t good enough so he said:
“Okay should I kiss you?”
Again Peace was silent but this time she spoke up. “Small boy! Can you kiss?” she asked tauntingly.
“Is it because I’m quiet at home? I’m not a small boy at all!” Ayodele said confidently moving towards her. “And I can prove it” he said and kissed her.
It was awkward at first but Peace kissed him back and then she dropped the broom.
The baby was cooing in her grandmother’s arms while Banke watched TV. She was glad to be home and away from the dull and serious environment of the hospital.
“Where is Kunle?” her mother asked
“I don’t know, he should be in our room” Banke said thinking that he had been unusually quiet all day.
There was a knock on the door. Banke got up to open it, it was Ronke and her maid Peace holding a basket of fruits.
“Good evening. Congratulations o!”
“Thank you…” Banke said warmly letting them in, she and Ronke had gotten along in their own peculiar way.
“This is my mother, Mummy this is my neighbour. She lives upstairs.” Banke said introducing the women.
“Thank you! And may we celebrate such in your home too!” Banke’s mother replied
Banke laughed “Ah! She‘s not a young girl like me o! She has three children already, her first child is a teenager.”
“Really?” Banke’s mother said surprised observing Ronke’s slim stature.
“Yes ma” Ronke replied obviously pleased that she was considered younger than her age.
They were on their way back upstairs when Ronke remembered Banke’s mother’s prayer and compliment and she smiled. She had always had a wonderful stature, people had said she would get fatter with time but she was thirty-nine now and she was still as slim as she was when she was twenty five. Her stomach rumbled and she remembered she hadn’t eaten.
She looked at Peace thinking that the girl was putting on weight. Iya Ibeji would be happy that she was being well taken care of. Then she realized she had never asked the girl if she had started menstruating. In the light of all this baby talk she needed to be sure that all was well within her household.
Effiong lay on the bed rubbing his eyes, it had been a long but productive day. He made a mental note of the things he needed to do tomorrow when his phone beeped. He reached for it as Olayinka got out of the bathroom, he tore his eyes away from her and unlocked his phone. It was a text message from an unknown number.
“I really need to see who she’s always chatting with.” He thought.
He suddenly started coughing. At first Olayinka didn’t pay him any attention but he continued coughing, his eyes watering.
“Sorry o…” she said eventually
“W…wa…water please” Effiong said still coughing.
Olayinka reluctantly got up and went to get the water. As soon as she was out of the room, Effiong got down from the side of his bed and went towards the dressing table where his wife’s phone was and reached for it as it beeped.
“What are you doing?” Olayinka asked suddenly.
Effiong was stunned, how did she get back so soon? Then he realized she must have heard her phone beep and come back for it.
“I said what are you doing?”
“Where is my water?” Effiong asked, changing the subject.
“What water? What are you doing with my phone?”
“Can’t I hold your phone?” Effiong asked defensively. “What is wrong with me holding your phone or even checking it? Am I not your husband?”
“Are you telling me that because you’re my husband you can invade my privacy?” Olayinka asked angrily
“Do you have anything to hide?”
“I don’t. But that…”
“In that case I want to check your phone, I want to see who you’re always chatting with, who is so important that you came back as soon as your phone beeped!”
“Have you lost your mind? Can you hear yourself? I think you really need a change of job because obviously you’re not busy enough.”
“Whatever!” Effiong said refusing to be affected by her biting statements. He turned on the phone and realized she had effectively distracted him long enough for the screen to lock. He shook his head.
“How was your meeting on the island today?” Effiong suddenly asked
Olayinka was afraid, how could he have known about her meeting? “What meeting?” she asked trying to assess how much he knew.
“The meeting you had on the island today” he responded vaguely
Olayinka was smart enough to recognize that Effiong really didn’t know much. “I have various meetings on the island, which one are you talking about Effiong?” she said with a sneer
“I knew you would evade the question” Effiong said feeling confused and foolish.
“Unlock the phone” he suddenly ordered, it was the only way to confirm his suspicions.
“You must be kidding!”
“Olayinka, unlock this phone right now!”
“I will not!”
“If you don’t unlock this phone…”
“What will happen? Are you going to tell the world you are being irrational because I refused to unlock my phone?”
“I’m asking you to unlock this phone right now!” Effiong shouted, his eyes bloodshot with anger.
Olayinka was becoming afraid but she refused to backdown. “No!” she shouted back.
In anger, Effiong threw the phone against the wall and it broke into pieces, then he walked towards it and stomped on it repeatedly.
“You crazy imbecile! You’ve destroyed my phone! Good-for-nothing sales boy!” Olayinka ranted mad with fury.
Without even considering it Effiong slapped her hard and she fell on the floor, her towel came undone.
She was still.