“What are you looking for?” Peace asked nervously
“Who is here with you?” Joy countered.
“And why are you sweating like that?” Joy asked curiously.
“I was working inside” she answered simply.
“And who was here with you?”
“I said nobody”
“But I heard voices from outside.”
“Yes the TV was on.”
Joy looked at the television, it was off. “This TV?” she asked sarcastically folding her arms.
“Yes, I just turned it off when you called me. Look, what do you want? I’m busy.” She said angrily.
Joy laughed mockingly clapping her hands together. “You think I’m stupid? I heard someone’s voice outside the door just now and I also heard your voice. It was a boy wasn’t it?”
“Are you deaf? I said no one is here, what is your problem?!” Peace replied, her anger mixing with fear.
“I will tell your madam if you don’t confess to me.”
“Look Joy don’t put me in trouble o! I said nobody was here. The TV was on but I put it off when I heard you calling me. I wanted to come and open the door but I remembered that I was cooking something so I went to turn off the stove.”
Joy looked reproachfully at her then said. “Give me my social studies note”
“Okay” Peace returned shortly with it then handed it to her.
“I know you’re lying and I’m going to prove it. Ayodele told me that you kissed him so I know that you like boys and you can bring one into your madam’s house. You’re so wayward yet you’re not even fine, Ayodele told me that too.” She said eyeing Peace who was close to tears, hurt by Joy’s statement and knowing that Ayodele had put those words in her mouth.
“I am his girlfriend now, he said I’m fine and he only likes fine girls so you better stay away from him and don’t corrupt him with your waywardness!”
At this Peace laughed loudly, amused at the irony of it all and regaining her confidence. “Let me tell you something today and don’t ever forget it. You may be beautiful but I’m smart and that can get me any boy including your precious Ayodele. Now get out.”
“Hi!” Helen replied surprised. “I didn’t see your car… where is your car?”
“Would you at least come in?” Obiora replied amused.
“Oh yeah…” she replied walking in and flinging her bag on the sofa. “ So where is your car?” she asked again.
“I sold it.”
“Seriously…” Obiora nodded. “Seriously? How could you? I love that car! Who did you sell it to? How could you?” she asked then slumped on the sofa holding her head in her hands, realizing that he had sold his car in order to offset the loan she had taken from her cooperative society on their behalf to buy the land. “I’m sorry…” she said sadly looking at him.
“It’s okay” Obiora replied somberly, holding her shoulders and drawing her to himself.
“Tell me you at least sold it at a good price” Helen asked hopefully.
“Yes I did and with the leave allowance I got yesterday we can pay off the loan”
“But how are you going to get around?”
Obiora laughed “There was a time when we didn’t have a car, we’ll be alright.”
Helen leaned back and let out a ragged breath. “If I ever set my eyes on that surveyor guy!…”
“Let it go babe, it’s not worth it. Let’s talk about something else.” He said giving her knee a squeeze, “What’s for dinner?”
Helen shut her eyes and said “Rice and that old stew.”
“That’s fine, we’ll eat it gratefully.”
Kunle pulled his car to a stop in his usual spot in the compound and leaned his head on the headrest. It had been another tiring family meeting where his siblings couldn’t agree on the plans for their father’s seventy fifth birthday celebration but that was the least of his concerns. He was slowly drowning in debt and to make it worse he felt so alone. Banke was always spending and it seemed there was nothing he could do about it; he was now convinced that the money she was spending was coming from her father. There was no way they could work together as a team when she constantly chose to rely on her father for financial help for her personal expenses. There was always something new for herself or Teniola and she explained it away as a gift from someone because she knew he would not approve of her collecting money from her father again. She didn’t understand the concept of being financially independent from her father’s wealth in order to build her own home so he had stopped talking about it.
His salary had come in yesterday and already he had used half of it to pay the debts they owed. The rent would be due in a short while and he didn’t even have half of it saved up yet, and from their current expenditure they wouldn’t be able to pay the rent and would most likely have to forfeit this house for a much cheaper one in a less sophisticated location. But how could he even tell Banke that? She would tell her father and he would end up in his office again to collect another cheque. He gathered his things slowly, walked to the door and knocked.
Banke opened the door with a smile. “Hey, you’re just in time to see what Sister Solape brought from Dubai.”
“Who is Sister Solape?” he said with a frown not liking the sound of someone bringing anything from Dubai.
“Would you at least come in?” She said quietly and sternly.
Kunle walked into the living room where Solape sat on the couch with a plate of fried chicken in her hands and a glass of juice on the stool in front of her. Beside her on the couch were designer t-shirts, blouses, jeans, shoes and boxes of perfume.
“Good afternoon” she said cheerfully to Kunle.
“Good afternoon” he replied her suspiciously.
“Hi, how was your outing? This is the person who sold those nice blouses to me some time ago.” Banke said to Kunle who stood staring at the scene in front of him. “The one I said I met at Sis Yinka’s house?” she said slightly irritable that he was taking so long to remember.
“Yeah. She just came back from Dubai and she brought these.” She said excitedly spreading her hands towards the display on the couch.
“Really?” Kunle said dryly looking at her unbelievingly.
“Can we talk?” he said dragging her by the arm towards the rooms without giving her time to respond.
“Err.. Sister Sola I’ll be back soon. Feel at home!” she called out over her shoulder.
“Okay…” Solape replied warily, sensing that her presence was unwelcome to Kunle.
“Would you let go of my arm?” Banke said snatching her arm from Kunle’s grip and rubbing it.
“What is that woman doing here eating all the meat in the house and turning my sitting room into a boutique?” he asked furiously.
“What do you mean what is she doing here? I just told you she came back from Dubai with stuff to sell.” Banke replied equally furious, Kunle seemed to always want to pick a fight with her lately and she was tired of it.
Kunle laughed humorlessly. “I want to believe you’re not buying anything from her”
“No I’m not.” Banke replied still angry as Kunle sighed in relief. “You are.”
“I am what?” Kunle asked
“When was the last time you bought me or Teniola anything. I called her because of you. I know that you’re getting paid soon so don’t even think of telling me you don’t have the money.”
Kunle laughed pulling out his shirt and unbuttoning it then walked towards the bathroom. “Kunle I’m talking to you!” Banke called
“I’m going to take my bath please have my food served when I get out.” He ordered and entered the bathroom. Banke folded her arms and sat down on the bed wondering what had happened to the man she thought she had married then got up to return to her guest. There was no way she wasn’t buying whatever she wanted, and Kunle had no right to question her buying them. If he wasn’t going to meet her need, she would meet it herself.