“I was shocked, I definitely made a huge mistake getting married to him. I know that now.”
“Well there’s no use crying over spilt milk, tell him I want to see him. I’ll talk some sense into him”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea Daddy?”
“Yes of course, tell Kunle I want to see him tomorrow afternoon unfailingly.”
“Alright.” Banke was glad, her Dad always sorted things out and he would again this time.
“How long is she going to be here for?”
“Effiong she needs us.”
“She has family members!”
“You know she can’t stay with them” Helen ran her hands through her hair. She understood Obiora but she couldn’t possibly throw Olayinka out.
“Just tell me how long she’s going to be here for.”
“What is Effiong saying about their marriage?”
“I don’t know…look, Helen I know you want to help her but they can’t resolve their differences if she’s hiding out here.”
“But Effiong is still angry…”
“Helen this is messed up.” Obiora let out a frustrated breath.
“I know Obi, but please let’s just be a little more patient with them. Please?” she nibbled his earlobes.
“Stop it!” Obiora said in mock annoyance. “Don’t bribe me”
Olayinka had been praying earnestly. She didn’t know where to go but she knew that she couldn’t stay with Helen for too long. She had searched her heart and honestly couldn’t think of anything she could do to thaw the ice between her and her husband. The only good thing that had come out of this whole episode was that her children were warming up to her again.
“I will take care of you Mummy, don’t worry Daddy won’t hurt you” Max had said to her yesterday.
“Your Dad is good man Max, he was just very angry.” She had said with a sad smile.
There was a knock on the door. Helen peeked in. “Hey, guess who’s here?”
“The president?” Olayinka said with a wry smile.
“No silly, Effiong.”
“Eff…” Olayinka got up hastily.
“Hey, take it easy on that leg. Where’s your cane?”
“Under the bed I think”
Helen gave it to her and Olayinka scrambled hastily out of the room.
Effiong was sitting on the couch with Obiora, the children were painting on white cardboards with the guidance of an art instructor on the TV. Obiora got up as soon as she came in. “Boys come in for a second.”
“Aww…Daddy we’re busy with…”
“We’ll rewind it later.”
“But the paint will get dry!” Onyebuchi cried.
“I’ll buy you anther one”
“But we’re almost done!”
“Maybe Olayinka and I should step out.” Effiong intervened. “It’s okay boys, continue with your painting.”
“Mummy!” Max cried, afraid his father had another knife hidden in his pockets.
“It’s okay sweetheart, I’ll be fine. Daddy and I just want to talk outside.”
Olayinka and Effiong were awkwardly silent for the first few minutes. Her head was bowed.
“I want the kids back upstairs in their own home but they won’t come with me. They’re… afraid of me…they’ll only come if you are with them so you can come back.”
“Don’t get your hopes up. I’m only doing this to regain their trust, as soon as I have it you can leave.”
Olayinka’s head was bowed again, but this time in prayer. “Thank you Effiong, whatever your reasons are I appreciate it.”
And she really did.
“My Dad wants to see you tomorrow.”
“I don’t know, you’ll find out when you get there.”
Kunle gave a short laugh. “You called him abi? I’m not surprised, this time however I will surprise you.”
“What’s that’s supposed to mean?” Banke asked worried, Kunle was too calm.
“What time does he want to see me?”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to call him to decide on a time.”
“Okay” Kunle said returning his attention to his phone and smiling mischievously.
“Why do you keep interfering in her marriage? I’ve told you several times that Banke is no longer a baby, you have to stop treating her like one.”
“Well it’s too late now, he’s already on his way.”
“You deliberately didn’t tell me because you knew I would discourage it!” Banke’s mother accused.
“So now it’s not okay for me to interfere? When they gave birth to their daughter and didn’t have the money for a good party you didn’t see anything wrong in it…”
“That was different, obviously the money you’re giving her is causing problems in their home…”
“Why don’t you admit you’re just jealous of your daughter.”
“Jealous? You know what, do what you want, wreck your daughter’s home.”
She stormed off angrily, Banke had always enjoyed preferential treatment from her father and he couldn’t see that his love for her was ruining her life.
Kunle came in some minutes later as Banke’s father settled down to eat lunch. “Ah Kunle, come in and eat!”
“No thank you sir, I’ve eaten.”
“What do you mean? Come here and eat, you’re never too full at your in-law’s place.” he ordered.
Reluctantly, Kunle pulled out a chair and sat staring at the food the servant had served him.
“It’s not poisoned so stop staring at it!” Banke’s father snapped.
“Yes sir” Kunle washed his hands and dug in, thinking he might as well eat for the journey ahead.
After lunch Banke’s father reclined on the sofa picking his teeth and watching a football match. Kunle was irritated, he knew his father-in-law was just trying to draw him out. He kept quiet too and watched the match.
“Yes! I wanted to discuss something with you.” Banke’s father said suddenly; as if he had only just remembered the purpose for which Kunle sat in his house.
“Banke told me some things, she said you told her to choose between my money and yourself and Teniola or something silly like that” he flung his hands backwards.
“Yes sir.” Kunle replied simply, glad that the battle had begun.
“Why would you say something like that? Don’t you know it’s an insult to my person?”
“I’m sorry sir, I meant no insult. I just want to restructure my home and make sure we live within our means.”
“But you have no right to ask my daughter to make such a choice.”
“She’s always spending, no matter how much I tell her that we need to save, she disregards my instructions…”
“But you’re not the one giving her the money so what exactly is your problem young man?”
Kunle scowled. “She made the decision to marry me for better or for worse, if I can’t provide for her temporarily I expect her to endure until I can.”
“You want my daughter to suffer? Look it’s you who should be making a choice.”
“Sir?” Kunle wasn’t following the man’s line of reasoning.
“Yes, it’s you who should ask your wife and child to come over here for a while so that we can take care of them till you sort yourself out. You can’t expect a well brought up girl to suffer under your roof just because you can’t provide and then be angry because she has people who care for her. It is either she comes here or I give her money, either way my daughter won’t suffer.”
Kunle was stunned; he could not believe his ears. “I’m sorry I can’t do that sir. My wife stays with me.”
“And what if she makes the decision to choose my money as you put it”
“That’s between Banke and I, she has not given me a response.”
“Well I’m answering on her behalf, my daughter cannot suffer in your house. Do what you need to do but you can’t say she shouldn’t accept money from me, I’m her father I can do as I please…”
“No, you can’t. With all due respect sir, you signed off those rights the day she married me. I’m her husband and I say she is not allowed to collect money from any other man. She collects money from you all the time, to satisfy her greed. She’s a married woman now that has to stop.”
“You are a bastard…”
“With all due respect sir please do not disrespect me or my mother”
“And what if I do ehn Kunle?” Banke’s father had risen now, boiling with anger. “What will you do? You good-for-nothing wretch that my daughter insisted on marrying! I’m telling you what to do and you’re telling me I signed off my rights as a father. It will not be well with you…”
At this point, Kunle got up and walked out.
“I’m talking to you Kunle, come back here!”
Kunle kept walking until he reached his car and drove off like a maniac.