Biola was ready to face the world again, two weeks after the assault. She applied her make-up and wore a simple knee-length gown. When she got into her children’s room they looked at her surprised.
“Mum?” Ayo said tentatively, wondering if she was really back.
“Yes Ayo, are you ready for school?”
“Yes ma, I’m just packing my books.”
“Okay, meet me downstairs.”
“You look beautiful Mummy.” Gbenro, her younger son said.
Biola looked at him for a while and smiled. “Thank you.”
The boy did not know how much his words had raised her self-esteem.
Mama Eli was surprised to see her senior wife dressed and ready for work again. She kept glancing at her, not sure of what to say. Mama Ayo packed her children’s lunch with her usual finesse and walked out of the kitchen without a word.
“That woman is so proud!” Mama Eli said resentfully.
Maybe she doesn’t feel like talking. Niniola thought.
“Am I not talking to you?”
“Ma? Sorry ma…” the girl responded uncertainly, not knowing what to say.
“I said that woman is proud, don’t you have anything to say?”
“I don’t ma…” Niniola bowed her head.
“Of course you don’t, you are as dumb as your mother.”
Niniola looked up resentfully at her, forcing herself to hold back the insults that threatened to spill out.
“Why are you looking at me like that? You want to beat me?” Mama Eli mocked, she knew that her words were affecting the girl and she liked it. It got her the reaction she wanted. “She’s too weak, just walking around like a dunce and accepting whatever people do to her. That’s why she’s with that lunatic, and he’s going to kill her one of these days if she doesn’t speak up.”
Niniola wanted to speak up, she wanted to tell her aunt to shut up and mind her own business, and she wanted to tell her that she had no right to judge her mother’s decisions when her own husband didn’t give a hoot about her. But she kept quiet, biting the hand that fed her would get her nowhere at all.
Niniola was studying for her forthcoming exam, being alone with Yimika gave her the opportunity to read even more. Yimika was playing with his colors and she had come to realize that he was better left alone. Images of the life she imagined she would have if she passed the examination and got sponsored to study abroad filled her mind.
Her phone rang.
“Hello. Is this Niniola?”
“Hi, this is Dele.”
“Oh Dele! How are you?”
“I’m fine. Where are you?”
“I’m at home, I reading.”
“Do you do anything else but read?” he asked sarcastically.
“Yes, I wash plates, cook, take care of…”
“You don’t have to reply to everything I say you know? Don’t you understand sarcasm?”
“What is sarcasm?”
Dele rolled his eyes, wondering where this girl had been raised. She understood nothing. “Check your dictionary.”
“Okay, can you spell it?” Niniola asked holding her pen, ready to take down the spelling.
“No, I can’t.”
“So how will I know what it means?” she cried.
“You’ll learn. Look that’s not why I called you. I want to see you. Come to my house.”
Niniola laughed. “I can’t come to your house! I’m busy.”
“Not just that, I’m watching over my nephew.”
“Can’t you leave him for ten minutes?”
“No I can’t.”
Dele rolled his eyes again, frustrated but determined to change this girl who challenged him beyond anyone he’d ever known.
“When next are you coming to the café?”
“Hmm… maybe next week.”
“Next week?! Can’t you come tomorrow?”
“No, I’m going to my aunt’s shop.”
Dele sighed. “I’ll call you later.” He hung up.
Niniola was amused. What did this boy want with her and why did he always seem so disappointed in her. She discarded thoughts of him and continued her work.
Biola was looking at the plan to reconstruct her supermarket when Gbenga walked in to her office. She smelled him before she even saw him.
“Hi Biola.” He said standing by the door, knowing he was unwelcome. “Can I sit down? Can we talk?”
Biola’s ear was twitching, she was livid and shocked that Gbenga would come to her office after what he had done. He was looking as handsome as always, but all she could see this time around was the look in his eyes when he unbuckled his trousers.
“I know I’m the last person you want to see… but I had just had to see you. I’m really sorry. I apologize, I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me.”
Biola was grateful that he was in her office and not in a private place because she realized how much she hated him and how desperately she wanted to kill him. And killing him in her office her would be plain foolishness, so rather than respond to him she brought out her earphones, turned up the volume of her music player and faced her computer.
She wasn’t even aware of when he left her office, she just realized that she had stopped smelling him.
Mama Eli was stretching her neck, she wasn’t in the mood to shout and she could only imagine how long it would take her to get to the front of the queue. Several people were shouting their orders. She had to be back at her shop soon, she hissed and looked at the crowd again wondering if she wouldn’t settle for Iya Moshood’s oily puff-puff and a bottle of Coke.
Someone touched her elbow lightly.
She turned to see a middle aged man, wearing a dark blue atiku guinea material.
“Good afternoon. What do you want to eat?”
She looked doubtfully at him. “Lafun and ewedu…”
“Alright, no problem. Please sit down over there, it will be brought to you.”
“Ehn ehn…” she said looking at the unruly crowd again.
“Trust me. Just go and sit down.”
Mama Eli did as she was told and ten minutes later her order was placed before her. She ate it with relish and then called for the waiter.
“It’s been paid for.” The waiter said, when she asked for the bill.
“The man who told you to sit here.”
Mama Eli was pleasantly surprised.
Chief Afonja had pent-up passion and it was distracting him. Having learnt from his lesson with Mama Eli he wasn’t eager to call on any young girl. Yet again he wondered what was wrong with his favorite wife. Had someone died? Had she lost money? Had she been duped? He was determined to get an answer from her that night.
What if she denies you again? He thought.
Choosing to remain positive, he went to her room.
“Chief?” she was sorting out her jewelry and he was glad. She was better.
“Biola, I want to talk to you.” he sat in front of her and was mesmerized by her beauty once again.
“About what?” she said studying a silver earring.
“You’ve been sad for some time now and you won’t talk to anyone, even me. What’s wrong?”
Images of the assault flashed before her eyes. “I was assaulted.” She said quietly, sorting out her jewelry.
“Assaulted? By who?” the chief was startled.
“His name is Gbenga. He said he had a business proposition for me and I was interested. But he was also interested in me. He knew I was married but he… it didn’t matter to him. He even bought me this bracelet.” She laid it out in front of him. “Mama Eli saw it and she thought I was cheating on you.”
“This is what she meant when…”
“Yes. So he invited me to discuss with him again at a hotel and this time around he said he wasn’t feeling well. He wanted me to come up to his room. And I knew…” her face contorted in grief. “I suspected that he might have an ulterior motive but I didn’t want the opportunity to pass me by. So we finished discussing and I wanted to leave… it happened so fast. He was insulting you and I was defending you… it happened so fast… he… he forced himself on me.”
She broke down in tears and cried in pure agony, bombarded by the memory of Gbenga’s actions. Chief Afonja was angry, his favourite wife had been tampered with and she was in pain. He held her arms and let cry.
“Get him for me Chief. Teach him a lesson that he won’t ever forget!”
“I will, I will.” He said and held her in his arms.
When Biola was asleep, Chief Afonja slipped out of her room and went to Mama Eli’s room. As usual, her room was open. He got into her bed and pulled up her cotton night gown.
“Chief? Ah ah! What is it?” Mama Eli said fearfully, amazed by the strength and roughness of his touch.
Chief Afonja didn’t respond, he was furious and in need of relief.
Mama heard her son go into his junior wife’s room and smiled in relief. The fair woman’s hold on him was broken.
Gbenga was driving home after a long day at work when he was stopped by policemen.
“Stop there! Stop there!” a policeman yelled, flashing his torch frantically at him.
Gbenga was angry by the obviously frustrated policeman who was just interested in a bribe.
“Come down! Come down! Open your boot.”
“Officer, you know me. I pass by here every night…”
“Gentleman, I said open your boot!”
Gbenga obliged the policeman and casually walked to the boot while two officers dashed to open it.
“Hey! Hold him! Hold him!”
Gbenga felt the policeman grab his arm and prod him towards the boot.
“Mr man! What are these guns doing in your boot?”
Gbenga stared at the automatic guns in utter disbelief. He looked at the car again as if to make sure that he had been driving the right car.
“Officer, I don’t know how these guns got here!”
“You will know when you get to our station. Oya hands up!”
The next thing Gbenga saw was a million stars as someone slapped him.
“So as you package reach, na gun you dey sell?”
“I don’t know…”
“Sharrap! Oya move!” the policeman behind him said, pushing his gun into his back.
“I’ll cooperate, I’ll cooperate! Don’t shoot! Please!”
In the twinkling of an eye, Gbenga was stripped to his boxers and thrown into a cell filled with hardened criminals.