The Family Part 23
Dear reader, I apologize for posting exceptionally late today, it’s been a hectic week!
I’m going to be busy at a workshop next week so I’m going on a break from tomorrow(there’ll be a post tomorrow). The series will continue on Tuesday, June 7.
I will however blog regularly about something in a new category I’m calling Motley. Watch out for this!
I really appreciate you for being here. 😀
Oladapo watched Rhoda speaking and felt sorry for her. He wondered why any man would put his wife through so much misery. She looked lost and afraid.
“So what do you want to do now?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I can do!”
“Are you still living with your sister in the face-me-I-face-you building?”
“Yes.” She replied with her head bowed.
Oladapo leaned forward on the table and looked at her intently. “Can I help you Rhoda?”
Rhoda looked into his eyes and saw no guile there. “H… how? I’m not a prostitute o…”
Oladapo laughed heartily and wiped the tears that gathered in the corner of his eyes. “I didn’t say you were. Besides, I don’t patronize prostitutes, so please relax.”
“What do you want? Why do you want to help me?”
Oladapo took some time to think about her question. “Well the truth is, I like you. I like you a lot. And it makes me sad to see you so unhappy, so I want to help you.”
“You like me?” Rhoda was surprised. What was so good about her that this man found appealing? “But what about your wife?” Rhoda wasn’t about to get into another polygamous home.
His face hardened up. “I don’t have a wife.”
“What… why?” Rhoda decided to be frank with him. “You’re too old not to have a wife. What’s wrong with you?”
Again Oladapo laughed, the woman was good for his soul. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I just… it’s not something I want to talk about. Just know that you’re safe. Nobody is going to accuse you of trying to steal her husband. So are you going to take my help?”
Rhoda saw no other way. “Yes.”
“So he wants to rent an apartment for you?” Comfort said to Rhoda.
“Yes!” Rhoda said excitedly.
Comfort sighed. “Rhoda you’re doing the same thing again!”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re doing the same thing! I’m not saying you shouldn’t get help from people but learn to stand on your own! Why does a man have to rescue you? You’re a good business woman, Why can’t you start your business all over again with whatever you have and stand on your own?”
“Ah ah Comfort. Are you an enemy of progress?”
“No Rhoda, I’m not, I’m just saying that you’re falling into the same trap. If this man likes you, then he won’t mind you wanting to stand on your own before you begin another relationship with him.”
“I didn’t tell you that I’m starting another relationship. Comfort, are you saying that you want me to suffer and make my children suffer too because I should stand on my own?”
Comfort wasn’t sure that she was getting her point across. “Do you have any savings?”
“Hmm, a little money in the bank…”
“Maybe seventy thousand. Then people are owing me about two-fifty thousand.”
“Good! Take that money and start another business.”
“Where? It costs a lot of money to rent a good shop. I don’t have that kind of money now. And I also need money to stock goods in the shop…”
“it doesn’t have to be the same business, start from somewhere.”
“Comfort you just want me to suffer, not everybody can endure suffering like you do. I was a chief’s wife! I had money to do whatever I wanted. I had a thriving shop! I can’t start from the beginning again…”
“So you would rather enslave yourself to another man because you don’t want to start from the beginning? Who knows how quickly your new business will do?”
“And what happens when I get heavy? What happens when I give birth? What happens to my children’s school fees? Do you know how much we pay for school fees? I can’t let my children go to a substandard school because I want to start again! I just can’t.”
“What if this other man behaves like chief?”
“And how do you know that?”
Rhoda had had enough. “Look, I’ve told you I’m not you. You’re used to suffering, I am not and this is my life. I intend to enjoy it and give my children the best.”
“Alright.” Comfort said, feeling insulted and sad at her sister’s choice.
Biola was getting tired of being the only wife in the Afonja household, Chief was giving her too much attention and she felt stifled especially because she no longer admired him or loved him. She wanted to get out of the marriage but she had to secure her sons’ future first. She made sure that her husband spent time with them and always pointed out their strengths to him.
“Chief, you know, Ayo would make a good business man. He saved fifteen thousand naira last term. I’m really proud of him.” she said to him once.
“Gbenro would make a good lawyer. He’s very eloquent. Just imagine your son defending your company against competitors and malicious people!”
She had changed their schools and made sure that the chief started a trust fund for them. They would come into their inheritances when they were eighteen. All was going according to plan.
Chief Afonja could tell that Biola was withdrawn from him. He had showered her with much love and given her as many gifts as he thought would win her heart but she seemed unhappy and inhibited.
“You look dull.” He said to her as she sat by him in the sitting room.
“I’m alright Chief.” She handed him a glass of wine and sipped from her malt.
“It’s not just today, lately you’ve been different.
“I’ve been through a lot chief.” Biola said sadly, knowing that that would garner his sympathy and stop the probing.
“Oh my dear! I know it’s hard but I need you to move on.” He pulled her into his arms.
“The only thing that makes me happy now is knowing that my sons will never suffer.”
“Your sons cannot suffer. I guarantee it”
“You cannot guarantee anything Chief, this life is very fragile. I don’t wish you death, but anything can happen in the twinkling of an eye. You know that!”
“Okay, what if I do something to secure their future? What if I invest my money in their names?”
“People might contest it, they might say…”
“Okay what do you want?”
“Transfer some shares to them. Make them shareholders in the company.”
“Is that what you want?” the Chief asked with a warm smile.
“Yes.” Biola replied coyly.
“Alright, I’ll call my lawyer tomorrow and we’ll sort it out. Okay?”
“Yes chief!” Biola smiled widely.
Mama Deji didn’t want to return home but she sensed the need to. When she walked into the house and saw the décor changes that had been made the first alarm went off in her head.
“What’s going on here?” she thought.
“Kabiru!” she called to the security guard who was going upstairs with her luggage. “Where is everybody? Where is Mama Eli?”
“Gone. Gone where?”
“Oga say they should go.”
“Go?” she left him and moved up the stairs, on her way to Mama Eli’s room. It was empty, her children’s things were gone too.
Confused, she went to her room and called Mama Eli who explained how she had been forcefully ejected from their home.
“But God has given me another helper. When Chief decided that he didn’t want me again, God provided another person for me.”
Mama Deji hung up and wondered what that statement meant. What else had been going on in her absence?
Comfort thought of what her sister said.
“You’re used to suffering”
She had truly had a tough life and had learnt after so much pain that some people will not love you no matter what you do.
“Mrs Bandele…” Her lawyer called her again. “Tell the court what your marriage with the accused was like.”
Comfort faced the accused and looked at him. He had been so dashing the first time she laid eyes on him. She wondered when things had started to change between them. What she remembered was not the first time he had slapped her but the first time he had said to her:
“You know you’re a burden. I’m just marrying you because I pity you. Where will you start from with these three children?”
Things had gone downhill from that day, and she now realized that she had merely short changed herself all these years, being married to him. At the end of the day she was out of the marriage and left with six children to cater for.
“You’re used to suffering”
She heard Rhoda’s voice again. But not anymore, she wasn’t going to suffer any more if she could help it. Babajide looked defiant, he didn’t think she would say anything in her own defense. He even had a mocking smile on his face.
She looked back at the lawyer.
“Where do I start from?” she asked gently.
“Start from the beginning.”
“Alright then, let me tell you how he beat and raped me three weeks after our wedding… in front of my children. Thank God it was dark…”
Biola was looking at the numbers on her screen when her eyes caught a handsome middle-aged man with grey hair sprinkled on his short afro on the CCTV feed. She jumped to her feet and moved in his direction.
The judge had sentenced Babajide to seven years imprisonment and Comfort was relieved. Babajide’s face had changed, he looked stunned. His mother was crying, she walked up to him and said:
“I told you not to marry that woman, I told you that your union would not be peaceful but you insisted. Do you see how things have turned out now?”
Comfort couldn’t believe her ears. Babajide turned towards her and fixed her with a hard gaze.
“I’ll appeal, I’m coming out of prison soon!” he said without much conviction.
Comfort looked away and picked up her bag.
“Mummy let’s go. He’s not coming out.” Niniola said.