Lola Opatayo

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The Family Part 24

Series

Dear reader, thank you for being here. Based on the announcement I made yesterday, this is the last post for the month. The series will continue on Tuesday, June 7. 

My novel is still available for purchase. Buy it here!

Have a restful weekend!

 

Comfort was being judgemental and Rhoda was angry about this, her sister didn’t understand how difficult it was to raise a child with autism. She was barely home so she had no idea how traumatic it was for Yimika who hated enclosed spaces in her small room. She’d had to discontinue his therapy because she could no longer afford it, and the boy who loved routine would fret throughout the entire period of his therapy time. Rhoda was almost going crazy with his constant screaming and whining and only Elizabeth seemed to be able to calm him down.

But things were different now. They were in a new, fully furnished 3-bedroom flat. Yimika was coloring in his favorite workbook, Elizabeth was watching Sofia, she was eating a vegetable salad and all was well with the world. Although her experience with Chief still hurt, she was getting used to her new life and benefactor. She wished Comfort hadn’t been so critical, she would have invited her to live with her.

There was a knock on the door and she got up to answer it, waddling with the weight of her pregnancy. It was Oladapo, he had someone with him.

“Good evening.” She said tentatively, opening the door slowly.

“Good evening. How was your day?”

“Fine, thank God.” She replied mechanically, darting her eyes at the stranger.

“This is my friend, Andrew. He’s a doctor. I brought him here to check up on all of you. With all those mosquito bites and poor food, I’m sure you need some medical attention.”

“Oh! Thank you! Please come in! Elizabeth!”

The doctor checked both children as best as he could. Yimika who didn’t like being touched was even quite co-operative. Dr Andrew was a warm fellow.

“It would be best for all of you to come to the hospital. We can run all the tests there and do a better check-up.”

Rhoda was very grateful. This life was truly beautiful, she didn’t understand how she was supposed to pass up on it.

**********

Niniola was happy for the first time in a long time. She was on a date with Dele and he was making her laugh so much. She picked up her grilled chicken and bit into it miserly. It had been a long time since she had had any meat. Her mother had bought a lot of local cheese and it was the only thing they could all expect to eat with their meals. Life was peaceful, sane and they laughed more often, they had more to eat but it wasn’t enough for her. She was used to the affluence of Chief Afonja’s house.

Dele watched his new girlfriend eating and laughed inwardly. She obviously wasn’t used to a good life. He took in her faded blouse and tight skirt and knew he had caught the right girl. What made her think that she could get a scholarship, study abroad and leave him in Nigeria?

“So are you in school?” Niniola suddenly asked.

Dele was caught off guard. “Err… Yeah! I’m in Oxbridge University.”

“Really?” Niniola had never heard of such a university before. “Where is it?”

“Here in Ibadan.”

“Really?”

“Yes, they have an extension here in Ibadan. I’ll go for my graduation in London when the time comes.”

“Really?” Niniola said again. She was impressed with this guy who not only had money to spare but was also brilliant enough to get into a foreign university.

“Yes.” Dele smiled, glad to have convinced her of his lies.

“So, I should be like you and study hard so that we can school abroad together!” She said enthusiastically.

“Are you serious?” Dele was unhappy with the outcome of his lie. He had intended to intimidate her and not encourage her to pursue a dream that was a reminder of his own failure.

“Yes!” Niniola responded gleefully.

“I’ve told you that those exams are hard. My friends did it last year and failed. Besides, they only select three people in the whole of Nigeria. Are you that smart?”

“Yes, I think I am!” Niniola said with pride.

Dele laughed. “You’re proud o! What secondary school did you go to? What did you learn? Have you even studied any of their textbooks before?”

Niniola felt defeated.

“Look, no offense, but you’re not that smart. I’m sure you’re not that smart.”

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**********

Barrister Jaye Animashaun couldn’t sleep. His friend was acting unusually. Why did it seem that he was putting a lot of investment in the names of Biola’s children? He was concerned that something uncanny was going on and he could do nothing about it, his friend had an attorney-client privilege. How could he buffer the storm that was sure to break?

Slowly he picked up his calendar and checked his schedule. He was going to be in church that night.

**********

Mama Deji greeted her fellow church members warmly, glad to see them again. It had been a refreshing service and she felt less tense about the situation in her home. She smiled at Mrs Aromolaran and wished Sis Cordelia a good night, before she stepped towards the parking lot.

“Mrs Afonja!”

She turned back.

“Ah ah! Barrister Animashaun! Good to see you! You came to church on a Wednesday night? This must be a good sign!”

Barrister Jaye laughed half-heartedly, wondering how he would fulfill his task. He had to be subtle yet absolutely clear about the privileged information he was about to share.

“Well, I’m just really putting my house in order.”

“Ah ah! House in order ke? Why are you talking like someone who’s about to die?”

“Me? Die? I’m going nowhere dear madam. I intend to live very long! However we must all examine ourselves.”

Mama Deji was getting confused about the way the Barrister was speaking. It was as if he was trying to tell her something.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes! After all, the Good Book says that “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” Are you doing this?”

“Jaye…what is going on? Are you alright?”

Just then, Mrs Aromolaran came to join them. “Good evening Barrister! Sorry to interrupt this conversation, but I need your help o!”

Barrister Jaye saw his opportunity. “Sure, no problem! You want to write a will or make me coerce your husband to do his?”

Mrs Aromolaran laughed good-naturedly. “It’s for me o!”

“No problem. It is always my pleasure! You know the Good Book says that no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. When you make your own will, you’re making sure that no one is strong enough to tie up you or your family!”

“Hmm! Barrister! Are you sure you’re not called into the ministry?” Mrs Aromolaran joked.

They all laughed.

“My sister,” the barrister said jovially. “This was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven!”

Mama Deji laughed, understanding clearly the barrister’s warning.

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**********

Mama Deji paced the floor of her room, thinking about her conversation with the barrister. Obviously, something was wrong with the contents of her husband’s will. She already knew he had a will. It was the first thing she made him do when she discovered his affair with Biola.

She sat down and thought of her sons who didn’t care much for their father. What could she do? Would anything be apportioned to them? Or her? Very clearly she saw Biola’s plan to eradicate her competition and secure chief and his money to herself.

What did this mean for her? Would she have to lobby for her husband’s attention or worse still, allow him back into her bed? She had no intention of giving up her new found peace and state of mind for some millions. Yet, would posterity not blame her for not securing their inheritance? She was thoroughly confused.

“God help me!” She prayed and searched her phone contacts for the name of any legal personnel she knew.

**********

Niniola was outside the house, still thinking of her conversation with Dele three days ago when her mother tapped her fingers in front of her face.

“Niniola! What are you brooding over?”

“Nothing ma.”

Comfort sensed that this was significant and sat down beside her. “Talk to me now! After all we’ve been through, are you going start getting secretive with me now? You know you’re my confidant, let me be yours.”

Niniola sighed and told her mother about Dele and her conversation with him. Comfort leaned forward and thought about how subtly generational cycles recurred.

“You know the first time I knew I shouldn’t be with your step-father? The day he said that he was only marrying me because he pitied me. That I was a burden.”

She held her daughter’s hand.

“You deserve only a man who is supportive of you, who is interested in your progress. Someone whose goal is to build you up. Any man who wants to be with you but is intimated by you is dangerous. I know you are wise.”

She tapped Niniola’s hand, and in spite of the urge to scream and tell her child how much of a danger the boy in question was, she got up and walked into the house.

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**********

Rhoda sat down and adjusted her clothes.

“So I want you to do a scan so that we can see how well the baby is doing okay?” Dr Andrew scribbled on a piece of paper.

“Why? Is something wrong?”

“No. It’s just standard procedure. You should get a scan about this time…” He looked up. “That reminds me, you need to give me a copy of your earliest scan.”

“I don’t have one.” Rhoda said simply.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I’ve not done one.”

The doctor looked up sharply. “Why? How do you know your due date?”

“I’ve had two children, I have an idea of when it will be.”

The doctor inhaled slowly. “Is there a reason why you don’t want to do a scan?”

“I did a scan the last time, what good did it do me? I ended up with an autistic child.”

Dr Andrew leaned back in his seat and looked at her sadly. “I know how you feel but…”

“No! No, you can’t tell me that you know how I feel except you have an autistic child. Do you?”

The doctor didn’t respond.

“I guessed as much. Goodbye doctor, I’ll see you on my next appointment.”

“Aren’t you at least curious?” The doctor tried again.

“No. I’ll take life as it comes.”

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