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The man had an unassuming look. Mama Deji looked at him again and wondered if he really was up to the task. He sat across from her in the restaurant, holding his hands together in his laps and listening intently to her.
“So I want you to find out all you can about her and that man.”
He nodded in response.
Mama Deji couldn’t help but ask. “Have you done this before?”
The man laughed. “Yes madam I have.”
He sat up and opened the file jacket he had set on the table, put Biola’s picture in it and produced a sheet of paper.
“This is my bill.”
Mama Deji looked at it. “Ah ah! This is too much!”
“That’s my price madam, you can take it or leave it.” he replied with a smile.
Mama Deji saw no other choice but to agree. “Okay. I will pay the deposit today.”
Again the man nodded and left the table.
Mama Deji sighed, wondering what she had gotten herself into. it was calming though, to know that she was finally doing something about Biola.
But how would chief take the truth she suspected? She desperately hoped that her actions would not backfire.
Chief Afonja was beginning to feel the impact of Biola’s affair, she was no longer interested in being intimate with him. The only thing she seemed to want was money and more money. She was always either too tired or angry with him to fulfill her wifely duties and the chief was getting weary of it. She wasn’t home yet and she was later than usual. It seemed to him that Biola was deliberately ignoring him.
He was alone at the table now, having just finished his dinner. Biola’s sons Gbenro and Ayo were watching TV and he realized that he barely had any relationship with any of his children. He had been close to Mama Deji’s sons, especially Pelumi but the relationship had become strained after his marriage to Biola. His oldest sons could barely tolerate him.
Gbemi came to pack up the plates and he observed that her erstwhile acne riddled face was now smooth. Her rough hair was now neatly weaved and her clothes were no longer loose fitting. He watched her hips sway sensuously as she went into the kitchen and he wondered how a fifteen year old girl could have such a body. The chief realized that the wretched and dirty person that had come into his house some months ago, was now actually quite lovely.
Warmth spread through his groin as his mind thought of the possibility of being with her.
She’s only fifteen!
She was just a few years older than Ayo who was still engrossed in what he was watching.
“Ayo! Come here.”
“Sir?” the boy replied frowning. The action hero he was watching was in an intense fight with the villain.
“Sit down, let’s talk like men.” The father said to the son with an awkward smile.
“Just sit down.”
The boy obeyed reluctantly, his hesitation showing greatly on his face.
“So how are you? How is school?”
“What class are you in?”
“I’m in JSS1 Daddy, don’t you know?” the boy asked irritably.
“Of course I know, I was just testing you!” the chief laughed uneasily. The boy wondered if his father was feeling alright.
There was an awkward silence between them. The father fiddled with the table mat and the boy stared at the wall opposite him.
“Can I go now?” Gbenro asked, breaking the silence.
The chief was alone.
Niniola had a new routine, reading, taking care of her younger ones and managing her mother’s budding business. Her relationship with her mother was still strained, she barely discussed anything apart from the business and the care of the home with her. Her relationship with her mother had been the one thing that she could count on but it seemed to be lost forever. Her mother no longer laughed with her or smiled in her direction. Niniola felt abandoned.
She had been studiing hard for the exams, certain that if she passed the exam and got sponsored to study abroad, her mother would be happy. Niniola wanted to make her mother proud of her again.
For the first time since her mother found out about her dancing, she had been allowed to go out alone to the market to buy some of the provisions they sold. Standing by the roadside, she waited to get a cab when a car pulled up to her. It was Dele. He got down from the car and rushed to her side.
“Nini!” he stared at her. “I called and called you! Why didn’t you pick up? Or even call me back?”
Niniola was paralyzed by her emotions. Even though she had told herself that she would never speak to Dele again and realized how he had used her body for his own gain, her heart palpitated at the sight of the boy she had almost idolized. He was still as roguishly handsome as ever.
“What are you doing here?” he looked on the ground at the two sacks at her feet. “NIni, what is this?”
“I’m helping my mum.” She said weakly.
“Baby you don’t need this!” he said earnestly, staring deep into her eyes. “Come with me. At least let’s get you something cold to drink.”
Niniola was sweating profusely in the hot sun, Dele’s car was air-conditioned.
“I can’t.” She said reluctantly.
“Why? You know you want to… Haven’t you missed me?”
“Dele…” Niniola sighed, fighting the war that raged within her. she wanted to be with Dele, he was fun, charming and generous when he wanted to be. Yet she knew that to follow him was to disobey her mother and worsen the already sour relationship between them.
“Come with me. What are you doing that’s so important?”
“I told you I’m helping my mum…”
“To do what? Buy pepper?” he snickered.
Niniola snapped out of her immobility. “And what if she’s selling pepper?”
“The more reason why you should come with me…!”
“So that I can dance like a prostitute in front of your friends abi?”
“Don’t they pay you for it? That money can pay for all these things you’re carrying here. Your mum will be grateful!”
Niniola couldn’t believe his insolence. She thought of the all the pain and hardship her mother had had to go through and slapped him twice on both cheeks right in the middle of the road. Passersby halted, wondering what had happened between them.
“You better get out of my sight before I shout “Thief”!” she yelled.
Dele held both cheeks and walked briskly to his car. As he drove away, he looked at her in shock.
Chief Afonja entered the supermarket that his employee had told him about. Whoever had sponsored Rhoda had spent quite a lot of money. He heard her loud voice at the back of the building and followed it.
Rhoda looked good, she was wearing a cream colored iro and buba lace and had accessorized with purple beads. She was watching some young men counting packs of chocolate drinks.
“Rhoda.” He said.
She turned to look at him, surprise and anger registering on her face.
“You people can go. I’ll call you later.” She said to them.
“Rhoda.” The chief said again, staring at her.
“How did you know I was here? What do you want?”
“Your boyfriend has really tried.” The chief looked around.
“Chief, what do you want?”
“Your sons won’t have any inheritance from my properties if you don’t let me see them.” He said plainly.
Rhoda laughed humorlessly. “Chief, you’re very bold. You chased me out of your house because I refused to abort the pregnancy of these same children. But now that they are born, they’ve suddenly become important? You didn’t even ask how I survived the pregnancy, or about Elizabeth and Yimika!”
“I know what I did, and that’s why I’m here to make amends.”
“We don’t need you chief, you can go to hell with your money and properties. My chidren and I will be fine. You can leave my supermarket now.”
“Dare!” she called to one of the young men who had been counting the sachets. “Come here, and call Ebenezer too.”
The chief left before he suffered any more embarrassments.
When he got home later that night, he was drunk. He staggered into the house as Gbemi received his briefcase.
“Where is everybody?” he asked.
“They’ve gone to bed.”
“Nobody could wait for me!” he muttered to himself. “Okay, serve my food.”
He ate the food voraciously and then called on Gbemi.
“Is there more fish?” he asked with a drawl.
“Alright, bring it.”
As Gbemi served him another helping he surveyed her backside. Again he wondred how a fifteen year old could have the kind of body she had.
“Come here…” he said, stroking her bottom. Gbemi jumped up startled. “Ah sorry! I thought it was your arm. Why are you jumping ehn? Are you that ticklish? Ehn?” he burst into a hearty laughter as Gbemi took her leave.
Oladapo and his best friend were drinking wine in celebration of his friend’s latest acquisition, a fine SUV that they had both desired.
“You know, I’m glad you bought yours first so that when they make a better version, my car would be better than yours!”
“We’ve had a good life Dapo.”
“I agree… I agree…” Oladapo said half-heartedly.
“You’re thinking of Temitayo aren’t you?”
Gbadebo put down his wineglass and sat up.
“You know things happen for a reason. I believe that strongly.”
“I keep asking myself where I went wrong.” He rubbed his face. “This new woman isn’t making me so happy. I’m beginning to think I made a mistake.”
Gbadebo leaned forward. “What if I told you that I know where Temitayo is?”
“What do you mean?” Oladapo sat up sharply.
“I saw her Dapo. She needs help.”
Oladapo’s heart began to beat faster. His wife was somewhere out there.