Rhoda felt Oladapo drifting away from her. He no longer seemed interested in spending time with her; he was barely home and when he was, he wanted to be alone. He had a faraway look in his eyes that she couldn’t explain and he looked burdened. She had tried to speak with him but it only made her feel worse about her suspicions.
“I’m fine, I’m just a little tired.” He said when she asked him about his sour countenance two nights ago.
“You haven’t eaten. Should I bring you some eba?”
“No. I’m fine.”
“I made that efo riro you like.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“But you didn’t eat breakfast this morning!”
“Rhoda, I said I’m fine!”
“Dapo you’ve been acting strangely for some time now, what’s going on? You look distracted.”
“I’m fine. I just have a lot on my mind. I’m going to sleep.”
He had gotten up from the sitting room and left her confused and worried.
Comfort had come to see her about a loan and as she poured out some juice for her, she noted that her sister looked troubled.
“What is it?” She asked. “You look worried.”
Rhoda had never been one to hide her feelings. “I think Dapo is having an affair.”
“Why do you say so?”
Rhoda explained her suspicions and narrated Dapo’s changed behavior.
“He’s distracted by someone. I’m sure of it.”
Comfort wasn’t surprised, she had seen it coming, more so when the twins were born. But she knew that her sister didn’t like the truth, it was difficult for her to accept reality sometimes.
“Have you talked to him about it?” She asked instead.
“I have. He just doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Comfort nodded. She was yet to ask about the loan.
“You have something to say. I can tell from the look on your face.”
“Rhoda please let me mind my business, I came here to ask you for a loan. Let me do what I’ve come to do.”
“A loan? What for? How much?”
“For a portacabin. I need about five hundred thousand. I’ve managed to save the rest.”
“I don’t have it. I just started my business, you know that. I can’t afford to take money out of the business now.”
Comfort was disappointed.
“Didn’t you start selling not long ago? Why are you buying a portacabin?”
“The kiosk is now too small for us.”
“Ah ah! Too small?” Rhoda laughed. “What are you selling?” She mocked.
“Let’s forget about it. I’ll go and source for the money elsewhere.”
She gulped down her drink and grabbed her bag.
“Are you leaving?” Rhoda was surprised.
“Sunday is the only day I have to myself. I have to go and see someone else who might be able to help me.”
“So you won’t say anything about Oladapo?”
Comfort was at the door. “Just make sure you’re doing your business well and that everything is in your name.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That’s all I will say Rhoda, greet the children for me.”
Rhoda thought about what her sister was implying, could she be on her way out of Dapo’s house? She didn’t want to believe it. The man had promised to treat her better than Chief had.
Biola and Lekan were walking out of a restaurant as Gbenga was coming in. She stood still, staring at him with so much hatred that she started to tremble slightly.
“Hello Biola, you look lovely as ever.” He said with a lopsided smile. “I see you’ve found a replacement for me.”
“Who’s this Biola?” Lekan asked coolly, noting the effect the stranger had on her.
“He’s the one I told you about…” She looked him in the eye.
Lekan held her waist possessively, and frowned at the almost handsome man with a scar on his face.
“You wouldn’t know how I got this would you?” Gbenga touched his face.
“You deserve whatever happened to you.”
“Why do I get the feeling that you planned it?”
“I’ve spent too much time talking to you. If I ever see you again, I hope it’s your corpse I’m looking at.”
Biola walked away and Lekan followed.
“Let’s hope your darling husband doesn’t know about your extracurricular activities…”
Biola made to go and attack him but Lekan pulled her back.
“He’s not worth it! He’s not worth it!” He said urgently. “Let’s go.”
“Come to me, leave him!” Lekan said to her in the car.
“I’ve explained the situation to you Lekan…”
“Do what you have to do! Look it’s the only way to avoid threats like this! Do you think I’m comfortable with you being at the mercy of that fool and your chief? Come to me Biola, let’s love each other as we were meant to!”
Biola looked at him intensely, knowing he was right but uncertain of her sons’ future.
Chief Afonja was no longer under pressure, as a matter of fact, he was the happiest he had been in a long time. He still made advances at Biola in order not to arouse her suspicion, but he no longer nagged her about her excuses. Gbemi had become a good reason to come home early and sleep late. He felt rejuvenated and the hide and seek he played with her made him unusually excited.
Mama was happy too; her son was happy and her plan was going on well. She believed that Gbemi would firmly plant herself as the chief’s favorite and Biola’s hold over her son would broken. She would be back in control of the household.
Gbemi did what she had to. She wasn’t totally happy about what was going on between her and the chief but her parents were doing much better. Her father was out of the hospital and her younger siblings were in school. Her parents had started petty businesses and everyone was happy. She was yet to ask the chief for anything but she knew that he wouldn’t hesitate to give her whatever she asked for.
Mama was happy with her and brought her several gifts that she had to hide from her employers. She was still to keep up the pretense.
As she served Mama Deji her breakfast one day, she felt the woman’s eyes on her.
“You look different. You must be really enjoying this house. Your cheeks are filling out and your skin is now smooth. Mama just brought you here to enjoy your life didn’t she?” She eyed her coolly. “Just make sure you stay away from Chief. Do you hear me?”
“Yes ma.” Gbemi responded meekly.
“What’s going on?” The chief asked, coming to the dining table.
“Nothing, I just asked her not to cross her boundaries.”
“What boundaries?” The chief asked curiously.
“Since when did women’s talk interest you?” She replied irritably.
Chief Afonja chose to ignore her, he didn’t see how he could reply her without revealing his recent infidelity.
“I’ll tell her to leave.” Oladapo said to Temitayo as they held each other in bed.
“But where will she go with her four children?”
“I’ll give her more money, she’ll find her way.”
“But you told me you promised to be better than her husband…”
“Look Temitayo, what we’re doing is not even right. She’s a married woman, shouldn’t you be encouraging me to let her go and be with you my legitimate wife?”
“I want to say that Dapo but I don’t feel comfortable asking you to displace a woman and her four children.”
“So what do we do? Keep playing hide and seek? I’ve found you again, I’m not letting you go.”
“We can’t have children…”
“You said it yourself, we’re not destined to have children. Let’s just live the rest of our lives loving each other!”
“What if my ex-husband and I were still together?”
“I would have seduced you away from him. You obviously weren’t happy with him and you didn’t bear him any children.” He held her face in his hands. “Look Temitayo, we belong together and you know it.”
Temitayo sighed, the prospect of being with her husband again was greatly tempting.
“You were right, she’s having an affair with the man.” The private investigator said to Mama Deji who was paying close attention to his report. They were in the same restaurant where they had first met.
“I knew it!”
“He’s a real estate investor and he also owns Byte.”
“The company where they sell phones, laptops…”
“Hmmn.” Mama Deji sighed.
“It’s all there, where they go, how long they’ve been together, everything.”
“Thank you. This is your balance.” She brought out an envelope and slid it across the table.
The man got up and left without another word.
Gbemi counted the dates again, she was late by a week. She stood in front of the mirror and examined her face, noted the soreness of her breasts and concluded that she could be pregnant.
This was the news that Mama had been waiting for. It would bring about the chaos that she wanted, and it would reposition her as Chief Afonja’s fourth wife.