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“Why?” Chief asked stupefied.
Biola looked away and folded her arms. She didn’t know how to explain herself, he would never understand.
“Why?” He asked again, angrily this time. “What did you want that I didn’t give? Ehn Biola?”
Biola didn’t respond, she kept her face away from him.
“Am I not talking to you?” The chief asked in a raised voice, his anger rising.
“I can hear you chief, I just don’t think you can understand…”
“Understand what? Please explain it to me! I did whatever you wanted me to do…”
“At your own convenience.”
“What are you talking about?” He asked confounded.
“Chief you won’t understand…”
“Damn you and that statement! Ah ah!” He moved closer to her and grabbed her shoulders roughly. “I did everything for you!”
“Please don’t rough handle me!” She yelled pulling herself away from him.
He didn’t let go, he held her tightly, squeezing her arms.
“Chief I said let me go! Am I the only one who has been unfaithful?” She yelled again and this time the chief loosened his hold on her. She pulled away.
“You’re there telling me that you gave me everything, yet you were sleeping with the house help! You didn’t give me everything Chief!”
The chief was dumbfounded. “But that was a mistake…”
“Stop lying! You can’t control yourself Chief! And you allow your mother to control your home…”
“She was right about you after all…” He said with sudden realization.
“I’ve watched you obey her commands like a little boy all these years. You’re so weak! I don’t know how I’ve managed to stay with you all these years…”
“I know how, you stayed because of the money…”
“I stayed because of my children…”
The chief shook his head. “You’re a bad woman!”
“Don’t you dare stand there and judge me! How do you think I felt when you brought home that baboon who turned this house into a market place?”
“You saw what happened Biola, you knew I had no choice but to marry Rhoda…”
“Shut up! Don’t tell me that again! Accept responsibility for once in your life! I don’t deny that I’ve been seeing someone else, a good man, a real man who isn’t being mummy’s boy at sixty!”
She hissed and got off the bed.
“Enough is enough! I I’ll be out of this house in the morning.”
“Go and don’t ever let me see you again!” The chief said quietly.
“I don’t want to see you again either.” Biola replied coldly.
As Biola packed out her things the next morning and left with her boys who didn’t understand what was going on, the chief realized that he had invested a lot of money on the boys he had just severed ties with.
Rhoda rubbed her eyes and sniffed loudly. Comfort had been right about Dapo after all. Oladapo was in love with his wife and he had no intention of giving her up.
“I’m sorry if you feel disappointed but I can’t let her go. I’ve always loved her.” He’d said after revealing who Temitayo was.
“Where do you want me to go?” She’d replied.
“I’ll give you money to get a new place, you can stay here until you find your own place.”
And so saying, he’d let her know that she was no longer welcome in his home.
“The supermarket is yours, and the car. You can take everything I bought for you.” He’d said gently but firmly.
Rhoda knew she didn’t stand a chance pleading with him, his mind was made up already.
Now as she watched Yimika learning his lessons and the twins crawling all over the floor, she realized that she was alone. Elizabeth was plaiting her doll’s hair and talking to it.
“Don’t worry, you hear? I’ll take care of you, you hear?”
She felt just like the doll. Men had promised her things and she’d believed them wholeheartedly but now she realized that she would have to toughen up and learn to take care of herself. Oladapo had been at least fair to her, allowing her to keep her acquisitions under his roof. He had forced her to get busy and now his seeming overbearingness would save her and her children from wretchedness.
Weeping slowly, she looked around the house and sighed. How had she come to this?
Comfort felt good. She was seated in the portacabin she had recently renovated to accommodate her business. Mrs Thompson who had come to her rescue when her husband had almost killed her had saved her again. This time, helping her to secure a loan to complete her payment for the portcabin. Niniola was already attending to customers with her usual calm and courtesy and Comfort couldn’t be prouder of her.
Her life had changed because her daughter had been courageous enough to do what she couldn’t do. Niniola was more than her daughter, she was her saviour and she made up her mind to do whatever she could to make sure that the girl knew how grateful she was. She finished up the account balancing she had been doing as Niniola came to sit by her side, counting the money in her hands.
“Well done.” She said to her.
“Thank you ma.”
Adura, the baby of the house stirred, she was asleep on a small mattress in the corner beside Comfort.
“She’s so peaceful.” Niniola said.
“Yes she is.”
Rhoda pulled up in front of the store in her car.
“Ah ah, that’s Aunty Rhoda! How did she know this place?”
“I gave her the description.”
“Why? She didn’t help us when we needed her, why did you let her come here?”
“Because she’s family. Besides, she explained why she couldn’t help and I’m glad she didn’t.”
“If you say so ma.” Niniola replied, standing up reluctantly to greet Rhoda who had just walked in.
“Good afternoon ma.”
“Ah ah Niniola! You’re just looking more beautiful every day.”
“Thank you ma.” she replied cheerlessly. As far as she was concerned, her aunty was a hypocrite who didn’t care much for her sister or anyone else for that matter.
“Rhoda, you came after all!” Comfort rose to greet her.
“Yes I did,” she replied looking around the shop. “Na wa o, you’ve spent money here! Where did you get it from?”
“Mrs Thompson helped me.”
“Na wa o.” Rhoda said again, Comfort was selling as much as she was when she was in the market and she was in a better location now. She could tell that her sister would soon be a serious competition.
“Are you going to sit down?”
“Let’s go and talk outside please.”
They walked outside to her car.
“You were right, Oladapo has told me to leave. He found his long lost wife and now they want to be back together again.”
Comfort simply listened to her.
“It’s funny, men keep dumping me for another wife. Am I that bad a person? I mean I know I’m not slim like you are after six children but am I that unattractive?”
Comfort knew she had to say something. “I don’t think you should focus on that right now.”
“No, tell me. Am I that bad?
“We all have our weaknesses Rhoda, we just have to learn to be better. Where are you going to go?” she asked, changing the subject.
“I’m still looking for a place to stay. He gave me money to find another place.”
“At least he was nice…”
“Yes o, he was nice.”
A salon car stopped a few yards away from them and a man and a woman stepped out of it. The woman opened the back door and two young boys came down from it. The man smiled at her and held one of the boys, she held the other.
“That is a good man.” Rhoda said.
“And how do you know that?”
“I don’t know many men who smile at their wives the way he did to that woman. Maybe I’ll find true love someday, a good man to take care of me.”
Comfort didn’t say anything, she merely looked at the family who had gone into the eatery opposite her store.
Chief Afonja and his family were seated at the dining table, Gbemi was seated on one hand and Mama Deji on the other. Mama faced him. They ate their meal of rice, beans, and chicken stew disinterestedly, each one engrossed in deep thought.
Mama was thinking of how Biola had managed to play a fast one on her son, just when she thought that she had won. Gbemi had no competition but her son wasn’t interested in her, he was too heartbroken and angry. She felt defeat so close to her, just after she had celebrated her triumph against Biola.
Mama Deji was sad and angry, her husband just always managed to get another woman elsewhere. To think that Gbemi had been sleeping with her husband right under her nose was insulting. Like Mama, she felt defeated, the private investigation had been for nothing. Her husband just couldn’t keep his zip closed.
Gbemi felt like grass, surrounded by three elephants. She knew it was a matter of time before she got trampled upon. She had to get out of the house, but how could she renege on her word to Mama? What would happen to her family?
Chief felt like a fool, Biola had defeated him at his own game. All the years of abandoning everyone for her was wasted, his children had no regard for him and he didn’t even know some of them. He kept thinking of how much his mother had influenced his home, he had never disagreed with her.
“Leave this table.” He said to Gbemi who hurriedly got up.
“Why? She’s not going anywhere.” Mama said. “Sit down!” she snapped at Gbemi who hurriedly sat back down and stared at her plate.
Mama Deji got up from the table shaking her head. She couldn’t stand her husband’s weakness any longer.
“I’m glad you’re here.” Lekan said to Biola, massaging her foot.
“I’m glad I’m here too.”
Ayo and Gbenro were playing a game on the TV, they liked this new man who was cool and had already anticipated their interests. He’d taken them all out for dinner because their mum didn’t feel like cooking. They couldn’t remember their father taking them out to eat, ever.
“I’m going to make you a very happy woman.” He said to her softly and she smiled.
Yes, leaving chief had been the right thing to do.
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