“Take this.” Chief Afonja thrust an envelope into Niniola’s hands. “That’s five thousand naira.”
Niniola’s eyes widened. “Okay sir, what do you want me to buy for you sir?”
“It’s for you.”
“Yes, you deserve it. Just as you predicted, things improved.”
“Okay sir…” Niniola had no idea what he was talking about but she still couldn’t take the money. “But sir, Aunty Rhoda will be angry.”
“That’s why you shouldn’t tell her.”
She shook her head adamantly. “No sir, I can’t take it. I don’t want my aunty to think…”
“To think what? To think that I’m having some kind of affair with you?” he laughed heartily. “You always make me feel less burdened. Is that why you’re always tensed up? You think I want to have an affair with you? Don’t worry you’re not my type.” He shook his head and laughed again.
“Anyway you shouldn’t tell her about the money, I’m just giving it to you because your encouragement turned out to be a prediction. Keep it in your account.”
“I don’t have one sir.”
“So I should open one for you?” the chief asked irritated. “Look, do you want the money or not?”
Niniola thought of her brutalized mother and siblings. “Yes sir, I want it. Sorry sir.”
Rhoda and her shop attendants were packing up the store after a busy and prosperous day. Yimika sat in a corner of the store playing with a broomstick, lost in his own would. Mama Eli was glad that he had stopped screaming, he had cried practically throughout the day. As she counted her proceeds from the day, she was glad that he would finally start school the next week. He was too much of a distraction.
She put her money in her purse and brought out her hair brush when a young lady came into the shop.
“We’ve closed.” She said dismissively, not even bothering to look at her.
“I’m not here to buy anything, I already…”
“So what do you want?” Mama Eli’s nerves were stretched thin.
The young lady smiled. “I’m here to talk to you about something that concerns you. Can I sit down please?”
“Look young lady I don’t have time for this, I have things to do.”
”This is important ma, please just hear me out…”
“Hear what? I said I’m not in the mood!” she yelled at the poor lady who backed away at the loudness of her voice.
“It’s about your son…” she replied in a small voice, pointing at Yimika who was still playing with the broomstick, looking oblivious to what was happening.
“My son… what about him?”
“I’m a therapist… I deal with special needs children. I can see your son is autistic and I’d like to offer my services.”
Mama Eli put down her hair brush and stood up. She had told only one person about her son’s condition, how could she have known it if that person hadn’t told her? “So she sent you to me hmmn?”
“Who? I don’t know what you’re talking about ma.”
“You don’t know what I’m talking about abi?” she approached the lady menacingly. “I will teach you a lesson you will never forget in your life!” she reached for a long stick leaning against the wall and raised it up to hit the lady but she had run away.
“Foolish girl! Ah, Rhoda see your life!” she said sadly.
“So I told you my problem and you went ahead to announce it to the world ehn?” Mama Eli said to Mama Ayo who had just come in from her supermarket. She looked scornfully at her junior wife and wondered again what had possessed her husband to marry such an uncouth woman.
“What are you talking about?” she asked irritably.
“You think I don’t know what you did?”
“Ah, look Mama Eli I don’t have time for your village attitude, it’s either you tell me what happened or you stop disturbing me.”
Mama Eli put her thick palms on her ample waist. “I saw the young girl you sent to me today to taunt me.”
Mama Ayo was genuinely bewildered. “What are you talking about? What young girl?”
The junior wife looked uncertainly at the senior wife and wondered if her accusations were baseless. “You want to tell me that you don’t know about the young girl who came to my shop this evening and said she wanted to offer her services concerning Yimika.”
“Someone offered to help you?” now the senior wife was surprised that anyone would help her boisterous younger wife.
“So you don’t know anything about it?”
“I’ve said that already.”
Mama Eli sat down solemnly, feeling very foolish. “You didn’t know anything about her, she came on her own to help me.” she said more to herself than to her colleague.
Mama Ayo hissed disgustedly. “Sometimes you act like a deranged woman. Nonsense!”
Mama Eli was oblivious to the insult, her only thought was to find the Good Samaritan she had foolishly chased away.
Chief Afonja was in a good mood. He had sold his stock and reinvested in another business with better prospects. He came home with treats for all his children and even chatted with them for a few minutes before he went up to his room where he had a warm shower and rested a while.
It was Mama Eli’s turn to make dinner. He went down grudgingly to see what she had cooked. He really wasn’t in the mood for her food, or for her. He wanted Mama Ayo, his favourite wife, she was his trophy wife. Educated abroad and working as an operations manager in a bank where he had met her, he enjoyed talking to her and being with her. She stimulated his mind and he could talk about business with her, she had an eye for lucrative businesses.
Mama Eli was placing a glass cup on a serviette when he got to the dining table. He looked at her and wondered why exactly he had spoken with her that day at his friend’s house where she had been helping to serve drinks and food. His lust for her ample backside had gotten her pregnant and she had been smart enough to talk to his mother who insisted that he marry her. He was staring at her backside as the smell of her ewedu and goat meat soup wafted through the air, even after four years of being married to her he was still regretful. She was beneath his social status and was only good for making children and cooking.
Sensing that she was being watched, she turned to face him. “Chief! Welcome, I was just going to call you.”
The chief sat in his chair and asked, “What did you cook?”
“Ewedu and goat meat soup with amala.”
“I guessed as much.”
He started to eat the food and wondered how he would avoid sleeping in her room that night. He really wanted to just be with Mama Ayo. He didn’t have to time to think.
“Chief, there’s something I wanted to discuss with you…”
“Will you let me finish my food first? Or am I not coming to your room?” he replied sarcastically.
“Sorry.” She said and walked away.
Later that night, he went into her room with a bottle of wine and two wine glasses. She was waiting for him with her wrapper tied around her chest.
“You’ve been waiting for me.”
“Yes, I thought you had slept off.”
“No, I was making some business calls. How was your day?” he asked jovially.
Mama Eli was taken aback by her husband’s amiable disposition towards her. He had never asked her how her day went.
“Fine… it was fine…”
“And how’s business?” he asked opening the bottle of wine.
“Fine… Chief what are we celebrating?”
He gave a small laugh. “Well to be honest, I closed a good deal at the office today.”
“And you’re celebrating it with me?”
“Are you not my wife?” he replied charmingly.
Mama Eli smiled happily and accepted the glass of wine he handed to her.
“So do you need anything now?” he asked smiling and pouring himself a drink.
“Ehn?” she said in surprise. “Ah there are many things I need o!” she laughed lightheartedly.
“I trust you.” he got up. “Drink up, I need to ease myself. I hope your toilet is clean?”
“Ah ah Chief!” she laughed again and gulped down her drink. It was tasty, she poured herself some more and relaxed.
“Chief are you doing something else there?” she asked with a yawn.
“You won’t believe it! I suddenly feel like taking a dump.”
Again she laughed. “Alright, just…” she yawned. “Do it quickly…” she yawned again and lay on the bed.
By the time Chief Afonja came out of the toilet, she was fast asleep. He took the empty glass from her hand and shook his head at her vulnerability.
Biola was chatting with Gbenga and smiling widely. She hadn’t had this much attention from a man and she realized that she missed it. He was witty and funny, causing her to giggle endlessly.
Gbenga: I really want to take you out.
Biola: lol my husband would be angry
Gbenga: Do you have to tell him?
Biola: Yes Gbenga, that’s how married people live.
Biola: What does that mean?
Gbenga: Wow you’re not that old are you? it means rolling my eyes.
Biola: thanks for reminding me of our age difference.
Gbenga: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.
Biola: it’s okay.
Gbenga: does this mean I can invite you over to my place? I promise, no hidden agenda. I just want to cook for you.
Biola: You? Cook?
Gbenga: don’t underestimate the culinary skills of a brother ma’am
Biola: no hanky-panky
Gbenga: no hanky-panky
Gbenga: but I can’t promise that I won’t offer you a massage or a footrub. Can’t have you leaving my house still tense
Biola: I’m not tense
Gbenga: yes you are
Just then Chief Afonja came in.
“Chief?” she looked behind him. “What are you doing here?”
“I have a gift for you.” he held out a small bag.
She opened it and saw a box of perfume. One of the latest fragrances on sale.
“Chief! What… this is…”
“I’ve missed you my dear. I couldn’t sleep in that room tonight. I want to spend my night with my favourite wife.” he caressed her cheeks. “I know I’ve neglected you for some time now but trust me, I will make it up to you. Hmm?”
Biola couldn’t respond, she was overwhelmed her husband’s sudden show of affection, and for the first time in a while she was glad to be Chief Afonja’s wife.