Rhoda had stopped crying, and Yimika was still asleep. Her head was against the wall and she was deep in thought, trying to remember if her present misfortune had been predicted by anyone.
“Aunty…” Niniola called.
“What?” she croaked.
“I want to… I saw her… the lady you were asking about.”
“Where?” Rhoda sat up abruptly.
“She was coming out of that place where they sell school things.”
“Did you talk to her?”
“She was in a hurry, she was gone before I realized it.” She didn’t add that she had been too heartbroken about her stolen money to care.
“Ah…” she sighed. “So how have you helped me?”
“I’m thinking of going to ask them for her number. It looks like she goes there often…”
Rhoda was nodding, she thought it was a good idea.
Niniola turned to leave then realized that Yimika was still asleep. “How is he doing?”
“He’s still asleep. I hope he’s not too cranky when he wakes up.”
“He will be fine by the grace of God.”
“Amen!” Rhoda replied, sighing heavily.
As Niniola walked away, Rhoda realized the girl’s goodness and how much she was undeserving of it.
“Biola what are you doing?” she asked herself once more as her eyes caught her image in the rearview mirror. She looked at her small pointed nose and full pink lips and smiled. She was a beautiful woman.
Chief does not deserve me. I deserve someone who appreciates me and knows my worth.
She alighted from her car with trepidation and walked into the hotel. Gbenga was seated in the restaurant as he said he would be, he was swiping his iPad. He reached for the glass of water he had been drinking and Biola noted his smooth skin and well-manicured nails. They were so unlike Chief’s slightly wrinkled hands and crooked nails.
Gbenga looked up subconsciously and saw her walking towards him. He leaned back and took in a deep breath, she was a really beautiful woman. She was wearing an ankara gown that fell modestly to her knees. She smiled awkwardly and he noted her small white teeth.
“Hello Biola.” He responded, rising to his feet. “Please sit down.”
He was still staring at her and the smoothness of the skin that her neckline revealed. He had to admit that she was well taken care of.
“Why are you staring at me?” she asked, pushing away her braids from her face.
“I’m sorry, I can hardly help myself when I’m with you.”
Biola looked away from him and told herself to still her raging emotions. It amazed her how much feeling this younger man was able to elicit in her. What if someone she knew saw her here? What would be her excuse? This was a bad idea.
“What is it?” Gbenga asked, seeing the look of apprehension on her face.
“Nothing, I’m just wondering what I would say if someone I know sees me here.”
He shook his head disappointedly. “I guessed that you might feel this way!”
“I’m sorry… it’s just…”
“You’re a married woman.”
There was an uncomfortable silence between them. Gbenga resumed drinking his water and Biola fiddled with her bag.
“Would you mind going up to one of the rooms? I promise I have no ungentlemanly intentions.”
“Ah!” Biola gasped. “I can’t! What if someone sees us… me!”
“Okay what do we do? I just want us to have a good time. Eating, talking and laughing.”
Biola held her head in her hand feeling confused and angry with herself. She hated feeling out of control.
I should get out of here. She thought but heard herself say, “Okay, but you’ll book the room. Go first, call me and I’ll meet you there.”
Niniola returned from the stationery shop with the information Rhoda needed.
“She comes to the market every two weeks to buy stationaries. They didn’t want to give me her number, even though I told them that you sent me. We just need to hope she comes back soon, but I’ll always be on the lookout for her.”
“Thank you Niniola, you have been kinder to me than I have been to you. May you find helpers.”
“Amen!” the girl replied and looked at Yimika who was eating junk food.
“He won’t eat anything else and he’s not eaten all day.” Rhoda said in response to Niniola’s look. “Start packing up the store, let’s go home early today.”
Chief Afonja was home early and no one was home. It felt odd to him that he was home alone and so he started to call his wives. Only Mama Deji picked up her phone.
“Where are you?”
“On my way home. Why, is everything alright?”
“Yes, I’m at home.”
“You’re at home?”
“Just come home and stop questioning me.”
When Mama Deji got home, her husband was watching TV still in his outing clothes.
“Welcome. Is this the time you usually come home? I’ve been waiting for you!”
“This is the time I return from my shop. Besides, you didn’t call me to let me know you were waiting.”
“This is a few minutes to seven! What is an elderly woman doing outdoors at this time of the day?”
Mama Deji was tired. “Chief, I don’t have time for this drama. I’m tired. Have you eaten anything?”
“I’m the one acting drama?” the chief asked unbelievingly. “You don’t have time for me?”
“What will you eat?”
“I’m not interested in your food.”
“Alright.” She said with relief and went upstairs.
“So you’re leaving me here? Mama Deji!”
Next came Mama Eli with her children and Niniola. Chief was coming out of the kitchen with a canned malt.
“Daddy!” Elizabeth ran to him and hugged him, he rubbed her head.
“What happened to him?” he asked when he saw Yimika’s bandaged head.
“Niniola take them upstairs.” She said.
“Why didn’t you pick up your phone?” he asked when they were gone.
“I didn’t know you called me.” she replied, searching for her phone in her bag.
“What happened to the boy?” he asked again.
“He injured himself.”
“He injured himself? Where was the teacher when he was playing?”
“He wasn’t playing, he hit his head on the wall…”
“He did what? Look I’ve told you that you need to caution that boy. He’s spoilt!”
Mama Eli didn’t know how to tell him that he had also been expelled. “Okay.” She said and made to leave.
“Get me something to eat.”
“But it’s not my day to cook.” She replied irritably. “It’s Mama Ayo’s turn to cook.”
“But she’s not around…”
“That’s not my problem!” she snapped and walked away.
“Rhoda, you’re walking away from me too? Did someone cast a spell on you? I am your husband!”
“And I am your wife, not your slave!” she yelled and left him.
Chief Afonja gasped in surprise and tried to call Biola again.
Biola wiped the tears from her eyes.
“You are very funny!”
“And you are fun to be with. I swear this funny side of me is very rare. You have the magic touch!”
She laughed and took a piece of barbecued fish.
“I wish we could do this all night…”
“Night!” Biola dropped the food and picked up her bag to look for her phone. It was nine-thirty.
“Oh my God! I’m too late! I stayed here too long!”
“Relax, it’s just nine thirty…”
“Seven missed calls! Chief has been calling me! Oh my God I’m finished! What will I tell him?” As she lamented, she picked up her bag and put on her shoes.
“Just relax, if you’re jumpy when you get home he’ll be suspicious. Biola, Biola!” he held her hands and forced her to look at him.
“You have done nothing wrong, we have done nothing wrong. We’ve just been eating and drinking!”
Biola exhaled and nodded. “Okay. Good night. I had fun.”
“Me too. I’ll call you.”
“Not tonight please. It’s my…”
“It’s your night with him.”
“Yes.” She replied and hurried out.
Chief Afonja was famished.
“Yes sir!” she replied running towards him.
“Go and get me something to eat.”
“Like what sir…?”
“Don’t ask me stupid questions!” he roared. “Get me something to eat now and call me those women!”
As Niniola hurried to prepare the chief some amala Mama Deji and Mama Eli presented themselves before their husband.
“You women are useless! I married three women and none of you could prepare something for me to eat? Am I supposed to go and make my own food?”
The women stood looking at him.
“Am I not talking to the both of you?”
“You didn’t say we could respond…” Mama Deji said.
“So as old as you are you don’t know when to talk?”
“Chief, please don’t disrespect me. I have done nothing wrong. Why don’t you save this anger for the woman who is supposed to cook your food tonight?”
“Don’t mind him,” Mama Eli said. “He’s here asking us questions when he doesn’t know where his wife is. Didn’t you call her? Oh you did but she didn’t pick up did she?” she laughed mirthlessly. “She’s too busy to pick up your call. I’ll go and prepare your food.” She said over her shoulder as she walked away.
Chief Afonja was stunned, Mama Eli had just tried to tell him something about his favorite wife.
“Yomi,” Mama Deji called softly. He looked up at her surprised. She hadn’t called him by his name in years. “The next time you think about talking down at me in front of your wives please reconsider it. I have endured many things but I won’t endure you speaking to me as if I’m one of them. You are the one who deliberately put your hand in the beehive because you wanted to lick honey. Bear your pain, after all, you are enjoying the honey.”
Chief Afonja was dumbfounded.