Soji was whistling a tune as he washed the car, he didn’t see Bunmi walk up to him.
“I see you haven’t stopped your habit of whistling a tune as you work.” She said.
Soji looked up at her, he mopped the sweat off his forehead and sighed.
“Good evening.” He greeted.
“You haven’t changed a bit…you still look the same.” She said.
“Well…it’s the Lord’s doing.” He said to her.
“How’s Funke? Did you still marry her?”
“Yes, we have three children now.” He said with a smile.
“I see…” She said. “I have something to ask you but I have to trust that it stays between us.”
Soji looked at the overly-ambitious woman standing before him, she was still the same, always very manipulative.
“What do you want to ask?” He asked.
“Is Chika Latson still Felix’s lawyer?” She asked.
He looked at her and bent to continue washing the car.
“Don’t pretend that you didn’t hear me.” She said.
“What is your mission here?” He asked in a low voice. “They are happy…my boss and his son are happy.”
“Well, I’m not and I want to be happy.” She said, giving him a pointed look. “So, are you going to answer my question or do you need me to make your life miserable?”
Soji looked at her and sighed, one thing he knew about Bunmi was the fact that she kept her promises and if she’d said that she’d make his life miserable, then she would.
“Yes…that’s still his lawyer.” Soji said.
“Good.” She said with a smile. “Have fun washing…”
Soji watched her walk away, he knew she was up to no good.
Gbenga waited for his father to return from work but his eyes suddenly felt so heavy. He looked at the time and sighed, it was a few minutes past ten pm. He had school tomorrow and didn’t want to stay up late into the night.
“I see you’re waiting for your dad.” Bunmi said as she walked into the sitting room and sat on the sofa facing his.
“Yeah…” He answered.
“Do you know that you remind me of myself when I was younger?”
Gbenga didn’t reply.
“This is the reason I left your dad.” She said. “He never made time for me and he made decisions which affected me dearly…”
Gbenga looked at her.
“You know love, it’s hard to make kids understand the reason parents separate.” She said. “Has your father told you why I left?”
He shook his head.
“Well, I’ll tell you. One night, I waited for him to come home just as you’re waiting now and he didn’t show up till three am. I slept off on the couch and when he came home, I asked him where he’d been and he said some nasty words and we really had a big fight. After that day, I knew I couldn’t stay with him anymore…I had to go.” She said.
“You didn’t take me with you.” Gbenga accused.
Bunmi looked at her son and wanted to whoop in delight, he was finally loosening up to her.
“It’s no news that I came from a very poor home, in fact, my dad used to shine shoes for a living.” She said.
Gbenga looked at her, quite surprised at the revelation.
“Your dad didn’t tell you?” She asked, when he didn’t reply, she continued. “My dad was so poor, he had practically nothing. Our mother abandoned us when we were kids so all we had was our dad. When I left your dad, I had nothing and I knew that I couldn’t raise you in poverty, that’s why I left you with him. From the day of your birth, you were used to so much luxury and I knew that bringing you up far away from the life you were used to would be cruel.” She said.
“Money is not everything…I would have coped.” He said.
“Really? I heard you threw a ruckus because your dad changed your school from private to a public school, that doesn’t sound like a boy who can cope.”
“I did what I thought was best for you.” She said.
“You never called.” He said. “I remember the one and only time you called during my birthday party and our talk was brief.”
“I was making an international call and the rates were too high. I just needed to hear your voice and know that you were okay.” She said.
Gbenga didn’t respond.
“I came back for you darling…I came because I knew that your dad doesn’t know how to bond with you. You are his only child yet, he doesn’t spend any time with you. You guys are supposed to be best buds, hanging out at the beach, playing football together or spending time in each other’s company but I don’t see that. Your father lacks compassion and he doesn’t know how to show love and that was one of the reasons I left him. He isn’t worth your waiting up for him because even when he comes home, he hardly ever pays you any attention.” She said.
Gbenga looked at her, she was right.
“He’s busy…” He said.
“Is that what he tells you?” She asked.
Gbenga looked away, he had unshed tears in his eyes. He was waiting to tell his dad about Amanda and how she’d dumped him. He wanted to beg his dad to enrol him in his former school so that he’d have a chance to woo her again but just as his mother was trying to make him understand, his father wouldn’t even pay him any heed. He felt so lonely.
“I am here for you…I know I do not deserve time with you but I am here. Would we rather dwell on past mistakes than embrace the present?” She asked.
The sound of the car horn blared and Gbenga could hear the gates open. He stood up and made to leave.
“Aren’t you going to see your daddy?” She asked.
“No, it’s way past my bedtime.” He said as he left the sitting room.
As soon he left, Bunmi let out a slow laugh, she’d scored one point with her son and she had just a few more to go.
Chekwube stared at the bed in the room she was given in auntie Lizzie’s house. The house was quite spacious and it smelt like bleach and Drummer Boy air freshener.
Auntie Lizzie had stayed in the room with her nephew and Ola till it was quite dark before they’d headed to her house. She had a fairly decent Toyota Corolla car and when she started the engine, it seemed to hum.
They had taken the road to her school and just as they’d neared the school, auntie Lizzie had swerved and they’d found themselves in a street at the back of the school. There, she’d pressed the horn of her car and the gate was opened. A moderate bungalow was revealed and the car was driven in.
Chekwube felt lonely, she’d never lived away from any member of her family in her life and this was the first time she was going to live with a total stranger. Leaving home was hard enough but with Ola at her side, she felt she could weather all storms but now, Ola was no longer with her. Ola’s words still echoed in her ears and she was still quite confused over all her sister had told her. However, in summary, it meant that whatever happened to her from now on was going to remain a secret in order to preserve her dignity.
“Welcome to my house.” Auntie Lizzie had said to her.
Chekwube had nodded and walked into the house with auntie Lizzie. They had entered the large sitting room which had framed pictures of her seven children in their graduation gowns.
“My children are all graduates and five of them are working towards their doctorate.” Auntie Lizzie said. “Do you know what having a doctorate means?” She’d asked.
“Yes ma.” Chekwube replied, she’d schooled herself on all levels of education.
“You sound smart. What would you like to be when you grow up?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“A cardiologist.” Chekwube’d answered.
Auntie Lizzie turned on her heels and looked at her.
“You want to be a heart surgeon?”
“Yes ma.” Chekwube’d answered, wondering why the woman sounded surprised.
“Do you know that it takes hard work to become a cardiologist and not only that, you need money to go to the best schools, probably not even in the country?”
“Yes ma.” Chekuwbe’d said.
“Do your parents have that kind of money?”
“My parents want me to get married when I’m Ola’s age.” Chekwube’d said.
“Your parents aren’t as ambitious as you are.” Auntie Lizzie had answered.
“No, they’re not ma.”
“How do you intend to do that? Do you have any plans yet?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“When I get to that bridge, I’ll cross it ma.” Chekwube said.
Auntie Lizzie looked at her with interest.
“You sound so sure of yourself.” She said.
“My mathematics teacher once told me something, she said that all human beings have destinies, but hard work and persistence determines how far your good luck or fate can take you. She said that with hard work, even the people with little or no promise turn out to be the greatest of all. I have read the book ‘Gifted Hands’ by Ben Carson and I know that what my teacher said is true.”
Auntie Lizzie was quite baffled.
“I love your tenacity.” She’d said.
Now, as Chekwube stared at the bed before her, she missed the mat at Ola’s house. How she wished that things had turned out differently.
Ola had just stepped out of the bathroom when she felt a rough palm cover her mouth, she was about to scream when she heard the voice.
She nodded and allowed herself to be pulled towards the back of the bathroom. Her captor released his palms from her mouth and she let out a terrified breath.
“I dey sorry…” Baba Tee said.
“You want dem to catch us.” Ola whispered, looking around in fear.
“Who go catch us? Na dat ya husband wey fit dey sleep by dis time?”
“I don’t want to be catch.” Ola said speaking bad English.
“Na wah for you ooo…so, na hide and seek we go dey play abi. Shebi you be my girlfriend.”
“Shhh…not talk out loud.” Ola said in a whisper.
“I bring something come for you.” He said and dipping his hand into his pocket, he brought out a wad of cash.
Ola’s eyes widened as she stared at the money under the pale glow of the moonlight.
“Chineke meee….” She whispered.
“Which one be dat? Take de money jare.” He said shoving it at her.
Ola had never seen such amount of money in her entire life.
“This is too plenty.” She said.
“As my girlfriend consign, you suppose hold better money pass dis one.” He said.
“How much be dis?” She asked.
“Fifty thousand sweet lele…” He said with a smile.
She shoved it into the towel she’d tied around her chest and stared at him in surprise.
“Oya say thank you…” He said with a smile.
Ola smiled back at him while the moon glared.
To be continued next week….