Ola was in the kitchen, she was feeling quite ill. She wished Chekwube was still with her as she would have been the one, making dinner.
“Ola.” Chekuwbe called out from the door to the kitchen.
Ola mopped the sweat off her brow with the back of her palms. She stretched up to her full height and turned to stare at her sister.
“Bekee…” She said in response. “Are you back?”
“Why are you calling me that?” Chekuwbe asked sounding quite offended.
“You’re the one who ran off to be with a sophisticated rich woman like Auntie Lizzie.” Chekwube said in their native language.
“Is that why you referred to me as an English woman?” Chekuwbe asked.
“Ehen! Isn’t that what you are? Besides, why are you here?”
“I told you that I would come during weekends, didn’t I? Besides, I have to see Mickey for something.”
Ola looked at her sister.
“Mickey kwa!” Ola asked in disbelief.
“Yes, we are study partners.”
Ola slapped her palms together and placed her hands on her waist.
“Are you serious?” She asked.
“Of course… Mickey needs help in her studies and she’s asked me for help.” Chekwube said.
Ola didn’t look too comfortable with Chekwube’s reasons for having Mickey as a study partner.
“Do you remember the saying, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’?” Ola warned.
“What’s your problem? The time I had issues with her, you sounded as though you wanted to be on her good side and now that I’m learning to get along with her, you’re sounding upset.” Chekuwbe said.
“I am not upset. I’m just trying to understand why oil and water are trying to mix.” Ola said in their native language.
“Is brother Nosike at home?” Chekwube asked.
“Go and see if he’s at home, I don’t know.”
“What happened? Did you guys wait for me to leave the house before getting into a fight? What’s the problem?” Chekwube asked.
“When you get married, you’ll understand.” Ola said.
“Married? Me? You’re silly.” She laughed.
“Look at this one ooo…what do you think? Papa called me yesterday and asked when you’re coming back home. I don’t think you understand that there are things you can’t run away from.” Ola said.
“I’m not going home!” Chekwube said folding her arms in anger.
“Go and tell that to our father. You know that once someone comes to marry you and he accepts, you will have to leave.” Ola said.
“I will never leave! I will stay in Lagos and finish my secondary school education and then I will get a scholarship to go to the university and study medicine.” Chekwube said with determination.
Ola threw back her head and laughed.
“Please don’t make me laugh…”
“I am not trying to be funny…I am telling you the fact and you’d better take it or leave it.”
Ola laughed harder.
“Keep dreaming until papa brings a cane to Lagos and chases you back to the village with it.”
Chekwube left the kitchen in anger.
Mickey was in the room she shared with her mother when Chekwube knocked at the door. She walked to open the door and didn’t look surprised to see Chekwube.
“Look what the cat dragged in.” Mickey scoffed.
“I am not here for insults, I just want to let you know that study time is at my house tomorrow at three thirty pm.”
“Sorry ooo…I didn’t mean to insult my teacher.” Mickey mocked.
“I know you’re doing all this because you want to stay close to Gbenga.” Chekwube said.
“If you want to stay close to him, you have to follow my rules.” Chekuwbe said.
“Don’t be a pretender! I know you like him too and you’re just hiding your true feelings.” Mickey spat.
“I’m not in school to chase boys but to face my studies.” Chekwube said.
“So, I’m the one chasing boys in school abi?” Mickey spat at her.
“Look, Mickey, if you are going to cause trouble, I’m going to yank you out of my study group.” Chekwube fired, wondering what in the world was wrong with the twisted girl.
“You can’t do that.” Mickey fired.
“Watch me!” Chekwube spat.
“I double dare you!” Mickey spat.
“You really are courageous to think that I’ll have you in my study group no matter what.” Chekwube said.
“Yes, I am courageous because I have something that I can bargain with.” Mickey said.
Chekuwbe looked at Mickey in confusion.
“What do you want to do, beat me up again?” Chekwube asked.
“ Far from that, in fact, I don’t need to beat anyone up. In class today, I really didn’t remember that I had a bargaining chip till I came back home and now that I remember, I will be a part of your study group whether you like it or not.” Mickey said.
“You are bluffing!” Chekwube fired.
“Wait here…” Mickey said as she made her way into the room.
She re-emerged with her phone in her hands and showed Chekwube the picture on the screen.
“Do you recognize the lady in the picture?” Mickey sneered.
Chekwube’s heart skipped a beat, Mickey was showing her the picture of her sister, Ola, smiling at the camera with Baba Tee.
“What…where did you get this?” Chekwube asked in surprise.
“I’m going to be a part of that study group for as long as I want and in fact, you will do anything I tell you to or else, I will end your sister’s marriage with her husband.” Mickey threatened.
Chekwube stared at Mickey, words hung in her throat.
Ola was scrolling through her new phone when she heard the sharp knock at the door. She quickly tossed the phone into her bag and zipped it shut. She walked over to open the door.
“Chekwube! Haven’t you left yet? I thought that with the way you stormed out of the kitchen, you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.” Ola said in their native language.
“Is there something you’re not telling me?” Chekwube asked, trying to be calm.
“What are you talking about? Are you staying over for the weekend?” Her sister asked, changing the topic.
“No, I’m not staying…” Chekwube answered simply.
“Are you eating then? I kept some food for you.” Ola said.
“Ola, is there something you’re not telling me?” Chekwube asked again.
“What sort of rubbish are you talking about?” Ola asked perplexed at her sister’s behaviour.
Chekwube walked over to Ola’s bag on the small stool beside the bed and began to search it. Ola hurried up to her and pulled her bag away from her hands.
“What is wrong with you? Don’t you know your mate?” Ola screamed at her. “So you think that the fact that you live in a big house with Aunt Lizzie gives you the right to act like the older sister.”
“Give me your bag now!” Chekwube shouted.
“Are you mad?” Ola fired.
“I need to be sure that what I heard is not true even though I saw pictures to prove it.” Chekwube shouted.
“What are you talking about? Is something wrong with you?”
“I know that you are seeing Baba Tee.” Chekwube said.
The air was silent and the sisters looked at each other for thirty full seconds without saying anything. Then, Ola broke the silence.
“What…who told you?” She asked in a shaky voice.
“Does it matter who told me? You are about to light a torch in your home and the first question you ask is who told me?” Chekwube fired. “So, you were with him on the day that I was almost…almost…” She said with tears in her eyes.
Ola’s hands began to shake.
“Chekwube…please tell me…I need to know…please…”
“So it’s true then? It’s true…” Chekwube asked with tears in her eyes. “After all brother Nosike has done for you. If you knew you didn’t want to get married to him, why did you?”
“It’s not what you think…it’s not what you think at all but first of all, please tell me where you heard the rumor.”
“I didn’t hear any rumour, I saw pictures of the two of you together.”
“Ewoooo….I’m dead ooo!” Ola exclaimed in tears. “Pictures?”
“Ola, what did you see in that ragamuffin, Baba Tee? That guy is not a good person to be tangled up with. He will destroy you.” Chekwube shouted.
“Shh…don’t speak too loudly, please tell me where you saw the pictures….please…” Ola asked.
“I won’t tell you!” Chekwube said stubbornly.
Ola fell to her knees in plea.
“Biko…Chekwube, don’t do this to your sister…please…”
Chekwube shook her head stubbornly. Ola began to cry then suddenly, as though she was feeling some sort of tightening in her chest, she clutched her chest with her hands and fell to the ground in a faint.
“Ola! Ola!” Chekwube shouted, falling on her knees and trying to revive her sister.
The door opened and Mr. Nosike walked in.
To be continued….