Gbenga ate his lunch and flipped idly through a newspaper. His father walked into the dining room and sat down.
“I see that you’re developing an interest in reading. Before I enrolled you in the government school, you were more interested in video games.” He said.
It was at the tip of Gbenga’s tongue to say that the internet in the house had been exhausted and there was nothing fun to do with his phone instead, he shrugged.
“Soji tells me that you’re going somewhere…this afternoon.”
“Yes sir.” He said.
“I am having a study group with some classmates.”
His father nodded, impressed by what he was hearing.
“I am really glad that you’ve become more mature and that you are beginning to take the bull by the horns. You see, son, life is full of opportunities but they only go to those who have the tenacity to pull through. You are going to own all of my wealth some day and I want you to grow it instead of run it to the ground.”
Gbenga nodded, he was bored by his father’s speech.
“Maybe I can take you to the study group.” His father said.
Gbenga’s head snapped up. This was new, he thought. His father had never really taken him anywhere except to family weddings or gatherings.
“Don’t worry dad, uncle Soji knows the way.”
“You could show me the way.” His father said with a smile.
Gbenga looked at his father and felt that something was off. He wanted to protest when his mother sashayed into the dining room with a plate of food in her hands.
“Gbenga darling…I prepared a lovely dish for you.” She removed the plate of yam and eggs which he was eating and pushed a plate of rice and stew before him.
“I was already eating yam.” He protested.
“Well…I made your favourite dish of rice and stew.” She said triumphantly.
“Rice and stew is not my favourite dish.” Gbenga said.
His father hid a chuckle.
“Darling, your mom made this food with all the love in the world.” She said. “Remember that I gave birth to you and that means that I love you.”
Gbenga stood up from the chair.
“I need to go now or I’m going to be late…” He said.
“Get ready and I’ll take you to your destination.” His father called after him.
As he left the sitting room, he could hear his parents hurl insults at each other.
“I’m marking time till you finally leave this house…you crazy loon.” His father spat.
“I am not going anywhere till I win my son’s affection besides he’s the reason I came back.”
“Bunmi, you never learn, do you? You have nothing tying you to my son…he is my son and he has been for a long time now especially after you left him and walked away.”
“I will win him over, even if it’s the last thing I do you…you…buffoon.” She spat.
As Chekwube arranged the foodstuff in the kitchen for Aunty Lizzie’s meeting the next day, she worried. Her heart beat fast at every slightest thing. The gateman brought in the yams and she startled, Aunt Lizzie called her to bring her phone to her and she jumped.
Now, as she washed the beef in the sink, her mind wandered.
“What’s wrong with you today?” Auntie Lizzie asked.
“Nothing ma…” She answered.
“You’ve been jumpy all day even at the market. You almost dropped the bag of tomatoes.”
“I’m sorry ma.” She said.
“Is everything alright? You know you can tell me if there’s anything bothering you.” Aunt Lizzie said.
Chekwube looked at her and didn’t say anything, there was no way that she was telling her about Ola or about EM.
“I am fine ma.”
“If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to come to me, besides, did I give you your allowance for the week?”
“No ma but don’t worry ma, I am fine…I still have the money you gave me last week.”
“You’re not used to handling money right?”
“Yes ma and I really don’t need so much money. I just need a little to buy basic things and that’s all.”
“You should be getting ready for your study lessons with your friends.” Aunt Lizzie said.
“I will finish washing the meat first before getting ready for study.” Chekwube said as she washed the meat in the large bowl inside the kitchen sink.
“Awwww….isn’t that cute.” A voice said from the doorway.
Chekwube held her breath in fear, it was EM.
“Hello, auntie dearest…” He said walking up to wrap his arms around his aunt.
“You’re such a silly boy, Ebuka.” His aunt said fondly.
“Well, I love you so much…much more than words can tell.” He said.
“You’re silly…but I love your silliness.” His aunt said with a smile.
Chekwube could see the affection between aunt Lizzie and her nephew, it was obvious that she loved him so much.
“I heard you discussing with Chekwube about her study group.” He said. “Are you sure she’s not using this as a medium to bring her boyfriends into the house?”
“I don’t think so…Chekwube is smart.” Aunt Lizzie said.
“That’s what you think. I remember that everyone thought that of me as well, no one knew what I was doing behind closed doors.” He said.
“Chekwube is not like you…” She said.
“Well, I’m just advising you to keep a close eye on her before she brings trouble to this house. Remember that I am your nephew while she’s practically a stranger.” He said.
Chekwube listened as EM spoke about her as though she wasn’t there. Aunt Lizzie didn’t speak, instead, she turned on the tap at the second sink and began to wash the tomatoes.
“I see that you guys are really busy, I’ll be off.” He said and left the kitchen.
As Gbenga and his dad drove to Chekwube’s place, Gbenga dreaded having to listen to his father’s seminars.
“So, tell me…where did you meet this study friend of yours?” His father asked.
“Really? Is he a classmate?”
“Oh, a girl…have you started liking girls?”
Gbenga turned to give his father an ‘are you kidding me?’ kind of look and turned to stare out of the window.
“Hahaha…don’t give me that look, I was once a boy and ….”
The rest of his father’s words became a blur because Gbenga turned on his music player and the songs floated into the earpiece he had in his ear.
A few minutes later, he was still listening to music when his dad tapped him on his thighs.
“Yes, dad.” He answered, turning off the music.
“What direction are we headed? Your school is already a few blocks away and you said that the house is close to your school.”
“Oh…it’s the street at the right.”
He watched his father manoeuvre his car into the street while he directed him. They stopped at the front of Chekwube’s house and Gbenga quickly alighted. The gate opened and a young man stepped out, he saw Gbenga standing in front of the gate and asked.
“What are you looking for?”
“Good afternoon…I am here to see Chekwube…we have to study together.” Gbenga said.
The man gave him a very hostile look.
“She’s busy.” He said.
“She told me to come at this time for study…”
“Like I said, she’s busy.” The man stressed.
Gbenga’s father stepped out of the car and the man was taken aback.
“Gbenga, is everything alright?” His father asked.
For the first time in a very long time, Gbenga was grateful that his father had accompanied him.
“Yes, dad…” Gbenga said. “I was just about to go inside the house.”
“Wait…I’m going in with you. I’ll make sure you’re settled in, then I’ll go back home.” His father said.
The young hostile man looked at Gbenga’s dad and kept mum. Gbenga waited for his dad to lock the car door and together, they made their way into Chekwube’s house while the young man turned to glare at them angrily.
“Silly girl! She claims she doesn’t have a boyfriend but here he is.” EM spat under his breath as he watched Gbenga and his father walk into the house. “What does she see in that little boy anyway? Chekwube, I will show you hell until you bend to my will.” He swore.
To be continued next week…..