Loud juju music and fanfare greets everyone as they drove into Wellington estate. Otunba was throwing a party for his wife on her 49th birthday.
‘I said he should wait till I turned 50 o but he refused’ Yeye Otunba decked in an expensive Swiss lace fabric cut into a flamboyant style said to the fair woman beside her. The woman dressed elegantly in a white silk boubou, silver jewelry and white turban has a celestial glow around her, she is the widow of one of Otunba’s acquaintances Dr. Bello.
‘Otunba is a caring man, only a blind person would say otherwise’ Madam Asabe said. ‘And charming lest I forget, he mixes with everyone effortlessly’ she added and smiled, a sour smile that speaks of things wanted but denied.
‘You know he once told me he barely knows half of the people he relates with o’ Yeye whispered moving her lips closer to Madam Asabe’s ears, still whispering she told Madam Asabe about Otunba’s friends who had made passes at her that evening.
Seeing them seated close to each other, one dressed in clothes and accessories that yells for attention and the other shimmering in simple elegance, they cut the picture of the grand and the grandiloquent. What Yeye tries to make up for with her elaborated outfits is what Madam Asabe has in abundance, even with the simplest of clothes Madam Asabe is a head turner in her mid 50s.
‘Two jolly friends!’ Otunba boomed from behind startling the two women, Yeye smiled happily she loves it when she’s called Madam Asabe’s friend. ‘Madam Asabe, you are always looking radiant’ the Otunba said jocularly as he hugged her ‘This Nigeria is not showing on your body at all.’
‘Thank you, a lovely thing to do for your beautiful wife Otunba’ Madam Asabe said slowly in her accented English, the kind she speaks when she wants to dominate or seduce.
‘Thank you thank you, you know how you women can be at times, we have to show you people that you are special to us’ his wife scoffed as he said this. ‘Hehe hehe’ he continued ignoring her, ‘it is even a double celebration for me, Agbaje is now a free man’ he took a big gulp from the wine glass he held and waited for the women to say something. Either they weren’t listening or they don’t find the news worthy for them to react to, the two women were both quiet. ‘I would leave you two to your discussion, ha Senator Gbadamosi, it’s a pleasure to have you here, Se alafia ni?‘ the Otunba went to exchange banters with the senator who is in the news for forged University certificates ‘Opponents, political opponents are behind my woes, but my God is greater than all of them. This is pure witch hunting but I repeat my God is greater than them’ the senator had said in an interview.
Yeye continued to feed Madam Asabe with petty talks which Madam Asabe responds to with hmms and ohs. Yeye doesn’t know whether it meant she should continue or the gossips sounds too good to be true. Yeye was eager to please Madam Asabe, to court her favour. Having a friend like Madam Asabe will go a long way in cementing her in the midst of the top socialites in the country. She wants her face to be plastered in the elites corner of every newspaper and the posh SWAN magazine that features the who is who in the country in their monthly editions.
‘How is your daughter?’ Madam Asabe asked suddenly, she took a sip from her drink looking straight into Yeye’s eyes.
‘Oluwateniola? She is fine, she should join us soon, she is busy with her makeup I think, you know how these children are’ Yeye adjusted the necklace she wore on her neck. The gaudy metal was making her skin itch, she refused to wear the neck piece the stylist asked her to wear ‘too simple, I have to show them I am the celebrant and Asabe is coming too.’
Now seating beside Madam Asabe who opted for comfort over fashion, she wished she had listened to the stylist, she kept suppressing the urge to yank the necklace away.
‘She should be in her final year already, right?
‘Yes yes she is’
‘What about her calm sweet brother? What is his name again, Remi? Rotimi?’ Madam Asabe picked daintily at the samosa a steward just served them.
‘Olarinde, he is fine. Fine’ Yeye tugged at the necklace again. ‘He would be a fine young man like his father’ Madam Asabe said waving away a young man who was about to take her photograph at that moment.
‘Abi o‘ Yeye swore inwardly at Madam Asabe, who sat calmly not appearing to suffer from any discomfort, her shoes are not too tight on her feet, she is not suffocated by tons of makeup, her neck piece sat peacefully on her neck, her turban is simply tied, her loose fitting gown sitting comfortably on her shows no sign of crease.
The juju musician began to sing the praises of the celebrant and Yeye had no choice but to go on stage to spray the musician. She was flanked by four women in similar outfits who spoke loudly for everyone to hear that their friend is the best of them all.
‘Oya ore mi, pepper dem gang!’ the rotund one among them said, she looked like someone whose mouth is permanently stuffed with puff puffs. She pauses at intervals to grab chinchins, steak meats from passing trays.
‘Fun won tan extravaganza, give it to them! Iyalaya Iya eyan‘ another said. They all crowded in front of the juju musician throwing money and spit into each others faces, digging and twisting their large hips. Some of them would whisper their names into the musician’s ears or write it down in papers because of the noise. Money flew about with careless abandon.
Taiwo was observing from his seat, he sips his beer and checks his phone for messages. There was none yet. He had released a press statement on behalf of the Otunba repudiating what was said about Otunba on the site. The tech guy he met with told him the person behind the site is a ghost.
‘Ghost how, Matthew what are you saying?’ Taiwo asked as he dashed out of the Otunba’s office. He pressed the phone firmly to his ears with his shoulders while he held two brown envelopes in both hands.
‘His ip address is untraceable, he masked his mac address and channeled his ip through multiple countries, he is virtually untraceable’ Matthew replied.
‘So what would happen now? You should be able to do something. If you can shut down that site, shut it down. Do anything you can do, I would send more money.’ Taiwo dumps the envelopes in his car and held the phone with his hand. ‘Okay then.’ Matthew hung up.
Taiwo took more of the beer and watched Otunba laughing here, patting here, greeting here and joking there. ‘Charismatic bastard’ he thought, Otunba’s guests make up the most powerful and influential in the country. It amuses him that most of them also have powerful compound names; Funbi-Williams, Olateru-Digbogbi, Ade-Lewis, Muazu-Gaoje and so on save the Okojies. Ik Okojie and his young wife, Chisom sat side by side. Ik with his large forehead, saggy face and strong jaws, Chisom with her heart-shaped face, dimpled cheeks and her eyes, her beautiful eyes, her lashes are so long that they totally framed her eyes. Ik exposed surprisingly white teeth as a photographer took pictures of him and his beautiful wife. The couple reminded Taiwo of Bianca Ojukwu and her husband, Taiwo grinned widely at his own secret joke. He saw Prof. Kash arguing fervently with a smallish man, the man appeared drunk but Prof. Kash ignored that and carried on with his argument using incomprehensible words. Madam Asabe sat all by herself looking regal amidst the charade. He saw Teniola flashing her seductive smile to everyone, she was dressed in a red gown with high slits and a plunging neckline, Teni drew acid stares from the women around while their men feasted on her cleavage unabashedly. The red gown clung to her body like a second skin as she sashays across the garden. Her friends sat around a table looking at her with adoration and envy, she is the friend they love to hate.
They all wore flowing gowns but none was as jaw dropping as Teni’s, he watched as they took pictures with their phones uninterested with what was going on. They pouted and made funny faces as their phones cameras flashed. The juju music stopped and the people dancing and spraying money returned to their seats, the MC went on stage and announced the Otunba would like to say a few things to everyone present. His phone lit up at this moment and he left the crowded garden to read the message in private. Roars of laughter bounced from the garden to where he stood reading the message. Applause rent the air as he returned to his seat.
‘Meet my daughter, Oluwateniola’ he heard Otunba saying to Senator Gbadamosi.
‘Bawo ni, se alafia ni?’ the senator was distracted by Teni’s chest.
‘She is in her final year at the University, she’s studying Political science abi?’ Otunba turned to look at Teni who was looking bored already. She smiled faintly and nodded in the affirmative, her mother gave her a stern look and she smiled again, this time sweetly and flirtatious.
‘Political science? We need people like your daughter in this our country o. People who are interested in the political parties and our politics, you know young people don’t want to run for posts? It is good you are already interested’ Senator shifted as he said this, his eyes not leaving Teni’s chest. Nobody corrected him, they all smiled superfluously and agreed that he was saying the truth. ‘Eh, it is not only your father you will leave to be doing all the politics in your family ehn? God will help us, if you want to contest for something too and aaah’ the senator yawned loudly exposing teeth stained with brown smudges, Teni cringed.
Someone came to speak into the Otunba’s ears at that moment. Otunba stood up ‘I will be right back, mon bo‘ he left and his wife, after waiting for five minutes left the senator and Teni.
‘So, what are your plans after graduation?’ His hands strayed to Teni’s laps as he said this.
‘I don’t know yet’
‘Why won’t you know yet? You should know already, if you want to become a top politician you must have your plans and know when to move’ he squeezed her laps as he said this and looked into her eyes. ‘And who said I am interested in politics?’ Teni looked him up and down, a potbelly was missing.
‘What are you now interested in?’ Teni looked at him suspiciously and shrugged.
‘Are you doubting me?’ he moved closer to her and whispered something into her ears that made her laugh.
‘Let me have your number’ she said before giving him a wink.