‘Chisom, bring my phone’ Ik called out to his wife from where he sat eating with the twins, Jasmine and Jamal. Their prominent forehead proclaimed them as his and that has warmed his heart to Chisom more. It’s a pity his daughter wouldn’t understand how some things are, she had thrown a fit when Chisom’s pregnancy was first announced and had stopped speaking to her father for months when he said he’d marry her. Daniella still makes sure she gives Chisom a cold shoulder whenever their paths crossed, Ik wasn’t bothered with that anymore, in as much as she holds her end of the family business firmly and makes sure more profit comes in, they could fight till judgement day for all he cares.
Daniella was always the one who expressed dissatisfaction when he tried to remarry after her mother, Nina, died. She had complained bitterly about Cassandra, saying Cassandra has a scary eye and appears to her in her dreams, Ik dismissed it as a teenage girl tales until the night she entered their bedroom without knocking, her eyes swollen like eggs, she had burst into tears on the spot saying Cassandra punched her in the dream, Ik of course had to let Cassandra go. Then came Ini, the lady he met when business took him to the south, a portly woman in her 30s, Ini had warmed up to Daniella immediately, doting over the 17 years old sulky Daniella who always look at her with suspicion, she cleans her room, takes her out and hovers over her from time to time like mother hen protecting her eggs. Ik thought all was well until Daniella told him she had heard Ini make secret calls to her different lovers, Ik also dismissed it as lies until the day Daniella rushed into the sitting room and beckoned at him to follow her, they then tiptoed together to where Ini stood beside the swimming pool, her back facing them as she speaks urgently into the phone, she was shocked when she saw them but quickly recovered, Ik of course had to let her go half heartedly.
Then Mirabel floated into his life, a shrewd, scheming but beautiful woman who was able to get married to him despite Daniella’s tricks, she beat Daniella to her games and even turned the tricks in her own favour, once Daniella had screamed out to her dad that Mirabel was hitting her in the kitchen, with the speed of lightening, Mirabel grabbed the available knife, slashed herself on the arm and managed to put the knife in Daniella’s hands before Ik showed up. She turned daughter and father against each other and made her sons Samuel and Maxwell, Ik’s favourite instead.
Mirabel was eventually caught red handed with a pot of charm by Ik’s brother and she agreed to a quiet divorce to cover her secret.
Daniella was happy that would be the end of women in her father’s life until her best friend betrayed her trust by dating and getting pregnant for her father.
‘Your phone darling’ Chisom held out the phone to Ik who collected it with his left hand, he began dialing a number immediately.
‘Onye nzuzu, I know he won’t pick’ Ik muttered as he dialed the number again. Chisom shifted in discomfort, she hates it when Ik uses vulgar Igbo words in the presence of the children, her eldest child Jemima had called another kid onye ara at the birthday party they attended. She swallowed her discontent by fussing over the twins instead.
‘Do you want more juice Jasmine? Hmm, Jamal? Should I add more stew for you’
‘Hello Peter! Peter! The bastard has stopped picking my calls o, ehn ehn, were you not the one that said I should allow them supply him? Yes, yes, he hasn’t paid the rest of the money! Just deposit! Is it the deposit that I will only accept kwanu? Good call him for me. Iberibe!’ Ik spat in anger. He watched as Chisom smoothened Jasmine’s hair and sneered, he was about to dial another debtor’s number when Daniella breezed into the sitting room.
‘Hello everybaaaaaaadddyyyyy’ she was dressed in a blue chiffon maxi gown, her hair framed her head like an umbrella, hiding the prominent forehead she also inherited from her father.
‘Awww, look at my munchkins, mmmmuuuuah’ she drew the twins close to her bossom as they ran into her outstretched arms. ‘Hello Daddy’ she took a sit beside Chisom at the dinning table without giving her a second glance.
‘Nmasinachi, have you heard from this people yet?’ Ik asked as he rinsed his hands.
‘Not yet but I am expecting their calls today’ Daniella kissed Jasmine as she said this and Jasmine burst into a happy laugh. Chisom seethed in anger where she sat, see how they talk about business and money in codes, she thought as she angrily picked at the meat on her plate. Ik had shut Chisom up countless times about his money and business reminding her that he only wants her to take care of the kids and his needs, ‘manly needs nne, let me be specific with that’ he had added his face crumbling into a contented grin.
‘I think I have to retire for some time, body needs rest, Nmasinachi you are not going yet I hope?’
‘No daddy, I am playing with you till evening’ she used her nose to rub Jamal’s own as she said this. Ik stood up and tried his best not to stagger on his way to his bedroom.
The air became still as Ik left, Daniella busied herself with the babies still ignoring Chisom. Chisom stood up and went into the kitchen, minutes later their maid came in to pack the plates. She came back later to kneel in front of Daniella where she sat.
‘Madam said I should ask if you want anything?’ the girl said.
‘If I want anything I know how to take care of myself, thank you’ Daniella gently collected her phone from Jasmine who has started banging it on the table. She carried both Jasmine and Jamal and walked around the spacious living room, there was a time she used to change the colour it was painted and it decor as she wished. If she was still living in the house, she’d have made them change it to white, white and grey.
Masculine voices boomed from outside, minutes later her step brothers entered the room.
‘Sister, sister’ Samuel smiled shyly at Daniella. Maxwell only nodded and collapsed on the settee. Chisom entered the living room smiling, she took a sit beside Maxwell and flipped through a magazine.
Samuel was busy with Daniella as he engaged her in an intense argument about building materials.
Maxwell on the other hand was busy texting Chisom who sat beside him in the room. He hissed loudly when she replied one of his messages in the negative and left the room.
Samuel shrugged and continued with his argument but Daniella noticed the look on Chisom’s phone as she fumbled with her phone and eventually tossed it to her side. She smiled at Samuel and continued with the conversation like nothing happened.