Read EPISODE 11
Ik Okojie took in Madam Asabe’s palatial residence as his driver drove him into her compound. It had always awed him – the gigantic building – anytime he comes visiting. Often he feels jealousy clawing at his innards when he looks around for too long but he calms the feeling by telling himself all was her late husband’s money. The normally serene compound with different clusters of brightly coloured flowers was littered with people of all sorts; beggars, street urchins, almajiri boys whom Ik wondered how they got there. They all momentarily stopped talking and began to stare at him as he got down from his car. He wouldn’t blame them for staring. He rode in the best car in his garage to madam Asabe’s mansion. None of them did more than stare, none of them tried to hold his clothes, none of them hailed him, none of them showed any sign of recognition. They instead held feverishly to the different bowls they came with.
‘Hapless lots! They won’t hail you until you toss some notes at them’ he spat and walked into the main house. A stark contrast welcomed him. The sitting room was elegant even in it simplicity, just like his daughter and her profound love for white. Madam Asabe’s sitting room was painted in white, her simple antique furniture were in different delicate shades of brown giving her sitting room a strong earthly presence. He saw her seated elegantly in an armchair dressed in a black abaya made with a shiny silk material. Her hair as usual was well hidden beneath the many wraps of the turban on her head, she almost looked like royalty. Almost Ik thought ruefully.
‘Good day to you Hajiya’ Ik said and gently took a seat opposite her. Madam Asabe smiled and nodded. ‘There is whiskey, beer, fruit juice, brandy, coffee…’ Ik snorted when she mentioned coffee, this woman doesn’t know this is Nigeria sha he thought. Ik requested for beer and was confused when he was the only one served. It’s unlike her to serve a guest drink without having one or two herself. He looked quizzically at her and she laughed.
‘It’s Ramadan Ikechuckwu, and you know I can’t poison you. At least not yet’ She explained with a bored look on her face. Ik swallowed his saliva and took a tentative sip from the beer. He took another and placed the glass on the tray looking eagerly at her. Madam Asabe stood up from her seat and went indoors the many folds of her abaya swishing after her. She returned later with the last person he expected to meet in her house. His breakfast rushed to his throat and he felt his abdomen tighten.
‘Hajiya what is this!’ He looked furiously from one face to another. Like a hungry tiger he was ready to pounce on his prey but Madam Asabe proved to be the obstacle denying him a juicy meal. ‘Ikechukwu’ Madam Asabe said in a warning tone ‘you will calm down and listen to me. You won’t interrupt while I speak and whatever I ask of you is final, you can’t argue. So you listen while I talk’ Madam Asabe’s eyes flashed, she was like a mother settling differences between two errant sons. Ik glared at her and clenched his fists, Otunba looked at her eagerly half scared and half grateful. Both men were at her mercy.
Far away in Port Harcourt Daniella and Tega were laughing over a joke. They just left Genesis cinema and were making their way towards Tega’s house.
‘The thing is I support the ‘stay in your line and mind your business mentality.’ Daniella said strongly. Tega took a turn before nodding, a signal for her to continue ‘I mean there is no way anybody will mess with you if you don’t go out looking for trouble.’ She added.
Tega laughed ‘you haven’t met really troubesome people my dear.Theset are people who would bring trouble to your doorstep no matter how aloof you are.’ Daniella shook her head vigorously and disagreed. They went back and forth with the argument until they got to Tega’s house. Daniella helped Tega take the grocery they bought at Spar inside the kitchen before returning to the sitting room. She immediately went to where the painting that fascinated her hung. She never stop marvelling at the nude painting of a Nubian princess in Tega’s sitting room. She had been drawn to it right from the first day she visited him in his house. Tega had talked passionately about the painting which was gift from his Somalian artist friend.
The painting depicts a beautiful brown skinned woman whose neck was adorned with various ornaments. A flamboyant headdress sat on her head, her hands were raised to the heavens as if in prayer. Her black pubic hair formed a healthy mass in between her thighs and her breast had a realistic sag to it. She stroked the pointing lost in the mournful look in the princess’s eyes.
‘You know Abdi told me the painting was inspired by his mother’ Tega’s voice brought Daniella out of her reverie. ‘Hmmmmmm?’ Was all she could manage.
‘Yep. He told me he always watch as she dresses every morning to go to work. And he imagined how someone that perfect would endure the daily blows his father meted out on her.’ Tega moved closer to Daniella not knowing whether to hold her from behind or just maintain his distance, he eventually placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and continued ‘Abdi spent years watching his father throw his mother down the stairs, spit on her, rain blows on her and all sort. He felt horrible and blamed himself because his mother kept saying he is the reason why she stayed behind in the loveless marriage.’ Tega exhaled and Daniella breath in deeply.
‘His father was later found one night in the street. He had been robbed and stabbed by hungry street boys. He was said to have stubbornly refused to part with his money. He died from his wounds and Abdi lived happily ever after with his mother’ Tega finished.
‘I don’t think so’ Daniella said calmly. ‘Come on, you need to see how happy she looks now. She even went on the Muslim pilgrimage last year which was paid for by her darling son’ Tega argued.
‘Her son loves her’ Daniella breathed.
‘Of course he does! Who wouldn’t love his mother?’ Tega asked bemused. ‘Not that Tega I meant he loves her’ Daniella turned slowly and faced Tega.
‘You mean like incest?’ At the look on Daniella’s face Tega screwed his face ‘that’s a disgusting thought’ he spat.
‘So you think.’
‘It’s absolutely normal for a son to love his mother. Same way a daughter loves her father. Don’t you love your father? because I love my own mother very very much’ Tega said, the look on his face was challenging.
‘Oh. I do. Infact I love him very much.’ Daniella said with a sour smile.
‘ You see!’ Tega said triumphantly missing Daniella’s emphatic reply ‘let me go back to the kitchen and work my magic. I will be right back before you realize I was gone’ he skirted back into the kitchen like a toddler promised candy.
Daniella turned back to the painting and she wondered how much longer it would take before everything starts unfolding. Evil eye was also thinking the same as the long black fingers click the publish button sending out another miasma of confusion into the world of the wealthy.