Fatihat strolled into the house after receiving her stockbroker’s call and grinned at her sister who was reading a novel in the sitting room.
“You won visa lottery?” Josephine asked as she glanced at her.
“It is something better than that. I just bought the last of the Abeebs‘s share which means I have the bigger share of the company than Tunde Abeeb. That calls for a celebration, doesn’t it?” She went to the drink cabinet and poured herself a glassful.
“I see.” Josephine continued reading without giving her a glance. Fatihat sipped her drink and came to stand before her. “Is that all you have to say, Jose?”She asked angrily. “What do you want me to say? You always do things your own way, so I don’t think my opinion is of any relevance to you.” she shrugged.
“I want it anyway. After all, it is free.” She downed her remaining drink and stared down at her sister.
“I will give it to you.” Josephine put her feet down and faced her. “In all sincerity, if Tunde throws in the towel and resigned, Can you singlehandedly run that company, even if it is not crumbling?” She demanded as she stared at her.
Fatihat stared at her for a moment and sat down abruptly opposite her. “Of course, he can’t do that. He still owns part of it and it means a lot to him.” She said calmly, even though she wasn’t sure any longer.
“We both know it is a possibility and you like facing reality, don’t you? That company is crumbling and you know it, yet you tied up almost all your money in it because you want to revenge. If that guy walks out of the door, you are in a great soup of trouble, you moron.” Josephine hissed viciously and she put the wine glass down.
“Okay, I got your point.What should I do now?” she asked worriedly, chewing on her lower lips.
“I don’t know. It is your funeral, you attend it alone.” Josephine picked up her novel and walked away from her, leaving her in deep thought.
Tunde stormed into the house and met his three brothers in his mother’s bedroom with his mother. “How was the meeting, Tunde?”Wale asked quickly.
“Can somebody explain this? I just received a call from the company lawyer and he told me you guys just sold out your shares. Can you tell me the reason?” He asked coldly.
“I need money in school and the value of the shares is dropping anyway, so what is the big deal?”Tayo, the baby of the family said with a glare.
“You are a big fool.”Tunde made to hit him but wale pulled him back. “Take it easy please, Tunde. I understand how you feel.” Wale said pleadingly.
“What is going on, Tunde? You should have let us in before now.”Ayoola, the older of the two brothers said worriedly.
“She bought it all.”Tunde sank unto the sofa wearily, suddenly drained out.
“Who is she, wale?”Yemi spoke for the first time. The recent trying period had taken its toll on her youthful face and she looked older than her age.
“Delilah Smith. She has been buying our asset; I think she means serious business.” Wale sat on the bed and leaned against the bedpost.
“I wonder how she got so rich within a short period of time, it is unbelievable.”Tunde said in reluctant awe and wonder.
“Come off it. She is a very beautiful woman.” Wale said with a quick grin.
“She is really out for me, wale. What should I do now?” Tunde gave his brother a bleak look.
“How come you know her so much, wale? I thought you have no interest in the business.” Their mother said lightly.
“Mum, she is Fatihat Ali.”Tunde said bluntly and watched his mother’s jaw dropped in shock.
“Our prettiest housemaid? What happens to her by the way?”Tayo asked curiously.
“She got pregnant and I sent her away. Her beauty got the better of her” Yemi said, still angry at the memory.
“She was pregnant?”Tunde echoed in disbelieve as the room suddenly become hot for him. He removed his jacket as he got to his feet.
“You didn’t use protection, Tunde?” Wale narrowed his eyes at him.
“I didn’t plan it. I just came back from work and met her in my room that day, then…….”His voice trailed away as his mother stared at him in horror. He looked away and then started pacing.
“You raped her, Tunde?”Yemi asked in a shaky whisper. “I never meant to……” Tunde scrubbed his palm down his face wearily and held it out helplessly. “I’m sorry, mum.”He finished lamely.
“I want a yes or No answer. Did you rape her, Tunde abeeb?”She asked coldly.
“Yes, ma.”He said in a small voice and blinked when her palm connected with his cheek in a resounding slap. His head snapped back when a second blow followed on the other cheek.
“I’m so ashamed of you, Tunde. You are a disgrace to this family, so you could bow so low as to rape an innocent girl?” Tears filled her eyes as she turned away and bowed her head. “I was busy, warning her when the black sheep was actually in my own family; among the fools, I called responsible children.” She swallowed her sobs as she paced up and down the room while her children looked on in silence.Tunde’s ears continued to ring and his heart constricted painfully in his chest. “She was trying to tell me the day I sent her out but I didn’t believe her that a child of mine could be such an animal. How are you so sure the pregnancy is yours?” She turned to him and he flinched unconsciously. “She was a virgin. I was her first man.” He said quietly.
“Oh my God!” She rocked back and forth on her heels and tried not to let the tears drop. “Do you know she was almost through with secondary school when I sent her out? Her remaining balance with me could not even take her to Ibadan, talk less of taking her back to the north where her family resides. You are wicked, Tunde, selfish and irresponsible. I wish I can disown you.” She threw him an angry glance.
“Mum, the deed is done already, what is the way forward now?” Wale asked after some time.
“Are you asking me for the way forward? Ask your idiot brother for the way out. I don’t have your time. Please get out of my room, all of you.” she said coldly. All her sons filed out except for Tunde who lingered behind them.
“I’m truly sorry, mum. I made a terrible mistake and I wish I can undo it. I will try my best to rectify it though, I promise.” He said desperately and she faced him squarely. “That is your problem, Youngman and it is none of my damn business. I’ve washed my hand completely off your father’s business, so you are free to do as you please your lordship. Now, get out before I do something we will both regret later.” She told him and he quietly exits her room, closing the door silently behind him.
Fatihat came back from school quite late. She was about to sneak up to her room when she heard an argument coming from the kitchen below and paused on the staircase. The argument was between Josephine and wale and she groaned when she realized she was the topic of discussion.
“Jose, why are you behaving this way? Please persuade your sister to stop adding to our problems.” Wale’s voice vibrated with suppressed anger.
“Just tell me one good reason I should interfere on your behalf. I’m sure you are aware of the whole history by now. I don’t dapple into what is not my business. I’m sorry about that, boyfriend.”
“Are you refusing my request, Jose? I’ve never asked you a favor in my life. Can’t you just try on this one? Please!”
“I’m refusing this one, wale. On the other hand, you can go and talk to her if you feel like.”
‘Your sister is single-handedly manipulating a whole family, your fiancée’s family and you are feeling smug about it. What kind of wife are you going to be?” He said tartly. “Next time, your brother should keep his trousers zipped up tight and your mother should learn to be a bit more tolerant. Is that okay, boyfriend?”
“Please stop insulting my family, girlfriend. The least you could do is respect them just a little bit and stop being so judgmental.”He walked out of the kitchen and towards the doorway. He saw fatihat on the staircase but didn’t pause in his stride. “Are you doing it or not?” He asked for the last time at the doorway.
“We are through with that discussion, Mr. Abeeb.”Josephine told him with her hand on her hip.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish.” He muttered loud enough for both of them to hear and went out while she flinched visibly.
Josephine sat down and tapped her nails sharply on the glass tool impatiently.fatihat came down the staircase and sat opposite her.
“I hope you know I’m capable of fighting for myself, I don’t need you to fight on my behalf.”
“Come off it. You know it is not about you.” Josephine threw her an irritating glance.
“So what is this all about? You guys were discussing me when I came in.”
“Don’t be so full of yourself, girl. We were discussing the issue going on in their family and it is none of your business.”
“Josephine, I know you are crazy about this guy. Don’t throw away this relationship because of something that happened to me in the past. My rotten past is not worth that kind of sacrifice.”
“You are worth everything and anything. Please don’t get me angrier than this.” she glared at her younger sister.
“Accepted. Don’t you love him as much as you thought you do?”Fatihat asked impatiently.
“When did you start believing in love, my dear girl?” she asked with sudden interest.
“I don’t believe in it but you do and that is enough. Do you think it is easy to get a man who will accept you for who you are, with your rotten past and all? Wake up, big sister. Think twice and don’t give him an excuse to walk away from your life.”She picked up her bag and walked upstairs.
Josephine did think twice but she was not ready to swallow her pride and go begging him back into her life. Wale did not call or check on her and she started getting really worried.Fatihat was busy throughout the week in school. She didn’t have time for the company or Josephine’s love problem. There were tests and general preparation for their second-semester exam.
It was Sunday and Wale’s day off from the hospital.Tunde has spent the night in his house. It gave them enough time to discuss the issues going on in the family. He was at the breakfast table while Tunde was in the bathroom when the doorbell rang. He left his breakfast and went to open the door. His eyes nearly popped out of its socket when he saw his early morning visitor.
She was looking cute in a micro-mini flowery sun-dress with a cap sleeve and a low-heel white sandal adorned her small feet. She flashed him her radiant gaped-teeth smile and he couldn’t help smiling back.
“You are a stunner, girlie. I nearly did not recognize you.” He grinned at her.
“Don’t insult me. You’ve always known I’m a looker.” She hit him playfully on the chest.
“Come on in. Good morning.” He moved aside for her to enter and he locked the door behind her.
“You don’t look too good. What is the problem?” She cocked her head to a side.
“What are you insinuating?” He scowled at her.
“I’m not insinuating anything. You have a lovely apartment. Anything for the babe?” she looked round in appreciation and he brought out a bottle of wine from the fridge.
“Do you care for this?” He placed the wine with its glass in front of her.
“I rarely take breakfast. I’m good.” she popped the cover of the bottle open and poured the wine into a glass cup.
“How is my baby?” He asked as he sat opposite her.
“She is not looking better. She doesn’t know I’m here.” She sat back and cross her legs. “So why are you here? I have this impression that you don’t care about my existence that much in your sister’s life.” He said bluntly.
“I don’t care for any man. I see them as toys to play with and discard when they are no longer useful.” She paused but his face was expressionless. “My sister is the most important thing to me and you happen to be very important to her, so I’m at a crossroad here. I understand that this is your first real quarrel and it is all about me. I hope she hasn’t given you a reason to walk away?”
“I don’t just walk away from relationships. Kindly bear that in mind and I believe anything worth having is worth working for. I’m different from all the men you ever know in your life.” He told her firmly and she regarded him in silence for a moment. “Prove it and I will give you benefit of doubt.” she said with a hint of challenge in her voice.
“I will.” He promised quietly.
Tunde came into the sitting room from behind her, clad in boxers’ shorts with a towel around his neck. He bent over fatihat, holding her by the waist and gave her a smacking kiss on the cheek.
“You, rat. How dare you scare me so?” she glowered at him as she turned around.
“Do you scare so easily? I don’t believe that. Where have you been?” He came round and sat beside her.
“How is that your business? Get away from me.” She tried to move away but he pulled her back.
“Are you scared of sitting beside me? You look good enough to eat.” He smoothed her hair back from her face and she stared at him in amazement.
“You are an incorrigible flirt, Tunde Abeeb! Do I look like someone you can flatter?” She tried to move away again. He picked her by the waist and dropped her on his lap. “Every woman needs to be flattered once in a while but I am not flattering you.” He grinned as he rocked her back and forth. To her dismay and horror, she found herself relaxing in his intimate embrace and struggled to keep herself alert.
“Thanks. Let me go” She wriggled her toes and realized her feet were not even touching the ground.
“At least I can’t rape you in my brother’s presence.”He grinned at her as he caught her face in his hand and kissed her fully on the mouth. Fatihat froze for a moment, undecided in her mind but for the first time in years her emotions ruled over her and she responded to the gentle persuasions of his lips on hers. Her palms went flat on his chest and she sagged against him as he deepened the kiss. None of them noticed Wale left the room or even the house either as they were lost in their own blissful world. Tunde broke the kiss and came up for air. It was then she realized the full force of what she had done and stared at him in dismay. She got to her feet abruptly and picked up her bag.
“Fatihat, I’m sorry. I got carried away.”Tunde got to his feet too and wrapped the towel around his waist when he realized the evidence of his arousal was blatantly showing. “What are you apologizing for? Do you think I’m the same dummy girl you raped years ago?” She asked coldly and he winced slightly.
“Come off it. We were both carried away a moment ago. I admitted I started it and I’m sorry for that but you didn’t exactly reject my kiss, did you?” He said as a matter of fact. “I guess I forgot the lesson I learned years ago that men are real snakes. It won’t repeat itself.” she vowed as she walked out of the room without a backward glance, slamming the door behind her.
Tunde sank unto the sofa and released his breath slowly. God! What are my doing to myself? My life is crumbling all around me and all I can think about is this devil incarnate called Fatihat Ali, he thought miserably and sighed heavily.
Fatihat was still fuming with rage when she ran into traffic on her way home and turned off the engine. She rolled down her window and stared out of the car when a little girl walked past with a box of gala sausage rolls and snacks.
“Aunty, buy sweet gala. It is fresh and crisp.” The girl flashed a toothless grin and she looked at her. The girl was around seven years old and was clad in faded jean shorts and t-shirt. Her hair was covered with a scarf and she carried her box of gala elegantly on her shoulder.
Fatihat was impressed, she smiled at the little girl and the girl smiled back.
“How much is your gala?” she asked, even though she has no appetite for it.
“It is fifty naira each ma. How many do you want?” The little girl asked eagerly.
“Give me two” Fatihat gave her two hundred naira note and collected the snacks from her. The little girl put down her box of snacks and was looking for a change when cars started moving.
“What is your name? You can keep the change.”Fatihat turned the ignition key.
“I’m Gift Thomas. Thank you very much ma.”The girl grinned happily at her.
“You are welcome, gift. See you some other time.” Fatihat waved at her and drove away as she rolled up her window.
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