Fatihat turned her car and drove towards Tunde’s house in magodo, seething with anger. His house came into view immediately she entered the street. She was surprised to see the gate opened which was rather unusual. She slowed down as her anger drained away to be replaced by anxiety and drove past the house into the next street.
The house was flooded with light which means he was around but why should his gate be left opened?, She asked herself as she turned off the engine and sat in the darkness for a moment, thoughtful.
She saw a car parked about three houses from his house. There was nothing unusual about it except her instinct was telling her something was not right. She got out of the car, locked up and strolled towards his house. She looked around very briefly, watching the immobile car in particular before slipping into the compound. She went straight to the gateman’s house.
“Mallam Musa, are you there?”She asked in a whisper. There was no response but she heard movement and gently eased the door inward. On the floor was Musa with his hands and legs tied with a rope and his mouth was gagged with a rag. He made sounds in his throat to attract Fatihat’s attention. She turned on the torchlight on her phone and pointed it towards the direction of the sound.
“What happened to you?”She went to his tiny kitchen to get a knife and cut the ropes. The man sputtered loudly and she covered his mouth quickly as she looked towards the door apprehensively.
“A man and a woman came in immediately oga drove in and asked for him. I opened the gate for them only for the man to knock me over and I woke up to find myself like this.”The man narrated in Hausa, touching the back of his head gingerly. She felt dread raced up her spine.
“So where are they now?”She nearly shakes him in her haste to get answers.
“Well….the woman was already moving towards the house when I was knocked down, so I guess they may be with oga right now and…..”His voice trailed off as he realized the implication of his words and his eyes widened in horror.
“Yes, it is possible. If anything happens to him, it will mark the end of your job here.”Her voice sharpened as panic rose up her throat. She beat it down determinedly.
“What should I do?”He vaulted to his feet and swayed heavily when dizziness threatened to engulf him.
“Don’t faint away on me, Musa. I need you to be vigilant for me.”She caught him and shakes him lightly.
“I’m fine now, madam. I should call the police?”He asked in a whisper.
“Don’t call police yet but be vigilant. If you see any suspicion, just whistle softly between your fingers like this.” She demonstrated to him. He grinned with understanding. ‘If you don’t see me after whistling, call this number.’ She collected his phone and typed the number on it.
“I need to check now if Oga dey alright, okay?” and to know if I’m not too late, she thought to herself as she slipped out on legs that were threatening to fold beneath her and she locked them in place as she disappeared into the darkness.
“Is the thought of marrying me so horribly?’ Her eyes seemed to gleam with unshed tears, even as she picked the knife and rubbed the Knife blade on her jean Trouser. His eyes alternate between her eyes and the weapon she was holding like babies.
Something is very wrong. He thought with a slight frown. If memory served him right, Tolani was level-headed and she rarely got angry or had mood swings which were the reason she was the one who lasted among his numerous girlfriends back in his undergraduate days.
‘It is not that, Tola. I have two kids and getting married to their mother is the best way I can give them a good home.’ His voice was persuasive but it was obviously the wrong thing to say because her eyes flashed and she got abruptly to her feet.
‘How dare you throw them in my face? You are nothing but an irresponsible male harlot. Do you remember the day I find a g-string in your bathroom?’ Her voice was low again. He bowed his head in shame. ‘Or is it the day I saw the bra strap tangled among your boxers? Or the day I met that big-breasted woman who was looking at me like she would kill me but your friend said she belonged to him. I loved you with my life. I hoped and prayed you will change but you eventually tossed me away just the way you did the others.’ Her voice was tired as she stared at him.
He raised his hand in a plea as he went on his knees. ‘I knew I messed up big time. Forgive me, Tola. I wish I can undo the past but I can’t. Killing me will not solve the problem.’
‘No, it won’t solve my problem but we are going to be together either here on earth or in heaven or hell. I will kill myself as well.’ She smiled at him.
Her eyes burned with tears and her heart grew heavy with pain. She rubbed at her chest as she huddled behind the seat. The woman was hurt beyond redemption and insanity is already knocking on her door.
Her blood ran cold when she heard the ominous click of the gun. She got up and stepped out of her hiding place. Tunde’s heart simply stopped as he stared at her. He got to his feet abruptly.
‘Are you stupid? What are you doing here?’ He screamed at her, his voice was shaking with fear.
Tolani turned to stare at her. Their gaze met and held for several humming seconds. His muscle trembled and his legs threatened to fold under him. His hands closed into fists and he could have cheerfully wrapped them around her slender neck.
‘You are beautiful. No wonder he is crazy about you.’ Her words surprised her.
‘He wasn’t always crazy about me. I was just another pussy for him back then, long before he met you and the others.’ Her smile was tinged with irony. Tunde felt as if the ground should open and swallowed him.
‘I know your history with him. I made it my business to know about all the women in his life after he left me. I pitied the young girl he raped and applauded the young woman who gave birth to his children. I should have done the same.’ Her voice was filled with regret but her fingers didn’t waver on the gun.
‘I would have aborted them if I knew how. I gave birth because it was the only option I know. Don’t envy others when you don’t know their story. Regret does nothing but eats the soul.’ Her gaze didn’t waver from her steady own. Tolani swallowed hard.
‘You disappoint me, Delilah. I thought you are going to deal with him. Instead, you went ahead and fall in love with him.’ She clucked her tongue as if she was talking to a recalcitrant child. Fatihat smiled.
‘Aren’t we all in love with him? It is not easy to resist a bad boy with gentleman manner. Why did you want us dead? Neither I nor my daughter offended you. You should have dealt with the culprit directly.’ Her cold gaze raked over him, briefly. His blood ran cold. Another battle is brewing already if he survived this one.
‘I have no issue with you. It is the best way to hurt him plus he denied me the ability to become a mother. I begged you to let me keep the last pregnancy but you said No and promised to be back. If the mountain didn’t go to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain. I was married but my marriage ended when I couldn’t bear a child.’ She looked at him as she smiled. He swallowed hard.
‘Are you going to kill him in my presence, Miss Tolani?’
‘It is your choice. You weren’t invited in the first place. It is either you bear witness at our wedding or we all go together. Move over, Delilah.’ She stepped back as she waved the gun at her.
‘Killing someone turned you into a murderer. Why will you like to kill yourself when there is more to life than marriage and kids? Why will you like to be tied to a man who doesn’t give a fuck about you? I think you should ask yourself those questions before you let bitterness ruin your life.’ Her voice was quiet. Tolani’s gaze locked on hers. ‘Your case may not be entirely hopeless. I can help if you will allow me.’
‘I want my own children. Do you want to import another womb for me?’ Her voice was bitter.
‘There are so many ways to have a baby without carrying them in your womb, Tolani. Live again. We will explore all options and leave no stone unturned until you have your own children. You are a beautiful woman. Don’t let the thirst for revenge and hatred rubbed you the joy of living. Hell, I have been there. It consumed me until I could think of nothing except the vengeance I wanted to extract on this idiot.’ She gestured absently at Tunde who hadn’t moved an inch. ‘Motherhood doesn’t define who you are neither does marriage. Live for yourself first and any man who is worth you will stay, irrespective of the situation on the ground Please, there is more to life than this. Let me help, let me in and I will try to be the best that ever happened to you.’ She pleaded desperately.
Their gazes locked again and she could almost see the wheels turning in her head as she made the walk back from the brink of insanity.
She lowered the gun slowly.
‘How am I so sure you aren’t setting me up?’ Her voice was unsure.
‘If I do, come back and kill me. We both know I have more to lose if I deceive you. I will rather be a friend than an enemy. Can we leave for my home? Please?’ Fatihat held out her hands, palm up.
Tolani stared at it for a moment before she grasped her hands and hugged her fiercely.
A soft whistle in the air startled them all.
‘That should be Musa. I will see him before he calls the police on us.’ Fatihat squeezed her hand briefly before she went out.
Tolani turned to Tunde and he held his breath as he stared at her.
‘You know I can still kill you before she comes back.’ Her voice was solemn.
She opened her purse and put her weapon in it. ‘You are one lucky bastard. You don’t even deserve her.’ She spat and then, smiled. ‘On second thought, I think you do. You molded her into what she is today by taking her innocence. If you mess up, I don’t want to think about what she will do to you.’ She chuckled softly. He grimaced.
There was a soft knock on the door and Musa came in on the invitation.
‘Madam is waiting for you at the gate.’ Musa refused to meet her gaze.
‘Thank you, Musa.’ She turned to Tunde again. ‘It will be fun watching you try to get into her good book again. I intend to stay close.’ She was laughing as she left the sitting room.
His legs folded beneath him with relieve and he sank to the floor. He knew Fatihat has just saved his life and he doesn’t even deserve it. He also knew he is in a deep shit of trouble. There is only one person who can save his ass right now.
‘Demola, get out. I need to speak to Fatihat in private.’ Yetunde pushed her husband towards the bedroom door as they both heard Fatiddyhat, playing with the kids downstairs.
‘Woman, this is my bedroom for God’s sake. Can’t you find another spot for your aproko gist?’ He grumbled as he dug in his heels. Her lips twitched with amusement at the petulant look on his face.
‘No problem. We will go out and find a nice place to hang out but the kids will stay home. There is everything you need to take care of them in the house.’ She moved towards the wardrobe and missed the look of horror on his face.
‘I’m going. I’m going. One can’t even rest with his wife again in his bedroom. Haba!’ He grumbled as he walked out and slammed the door.
She collapsed on the bed in a peal of laughter and was still laughing when Fatihat came in, holding her back.
‘Why are you laughing? What did you do to Uncle Demola?’ She grinned at her.
‘He doesn’t want to leave the bedroom and doesn’t to stay with the kids either.’
‘Those kids are mini terrorists. They nearly break my back. Lekan wants another ride on my back. Gift wants Funmi’s teddy bear and was sulking because she refused to give her. I don’t blame him jawe.’ She flipped onto the love seat in the room and picked a piece of chocolate from the plates on the glass table.
‘Life is about choices. Nothing comes free. So how is your new friend, Tolani?’ Yetunde sat up in bed.
‘She is getting back on track. She is a teacher but she resigned and spent her life trying to get even with Tunde. Her finance is zero and her love life is non-existence.’ She concentrated on breaking the chocolate and popping it into her mouth.
‘It reminded me of someone I know.’ Yetunde smiled indulgingly at her.
‘The difference is that I have enough money to pursue my vengeance. She doesn’t. She is up to her neck in debts and the bad guys would have come after her if she didn’t kill herself. So I guess she wanted to use a stone to kill two birds.’
‘I am sure you will sort her out. You are just a soft heart beneath the hard shell. Come here, girl.’ Yetunde opened her arms. She went into them and almost crushed her as her arms tightened around the older woman.
‘When I heard the ominous click of the gun, my heart literarily stopped. I died ten times and nearly pissed in my pants. Tunde is a complete bastard!’ Her voice was in a whisper. Yetunde heard the anger in them and then, the love and the feeling as well.
‘You love him.’ It was a statement. She moved away in anger and got to her feet.
‘I need a cigarette.’ Yetunde raised her eyebrow at her and she felt the disapproval like a physical slap. ‘I am sorry. I withdraw that.’ She raised her hand to her forehead.
‘I have never been so confused in my life. Tunde is a natural flirt. Is that the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with? How long will I continue fighting women from his past?’ Tears filled her eyes.
‘Why don’t we cross that bridge when we get there, Fatihat? Have you considered the fact that he might have changed for better? We all have a past. You do too, baby sister. If those men during your street-walking days start coming up, what will you do?’
‘That was business, Aunt Yetunde. They gave me money and I give them the best nights or moments of their lives. No hard feelings. Rub my back and I rub yours. I didn’t break anybody’s heart.’ She glanced at her and then, they both laughed, hard.
‘Dirty Ol’ days.’ She grimaced with distaste.
‘You have come a long way, Fatihat. I admire your strength. You have touched lives and still doing so, despite your rough childhood. You took in your siblings, even though their mother didn’t treat you well. You deserve some happiness, dear. Forgive him and bury the past.’ Yetunde took her hand and pulled her down beside her.
‘Give me a few days to think over it and know if it is a risk worth taking.’ She shrugged.
‘That is fair enough. Let’s go and see the triplets. They are growing like a weed.’ Yetunde got to her feet. She laughed.
‘They are just so cute. I have ordered for the baby formula online. They should be delivered latest by tomorrow. Don’t let them suck you dry please.’ She followed her out of the room and into the corridor that leads to the colorful nursery.
“Hello, Madam.”Somebody was calling frantically. Yetunde and Fatihat had gone to visit Tolani in the hospital where she was undergoing a series of fertility tests. They were already at the car park when they heard the voice. They both turned around and frowned when they saw an old woman hurrying towards them. They exchanged glances.
“How may we help you ma?” It was Fatihat who asked a bit snappishly. She earned a reproving glance from Yetunde.
“I’m sorry for disturbing you but you look like someone I used to know. Her name is Fatihat Ali. Are you the one?”The woman’s voice ended in a whisper as she turned to her.
“Everybody always knows you from somewhere. It is so interesting to be popular.” Yetunde teased lightly. It made her angry for a reason she couldn’t explain.
“Who are you?”She asked rudely as she stared intently at the woman.
“I’m Amina Ali, Usman Ali’s second wife.” Her voice was pleading, desperate. Fatiha’s gaze raked over her in cold appraisal, noting her frail sickly figure and dismissed her.
“I see. Mama T, please get in the car and let’s go.” She opened the car door and got behind the wheel.
“But you do know the woman, don’t you?”Yetunde got in beside her and pulled the car door closed as she turned to her.
“Fati, I’m so sorry. I know I wasn’t very nice to you back then but I am a sick woman now and I need your help desperately.” Amina hurried to her side and tried to cling to the car door.
“Listen to what she has to say please. It doesn’t cost you anything.”Yetunde pleaded on the older woman’s behalf, feeling sympathy for the wrinkled and thin face.
“If you don’t leave my car door, I won’t hesitate to run you over.” She warned coldly as she turned the ignition key. The Car engine purred to life.
“I’m begging you with the body of your late father. Please have mercy on me and listen to what I have to say.”Amina begged as tears filled her eyes and ran down the weathered skin.
“He can rot in hell for all I care and you can join him there. Please step back or I will end the rest of your miserable life right away.” Her voice was calm.
Amina stepped back as she put the car into reverse. She watched with silent tear as Fatiha drove out of the hospital premises at breakneck speed. She shakes her head in self-pity as she returned to the work that was fast taking its toll on her already weak immune system.
“That was Delilah Smith in action. I thought she is dead and buried.”Yetunde’s voice was filled with sarcasm.
“You can say anything you want, Mama T, I don’t give a damn.” Her shoulders lifted in a shrug as she stared ahead.
“Her kids are with you for God’s sake. If you are still this much angry about the past, it means you care and you should just confront the source of your anger.” She tried to reason with her and gave up when she didn’t receive any response from Fatiha except another shrug.
TWISTS OF FATE is available on OKADABOOKS on this link: https://okadabooks.com/search?term=TWISTS+OF+FATE
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