That same evening, Chief Ani returned home after a hectic day at work hoping to have a peaceful and quality evening with his family. Ever since he resigned from what he called an active participation from the social life, the moments he spent with his family became his happiest. The wild life of spending his evenings in any of his many guest houses with any of his many mistresses were now over. He derived more pleasures now from spending time at home, surrounded by his loved ones. Diabetes has robbed him the privilege of so many of his escapades. Now, he was content to be with his family, thankful too that the damned disease hasn’t robbed him of even that. And these days, he would secretly add a “yet”. Because he always had this secret feeling that his wife might leave him to his fate one day soon.
He was particularly in very high spirits that evening because he had very good news to share with them. He has just been awarded a multi-billion-naira contract and he felt inclined to be generous. He’d made out a Cheque each for his children and his wife which he intended to present to them during dinner. And if time permits, he’d take his wife out to her favourite country club. He had it all planned in his heart. He was later to know that the night was already planned out for them.
The first sign that told him something was wrong was the absence of Yemi at dinner.
“Why is Yemi not here?” He inquired from his wife.
“I don’t know” she lied.
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“She wants to have dinner alone in her room. Why not let her be?” She said indifferently.
“I want her here. I have something to tell you all. Fatima, go and get her. Tell her to join us.” He told the maid.
“Yes Sir,” she said and left.
Yemi walked into the dining room reluctantly. The frown on her pale face showed clearly that she didn’t want to be there.
“Good evening daddy,” she greeted.
“Good evening my dear, why don’t you want to dine with us tonight? Is something wrong?”
“No daddy, I am fine. I just didn’t’t feel like coming down.”
“Well, you will make an exception for me. I have very good news I want to share with everyone. Please join us.”
“Okay daddy, for you I’d do anything, you know that, don’t you?” She said and smiled before taking her seat. She needed an ally in the war that threatens, she needed his support.
“Of course I do, thank you my darling”
“Daddy’s pet!” Jaiye remarked and smiled but the comment got on Yemi’s already jagged nerves, as were all her mother’s further effort to chat her up that evening.
The anger she suddenly felt for her mother was visible and it wasn’t lost on anyone on the table. Chief Ani and everyone else, including the maids wondered why the sudden animosity towards her mother. But Jaiye was sure she knew why. She realized the idiot must have told her she had asked him to breakup with her. She could not think of any other reason why her daughter would turn against her so suddenly. She hoped he didn’t tell her about their affair too. He wouldn’t dare to do that. She would find out from him exactly all he told her later tonight.
Chief Ani wondered on, deeper than everyone else. Yemi was particularly fond of her parents. There was no reasonable reason at all why she should suddenly exhibit such hatred towards her mother. Something was definitely wrong and he must find out what was wrong. But meanwhile, he must give them the good news and pretend that all was well.
He was shocked to note that his good news sounded like a boring story to both his wife and daughter. The five hundred thousand naira Cheque he gave to his daughter did nothing to assuage her hatred neither did the invitation to the country club interest his wife. He was practically shocked to hear her turn down the invite. Jaiye has always looked forward to when they’d go out to the club. She loved to mingle with the high and mighty in the society and such occasions gave her the opportunity. And to hear her wave the idea away so casually was something he could hardly believe. He could not ignore it too. He managed to go through dinner without showing his disappointment and worries. He would get to the root of their strange behavior later.
Later, he sat in front of the television pretending to listen to the network news but his mind was far from the screen. It revolted within him in fear as it dawned on him that he was losing her finally. That is, if he has not completely lost her already, his mind told him. He had no doubt that all these was because of the young man he foolishly allowed into his home.
He continued to stare at the television in front of him but he didn’t hear a single word from the news caster. He was asking himself questions. Questions he should have asked many years ago. How did he ever allow this to happen? For how long will he allow her to continue to torment him? He was suddenly tired. He suddenly didn’t know why he felt his happiness depended on her being with him when all she has done over the past ten years was ridicule and make him feel useless. Why did he try so hard to hold on to her when it was so clear he was now completely useless to her? How on earth did he become her slave? And now, she won’t even go out with him.
It was the boy alright and he knew it was high time he did something about him. He must get the boy out of the house. He has had enough! He should never have been so lenient with her. He had no reason to, knowing that night after night, she sneaked out of their matrimonial bed to seek pleasure in the arms of the brat while he seethed in regret and pain. He couldn’t understand why he tolerated such infidelity from her; he didn’t know why he looked the other way when he should have taken a bold step to stop her. This was clearly and fast getting out of hands. He could not afford to let their children know what their mother did behind his back. Or that he was aware of them but chose to look the other way. There was no better time to put an end to her excesses than tonight. He will order her to send the boy away. He will forbid her to see the boy henceforth. Or any other man for that matter. They took vows for better and for worst, he must make her respect those vows or take a walk! He was suddenly ready to let her go and he was surprised to see he didn’t flinch at the thought.
The moment she heard her refuse the offer to go to the club, Yemi knew it had to do with her appointment with Kamil later that night. It finally dawned on her that her mother was cheating on her father with him. She decided to get a proof. She would record their conversation. She would blackmail her mother with her recordings and force her to leave Kamil alone!
So unknown to the secret lovers, both father and daughter were determined that night to break the spell in the house.
Jaiye busied herself, preparing for the occasion of a few hours in Kamil’s arms. She was happy because he has clearly proven his love for her. She was going to make the night a memorable one. There was no doubt that he ditched her daughter. The way she sat aloof, sulking all through dinner convinced her more than words that their affair was over. She spent a long time in the bathroom, a longer time in front of her dressing mirror, before she took her place beside her husband on their bed. She had no premonition of what was coming.
Chief Ani watched her secretly as she prepared herself before the mirror, wondering how to begin his planned talk with her. He could not help but wish she was preparing herself for him like the good old days. He knew it was all for the boy and a pang of jealousy swept through him. He didn’t permit the surging anger and regret that threatened him. It was going to be the last night he would go through this, he decided. He didnt want to be angry when he confronted. There was no point in fighting over it, he was going to handle the matter amicably.
“I want to have a word with you.” He began slowly the moment she hit the bed.
“Oh Chief, can’t it wait till another time? I am very tired tonight and my head aches.” She told him stiffly.
“It will only take a few minutes and you can go to sleep.”
“I really don’t feel like it right now. I need to rest, the same reason I said I couldn’t go to the club tonight. Please dear, tomorrow. I am sure it can wait.”
“OK, tomorrow then if you insist.”
“I insist dear.” She said and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before turning her back to him.
Chief Ani watched her and decided he was in no hurry. He could afford to delay his shame till the next day. It was just another day, he has survived this for years. So he told her good night and turned his back too. A few moments later, he let out a few snores, feigning he was already fast asleep.
“Chief!” she called out, like she always did and even though he heard her, he gave no response. He pretended to be fast asleep. She shook him slightly to be double sure but he didn’t wake up. Now very convinced that he was fast asleep, she rose quietly from the bed, careful not to make a sound. She walked stealthily to the door and opened it without a sound. She went out, closing the door silently behind her. She walked down the hall to the stair case. Quietly, she went down the stairs and headed to the kitchen. She reached the exit door and quietly pushed it open. It was unlocked just like she expected. She always left the door unlocked. Stepping quietly into the cold night, she looked to left and right before taking quick running steps down the lane towards the bungalow that housed Kamil.
Father and daughter both watched her from different windows as she made her way to the workers’ quarters. They both experienced the same feeling of shame as she walked stealthily away.
Yemi felt a profound feeling of anger too. She suddenly wanted to confront her mother. She wanted to expose and disgrace her. She wanted to make her suffer for her indecency and infidelity. She was watching from behind the heavy drapes in one of the living room windows. She had waited for her to show up for hours, carefully hidden behind the drapes. She had almost missed her. It was the low creaking sound from the door as she let herself out that made Yemi realize she was on her way. Now, as she watched her disappear behind the building, she allowed a few minutes before following her. She wanted them in an uncompromising position when she made her appearance.
Chief Ani sat on his bed when he could no longer bear the shame he felt from watching her. He wondered how best to solve his problem. He wanted to follow her and pretend to catch them in the act. That way she wouldn’t be able to object to sending the boy out of the house but he wasn’t sure how she’d react to him catching them redhanded. There might be an outburst and the other employees might hear them. He was very hesitant over embarrassing her that way. She has been considerate to him and he must reciprocate the gesture even though he knew he must put an end to it. Besides, the children might hear them too and he didn’t want that. He must try as much as possible to keep his children out of it.
He heard the creaking sound of the back door again. He couldn’t have missed it even with the many thoughts in his mind. His ears were now so used to every sound at night that he was absolutely sure it was the back door. Why was she back so soon? He wondered. She usually took hours. He listened to hear the sound of her foot steps as she climbed the stairs but the sound he heard came from outside. Quickly, he got on his feet and went to the window he had only just left. What he saw shocked him to his marrows. He could not believe his eyes as he watched his daughter head towards the same direction as her mother! What is going on? He asked himself as he hurriedly put on a shirt and jeans trousers and went out of the room. He was going to find out for himself.
As expected, he found the back door unlocked. As he stepped out into the night, the thought that she might ask for a divorce crossed his mind, unsettling him. He stood for a moment in hesitation. He was losing her anyway he thought and now his daughter is involved. He must go after them. He decided and continued his quest in slow hesitant strides, uncertain of what exactly he should do.
Somewhere else inside Kamil’s room, Jaiye asked the question.
“So, how did it go?”
“How else do you think it went? I broke up with her like you asked me to” he replied drily.
“So you regret that you broke up with her?”
“What sort of a question is that? You said I should end the relationship, the relationship is ended. Now you want to know whether I regret it. What difference will that make to you?” He spat.
“I want to know how you feel” she said slowly. “I don’t want to force you to love me. I want to know whether you did it because I asked you to or you did it because you preferred to be with me.” She added, watching him closely.
Kamil realized at once that it was a trick question. She ought to know that he would have gladly chosen her daughter over her if he had the freedom to choose. He could only lie to her now.
“You know that I care very much about you. Yes, I made a mistake and I have taken the right step to correct it. Now can we drop this interview and have some fun?”
” It’s so sweet to hear you say that. I was so certain you wouldn’t break up with her.” She said happily.
“Come on, it was only a fling and I am sorry it won’t happen again.”
“If you ever do a thing like that to me again, I will not take it kindly.” She said coldly.
“Forget it, I said it won’t happen again” Kamil said. He was both irritated and angry. He wished she would drop the subject.
“You shouldn’t blame me for insisting. Okay, let’s forget it ever happened. Let’s have fun.” She said.
“Not so fast mother, open the damn door right at this moment otherwise I’d scream so loud the entire household will come running down here.” Yemi suddenly yelled from behind the door.
“Jesus Christ!” Kamil exclaimed. His heart drumming sharply against his ridge case. It was so violent that he thought he’d have a heart attack. He looked from Jaiye to the door, with eyes heavy with fear. Had God granted his secret supplication at that same moment, the earth would burst open and swallow him up before Chief Ani does.
“Did you tell her about us?” Jaiye asked in shock.
“I don’t think I did.”
“Don’t be stupid, you must know if you did!” She spat angrily.
“I am sure I didn’t. Why would I do that?”
“Then how come she is here?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Are you sure you didn’t invite her here? Are you sure this is not a conspiracy against me by both of you?” Jaiye asked in both fear and suspicion.
“Are you crazy? Why would I do that? What do I hope to achieve? She is here on her own and we are in trouble.” He said, wide eyed.
Kamil shook from head to toe in fear as he hopelessly watched her. He had every reason to be scared. For the first time, he saw naked fear in Jaiye’s eyes and it chilled him. He knew at once that it was finally the day of reckoning. And he was in real trouble!
“What do we do?” He cried.
“Keep quiet and let me think!” Jaiye said in clenched teeth, not sure of what to do herself.
“Open the goddamned door!” Yemi yelled again, and this time, pounding hard on the door.
“Open the door!” Jaiye told Kamil quickly.
“Are you sure?” He asked in complete uncertainty.
“What other idea do you have? Or do you want her to alert everyone?”
“No, oh no,” he said as he quickly opened the door. He tried to get past Yemi and run out of the room. But she pushed him back inside and shut the door after her.
“So you thought you could fool me right?” She began in a voice loaded with rage. She was speaking particularly to no one but she glared angrily from one face to the other before she finally rested her gaze on Kamil.
“So you have been sleeping with my mother too? How long have you been doing this?”
“Please Yemi, calm down. It is not what you think.” Kamil began in a croak as he moved towards her. He was relying on his charm to calm her down. He made an attempt to hold her hand but she moved away from him.
“Don’t touch me or I scream!” She exclaimed breathlessly. “And you, you ought to be ashamed of yourself mother. You are disgusting. You cheat on daddy with my boyfriend? You are despicable. I hate you!”
“Hey, hold it right there!” Jaiye exploded, getting her tongue back. “You shouldn’t call me names!”
“What effrontery! You dare to speak?”
“Do you expect me to chicken out while you rant? I am your mother and you must accord me respect!”
“You deserve no respect from me, certainly not when you stoop so low to have an affair with my boyfriend.”
“He is first and foremost my boyfriend. Before you sold yourself cheaply to him.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Tell her Kamil, tell her about us” Jaiye instructed angrily.
Kamil watched Jaiye in hesitation. He took quick furtive glances between mother and daughter. It had been so easy to profess his love to her while they were alone but now that he knew he was standing between two raging bulls, he knew he must tread carefully lest he be the one to be torn to pieces.
“Yes, tell me Kamil, is that the truth?” Yemi demanded.
“Yes, go ahead, say the truth.” Jaiye repeated furiously, both ladies turning to face him. Each waiting for his response. Each very anxious to hear him.
“Please ladies, this is not the way. Please don’t make me do this. We can settle…..”
“Say the truth!” Both ladies demanded angrily.
“Yes, yes, it is true.” Kamil said quickly. Taking quick steps backward. He got to the wall and stopped. He would have gone through it and fled if he could but the cold wall held him captive at the mercy of the furious ladies.
“Did you hear that?” Jaiye said, addressing her daughter.
“You are lying Kamil!” Yemi said in disbelief, ignoring her mother. But Kamil stared emptily beyond her to Jaiye. He was now more afraid of Jaiye than ten Yemis put together.
He saw a sudden light in her eyes, he has never seen it before and it sent cold shivers down his spine. He was so scared he forgot completely about Yemi for a moment, he did not even hear her.
“Tell me it is a lie.” Yemi yelled bringing him back.
“I am sorry but it is the truth.” he said absently.
“I can see that you are lying because you are afraid of her but you don’t have to be.”
“I have been dating her before you came into the picture. I have been with her even before I moved into this house. She gave me my break in life. She made me what I am today and I am eternally grateful to her. I am sorry but that is the truth.” He spoke plainly, not moving his gaze from Jaiye.
“Okay, I think I get you now, you feel indebted to her but you don’t need to” Yemi said desperately but he ignored her. “Okay, Okay, do you love her? You can’t possibly love her. She is old enough to be your mother! What in heaven’s name do you see in her?” She cried desperately.
Kamil gave no reply, he couldn’t bring himself to answer the question even though he wanted to. Instead he continued to stare dumbly at Jaiye. He was suddenly very careful not to make her angry. He was now fully aware he could never get out of this alive with Jaiye as an enemy.
“I am sure you have the answers to your questions now. You should leave.” Jaiye said quickly, sensing danger.
“No, I am not done yet. He must make his choice right here and now. He must choose between us.” Yemi said obstinately, giving him the opportunity she was sure he needed.
“My dear child, don’t make this more miserable than you have already made it. The answers to your questions are obvious. Don’t make any more fool of yourself.” Jaiye said in a calm quiet voice. She was afraid Kamil would take her daughter’s cue and choose her. Jaiye knew she would no longer have a hold on him should she allow him to choose her daughter over her.
Yemi watched him with urging eyes that suggested this was his opportunity to liberate himself from her mother but Kamil’s eyes were too scared to see it. She was shocked to see that he wasn’t as smart as she’d imagined. How could he be so stupid not to see his chance? Or perhaps, it was his fear of her mother that have impaired his ability to reason, she thought miserably. How could he not see what she was offering him?
“He must choose between us.” Yemi insisted.
“And I say he mustn’t” Jaiye replied sternly.
“You can’t decide for him. Let him speak for himself. What are you afraid of?”
“Afraid? I have no reason to be afraid. I own him.”
“No you don’t and even if you do, you will get a complete refund of every dime you have spent on him!”
“And who’s going to give me the refund? You? Why do you force yourself on him?”
“The same reason as you.”
“Then make your choice Kamil!” Jaiye commanded in anger. She was not sure she was going to be his choice but she suddenly felt he should.
The command shook him to his foundation and without further delay, he said. “You are my choice Jaiye, you know that so very well.”
“Of course I do but you had to convince my silly daughter. Come here, give me a hug.” She said, smiling at him. Kamil went to her and barely managing to smile, he held her in a long embrace that developed into a kiss.
Yemi stood rooted in shock as she watched them. As they began to kiss, she recovered from her daze and stormed out of the room in tears.
She was never going to know that Kamil was smart alright but he could not see how Yemi could protect him from Jaiye if he made her his choice. He was no longer concerned about love or sex or money. He was now more concerned about his well-being and the only one out of the two that he was sure could guarantee his safety from the other must be his choice! And it was certainly Jaiye.
Chief Ani listened to the happenings from behind the window. Though he could not see them, his mind formed a clear picture and the picture his mind’s eyes painted was unbelievable! He could neither believe his ears too. He was tempted severally to burst into the room and make an unexpected appearance but he repeatedly stopped himself. He told himself there was no need, considering what he intended to do to the bastard, there was no need letting them know he had an inkling of what transpired. He decided he won’t let the boy go scot free. He concluded that nothing short of the boy’s death would pacify his angered soul. Tomorrow morning, he would get rid of the boy!
Yes, it is true that he was a fool, Jaiye’s fool. It is true too that he has been so stupid to center his life around her but to now know that the lad takes his wife as well as his daughter too and under his own roof, before his very eyes, was something even his foolishness could never permit him to overlook. Jaiye or no Jaiye.
He remained where he was with great effort, ignoring Jaiye’s soft moans which came to him through the window. He was giving his daughter time to settle in before going back to the mansion. He didn’t want to encounter her.
Exactly twenty minutes later, he began his slow steps back to the big mansion he shared with only members of his immediate family. His decision was definite.
The boy must die, he assured himself over and over as he went. He wouldn’t allow mother and daughter to continue to fight shamelessly over him. He must take a drastic step to stop this before it became public knowledge. Not caring to be quiet anymore, he pushed the door open and let himself into the house. Half expecting to meet Yemi in tears in the living room. He was glad to see the living room empty. He made his way through the big house to their bedroom to wait. Not for his wife now but for morning to come.
He lay on his bed and began a careful consideration of how best to kill him. He was still thinking when Jaiye came into the room more than two hours later. He was still scheming the boy’s death when the sound of her steady snores came to his ears moments later.
He remained awake even long hours after he had concluded the boy’s fate. He just could not sleep. But this wasn’t the first time she would snore in deep slumber beside him after a visit to the boy’s room. This wasn’t the first time he’d pray to fall asleep and rid his ears of her snores of exhaustion and tiredness. But something happened to him that night, something he could not place. It opened his eyes wide, not only from that night’s sleep, but from a long foolish slumber. He suddenly couldn’t tolerate her anymore. His foolishness seemed to dawn on him in quick succession and he had no control over it. He would have given anything to fall asleep that very moment, leaving his troubling thoughts until another time, postponing his pain as usual but something he could not understand made this impossible. It wasn’t fear or anger. No it was far from it. He has always been able to look the other way while she sinned. He has always been able to resist the urge to do anything about her infidelity. He has been so sure he could forgive her anything but as he stared through the darkness to the empty ceiling that early hours of the new day, her steady snore seemed to bore holes in his soul. He realized his patience with her had suddenly vanished. He has suddenly reached the end. It finally happened to him, he suddenly reached his own limit of human endurance. And he knew he could not let this one pass like the others. No, his flesh and blood was involved. It was time he took a bold step to change everything or he would lose everything!
He must divorce her too! Again he didn’t flinch at the conclusion and it was a surprise to him.
In her room on the other end of the building, Yemi lay awake in bed. She could not believe it was actually happening to her. Her own mother contending with her over a man? It was outrageous! It was preposterous! It was unbelievable! It was this and it was that but it was true and real, no matter the vocabulary used. She felt so humiliated in front of him. She could not believe too that he was so pliant and so afraid of her mother that he completely refused to take all the chances she had given him. But she was in love with him and she wouldn’t let him go so easily. She must humiliate her mother too, the same way she humiliated her. To be able to beat her to it, she knew she must come up with a good plan. She craved all night for a perfect plan but as the early morning sun made its way into her room through her open window, it brought with it what seemed to be the best plan she could think of. She would threaten to tell her father. She would blackmail her mother until she gave him up!
But how naïve she was not to know that such a thing wouldn’t move Jaiye to give him up.
Somewhere else within the large compound, Kamil lay asleep. He had a rather peaceful sleep that night. Jaiye had assured him she would take care of things, he had no reason to deprive himself of a well-deserved sleep after such a day and night. They had both agreed that he had no future in the house anymore and decided to get him an apartment the next day elsewhere, pending when their travel documents are concluded. He would allow her to handle everything. With that conclusion he fell asleep. He did not even consider Yemi. He was done with her and lucky to still have Jaiye’s support. That was all he needed.