Meeting the family
The house was set in Ungwar Rimi in the Government Reservation area of Kaduna, a large city in Northern Nigeria.
A colonial style large villa, Bola’s immediate thoughts were of a colonial style large villa that rose from the hills with cream walls and stone washed pillars. Its spacious French windows opened on a well-trimmed front garden lawn hedged by rows of hibiscus, jacaranda, bougainvillaea and African roses interspersed with palm trees
The front door opened into an impressive large sitting room with large doors opening onto the garden, all cream walls, burnt brown and gold settees and chairs, and tan velvet drapes. Expensive paintings and carvings hung from the walls and a large cream and gold rug lay on the floor.
A young woman opened the door. She was short, generously proportioned and her beautiful eyes were large and piercing. Her royal purple brocade caftan fell to the floor in elegant folds and her hair had been plaited into a long pony tail. The expression on her face spoilt the beautiful canvas. It was petulant and dissatisfied.
Bola instinctively knew that this must be Halima. The Chiefs new wife.
Her lips tightened when she saw Bola then she looked past her to Tunde, her face breaking out into a wide smile.
“Hello Brother Tunde.”
Bola stood and watched as the woman launched herself at her fiancée.
“Halie. How now? How body?”
“I am fine.”
Tunde turned and pulled Bola to his side. “Halie. I want you to meet Bola. My fiancée. ”
The woman threw a glance in her direction and Bola was conscious of her acute appraisal, summing her up from her hair, her new skirt and blouse, her golden sandals and matching bag. Her lips curling as if she had been sucking on a lemon all her life.
“Really.” She led the way into the house. “The Chief has been expecting you. I will get Rekiya to prepare lunch.”
Tunde smiled. “So where is Dad anyway?”
“He is in the other annex, having a meeting with some business associates. Let me call Peter to take you to your room. You might want to rest before lunch.”
Tunde closed the door to his private suite.
Bola realised that that this annex of the house had at three bedrooms and they were all en suite. His father lived in the other annex with his new wife.
Bola looked around her at the decor and opulence. The last time she had seen a carpet as soft and luxurious as this, was in the Hilton in Abuja. The room had wallpaper – a pale green and gold that matched the rich green and gold tapestry curtains and matching bed sheets.
“This place is fantastic.” He had given her a tour of the house and there was a pool, a tennis court and several expensive cars lined up outside.
She felt a pair of strong arms go around her waist and shook her head. “Tunde…..your father is downstairs.”
He laughed as he whispered into her ears. “My father is in the other part of the house.”
Bola pushed him away gently. “I don’t think Halima likes me.”
“You’ve only been here five minutes and you are so sure about that?”
“I saw her face Tunde. A woman knows these things. She hardly said a word to me during lunch.”
“Do you really think I want to be discussing my Dad’s new wife with you at this point in time?” He looked down at her, raising her face to his, looking deep into her eyes.
“She looks quite young.”
“I think she’s about 22 now.”
“That makes her a year younger than me.”
Tunde shrugged. “That’s the way of the world.”
“I hate it. My Dad has girlfriends you know. Some of them are younger than me. “
His eyes travelled over her.
She had changed into a green and purple patterned African dress with gold trimming around the neck. It had thin straps and skimmed over her slim curves, falling to her feet in a long skirt. “I dunno. I think something snapped in him after mother left. Maybe it’s a middle age crisis thing. Maybe he is just the typical naija man don’t know. I can’t answer for him.” He saw the worry in her eyes. “Relax. Polygamy isn’t hereditary. I’m definitely a one woman man.”
She glowed in the warm gaze of his admiration, got up from the bed and looked at herself in the mirror as she saw the light pick up the dazzle of the diamond earrings, a present he had brought her from a business trip to Florence.
She loved his compliments, the generous gifts, the surprises, the way he looked at her as if he couldn’t wait to have her all to himself.
She saw his eyes and knew what he was thinking and shook her head. “Your father is expecting us for dinner at seven prompt.”
“Dad looked very impressed during lunch. He leaned over and whispered – You got a good one there, son. My dad isn’t easily impressed.”
“I’m glad. I want your dad to like me.
He leaned in and captured her lips. “I like you. I like you very much especially right now.”
She returned his kiss.
After dinner she felt sleepy and decided to go up to bed leaving her fiancée to talk with his father. She was making her way up the stairs when she heard someone hiss her name.
She looked down and it was Halima.
The woman stood at the foot of the stairs, her hands akimbo, her lips stretched into a half mocking speculative smile.
Bola stared at her not getting her meaning.
“You will not last.”
Bola came down the stairs slowly; her face was just as hard. “The words of a jealous woman. Why can’t you be happy for me? I have not come to fight you.”
The girl laughed, shook her head and disappeared back into the sitting room to join the men.
Bola struggled to sleep after that.
Next morning she mentioned it to Tunde just before breakfast but he laughed it off.
“That’s Hallie for you. The girl is a real joker.”
“I didn’t find it funny.”
“Halie is just a bit protective over me. “
“Protective or jealous.
His answer was to snatch her into his arms and bury his head in her neck. “Now who is jealous?”
“OK. I admit I flirted with her a bit before she married my Dad….”
Bola stiffened and moved back. “Were you guys ….”
His eyes slid away from hers and she turned away and continued her packing. His eyes telling her more than his silence. Then she heard him whisper.
“Come on Bola. I do have a past. You are my future.”
She closed her eyes as she felt his arms go round her, drawing her in as she fought back the tears.