Nosakhare Ehaekpen looked at his reflection in the mirror. The lemon coloured kaftan he was putting on didn’t conceal his pot belly. The golden embroidery had enough detail to cause a distraction; maybe no one would notice his protruding tummy. It was high time he returned to the gym. He had been postponing a comeback for years, ten years to be precise. A man his age needed frequent exercise, nothing dramatic. He saw his wife the moment she came out of the bathroom. She was also dressed in the same attire. He noticed that she had make- up on. What was all the fuss about? It was just dinner. They were dining indoors with their children and not strangers.
“Women…” he mumbled under his breath.
If he had his way, he would have put on a tee-shirt and a pair of shorts, but his wife wouldn’t have it. She was all about being presentable at all times. Her constant excuse was, ‘What if we had unexpected visitors?’
“Are you ready?” Etinosa glanced his way.
He nodded and turned around.
“Did Osayuki call you?”
He smiled at the mention of his first daughter’s name. She reminded him of his late mother. Petite, dark soft chocolate skin, unique full pink lips, hazel eyes, oblong face with the mannerism of an angel. If his mother was alive, Osayuki would have been her favourite grandchild.
“Hello…” she noticed his lost far off look.
What is he thinking about now?
He blinked and stared at his wife. His smile broadened. His girls got their pretty looks from her and his boys got their good looks from him. He hoped they wouldn’t inherit his pot belly. A frown creased his dark brows.
She tried not to get upset, “Did she call you?”
She blinked and stared back at him. She felt like throwing something at him. He noticed the irritation in her dark eyes.
What did I do now?
“Did Osayuki call you?”
He shook his head.
“Everyone is here. She isn’t.”
“Yes. She usually gets here before anyone else.”
“She will be here,” his favourite child was probably buying one or two things. She had a habit of bringing something to the monthly family dinner.
The cool ocean breeze swept over them. She shook and wrapped her arms around her curvy frame. The short-sleeve cream blouse she was putting on was as light as a feather. She hoped she wouldn’t catch a cold. She turned her head and caught him staring at her.
“You are shaking like a leaf. I think we should head back.”
He helped her to her feet.
“I am so full. I doubt if I will be able to eat anything at my parents’ place tonight.”
He raised an eyebrow, “Are you still going there?”
“Yes,” she glanced at her wrist-watch. It was some minutes past eight, “They stay on the Island.”
They walked towards the exit. She held her pencil heeled red sandals in one hand and her red Mark and Spencer pouch in the other hand. The sand felt smooth and cool beneath her feet. She was glad she agreed to come to the beach.
“Hope we can do this again.”
“I want your phone number, email address, face book account, twitter handle and anything else you’ve got.”
She started to laugh.
“I am serious.”
“I am beginning to think you are going to stalk me online.”
“Of course I am.”
She chuckled and met his endearing brown eyes. He was really cute. She looked away. If they become good friends, maybe something good would come out of their relationship.
“Come, I have an idea.”
“Come…” he headed towards a group of big rocks that stood between Kuramo beach and Bar beach.
Where is he going now? Bar beach is deserted. People rarely go there.
She followed him and he helped her to climb to the other side. She saw scanty groups of people on the beach.
“Do people still come here?”
He nodded, “If you want solitude, this is the place to be.”
“I heard that those white garment Prophets build wooden shanties on this beach.”
“Yes, like that bamboo hut covered with blankets,” he pointed at a wooden hut a few feet away.
“Let’s take a look.”
“Come on, are you scared?”
She shook her head. She looked around. It was getting darker. Her family must be wondering why she wasn’t around. She wished she had called.
Etinosa nibbled at her food, her watch-full eyes were set on everyone at the table. Her husband seemed to be enjoying his meal. He had emptied his plate and refilled it. Her first son, Osarodion, was seated closest to him. He had also taken a second helping. He was the exact carbon copy of his father, except for the pot belly. Her second son, Osaretin, was a mixture of both herself and her husband. He wasn’t as tall as his father; he was her height, five feet seven inches. Osabohen, her second daughter and last child was her exact carbon copy. She was the tallest in the family and the prettiest of her girls. She smiled, but it faded when she noticed her first daughter’s empty seat. Where was Osayuki?
“Did Osayuki call anyone of you?”
Nosakhare glimpsed at his third child’s empty seat. Where was she? It was unlike her to be late. He hoped she was all right.
Osarodion was unconcerned about his younger sister’s absence. The last time he saw her was at the office on Friday. She was an adult. She was old enough to take care of herself.
Osaretin wondered why his mother had brought his younger sister’s absence up. He was enjoying his meal, but, now, he had lost his appetite. She was thirty for Pete’s sake, not two years old. He picked up his glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and took a long drink.
Osabohen eyed her mother.
Osayuki, Osayuki, it is always Osayuki. Osayuki this, Osayuki that, is she the only one? Haba!
She was glad that her elder sister wasn’t around. It would sink in the notion that she wasn’t perfect after all. She had, had enough of her at the office. Why should the trend continue in her parents’ home? She hissed and dropped the fork and knife. She pushed the half-eaten plate of food away.
“I believe I am speaking to people that have ears,” Etinosa snapped.
Osarodion cleared his throat, “Mum, she is not a baby. She will show up if she wants to.”
“Exactly,” Osaretin added, “She will probably call you later tonight or tomorrow and explain why she couldn’t make it.”
“She is on her way,” Nosa butt in.
His children looked at him with raised eyebrows. Trust their father to come to Osayuki’s defense.
“She has never missed a family dinner,” Nosa chimed in.
“This is definitely her first time,” Osabohen played with her fork.
He eyed her. He picked up his Iphone on the table and dialed her number. It kept ringing. He sighed and dropped the phone on the table. He looked up and met his wife’s questioning gaze.
“She didn’t pick the call,” Nosa shook his head.
Osabohen chuckled. It seemed her wishes were coming true.
Etinosa frowned. It was unlike her daughter not to pick her calls. Where could she be?