CHAPTER NINE – Mommy and Daddy Dearest
Nadia was sure she had dated the most annoying married man on earth. The sex and financial benefits had been amazing. In addition, he had scored high on the scale of brains and wit. There had never been a boring moment with him. The only problem was his craziness. She suspected that it had to do with the rush of engaging in something illicit. Somehow, he had wanted to get caught by his wife, and Nadia hadn’t signed up for that type of drama. This had come after he did everything to get her pregnant. When she didn’t budge, he dumped and ghosted her.
Today, he reached out to her after a month. He apologized for breaking up with her and asked her to return to his life. Nadia laughed, recalling how callously he had ended things with her, under the excuse that she no longer inspired excitement in him, as she had become as boring as his wife. The breakup came at a wrong time, just shortly after her father’s death. She had been so shaken that she wasn’t sure if she was grieving for her father or for the relationship she lost.
Now, he was back, promising to act better and give her the world. Nadia didn’t think she was interested. She had a list of men on her case, married and single. She was going to take her time to sift through the chaff to find the substance. But again, men were not her top priority; making money was.
But she wasn’t bothered. She had a plan that would set her feet back on the grind and open doors for her siblings as well.
This evening, she invited Lanumi, and Nehi, who now lived with Lanumi, over to Xavier’s for grilled fish and drinks. They sat out at the backyard, listening to music from Xavier’s Bluetooth speaker. The stars and an almost full moon were out tonight, giving light to their small gathering. Xavier’s compound was bordered by a fence that created a vortex between it and the house. He used to sit out here with Bamitale on hot nights, to feel the cool breeze and listen to it howl.
Right now, they were talking about what Nadia had just told them of Sunny and the contract Ituah signed with Kofo years ago.
“So, what are we going to do?” Nehi asked.
“I…” Nadia began to speak but Lanumi interrupted her. She frowned.
“Sorry, sorry. Before you answer, I just want to state that the picture is beginning to look clearer now. Mommy wasn’t the villain you all thought she was.”
“And Daddy was what?” Nadia asked.
“I didn’t mention Daddy.”
“He was the parent that stayed.”
“I agree, but was Mommy given a chance to stay?”
“Lanu, she left.”
“It’s fine that you want to hold on to that lie—”
“Yes, lie. Nadiakhe, I was old enough to witness their fights. They were many and intense. I also witnessed Uncle Sunny and Aunty Atiti being absolute assholes to her. And after every fight, Mommy always cried like a baby. She would hide somewhere, cry it all out, clean her tears, and come out to act like they weren’t breaking her will. Yes, she wasn’t mother of the year and she had issues connecting with us, but she was a broken woman, Nadia.”
“Daddy and Uncle Sunny, as you already told us, treated her like shit. And we’re talking about the eighties and nineties here, Nad. Women hardly had the rights they have today.”
“Still, it was no reason for her to abandon us!”
Xavier raised his hands, stopping them. “Let’s end this talk about who was bad or good. What we need to know now is the way forward. Uncle Sunny is trying to double-cross us—”
“As he did with Mommy,” Lanumi said.
“Please, let me finish talking. Uncle Sunny is still trying to control everything. We have options.”
Nehi lit a cigarette. “Like?”
“We go to him and let him know that we now all know. Then, we ask for whatever we want from him.”
“We go straight to her and ask for what rightly belongs to us.”
“Xavier, you can call her ‘Mom’, you know?”
“Shut up, Lanumi.”
Lanumi got up. Nadia could tell she was drunk. “Me, I am not into blackmailing the woman who gave life to us. There must be some sort of karma for that.”
“We’re not blackmailing her,” Xavier corrected. “The clause we all read in that contract puts her and Dad as partners for life. Now that he has handed everything to me, it means I can claim my stake in all her businesses.”
“It doesn’t work like that o, Xavier. It doesn’t. Mommy can challenge you to court and win, that’s if that contract is even legally binding on her in the first place, because it was signed under dubious circumstances. She has the money, she has the power, and you’re going to be seen as an ungrateful son who is out to ruin his mother.”
“But she won’t take me to court.” Xavier said with a sure smile. “You know why? As you said, I am her son. She would want this in-house and will settle me, all of us, the way she settled Uncle Sunny. Fighting me publicly would ruin her rep. She doesn’t want that.”
“Wow.” Lanumi rested her hands on her waist and stared down at Xavier. “You’re worse than Daddy and Uncle Sunny put together, you know that?”
“Let’s not get sentimental about things here, Lanu.”
“That’s why you couldn’t keep your marriage.”
“There we go.”
“Bamitale was a good wife, just like Mommy was—”
“Can you not bring my marriage into this discussion? And please, fucking sit down! You’re drunk!”
“Oh, the truth is bitter, isn’t it?”
“There’s no bitter truth here, Lanu,” Nadia responded, “except the fact that our mother is out there, living and swimming in billions while we’re in the trenches. She could have come for us a long time ago, but she didn’t.”
“She did, and they didn’t let her!”
“She didn’t fight hard enough!”
“Nadiakhe, we’re adults, for fuck’s sake! Why didn’t any of us reach out to her? Instead, we judged and hated her, based on lies we were told. Despite everything, she kept reaching out to us. Did you know that she used to send clothes for us in bags and Aunty Atiti used to take them home to those her ugly children?”
Nadia frowned and looked at Xavier.
“Yes, Xave knows! Ask him!”
“I don’t know shit.”
Lanumi shook her head. “I hate you right now, Xave. You’re the meanest of all of us because you knew her more than we did and—”
“ENOUGH!” Xavier jumped to his feet and faced her. “This is the last time we will have this conversation! Now, go inside and get your stuff, I’m taking you home!”
Lanumi held Xavier’s stare.
She rubbed her eyes. “Nehi, let’s go.”
“I’ll sleep here tonight, sis.”
Lanumi took a step forward but she staggered a little. Xavier grabbed her before she stumbled over his seat.
“I hate you.”
He gently guided her into the house.
“You know we’re all messed up, right?” Nehi told Nadia. “Her, him, me, you. We’re into some deep trauma shit that has affected us individually. It’s why Lanumi has two husbands and Xave couldn’t even keep one wife. Same reason you were fucking a married man.”
Nadia gave him a sharp stare.
“Same reason I did badly in school.”
“Don’t bring that Gen Z self-diagnosis shit to me.”
“Our parents fucked us up.”
“No, Mom did—”
“Stop living in denial, Nad.”
“She could have fought harder,” Nadia said, feeling a lump in her throat as her emotions tried to take over. “She should have. Do you know how many times I watched her on TV or read a newspaper and imagined her fabulous life out there while ours kept going down the drain? I put this woman in a freaking hero cape and waited and waited for her to show up and rescue us. But she never did. She just acted like we weren’t there.”
“And that’s why you attach yourself to men you can never have. Your attachment style is—”
“Just shut up, abeg.”
But Nehi was right. They were all a mess. Lanumi and her second husband now regularly attended orgies, organized by a Lekki swinger group. Xavier hadn’t been able to get a job since he was fired. He saw less of his daughter these days, and it was because he was pushing her away. Nadia herself now lived with him, having moved out of her apartment, as her rent had expired. She lost the job in Port Harcourt because she hadn’t shown up for it. Her dad’s death screwed her up so much that she couldn’t function for a while.
“But you know Lanumi is not lying sha,” Xavier stated. “Mom is not the villain, and I think we don’t have to wait for Bahamas to connect with her.”
“You’re saying this just because of her money.”
“Yes. I’m tired of how I live. I need to ball. Have you seen your mother’s house? Gaddem!”
Nadia wasn’t sure she made the right decision to share the details of the contract with her siblings. She would have gotten a better deal with Sunny. The last thing she wanted was to be in direct communication with her mother. Her resentment of her was deep, and she wanted it to remain that way.
“More beer?” Nehi asked.
He walked into the house and Nadia checked the numerous messages on her phone from her married ex. It was weird that she needed him now—so badly, she could cry.
She texted him to come get her.
Tari must have looked at his outfit a thousand times before deciding to jump on a video call with Rain for fashion advice. She spent the first minute adoring his looks before telling him to change into something that would make a statement.
“You’re going to be a boss, and your first day has to show that. A black suit is too basic.”
“You’re right. So, I was thinking… Since we’re a thing now and work in the same company, do you think we need to let HR know about our relationship.”
Rain laughed, clipping on an earring. “You’re still thinking like lay staff, Tari. Hara is yours for the taking. You don’t owe anyone any explanation. At the same time, let’s keep our thing private.”
“I like private.”
“So, see you at work later today.”
Rain blew him a kiss and hung up. He went to his closet and picked something more befitting for the day. There were moments in which he stopped to look around him, still trying to take in the fact that everything around him belonged to him and he was living a life that was bigger than his dreams.
He had moved in a couple of days after returning from Dominica with Rain. Sunny asked him to postpone coming to the office, as management was moving people around and restructuring departments and positions. While he waited, Tari registered for courses online that would help him do his job better. He also researched on Ms. Adelabu who was currently occupying the position he was being groomed for. He still didn’t think he deserved to take over from her, but he was determined to do the job.
Once the clock struck 8:30 am, he stepped out of his bedroom with Oscar whom he left in the care of his housekeeper. The young man was in his late twenties who spoke well and always smelled of aftershave.
“Your driver is here, sir.”
“Driver?” Tari asked and remembered that Sunny had told him that a chauffeur was assigned to him. “Don’t overfeed my dog. Just give him the portion I asked you to.”
Tari stepped out of the house. An older man was standing beside Tari’s new car, dressed casually but looking neat.
“Good morning, Mr. Atari,” he greeted cheerfully.
“I’m Nelson, sir.”
“Nelson. How’s it going?”
“Good, So, you know the way to the office?”
“Yes, sir. If we leave now, we’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
A couple of minutes into their journey, Tari noticed that Nelson was chatty. The man told him that he had worked as a driver at Hara Telecoms for seven years. He had no plans to get another job, as this one paid well. It could take care of his family and pay the bills.
“Just out of curiosity, how much are you being paid?” Tari asked.
“For just driving me around?”
“Plus, other things. I’ll handle your very special needs and fix things that need fixing. I am not just a driver. So, if you have any problem, I’m your man.”
“I will remember that.”
Nelson continued chatting until they arrived at Hara Telecoms. He gave Tari his number and told him that he would be waiting in the driver’s lounge.
“I do food runs too. If you don’t want to eat from the restaurant, don’t stress yourself ordering for something online. Call me and I’ll get you what you want.”
The moment Tari stepped out of the car, he felt his insides churn. He didn’t know what to expect once he got into the building. His phone rang and he answered the call.
“Good morning, Mr. Atari,” a male voice greeted. “It’s your assistant calling, sir. My name is Tosin.”
“Good morning, Tosin. I’m in the building. Just entering the reception.”
“I’m on my way down, sir. Please, wait for me.”
Tari sat on a waiting couch, as he had no ID to access the elevator. This was his first visit to Hara Telecoms Headquarters. The reception looked unassuming, but everything about it, from the high ceiling to the floors and walls, spelled classiness.
Tari kept his eyes on the elevator until Tosin appeared. He was darkskin and of a small stature.
“Good morning, Mr. Atari.” He bowed his head a little. “Please, follow me.”
He walked through a security barrier by swiping his ID. He did it a second time for Tari. They entered one of three elevators and rode up to the fifth floor. Tosin explained what his duties would be, in his service of Tari.
When they got to the executive floor of the marketing department, he led Tari down a hallway and into an office that had an outer room.
“And this is yours, sir.”
Tari entered the inner office and forced down whatever excitement wanted to bubble out of him. The space was large and impersonal, but it was made for a boss.
“Nice.” He pushed his hands into his pockets and looked around.
“You got one of the best offices in this entire building.”
“Yeah. Let me take you to HR. They’re expecting you.”
Tari braced himself for a long day. The assistant VP of human resources was a pleasant woman, who seemed to have an instant crush on him at first sight. She ensured that his details and file were processed speedily. Then, she took him on a tour, explaining that someone high up wanted him to be treated like VIP. Hence, she had to show him around herself.
“I suspect you’re related to one of our new CEOs?” she asked. Tari smiled without responding. “So, Hara Telecoms consists of Hara Internet, Hara Labs, Hara Mobility, Hara Phone, Hara Digital and Hara Cybersecurity. Marketing covers the fourth to eighth floors,” she explained. “We also share the building with legal, strategy and development, compliance, external affairs, etc. Tech and innovation is in our other building, down the road. We call that place Blue. It’s a campus, sort of, but also a hotel, which has 75 rooms, asides the office spaces that are quite different from this. The hotel is exclusive to Hara employees and their partners. You can pop in there anytime you like and check it out.”
“I’ll definitely do that,” Tari said, thinking of Rain, who had begun her job at Blue a week ago. She had been so swamped that they had seen each other only once. He wondered if she would like to spend the night at his.
The tour went on for another forty-something minutes, in which Tari was introduced to the directors and managers in his department, all of whom where under him but each boasting of years of experience he didn’t have. Every time he shook a hand and was called ‘boss’, he felt like a fraud. Now, more than ever, he wanted to earn his position.
“And this concludes our tour. Next on the list is a proper onboarding, which will kick off tomorrow. For a position as yours, it might take up to two months. The idea is not to allow the process interrupt your job. We want you to ease into it.”
Tari responded to her smile with a polite nod. “Looking forward to it. Thank you.”
He made sure to take a separate elevator from hers and made a mental note to stay away from her. When he returned to his office, Tosin informed him of a management meeting at ten. Tari had barely sat in when he got an official email from HR, welcoming him onboard and granting him access to all the systems. Thirty minutes later, he received an email from his boss, whose office was opposite his. She wanted to see him.
Ms. Adelabu was her name. A tall and fierce woman who had held down the job for four years. She gave Tari a thorough stare when he entered her office.
“I’ll make this quick, Abashi. I know when I see bullshit, and you are a pile of it. Your position as junior chief marketing officer is ridiculous, but we’re not going to talk about that because it could cost me my job. You’re here to understudy me, not for me to babysit you. To catch up with what I do, you’ll have to work like an ass. I’m not going to make it easy for you. Are you ready for me?”
“See you at ten for management meeting. I just sent you an email. Check it out and respond ASAP.”
Tari left her office with a plan, already forming in his head. Once he got into his office, he called Tosin in.
“Make friends with Ms. Adelabu’s assistant. Infiltrate that office.”
Tari checked out the fresh email Ms. Adelabu sent. He got lost in it until the clock struck ten. He attended the management meeting, which lasted an hour. Afterward, he returned to his office to find more work from Ms. Adelabu. It was clear what she was up to. She wanted him lost in unimportant paperwork.
When lunch hour came, he got a call from Sunny.
“So, how’s your first day at work?”
“Good, so far.”
“Adelabu giving you stress already?”
“Good for now, but watch out for her. Anyways, I have in my possession some detailed documents and videos that will help you with your job. Asides that, if you have any difficulties, reach out to me. You’ll commence training by Wednesday. Do you have any questions?”
“Great. How’s Rain, by the way?”
“Remember our plan, Atari. Stay focused. Keep your mind on the prize. Don’t screw things up with her.”
Sunny hung up. Tari mulled on his words. This so-called grand design to use Rain as a backup plan if pushing him to the top failed was a joke to him. Rain was the sweetest, most open person he had ever been with. He would be a cursed man to hurt her.
He recalled how, a week ago, Sunny walked into his house and re-introduced himself to him as his father. He opened up about his relationship with his late mom and how Ituah had slipped into her life at his absence. When Tari didn’t believe him, he showed him the result of the DNA test he had taken before he left for Dominica with Rain. Tari had never wished for a truth to become a lie so much in his life. Having a dead father who hadn’t cared about him was better than having a living one that was dubious and greedy. He asked for a second DNA test in a lab of his own choosing. Two days later, the result came out the same. Tari was upset, but he moved past it and looked forward to building his own legacy without relying on Sunny. Rain would never be the ladder he would step on to get to the top.
Tosin popped in to tell him that Habib Kareem asked to see him.
“Yes, sir. He’s at the executive restaurant. Second floor.”
Tosin left and Tari breathed in and out. He didn’t see this coming; at least, not now.
He picked his phone and made his way to the restaurant for senior management. Habib was seated by a window, eating a sandwich. He eyed Tari as he approached him, taking in everything about him.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“You asked to see me?”
Tari took the seat facing his.
“You want some sandwich?” Habib asked.
He pushed a sandwich wedge toward Tari. “It’s homemade. Rain likes it.”
“I just had lunch.”
“Then, let this be your dinner.”
Habib’s eyes arrested his. Eyes that looked like Rain’s.
“Thank you, sir.”
Tari took the sandwich, bowing to the man’s powerplay.
“So, you’re fucking my daughter.”
Tari was caught off-guard.
“It wasn’t a question.” Habib wiped his mouth with a napkin. “I don’t trust you, considering whose son you are. I don’t know how Rain got entangled with you, but it has to stop. You must end it before you get her heartbroken.”
“She is the heir to all of this. Everything you see here, it’s all hers. A woman like that needs a man on her level, and son, you’re not there. You can never be. You’re just gold-digging. So, end this nonsense.”
“You may leave.”
Tari didn’t stand immediately. “Can I say something?”
“I like her a lot. It’s not love yet, but I really like Rain. And I know she feels the same way about me. Maybe you should talk to her about us and let her tell you how she feels.”
Tari picked his sandwich. “Thanks for this.” He took it out of the wedge and had a bite. “It’s nice.”
Habib’s brow jerked up slightly.
“Have a good day, sir.”
Walking back to his office, Tari ate the sandwich. The rest of his day was spent watching videos from Sunny. At exactly 4pm, he informed Nelson that he was leaving.
“Closing time is 5pm, sir,” Tosin informed him.
“For you, not me,” he answered, entering the elevator.
Rain was starving when she arrived at the family house. Asides a sandwich from Habib and a cup of hot chocolate in the morning, she hadn’t eaten all day. She longed for a hot meal, a cold bath, and to sleep uninterrupted for six hours, at least. But she wanted badly to see Tari. Taking out her phone from her handbag, she texted him, asking if he was home.
“Oh, hell no,” she muttered as she drove into the compound. Habib and Kofo’s cars were parked in the driveway. She should have known that Dora’s insistence on her coming over for dinner was a ploy to get her into a family meeting. She had invited her to spend the weekend, but Rain had had to dash into Dubai to handle some real estate issues.
She parked her car close to the gate with the intention to leave once she was done with her parents. She knew the topic was Tari. Dora had tried to wheedle out gist from her, concerning the man she was presently seeing.
Rain turned off the engine and checked to see if the message that just dropped was from Tari. But it came from Naomi, a third threat to destroy her life as she had done to hers. Rain blocked the number, which was the fourth now. Jaya didn’t think the threats were supposed to be taken lightly, but Rain knew that all Naomi wanted was money.
She shoved her phone into her handbag and walked into the house, drawn in by her father’s laughter over Kofo’s. Her mind had created versions of their history, based on the love stories they shared with her. In each version, they were a beautiful couple. Something about their love made her smile every time she thought about them.
She entered the living room and found Kofo’s leg on Habib’s thighs. He was massaging her calf. She tried to pull away at the sight of Rain, but Habib wouldn’t let her.
“There goes my favorite girl!” His eyes were warm and bright behind his glasses.
“Good evening, Dad. Good evening, Aunty Kofo.”
“Evening, Rain,” Kofo responded with a grin. “How are you, girl?”
“Come for a hug,” Habib said.
Rain went over and hugged him. Dora walked in just then.
“You look exhausted. Work stressing you?”
“That’s a lie.” She rubbed Rain’s back. “Pele, my baby.”
Rain was soothed by her touch and fragrance.
“Sit down and gist us about what you’ve been up to.”
Rain sat, cross-legged. “It’s all technical jargon. Nothing serious. So, why are you two here?” she asked Habib and Kofo.
“We?” Kofo pointed a finger at herself.
“Yes, you two. Is this an intervention or what?”
Dora sat beside Rain.
“We know you’re seeing Atari Abashi,” Habib said, “who is incidentally an Olumese.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So, what’s the problem here?”
“Rain…” Kofo drew her leg of Habib’s body and let her feet down. “You know what that family can do for power and money.”
“Tari is not one of them. He was raised by his mom.”
“We know, but he’s still an Olumese.”
“My siblings are Olumeses too. I’d like to meet them, by the way.”
Kofo gave Habib an uneasy stare.
“That’s not the reason for this discussion, watermelon,” Dora said.
“You don’t want me to be with Tari, I get it. But it’s not your decision to make.”
“Hasn’t it occurred to you that he came into your life at a strategic moment?”
“Oh, his uncle planned out meeting—sort of. It wasn’t by coincidence.”
“Yes, Sunny Olumese, your co-CEO, Dad.”
“He’s not his uncle,” Habib stated. “He’s Atari’s father.”
Rain scowled. “No.”
“Yes, darling. You should ask Tari.”
“He calls him his uncle.”
“Just like you call me Aunty Kofo?”
Rain was confused. “Just chill. I’m sure there’s a mix-up.”
“I’m sure Tari is lying to you, and we would understand because he doesn’t want you to feel threatened by his presence at Hara.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Let me break it down for you.”
Kofo unraveled the part of her past with Sunny that had her at his mercy. She further explained that his plan was to hold down the CEO position for Tari in due time, which was why Tari was given one of the highest positions in the company without any experience for it.
“You think Tari knows nothing about this?” Habib asked.
“Yes, he knows that his uncle—”
“He knows that Sunny Olumese wants him to use me to climb to the top, but he’s not supporting it.”
“Did he tell Sunny that he isn’t?”
“Because he’s really doing what Sunny asked him to do.”
“Don’t be gullible, baby,” Dora advised.
“Hey…” Dora moved closer to her. “I know that Tari is a rebound boyfriend, a place where you seek succor after what Noah did, but you don’t need another man in your life who would lie to you and hurt you while you give him a hundred percent.”
“He’s not lying to me.”
“What if he is?” Kofo asked. “Sweetheart, you deserve better.”
“Okay. I’ve heard everyone. Can we just eat? I’m starving.”
“Please, no more talk about Tari.”
Kofo had plans to spend the night with Habib before she hopped on a flight to Cairo tomorrow morning, but Lanumi had asked to see her. So, she sent her chauffeur to pick her up and bring her to the house. It was strange to Kofo that she was nervous to see her own daughter. Of the few things she had done in her life that she wasn’t proud of, abandoning her children with Ituah was the worst.
She asked her chef to make dinner for Lanumi and her kids and place the food in take-home packs. Then she sat in the living room in restlessness, waiting for her.
When Lanumi arrived, she walked in with a nervous smile. Kofo could recognize that smile, as it mirrored hers whenever she was in the same state of nervousness. Her daughter was gorgeous, but more than that, she oozed of sex appeal. Even as her mother, Kofo could see it. Donning an adire boubou couldn’t hide her curves. She reminded Kofo of her staunch enemy, the late Atiti.
“Good evening, Mom.”
Kofo got on her feet and called her over for a hug.
“How are you, darling?”
“Sit and let’s have some wine.”
At the mention of wine, a steward, standing by approached them with wine in a pail. He served them and left the room.
“So, how are my grandsons doing?”
“Good. Each with his father.” Lanumi clung to her wine glass, a sign that she was still nervous.
“Relax. This is your home, okay? Be at ease.”
Lanu smiled and exhaled.
“That’s better. I’ll give you a tour around before you leave.”
“So, I’ve always been curious about this husbands situation you’re in right now. How did it happen?”
“Please, don’t ask me.”
“I’m not going to judge you, dear. I’m just so curious.”
“I’ll talk about it another time. I just want to get off my chest what brought me here.”
She gulped down her wine and put the glass away.
“You want more?”
“No.” She breathed out, and in one long sentence without breaks, she told Kofo all that had been discussed in Xavier’s house.
“I feel like a snitch,” she whined. Kofo refilled her glass with more wine. She finished it a second time and rubbed off the tears gathering in her eyes.
“You’re not a snitch.” Kofo took her hands. “You’re a loving daughter who is doing the right thing. Thank you for telling me.”
“But you can’t tell them you know.”
“So, what’s going to happen now?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t heard their demands, yet, which to me would be so myopic and stupid. I had grand plans for all of you that I wanted to announce in the Bahamas. But I guess that’s eons away. Nadia and Xavier are both jobless and Nehi basically lives like a drifter. I think I should move things forward and do right by them. What do you think?”
“You too. You need a better house in a better environment, an A-class school for the boys, and a real job for you.”
Lanumi nodded again. This time, tears spilled to her cheeks.
“We must upgrade you.” Kofo wiped her tears. “Why are you crying?”
“Why did you wait so long?”
“Because I didn’t think you and your siblings wanted me in your lives. I felt like a stranger, an intruder. But trust me, you’re all in my will. My death would have made every one of you a billionaire. I kid you not.”
“It’s not just about the money.”
“I know, but I felt it was too late to make a connection, as I had lost out all these years.”
“So, what changed your mind?”
“I couldn’t anymore. I just…” Kofo felt strength leaving her. “I am sorry, Lanumi. I have no excuse for what I did.”
“Mommy, I understand. I don’t think the others do, but I do. And I have a lot to tell you about all we’ve been through. It’s been so hard, and I can’t…”
Kofo drew her into a hug before she betrayed herself with tears. But Lanumi clung to her and cried.
“Let it all out, Lanumi. Your mom is here. Let it all out.”
Kofo had struggled with letting go of Hara Telecoms, not only because she couldn’t let Sunny get a hold of it, but also because it had been her safe space for almost two decades. She didn’t think she could find purpose in anything else, even though she had other ventures. Now, she was starting to see that everything happened for a reason. If retiring at this age meant that she got to reconnect with her children, then she was going to make the most of it. But first, she had to fight for Rain to take over from her, even if it were the last thing she did. Clearly, the Tari boy was already working his way into her system.
When Rain rang Tari’s doorbell, she didn’t expect to see him answer the door with Ariella in his arm.
He spied the small suitcase she came with. She followed his eyes, and asked, “Too much?”
“I wanted to do just a night, then I thought why not three days. Is that okay?”
“Are you seriously asking your boyfriend if you can bunk at his? Are you crazy?”
Rain entered the house and received a peck on her lips from Tari and a disapproving frown from Ariella.
“It’s official. She hates me.”
“Ari, is that true?” Tari asked and Ari buried her face in his neck. “Her mom is ill. My former neighbor called me to help take Didi to the hospital. So, Ari gets to spend some time with me here until Didi gets discharged.”
“It’s past her bedtime. Give me a minute to tuck her in.”
Tari took Rain’s suitcase along with him. She went into the kitchen to find something alcoholic to drink. She ended up with a bottle of whiskey and some juice. The mix tasted awful but she endured it in sips as she lay on a couch and watched a reality show on TV until Tari returned.
He lay on the couch with her, facing her.
“Did you miss me?” he asked. He smelled like something she wanted to snuggle up to all night.
“Yes. A lot.”
“Why didn’t you just show up at my door, wearing nothing underneath a sheer dress?”
Rain giggled. “Is that one of your fantasies?”
“I have many o.”
She slipped her hand underneath his t-shirt. She caressed his back as his lips sought hers for a kiss.
“How serious are we?” she asked.
“We started this thing in a crazy way. I mean, it happened just like that. One minute, we meet in a wedding. The next, we’re jetting off to some country to spend three weeks together. Then, we have all these threads connecting us from our parents’ past. My head is still reeling from everything and I can’t seem to get my feet on the ground to really process what we have.”
Rain sat up and he gave her space to be comfortable as he sat beside her.
“What’s going on, Rain? Are you having doubts about us?”
“Is Sunday Olumese your dad or uncle?”
“Oh, that!” He laughed. “Hmmm…”
“What is he to you?”
“Apparently, my biological dad.”
“But you said he was your uncle.”
“Yes. I found out who he really was to me just last week.”
“Okay. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I didn’t think it was important. Who told you?”
“Of course, they don’t like me.”
“It’s not that. They think you’re sort of sleeping your way to the top.”
“With you?” Tari laughed again.
“Yes. Just like your uncle—I mean, your dad—wanted you to.”
“You told them what I told you?”
“No. They just figured it out themselves because Sunny Olumese is who he is.”
“I am not Sunny Olumese. I don’t even know the guy. Besides, I told you all he told me, Rain.”
“Except that he’s your dad.”
“I was going to tell you. Why are you acting like I’m not being honest with you?”
“I just want to know that I’m not being used.”
“Rain, you’re not.”
“Are you sure?”
“Am I sure? Goodness. Rain, it’s me o. The guy that traveled out with you on a whim and just threw himself into you without thinking twice. I’m also still trying to process this thing we have. Plus, I went from low income to having tens of millions in my account and this house and the job from my so-called dad. I still can’t believe I’m living this life right now. I fear that I may wake up one day and it would be gone. The only thing that makes it real for me is you. Why would you think I’d want to destroy what we have by lying to you?”
She felt bad for questioning him, but the voices of uncertainty in her head were louder than her feelings. Nobody that mattered to her trusted him. She wanted to throw off their doubts and dive right in, but she was scared. Asides the Sunny thing, what if he broke her heart like Nzamo and Noah did?
“I’m sorry. I’m just scared. Maybe we shouldn’t have rushed.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, we rushed into it. We just followed our genitals and…” She couldn’t look at him. “I’m sorry, Tari.” She stood.
“I need to go home. Where’s my stuff?”
He didn’t give a reply. She walked up to his bedroom and picked her suitcase. When she tried to step out, he blocked her from moving.
“I know what’s happening here. You have trust issues.”
“You do, and that’s understandable. In one fell swoop, your man betrayed your trust, the person you thought was your mom betrayed your trust, and your real mom betrayed your trust too. Everybody lied to you. Then, I appeared and I was a breath of fresh air, until the doubts showed up. Now, you want to put me on the list.”
“You already have. But that’s fine. If you want to go and deal with your issues alone, I won’t stop you. If you want us to deal with them together, then stay.”
She was silent.
“Staying helps you with your avoidance wahala.” He raised her chin and looked into her eyes. “It needs to go.”
“Running from me and telling yourself that what happened to us never did is not going to erase the fact that it did happen and it was the best thing that ever happened to your love life.”
He held her chin and her eyes until it came to her that her feelings for him were strong and not just an excuse for her to escape her pain. The recognition of this was so jarring that she let his hand down.
“I’m sorry, Tari. I just can’t.”
He moved away from the door and let her through. She walked off, praying that he neither called her nor went after her. She made her way to the parking lot and got into her car. She knew she was doing a stupid thing, but this was the best time to run away from what might end up consuming her.
Maybe if she stayed away from him long enough and took the memories they shared together and tossed them into a burning fire, she would forget about him and he wouldn’t have the power to mess her up as he was doing now. How could she have given him so much control over her emotions in such a short time. Was she insane?
She bolted out of his compound, recalling Jaya’s advice to her in a message yesterday.
-Whatever you think you want to do with him, don’t do it. Just fuck and go!
Rain nodded to herself as tears burned her eyes. She had done the ‘fuck’ part. Now, it was time to go.
©Sally Kenneth Dadzie @moskedapages