BISI – THE OTHER WOMAN EPISODE 16
By Jon Doe
Ash fell on Namdi’s lap, the lit cigar somehow still between his lips. A snowy storm of black and grey, near perfect match to the hair the older man sported. He could no longer taste the flavors, his senses deadened. A phantom pain pushing all else aside. Motion in front of him left him holding his breath, unsure what more he would be subjected to but knowing fully he had little left in him.
Each step Mr. Shagari took brought him closer to a visibly shaken Namdi. With disdain a card dropped from his hand to join the ash on Namdi’s lap
“Here’s a number to a specialist. I shouldn’t have to wait any longer to be a grandfather because you are barely a man.”
With those parting words Mr. Shagari walked out the glass door. Alone in the fully illuminated balcony Namdi let out the breath he had been too afraid to release. In the light his weak state was fully evident. Taking the cigar out of his mouth he flung it as hard as he could into the sky. Balling his hand into a fist he began to beat his chest. Over and over he struck, the thumps growing louder, the pain more biting. Teeth clenching from the torment he stopped.
Getting up from the wicker chair Namdi’s legs did not visibly shake. He took the small victory. To the floor fell the ash that previously resided on his lap. Wanting to brush away the evidence he spied the card. His lips curled into a sneer when he picked it up. Not bothering to look at the information he stuck it into his pocket. Turning he walked to the glass door but did not slide it open. Hand on the handle his eyes closed. There he remained, his thoughts his own. When his lids finally fluttered open his breathing had evened out his mind tranquil. With a firm hold he slid the door open making his way straight to the dining room.
Stepping into the dinning room, there was no surprise when Namdi looked to his left and saw Mr. Shagari seated at the head of the rectangular table. Behind him were frosted windows reaching from floor to ceiling. The table could seat six comfortably. Currently only four chairs surrounded the mahogany table on which a vase of rare orchids was the sole ornament. Pristine white walls held nothing but a single painting, a bitter red dripped on a parchment that matched the longer width of the table. From the ceiling a chandelier hung, a marriage of iron and glass wrought in a style long discarded.
Leisurely Namdi made his way to the chair on the right of the door. Behind him a cabinet stood, blending easily with the walls. He was determined not to be blind sided again. Across from each other they sat, no love lost between them. None spoke as they waited. Namdi turned to the painting, wishing to look at anything but his father in law. He stared in awe at how the red came alive, half expecting it to continue its drip right off the painting and onto the walls.
The dining room door opened and an apron free Zainab walked in with her hands full. On her heels was Mrs. Shagari with a bottle of wine in one hand and a decanter in the other. Quickly Namdi left his seat taking the wine and decanter from her.
“Let me take care of this while you take your seat.”
“You are too good to me.”
With wine and decanter in hand, Namdi headed for the kitchen. Behind him Mrs. Shagari made her way to her seat her path taking her past her husband.
” Sarauniya ta”
Mr. Shagari spoke while taking his wife’s hand in his. Words that reached Zainab’s ears as she made her way back to the kitchen. In the kitchen she ran into Namdi working the wine opener.
“I don’t get you and my dad.”
“This is about your mom isn’t it?”
“How can the two of you be so blind. The woman is evil!”
“Your mom is sweet. She has treated me with nothing but kindness.”
“I could shatter your world right now but you are lucky I love you. Dad said a replacement Mercedes will arrive in a few days.”
Namdi looked up from the wine he was pouring a frown on his face.
“Zainab I don’t remember asking you to meet your dad concerning this.”
“It’s no big deal, he was happy to do it. He was also the one who took care of the wreck. Till it arrives I’ll be your beautiful chauffeur. Emmm Namdi the wine is pouring on the floor.”
With a sigh Namdi corrected the pour; finishing up before walking to the pantry to grab a mop and paper towels. Decanter in one hand, Namdi joined the waiting Zainab and together they made their way back to the dining room. Zainab reached out a free hand to open the dining room door. She didn’t get far, Namdi grabbing her arm in a vice like grip. Shocked, she turned only for her to see Namdi with a finger on his lips. Puzzled she bit back the harsh words she was about to unleash. Quickly Namdi cupped his hand behind his ear and pointed to the door. It was then Zainab noticed she could faintly hear a heated argument.
Together they held their breath as they strained to make out the faint words floating through the closed door. They both failed, unable to decipher the harsh but hushed tones. They were not given much time before the sounds ceased completely. Zainab was ready to barge in, a hand on her shoulder making her rethink her actions. He was right, it would be too coincidental if immediately after her parents row ended they stepped in. It was better to risk one of them coming to the door and finding them standing there. A minute walked by and with it Namdi opened the door.
They were treated to Mrs. Shagari seated on the opposite end. The wide painting hung above her, the drip of the red wishing to end on the top of her head. A smile was on her lips but it did not reach her eyes. Her neck stretched proudly, hands clasped on the edge of the table. She said nothing when her daughter and son in law stepped in. On the table center Namdi and Zainab set what they carried then walked to take their seats.
Mother faced daughter, Father faced son in law. More than an arms length separated one from the other.
“Let us pray, we thank you for the bounty before us and beseech thee that…”
Namdi’s eyes opened as Zainabs father carried on like a pastor at a Passover feast. Turning to his left he wasn’t surprised seeing Zainab’s head bowed, eyes closed, and excitement coloring her cheeks. When it came to her father she became a completely different person. He wondered how their friends would react if they saw Zainab like this. Pinching themselves in an attempt to wake up from a dream would be one common reaction. Church was a four event a year affair for them. Easter, Christmas, Thanks giving and the occasional wedding. While Namdi watched Zainab, he was unaware that he in turn was watched by her mother.
“So have we prayed.”
A soft amen floated to the rafters, a seal of finality. Zainab got up to serve the meal she had poured her heart to prepare. Before she could reach the first dish, a chair scraped against the black marble floor. The sound swept all attention to the sight of Mr. Shagari on his feet.
“We are leaving.”
Zainab was the most surprised from her father’s words, his footsteps already taking him towards her before she could come to terms with what was happening.
“Leaving? But you just got here, we are about to eat.”
She sputtered. In her words she was unable to hide the disappointment of a little girl. Seeing her dad’s intent unaffected Zainab showed unease.
“I made this meal especially for you daddy.”
Her second attempt did not slow the footsteps of her father. Before he could pass, she reached for him, her hand filled with the fabric of the native he wore.
“Babbana na kai na”
Zainab said in a near whisper. Her father stopped. Turning he looked into his daughters eyes seeing the pleading in the depths of the brown. With his free hand he brought her into his embrace, enveloping her in a gentle hug. Kissing the top of her forehead he gave her slight shoulders a quick squeeze.
“Somethings come up that can’t wait. I promise we’ll reschedule. There is no need for you to see us out, we know the way.”
By this time her mom had reached them, standing a bit off to the side. Breaking away from the embrace, Mr. Shagari held the door open for his wife. Zainab stood there watching the door her father had disappeared through. She didn’t move as she dealt with her inner turmoil. Two strong arms slipped round her waist lending her strength. With care she was guided back to her seat, her body showing no resistance. In a daze she sat down, her eyes closing. The night had not gone anywhere near what she had envisioned.
In the background she could hear the scrape of metal on ceramic, an event she cared little for; her mind solely focused on other thoughts. With great care she felt herself lifted off the chair only to be set back down on what was firm and warm. A gentle heat tickled her soft lips. Opening her eyes she saw she was on Namdi’s lap, a fork in front of her. On it was a white block very similar in look and size to the Dangote sugar cube that comes in a blue paper pack. On top of the block was a small serving of vegetable. There were more perfectly cut blocks sitting on the plate before them.
“Your eba and vegetable smells delicious, I’m sure leaving must have hurt your dad as much as it hurts you.”
He said the words in comfort, his love for Zainab greater than the enmity between him and her father. She broke down, burying her face into his chest. Dropping the fork back onto the plate, he held her, whispering soothing words in an effort to dull her pain.
To be continued