Mofe hadn’t been himself for the past three days since the realization of his daughter, he was still furious as hell and the only thought running through his mind was how Ezinne could have kept such a thing away from him. He found that now that he had confirmed she was his, he was not exactly sure on the next step to take. He had mulled things over and over tthrough his mind until he’d come to the realization that the situation was quite sensitive and he probably needed a second opinion on the matter, a mature opinion before he gave in to his anger and did something to worsen to matters more.
He had gone seeking advice and solace from the only wise and mature person he knew and could confide in, his aunt. She now lived in a house he’d bought her in a nice neighbourhood in Asokoro, a far cry from the one he’d grown in. She claimed the place was too big for her but he ignored her complaints, she was the only surviving parent he had and he wanted her very comfortable. Had it not been for her, he might never have actualized his dream, she’d taken him in when no one else had.
He’d been only six years when he had lost both parents in an auto crash. His father’s family had never supportedhis father getting married to a woman from a different tribe and not up to their social status. His uncle who had been business partner with his father had taken control of his father’s estate and properties, dumping him with his mother’s twin sister. His aunt had been married at the time with Eric who had just been three when Mofe had gone to live with them but her marriage had been shaky and when Mofe had come in, her husband who had been struggling to make ends meet had declared he wasn’t taking care of another persons child. The marriage had broken eventually because his aunt had chosen to raise him rather than send him to an orphanage home. He would be forever grateful to her, they’d had nothing but just her love had been enough to keep him strong.
Mofe was just getting down from the SUV just as Gabriel parked in front of the building when he saw his aunt running in his direction, not exactly running as she was quite elderly but her hurried steps could be classified in similar words for someone her age. She was flanked by two maids dressed in uniforms also approaching, behind her.
“Omomofe mi,” She called him, arms outstretched as she neared him, a big smile brightening her features.
“Mummy,” He called reaching a hand to the floor in an attempt to prostrate as was the traditional custom for greeting elders but she pulled him up and into her arms hugging him like she hadn’t seen him in years. It was like that every time they met after a while, even when she came visiting in California, which she frequently did. This was the first time he was seeing her since being in the country for three weeks now.
“Ba wo ni?” She extricated her self from him, looking up to give him a good look, searching his face. “ Are you okay?”
He wondered how she did it, how she could sense immediately that something was wrong. He’d never gotten away with hiding much from her when he’d been growing up, it was like a mother’s intuition even if she wasn’t his biological mother, maybe being his mother’s twin sister had something to do with it.
“I’m Fine, mum,” he lied not meeting her eyes, choosing to eye the compound instead. He had never been here before as he hadn’t been in the country in over ten years. It was a nice place, quite spacey with nice, well tended grounds.
“Checking out if the place meets your money’s worth?” She asked him eyes still watching him.
He nodded “It’s really nice.”
She raised a brow “Nice is the best you can come up with, Mofe? You couldn’t do better than ‘nice’ after all the millions you bought the place for?”
He shrugged, it was a fine place, fine neighbourhood and way better than nice really “okay, it’s lovely, happy now?”
“Oh, I’m just so glad you’re finally here,Mofe mi,” she said squeezing his hand she held in hers. “I was beginning to worry that you wouldn’t see me at all till you left for another ten years.”
He couldn’t help the small smile “Ah ahn, maa mi,” he called her ‘mother’ knowing it made her happy. “I would never, besides it’s not like you never saw me all these years”
“Oh, so I should be happy that I got dragged half across the world to see my son, abi? Is an elder supposed to be travelling around the world to visit the kids or is it the other way around?”
“Okay, okay maa mi, I get your point but I’m here now, aren’t I?” He gave in, pulling the five feet six woman to himself in a side hug.
She shook her head “Yes, you’re here and I forgive you for all those times you made me travel over to that far place, even though I enjoyed every trip.”
He couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him following behind her as she began leading the way into the building. The two maids who had been standing idly now following behind them quietly.
“How’s that your pretty girl friend? What’s her name …” She asked over her shoulder.
“Eve is doing fine,” he replied for her benefit but knowing otherwise. Their chats these days were strained, brief, a few feigned smiles and a feigned interest in knowing how either of their day went. He didn’t look forward to talking to her anymore probably out of a guilty conscience that had resulted from keeping things from her. Knowing her, she wouldn’t intrude until he decided to talk about it. He just had to get himself together before involving her in this chaos that was his life at the moment.
“Eve, such a curious name don’t you think? Why would one name one’s child Eve after everything that happened in the bible, you know?” She asked as she led him into a spacious, well furnished living room.
“It’s just a name, actually a short for Evangelina, but she prefers being called Eve.”
“Now I like Evangelina,” She said before turning to the maids dismissing them with a wave of her hand. “Get us refreshments.”
Mofe dropped on one end of the bluish grey velvet L’Shaped sofa, resting back on the comfy pillows eyeing the furnishings and thinking his aunt had done a helluva job putting it all together. Growing up they had managed a tiny two bedroom apartment which although had been quite sparse in furnishings had always been kept really neat.
The room was spacey with light coming in from the French windows, as the floor to ceiling damask drapes, similar in colour with the sofa were drawn aside leaving just the day blinds shielding against the sunlight. He liked the traditional concept of the room, the large vases with drawings and inscriptions, the abstract paintings on the wall and even the sculpture of mother and child at one end of the room.
“I made fresh mixed fruit juice, I’m sure you’ll love,” she said as she took her seat next to him.
“I Like what you did with the place,” he told her.
She smiled as she looked around, admiring her work appreciatively “It’s a charming room right? I guess I picked up a thing or two working all those years for the upper class. I don’t know why you’d rather stay in the hotel than here in huge place”
“Maa Mi, let’s not go there again. I’m a grown man and I can choose where I want to stay.”
She rolled her eyes “Alright grown man, I don’t plan on going there at the moment but knowing you, I’m quite sure this is no ordinary visit, you are back in the country for a specific reason, aren’t you?”
Mofe shifted uncomfortably in his seat, nothing ever got past her. She was now looking at him with concern etched on her features and he wasn’t exactly sure how to break the news to her
“What’s on your mind, you’re troubled and I can sense it….what is it?”
He sighed, “Maa mi….I…I Just found out I have a ten year old daughter with Ezinne.”
Ezinne had just gotten off the phone with Emeka when she heard Rachel calling her into the kitchen. It was a Sunday and she was home preparing dinner. Ezinne was trying to wrap her head around the news that Emeka had just given her, he’d said they couldn’t begin repairs on the place just yet as they had a backlog of loans to clear first. Ezinne hadn’t known she’d been so hugely into debt, she’d thought by now, a week after their sponsorship deal with TEechbits, they could commence with the plans of renovation. Elektra had said he wasn’t exactly sure when they could begin and Ezinne didn’t like the idea of putting off the repairs. Worse, he wasn’t even sure when they would begin.
They had been lucky to have contained the fire a few days back but she doubted luck would be on her side for much longer. Now Rachel would be pissed to hear this, she’d also been banking on the repairs
“Ezinne!” Rachel’s voice was irritated now. She would have to thInk about this later, Rachel obviously needed her help with something.
What could that be since she wasn’t much use in the kitchen anyway, she was only great at microwaving already cooked food or fixing herself a simple sandwich.
“I’ll be right there,” she called back as she made her way to the kitchen, “remember I’m blind, right? You dont expect me to come sprinting whenever you call.”
“Excuses, excuses,” she heard her mutter.
“I heard that!”
“I know, get in here already, are you the first blind woman? My mother was blind also, you know or have you also lost your legs that you can’t walk?
Ezinne couldnt help the smile that tugged on her lips at their playful banter. Only Rachel could make a joke out of her loss of sight and it would be funny to her. She had been the catalyst to Ezinne’s mental healing, had she not been there during the first weeks of her loss of sight, Ezinne wasn’t sure she’d still be alive now. She had been very close to ending her existence via suicide but for Rachel’s support and the thought of leaving her daughter without a mother. Ezinne had grown up without a mother and had known firsthand how hard it had been as her control freak of a father had hardly been around.
“What’s the hurry Cruella, that you had to harass a blind woman so?”
Rachel chuckled, “ Sorry sweetie, the bread is baked and I wanted you to do the honours of tasting it first,” Rachel took her hand and placed it on the warm bun “Give me your honest opinion.”
“hmmm,” If Ezinne judged by the sweet aroma in the kitchen, she would give her an A plus, cutting off a piece she threw it into her mouth.
“hmmmm…” she hummed again, it tasted quite good, soft and buttery.
“It’s good.” She told her
“It’s good? that’s all, no more adjectives in your vocabulary than just ‘good’?”
“It’s tasty, it’s soft and awesome, assaults one’s tastebuds and if we ever get broker than we are already, I’m sure your bread will be enough to support us financially, there! That good enough for you?”
Her friend chuckled “That’s better. Was that too hard for you?”
Ezinne shook her head at her, “you just bask in the complements, don’t you? It’s not like they add value to you or your buns.”
“And it’s not like they take value from you either, so just give them when due.”
“Attention seeker!” Ezinne called her, putting another piece in her mouth, the bread was really tasty.
“Compliment scrooge!” Rachel called back drawing laughter from them both.
Ezinne pulled a seat and sat down, ready to dig into the bun some more.
“You know, you should invite that Mr. Stevens to dinner the next time you see him, to thank him properly for his help. We finally don’t have to worry much about our finances.”
Ezinne sighed, how she wished that were true.
Ezinne could sense that Rachel had stopped what she had been doing and was looking at her.
“I just got off the phone with Emmie now and things are still not good. We have debts we have to clear before renovations can begin here.”
“What? What debts? What the hell is he talking about? We were given millions for crying out loud, what loans did we accrue? You know what? This is it! I’m going to have to take an active role in this establishment.Call your boyfriend and tell him I am going to be in charge of the finances now. Let him know I want to see the books because this is just crazy! What debts did we run into?”
“Rachel please calm down, you know we buy materials, teaching aids and text books and others, and we give it all to the students for free.”
“I thought most of those things were donated?”
“Some are but most of it is bought.”
“I dont believe this! I was here thinking we would finally renovate this building that is almost falling over
our heads! How long before we can finally get to it?”
“I don’t know, Rach…it’s not like I can see the accounts.”
“Okay, thats it! I want a meeting with Emeka, tomorrow!”
“Yes Ezinne, something smells fishy here and its not the fish broth on the stove!”
“So, are you going to give up your business to begin managing the affairs of this place?” Ezinne knew she couldn’t, Rachel wouldn’t close up her shop, it was their only source of income at the moment as the centre hadn’t been making enough for their upkeep for a while.
She heard her sigh lightly “I can’t close up my business, I will figure it out but Emeka has got to go!”
Ezinne shook her head in resignation, ‘here we go again’, she thought to herself as Rachel went on and on about what she thought about Emeka and his business skills, or lack of it.
Ezinne had hired Emeka a few years back after Rach’s mother, the founder of the centre had passed on. The place had been financially okay at the time but things were quite different now, the economy had forced some sponsors to back out and they had even more students to cater for now. Ezinne believed Emeka was trying his best in keeping the school going.
Rachel probably disliked him more for being her boyfriend, she just wasn’t of the opinion that they should be together and didn’t understand why she was dating him.
Ezinne hadn’t planned on dating her business manager but after a few months of working together, she’d sort of developed a comfy relationship with him. He was a nice guy, very attentive and obviously quite attracted to her. Not many men thought blind women were attractive, most would say she was a liability and it could get so lonely for someone with her kind of disability. So when she had seeing someone willing to accept her the way she was, she had jumped on to the relationship wagon.
Rachel had been against it from the moment she had told her about their budding romance.
“Do you really like the guy?” She had asked and Ezinne had just shrugged muttering something about seeing where it all led.
Now, a few years after, how could she really describe her feelings for him? There was something there, not like that explosive feeling of desire but there was something in there. She doubted she could even let herself feel much for a guy again because she knew first hand that love was overrated, it complicated things and messed everything up. Plus it didn’t guarantee a successful relationship. she couldn’t ever let her guard down ever again, not after Mofe.
She might not be in love with Emeka but she did like him enough to be with him and he cared for her deeply enough to respect her wishes. Right from the beginning, she had told him she wasn’t the type who engaged in premarital sex. He had been disappointed but he had accepted it.
She had decided on celibacy until she got married again, she didn’t want a repeat episode of the mess of eleven years back but was that really the only reason she had stayed off sex with Emmie? Could it because she wasn’t attracted to him enough to be intimate with him? Could she even be with any other guy after Mofe? Had he ruined her for anyone else.
Ekene, her late husband had accused her of still being in love with him, he had said she’d only married him to give Azora a name and a father. He had been right, but she had tried to love him, she had tried but just hadn’t been able to. it had made him frustrated and he’d resorted to drinking heavily and taking out his frustration on her. She’d married him for selfish reasons but no one had forced him, he’d willingly accepted the deal. Besides how could she love a man who serially cheated on her, drank incessantly and was cruel to herself and her baby?
She should never have given in to her father, it would have been better raising Azora herself than having to go through years of hell with Ekene. She might even still have her sight now, had she not been young and quite foolish, she had more sense now and that was why she was unsubscribing from the love bullshit. Love had nothing to do with anything. It just clouded one’s thinking and made one make the wrong decisions.