“Now you are happy abi?” Dr. Ajanaku shouted at Hakeem.
“Doctor, please take it easy, you know your condition,” Bintu said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Rasheed spoke sternly to Hakeem “do you want to kill your father? You know his condition, and yet you do everything possible to increase his blood pressure. You really should leave.”
“I should leave? A place that is my inheritance? What gives any of you the right to tell me to leave here?” Hakeem shot back.
“It is not yet yours! And I am convinced now it should never become yours.” Dr. Ajanaku said, obviously pained. “I tried my best to raise you properly, but you just refused to take training.”
“By sending me to a different school from your precious son so I wouldn’t taint him? By allowing him do what he wanted, political science, while I was forced to be what you wanted, a doctor? By treating my mother without respect for years?” Derin responded mockingly.
“What! I respected and loved your mother until her death. What is this drug induced nonsense that you are spewing? Rasheed! Get the security to come and take this omo buruku out of my sight before I do something I will regret forever.” Dr. Ajanaku’s nostril flared as he spoke.
“Hakeem, you heard your father, come and start going, instead of bringing disgrace on yourself by being bundled out before all the staff who have called you sir!” Rasheed said.
“Hakeem, for once, be reasonable. Don’t drive your father into another stroke!” Bintu said, her voice betraying the anger she felt for the first time.
“Shut up, you this hypocritical woman! You are afraid that I will speak the truth abi. You think we didn’t know how you became the second only to my father in this hospital? You think we didn’t know that you have been sleeping with him all these years? Really? My mother knew, but she kept quiet and hurt every day. You both didn’t even bother to be discreet. You rubbed it in her face! And you are here talking proper, looking proper, talking about loving and respecting her until death. Oh please!”
Bintu’s eyes flashed like lightning. “How dare you, you this small boy? What do you know?” She turned to Dr. Ajanaku “Haruna, caution this your boy. Abi is it because we are referring to him as a son? It is true what our people say – the house is peaceful, only because the bastard is yet to reach maturity.”
“Woman, will you control yourself!” Dr. Ajanaku thundered.
“What is she saying dad? What does she mean by that?” Hakeem asked, the import of what Bintu had said hitting him like a cudgel.
“What I am saying,” Bintu responded for herself “is that no true Ajanaku behaves like you. You should ask that saintly mother of yours if she was alive if you were truly one!”
“Bintu!” Rasheed shouted.
Hakeem turned to his father, “Dad, is it true,” he asked in a low voice, the most sober he had been all evening.
Dr. Ajanaku turned away, without answering. Hakeem had his answer. He simply turned around and left the room without another word.
“inu e ti dun, you are happy now abi? Even if he was behaving like a child, you had to forget your age and join him?” Doctor Ajanaku said to Bintu in anger.
“So, I should keep quiet and allow the bastard talk to me anyhow abi? Is that…”
That was all she had said before they heard the loud bang. Rasheed ran in the direction of the office it had come from. Dr. Ajanaku was right behind him. The sound had come from his office. The smell of gunpowder hung in the room and hit him the moment he entered. In the Chief Medical Officer’s official chair, Hakeem sat down. The thought corrected itself in Rasheed’s head, Hakeem’s body sat down. There was a huge gaping hole in his head where the antique Colt M1911 11mm bullet had hit. Behind him, Rasheed heard a thumping sound. When he turned around, Dr. Ajanaku was on the ground, his face contorted in anguish. Bintu rushed in and knelt over him. “Oh no,” Rasheed cried, slapping his forehead. “Damn that Derin for being so stubborn!”
Samir reached Awazi twenty minutes after he left home. It was one of those incidental strokes of luck that her car had happened to break down right in his backyard. He could see immediately she had been crying. “Sorry it took that long, there was slight traffic getting out of the estate. Let’s get out of here, and then you can tell me what happened.” She merely nodded and he set about tying her car to his own. When he was done, he told her “You’ll need to get in your car to control its movement as I pull it in. Thankfully, the road in is free so we should have little or no wahala getting in. hope you’ll be able to do that.”
Again she nodded and then got into the car. Samir got into his own car and started the engine. He had decided to bring the jeep for this one. Slowly, they inched along and thirty minutes later, they were safely in front of his house.
“Would I still be able to get a cab home from your estate at this time?” Awazi asked as soon as they parked.
“Why don’t you call your hubby to come pick you up?” he asked.
“He’s not in Lagos, so he can’t. I left him back in Ibadan,” she said flatly.
“What! How could he allow you leave and drive to Lagos at that time? Was there an emergency or something?” Samir queried.
“You aren’t listening to me. I said I left him there. It had nothing with him allowing me or not.”
“I don’t know what has happened, but I’m not your husband. I think I have more sense than to let you leave here in this condition. Let’s go in, before the neighbors begin to wonder what’s going on.”
“Samir, I have to go home…” she responded stubbornly.
“And who exactly are you in such a hurry to go home to meet?” Samir asked with a raised eyebrow. Awazi’s eyes dropped and she didn’t answer. “I thought so,” Samir said. “Now, let’s go inside, madam.” He said firmly.
With that, he opened the small pedestrian portion of his gate and they went inside. The house itself was a big bungalow. The compound grounds were laid with interlocking stones, and the lawn was in pristine conditions, well taken care of. Everything spoke of comfort and restrained affluence.
“You live all alone here, Samir?” Awazi asked.
“You’re astonished at how neat and orderly the place is? Don’t worry, it’s not about me that’s responsible for it, that’s paid help. But yes, I live here all alone.”
“You are not serious, have you ever done anything for yourself all your life? Of course I knew it was paid help.” She chuckled a bit, in spite of herself.
They got to the dark brown front door and he let them in. The living room was spacious, with plush colorful beanbags arranged all over, in vantage positions to view the huge TV that dominated one of the walls.”Fulani boy,” she said teasingly, “there are no chairs in your house.”
He bowed low and then went into the kitchen. He returned with a glass of water, and Awazi gulped it down greedily. “Thanks, I actually really needed that,” she said.
They settled into separate beanbags, and when they had fully relaxed, Samir asked earnestly “so are you going to tell me what all this is about?”
“If I said I wasn’t wake, saying so would be a lie, wouldn’t it? My mum always told me the only question you could never truthfully answer as yes would be if you were asleep or dead,” Derin responded to Ope’s question, laughing softly.
“Alright, Mr. Banwo, now that we’ve established the fact that you are awake, and I am awake too, may I request your company, seeing that I’m in Ibadan because of your matter and sleep has chosen to go on a vacation right now.”
“Ope, I don’t know if that would be a good idea, considering what happened this afternoon at your place…” Derin said
She cut in “except you plan to rape me, Mr. Banwo, I seem to have been able to stop you this afternoon. Now cut the chatter, wear your clothes, I’m coming over.” He was trying to say something but she hung up.
She swung her long legs over the side of the bed and retrieved the wine and the two complementary glasses from the fridge. She stood briefly before the almost full length mirror and surveyed her reflection. She pulled the nightwear over her cleavage to hide the lace that was peeking out from under it. Subtlety and his imagination must do the trick. “Nice Opeyemi!” she said to herself, and then waltzed into the hallway. The reaction of the man she passed confirmed what her mirror had just told her – she was looking hot like that. She turned back, and sure enough, he had turned back to look at her. She winked at him, laughed and continued walking.
She knocked lightly on the door. There was no answer, so she knocked again, this time somewhat harder. Derin’s voice came from inside “coming,” and then the door opened moments later. She savored the look on Derin’s face for a few seconds before she gently shoved him aside and went into the room. In typical Derin fashion, the room was well arranged and none of his clothes were in sight. He was wearing one of those moslem embroidered kaftans which she guessed his wife must have gotten him.
“Would you be kind enough to shut the door sir,” she said as she sat down, chuckling.
“Haha,” was his response as he did just that. “I see you plan to get me drunk before you leave here tonight,” he said, eyeing the wine in her hands.
“Well, I’m certain the Derin I know won’t get drunk over one bottle of wine,” she retorted, the challenge in her eyes. He took the challenge and sat opposite her as she opened the bottle and poured the wine.
They were halfway through the bottle when they kissed.
Awazi found herself crying for the second time that week to Samir. He joked “it would seem I have the crying effect on you dear,” as he offered her napkins to clean her tears off.
“Samir, you know it isn’t you, but I just don’t know anymore. Every time I try to do something right about this whole matter, my temper just gets in the way, and it all goes wrong, and that Ope seems to win without even trying.” She sighed heavily.
“It’s not about you Awazi. I’m a man and I can tell you categorically that your husband isn’t doing right here. How could he want to dig his own son up? Leave his wife to drive to Lagos in the frame of mind you were? Appointing his ex, with whom he had an affair while married to you as lawyer? My dear, you are even more patient than most of the women I’ve dated.”
“It’s just painful; my home is falling apart before my eyes, Samir. And it would seem I’m grabbing at straws with each attempt to save it.” She sobbed lightly
Samir got up and joined her on the beanbag she was seated on. He put an arm around her, speaking softly to her “it’s not about you dear, it is so not about you.”
Her head told her to get up from the beanbag and leave immediately, but she found herself melding into Samir’s embrace and allowing herself to be cuddled. They stayed this way quietly for what seemed like a long time, but was in fact less than ten minutes. It felt as if any movement, any attempt to do anything beyond cuddling would shatter the magic. Gently, Samir began to kiss her in places that were both safe and tantalizing at the same time. He kissed her forehead, then her eyes and then her earlobes. Still, she didn’t listen to her head, she rested in his arms. Then he kissed her on her lips, and she kissed him back. Her head stopped speaking to her and she abandoned herself to his touch.
Bintu had gone into automaton mode since Doctor Ajanaku had a reoccurrence of stroke. All his vitals had skyrocketed but she had worked extremely hard, marshalling doctors as if she was one. They followed her instructions without question until the specialist that she called came. Once he took charge, she went back to the doctor’s office where the police Rasheed had called were already at work. He had used his contacts to get a full homicide team there in record time, and already, he was managing them. Police could be tricky and they didn’t need them looking at this matter beyond what it was – an unfortunate suicide. She quietly retreated into the conference room, and then the floodgate of tears opened.
For thirty minutes, they had huffed and puffed. An exasperated lingerie clad Ope stood over a naked Derin. “What is this about?”
Derin could not understand what was happening to him. It seemed his mind was somehow affecting his body. The kiss had led to other things and he lay naked in no time. And then unusually, he noticed he wasn’t erect yet. His heart began to race, and the more he worried about it, the more they tried, the more stubbornly his member stayed flaccid. Ope tried everything she knew in the books until thirty minutes later, she got off him, and asked that question in exasperation. He still hadn’t gotten it up.
“I don’t understand what this is about,” he said. Even saying anything felt awkward in the situation.
“Maybe it’s the stress of the whole day, the case and all. I guess I’ll just let you be then. Wake me up when you do, so I can get ready for the Lagos trip.”
With that, she left an ashen faced Derin in the room.
Samir cursed whichever of his American friends had chosen now to call him. It was as if the sound of the ringing phone had jarred Awazi from lala land. She had suddenly pushed him off and told him shakily, “Samir, you will take me home tonight. I cannot trust myself to remain here all night, dan Allah.”
She got up and went to his guest bathroom. Almost as if on cue, the moment the door to the bathroom was shut, her phone rang. Samir glanced at the caller ID and a cloud formed over his face. He picked the call. “Hello,” he said coldly.
On the other end of the phone, Derin was stunned that a male voice said hello when the call with his wife connected.
“Who is this, and what are you doing with my wife’s phone at this time of the night?” he asked, confused.
“My name is Samir, a friend, who drove onto the express to rescue her from a broken down vehicle when you were unavailable, Mr. Banwo. I think you should do a better job looking out for your wife, honestly,” Samir added the last line with a tongue dripping with sarcasm.
“Mr. Samir, I don’t take kindly to men answering my wife’s mobile phone by 11pm and telling me how to do my job as a husband. Where is she?”
“Oh, I should have left her with a broken down car on the express?” Samir asked in anger. This guy was so selfish in his thinking. “You should be thanking me for doing what you should have been doing, or should not even have happened Mr.”
“Hand the damn phone to Awazi!” Derin shouted.
“I’ll tell her you called when she comes out of the bathroom,” Samir said, and hung up before Derin could respond.
In Ibadan, Derin sat up, fuming on his hotel bed, waiting for Awazi’s call.