One fateful day my husband came back home from work. One may find this a normal occurrence but what made it unusual was the unexpected visitor he came with.
I took Kelechi’s briefcase and blazer. “Good evening, brownie.” I glanced at the fawn skinned man, who had a simple green Polo Shirt and black trousers on, standing behind my husband. “You’re welcome, Ebuka.”
Ebuka eyed me before hissing, thereby ignoring my salutation.
Kelechi then kissed my cheek before saying, “Let’s get in.” That gave me a chance to not bother about how rude his younger brother was – for the time being.
As soon as we got in, Ebuka made himself at home by sitting on one of the sofas in the parlour. I tried to be hospitable, but the death-worthy glares he sent my way made me more uncomfortable.
What is he doing here in the first place? I thought as it was very unusual of him to be at Abuja when it wasn’t a holiday season.
Whilst having their dinner, Kelechi told me Ebuka was spending the night with us. Ebuka, on the other hand, didn’t stop giving me an awful glare. It actually took a while before he finally began to eat the food I served him.
His stares made me wonder, What’s wrong? Why is he glowering at me like that? What did I do this time? I knew Ebuka never liked me but this particular gesture of his caused me to be sceptical about his visit.
After dinner, both my husband and his brother retired to their respective rooms while I washed the dishes they used before joining my husband in our room.
As I got in, I saw Kelechi sitting at the edge of the bed, reading a newspaper.
I sat beside him. “Did Mr Richards accept the proposal?”
He placed the paper on his lap. “Yes, he did.” He sighed. “Heʼd be coming on Wednesday with some members of his board to sign the contract.”
I nodded before putting my head down. I had intended to ask him why his brother was around; instead, I asked that question. I didn’t want to upset him about his brother’s coming, and I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t want his brother around. Nevertheless, Ebuka’s stare was definitely prominent, and I was certain Kelechi saw how rude he was; he ought to have known we’d have to eventually talk about it.
“How are Taiwo and Kehinde?” he asked me.
I glanced at him. “They’re fine. They went to bed two hours ago.”
“Did you explain to them why I didn’t come with you to pick them?” He was referring to picking them up after school dismissed.
I nodded. “I only told them what you told me to tell them.”
Kelechi’s eyes peered into mine for a long time before he said, “Fisayo, I know you want to ask. So ask already.”
I let out a breath of relief. “Why is Ebuka here? It’s not like I don’t want him around, but did you take note of the way he eyed me? It was worse than the previous times he visited.”
He dropped the newspaper beside him on the bed. Then, he moved closer and took both my hands in his. “He came to ask for money.”
My eyebrows were furrowed. “Is your father sick again?”
He scoffed, frowning hard. “My father has never been sick at all those times he and Nkechi called or came here to ask for money. Both of them have just decided to make me their bank.” He hissed and shook his head.
My face was still scrunched up due to my confused state. “I don’t understand you.”
“Each time Ebuka or Nkechi call, they always emphasize that my father is sick whereas he is not.” He cocked his head to the side. “Do you remember when both of them came here to ask for money which they would use as capital of the business they would start together?”
I nodded. “That was about two years ago. If I recollect correctly, it was a few days after Taiwo and Kehinde turned two.”
However, his question still left me puzzled. “But, what has that got to do with what you’re saying?”
“After that time, they asked me for capital four other times. Today is the fifth that he’s come to ask for a capital. The other times he or Nkechi called, they used the capital or any money I give them for themselves and not what they told me they would use it for.”
“Did they tell you this? Or was it your father who did?”
“I hired a detective to find out if they’d been using my money meaningfully.”
I raised a perfectly plucked brow of mine. “You hired a detective?”
He nodded. “I had to after the third time they asked for a capital. And, when I called my father today and told him that I wouldn’t give them money anymore, he said that you’ve started controlling me.”
My eyes were narrowed his. “I don’t understand. How am I controlling you?”
He, all of a sudden, looked nervous and hesitant to say something. His brown eyes continued to peer into mine as anxiety was clearly written all over his face as he asked, “Fisayo, are you sure you want to know how?”
“Kelechi,” I stated as I held his jaw, “you have to tell me.”
He exhaled loudly as he brought my hand down. “My family has this belief that you are a witch.”
My eyes widened to the size of doughnuts. “Why on Earth would they think that?” I exclaimed, releasing his jaw.
“My father said that of recent, each time Nkechi or Ebuka ask for money and I was reluctant to give them, you were behind it. He said you use your Yoruba powers to bewitch me and make me not to reason like I used to before we married.” He rolled his eyes.
“So…” I trailed, “after all these years… they finally have a definite reason for despising me. I mean… it isn’t as if they didn’t know me since we were in secondary school.
“But what I don’t understand is why I would bewitch you when what you’re telling me – aside the first time they requested for a capital – is news to me.”
He raised his eyebrows. “I hope you know I don’t believe them. They have not known you so the way I do. Besides, my siblings are irresponsible. I can’t continue to dash them money because I’m the first born while they don’t do anything to make their lives better. Seriously, I can’t anymore. Just imagine: they refused to finish higher education just because their big brother has money to take care of every relative.” He rolled his eyes and hissed.
It then occurred to me that Ebuka was not supposed to be at our house as he didn’t receive what he wanted to from his brother. “What did you tell Ebuka,” I asked, “that made him not to go back today?”
“When I told him I wasn’t giving him anything again, he said he expected me to give him fare to go back. That was when I decided to call my father. We argued but finally concluded he could spend the night, and first thing tomorrow he would go back.”
“Did you get to make Ebuka understand I’m not what he thinks I am?”
He gave me a deadpanned look. “It’s Ebuka we’re talking about here. He and his twin have finally brainwashed my parents.” He sighed and shook his head.
Then, he became melancholic. I searched my brain to find answers as to why he was in such a state but could not find any.
He held my chin and fixed his sad brown eyes on my bewildered honey ones. “I love you, Oluwafisayo, and I don’t believe in whatever they think about you because I know you: you’re a God-fearing woman who would never hurt the people around her, especially the ones she loves and cherishes.”
I don’t know why howbeit I breathed out a sign of relief. Perchance I was frightened he was about to deliver a sad news.
“I love you too, Kelechi,” I replied. “It’s just –” I didn’t continue further as I cut myself off. I was tired of everything his family had thrown my way. If it wasn’t for the fact that I loved him and he loved me too, I would have given up on us years before we even thought about getting married to each other.
He looked at me as if he was studying me. I could bet on a million naira that he was just as worried about our marriage as I was. “What is it?”
“I just don’t want your family’s hatred to me to escalate to something we can’t handle.”
“Don’t worry about them, okay?”
Not knowing what else to do, I simply nodded.
He stood up, lied on his side of the bed and tapped my side. “We should get some sleep. We have a lot to do in the office tomorrow.”
I went to my side, switched off the nightlight on the stool beside the bed and took my sleeping position by placing my head on his hard chest and wrapping my arm around his waist.
Kelechi kissed my braided hair. “Sleep well, honey.” He wrapped his arm around my tiny form before adjusting himself on the bed.
He kissed my lips not long before I said, “You too, brownie.”
This story is based in my country, Nigeria. So to foreigners, the names would be a bit strange because I’m using native names. Basically, there are two main tribes involved in the story: Igbo and Yoruba. The names of the characters would be based on these two tribes. I just hope you, foreign readers, would be able to follow the story.
PS: please tell me what you think of this first chapter.