Okay, so I’m not going to participate in TNC’s The Writer Competition: TWO, but I’ve decided to write a story somewhat inspired by its instructions anyway.
She looked at him and smiled, surprisingly. They hadn’t seen in years but she felt at ease; perhaps even excited.
Holding his hand, she kissed him softly. This might not have been a bad idea after-all.
Two hours earlier
He knew his wife would understand. She had always been a very supportive and insightful wife. Akanke, he called her, loved at first sight. This, of course, he did not tell her until much later. She would have laughed at him, “Oh, you loved me from the moment you set your eyes on me? Very romantic, indeed! Who are we now? Shakespeare?” He giggled as he remembered their first meeting. As uneducated and poor as he was, she had agreed to love him back. Forsaking her family and all known comforts, she joint herself to him. Yes, they had indeed brought each other much more than just joy.
It felt strange. Looking around the room that had been their home for almost two decades, a feeling of nostalgia overcame him. Holding his tears back seemed like a battle he would not win. They had been great years. He felt ambivalent. And as they all packed, he smiled at his wife fondly. They were finally packing out of the boys’ quarters.
Two days earlier
It wasn’t his fault. She knew that. She understood; it was hers. But she couldn’t help it still. She had stuck to his instructions, had done all the right things, and she had believed it would work. But fate had dealt her a different card. A very different one. It was all happening so quickly. Dad’s termination. The new contract. Their relocation.
It might not have been the nicest thing to do, but it was the wisest still. She’d be alright. This much father could promise her. He always knew what to do; especially in trying times. This sure was the worst her family had seen in years; had perhaps ever experienced. Would they get through it? Well, soon she would forget all this and start a family of her own, her father had reassured her. Soon, but not just yet. She was resolute. Not just yet.
He was happy.. about it all. His plan had worked just as intended- leaving not the faintest suggestion of manipulation behind. Sure, he had played the devil’s advocate, but it could have been much worse. She’d eventually get her head round it.. and used to the idea: the new arrangement. With time she’d be just fine. He smiled. Only the best for daddy’s little girl.
Two months earlier
Mrs. Jawilo near fainted at her husband’s suggestion. This was wrong; just wrong. He could not possibly be serious about what he was saying; or could he? It was impossible! Abominable! Unthinkable! The mere idea seemed ludicrous. She knew her son; he would never agree to any of it. He could not, for he was too upright, God-fearing. He was a man of integrity; a man so different from his father. Had she not born and nursed and raised him herself, she’d have thought him to be another man’s offspring. She loved him. There was something special about him; almost divine, she thought worryingly.
Mrs. J: My husband, I understand what you are saying, but it is impossible.
Mr. J: And why so, my dear?
Mrs. K: Because he has always been one to make his own decisions.
Mr. J: In matters of employment, perhaps. In matters of finance, yes.
Mrs. J: And in matters of love..
(she was quickly interrupted)
Mr. J: He is too young to know anything about love!
Mrs. J: He is 29.
Mr. J: Exactly, a child. He knows nothing.
Mrs. J: He might know more than we think. Why not allow him..
Mr. J: What? Choose? Choose for himself?
Mrs. J: Yes, why not? Let us at least allow him choose from women we have selected.
Mr. J: Who has time for all that? Do you think this is a game? The business is falling apart, our..
Mrs. J: The finances are decreasing. The influence is diminishing; the reputation suffering..
(Mr. J sighed heavily.)
Mrs. J (cont.): Let us at least make sure our family does not fall apart. Kareem will not forgive us.
Mr. J: Shut up, woman. Do you intend to lecture me on my own son? Are you instructing me?
Mrs. J: No, my dear husband, this I would not dare. But I am his mother, and entitled to have my own opinion. He is my only son, and I will not sit still while you plot his ruin!
And with this, she excused herself. Mr. Jawilo smiled; satisfied. His wife had always been one to worry about all the wrong things.. for all the wrong reasons.
His mother wondered what had caused his sudden change. He seemed more sober, more prayerful these days. She did not know whether it was peace or dread that caused his silence; his absent-mindedness; his rather a-typical non-argumentative behaviour. Not to say he was one to argue a lot, but he held very strong opinions; never shied away from debates – if necessary; but most importantly: always held onto his strong convictions. What was wrong?
Kareem respected his father; he didn’t mind obeying a reasonable man. But it was his mother’s negative and disrespectful attitude towards it all that finally got him to concede to his father. She was too much of a man; way too pushy for his liking. Why couldn’t mother be more like Mrs. Azeez?
Two days earlier II
He laughed sheepishly at the ongoing spectacle. One that would eventually cause much joy. Well, not today perhaps, but most assuredly over the years. Kareem would be alright. Yes, he might have “married down”, as they liked saying, but he would never have to suffer again. This he knew. And how was marrying a Christian woman “marrying down” anyway? Oh, this was all too exciting. His wingman would be just fine.
She never understood her son’s fondness, his love for and loyalty to Kareem. Was it the fact that they were about the same age and practically grew up as brothers? Or perhaps the fact that they had both always wished for a (blood-) brother? He had always spent more time playing with the housekeeper’s boy than his own little sister, but apart from Mrs. Jawilo, nobody really cared. Mrs. Jawilo. She sure wasn’t happy about seeing her son leave. But such women were always easy to get around- if only you knew what it was they really cared about.
Two months earlier II
Tomiwa: But father, don’t you see how it makes perfect sense?
Mr. A: My son, I am afraid I am not following.
Tomiwa: He loves her. He does not know it yet, but he does.
Mr. A: And so?
Tomiwa: They’ll suit perfectly. He is kind and as educated as I am..
Mr. A: He has no name.
Tomiwa: Of course he does. But if you don’t like his, give him yours.
Mr. A: What?!
Tomiwa: I’m serious. His parents wouldn’t accept him as their son any longer if..
Mr. A: If they found out..
Tomiwa: Exactly. They’ll probably disown him anyway.
Mr. A: Not like he’d loose out on much..
Mr. A: I know. I am sorry. Hmmm.. okay, but..
Tomiwa: Yes, we won’t tell Tinuola. Not just yet.. Of course it’s not particularly fair on her, but I know my sister probably better than she knows herself. They’ll fit perfectly.
Mr. A: It does make sense.
Tomiwa: Of course, he’d first agree because he’d feel obliged to.
Mr. A: Oh, silly boy, he shouldn’t.
Tomiwa: No, he should. (laughs) It makes no difference. He has always been part of this family. I have felt obliged to please you and mother all my life; why should he feel any different? Anyway, moving on..
Mr. A: But what about his parents?
Tomiwa: Yes, so that’s the difficult part. His father is reasonable, he’ll understand and agree- just like that..
Mr. A: Mrs. Jawilo is a difficult one.
Tomiwa: Release them of their duties..here.
Mr. A: And?
Tomiwa: Offer them a job somewhere else; perhaps back in Abuja? The new contracts are about to be signed. If all goes well, we’ll need someone to oversee an array of new gardeners; make him lord over them. Mrs. Jawilo will love the prestige the position comes with. They have a lot of relatives there. .
Mr. A: I see where you are going. This might just work. It’s a rather brilliant idea, I must say.
Tomiwa: Father, I’m telling you. This makes perfect sense. And you’d safe your businesses. Kareem is a master-mind. He is God-fearing and kind-hearted. But above that, he is intelligent and business-minded. Under his leadership, our businesses abroad will thrive!
Today: The move
So they were finally moving. Leaving home again. Tinuola had not expected to move back to France just yet. After all, she had just arrived back in Jos. The burden of heading her father’s businesses abroad proved to be a much heavier one than ever anticipated. She owed him this last try. She sighed as her new husband held her hand, reassuringly. Taking long breaths, she told herself: father knows best.
Tomiwa thought about letting Kareem in on it all: telling him that the businesses abroad were not really in bad shape at all and that he had been managing the accounts secretly. He thought about telling him why he had been so adamant his father sponsored his friend’s education all the way to an MBA abroad; why he had secretly insisted they all came back home over the summer period; why there was no time for a religious ceremony and all they had time for was the signing of the certificate.
He thought about it all, but decided to keep silent, and simply smile. Tinuola would make the perfect wife. She was just like their mother. She would love and support him, as expected; and be pleasantly surprised at how much attention and love she would receive in return. She would care for and cherish him, while he would protect and defend her always; and hopefully teach her a thing or two about running businesses, successfully. Only the best for daddy’s little girl. He smiled, pleased with himself. No one else knew about Kareem’s newly found faith in Christ. Yes, they both would be happiest and safest abroad.
“First things first. Let’s just get to know each other again. No kids for now.”
He smiled relieved. “Exactly my sentiments.”