“Rose! Rose!! Where are you, where is my son?” Zinny shouted hysterically soon as she dashed into the parlour with her bodyguards tailing behind.
“Get out both of you, stop following me the hell around!” she turned and shouted at them. “Get out!” she repeated pointing at the door. The two men left with their ego hurt and reconsidering working for an unstable female.
“Zinny calm down will you?” Rose said entering into the parlour “You can’t afford to lose your composure in front of your employees”
“Where is my son? Where is Cal? He has come to take him away, I know. Where is he?” Zinny continued hysterically
“No one will take him away from you, he is safe. He is locked up in your room, so calm down.”
“You don’t know Kamal…. or his father…” Zinny replied panic stricken. Her face was white with fright and her hands trembled. “I need a drink; I need to calm down….” She jolted for the bar and poured herself a drink which she gulped down once.
“Where is Patricia, I need my cigarette, I need to calm down…”
“What cigarette? I thought you gave that up?” Rose cut in surprised but she was interrupted by Kamal’s sudden entrance. He charged into the room looking vexed and ready for war.
“Don’t make this any harder for us. Give me back my son and you would not see us again” he barked
“He’s my son too!”
“And you’ve been with him the past ten years. It’s time he learnt who his father is and then stay with him for a change”
“No! He needs to be with his mother!” Zinny said and made for the passage that leads to the rooms.
“I am taking him with me Zinny, there’s nothing you can do about it. So decide whether you want it the easy or hard way” Kamal spoke calmly now like an assured hunter.
Legally, he knew he would win the war because Caleb original birth records were still with him. Zinny had not thought about that when she had fled with him years ago. And even though he had found out that she had changed his last name to hers, the documents he had proved otherwise and would give him the upper hand if they were to contest in court.
“Kamal, you can’t do this to me please, I can’t lose my son too please” Zinny who had stopped in her tracks cried. She seemed to have lost her will to keep fighting because somehow she could feel that Kamal wasn’t making empty threats.
The bastard was connected and was with the original birth certificate of her son. She had been so bent on running away that she hadn’t foreseen this lapse or that he would truly care about their son to come calling for him after many years. When did gangsters become so affectionate? She wondered.
Kamal heaved a pitiful sigh. “Well Zinny I came back specifically to get my son. Nothing can make me change my mind” He said with finality.
“Then get ready for war! I am not going to let you have him!”
“So be it love.” Kamal replied with a triumphant smile on his face that made Zinny insides boil even more
“Get out of our lives, go and don’t come back. Don’t pretend that are such ordinary man with love for his son…” Zinny was interrupted as Mark and Oluchi stepped into the parlour looking all flushed, it was obvious they had been arguing.
“…what is he doing here?” Zinny started off again charging towards them. “I don’t want to see the both of you, No one want neither of you here, what have you come to steal from us? Leave my sister alone murder!”
“Please calm down” Mark warned even as Rose tried to hold Zinny back from going all physical. She looked so reddened and set for war and seemed undeterred that she was the only one putting up tantrums. Oluchi moved herself a distance away and watched puzzled as her sister displayed before Mark
“Get out of my house and don’t contact her again! Is this some silly joke or what? After all the lives you wasted in the past you’re looking for whom to share your curse with. Don’t rub off your wickedness on my poor innocent sister.
I won’t give you the chance to do that you hear me? Never!” she barked at him, and then turning abruptly to where her sister had gone to sit down she fired on.
“If you know what is good for you, you would stay far away from that…” she pointed at Mark, “….that evil personified. You don’t know them like I do, these are not the kind of men you want to hang around with. You are way too good to be messed up with the likes of him…”
“Take it down a notch woman! I am not the person that you knew, that is my past and I have bad intention for your sister” Mark who was now infuriated at all the expletives being showered on him fired back.
“Don’t make me laugh. It is now your past! Really…?” Zinny chuckled disdainfully “…well think whatever you like but do so far away from my family. I gave up that life not so my sister would fall back into it…”
“I never did you any harm not then, not now! So mind how you talk to me” Mark interrupted.
“Well Mark I don’t care. Just leave my sister alone, leave us to live our life…” turning to Kamal she completed. “And leave my son alone!”
“You’re such a hypocrite and ungrateful”
“I’ve been called worse… get out both of you, out of my house or I swear I am going to call the police” She barked and started walking to where her land phone was. It was Kamal’s turn to speak now and he addressed Mark:
“Let’s just go buddy, we live to fight another day” then he started walking out, even as Zinny was making good her threat. Mark looked apologetically at Oluchi where she sat obviously still in shock. He didn’t know what to do or say to her, the worst he feared had happened right before him yet he could do nothing to absorb some of the pain.
He was very sure that her sister would waste no time filling the gaps for her concerning his past life; he only wished he could be there to defend himself. All that was left now was to wait and reach out later to see how far damaged their beautiful relationship was.
And so with a final cold stare at Zinny, he too exited the parlour. The room went cold silence for quite some minute after they both left.
So many thought coursed through Kamal’s mind as he drove back to his estate located somewhere around the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. Ten years ago, the place had been semi-empty. The mansions that now adorned its streets had previously been overgrown bushes or uncompleted buildings. But a decade later, it was a beauty to behold.
And typical of estates, everyone here minded their business. Gates remained locked, cars came and left sparingly and the streets could boast of no more than five people walking its fine bricked ground at a go.
And this served Kamal just perfectly. The only problem he had encountered had been confirming his identity to the neighbourhood security manning the gate the day he arrived the country. But after they realized that he predated even their arrival, they let him through no further questions asked.
But today, he was in no mood for idle chatter or exchange of greetings from the security men. He was so angry that he didn’t even get to see his son after so many years of imagining how today would play out. In his mind, he had imagined hugging his little pride and telling him that he was his father and then hopefully Zinny would try to cut out some negotiation with him.
But he had not expected such hostility from her. Even though he knew fully well that she was selfish and conceited, he had not imagined she had become hysterical too. The image the media painted of her was totally a farce compared to what the real woman presented. How and why had she become so?
And did Mark deserve the tantrums she displayed over him being with her sister? Talking about Mark, he turned around to see if his car still trailed behind. Yeah he was. Mark had asked that they reunite at his place and had agreed. The guy was a good one and contrary to all the negative statement Zinny said, he had been good to both of them during the worst years of their lives.
He sighed, who could understand what went through the minds of this women per time, he concluded.
Kamal honked his car as a signal to Mark and he pressed a button for his gate to automatically slide open. He had had this technology installed as a security measure after the attack on Zinny’s life years ago. And since he didn’t want to hire a gateman or housekeeper, he thought the decision right.
Kamal outsourced the cleaning of his house to a trusted company. It was a monthly activity that had continued even while he was in Arab; a reason why his house didn’t feel or looks like a dumpster even though no one lived in it.
“Wow, this place hasn’t changed much even after all this years” Mark said as he stepped down from his car and jammed its door.
“Yeah” Kamal replied while on his way into the parlour, and when Mark joined him there he added: “Although I had it touched up before I arrived”
Throwing himself unto a couch, Mark remarked: “Wow, you my guy are on a whole new pedestal.” Kamal chuckled.
Kamal took the seat opposite him and corked open a bottle of wine already on the table. “How have you been Mark?” he asked, his attention on pouring them a glass full.
“I’ve been out and about” Mark shrugged, a downcast mood suddenly settling on him
“I didn’t know you’ve left Alhaji’s employ”
“Well. I did. Five years ago. After I nearly lost my life man….” He took a glass of the bubbling wine, “An operation went so bad that I didn’t even think I would see the next day. Some of our guys lost their lives but I was lucky to make it alive…” then he took a generous drink from the glass before he continued:
“….I just knew that I had to get out of that business man, or I won’t be lucky again. Kamal my friend, so many of Alhaji’s boys died…” His voice trailed off as if he was re-living the experience, but soon he broke out of his reverie and switched the topic abruptly. “When did you even breeze into the country?”
“It’s just a week now” Kamal replied casually, even though he had so many more questions to ask about his father and what had become of his business.
“If fate had not made our path cross at her place then I would never even have imagined you breathed the same country air as I am huh?”
“I am sorry I stopped keeping in touch” Kamal apologized. He wasn’t about telling him how badly hurt Zinny’s departure had caused him, making him shut the door to everything that represented his past, until now.
“Its life, people are expendable as they come.” Mark replied. If he felt hurt by the scorn he didn’t show it. Instead he went about refilling his glass.
“Don’t be like that man. Let’s cheers to reunion” Kamal replied cheerfully raising high his half-filled glass. And after a little hesitation, Mark clinked his glass with Kamal’s and they both smiled.
“That’s what I’m talking about” he added and they both had a long sip, laying back the cup on the table he asked: “So, what’s up with you and that female, err Zinny’s sister I believe”
“What can I say, I am attracted to her. Too bad she’s Zinny’s sister, what are the odds of that”
“I think I’ve seen her once in the past now she all grown and beautiful.”
“Yeah” Mark simply said. After a while he added: “I don’t think I’ve treated your woman this bad in the past, why did she say those nasty things about me and before her too?”
“I don’t know… maybe it was a transferred aggression…”
“Oh please, stop defending her. That girl has always been bad, kinda reminds me of Aisha, little scheming things. They are just all the same” Mark sighed bitterly and started pouring another round of shot. “What were you doing there yourself; don’t tell me you still wanna rekindle your romance with her?”
Kamal gave a low grunt. “I don’t see how that is ever happening again. I only came for my son…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah! Don’t tell me little Kamal is all grown up! That handsome dude is your son?”
Kamal shook his head grinning proudly.
“I could never have reasoned that one out. You’re the man; you’ve got a son already? Let’s cheers to that too!” Mark said excitedly and handed Kamal his glass for another round of cheers. “I’m the next in line, I have found my queen and she’ll be mine whether her family wants me or not.”
“She’s got you so sprung man” Kamal teased.
“Yeah, she has.”
Caleb’s party couldn’t sustain its jovial fervour after the appearance of the ‘August visitors’. The DJ had gone into the house several times requesting the celebrant to appear and host the remaining programmes but Zinny had shouted him out. Then Rose, not knowing what else to do, had gone to call off the party, apologized and told the guests to return home.
And that was how Caleb’s 10th birthday went down the history as his worst yet. And to make matters worse, he remained locked up in Zinny’s room for the better part of the day together with his nurse who he couldn’t bear any longer.
“Oyin, I want to go outside” he cried for the umpteenth time. But the nurse, who seemed to be enjoying the enclosure more, told him off.
“Your mother says you must not leave this room.” She replied flipping through another page of the exquisite magazine she had deeply been engrossed in for the past two hours.
This was her fifth and she wasn’t showing signs of getting bored anytime soon. Her boss stocked the latest issues of both international and local magazines, the ones she had always hungered to flip through their glossy pages whenever she delivered them sealed to her room, or saw Patricia reading one. Fortunately, luck was on her side today. She thought gladly
“Why is mummy treating me so?” Caleb cry filtered through, and from her side glance she watched him throw a fit on the bed where he was sprawled.
But Oyin’s self-absorbed smile was the answer he got. And so already fed up with the way he was being treated by everybody on his special day, Caleb jerked up from the bed and sprang to the door hitting it furiously as he cried.
“Leave there this boy!” The nurse commanded immediately dropping her magazine and rushing to his side. She feared a reprimand from Zinny if she came knocking; and worse still, she couldn’t do anything to caution him because laying a finger on him was against her contract of employment.
Her eyes darted to the magazines sprawled on the floor and quickly she dashed to rearrange them and returned swiftly to plead with the spoilt brat she catered for.
“Cal, please stop banging the door, you’ll get us into trouble”
“I don’t care!” he replied vehemently and continued with his knock.
Soon enough, the door sprung open to reveal his aunt Rose looking all flabbergasted. Immediately, Caleb rode pass her headed for the parlour leaving Oyin staring bemusedly at Rose. But the other only rolled her eyes with disinterest and made for the parlour too. When she arrived, Zinny told her that her phone had been ringing.
When she checked who the caller was, she froze. It wasn’t someone she had ever expected to hear from – it was Chris, Zinny’s ex-husband. She noticed also a message he had sent which read:
“Princess is ill and very restless. I don’t know who else to call but you, please hurry over!”
She looked at Zinny who was still trying to pacify her very angry son and thought against showing her the text. The best thing was to go check it out; she thought and went for her bags
“Zinny, I have to go, the call is urgent…” Rose spoke
“Today is Saturday, what urgent matter could that be?” Suddenly feeling her initial dread, how was she going to scale through today if her friend was also deserting her? She thought.
“It’s not work related… I have to go Zinny, you’ll be fine. Oluchi is still around, just stay calm… we’ll talk tomorrow” Rose consoled like a mother would her daughter and Zinny shook her head in acknowledgement, she waved at them all and left.
“Are you now calm enough to tell what happened with Mark?” Oluchi asked mirthlessly minutes after Rose left.
“Not you too” Zinny groaned. “I have a headache, I just wanna rest”
“Rest come only where it concerns me obviously, when will you stop treating me a child?”
“Can we have this discussion later?” Zinny groaned again, her tired streak truly showing on her face
“I want to have it now. You cannot just make accusations and then say you’d like to rest.” She was prepared to shake the truth off her sister if need be; someone had to tell her the mystery that surrounded the man she was beginning to fall deeply for.
Mark had not said anything coherent when she had quizzed him earlier after the gate incident; he had instead rushed back into the house without a word to her, and then after the parlour drama ensued, she was yet to get to the bottom of it all.
“Okay Oluchi, we can talk. But not in front of Cal.” Zinny calmly said, then called for Caleb’s nurse to relieve her of his whining presence. When he had refused to go, she had become so strict that he had no option than to grudgingly leave with Oyin.
“So?” Oluchi eyed her sister expectantly. She never knew her to be strict with any of her children, but then again today had unfolded different layers to her pretty sister.
Zinny went straight to the point. “Mark, that’s his name right, is Kamal’s friend. Kamal is the other guy you saw here today, he is… he is Caleb’s father. I knew them both from years ago while I was pregnant with Cal. You remember that I never stayed home right?”
Oluchi shook her head.
“Well, I was with them, him, Kamal, Thunder, Alhaji, the estate… you know what Oluchi, those are timelines in my life I really don’t want to remember or delve into. Just know that Mark is not the right man you should be mingling with. He and his cohorts are murderers, hired assassin, rapist, you name it.”
Oluchi eyes bulged with shock at that.
“They work for a very influential Alhaji, who sadly is Caleb’s grandfather. He carries out dangerous jobs for the politicians in this country; they commit high profile murder and kidnapping and go scot free. I nearly lost my life while living with them; it was just by a stroke of luck that I am here with you today.
So I don’t know what he may have told you about his past, but believe me they are all lies. The only truth you should believe is the one I tell you. Mark isn’t a boyfriend material, stay away from him for your own good” Zinny reeled and then stood up.
“I cannot watch you fall into the same death trap I once did so believe your sister on this. You’re way too innocent to be entangled in their mess, run while you still can… Goodnight Oluchi” she completed and walked out without waiting to hear what her sister had to say.
Oluchi watched her leave not having anything to say either; the disclosure had indeed stilled her. For almost a month she had known Mark, all of when he had persistently tried to woo her, he never mentioned anything about this past.
But then again, they weren’t that deep in the relationship to have those sort of conversations right? She quizzed. But she couldn’t deny that this changed the game for them. She couldn’t be with a man like him if her sister’s words were anything to go by. Whatever feelings she was beginning to develop for him had to be squashed with immediate effect.
It made sense now why he was so reluctant to meet her earlier in the day. All that proved that he had something to hide. Too bad their relationship hit the rocks before it even kicked off. She sighed resignedly and stretched her body unto the comfy couch, all plans of returning home today forgotten.
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