Tinu held the phone for a few minutes, thinking of what to do about what her daughter just told her. Shade said she shot her husband. Shade had done some bad things in her life but shooting her husband now topped it all. Tinu stood up to look for her husband and found him reading at the dinning table. The daily papers were stacked on the right and his tablet was on the left. He had a bottle of red wine and a half full glass before him.
Chief Dotun Babalore looked up from the paper he was reading. “Tinu, is everything okay?”
She sat opposite him and was silent.
“What is the matter? Why are you looking so downcast?” Dotun asked his wife.
“Your daughter Shade just called me.”
Chief frowned. Whenever his wife called Shade his daughter, something was wrong. If she did something good, Shade was her daughter but when she did something bad, she became his daughter.
“What is the issue this time?” he asked.
“She had a fight with her husband.”
“A fight over what?” Chief looked at his watch. It was 10:15pm. He didn’t want to get drawn into Shade’s issues, not on a Sunday night. Shade was his second child. None of his three other children gave him as much trouble as she did. In fact they hardly gave him any problems at all. It seemed like every time Shade’s name was mentioned, trouble was brewing.
“It has to do with her best friend Ngozi. She said Ngozi and her husband are having an affair.”
“That’s impossible! Shade and Ngozi have been friends for ages. They are like sisters.”
“That was what I told her but she wouldn’t listen to me.”
He could see that his wife was taking her time to tell him what was going on. Chief couldn’t take it anymore, “Woman tell me what happened!” He raised his voice.
“They had a fight and she shot him…” her voice trailed off.
“She did what? Where did she get…” As he was about to continue he remembered that he was the one who gave her the small calibre weapon for her protection. His wife could never find out that the gun came from him. He bit his lower lip and kept silent.
“Hmm,” Tinu sighed. “Our enemies have won at last,” then she burst into tears.
“How is he doing? Is he okay?”
“She didn’t say.”
“And you didn’t bother to ask her?” Chief asked.
“She cut the call before I could ask her.”
“You should find out what is going on so that we know what to do.”
Tinu wiped her face with the back of her hands. “That is why I am telling you this. I want you to go to her place right now to make sure she and her husband are okay.”
Dotun reached for the glass of red wine before him. His hand trembled slightly as he raised the glass to his lips. He emptied the contents of the glass and refilled it.
“Why do you want me to go to her house? Why can’t you ask any of our children to check up on her?”
Tinu wondered why her husband was so reluctant to go to his daughter’s home. “Daddy, this is a serious situation and it is best you attend to it before it gets out of hand. The only person we can send there is Mope, but you know her husband wouldn’t let her out tonight.”
Dotun thought for a few seconds. “It is late. I will go there first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Daddy, this is an urgent matter. We have to make sure that your daughter hasn’t committed a crime.”
Dotun looked at the glass of wine totally lost in thought. One place he didn’t want to be was Shade’s house. The last time he was there he knew what happened. For three months he had kept this secret to himself but now it seemed like fate wouldn’t allow him be. It was interfering with his life once again and wanted him to return to that house.
“Why are you so reluctant to go to your daughter’s house?” Tinu asked her husband. She suspected something was bothering him, but what?
Dotun drank the second glass of wine. Thoughts like a wake of vultures feeding on a rotten carcass attacked his mind. If he went to the his daughter’s home, he could get entangled in what he had done away with.
“Daddy, why are you silent?” Tinu touched his hand.
One thing he didn’t want to tell his wife was that after what happened, he didn’t want to return to his daughter’s home. One person he didn’t want to see tonight was Yemi, his daughter’s accursed maid. Okay, maybe she wasn’t accursed but there was something abnormal about that woman.
“Chief, what is going on?” Tinu asked her husband who looked at the bottle of wine, lost in thought.
“Go and spend some time with your daughter and granddaughter,” his wife suggested. “Now that you are retired you have more time on your hands to build a relationship with your children.”
He thought about it then decided to spend three days with Shade’s family. But three days turned into one week and that was how he got himself involved with the maid.
“Who is that lady playing with Tola in the garden?” He asked Shade the first day he arrived at her house.
“That’s the maid. She’s been with us for almost a year.”
“I see,” Chief said. He should have followed his instinct to stay away from the maid. Something about her unnerved him. He should have told his daughter that he wasn’t feeling fine and needed urgent medical attention, anything to get him out of her home. But he stayed. It was a terrible mistake that would haunt him.
He couldn’t explain it, but there was something about the maid, something different, something that drew him to her. It was the way she spoke to him with respect, the way she knelt down before and after serving him his meals, the way she laughed at his jokes, the way she asked him if he wanted a bottle of red wine to go with his dinner, the way she made sure the visitor’s bedroom was comfortable for him, the way she ran the water for him to have his bath in the morning and at night, and the way she asked him one evening, “sir, is there anything else I can do for you, anything at all?” that got to him, that made him curious and his curiosity entrapped him.
“If I need anything else I will be sure to let you know,” he said without thinking.
On the fifth day of his visit, he woke up suddenly to find a female form lying next to him on the bed.
“Who is this?” he got off the bed and turned on the light to see who it was.
It was Yemi, the maid. She was silent and drew the sheet to cover her nakedness.
Dotun tried to clear his head. He couldn’t remember a thing that happened after dinner and he had a slight headache.The wine he had after dinner must have knocked him out.
He started sweating. “How did you get in my bed?” he asked the maid with trepidation.
“You invited me yesterday,” she said.
“I asked you to come to my room?” he couldn’t believe he had invited her.
“You asked me to come whenever I wanted, so I decided to come tonight.”
“But you could have informed me you were here,” he looked at her naked form covered by the bed sheet. “And why did you take off your clothes?” he asked. The maid smiled and turned away from him.
This was a disaster. What evil spirit made him ask this woman to come to his room?
Dotun was silent for a few minutes thinking about what to do. “What do you want from me?” he touched the maid.
She turned to him. “Nothing sir.”
Dotun didn’t know what to do. If he raised an alarm, his daughter wouldn’t believe him, no one would. How would he explain a naked woman on his bed in the dead of the night?
“Take this,” he pulled out a bundle of Naira notes from his briefcase. “Take it and leave.”
“I don’t want your money sir,” she said.
“So what do you want?” the retired customs officer was perplexed.
“Please take this,” he forced the money into her hands.
She relented and took the money.
He watched as she wore her clothes and slipped out of the room silently like a thief.
The next morning he told Shade he had an emergency at his water bottling factory that needed his personal attention. He didn’t remember giving the maid his number, but somehow she got it and pestered him with calls but he ignored them all.
Suddenly Chief pushed back his chair from the table and stood up. “I am not going to Shade’s house, not tonight or any other night. Your daughter is a full grown woman and she should take responsibility for her life. I am done solving her problems for her,” as he spoke he didn’t look at his wife in the eye but placed the papers on the table in a pile.
“Did I say something wrong?” Tinu asked her husband.
He ignored her, drank some more wine, picked up the papers, entered his study and slammed the door shut, leaving his wife at the dining table totally confused, wondering what had possessed her husband.
To be continued.