AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
The next morning, she calmed down and called Aisha. Aisha picked up the call and was excited to hear from her. She needed to have a conversation with her to get information. Even though it would hurt her if she found out it was true.
“Aisha, Bashir told me he had sexual relations with you before he got married to me. Is this true?”
“What are you talking about? Why would he claim that?”
“I would like to know if it is true so I will know what to do next.”
“Zainab, I am getting married in a couple of months and now Bashir wants to ruin our closeness by accusing me of betraying you. He should come and say it to my face. What kind of accusation is this? I know what to do.”
She collapsed on the chair while wondering who to believe. She remembered the attention Bashir gave Aisha before they got married. He even offered to take them to Dubai. Did he ask her out? Did she refuse or agree? She was more confused.
Bashir came back later that morning. Zainab opened the door for him and requested they talked. He sat down in the sitting room and waited for her to say what she wanted to say.
“Bashir, I asked Aisha about your accusation. She denied it but then I realised I was backing up the wrong tree. Having sexual relations with my cousin was wrong and very disrespectful. It shows you have not had any regard for me. Why did you marry me when you could have called off the betrothal? You continued disrespecting me even after marriage. I cannot be with a man who doesn’t love and respect me. I expect you to move out as the house belongs to me. You can go back to your uncle’s house, I will no longer be a hindrance. I want a divorce.”
Bashir smiled and said, “I should leave the house my mother paid for and do what? You are funny. Is it because I don’t want to give you all the information I have? You are a whore like your cousin because I have your nudes while you were in the university. Yes, you met with a man in the hotel and he took pictures of you.”
“But you deflowered me. You are the first and only guy I have ever been with. Bashir, you are the only guy I ever entered a hotel room with. If you had such evidence against me, why then didn’t you call off the marriage? I was not desperate, you were. I have asked you to leave quietly because this house belongs to me, it is in my name. I will return the money your mother paid for the house to her if that is the case. I can’t stay with a man who violates me, starves me, has sex with numerous ladies including his relative and mine, and is irresponsible and sterile. Why would I be with you?”
“What did you just call me? Sterile? Repeat the nonsense you just said.”
“I don’t need to repeat it. You heard me right. You can be with any girl you like for all I care. Just divorce me.”
“So you can be with another man? It will never happen. You are mine, Zainab. I own you. I will do to you whatever I like. Running to my mother has to stop and it stops now. Any day you report me to my mother, it will be your last day on earth. I will pour acid on this pretty face of yours. The men outside admire you, right? They tell you how beautiful you are. You are beautiful but you belong to me. When I want you, you will present yourself. I will do to you whatever I want. If you ever challenge me, you will live to regret it. I am marrying a second wife, get ready. She will move in here. She is the kind of girl I desire before you were given to me. You will see her.”
Zainab didn’t know how to respond to him, it wasn’t what she expected. She felt weak and useless. The way he looked at her when he made his threat scared her. Was he going to pour acid on her? She didn’t know what else to do.
“By the way, I did sleep with Aisha several times, she can deny all she wants. She is better than you in bed, she knows how to arch her back. Any time you try to defy me or even challenge my authority, I will send your nudes to both our families and also disfigure you for life. If you run away, I will make it my life’s mission to find you and kill you. I don’t want children from you, my second wife will handle that. I want you whenever I want and how I want it. You can never challenge me. And if I find out you have allowed another man access to this body, I will behead you. This body belongs to me.”
Zainab swallowed hard. She didn’t know what to say or think. Her confidence was deflated and she was back to the Zainab in Unilag who obeyed all Bashir’s rules. She nodded at all his instructions.
Get into my room, get naked and wait for me there. I mean now.”
She did as she was told. She was scared and didn’t know what else to do. As he thrust into her, tears flowed from her eyes. She knew she was acting weak, she didn’t know how to be strong in these circumstances.
Esther and Jake built a multi-million naira business that was the envy of many. They worked together. They were the biggest importers of original Apple products and accessories, Samsung products and other high-end phones and laptops. Esther managed the telecommunication business while Jake opened a big lounge he managed. It was like his previous set-up, there was a car wash beside the lounge. The lounge was large and attracted the right kind of people; people that could spend money. He built a four-star hotel close to the lounge which was bringing in good income too.
Esther and Jake had two children, a boy and a girl. With the birth of each child, Jake rewarded Esther with a car and a house in her name. She was happy. She travelled around the world at the drop of a hat. They made a beautiful couple. At every opportunity, Jake talked about Esther and how his success in life hinged on her belief in him and her decision-making. He told he cared to listen Esther was the head of the home while he was the neck. She made the decisions and he obeyed. She loved and respected him, she never took his love for granted.
When land in Banana Island was up for sale, Esther made them buy two plots. She kept a plot for them and built luxury apartments on the second plot. She supervised construction using a foreign engineering firm. It gulped all the money they had. Jake complained bitterly. He wanted money to ball but Esther told him to wait until they sold the properties. It took two years to complete the project. The amount realised from the sale of only two luxury flats to foreigners was enough to cover the purchase of the two plots of land. Eight flats were remaining. Jake looked at his wife in wonder. She leased out the remaining six flats to foreigners as service apartments. Jake was short of words. The money was flowing. He wanted more of what they had.
Jake had open communications with his friends who he moved drugs for. They wanted to move some consignment but because he had been warned not to do anything without Esther’s consent, he turned them down. If he successfully moved one consignment, Banana Island properties were a joke. He was tempted to do it without Esther but Banana warned him not to try it. He stated categorically, “She has to accept wholeheartedly before you can take that risk.” Esther refused without hearing the details. She felt they were comfortable enough and had to learn to be content.
Jake had tried to be faithful to Esther but he slipped sometimes. In those times, he made sure she never found out. He refused to make any of the girls a regular. He was dedicated to Esther and made sure everyone around him; family, friends and staff respected her. She had the final say in any business, domestic, and financial decisions.
Esther went to a Business School in Lagos to learn how to run her business. Her husband refused to join her there. She attended every class and learnt all she needed to push the business forward. She gathered enough business acumen from her lessons and interactions with other accomplished business owners. She diversified the business. She registered a new company, travelled to China to the manufacturers of a particular phone and asked if they could manufacture a brand for her. The uniqueness of her phone was the accessories. She invested in quality accessories to go with the phone. When they sent her a prototype, she took it to another company in China to check if it was a standard she could accept. There were a lot of back and forths but eventually, they reached a compromise and they manufactured the phone and tablets. It was her brand. She achieved all this before she clocked twenty-five. She launched the product on her birthday.
Jake’s siblings initially believed Esther had charmed him but his mother knew the truth and insisted they be left alone. For her loyalty, Esther built a big house for her where she lived, bought her a new car and hired a driver on their payroll. The woman’s other children learnt to suck up to Esther to be elevated. When they began to cooperate, she set each one of them and their spouses up. She invested in them and was a part of their business. Within a year, they were established and didn’t need help from Jake anymore. They saw Esther as an asset to the family as they lived above-average lives.
Esther’s family didn’t have any issues. She took over her brother’s responsibility. She sent him to the best school and monitored his progress. Her father didn’t want a new house or anything. He was comfortable and didn’t need help. Esther renovated and refurbished her father’s house. She sent him and her stepmother abroad on vacation for a month. When they came back, they stayed in her house for another month. As they went back to Sapele, they travelled in a brand new SUV and another saloon car followed them. It was when they got to Sapele that they realised what had happened. Esther’s father was very grateful. The car was a shocker to him. He called Jake to thank him too. He hadn’t gotten over Esther sending her two sisters who were still single abroad for their Master’s and remaining there afterwards. One of them had a suitor now. Now she had renovated and refurbished his house and even bought his wife and himself cars. His son only visited him during the holidays and he was always in a hurry to go back to Esther. He prayed and blessed her and Jake. Esther was the daughter every parent dreamt of having.