Zach came to my house, and it was almost like an inquisition.
The girls and I rushed down to my house to inform my parents Zach was on his way, my father’s only response was an:
He arrived in a two car convoy. Three including mine. He came into our home alone. He postrated for my parents in greeting and graciously accepted our offer of refreshments.
He answered all their questions courteously and with good humour. Not even when my father issued a veiled threat reminding him of my two elder brothers did he waver. However, I did notice something; Zach has this habit of fiddling with something when he is upset, and he was rapidly fiddling with his phone. When my father asked him why he bought me a car, he smoothly replied.
“Maryann is a very good friend of mine, a talented designer. I bought her the car as a gift, in recognition of her creativity and the positive impact she has had in my life.”
“What if she won the award and the car gift.” My mother asked.
“Ma, I ordered for the car the day I heard about her nomination, she was going to get this car whether she won the award or not. Having more than one car isn’t a crime.” He joked.
Aawwww! That’s so sweet!
“What’s the symbolism of the gift?” My father prodded on.
“Sir, it’s a no strings attached gift. All the papers of the car are in her name, it’s totally hers to do with as she deems fit.”
Ok, I think I almost teared up at this point.
Zach’s phone rang and he excused himself.
He returned to apologise, something had come up which he needed to look into urgently.
My father thanked him for the car, and they said their goodbyes.
“That wasn’t so bad was it?” I asked as I walked him to his car.
“No it wasn’t. Babe, I’ve got to run, Lekan will hand over the keys and documents to you.” He said and he got into his car and drove off.
Apparently they expected this quick getaway because the car he drove was turned facing out with the engine running when we came out.
The girls hurried out from eavesdropping at the door I’m sure, and we ooohed and aaahed over the car, we were about to go out for a ride when my mother stopped us.
“What do you think about him?” I asked my parents after Clara and Susan left.
“Your father and I think you should be very careful.” My mother replied.
“You always warn me about all guys.” I replied, uneasy, wondering if they noticed what I did.
“Yes, but this young man….”
My mother interrupted my father. “And he isn’t young; thirty-eight to your twenty-five. In our time, such age differences were acceptable, but today? I wonder why despite the availability of the means he isn’t settled yet.” She said.
“As I was saying,” My father continued. “He is in an industry which promotes false living. You need to be careful.” He warned.
My mother’s phone rang.
“Ehen, it’s your brother.” She said when she glanced at the screen.
I groaned inwardly, whichever one of my brothers was calling her, both were sure to call me once she tells them the latest news.
I escaped into my room to admire my car from my window. True to my fears both brothers called me on a conference call that evening. When they were done, I acknowledged that Zach had met the easier part of my family.
The next day, Clara and I went to see the office space. We picked Susan at her work place, off course I drove.
The space was everything I had always dreamt off. Prime location, ample parking space, modern amenities, I fell in love. Clara’s description didn’t do justice to the location, for what I saw, their asking price was fair.
We drove to the lawyer’s office where we were asked to wait as the landlady was on her way to join us.
We expected a ‘matronly Hajia’, and were very suprised to see a young woman of about our age!
The lawyer introduced her as Hajia Zainab Shetima.
Susan and the lawyer took over the negotiations to reduce the rent.
“How much can you ladies afford to pay?” Hajia Zainab interrupted them.
Susan replied with an amount considerably lower than the asking price.
She brought it back midway and we all agreed. I couldn’t believe it; I was getting my own showroom!!!!
The lawyers fine-tuned the terms of agreement and we signed on the dotted lines. Clara and I couldn’t contain our joy.
At the car park, about to drive off, Hajia Shetima walked up to my car.
“Hello again ladies.” She greeted us with a smile.
“Hello Hajia.” We chorused, grinning like idiots.
“Where are you ladies headed?”
“Lunch, then it’s back to the office for me, these two children say they’ll go back to their shop.” Susan replied.
“Can I join you?” She asked hopefully.
My first thought was: What?
As usual quick thinking Susan came to our rescue. “Sure.” She said.
“Sure!” We chorused.
We had lunch at a cool new cafe close to ‘my new showroom’. Zainab as she invited us to call her told us her story over lunch. Married at fourteen(her mother fought to delay her marriage that long) to a man old enough to be her grandfather, widowed at nineteen. She was pregnant with her fourth child when her husband died in a plane crash. Her husband was a man of means and in his will he stipulated that any of his wives who remarried lost her inheritance and will only get upkeep for the children whose inheritance would be held in trust till they are of age. Her family needed the money, so she had to stay put.
According to her, we stirred up long buried memories of her childhood. They were four childhood friends, agemates and playmates; she, Hauwa, Rekiya and Aminat. They were all given out in marriage one after the other from the age of twelve. Aminat died in childbirth at the age of fourteen, she was widowed at nineteen, Hauwa’s husband abuses her, and she hadn’t heard from Rekiya in years.
She had no friends, no close family. The high point of her life was school runs and PTA meetings.
Recently, she’d insisted on taking an active part in her inheritance and that was causing major uproar in the family. But she didn’t care, she was taking her life back, she intended to go back to school soon. In her words; being a child widow was worse than being a child bride(or perhaps it’s the same sorry existence).
We parted ways after lunch, dropped Susan off at her office. On our way to the shop, Clara was surfing the web.
“Seriously, what did we do for entertainment before internet and social media? I mused.
“We’ll have to ask our parents, we are the lucky generation, born in the jet age.” She quipped.
“Do you realise our kids will call us ‘old school’?”
“God alone knows what will be current according to them.”
“Omg, Maryann!” She exclaimed.
“Mary…. Park.” She looked at me in a strange way.
“What? What is it?” I braked suddenly. Looking around for the cause of the alarm. I didn’t hit something, did I?
“Park park Maryann, park.” She gestured frantically.
I parked in the next available spot, fearing the worst. She handed her phone to me.
I saw a picture of Zach and a woman in a passionate embrace. Disbelieving I scrolled up and down the page, there were more pictures; the camera was facing him and there was no denying it was him. While the lady’s features were blurred.
I couldn’t believe it. The caption said the pictures were taken last night. Was that the urgent appointment? To kiss another lady in a club?