His eyes were trained on her face but his mind was faraway. Tears pooled in his eyes and he fought to hold them back. Was this what their relationship had degenerated into? His ego was deflated as his mind swam with different thoughts.
“Ayodeji, are you listening to me?” Olamide asked tapping him.
He looked at her. She only called him “Ayodeji” when she was angry or needed his attention.
“Ayodeji.” She called again.
He nodded. “I have heard you, Olamide.”
“No, I don’t think you heard me.”
“I did. You said you needed to get married to Chief for a better future.”
“I said….” She paused for emphasis. “For a better future for us and our kids. You were not listening to me, Ayodeji.” She said getting angry.
“I’m sorry but I don’t understand how you would be married to Chief and still have a future with me.”
Olamide sighed and stood up. “Ayodeji, I explained everything just now.” She took a deep breath. “Okay, I will explain all over again.”
Deji nodded his response and tried not to drift away into his thoughts this time.
“I said that Chief has asked me to be his fifth wife. He has promised to take care of me and my unborn children. So the plan is; I would get married to Chief but we would continue to see each other. I will carry your kids and have them for Chief. But we both know the kids are yours. When we have made enough money from Chief, we would elope together to maybe the U.S with our kids. Chief would have no idea what hit him.” Olamide said smiling.
“And what happens when Chief finds out about us?”
“How would he find out?” Olamide sneered.
“C’mon Deji, this could be the big break we have been looking forward to. You haven’t been able to secure a job for the past four years since graduation. And this opportunity drops on our laps on a platter of gold. What else do you want?”
Deji sighed. “Hmm….Olamide, I am not so sure about this. You seem to have everything all planned out.”
Olamide laughed. “Of course, ain’t I a combination of beauty and brains?”
Deji put his head in his hands. They started dating six years ago while they were still students at the University of Calabar. Four years ago, they both graduated. Deji with First class honours in Chemical Engineering and Olamide with a Second class lower degree in Biochemistry. It had taken Olamide just six months after their National Youth Service to gain employment in one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria. Deji on the other hand had thrown his resume in various organizations but was yet to get a call for an interview. He had been frustrated but Olamide had stood by him and encouraged him to keep his hopes high.
Olamide had met Chief during their last end of year party in the office. Deji had refused to go with her as he got tired of attending the parties when he had no job. Some of Olamide’s colleagues were young graduates and seeing them having fun and partying in their office further dampened his spirit.
Chief was a friend to one of Olamide’s bosses and he had given her his card and asked that she kept in touch. At first, she had been indifferent but when she heard how Chief doled out money to those who stayed close to him, she decided to do same. She had met up with Chief for dinner on a number of occasions but always lied to Deji that she was working late. She traveled out of the country once with Chief and he had lavished her with gifts. She lied to Deji that she was on an official assignment and he had believed her. When Chief proposed marriage to her, she had told him to give her a few days to think about it. She thought hard and long about the offer. She did not want to break Deji’s heart as she still loved him; but right now, their future seemed bleak. She also had no intention of staying married to Chief. She only needed him to boost her financial status. She therefore hatched a plan which she knew could not fail. Chief had no idea she still kept a boyfriend. Even though, she had mentioned Chief to Deji, she never told him she had been having dalliances with him.
“Deji, my love.” Olamide said as she knelt in front of him and raised up his head. “This plan would work, trust me.”
Deji sighed deeply.
Olamide slept over at Deji’s apartment that night. She teased his body and whispered into his ears that it was a night of celebration for them. In anger and despair, Deji hardly let her go throughout the night and barely allowed her to catch some sleep as he knew in his heart that this was probably the last time he would ever touch her.
Three weeks later, Olamide got married to Chief at an elaborate wedding. Pictures of the couple were splashed in newspapers and magazines. Their honeymoon was in Cancun and Olamide broke the internet with pictures of herself and her husband. Deji saw her pictures both in the papers and on social media. The love he and Olamide had proclaimed for six years had been washed down the drain by the love for fame and fortune. Deji became a recluse; hardly stepping out of his apartment. Soon, he began a descent into depression. A few of his friends who were aware of his relationship called him severally on the phone but he refused to pick their calls. His elder sister who was in the U.S also called him as she usually did every weekend but Deji refused to take her calls as well. Life lost meaning to him.
After two weeks of honeymoon, Olamide and her husband returned to Nigeria. As soon as they arrived home, Olamide told her husband that she wanted to go visit her parents.
“That’s okay darling. Yusuf will take you.” Chief said.
“Honey, I can drive myself.” Olamide replied.
“I know you can; but no wife of mine will go out without a driver and an escort.”
“Chief?” Olamide exclaimed.
“Yes darling. Now run along and come back quickly so we can continue from where we stopped.” He said winking at her.
“Don’t worry Chief. I will just give them a call to inform them that I am back in town.” Olamide said frowning.
Chief smiled. “Good. Let’s go in and have another one before the other women recover from slumber.” He said as he held her by the waist.
The next day, Olamide woke up and was shocked by the sight before her. She quickly pulled her duvet closer to cover her naked body. A man in a red wrapper and a red cloth tied round his head stood in her bedroom. He was holding a calabash and making some incantations. She was about to scream when Chief walked out of her bathroom. He saw the look on her face and smiled.
“Oh darling, don’t be scared. He just came to do some regular rituals for you.”
“Ri…ri…rituals Chief. I…I don’t understand.” Olamide said stammering.
Chief shrugged. “It’s not difficult or painful. It is just a few incisions on your breasts and vagina.”
“What?” Olamide screamed.
“Stop shouting my darling. The older wives all went through it. They can confirm to you that it is not painful.”
Tears began to stream down Olamide’s cheeks. “Chief, what did I do wrong?”
“No, no, no. You did not do anything wrong. It is for your protection for when another man touches you.”
“My protection? How Chief?” Olamide cried.
“Any man that touches you will die an instant death.” Chief said matter-of-factly.
“Chief?” Olamide screamed as her eyes grew big.
“Relax. Once the man dies, we become richer.”
Olamide put her hands on her head and burst into fresh tears. She was Chief’s pawn. She thought about Deji and his face flashed before her. What would he think of her? Was their plan for a future going down before her like a pack of badly arranged cards? Oh how happy they had been before she met Chief. Even though Deji had no job, his smiles were enough medicine for her when she was down.
She shook her head as she thought about Chief’s four wives. How many men had Chief’s wives slept with for him to become this rich? It all made sense to her now when Chief’s wives had been indifferent towards her when he introduced her to them. She had always heard about troublesome older wives but she had been shocked that they all accepted her without an objection.
As she opened her legs for Chief’s herbalist to make his incisions, she regretted the day she hatched the plan which had now become her undoing.