SECRETS: WHEN THERE IS A WILL



Otunba Adeniyi Williams-Akanbi smiled at his daughter. “You used to fly into my arms after any time away. Five years is a long time, Bunmi.”
She opened her mouth and shut it again. I can’t believe the nerve of the man.
“Why did you send your goons to kidnap us?”
“Goons?” He started laughing. “Kidnap you?” He waved his left hand in a dismissive manner. “You’ve always had a great imagination, Bunmi.”
Suddenly, he stopped laughing and spoke slowly, “A child who refuses to respect her elders will be treated like a child, no matter how old she is. I am your father and when I…”
Raising her voice, she cut him off. “Five years ago, you lost all claim to that title when you…”
His face tightened, but his tone remained the same. “Oluwabunmi Williams-Akanbi, I am your father and that has never changed. When I ask you to visit, you will respect me and do just that. When you refused to take my calls, you left me no choice but to force you to…”
She turned, pulling the twins to the door. He raised his voice, “Where exactly do you think you’re going, young woman?”
She opened the door and they walked through, without bothering to shut it. He was quick to go after them. “How dare you walk out on me, Bunmi? Have you lost your mind?”

Taking long strides, he caught up with them and grabbed her upper arm. “Let go of me!”
Joanna burst into tears and Jake pulled his hand away from his mother’s and dashed to his grandfather. Using tiny fists, he pummeled his thigh. “Leave my mummy alone.”
Niyi looked down at the little boy and shook his head regretfully, before freeing his daughter’s arm. Bunmi quickly scooped her daughter into her arms, while her father squatted, till he was on eye-level with Jake. “I’m sorry I pulled your mummy’s arm.”
He reached out a hand and Jake slowly backed away, till he was leaning on his mother’s leg. Niyi stood and locked eyes with his daughter. They were like that for a few seconds, before the sound of someone approaching made them break eye contact.
“What was all that yelling about?”
Bunmi sighed deeply. “Hello, mummy.”
Joanna raised her head. “Grandma!” She unwound her arms from her mother’s neck and with a wobbly smile, reached out for Folasade Williams-Akanbi.
Sade ignored the sharp look her husband sent her way and took the little girl. “Hi, sweetheart. You’ve grown so much.”
With her head over her grandmother’s left shoulder, she hugged her neck very tightly. Sade closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, fighting back tears. A tug reminded her that Jake was there too. “Oh, my! Bunmi, what do you feed these babies?” She set Joanna down and lifted a smiling Jake. “You’re such a big boy now, baby.”
Still smiling, he raised four fingers. “Yes, grandma. I’m four now.”
“I’m four too, grandma.”
She set him down and grabbed their hands and swung them in hers. “Wow! Four is such a big age, my darlings.”

Bunmi stood awkwardly, staring at her mother chat with the kids. She’s such a master at defusing tense situations. I guess I’m too much like him to know how to.
She glanced at her father then. He was also staring at his wife and grandchildren. There was a look of longing on his face, but that was gone as soon as he noticed his daughter staring. I’ve missed her so much. Will she ever forgive me?
An arm placed around her waist had her turning to her mother with a small smile. Sade’s eyes were unusually bright, glistening with unshed tears. Drawing closer, she raised her arms and framed Bunmi’s face with both hands. “How have you been, baby?”
She sighed deeply and threw both arms around Sade immediately. Her arms came round Bunmi’s body and the tears fell rapidly. “I’ve missed you so much, sweetheart,” she whispered. “Your father has too.”
She slowly pulled away from her mother and glanced quickly at her father. “Is that why he had me kidnapped?”
“Kidnapped? Don’t be ridiculous.”
Sade’s eyes narrowed. “Niyi!” He put his arms behind his back and looked away. She frowned. “What’s she talking about? You said they were coming over tonight. You said nothing about forcing her to.”
He turned to look at her. “You didn’t ask.” He shrugged. “She’s here now, that’s all that matters. She needed to be reminded that I could make her come to me, if I wanted to.”
“How dare you put fear in me and my children, just to prove a silly point?”
He pointed a finger in her direction. “You are a guest in my home, young lady! You will be respectful!”
“A guest?” She rolled her eyes and laughed mockingly. “Respectful? To a man who…”
Sade snapped her finger once. “That’s enough, both of you!” She looked from Bunmi to Niyi, as they glared at each other. She lowered her voice now. “There’s time for this drama. Now isn’t. I bet the children are tired of this excitement. Bunmi, have they had dinner?”
She glared some more at her father. “The ice cream we got has, most likely, melted.”
“Ice cream? That’s not proper food.”
She looked at her mother and shook her head slightly. “Mummy, please don’t start.”
Sade rolled her eyes and squatted, till she was on the same level as the children. They were huddled together, beside their mother, holding hands. “Would you love to eat spaghetti and meat balls? Mummy said you love that a lot.”
“I guess,” Joanna said, sticking her thumb in her mouth. Bunmi reached down and gently pulled the thumb out.
“I’m not hungry. I just want to sleep.”
“Jake you have to eat something,” Sade cajoled, placing her hands on his shoulders, to draw him closer.
“Alright.” He drew the word out, then his face lit up. “Ice cream, maybe?”
Sade looked up at Bunmi, who was trying hard not to smile. She rolled her eyes at her daughter, before responding, “Ice cream it is, then.” She slowly rose to her feet.
“Grandma, I want some ice cream too.” Joanna pouted and let her shoulders slump dramatically. “I’m tired.”
Bunmi laughed out then and her father’s face broke out in a huge smile. “She’s so adorable. They both are.” She stopped laughing, but still had a smile on her face when she looked at him. He added gently, “Just like you were.”
Watching them stare at each other, without any of the previous animosity, tears sprang into Sade’s eyes again. She quickly wiped them off with her right hand.
“Are you crying, grandma?”
Giving a quick laugh, as all eyes turned to her, she responded, “No, Joanna. I had something in my eyes.” She extended both arms to the twins and they grabbed her hands. “Come, let’s go find ice cream.”
“Mum, we need to get going, really.”
Sade halted and turned. “I made up your old room for the kids and the bigger one next door for you.” Her eyes turned pleading. “There’s dinner too. Nothing fancy, though.” She opened her mouth, like she wanted to say more, before shutting it. She removed her hand from Jake’s and reached for Bunmi’s. “Please stay, baby… Tonight, at least. Please?”
Tears sprang into Bunmi’s eyes and she squeezed her mother’s hand. “What’s for dinner?”
Sade let out a shaky breath and mouthed, “Thank you.” She smiled gently and squeezed her daughter’s hand too. “Ice cream, spaghetti and meatballs.”

It felt surreal to Bunmi to be in lying down on a bed in her parents’ home. After years away, she no longer thought of the house as home. Maybe, it’s being in this room.
In the past, she had never slept anywhere else, in this house, but in the room in which her children lay sleeping now. Restless, she rolled over to her back and relived the events of the night.
Her mother had instructed Agnes to retire for the night and had heated up the meal in the microwave, herself. They had sat on high stools, around the kitchen island, and dinner had been surprisingly pleasant. Even though, at nine p.m., it was an hour past the children’s bedtime, they had been alert and quite talkative with Sade, as they ate from their bowls of vanilla-flavoured ice cream. Occasionally, Jake had sent furtive glances Niyi’s way, while Joanna had ignored him completely.
He had been quiet as he ate and twice, she had glanced his way and had seen him staring at her, even though he quickly looked away both times. She had known that she would eventually see her father, but she hadn’t anticipated seeing him in such a manner. The burial would have been a good place to see him again.
Remembering the reason she had come back to Nigeria filled her with sadness. Why didn’t she give me a chance to say goodbye, before passing on?

In the master bedroom, Niyi was pacing the floor, while listening to Sade scold him sternly. “This is our daughter and not one of your political opponents, Niyi.”
He stopped and looked at her, sitting on the bed. “I take exception to that, Sade. I don’t know what gives you the impression that politics is a do or die affair for me. I am a successful business man, so…”
She shrugged and turned her left hand up. “So, why are you intent on pursuing a political career? The family business should be enough for you.”
He shook his head and waved his right hand. “I thought we were talking about Bunmi.”
She pursed her lips. “You should be more interested in mending the rift between you and not causing another fight. How could you have sent people to grab her and force her to come here? Did you even think of the fact that she was with her children? The spate of kidnaps around the country should have let you know how scared she would have been.”
He rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on! She was never in any danger.” When she only glared at him, he gave a wry smile and raised an eyebrow. “I’m supposed to assume that she knows about these kidnaps by watching international news, right?”
She looked away from him and he added, “When were you planning to tell me that you were in touch with Bunmi, to the extent that her children seem to know you very well?”
She moved her head slowly till she was looking at him again. “You never asked.”
Nodding slowly, he responded. “I see.”
“Niyi, you couldn’t have expected me to ignore my only child, just because…”
“Did it occur to you that, just maybe, all this drama could have ended sooner, if I had any idea that she was speaking to you?”
She started laughing, but the laughter ended abruptly. Slowly she lay on the bed, taking time to draw the duvet over her body, before speaking. “So, it’s now my fault, eh? Did you not know she was speaking to your mother too? Niyi, try and sleep, abeg. I bet tomorrow will be a long day. Please, don’t forget to turn off the lights.”
He watched her for a while, let out a breath and left the room. When she realized that he wasn’t returning immediately, she got up from the bed and turned off the lights.

Two men sat on a couch, in the living room of a tiny flat behind the main house. They had a plate of grilled chicken wings and some cans of beer on a table in front of them. The only sounds in the room were from a basketball game on ESPN.
“There’s some history between you and the chic, right?”
Both eyebrows were raised, as he turned to look at his friend. “History?”
He nodded, leaned back on the couch and took a bite from the chicken wing in his hand. “Yeah, history,” he said, chewing.
“We grew up together.”
“That explains the hood you wore and why you didn’t want to be involved with the assignment, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it. I sensed some unfinished business out there.”
“TJ, abi na Loony…” He started laughing. “Loony!”
No mind the babe. Why she come give me that kain name sef?”
“Don’t you think you were acting a little bit crazy? I almost started laughing when you turned on the music and started bobbing your head. For a kidnapper, you were acting too comfortable.”
TJ held his piece of chicken tightly and snapped his fingers. “God forbid! I no be kidnapper o! I no even understand why Otunba go send us on that kain errand sef.”
“What errand was that, Tijani?”
Startled, they looked up to find Agnes at the doorway. Shortly after they came in, she had come in from the main house and had gone to her room immediately. They hadn’t heard her come to the door.
“Good evening, mum.”
Tijani picked up the remote control beside him and switched off the television. “Good evening, ma.”
“Good evening, my sons. Did Bunmi come here with both of you?”
They looked at each other. “Yes, mummy. She did.”
She pursed her lips. “Please come with me, Kunle.”
As soon as they got into her room, she spun around to face her son. “How could you?”
“How could I what, mummy?”
“Come off it, Kunle. I overheard you and Tijani talk about kidnapping Bunmi.”
He looked around, discomfited. “Mummy, that was nothing, really. She was never in any danger.”
She shook her head in dismay. “Nothing? I raised you better than that, Kunle.”
He came closer and put his left arm around her shoulders. “Mummy, you know how Otunba is when he wants something. Tijani and I had to be there or he might have sent people who wouldn’t have adhered to his instructions, not to hurt her.”
She shrugged his arm away and waved a finger at him. “I’m so disappointed in you, Kunle. She would have been terrified, especially as she was with young children.”
He rubbed his hands over his face. “I didn’t know she was going to be with children. I didn’t even know she had children!”
She turned her face from him and muttered, “I didn’t either.”
“You didn’t?”
She looked at him then. “I assume you guys will stay here tonight. I’ll make the bed in the other room for you.
He was silent as he searched her face. She was distraught. Yes, we’ll stay here tonight. It’s too late to go home now.”
She walked pass him, opened the door and went across the hallway to the room opposite hers. He shook his head gently and went to join Tijani in the living room.
As Agnes lay on her bed a few minutes later, she wiped the tears that seeped from her eyes. We’ve made such a mess.

Stretching, hours later, Bunmi opened her eyes. The events of the previous night came rushing back and she quickly sat up, as she remembered where she was. The heavy brocade curtains prevented light from coming in so, she didn’t know what time it was.
She pushed down the duvet and swung her feet over the bed. When her feet made contact with the cold marble tiles, she flinched. Going to the wide single window, she opened up the drapes. It was bright and sunny outside and light flooded in, through the sheer blinds. Did I sleep that long? The kids!
Hurriedly, she looked around the big room for her sandals. They were in front of the wardrobe and beside them were a pair of furry slippers. She smiled as she put them on. Mummy must have brought them in at some point.
When she opened the door, a folded piece of paper fell to the floor. She picked it up and scanned it anxiously.
Sleepyhead (I see that hasn’t changed),
I enjoyed giving the kids a bath and we’re downstairs now. Your old clothes are still in your room. You might want to shower and come join us.
She smiled softly. Trust mummy to take charge.
She went into the room her children had slept in. The bed clothes were still rumpled and the duvet was almost on the floor. She smiled and went to pick it up. Straightening up, she slowly looked around.
Almost everything was still as she remembered. The carpet had been replaced by cream-coloured marble tiles and there were small colourful rugs by the sides of the bed. However, the walls were still in the girly pink of her childhood. A large poster of the members of Boys II Men, on the wall beside the dressing table, made her giggle, as she remembered when she had a crush on Shawn. She had sworn then, that she loved him and had drawn a heart over his head.
She ran her right hand over her belly and frowned. What did I know about love then?
Quickly, she walked to the wardrobe and opened the door. She was surprised to see them exactly as she left them. She reached out a hand and touched some of them. A pink dress caught her eye and she pulled it out. She draped it over her body and ran her right hand over it. Soon, she had to shut out the memories that came flooding to her mind.

Twenty minutes later, she was in the living room. Her mother was reading a book to the twins, but looked up when she came in. “Hello, princess.”
She smiled widely. “Good morning, mummy.”
The twins looked up, at the sound of their mother’s voice and shrieked. Jake scrambled down from Sade’s laps and flung himself at her. Joanna followed immediately. She stooped to hug and kiss them, then putting an arm around each waist, lifted both of them. Holding on to her hips with their legs, they rested their arms on her shoulders.
“How are you able to do that?” Sade asked, laughing.
Bunmi laughed too. “I’ve had years of practice.”
When she set them down, she looked them over. They had slept in some old tee shirts their grandmother had brought to Bunmi, after they had a bath last night. Now, they wore clothes that were obviously new.
Sade laughed, when she noticed the scrutiny. “You remember Yinka, right?”
Bunmi looked at her mother. “Yinka?”
“Yinka Oshinowo.”
“Oh, yeah. How’s she?”
She smiled. “She’s fine, I guess. She owns a kiddies shop in Ikota shopping complex. I called her about seven a.m., because I knew the shop won’t be open yet. She drove out, herself, to come sell the clothes to me. She can’t wait to see you.”
Bunmi looked at her children. They were now pouring out lots of colourful bricks from a yellow bucket. “Mummy, you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble, you know. They have loads of clothes and toys at grandma’s and we’ll be leaving soon, anyway.”
“Leaving? I already called Mrs. Okeke to come take your measurements.”
“Measurements?”
“For the family aso-ebi materials I reserved for you. The burial is in less than a week and she has to make your clothes quickly.”
Bunmi frowned and sat. “Mummy, I already have…”
“Indulge me, baby. Please.”
She sighed and stared at her mother for a while. “I’m starved. What’s for breakfast?”
Sade smiled widely. “I’m sure Agnes will prepare whatever you ask her to.”

She stopped short as soon as she entered the kitchen. Kunle was in front of the open fridge.
She turned to leave and had taken a few steps away, when his voice stopped her. “Good morning.”
Turning back, she noticed he had closed the fridge. She looked around the big kitchen and frowned. “Where’s Ma Agnes?”
Holding a carton of juice, he smiled. “She’s outside, having a chat with the gardener.”
They stared at each other till, breaking eye contact, he ran his eyes down her body. It was apparent that she still worked out. Her arms were perfectly toned. She wore the pink lace dress and the halter was tied in a bow, behind her neck. The bodice was fitted and he stared at the tiny buttons that held it in place. Slowly, his eyes went down the length of the dress, to the point where it swept the floor, hiding her feet.
She still looks so beautiful in it.
When he looked up, her eyebrows were raised. “Done gaping?”
He gave a lopsided smile and extended his right hand. “I’m sorry about last night.”
She ignored his hand and frowned. “I understand. I was just a job, right?” She turned and walked out of the kitchen, leaving him staring at her back.

The tailor had just left, with promises to deliver Bunmi’s clothes in three days, and the women were in the living room chatting.
“She insisted that the will be read a week before she’s buried. That was one of the reasons your father was trying to get in touch with you.”
Bunmi dropped the glass of juice on the stool beside her. She was shocked. “That’s strange.”
Her mother smiled gently and stood. “Your grandmother had a mind of her own, you know. Her lawyers are already here. They came while Mrs. Okeke was with you.” She stood. “Come let’s go to the study. Your father’s with them.”
When Bunmi glanced at the children, who were watching a cartoon, Sade touched her arm lightly. “Don’t worry about the kids. I’ll ask Agnes to take care of them.”

Thirty minutes later, they were all in the study listening to Gregory Olabode, one of the senior partners of Olabode and Thomas Law Associates.
“And to my granddaughter, Oluwabunmi Williams-Akanbi, I leave eighty three percent of my sixty percent shares in Williams-Akanbi Conglomerate. The remaining seventeen percent of my shares, I give to my son. Since he already owns forty percent of the business, this gives them equal percentages in the family business.”
He paused to look at Bunmi, who was sitting on the edge of her seat. He pushed back the reading glasses on the bridge of his nose and continued, “However, this comes with a condition.”
Bunmi’s heart beat fast. She hadn’t been surprised that her grandmother had given her the house in Ikoyi. She had expected some shares in the family business, but not enough to give her an equal interest with her father.
“… father of her children.”
She broke out of her reverie, at the gasp that came from her mother. Her father was staring at her, his elbows on his table and his fingers in a steeple. She turned to Gregory. “I’m sorry. Please could you repeat that?”
He nodded briskly. “However, this comes at a condition. Bunmi gets all the afore-mentioned, only if she moves back to Nigeria and if she gets married to the father of her children.”
She leaned back on the chair, threw her head back and put her hands behind it. Bringing her head forward again, she placed her hands on both sides of her face and tapped her fingers furiously on her temples. “No way!”
Gregory ignored her and continued. “She is expected to come to a decision within four weeks and is expected to stay married to him for a period of a year, at least. In that time, they will live in the same house and will have a proper marriage.”
He looked around the room and continued, “If any of these clauses are broken, all sixty percent of my shares, including the ones I have willed to her father, will be reverted to my estate. My lawyers will then begin the process of liquidating them and all proceeds will go to charity.”
Niyi hit a hand on the table and jumped up from his chair. “No way! That is not going to happen!”
Gregory glanced at him and continued, “However, if she moves back here and decides to marry him, even if the marriage is dissolved after a year, she and her father will retain those shares, just as I willed them.”
He removed his glasses and nodded at his younger associate, who opened a briefcase and brought out a sealed envelope. Walking over to Bunmi, he handed it over.

TO BE CONTINUED

For the other parts, please go to:

Part One: SECRETS
Part Three: SECRETS: THE FATHER FIGURE
Part Four: SECRETS: MOTHER KNOWS BEST






12 comments:

  1. Shiznit!!!!! Keep it coming gurl!!

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  2. Lol!! Thanks, dear :)

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  3. Nwachinemere10:45 am

    This is getting more interesting by the day! Am impatiently waiting for the conclusion.

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  4. Anonymous12:13 pm

    Oh my Word...Cant wait for the next part

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  5. More more please!!!!

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  6. Anonymous5:43 pm

    Oh no!not again

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  7. Anonymous11:51 pm

    Waow!!,can't wait for the concluding part. The suspense is brain wagging. Keep it up gal!

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  8. Fast paced...this has the potential of becoming a novella if only you develop ur characters more...
    Interesting story
    Dont starve us for long o

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  9. Very interesting story. Can't wait to read the next part

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  10. Nwachinemere; Thanks :) The next part will be up today.

    Anon 12:13; Soon ;)

    Uju; Lol! The first 'more' coming up ;)

    Anon 17:43; You won't be waiting for too long now.

    Anon 23:51; Thanks a lot :) Concluding part? Let's see how that goes ;)

    Zaphnathpaaneah; Patience, bro :)

    Okeoghene; Thanks :) :)

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  11. Hmmm...beautiful writing here. Bunmi is in emotional trouble! A catch-22 I guess

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  12. Samuel; Thanks a lot, friend :)
    That's a catch 22, alright

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