The day after the grand confession was a Sunday – the Sunday we were to unveil Bella to her father’s family. I wasn’t looking forward to it but TK had insisted we shouldn’t cancel because Bella had been looking forward to meeting her grandparents and the rest of her father’s family. I knew it would be unfair for us to deprive her of that simply because things were a little awkward with them.
The Duchess, TK’s dad, his brother Tomiwa and his family as well as his sister Tomike were all present. I had forgotten how emotionally draining the Sunday dinners could be. The time I had spent away from TK had made me miss out on the tradition for a while. Awkward introductions were made and then we sat down for dinner.
TK’s Dad: So Bella, how do you like living in Nigeria?
Bella: It’s been fun. I am just now starting to discover the city since I started working.
Tomike: Any favourite spots yet?
Bella: Hmmm… I am undecided, but the mall in Lekki is a cool place to hang out. I always get to meet people there.
Tomike: So do you have a boyfriend?
TK almost swallowed his fork. The sight was comical.
TK: Tomike what sort of question is that? The girl is still trying to settle in and you are already asking about a boyfriend.
Bella: Actually Dad I sort of met someone while I was at the NYSC camp.
I could tell TK wasn’t finding any of it funny and the look on his face had me trying so hard to suppress my laughter.
TK: Who is this someone?
I kicked TK’s leg under the table, I didn’t think it was the right time to put Bella on the spot. He gave me a stern look and spoke again.
TK: I am listening young lady.
Bella: His name is Obinna
TK: What does he do?
Bella: He is serving at a Bank Daddy.
TK: What is his last name; I need to have him checked out.
Me: TK cut the girl some slack, you can have this conversation later.
Tomike: That is a very important question. Bella dear trust me you are easy prey, take it from me. Been there, done that; I have two divorce papers to show for it. Sometimes they just want to be with you because of your last name.
TK’s Dad: Is this the appropriate conversation to have at a dinner table? Tokunboh please you can have this conversation later and as for you Tomike please save your marriage advice, no one asked for it.
Adaobi, Tomiwa’s wife and I exchanged a knowing glance and smiled. Just the other day she had mentioned to me on the phone that she liked the new version of Mr. Ayo-Kessington. Since The Duchess was told to take things easy after her heart attack, she had become quiet and he had become more assertive. Power was changing hands in the Ayo-Kessington family and we were very glad about it!
TK: You are right Dad, sorry.
Tomike: I don’t know why everyone treats me like I am a disgrace to this family. Is it my fault that I cannot seem to find true love?
Tomiwa: It is not your fault Tomike. Don’t worry the right man will come.
I almost yawned out loud. TK’s brother Tomiwa was the most docile and agreeable person I had ever met. He hardly spoke and always behaved as though he was confused about something.
TK’s Dad: Tomiwa is right dear. It is not your fault my dear, if you knew better you would have made better choices. Don’t worry you’ll find the right man soon.
Finally the Duchess spoke,
The Duchess: I guess it is my fault then, for not teaching her to know better right?
TK’s Dad: I did not say that Adenike. Don’t start!
The Duchess: Oh please! You didn’t say it, but you implied it. You are always implying it.
TK: Mum please not today. Its Bella’s first Sunday dinner and…
The Duchess cut him off
The Duchess: Just keep quiet Adetokunboh and let me finish! I am the bad mother who is always witch hunting her daughters-in-law. I am the bad mother who is always indulging her daughter hence her being divorced twice in her early thirties. I am the bad mother who is always forcing her sons to obey her will and trying to pay off the women they think they are in love with. Fine, I agree I am a horrible person and the worst mother in the world. What you all don’t know is I am the mother who has stayed in this marriage knowing full well that my husband has had a mistress for over a decade for the sake of the same children whose lives I am supposedly trying to ruin.
I am the same mother who has bailed each of you out of all your financial crisis, the same mother who has done things I never thought I was capable of to keep this family relevant. You think they call me The Duchess for nothing? I may be the worst human being on earth but which of you here has not needed my help for one thing or another. I look at all of you and I wonder what would happen to this family when I am gone. None of you here have the guts to run this dynasty like I have done. None of you!
She was so furious she pushed back her chair and stood up:
The Duchess: I am done here. Bella welcome to the family.
Needless to say, the family dinner had ended up in a big disaster after The Duchess’s unexpected outburst. Tomike had burst into tears for causing the rift in the first place. Tomiwa had confronted his father about The Duchess’s allegations of him having a mistress and Adaobi and I had gotten into the cross fires. Particularly after my reaction to the shocking revelation that TK knew about his dad’s affair; I just couldn’t get it.
I had a brief chat with Bella who seemed to be confused by it all before I went to bed. TK went out and didn’t come back till the early hours of the next morning. I knew he was upset so I decided not to make a fuss. It was when he returned and woke me up to sing to me that I remembered it was my birthday.
He had planned a whole day of activities for me. I was to go for a complete makeover at a studio in Lekki phase 1, go shopping with Linda and then come home to a quiet dinner with him, Oladunni and Bella. It was the perfect day as I had kept reiterating to him that I did not want anything extravagant for my birthday. Since we had only recently resolved our issues I felt it best to just keep things simple.
Linda being who she is made me buy a ridiculously expensive dress for my dinner date with TK and I looked really nice, even with my baby bump which was now pretty obvious. We all went to the restaurant and as soon as we stepped in, I knew there was something wrong because it was all dark.
Me: TK are you sure they are open?
TK: Just go in baby, they are.
As soon as I stepped in, the lights came on and I heard a loud
In front of me were all my closest friends, Linda and her husband, Funsho and her husband. My aunt and Uncle, TK’s staff from the office who had been my colleagues at some point, Banke who had moved back to Nigeria since her divorce went through so was her brother and his family, and the biggest surprise of all my brother, his wife, my niece and nephew. I was ecstatic! I didn’t even know they were in the country. I got so emotional I burst into tears.
It was a magical party and I couldn’t believe TK had put it all together without me suspecting a thing.
Later that evening Emeka came to the party with his girlfriend (a real one this time). Her name was Sophie and she was very pleasant to be around, I was so happy that TK had invited him. It was a sign that we had officially moved past the drama for good. Of course the Ayo-Kessington’s made a grand entrance when the party was in full swing with the Duchess stealing the show in a dress that had so many glitters I was wondering if we would all need sunglasses at some point. I was truly happy and I was feeling blessed. It was the first birthday I had in a long while that did not include any depressive thoughts about my life.
My brother and I eventually had a moment alone to talk.
Afolabi: I am so happy you and TK resolved your issues. He really loves you.
Me: I know, I have been so happy these last few weeks. You have no idea.
Afolabi: Guess who called me yesterday?
Me: You know I am not good at the guessing game. Who?
Afolabi: Akin Badmus
I had told Afolabi all TK’s family had told me about the cause of the feud and I knew it had further reinforced his resolve never to have a relationship with him. I had decided not to bring up his name until now.
Me: Wow. What did he say?
Afolabi: That he wanted to talk. I don’t know how he knew we were in the country or got the phone number I just bought but I guess being who he is, he has his ways.
Me: Why do you think he is making contact now?
Afolabi: I don’t know and I don’t care. Whatever his motive is cannot be good.
Me: What did you tell him?
Afolabi: What else? To lose my number and stay away from you.
I wondered what Akin Badmus wanted to say to Afolabi and why he had contacted him and not me but I knew my brother better than to continue on the matter so I decided to drop the subject.
Later on, I was sitting with Linda and Funsho talking about everyone at the party…when TK decided it was time to make a speech. He thanked everyone for coming, declared his undying love for me and then dropped the bombshell…he had made me a Non-Executive Director in his company as I had requested.
The announcement was welcomed with a resounding applause and I practically floating on cloud nine. All my dreams were coming true. As I went round thanking everyone for coming, Emeka approached me and whispered in my ear to follow him outside for a minute. I asked him what he wanted and he insisted I follow him. I saw TK’s gaze on us as we headed for the exit so I smiled at him to reassure him that I was ok.
Me: Emeka why did you bring me outside? What is it?
Emeka: There is someone who has been dying to meet you.
Me: I already met your girlfriend Emeka. Who could it be?
I heard a male voice from behind me. He said:
“That would be me”.
I turned around, and standing behind me was Chief Akin Badmus.