A romantic short story on a love affair between a Nigerian bus stop tout and an Arab street girl beggar in the city of Lagos seven years ago. The events in this story happened in 1998, in the city of Lagos in Nigeria.
The sun is going westward. The climate is calm.
Peripatetic Hadiyat is with her family in the midst of the other families of itinerant Arab street beggars under the flyover in front of the National Stadium in Lagos. There are several yellow minibuses and some motorbikes used for public transportation at the bus stop with the drivers, conductors and the menacing touts disliked by everybody, except themselves and their employers. And they are there, because of the numerous commuters that cannot avoid coming to the bus stop, because it is a central place for public transport. There are so many commuters thronging the bus stop by the main gate of the stadium. Some of the commuters are sports enthusiasts who come to practice their respective sports at the stadium, white collar and blue-collar workers and traders. Many of the petty traders have found enough space under the flyover to sell their goods. These commuters are the targets of these Arab beggars and looking at their cheerful faces, they seem to be happy with the commuters who have been kind and generous to them. As one can see the beggars accosting the commuters at the bus stop, those inside the buses and those outside the buses and also going to accost the people in cars and other vehicles on the road as they slow down on getting to the bus stop or as the traffic wardens stop them at the junction of the stadium. They all make a colourful scene.
Hadiyat is the most attractive of all the young teenage Arab daughters of the beggars and there are only few of them. And she is the oldest at 15 with the physical features of a nubile maiden. The touts are often teasing, taunting and harassing these attractive Arab girl-beggars and have become a public nuisance and menace to their parents and others. Their parents have always reported them to the local authorities. But, the touts have been threatening to expel the Arab beggars from the bus stop, because they are illegal immigrants who should have been deported long ago. This fact has made the Arab beggars to curry the favours of the touts and local authorities until they will leave for their own countries. Most of them are from the republics of Chad and Niger.
Sule is one of the leaders of the gangs of touts at the bus stop and motor park under the flyover and he lusts after Hadiyat. He is always teasing and taunting her to tickle her fancy and her parents frown at his overtures toward their beloved daughter and they always scold her to beware of him and to avoid him like a plague. But, she has a natural affection for Sule, because he is such a funny gangling young man who seems fearless as she sees him cursing, swearing and threatening the bus drivers and conductors. And he is always giving her money everyday. He even tells her to save the money and he really tickles her fancy!
Sule is smoking a cigarette and teasing Hadiyat in his mother tongue, the Yoruba language spoken by the Yorubas and millions of those in Lagos and the rest of the localities of Western Nigeria. Hadiyat giggles as she goes to accost some cars slowing down at the bus stop and Sule goes to confront the drivers and conductors of the buses stopping at the bus stop to extort illegal fees and levies from them. He is a public menace and nuisance tolerated by all the bus drivers and conductors for his rough and tough character. He is threatening an elderly bus driver he calls Baba Mushin.
“Baba Mushin, where is your money? Wazo! Oya, answer me! Give me the money!” Sule barks at him in the Yoruba language.
“I will give you when I come back. We have just got the bus released from the police station,” Baba Mushin says plaintively.
“That’s a big lie! Give me the money or you will not carry any passenger here today. Wazo. Oya! Quick! Don’t waste my time,” Sule yells, contorting his face to frighten the elderly man who could be as old as his father.
“Sule, please. I say I will pay the fee when I return from Mushin. I promise,” he pleads.
“That’s rubbish!” Sule shouts curtly.
Sule goes to stand in front of Baba Mushin’s bus and blocks his way with threats of dealing with him. Then, he tries to damage the wiper. Baba Mushin yells at him. The other fellow touts come to rally round Sule and on seeing the ruthless dispositions of Sule and his gang, Baba Mushin tells his bus conductor to give Sule the money. The sum of 50 Naira popularly called “Wazo” by the touts, “danfo” drivers and conductors in Lagos.
“God has saved you today! If you did not pay, I would have destroyed your wiper and there is nothing you will do. Try any rubbish and we will report you to Chairman and that is the end for you in Surulere,” Sule says and snarls.
Baba Mushin curses and hisses.
“C’mon! Get out of the way and let me go! Vagabonds!”
Sule and his gang give way and the elderly looking driver drives away. And Sule turns his attention to the next buses stopping at the bus stop.
The other gangs of touts are busy harassing the other bus drivers and conductors stopping at the bus stop. Once they collect the illegal fees or levies, they let the buses go and return to their corners at the bus stop or under the flyover. They spend some of their earnings on their addictions such as taking hard drugs, smoking cigarette or hemp, drinking alcoholic drinks and other beverages, patronizing the street girl-child prostitutes and other lusts of the flesh. Sule gives some of his earnings to Hadiyat and her family, jokingly telling them that he is paying the bride price of Hadiyat. Her parents will smile and pretend to appreciate his generosity, but they will sneer and curse him as he turns his attention away from them. “The infidel. B—–d!” Hadiyat’s father always curses him and the other Arab beggars also despise the touts, except their bosses who profess the same faith of Islam with them.
Hadiyat comes to accost the buses dropping and picking up passengers at the bus stop and Sule sees the opportunity to display his gallantry to impress his fellow touts and others around. He goes to her and calls her “My beautiful white wife.” His buddies hail him. Others jeer and wave his claim off in dismissal, saying that the Arabs don’t give their beautiful daughters away to strangers and non-Arabs. Because, they’re racist in inclination and their Islamic religion forbids them to intermarry with “infidels”. But, Sule’s buddies say that Sule has no other intentions, except to sleep with Hadiyat for the thrill of it and boast about it. And they are sure that he will sooner or later do so. And those who agreed cross their fingers with those who disagreed in a bet. Sule says that he has not been giving her money for nothing. That he will reap wherever he sows. And at this point he playfully pats Hadiyat’s bottom. She frowns and slaps his offensive hand off. And she warns him not to do so again. But he laughs at her warning and begins to dance like a clown as he goes on with his work shamelessly. His buddies join him in the comical dance and mimic their favourite native Yoruba songs. Many onlookers find them amusing, but others sneer at them calling them names such as “No future ambition, alias NFA.”
Later in the night, the bus stop is becoming calm, as the number of commuters has reduced with the bus drivers and conductors all leaving for their respective homes or elsewhere at the close of work. The traders are also packing up their goods and the beggars are retreating to their sleeping places nearby under the flyover or somewhere else they have chosen to pass the night. Hadiyat and her family live in a makeshift shack under the flyover. Sule often passes the night in any of the minibuses parked under the flyover left in his care by the owners or caretakers. Inside these buses, touts often sleep with their girlfriends or girl-child prostitutes and Sule has been planning to sleep with Hadiyat inside one of them anytime the opportunity comes his way. He has been inviting her, but she has not succumbed to his advances.
Hadiyat’s parents and their four children are having dinner inside their shack and at the same time counting the money they have made and planning when to return to their homeland in Niger. They discuss their daughter’s betrothal to one of their fellow Arab named Assam and that the sooner she returns home for the marriage the better to save her from the constant harassment of Sule and the other dangerous touts and hoodlums prowling and roaming about the stadium and environs. Because, she stands the risk of being assaulted. Hadiyat agrees with her parents.
“Father, we made quite a sum today,” Hadiyat says with a broad smile.
“Yes. Let us count,” says her father.
They start to count in Arabic.
“950 Naira,” her mother says as they sum up the total amount.
“Not bad at all. Thanks are to Allah,” her father says in appreciation.
“Hadiyat made 560 Naira,” says her mother.
“She has done well. But, she will soon stop and return home. Assam will soon come for his bride,” her father says.
“Of course. The sooner we do so, the better. Because, these infidels have been casting their lustful eyes on our beautiful daughter,” says the mother.
“I have noticed that infidel called Sule touching her here and there indecently. If care were not taken, he would defile her one-day,” says the father.
“God forbid such an abomination,” her mother declares.
“Yes. I want to go home to join Assam before the Ramadan,” says Hadiyat.
“Yes, my beloved daughter. We will not delay any longer. Look at you. You are already a full-grown young woman,” her father agrees.
“All her mates are getting married,” says her mother.
One night, there is a thunderstorm and in the torrential rain, people are running helter-skelter to escape from being drenched in the storm. The commuters that are waiting for their buses rush to stay under the flyover where the traders are, some of the touts, bus drivers and conductors are staying inside the buses or just nearby. The storm continues throughout the night and floods the whole place, washing away all the shacks and makeshift camps under the flyover, including the shack of Hadiyat’s family and her parents have gone to Iddo motor park to make arrangements for their journey back to Niger. And in the confusion, she shepherds her siblings into an open bus already occupied by others, but she does not find any more space for her to stay with her brothers. She leaves them there and looks for space in any other bus under the flyover. As she is looking for the safe bus to pass the night, she finds Sule alone in a bus, smoking and drinking. She wants to turn away, but he quickly persuades her to come inside, promising not to harm her. She agrees and goes inside. Once inside, Sule does not waste time to talk her into sleeping with him. And under duress and the offer of a lump sum of money, Hadiyat succumbs and he discovers that she has been a virgin until now.
“Please, Sule. Don’t hurt me,” Hadiyat says in her smattering Yoruba with an Arabic accent.
“Hurt you? My sweetheart. My honey. My own Godsent “oyinbo” baby. Relax and sleep. You are safe here inside my danfo. I mean it when I said I want to marry you. And you and your parents and your little brothers will never beg again. See money here plenty.”
Sule brings out wads of currency notes of the Naira and cleverly begins to spin Hadiyat and she succumbs naively. She is enticed and ensnared as he promises her so many things to make her life comfortable
“Not that I don’t like you Sule. But, I am already betrothed to Assam.”
“Assam? Who is Assam? A driver or conductor or is it one of my boys? And I will kill him.”
“No. Assam is not here. He is in our homeland.”
“So, you don’t want to marry me? I? Sule, the son of the king of Lagos. So, you don’t know that I am a Prince in Isale Eko. I am just doing all these motor park work to monitor my business. Let me tell you a secret.
I am the owner of ten buses and two taxicabs running all over Lagos.”
“True? Kai Hadiyat, do you doubt me? Wait until I take you to the palace to introduce you to the king. And you will see how the king and my people will welcome you like a princess. Because, if you marry a Prince, you become a Princess immediately.”
“But, I cannot marry an infidel. I must marry a Moslem. That is the Islamic law.”
“Hadiyat, I am also a Moslem. Sule is a Moslem name.”
“Lie! You are not a Moslem. You can’t even recite a verse from the Quoran.”
“Suleiman is my real name. I am from a Moslem family. In fact, I am going to go to Mecca next year.”
“Yes. I am going to Mecca. And if you agree to marry me, you will follow me to Mecca.”
“I can never lie in the name of Allah.”
“Oh, Sule. I will tell my parents the good news.”
Sule begins to caress her and she makes feeble protestations. But, she succumbs under his pressure and he makes love to her.
“Oh, my Hajia Hadiyat. So, you are still a virgin. Oh, so delicate and so sweet. Hadiyat, I love you and I will take you to Mecca.”
“Sule. I am afraid of what my parents will do if they find out.”
Hadiyat is moaning and groaning in–between sobs.
“Who will tell them? You?”
“Hadiyat, my love. Don’t be afraid. I will take care of you.”
Two months later, Hadiyat’s parents discover that she is pregnant and are devastated by the unfortunate predicament of an unwanted pregnancy that will jeopardize her privileges of getting married to Assam or any other man in Niger. Every bride must be a virgin otherwise she will bring public shame and discrimination against her parents and family. This bad development infuriates her father and in fury, he nearly beats her to a state of unconsciousness until her mother and fellow Arab beggars nearby intervene to save Hadiyat’s life from the wrath of her enraged father. Sule is unable to defend Hadiyat and he wisely keeps away for his own safety.
“Father, please have mercy!”
“Mercy? You don’t deserve mercy, but to be stoned to death for the abomination you have done and brought shame to our family and me. Allah! What will I tell Alhaji Musa and his son Assam?”
“The Satan has done his worst. It is not our fault or Hadiyat’s. We should have sent her home since last year, but you were the one delaying her. Now the worst has happened,” her mother laments bitterly.
“Is the delay the excuse for her indiscipline? Women. You are all dummies with your brains in your loins. Our daughter has disgraced us and you are blaming me!” Hadiyat’s father screams in fury.
He raises his whip as if to whip his wife.
“Go on! Beat me too. I will keep on saying the truth. The sooner we return home the better. We can do better than begging infidels for money. Is that not an abomination? You grin and smile to ask them for alms, but you curse and sneer at them behind their backs. Why not reject their alms since they are infidels? Such hypocrisy. I am fed up. If not for Allah, I would have left you and returned home without you.”
“Insolent woman! I will teach you how to keep your insolent tongue still!”
He tries to whip her, but his fellow Arabs hold him back, rebuking him for disgracing his family shamelessly in public. Hadiyat holds her mother as if her life depends on her mother’s. Her father retreats to their corner under the flyover while the younger children look on with mixed feelings of fear and pity.
The shame of it all makes Hadiyat’s parents to stop talking about it openly. And without wasting anymore time, they pack their belongings and leave for their own country. To save their beloved daughter from further abominations among the infidels. Sule watches helplessly from a distance as Hadiyat leaves with her family. His buddies begin to sing songs on how Sule has lost his Arab “wife”. And Sule chases them all over the bus stop without much remorse for the departure of Hadiyat.
In the harmattan of 2005. A beautiful fair lady with long curly hair and holding a young girl walking by her side comes to the motor park under the flyover opposite the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. She is well dressed in a modern white skirt suit and high heels. She has a small red handbag. The petty traders notice her as she walks up to the few Arab beggars. She wants to give them alms. She looks like a rich young lady. Probably a tourist. They regard her with anxious and curious eyes. The Arab beggars point to an old woman among the petty traders they call “Mama John.” And she turns to the woman.
“Good evening ma,” she greets politely with glints in her beautiful hazel eyes.
The old woman looks up from her seat in response. She thinks the young white lady wants to buy from her. She sells sweets of several brands. But, there is something familiar about this young white lady holding a little white girl. They look alike. Must be her daughter. They have the same eyes.
“Yes, oyinbo? What to do you want to buy? Peppermint or chewing gum?”
“No, ma,” the white lady replies.
If she does not want to buy anything, then what does she want from me?
“Mama, I am looking for Sule,”
“Sule? Which Sule? I am not Mama Sule. I am Mama John.”
“Yes. But, They say you know Sule. The one who was collecting money from bus drivers and conductors at the bus stop,” she says pointing to the bus stop.
“Oh, Oh!” the old woman exclaims as she remembers the Sule the white lady seems to be asking for.
“Yes, Sule. Oga Sule. Tall and slender. Black fine boy with gap in his front teeth?” she says describing him.
“Yes. Yes. Sule. Tall young man,” the white lady says.
“Ah. Sule don go school and Sule don become Oga lawyer now. No be conductor again. Sule, good boy is now a big man lawyer in Lawanson,” says the old woman.
Some of the other petty traders and some touts gather on hearing the name of Sule. Because, Sule has become a household name among them since he left to go back to school and has become a lawyer since passing out of the Nigerian Law School last year and most of them were at his Call to Bar party on Victoria Island. Then, out of deep curiosity, the old woman scrutinizes the white lady and it begins to dawn on her that she resembles the very pretty Arab girl that Sule impregnated seven years ago right here under the flyover before her very eyes and she was one of the people who intervened when her infuriated father “Baba Hadiyat” was punishing her.
“Hadiyat?” she calls her name.
“Yes, ma. Hadiyat. I am the one,” she replies.
The old woman looks into her hazel eyes and touches her hands and cheeks to be sure that she is not mistaken. And on her conviction of the reality that she is really Hadiyat, she exclaims in excitement.
“Hadiyat! The Arab girl! Sule’s girlfriend!”
Her announcement echoes and attracts the attention of other traders, touts, drivers and conductors and many others. They all surround the young white lady and her girl-child whom the old woman now recognizes as the result of Hadiyat’s pregnancy for Sule. She begins to thank the almighty God for the providence of the unwanted pregnancy that has brought such a very beautiful child into the world.
“You see the handiwork of the Almighty God. His ways are mysterious and wondrous to understand. See what the lord has done and it is marvelous in our eyes!” she says and recalls the circumstances of the love story of Sule and Hadiyat.
“Sule will be overjoyed to see you and his child. We will take you to his office in Lawanson. I hope you still remember Lawanson?”
Hadiyat nods. She is somehow embarrassed by the crowd of witnesses and other onlookers who have now being told the intimate experience of her life as an Arab beggar girl with her parents and younger brothers under the flyover. The sooner she leaves the scene, the better. To save herself and her innocent child from public embarrassment.
“Mama, I want to go and see Sule now. I have my car there,” Hadiyat says and points in the direction of the car she has parked across the major road by the flyover.
The old woman beams in utter amazement of the exciting event she is witnessing. Many of the touts who know Sule volunteer to escort Hadiyat to Sule’s office, but the old woman prefers to do so herself since she wants to take the credit for the service. Because, she is sure that Sule will reward her handsomely. But, one stubborn tout insists on coming along and the old woman obliges. The return of Hadiyat with the child she has born for Sule becomes the topic of the place.
“She must really love Sule to have come back with his child. God is wonderful.”
“Sule is lucky.”
“That boy has always been very ambitious. That is why he is a big man today while his fellow mates are still touts at different bus stops in Lagos.”
“They will marry.”
“How I wish, I would be as lucky as Sule.”
SULEIMAN LAWAL & ASSOCIATES
Solicitors and Advocates
Is boldly written on a wooden signboard at the gate of a two-storey building just in front of Lawanson Bus Stop and Motor Park in Surulere. It is only a ten minutes drive from the Stadium Bus Stop. So, if there is no traffic congestion, one can get there within ten minutes.
Barrister Suleiman Lawal is a tall and well-built young man. He is handsome, clean-shaven and looks imposing in stature, because of his six footer’s height. The black and white lawyer’s suit fits him to a tee.
He is picking up some papers from the desk and putting them into his portfolio and at the same time discussing with one of his principal partners.
Another young attorney he calls Tunde.
“Thank God, today is Friday. I am just tired to do any more work,” says Tunde and scratches his forehead with the index finger of his left hand.
“Speak for yourself. From here, I am going to the Lagoon Restaurant on Victoria Island for the business dinner,” says Sule.
“Sule, because of that black and beautiful Ibo Princess, abi?” says Tunde with a grin and raises his right thumb.
“Princess Lillian Sharon?”
Sule breaks into a popular Yoruba song that the masked musician “Lagbaja” has made popular.
“Baby, ti ani ko fe wa, sugomu.
Kaka ko fe wa, olofe Dokita, alabere…”
“You mean Barrister Lillian is playing hard to get?” asks Tunde.
“She is too ambitious. She thinks I am not rich enough,” says Sule.
“She misses you, she will miss a great fortune,” says Tunde.
“Many of these girls are myopic. Dem no dey see far,” says Sule half in common English and the rest in “Pidgin” English.
“You know them too well my friend. And they are the losers when the cookie crumbles,” laughs Tunde.
“You know, she is the self-crowned “Princess of the Nigerian Bar”. She is looking for a Bill Gates,” says Sule.
“But, you are not desperate for a wife. After all, your sweetheart Funmilola still comes to spend weekends in your home,” says Tunde.
“She is an angel. And very humble, in spite of her wealthy family,” remarks Sule.
“The daughter of Otunba Olaloyeaiye! She is ready made. Marry her and you are secured for life,” Tunde says commendingly.
“I am considering her seriously. Such a marriage will open more doors for us and new accounts to take us to the next level,” Sule says and shakes hands with Tunde.
“Tunde let us go to this dinner together. It is a plus if you come along.”
“The shafts of my car need attention. And my mechanic is coming for it at 6pm. So, I am taking a cab home.”
“C’mon Tunde. That’s a lame duck excuse. Let us go together and enjoy ourselves. And I think it’s time you get a new car.”
“From where? From the moon? Where is the dole?”
“Tunde, the time has come for us to spoil ourselves a little as they say at the Nicon Hilton in Abuja. We deserve some respect among our peers in Lagos. So, tomorrow, see Oluwole Motors and give them deposit for two Toyota Prado jeeps.”
“Sule? You are joking! Stop teasing me oh!”
“Teasing you? I am d–n serious my brother. Are we not the two principal partners of this chamber?”
Tunde nods affirmatively.
“We have been too modest for our status. As upwardly mobile young lawyers in Nigeria, we should look like the trendy ones. So, I have decided that we should spend some twelve million naira on two brand new Toyota Prado jeeps for our official and personal use. See Nojim Maiyegun in the bank on Monday.”
For some minutes, Sule’s words overwhelmed Tunde, and then he recovers his composure and hugs Sule happily.
“Oh, God! This is a testimony that will gladden the hearts of the congregation on Sunday. This is good news!” Tunde exclaims joyfully.
“Sir,” says a young woman in a brown trouser suit and black shoes as she comes into the office.
“Yes, Abigail,” Tunde replies.
“We have some visitors.”
“Official or private?” Sule asks.
“Mama John and Jelili from Stadium,” Abigail replies.
Sule’s face brightens in excitement.
“Your homies again. Have they come for their weekend allowance?” Tunde says and chuckles amusingly.
“Tunde! Don’t make fun of my people oh,” says Sule with a grin.
“Tell them to come in,” he adds.
Abigail leaves and returns ushering in the old woman, Hadiyat and her child and the tout called Jelili.
The appearance of the white looking young lady and a white looking child surprises Sule and Tunde. Abigail never mentioned them! They welcome them with apprehension.
“Ah! Mama John and Jelili, welcome,” Sule greets them in Yoruba.
“Oga Lawyer Sule! Good fortune oh!” Mama John exclaims excitedly with wide smiles.
“Oga Sule, we brought your wife oh!” Jelili announces and the old woman nudges him with her left elbow for being too anxious to break the news to Sule.
“Jelili! You talk too much,” she says rebukingly.
Sule and Tunde are still trying to comprehend the relationship between Mama John and Jelili and the white looking young woman and female child.
Hadiyat is able to recognize Sule without much scrutiny and she is impressed by what she is seeing. The unique transformation of a motor park tout into an upwardly mobile young attorney within the space of only seven years! This is a classic true-life story to report to her editors in Paris. And Sule is handsome too! Gosh. She blushes.
“Sule? So, you cannot recognize Hadiyat again?” Mama John declares announcingly.
Sule is caught off-balance by the sudden revelation. This is “breaking news”. Tunde simply watches the unfolding drama. Yes. Of course, he has heard so much of the romantic escapades of Sule as a roving tout at the Stadium bus stop. And the Arab girl-beggar he impregnated under the flyover. How the past comes to haunt the present. And our past life never leaves us totally. He only hopes Hadiyat has come in peace. And by her comfortable appearance, all seems to be well with her and the child with her. Tunde knows without being told that the child is Sule’s love child. The whole scenario amuses him. It is like a c—-x in a romantic movie. He winks at Sule.
“Sule,” Hadiyat calls his name whisperingly.
The child looks up.
Sule is overwhelmed by the truth staring at him in the face. Hadiyat, the daughter of the beggar under the flyover at the National Stadium. The nymph of his street life. The muse of his lust. The reveries of the memories envelop him and he becomes immersed in the pool of the nostalgia. It is unbelievable that he will see Hadiyat again after seven years. He remembers vividly that evening of their departure from the stadium bus stop. How he could not even say goodbye to Hadiyat, because he did not really feel any emotional attachment to her. The night he made love to her was like on e of his wet dreams. H e saw the opportunity and took it like a fast hawk pouncing on a chick. It was just one of his numerous flings with several girls on the street. Hadiyat happens to be an Arab who fulfilled his fantasy to sleep with an “oyinbo” girl. All black boys fantasize on how it would feel like making love to a white girl in contrast to sleeping with their own black girls. And he only did it for the thrill of it and to boast about his conquest to his peers. That “Sule has slept with a white girl”. It’s a big deal to them. So, he did it and walked tall over it. He never bargained for the sudden reappearance of his victim. Thank God he did not rape her.
“Hadiyat? Am I dreaming or seeing things? Can this be possible?” Sule says and comes closer to regard her and is fully convinced beyond all doubts that she is Hadiyat with his child. Because, the little girl resembles him! She has his “Eti Ehoro” ears like the ears of Will Smith that celebrated American actor. In fact, people say they look alike. And he likes the compliment. Because, Will Smith is a handsome man and also regarded as a s-x symbol in Hollywood.
“No. You are you not dreaming Sule. So, you are now a lawyer?”
“Yes. I decided to go back to school and fulfill my ambition to be a lawyer. And I thank God for making my dream come true.”
For a while, both of them stand face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball.
It is a one in a million meeting. Sule is too amazed to see her also transformed into a new personality.
He calls Abigail and tells her to serve them drinks and snacks. Abigail does so immediately and they spend sometime regaling themselves until Tunde reminds Sule of the business dinner he has with an important client.
“Hadiyat, I have to go. Where are you staying?” Sule says.
“At the Lagos Sheraton. I came to look for you. And now that I have found you, I am at peace with Halimat. Because, since she has been harassing me to take her to her father, I have not been able to even concentrate on my work.”
Halimat smiles as she relaxes on Sule’s laps with her head resting on his left shoulder. Sule tickles her cheeks and smiles gladly.
They are all in elated spirits.
“I will join you at the Sheraton in three hours time. I have to honour this very important invitation to a business dinner at the Lagoon Restaurant on Victoria Island. You know Victoria Island?”
“Of course. Have you forgotten that I grew up here and followed my parents to all the bus stops in Lagos, begging for survival.”
“Oh, Hadiyat. Those were the days of wretchedness. Thank God the nightmares are over. See how Providence has changed our lives and made us better,” Sule says.
Mama John gives him an illustrative look indicating that she wants to leave.
But Jelili is not in a hurry to leave, because he has not better to do and he prefers to even pass the night in the cozy office since it is like a palace when compared to the makeshift shack under the flyover at Stadium bus stop.
Sule and Tunde exchange glances of tacit knowledge of what to do for Mama John and Jelili. And Sule opens one of the drawers of his desk. He brings out some cash. Notes of naira. He counts up to three thousand naira. Then, he gives Mama John two thousand naira and gives Jelili the remainder.
“Oga lawyer, my kind son. God will bless you,” Mama John thanks Sule gratefully.
“Oga Sule, thank you. I trust you,” Jelili says in appreciation, bowing slightly. “Oga Tunde. No shaking. You are correct fine-fine.” Jelili adds.
Tunde calls Abigail and tells her to switch off all the electrical supplies and lock up before going home. “See you on Monday.”
Sule and Tunde see their visitors to the gate of the office. Mama John and Jelili leave. Hadiyat and her child feel reluctant to leave Sule.
“Halimat, my angel. Don’t worry. I will soon be back and I will join you later,” Sule says confidently as he and Tunde escort them to their car. A saloon car. And they wave as Hadiyat drives off with her daughter.
“What a day!” Tunde exclaims and sighs.
“Tunde, let’s go. It’s already 7.30 pm. We should get to the Lagoon before 8 pm,” says Sule.
“I am ready,” Tunde says.
“Let’s go,” says Sule.
They enter Sule’s saloon car and are about to drive away, when a short fat man in overall comes to them.
“Oga Tunde, good evening,” he greets.
“Is it now that you are coming?” Tunde asks in Yoruba.
“Oga, there was a lot of work. In fact, I have not even finished. But, I decided to rush to collect your car,” the man replies in Yoruba.
“Here’s the key. Just do a better job this time. Don’t make me think you want to frustrate me to abandon the car, so that you can sell it,” says Tunde giving a key to the short fat man.
Sule nods at the man and drives off without wasting time.
Sule is at home. He is in his pajamas and bathroom slippers. He is in his living room reading a document.
The living room is well furnished with modern furniture and electronic products. It is well decorated and ventilated.
“Dear,” calls a pretty young woman in a nightgown and bathroom slippers. She is tall. But not as tall as Sule though. She is black and beautiful.
Sule looks up to regard her.
“How do you want your egg?”
“Boiled,” Sule replies.
“Okay,” she nods and returns to the kitchen through a passage.
Sule admires her. “Some are born beautiful and others are born ugly.” He appreciates the natural beauty of Funmilola. She makes his weekends wonderful. And he is already making plans to go and see her family and ask for their blessings to marry her. But, the sudden appearance of Hadiyat frightens him. Because, Hadiyat seems to be interested in formalizing their relationship. And their love child, Halimat is her joker. After the dinner at the Lagoon, he and Tunde went to the Sheraton to see them. And Tunde soon left. Hadiyat soon puts Halimat to bed and then stripped stark naked before him in all her beauty. The sight of her awesome naked body made him lose his composure and as she undressed him, he couldn’t resist her. And he did not leave her till this morning. He is still trying to recover from the e—-c bout. And he wants to keep it a secret from Funmilola.
He is meeting with Hadiyat again this morning. He will leave for the Sheraton once he finishes having breakfast.
Sule eats his breakfast in a hurry.
“Kilode? Why are you rushing the food?” Funmilola asks.
“Dear, I have an important meeting with a representative of Canal France International from Paris. I have to keep the appointment before the person leaves for the airport at 10 am,” Sule replies and swallows a lump of saliva as he feels guilty that he is already perfecting lies to deceive Funmilola.
She regards him with concern and then nods approvingly. She has no reasons to be afraid of her future with Sule, because he is even lucky to be considered her boyfriend and proposed husband. She is the target of several suitors from affluent families of the same social class with her family. And Sule is from a poor family without any social standing in the society. In fact, her parents don’t like seeing him in her company. But, she has told them that Sule is her choice and she has been proud of him since they met at the Nigerian Law School and Sule has been impressive as a very brilliant student. He has passed out with First Class. And his bright future is enough for her
“Okay, my dear. Don’t be long. I would be bored without you,” she says.
“I will soon be back, darling,” Sule smiles and kisses her passionately.
“Sule, son of Mama Alamala! Don’t kill me with love. Your kiss can even melt a heart of stone,” she remarks excitedly.
Sule knows how to sway women to his advantage. He is a natural lady-killer.
He pats Funmilola’s bottom and winks.
“Just wait for me. This Saturday is going to be one of the best Saturdays of our life,” he says.
“I can’t wait,” she says whisperingly.
Sule spins around and with that he has completely won over her heart.
He soon leaves to join Hadiyat and their child at the Lagos Sheraton and Funmilola did not see him until Sunday Morning. And when she called him, there was no response from his mobile phone, because Sule has switched it off immediately he stepped into the Sheraton. He couldn’t resist Hadiyat. And he wished he could sleep with her forever. She is still in love with him and since that first time she surrendered her virginity to him, she has not fallen for another man. Going back to Niger with her unwanted pregnancy was a blessing for her. No young man wanted her anymore. And this worsened her father’s disappointment. He neglected her and in dejection she left home and was lucky to have found some French missionaries who took her into their care and after the birth of her baby, they gave her scholarship to study French and computer studies. Her mother took over the care of her child Halimat. She was very brilliant and her distinction so impressed them that they took her along when they were returning to France. She was enrolled at the Paris College of Journalism and upon her graduation she found work as a reporter with Canal France International. And she is now the Senior Correspondent of the Canal France International in Niger.
Hadiyat soon convinces Sule to come with her and let them settle down in Paris where he can learn French and continue with his legal profession. Sule agrees with Hadiyat.
Sule discloses all the developments to Tunde who is overwhelmed by the sudden change in Sule’s life and how the change also affects him.
“Kai, Sule. This Arab angel has given you love potion and cast you under her Arabian Nights’ spell. And you have forgotten all about Funmilola.”
“That’s life my brother. I am in love with Hadiyat and we have our beautiful baby girl whom I cannot deny the tender love of a father and since Hadiyat wants us to be one big happy family, I agree with her. I will explain things to Funmilola,” Sule says.
“When a woman hooks your heart, only God can save your soul,” says Tunde.
“Tunde, I will be coming back home to see how you are faring. And I trust you anyway. So, I am not worried at all. In fact, we should open an office in Paris where you can always come to assist me.”
Tunde gives Sule his full support.
“My younger brother should take over my flat and give him maintenance allowance every month end. I will always stay there any time I come home.”
Sule lies to Funmilola that he is going on a working visit to Paris.
“And when are you coming back?”
She shrugs and wishes him well. She has nothing much to lose, if she loses him. Life goes on.
Sule and Hadiyat are happily married in Paris with four children. Including Halimat, the oldest.
Funmilola is also happily marred to the second son of Otunba Okoya Thomas and their wedding made headlines in Lagos and the photo album of the wedding has been published in Ovation, also known as “Dele Momodu’s Photo Album” of the stinking rich and famous in Nigeria.
Tunde is now very famous as the head of the law firm with an international office in Paris run by Sule.