A STORY WRITTEN BY SERAH IYARE
Sheila left the library and walked back to her hostel. She needed a warm bath and something to eat. Something good, delicious and relishing. She felt like indulging herself. She was in no mood to cook. She glanced at her wrist watch, it was 6 p.m. Some of the restaurants on campus would have closed. She had laid out plans on how she would spend her money. She would be drilling a hole in her allowance if she decided to leave the campus and eat out. If only her parents would increase her allowance. Her phone vibrated, she pulled it out of one of her blue jeans trouser pockets.
It was her father. Why was he calling? She had spoken with her parents two nights ago. She wondered why her dad was calling. Probably he wanted to inform her that they have decided to increase the money they give her monthly. Wishful thinking. Her parents were not ready to increase her allowance anytime soon. She pressed the answer key.
“Hello, Dad good evening.”
“Evening pumpkin, how are you doing?”
“Are you free tonight?”
A frown creased her brow, now what? If they want her to come home for whatever reason, there had be a catch, preferably in cash. “It depends,” she heard her father chuckle. May be it was high time she stopped going home every weekend. That was one of the disadvantages of schooling close to home. She was now a big girl and would be twenty soon. Once a month was okay, except when she needed something. She would discuss it with them during the weekend.
“Baby girl… Are you there?”
His voice pierced through her thoughts, “Hmmm… ”
“Yes… Yes, dad.”
“Your mother and I are trying out a new Chinese restaurant, we thought you might like… ”
“Chinese restaurant! Tonight?”
“Fantastic. I am free! I am free! I am coming home straight away.”
“Hold your horses girl. We will come and pick you up.”
“Great! Fantastic! Thanks dad, you are the best!”
Her father laughed and hang up. Sheila half ran and half walked the rest of the way to her hostel. Free dinner! That was extra cash for her. No need to touch her dwindling allowance. That was the best news she had heard that week. It was so cool being an only child. Although, sometimes she wished she had a sibling or two, but most times, she saw the benefits of being an only child. Her parents and all they had were at her beck and call.
John led his wife and daughter into the Chinese restaurant. They found a table close to the window. They settled down and made their orders.
“Can you imagine the crowd in this place?” Eureka looked around. All the tables were almost taken.
“Lagosians and food,” John grinned.
“We are here for the same reasons.”
Her parents turned to look at her, trust their daughter to hit the nail on the head. A waiter brought their meal and another arranged their drinks on the round table.
“Chinese food… always fresh,” Sheila picked up her cutlery and dug into her food.
“Did you say your prayers?”
“Hmmm… ” She lifted her head and met her mother’s disapproving gaze. She shook her head and swallowed the food in her mouth. She said a quick prayer and continued eating.
“How is the food?”
Eureka nodded with approval. Sheila made ‘thumbs up’ signal with her hand. John smiled and worked on his meal. The food was good. He would visit again with his wife.
“I am off to the restroom,” Sheila pushed her chair backwards and got to her feet.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded and smiled at her mother, “I am pressed.”
“Oh… ” Eureka returned her attention to her half-eaten meal.
Sheila sighted a waiter and asked where the restroom was. She followed his directions and found her way. She used the toilet and while washing her hands at the sink, some ladies walked in chatting and laughing as if they owned the place.
The three of them hung around the large mirror and applied their makeup.
“Have you placed your order for your wedding gown?”
They all burst out laughing.
“Like seriously, that was the first thing I ordered for.”
“Way to go girl, in your shoes, I would have done the same thing.”
Sheila watched them while drying her hands. It was obvious one of them was getting married. They all looked a little bit over twenty if she wasn’t mistaken.
“My father promised to give me every single penny I need. All I need to do is ask.”
“That’s so cool. When it comes to a wedding like yours, the banks must stay open.”
“Of course girlfriend.”
They gave themselves high fives. Sheila shook her head and
hissed. She won’t be surprised if they were all over-pampered brats raised by some money bags in the society. She hissed again. The ladies stopped talking and turned to face her.
“Did she just hissed at us?”
“Hell no! I hope she didn’t.”
One of them walked up to her, “You’ve got something to say bitch?”
Sheila stared back at her, wondering whether she should respond or walk away. Why waste her time and saliva? She hissed and turned to leave. One of the ladies dashed for the door and locked it.
“What is the meaning of this?”
“You are not going anywhere until you apologize to us.”
“Apologize? For what?”
They all surrounded her, hands akimbo.
“Do you know who I am? Nobody hisses at me and my friends and get away with it.”
She sized them up, from weavons to shoes. Their hairstyles were bizarre, their outfits were too clingy, making them look like sardines in a can and their makeup was heavy. They looked like scary clowns. God! Some women will never learn. Less was more.
“Do you know who we are?”
“You made a big mistake tonight. You picked on the wrong girls.”
Sheila started to laugh, she clapped her hands and laughed hard. They stared at her, wondering what had come over her.
” I know your types,” she waved a hand at them. “Over-pampered brats.”
Their puzzled gazes turned to angry ones.
“Do you think the world is at your feet? From where I am standing, you are nothing but lazy, dumb girls who cannot even brush your own teeth.”
“How dare you?” One of them pushed her.
“Don’t you dare touch me!”
Another tapped her on the shoulder, “Look here, I am Zidani Abubakar, the daughter of the CEO of Allied Insurance, you are going to pay for insulting us,” she dialed a number on her phone.
“You have a very big mouth, we will show you the stuff we are made of,” one of Zidani’s friends drew one of her ears.
Her temper rose, if she loses it, she would end up injuring them physically. Her parents were outside, for their sake, she would try to stay calm, but these girls were making it so hard for her.
“If you touch me again, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”
Zidani and friends laughed at her.
“Look at this nobody.”
“My body guards will deal with her,” Zidani eyed her.
“Sheila’s food is getting cold. What is she doing in there?”
“I hope the food did not give her a stomach upset,” Eureka got up, “I will go and check up on her.”
John sighed and watched his wife leave in a hurry.
Eureka met Dorcas on her way to the restroom.
“My one and only sister in-law.”
“Dorcas… ” They embraced, “What are you doing here?”
“You are not the only one who likes Chinese food you know.”
They both laughed.
“I am here with Imabong, his business partner, a client and her friends.”
“Are you here with John?”
“You two… Lover-birds,” she winked.
They both laughed again.
“We brought Sheila along.”
“Oh… I see,” her brows knitted in a frown.
“She left for the restroom a while ago… ”
“Really…” her frown deepened, “So did my client.” They locked eyes and hurried to the restroom. The door was locked.
“What in the world… ”
Eureka started banging her fist on the door, “Sheila! Are you in there?”
Zidani and her friends exchanged glances.
“Cecilia go and open the door.”
One of the girls unlocked the door. Eureka and Dorcas walked in. They saw Sheila surrounded by three ladies.
“What is going on here?”
“This thing here had the audacity to run her big mouth and insult me and my friends.”
“And she is going to regret it,” Cecilia added.
Eureka and Dorcas exchanged glances. A group of men in black suits came in.
“Good, your bodyguards are here,” Nkiruka cheered.
“I want you to take this thing somewhere and teach her a lesson. No one messes with Zidani Abubakar.”
The men in black grabbed Sheila.
“What… What… Leave my daughter alone!” Eureka stood in their way.
“Oh-oh-oh, so this thing here is your daughter?” Cecilia rolled her eyes.
Eureka faced the young women, “My daughter is not a thing!”
Zidani and her friends burst into laughter.
“Take her away!”
The men grabbed Sheila again.
“Leave my daughter alone!”
“Wait… Wait… Zidani, let us settle this matter without… “Dorcas eyed the bodyguards, “… without involving them.”
She shook her head, “No… No… She must pay for insulting me.”
John walked in, “What is going on here?”
Zidani ignored him and shouted at her bodyguards, “What is wrong with all of you? Take her out of here or you will lose your job!”
“If you touch her, you will all sleep in the police cell this evening.”
Zidani and her friends glared at him.
“Who do you think you are?” She eyed him.
“And who do you think you are?”
She squared her shoulders and smoothed her navy blue satin dress, “I am Zidani Abubakar, daughter of the CEO of Allied Insurance.”
“And I am John Adams.”
Zidani and her friends dropped their jaws. The Adams family were well known, not just in Lagos, but all over Africa. She signaled to her bodyguards and they walked out of the restroom.
“I think we should take this outside, we cannot settle this matter in here,” John led them all out of the restaurant.
Dorcas began to sweat. Today of all days! She dialed her husband’s number. They have been planning Zidani’s wedding for several months and they were supposed to finalize the contract that night. If all goes well, Zidani’s friends would make sure they planned their wedding too. So much money was involved. She and her husband had already set other things in motion. Oh God! Help us God! They can’t afford to lose the contract.
“I was in the restroom with my friends, and this… this… ” Zidani frowned at Sheila, “She hissed!”
“And when we confronted her, she rained insults on us,” Cecilia added.
“She called us unprintable,” Nkiruka eyed her.
“You insulted me first, you called me a bitch,” she pointed at Cecilia, “And you wanted me to apologize for hissing,” she eyed Zidani, “That is so lame,” Sheila hissed.
Douglas and Imabong exchanged glances. They hope they would settle the dispute and finalize the contract.
“All right, all right. Zidani, let us go back to the restaurant and forget this ever happened,” Dorcas smiled at her.
“I am not going anywhere. Not until she apologizes,” Zidani folded her arms across her chest. She doesn’t care if the Adams were richer than her family, she would get the apology she deserved.
“After all, we were not talking to her, why did she hiss?” Cecilia stared at Sheila and her parents.
Sheila laughed and clapped her hands. Dorcas turned to her husband. They needed to do something fast before the situation got out of hand.
“Sheila why don’t you apologize to these ladies?” Imabong winked at her.
She should have known that her aunt’s husband would take sides with the brats.
“We are waiting,” Zidani began to play with a strand of her hair.
“I do not need to apologize to anyone. Seriously, they should be the ones apologizing to me.”
“You must be out of your mind!” Cecilia moved closer to her.
“It is a free world and I have the right to react to situations
Imabong approached John, “Zidani is my client and we are in the middle of finalizing a mega contract tonight.”
John slipped his hands into his jeans pockets.
“Can you get your daughter to apologize to Zidani and her friends?” He glanced at his gold plated wristwatch, “It is 10 p.m.”
His brother-in-law narrowed his eyes, “You want my daughter to apologize to your client in order to suit your business plans.”
“John… Look… They are all at fault. But you know how stubborn Sheila is. There is no way on planet earth that she will apologize.”
“Why should she? These girls almost got her beaten up tonight. Like you said, they are all at fault.”
Dorcas watched her husband. She hoped he could convince John to make Sheila apologize to their client. Their multi-millionaire contract depended on how smoothly the dispute is settled.
“Isn’t she your sister-in-law? Go and talk to her.” Douglas turned to her.
“Imabong will settle this situation with John,” she assured him.
Sheila and her mother watched Zidani and her friends while they made endless phone calls. She hoped they leave soon; the ladies were irritating her.
“Come on John… ”
“Come on what?” His raised voice attracted attention.
“Sheila hissing at them did not give them the right to ambush her.”
“Fine… Fine… ”
“Why didn’t they ignore her? If they had, this squabble would not have transpired.”
“Yes, I know that, but… ”
“It is quite late; I need to take my daughter back to school before they lock the campus gate.”
Imabong beckoned to his wife.
“Darling, Sheila, let us go,” John led his family towards the parking lot.
“John, wait… ” She closed the gap between them. “This is important to us.”
“I am disappointed,” he frowned at his sister, “Is your client more important than your family?”
“John, it is not like that… ”
“It is like what?!”
Cecilia nudged Zidani, “Your wedding planner is related to the Adams.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Take a closer look and her and Mr. John.”
Zidani looked at Dorcas, then John and back at Dorcas again,
“My God!” The resemblance was striking.
“You are both related… ” She pointed at them.
They stopped talking and looked at her. Douglas pulled Imabong aside.
“You need to do something fast, I cannot afford to lose this contract over a mere girlish quarrel.”
Imabong began to tap his feet on the ground, he was at a loss for words.
Zidani beckoned to her friends, “Let us go home,” she glanced at Douglas and Imabong, “The contract is dissolved.”
Dorcas opened her mouth, but no words came out, she looked at her husband.
“Get my bodyguards Cecilia, we are going home.”
Cecilia hurried away.
Douglas approached Zidani, “Please, let us settle this… ”
“There is nothing to settle. I cannot do business with you… ”
She hissed and turned to her friend, “Go after Cecilia and hasten them.”
Nkiruka headed off.
Imabong walked up to her, “Please, you are taking a drastic action. This is a trivial issue.”
“Really… Then tell her to apologize.”
John and his family walked away.
“John… John… John!” Dorcas called her brother, but he ignored her. What kind of mess was this?
Zidani’s bodyguards arrived with her car and theirs. She got in and they drove away.
“This is ridiculous… ” Douglas ran a hand through his bald head.
Dorcas and her husband looked at themselves. It was hard to believe that all their plans were running down the drain.
“I will call her tomorrow. I believe we can still rectify the situation,” Douglas hoped Zidani will change her mind.
“I hope so.”
Douglas eyed his friend, “Where is your faith?”
“Let us go home, it’s being a long day,” Dorcas patted her husband on the back. He sighed heavily and they both walked to the parking lot. He hoped Douglas will be able to convince Zidani tomorrow.
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