The next day, Farida woke up late because she didn’t sleep much during the night. She prepared for her chores for the day. She went to the homes of her employers and carried out her duties. She was not in high spirit today; her discussion with maami weighed heavily on her heart. She worked all day.
As she strolled back home, she thought about her plans for the future. One of the reasons she wanted to marry a rich man was to alleviate her family out of poverty. Her brothers depended on her for everything. She taught them how to work to make money. One of them was too playful. He did his work hurriedly so he can play football while the other was like Farida. Her desire was to ensure they have everything easy and she believed she could provide them with the comfort she desired for them. Maami had done so much for them. She made sure their school fees and lesson fees were paid in full. She never compromised on their education. She was a good mother and had advised her rightly without imposing her will.
She had never seen maami with any man. Even when she goes out, she tells them where she is going and when to expect her back. She was still pretty although she lost her confidence because of the scars and burns on her face and arm. She always wore a shawl. Farida remembered once a long time ago when a man came looking for maami. Maami embarrassed him and asked him to leave her alone. He came with a car to the house that day but maami refused him access into the compound and disgraced him. He never came back. She also remembers Mama Joy advising maami to remarry since she is divorced. Maami took that advice with a pinch of salt. Mama Joy told her a man would help her take care of her kids and maami answered her that we were doing just fine. Was maami scared of men?
Farida wondered why she was so different from her mother. She wanted to marry and settle down. She wanted her husband to provide for the family while she cares for the home. She desired a very big house with a lovely garden. She wanted them to have four cars and drivers for each car. As she walked home, she envisioned what she desired in her mind’s eyes. She wanted to have three children just like maami, a girl and two boys. She wouldn’t mind twin boys.
As she entered her compound, sister Chioma hailed her, “Farida! Farida! You are a big girl o. Guys in cars now come to look for you. Show me the way now”
“Sister Chioma, I don’t know what you are talking about”
“A guy came here with a car to look for you. No one was home when he came so he dropped a package and some bags for you”
“What’s his name?”
“I can’t remember but he also dropped a letter”
It could only be one person, Wale. Farida thanked her and headed to her apartment.
“Aren’t you going to pick it up?”
“Pick what up?”
“The things he dropped”
“I should read the letter then”
“If you wish”
Farida went into her house. Maami was in the kitchen while her brothers were watching television in the sitting room. She greeted maami on her knees as she had done from when she was a little child. She took a bath and then came back to the sitting room to watch television with her brothers. Dinner was ready and they all sat down to eat together.
Farida was in the kitchen cleaning up when a knock was heard at her door. She came out to peep at whom it was. It was sister Chioma. She had some things in her hands which she dropped on the table. Farida quickly dried her hands on the napkin in the kitchen and rushed out.
“Farida, can I talk to you outside”
Farida walked outside but also glanced at the package as she left. What were all these? Why did he bring them? She was interested in what auntie Chioma wanted to tell her.
Outside, Chioma dragged her to a corner and talked to her sternly, “Are you mad? Is everything ok with you? Such a fine young man is after you and you are acting like you don’t care. You need to read this later he wrote. He wants to take you to Ikoyi Club tomorrow. Do you know where Ikoyi club is? Do you know the people that go there? The elites! The high and mighty in the society and you have the opportunity to mix with their children. He even got you a dress and sandals you can wear to go there. You want to miss this opportunity? What is wrong with you?”
All Farida heard was high and mighty. That was where she wanted to be. She was interested in experiencing their lifestyle even if it was just a glimpse of it. She had never heard of Ikoyi club. What did they do there? Why did he have to get her a dress? What was special about the place?
“Sister Chioma, what is so special about the place that he got me something to wear?”
“They won’t let you in even in your best clothes. Security will throw you out. What will we do with your hair? It has to look good. You have to look good so you will blend in”
“Have you ever been there before?”
“They didn’t let me in. I had to wait in the car; it was that bad. I wasn’t dressed like them. You need to have seen how the members looked at me. I respected myself and went to the car. But you will go there looking like one of them and you will have fun”
Sister Chioma’s excitement caught up with Farida. She was now interested in going to the club for the high and mighty. She didn’t know much about the club but she was ready to explore. Knowing Wale might just give her the exposure she needed.
Farida went back to the house and opened the package. She saw a body clinging baby pink dress. It had a high neck, sleeveless and knee-length. It was soft and looked expensive. There was a box which had a pair of white sandals. She had never bought or received a shoe in a box before. It was beautiful. It wasn’t all. There was a small bag with the package. She opened the bag and saw a white and gold leather sling purse. It was beautiful and had the name Chloe on it. She looked at it and wondered why Wale would go this length if he just wanted friendship.
“These are lovely!” Iya Farida announced immediately she touched the bag and the dress. “Who is this from?”
“Wale sent them for our outing tomorrow. He wants to take me to the Ikoyi club. Sister Chioma said the place is for big people; they don’t allow just anyone to enter.”
“And he is taking you there? Do you want to go?”
“Initially, I didn’t want to but sister Chioma said I will be a fool not to experience this. I will go maami, I want to have the experience”
“This your friend is really giving you experiences”
“Yes maami. He just doesn’t know what he is doing for me”
That night, Farida slept in the sitting room. She did this because she wanted to read the letter Wale sent. She wasn’t excited about it but sister Chioma caused her to want to read it. She was shocked at Wale’s handwriting. He didn’t appear to be meticulous but his handwriting was very impressive.
I thought we should take a trip to Ikoyi club. I know you would love it there. It is a recreational club for members only. I got you the items because they have a strict dressing policy. I want us to have some fun while we have our discussions. I would like to have your opinion about certain life issues. As a friend, I see you as intelligent, smart and set in your ways, I can learn a lot from you.
I will pick you up by 11:00am.
See you tomorrow.
The note was short and simple. What was all the fuss about? There was nothing special here except the Ikoyi club he mentioned. Maybe when she gets there, she would understand better. She wondered if he would come along with his friends. She would have preferred if it was just him but with his friends, it will feel more like an outing. Was Aisha coming too? She didn’t want to go out with Aisha. If Aisha was joining them then she would have to decline.
Wale showed up the next day at the house at 11 o’clock on the dot. Farida was ready. Auntie Chioma helped style her hair which was very long and soft. She also gave her a bottle of perfume to spray after she dressed up. She said it was a gift from a client that came back from abroad. She sent her brother Akram to ask Wale if Aisha would be joining them. She could hear him answer “No” to the question. She had worn the dress and shown her family and sister Chioma. Everyone admired her look. She could easily blend in with the rich.
When she came out, the entire atmosphere was consumed by the perfume she had on. It smelt heavenly. Wale was speechless when he saw her. Without any doubt, she was indeed beautiful. The baby pink colour against her dark skin was so pleasant to behold, the way she carried the sling bag across the dress made her look playfully sexy. She wore a chunky earring for the very first time. It was a gift from sister Chioma, she had never worn it. She had a maroon red lip gloss. It was the first time he would see her with colour on her lips. That was all. No additional makeup.
“You look stunning. I am scared to take you the club now because there are wolves there” Wale finally commented without taking his eyes off her.
“You are taking me to where there are wolves?”
“I was just kidding” but he wasn’t. he was genuinely worried. She looked amazing and he knew his friends there would want to score with her. They would try to impress her away from him. Those ones were a special breed of crazy. Money was their way of expressing themselves. He used to be one of them but things have changed.
In the car, they made small talk. She asked him why his friends were not coming along and he replied he wanted to discuss privately with her. She asked after Aisha and he told her he hadn’t seen her since the eatery incident. He kept glancing at her not believing she was the same person. Her skin radiated, it looked soft, silky and succulent. It was without blemish. She let her hair down for the first time. It dropped by the sides of her face. It was very long and natural.
They arrived at Ikoyi club. Wale signed her in as a guest. She was impressed at the courtesy granted them at the reception. He took her in and explained to her about the club. It was a recreational club where they had different recreational activities such as swimming, tennis, badminton. They walked towards the poolside. Since it was a Sunday morning, there were few people around. That was his intention. They took a seat where they could watch people swim. He ordered chapman for her and a bottle of beer for himself. He also ordered two burgers for them.
“This place is beautiful, thanks for bringing me here. What did you want to discuss with me?”
“Well, I have seen how driven you are to achieve. I would like to know what motivates you to achieve”
“I am not motivated. I live each day as it comes. My father is unhappy with me but I see that you don’t have a quarter of what I have and still you get up every day and work until evening. What makes you do that?”
“I don’t have anyone to give me what I need. Maami tries her best but I discovered that if I want to enjoy the good things of life, I have to work hard to get it; it won’t be handed over to me. I have a goal which I want to achieve so it motivates me to keep going”
“Mine is handed over to me. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I should have a goal I want to achieve. What’s your goal?”
“That I can’t share with you now. You can set small goals and work with them. Like I have a goal to get into Unilag. I heard WAEC result will be out soon. I can’t wait, I hope I get to smash all my subjects”
He smiled at her use of the slang ‘smash’. She never spoke using slangs. She was right, he needed to have small goals. Getting into school should be one of his goals.
“I want to change my institution”
“I prefer to remain in Lagos so I can be focused”
“What is wrong with Ife? I heard it is also a top school”
“I know but I prefer to a school closer to home”
“If you say so”
‘So, should I?”
“If it is your desire”
“What other goals can I set?”
“What do you do daily?”
‘You don’t work?”
“No, am I supposed to?”
“Yes now. You must have something doing to make money”
“But I have money”
“It’s not your money, you didn’t work for it. You will feel good about yourself if you worked for your money and then you will learn how to spend wisely instead of spending on friends and buying frivolous things”
Wale was quiet. She hit a nerve right now. There was no doubt she was right. Maybe he should try this work thing and see how it goes. For one, it will score him some points with his father.
“Any other advice?”
“Take your studies seriously. You have to have little wins before you get the big wins. If you study and graduate with very good grades all from your hard work then you can succeed at any other thing you set your mind to”
“Why do you want to study Economics? I think you should do law instead or Mass communication. You speak very well”
“Thank you. I am also a good negotiator, bookkeeper and manager. I love business so I would go for Economics”
“If you say so. You know yourself better”