A woman dressed in red gown, body decorated by gold ornaments sat atop a throne in a palace. In front of her knelt an old woman.
“I did as you told me to,” the old woman said, her hands cupped in respect.
On the throne, the woman stood up revealing a bulging stomach. “What did he ask for?” Her voice gave the feeling that only a warm home could give.
“Wealth,” the old woman replied cautiously. One would have thought that he would ask for safety of his wife or for love between him and his wife. Humans, she sighed inwardly.
The woman laughed, a soft sound that pulled at the strings of those who heard it. “It’s good that he asked for wealth.”
The old woman was shocked. “My lady?”
She returned to her throne and picked up a cup of water, she blew softly at it causing ripples, when the ripples disappeared, a man’s face appeared in the cup. She smiled fondly, watching as he put ingredients into a pot.
“Cassie, do you know the most important thing in a man’s life? Not any other man, but my husband?”
“No, my lady.” At the sound of her name, the old woman stood up. When the queen called her by her name, she was removing the titles and the gap between them.
“Some years ago, we went to see his brother. We were owing the landlord three months rent and he was already threatening to throw us out of the house. My husband lowered his ego and went to beg his elder brother to lend us money.” She shook her head. “He never says it, but the shame that he faced when his brother chased us out of his house still follows him everyday.
“Whenever they have a village meeting, my husband was reluctant to attend because it reminds him of his financial position in the family. His brothers and cousins were building houses but he was still struggling to pay house rents. His brother’s wives drove posh cars to where they want to go, but his wife had to endure long hours in public transport. Even if it wasn’t for himself, he felt incapable when though I am pregnant, I still have to navigate the dangerous Lagos traffic, struggle to get up in the morning and go to work.”
“Then what do you plan to do now?”
“What other option do I have? He is my husband, and it is my duty to help him. I have the power to do so now, so why shouldn’t I? It is as easy as reciting the alphabets.” She twisted a crystal bracelet around her wrist.
“What am I to do now?”
“Just give me the list of all our people into business. No matter how big or small it is, I want them all. The rest, I will handle it by myself,” she said softly.
The old woman curtsied. “Yes, my lady.” In a flash, she had disappeared from the palace.
The woman caressed her stomach. “Honey, I’m coming home,” she whispered softly and disappeared from the throne.
The pregnant woman woke up with a gasp. She rubbed her temples, going to and fro from one world to the other was already having its toll on her. A car honking pulled her attention to where she was. The yellow, old bus was caught in the middle of a traffic jam. The sounds from the hawkers running from one car to the other, pushing their goods through half-opened windows, shouting out prices and the names of their goods. She sighed with annoyance, but when she remembered the man in the kitchen, her heart was filled with warmth. No matter how long it took, so long as she was going home to him, to his voice, his warm kisses, she could handle anything.
Four months later…
“Good afternoon sir,” the voice at the other end of the phone tilted with respect.
It was vain, but the respect in his voice filled me with pleasure. “Good afternoon.” I shivered. The air was cold, but I didn’t want to switch off the AC. It reminded me of my rise from grass to grace.
“Sir, some containers just got in from China. You can come and check it.”
“Don’t worry, one of my boys will come there tomorrow,” I replied.
“Okay sir. I will make sure that they remain in good condition before they get to you,” he promised.
“Good, good,” I muttered putting it at the back of mind to send my boys along with some cash to give the man. With a chuckle, I tossed the phone aside,
“Who was that?” my wife asked as she walked into the room, one of her hands supporting her waist. I stood up and went to help her.
“Someone from Customs. Some goods just came in, he called to inform me.”
She laughed, her soft voice brushed past my ears. “All these people that just want to take money from you. Just don’t give them too much, if not they will get greedy.” She was holding a plate of grapes, it had became her favorite for a while now.
I settled her on the couch, and sat beside her, “That’s how the system works, my dear. If I don’t give them anything, they will look for a reason to seize my goods. I don’t want any of that wahala now.”
“It’s almost the end of the month. The shops will soon be paying their rents. I want to open another plaza in Satellite. I called the estate agent yesterday, he already found some selections for me.” She placed her legs on the small mahogany table that I had made specially for her.
“That is a good idea. It would be a good investment. I won’t involve myself in it, just do as you deem fit,” I told her.
“That’s what you always say. Why? What if I invest wrongly and lose a lot of money, what would you do?” She looked at me with a cunning smile.
I laughed, “With all the money we have now, we have nothing to worry for the next ten, fifteen years. Why would I worry? After all, if not by investing, we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are now.” I thought back to the old woman by the road, the five hundred naira had been my only investment. After my meeting with the old woman, everything had began to go smoothly. Business began to grow, and now, I could invest millions and gain more in return.
“Yes, honey. We will never go back to begging for anything,” my wife said, her eyes carried a fierce look. I agreed with her, we would never have to beg for anything ever again.