They talked about other things. Farida had loosened up with him and they talked like old friends. She told him how she listened to those that had good advice for her and tried to practice what they had told her. She said the person that had influenced her the most in this life was her mother who decided to give them a better life by walking away. Wale told a bit of his story. He said he was the black sheep of the family as he was the first to flunk WAEC in his family. He had to rewrite the examination again.“Did you cheat in it too?”“Should I be honest?” he asked and she responded with a nod of her head, “yes I did. I needed to get my dad off my back. Same way he is making a fuss about Jamb. He is not giving me a breathing space. Whenever he is in my mum’s flat, he harasses us. He claims she is spoiling me. I’m the baby, I deserve to be pampered”“Not to your detriment. Your father, was he born with a silver spoon? Were his parents also rich?”“No. His father died when he was twelve years old and he was the eldest of three children. His mother couldn’t cope after his father’s death as she was a complete housewife. He started working at such a tender age. He worked at building sites to keep himself and his siblings in school. After secondary school, he moved to Lagos to serve under a man that dealt with timber. He worked there for a while then he learnt about building materials. At such a young age, he went from site to site to offer to supply them building materials. He took them from his boss’s shop and picked cash at the site. As time went on, he became a contractor. One of the supervisors at the sites picked interest in him and gave him his first major contract. He supplied building materials to all the sites. His boss partnered with him. They made very good profit. His boss went behind him to take over the contract but the supervisor refused insisting my father alone will do the supplies. That was the turning point for my dad. He used his profits to build a block making machine close to sites to supply them with blocks. He had shops in almost all the western states. He went back to school. He studied Estate Management. He became certified. Did his MBA and became a big business man. He sent all his siblings to school. Then he built a house for his mother. He achieved this before he married his first wife. She had two children for him and they fell out. He married the second, the third and then finally my mother”“Is he a Muslim? Why did he marry so many wives?”“He is a Christian, an Anglican. He shared an experience with us. A man walked up to him one day while he was at his site and prophesied to him. The man said he was going to be extremely wealthy but for him to grow, he must marry many wives and have a minimum of ten children. He was to ensure all his wives live together in the same place and he must love them equally. He must not have any favourite wife or child so he can live a long and fulfilled life. His mother should pray for him everyday until she dies. He said when he obeyed the instruction, his life took a turn for the better. His wealth grew with the birth of each child until he acquired all he has. He diversified; he has an Estate Management firm, he owns international schools in Lagos and Ondo states, he owns several filling stations in Lagos and Ondo, he imports building materials and has showrooms in Lagos and Abuja. He is old now so he is gradually handing over different arms of his business to his children”“How does he choose who will handle what? Won’t there be rivalry?”“Rivalry? There is none. The first wife has two girls. Both of them are married and live abroad. They have no interest in dad’s business. The second wife has three children, two boys and a girl. The boys are working for dad while the girl is married and working with an oil company. The third has four children, three girls and a boy. The boy just took over the management of the schools. He has a passion for education and is working on having a university in our hometown. My mother has two girls and then I. My father wants me to be an accountant. When I finish school, I will know what arm of the business I will handle. They all work for dad and earn salary. Dad is still in charge. Every year we share dividend from the businessesMy mother collects mine and my siblings share. Probably she is waiting for me to be of age”“This is so interesting. And you all live in peace?”“Yes, we do. We all live together in the same estate. Once my brothers get married, they get a duplex built and furnished for them and they move in there. I visit my brothers and extort money from them. We love each other. They also scold me when I am wrong. Only two of my sisters live in Nigeria”“You have everything Wale. Why don’t you want to make the best out of it? Why don’t you want to follow in your father’s footsteps?”Someone walked up to Wale to say hello. He stood up to talk to him while the guy kept glancing at Farida. Farida used that opportunity to look around her. They had been engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t notice the place had filled up. She became conscious of her environment. The girls she saw were dressed in skimpy outfits while the guys wore shorts and some were bare chested. Wale came wearing a pair of Levi jeans and a blue tshirt. Why did others expose their bodies? Looking down, she observed people in the pool. Females of all ages were dressed in bikinis and body suits while the men wore swim trucks. She had never seen people almost naked like this before. She was shocked. As she was observing, other guys came to meet Wale. They said hello to her. They kept glancing at her that she became uncomfortable. She excused herself to use the toilet. When she got in there, she saw girls undressing in the full view of others in the restroom. This was a different world from what she was used to. When she came out of the rest room, a white guy approached her. “Hi, my name is Alex. I was watching you from across the room. You are beautiful and you have the right physique for a model. I am a scout. I look out for models. I would like to get to know you”Before Farida could answer, Wale answered, “She is not interested in being a model. Please leave her alone, she is with me” The white guy backed down. Wale took Farida by the hand and led her to their table. He seemed upset when they settled down and she wondered why. He asked her if she wanted any other thing but she declined. “What’s wrong?”“That man lures innocent girls by offering them modelling opportunity while in truth, he sells them to sexual predators. Some have fallen victim to him. Why he approached you is what is irking me. That is a disrespect to me”“I can never accept such an offer. I have watched models on television and most of them wear revealing clothes. I can never wear revealing clothes. I can’t disrespect myself like that”Wale looked at her in awe. She was not easily enticed by flashy offers. He knew how many girls even those from very comfortable homes that fell victim to his charm. He could see she was well brought up. Unilag was another preying ground. She had to know that.“In Unilag, there are pimps amongst the students who convince their fellow students to go on sexual dates with men for a price. There are also cult members who terrorize beautiful girls like you for relationship. Once you get in, there would be October rush. The guys will rush new students”Farida had not heard this before. Her eyes widen in disbelief. How could that happen in university? She will never be a party to that. She will never fall prey. “Even lecturers will not let you be. They will threaten you and fail you until you give in to their demands”“All this happens in university? So, how do the girls graduate? Or are you saying none of the girls graduate from university?”“They do. It is left to you to discover how they did it. I am just telling what happens there”A girl wearing a bikini with a towel tied around her waist walked up to Wale from behind. She covered his eyes with her hand which he quickly brought down.“Hi stranger, where have you been?”“Becky! How are you? It’s been a while”“Yeah. After you dropped me off that evening, I never saw you again. What happened?”“I travelled out”“And you couldn’t call me? Since you came back you didn’t call either”“I have been busy”“I thought we had fun together. I thought it was really good but then you dropped me off home and didn’t contact me again. Why would you do that? Wasn’t it good?” All this while Becky had her arms wrapped around Wale’s neck from behind. Wale cleared his voice and said to her, “Becky meet my friend Farida, Farida meet Becky” She unwrapped them and looked at Farida.“Who is she?” Becky asked. There was fire in her eyes.“I am just a friend of Wale’s”“She is my friend. She just came into town and I am showing her around” Wale added quickly.Becky didn’t acknowledge Farida. She turned back to Wale and said, “Are you ready to give me your phone number?”“I still can’t take calls unless you call my dad. I can give you his number”“You are playing games with me. I thought you liked me. I thought we had a thing. So, why are you treating me this way?”“You are a nice girl Becky. I like you but I can’t take calls unless I call you” Wale looked at his wristwatch and added, “it’s getting late. We have to go now. I will call you Becky. Farida has to get home now” he stood up and gave Farida a sign to do same. Becky insisted on him hugging her fully which he didn’t have a choice than to do. Farida found it awkward but also funny. Wale didn’t seem to enjoy the hug even though her almost naked body was against his.He led away from the pool side quickly. He was in such a hurry that he just waved to those that called out to him.“Slow down please” Farida had to cry out, “you are walking too fast. Where are we going?”“As far away from her as possible. She was a bad joke my friend played on me”“Bad joke? How?”“They told her I was into her so she came unto me. She’s a pretty girl and it was kind of cute. I took her out and she insisted we go to her place. I didn’t know it was a trap. It was her style. At her house, one thing led to another and we did it. I didn’t want to but she orchestrated it. After then, she began to stalk me. She came to my estate five times but they didn’t let her in. She created a scene at the gate at one time and my father got involved. He was mad at me for playing with her emotions. He didn’t want to listen to my explanation. He warned her not to come to the estate again. He told her I was irresponsible and not good enough for her. She insisted. Then he threatened to involve her parents. That was when she backed off. If I had known she was around, I would have taken you somewhere else”“Please what do you mean by we did it?”“You don’t know?”“No, I don’t”“We had sex”Farida was shocked. She knew about sex. She read books that explained it. She had read romance novels with scenes of sex in them and she had watched a bit of it on television but to meet someone who had sex with someone he just got acquitted with was surprising to her. Was it that easy to have sex? She had always seen it as a sacred experience between married couples but from what he just described it really wasn’t“Don’t tell me you have never had sex before?” Farida didn’t answer his question. She didn’t know what to answer him, this kind of conversation wasn’t what you had with a boy. She had questions for auntie Chioma. Maami won’t know about this.Wale immediately deduced she was still a virgin. He smiled to himself. He could see she was embarrassed. He talked about sex freely with females but she seemed to be different. He didn’t want to scare her with such conversations so he changed the topic.He took her on a stroll on the facility. They talked about friendship. He talked about his friends. He knew they were close to him now because he had a car and money to throw around but he insisted he needed them. Farida’s take was that they were not real friends. Their only interest was in what they stood to gain from him. She felt he could actually get genuine friends who had his interest at heart and would encourage him to save instead of being a spendthrift. He asked after her friends and she told him honestly, she didn’t have many friends. The few she had shared almost the same values and mindset with her. Ultimately, her mother, madam Joyce, auntie Chioma and brother Chris had the most significant impact in her life so she regarded them specially. He listened to her talk about them and how they influenced her life and he felt a bit of envy. This was a girl who financially had nothing but surrounded herself with people who felt obligated to impact in her life. They were not all family members and they were still determined she will make it and they believed in her. As she spoke, he analysed his life. His mother would do anything for him. She wanted him to have the best of everything. She was a beautiful and very classy lady. His father visited her the most. The only thing she ever talks about is his share in his father’s fortune. His father was above seventy now so she has been pushing for him to write his will and give her son his share of the business. Wale went to one of the best secondary schools in Lagos. He was spoilt and was used to having his way. He was one of the richest boys in school so other students flocked around him. He had money to throw around and such attracts the wrong crowd. He joined the big bad boys gang in school. They cared less about their academics and more about getting laid and having fun. The helped him have his first sexual experience. He was never short of girls since then. When he finished secondary school, he observed that most of his gang members smashed (borrowing Farida’s slang) their WAEC and Jamb while he failed woefully. In fact, he had the worse result in the gang and in the school. He spent most of his time having fun and not reading. He skipped classes most times to spend time with girls. His mother was summoned to the school on many occasions and she covered for him. All hell was let loose when his father discovered he failed. His mother arranged a mercenary to rewrite WAEC for him and gave him money for the Jamb expo. In as much as he had other intentions when he invited Farida out, she had unconsciously opened his eyes to so much. He knew what he needed to do. He had to take drastic steps to save himself from drowning. He had to be a better person. He knew what he had to do to bring about the changes. All thanks to Farida. If only she knew she had this impact on him. He wanted more than ever to be in the same university with her. He was confident she would pass both examinations. He offered to buy her suya but she declined. Then he got her ice cream on a cone. She couldn’t resist it. He bought popcorn for her brothers and ice cream for her mother. He also bought chicken and chips for her to take home. They sat on a bench close to the playground to have the ice cream. More people stopped to say hello and he introduced Farida to them. He was impressed with the way she spoke to them so confidently. She did not her a trace of inferiority in her. She was not ashamed of whom she was. Farida felt a bit intimidated with what she saw. The display of affluence amongst the ladies was overwhelming. She hadn’t seen most of the things she saw at the club in her life before. The clothes, the shoes, the bags, the jewelry, the sunglasses, the sweet fragrance from perfumes and so on. She took a mental note to look into fashion. There were foreign magazines she had seen under Ojuelegba bridge. She would buy a few and learn more about fashion. She was grateful Wale brought her here. Apart from the Becky and Alex episode, it was truly a beautiful outing. She enjoyed his company. Wale brought he back home and escorted her into her apartment. He greeted her mother and gave her the things he bought for them. She thanked him. She could see Farida had a nice time as she was smiling. Farida saw Wale off to his car. He asked her if she had a great time and she confessed she did. He was happy. He bid her goodbye. She didn’t know how important that day was to him. It was a turning point in his life. His affection for her grew even more. She was a smart girl. What surprised him about their outing was the fact she didn’t get jealous of other girls intruding. She was quick to say they were just friends. He observed the girls admired her and she was comported. He reminisced about their outing all the way home. He kept thinking about it at home. Then he stood up from his bed, wrote down his goals and began to make plans on how to achieve them.Farida invited sister Chioma to her apartment to partake of the items she brought back as a show of her appreciation for her help.“How was it?” Chioma asked while devouring the ice cream.“It was amazing. I had a good time. I understand why Wale got me the dress; everyone there dresses very classy. Although I saw some surprising things but then that was the exposure I needed”“What did you see?”“Nudity. People are not ashamed to walk around in pant and bra. I have never seen anything like that. I saw a girl go start naked in the toilet. Men too wore pants and were walking about. It was surprising to me. Wale felt comfortable seeing these, I had to blend in”The all laughed at her story especially when she talked about Alex and Wale’s reaction. They were happy she went. It was the first time they were ever seeing barbecued chicken and chips and they enjoyed it. Her brothers begged her to visit again so she could get them more treats. Later that night, she had a discussion with her mother. “Maami, the world of the rich is somehow. Would I be able to walk around naked in the name of swimming? The only thing I liked were the clothes, shoes, bags and accessories; I didn’t like their conduct. The girls are too forward while the guys very obvious. One of them was winking at me. Another one tried to slip a note to me but I didn’t accept it. Wale didn’t see all this. It is a different world out there”“Remember what I told? The world out there is worse than you experienced. I appreciate the way Wale shielded you. What did both of you talk about?”“He wanted me to teach him how to better his life”Maami was confused. It didn’t make sense. Why come to her for such? Was it a ploy? She asked, “So what did you tell him?”“We talked about goals and I told him to set small goals. He is spoilt, I don’t think he can do the things I told him to do. But I had a good time today”“Did he mention anything about a relationship? Did he attempt to touch you or kiss you?”Farida’s eyes swollen up as she looked at her mother. She answered her “Never”.Iya Farida was not convinced. “So, what does he want?” she asked again.“He values my friendship. I don’t think he will disrespect me like that. I actually didn’t trust him before but now I feel he is being honest about wanting only friendship. He has not behaved or brought up conversations that suggests he has something else in mind”Iya Farida was still not convinced. Could a boy see a beautiful girl and just want to be friends with her. A boy from a very rich home for that matter. She hoped he was not waiting for her to let down her guards and then attack. Farida, although confident was also naïve. She had to watch her even more closely.