The next morning, Sam knocked on their door. “Want to have some fun? Let’s go fishing. You love to cook, right? Then, we will buy fresh fish, crabs, and prawns. It will be delicious in white soup. I assure you, you will love it”Farida was very excited. She had to practically drag Monica off the bed to get ready. Monica wore a pair of jean shorts, an off the shoulder white top, a pair of slippers and a black sling bag. Farida wore a pair of yellow three-quarter trousers and a light blue sleeveless chiffon top. She paired it with nude flat sandals and a waist bag. Farida wore a blue bandana on her head while Monica wore a black face cap.“Looking good ladies,” Sam said when they came down. “Hope you are ready to paint the town red”The went to the shore and so many people wanting to for the fishermen to bring fish and other sea animals for sale. Sam interacted with the villagers. They seemed to know him. Monica was not interested. She was reading a novel so she chose to remain inside the car. An excited Farida couldn’t get enough of scenery. Sam was taking pictures of the women who posed excitedly. Then he asked Farida to pose for pictures. She took different poses while he snapped away on his camera.“You should be a model. You are tall, beautiful and graceful. She will be well sought after on the red carpet”“I am not interested in being a model. I want to be an economist and own a business that will become a big company”“You can do all of them. Modelling could be part-time while you keep a job and build your business”“I am not interested in modelling. I want to be appreciated more for my brains not beauty”“Really? Well, if you want to be appreciated for both, why don’t you participate in the ‘THE Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria’ competition. I bet you, you will win. I can even sponsor you”“I will have to wear a swimsuit right? I will have to expose my body? I am not interested”“Don’t tell me you are a virgin?”Farida didn’t like the dimension the discussion had taken. She looked away from him not answering his question.“You are kidding me. You are a virgin. In this day and time who keeps their virginity?”Farida refused to respond. She was embarrassed. She would have answered any other person but Sam made her feel somehow. It was like he had a hold on her. When he wasn’t there, she was fine but when he was around it was like he consumed her. She didn’t like the feeling because she couldn’t really challenge him. “I can see you are uncomfortable with this conversation. It is just surprising to me. Let’s talk about something else. Maybe you should ask the questions”“I know you went to school in the UK but I don’t know what you studied”“Interestingly, I studied Economics too”“Wow! Where are you working now?’“I have an MBA from the London School of Business. I graduated from the and got a job with Goldman Sachs London. I was doing very well until my dad asked me to come home and join business and politics. I have been coming home to interact with the people in the grassroots since I clocked 18. My father wants me to get into politics and then run for office when I am older and more mature”“That’s nice. You have your whole life well planned ahead of you. You are lucky. I hope you like his plans?”“They are ok. What about you? What are your plans?”“Once I graduate and serve, I will get a job probably with a bank or a financial institution. Then, I will get a second degree”“A second degree? In what please?”“Law. I want a first degree in Law and an MBA. Then I will do a course in communication”“This is a complete derailment from what you are currently studying”“I know. Everyone I have met has asked why I am not studying law. I was very good in debate so I don’t want to lose that. In order to be a good lawyer, I want to learn how to communicate very well. I want to learn how to speak and other etiquettes. By the time I am thirty, I would have achieved everything”“Is that when you intend to get married?”“No now. I will achieve all this while married and having children. I don’t intend to work when I get married but I will continue to improve myself so my husband and I will grow together intellectually as well as physically”“You actually came up with these plans yourself?”“Yes, I did. Unlike you and Monica, I am not from a rich home and I have no one that can plan for me except myself. Left to my mother, she would want me to work and earn money but I want to get married and live happily ever after with my husband and children. Once my kids are older, I will start a business. I think a woman needs to make her own money. Your mother owns her business and is making her own money but your stepmother is not. She depends solely on your father. I don’t want to be like that at all. I have to have my own”‘You are sharp and smart. Monica mentioned it but I thought she was joking. Most of her friends she brought to the house in the past threw themselves at me. They were kids but didn’t act like it. I asked her to separate herself from them but she had self-esteem issues and couldn’t do it. Now she is bold and confident, all thanks to you”“Me?”“I know it’s you. You have helped her. I don’t see those worrisome traits she had before. She seems focused now. And, you are not in this for what you would gain. I think you have captured my father’s heart also”“Captured your father’s heart? How?”“He can see you are the positive impact in Monica’s life. He is impressed with you. I am too. I like you and I would like to get to know you better. I like driven ladies, especially self-driven ladies. But for a girl who is less than 20 years old to know what she wants; it crowns it all. I will like to take you out sometime if you won’t mind. Just the two of us. Not here but when we get back to Lagos. What do you say?”Farida was flabbergasted. She stood there in silence trying to understand what he said when Monica came to meet them.“What are you two up to? The fishermen have arrived let’s go buy some fish”They went to buy fish. It was the first time Farida heard Monica speak her language. Farida made the selections while Monica negotiated in her dialect. Sam took pictures of them buying. Farida saw giant prawns and crabs for the first time in her life. Farida selected extra for the rest of the family. By the time they fished buying, the boot was filled.As they drove in, Monica’s father was outside. He saw the things they bought and was impressed. When Farida, with the assistance of Monica, separated the ones for the rest of the family, the man was impressed. “You bought these for us?” he asked them.Farida pushed Monica to answer, “Yes dad”“Thank you. I can’t remember the last time I ate freshly caught fish. This was a brilliant idea. I haven’t been to the fisherman’s market for a long time. Samson, please ask the cook to come. I would love to have fisherman soup with these. I will have it with plantain flour for me”As the cook came out, Monica’s stepmother came out with him. She wanted to know why Sam came to call the cook. She saw the fresh fish, crabs and prawns. “Honey, where did you get these from?” she asked her husband.“I didn’t. They bought them from the fisherman’s market. They bought for us too. Wasn’t that thoughtful? Cook, I want fisherman soup and unripe plantain flour. Which is ours?” he asked.Before Farida or Monica could respond, Monica’s stepmother said, “Are we not to select? It’s your money that bought. Put that big fish, those prawns over there and then the crabs in that nylon”“Well, I can see you have no shame. You have been here but you haven’t been to any market. When they use their initiative, you are quick to remind them that it is my money. Initiative – zero. Cook what someone can eat – zero. All you are interested in is money. Monica, let her have what she wants. Take this to cover the cost”Monica refused saying, “No dad, we actually bought it for all of you. We can’t finish all we have. She can have all she wants. We can get more next tomorrow”“I never thought a day like this will come when my Ekaette will refuse money. I will get you and your friend special gifts for always being thoughtful. What are you making for New year’s lunch Farida?”“Ekpang nkwukwo will use some help but I will be the main cook”“You want to make ekpang nkwukwo?”“Yes, sir. I will make it. I did a trial the other day and it was nice. I will make it”“I can’t wait to taste it. If it is very good, not just good, I will give you a reward”“Thanks, sir”By the time they went back to their wing, Monica was fuming. “It was because of you I didn’t finish her there. Imagine her making demands for what she didn’t buy. I will take the money from him in another way”“But your father stood up for you. That’s enough. And you telling her to have all she wants made her feel worse. I looked at her face; she wasn’t happy. Monica, ignore her. I will join the cook to clean and prepare the so the things for soup”“Enjoy. I am going into the room”Sam kept Farida company in the kitchen. He didn’t bring up their earlier conversation. They just had an interesting conversation with him cracking jokes. He stayed with her from the start to the finish of the cooking. He helped with setting the table while Farida called Monica to eat. Monica watched Farida and Sam from a distance. What was happening? Sam didn’t normally like his friends but he seemed to have a keen interest in Farida. She didn’t like it; Farida was her best friend and she didn’t want to share her with anyone. Not even Sam. “I can see you both had fun without me,” Monica said to break off their conversation.“You didn’t want to join in. Sam was willing to see the process” Farida answered.“Process? Sam was in the kitchen? Now that calls for questioning. What were you doing in the kitchen Sam? Please leave Farida alone, she is not your type. She is a good person. I don’t want you to hurt her. Pick your concubines as you usually do but leave my girlfriend out of it” Monica warned Sam.“So, I can’t be friends with your friend? She’s a nice girl and I like but it’s not what you are thinking”“Stay clear from her. She won’t date you. She has self-respect. She is not in the league of girls you date. Please leave her alone” Monica concluded.Sam wasn’t happy with Monica. He felt she embarrassed him in Farida’s presence. He liked Farida. She was very smart which made him enjoy conversing with her. Why was Monica trying to stand in his way of having a go at her? She was willing for him to date her friends in the past; why was she hoarding Farida? Their meal was eaten in silence. Everyone deep in their own thoughts. After the food, they retired to their rooms to rest for the day. In their bedroom, Monica confronted Farida.“What did my brother say to you?”Farida was shocked at the direct question. Not answering her would cause the problem so she said, “He wanted to take me on a date. Before I could reply you came around”“He is my brother and I can tell you he and my dad are the same. I am surprised he is interested in you. Please don’t fall for his gimmick. Remain focused. Wait a minute; do you like him? Would you like to go out with him?”“NO! I don’t like him for a relationship. I just like him as he is fun to be with. He tells interesting stories and cracks funny jokes ….”“Sam cracks jokes? Unbelievable! I can see he has bought you over but I will not allow you to be used”“I don’t want to be. How do I manage him without offending him?”“Tell him you will think about it. No matter what he says don’t allow him in between your legs. Once he gets there, he’s gone. Remain who you have always been. He’s my brother and I know him more than you do. If you try it, you will regret it”That ended the conversation. If there were feelings, they died that instance. She decided to guard her heart and listen to what Monica said. She knew her brother better.
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