I never imagined my daughter would be born out of wedlock, but it happened none the less. Laide is the wife of my youth. I remember her father’s smile that Saturday afternoon when she first took me home. He said to me ‘it is easy to identify a man whose dreams will come true, I see greatness all over you. When your dreams come true, stay true to my daughter’. His words hit me like well targeted rocks, they offered succor and hope, but they also conferred a huge responsibility. I had a new reason to succeed in life, I had to give Laide the best life could offer, I needed to make her father proud.
Fifteen years later, on his deathbed, he held my hands and thanked me. Not only had he witnessed his daughter flourish under my roof, she had also never had cause to report me to him. Truth be told, he should have thanked her instead. Laide is the reason I am the man I am today. Her foresight is uncanny, she can tell a good opportunity when it is still a mile away and suspect a bad deal when it is still far from obvious. What’s more, she is never tired of sacrificing. Her sacrifices in the early years of our marriage formed the foundation for our business and our first assets. I knew I was safe as long as I listened to her advice, and I always did. Expect that one time, and it was not without consequence.
Chief Gewando had offered me a contract in the FCT, it appeared like a massive opportunity and the permutation of possible returns gave me shivers. Laide thought I should pass it off, she had a feeling about it. I could not be deterred, the huge sum involved rendered her feelings unimportant. So, it began, meeting after meeting, in Abuja, discussing this, finalizing that. That year, I was more in Abuja than I was at home and Laide was not pleased at all. Then I met Shola, an old friend from secondary school. She had settled in Abuja and was living quite fine. At first, our meetings were platonic, to discuss old times. They soon became a welcome distraction from FCT bureaucracy and the cold reception from home. I soon discovered she had never married. Hopping from country to country, establishing her career, there had never been time or space for a family. Established and knocking on the doors of forty, she now craved companionship and oblivious to me, our friendship provided that.
Laide was always top of mind for me, even Shola knew and respected the boundaries. Until that day when the contract finally pulled through. I had just attained a different level of wealth and I was ecstatic about it. I called Laide with the news, but she didn’t quite sound pleased. She sounded almost disappointed that the deal had gone through. I would give her time, she would get over it, I thought. In the meantime, I had lunch plans with Shola. Shola was over the moon with excitement at my success, she insisted we go to her place for drinks and kept referring to me as her connection to high places. I must have enjoyed the accolades and celebrations a little too much because later that night, my daughter Botiwoluwa was conceived.
Well kept Secret
It’s been 25 years now, and Laide has no clue of Shola and Botiwoluwa’s existence. Our kids have grown and started their own families. We have flourished together, a model couple to many who know us. But I have also stayed through to Shola and my daughter. I found a way to be there at all the important events, graduations, illnesses and what not, Botiwolulwa has never had to wonder who her father is. She is listed among my children in my Will and I have bequeathed assets to her as well. While Shola and I have stayed close, she has come to understand that there can only be one woman in my life, and Laide is all the woman I need.
Sometimes, I wonder how life would be if my children accepted Botiwuoluwa as my daughter and their sister. It would make me a happy man indeed. Yet I cannot bring myself to discuss the events of that night so long ago with Laide though, even though I have tried severally. She will probably discover at the reading of my Will. I hope the home we have made for ourselves and all the happy memories we share are enough reason for her forgive me.