Osaze came into the dining area where his family was seated already.
Three of them; his wife and kids, Alex and Sandra. He drew the chair and sat, rubbed his palms together and there were smiles on the faces of everyone. The smell of soap and water oozed from his body. He had just had a very cold bath. The table had on it two big bowls as everyone sat with a plate staring at him or her. They were having rice and stew. It was their favorite except for his wife, Grace, who preferred Semovita. They all exchanged glances and the very bold Sandra who found it very easy to say what she was thinking chimed,
Sandra: “what’s everyone waiting for? I’m hungry!”
They all giggled. She was daddy’s girl. He couldn’t hide the fact that he loved her even more than his wife and son. Osaze, stroked her cheeks,
Alex: “Miss foodie!” Sandra gave him a cryptic gaze.
Grace: “Okay, who’s gonna pray?” her glance fell on her husband,
With raised shoulders,
Osaze: “I prayed this morning!” Sandra and Osaze looked at Alex, who certainly got the message,
Alex: “Yeah,Yeah! I get it!”
Grace: “All eyes on you man,”she rubbed his head as they chuckled.
Alex: “Let’s pray. Father, thank you for this meal. Thank you for daddy and mummy. Thank God for my lovely sister! Thank You for provision. I pray for those kids and families who have nothing to eat provide for them as you have provided for us. Bless this food and nourish it in Jesus name I have prayed.”
They all chorused “amen!”
Grace opened the dishes and served everyone. Sandra couldn’t wait as she pounced on hers.
Osaze ate lazily, pecking on the food; he smiled, as he watched his daughter devour hers.
Alex: “sometimes I wonder where all the food you eat go into!” he teased his sister, with his mouth full. Sandra and her mother Grace starred at him in return.
Grace: “Lex!” she reprimanded him
Alex: “Sorry mum!” Sandra smirked and she also received her warning with a stern gaze from her mother,
Osaze smiled. He couldn’t have been happier with such a near-perfect family; beautiful wife and cute kids, what else could he ask for. Sandra was fourteen while her brother was twelve. He was very satisfied with having two kids even though his wife wanted more,
Grace: “Baby, let’s have one more now, please!” she would say, whenever she brought up the issue of another child.But that was certainly a no for him. During courtship Grace had told Osaze that she’d love four kids but he wanted just one and they agreed on two. But deep inside, she wanted more. After pestering him for months he told her:
Osaze: “Okay, fine! You win but it’s going to be after we have completed the new house.”
They were building a new house in an area called Kuho, close to the Mobile base in the state capital of Jigawa state, Dutse. The new house was bigger. Osaze had it designed to his taste, he loved space. And as a photographer, he made provision for a home studio in the new house.
Grace: “Is the new house not too big for us? We could put it up for rent once we are done and renovate this one!”
The house they were living in was theirs too.
Osaze: “Eh,eh oo! You know how much I love space. This new house is just perfect.”
Osaze couldn’t wait for the house to be completed. What made him euphoric about it was the home studio. It was just what he wanted. As the biggest photographer in town he wanted do some shoots away from the rented studio and the home studio was going to be designed in a beautiful way. He had seen the design in a photography magazine.
Osaze: “This is it,man!” he said to Alex when they were perusing different magazines for a particular design. Alex was being groomed in his father’s profession but he wasn’t forced into it. He had a creative eye and was in love with the art. Osaze wasn’t the kind of father who would force what he wants down the throat of a child.
Alex: “It’s superb,dad!”
Alex looked like his mother with red lips and an ebony complexion. Sandra was a photocopy of Osaze fair in complexion with a gap in the teeth and dimples. What Osaze had was a very beautiful family. He felt very at peace with living in the north in spite of the sectarian crisis. His elder brother,Tony, said to him to relocate, in so many words:
Tony: “O, boy you for jus relocate come Lag abi Abj e for beta oo. I no jus understand dis wan wey yhu kack for Aboki land. You know say to kill person no dey hard dem oo. To dem na cow yhu bi oo!” But Osaze would wave him off, he was assured that he was safe in the north, and told his brother so. He had stayed in the northern part of the country for close to eighteen years. He came as a youth corp member, and decided to stay after his service year, so he was used to the terrain.
Osaze: “Besides BH boys dey fear to reash dis area. Jigawa safe die!” he would quip.
Osaze loved his wife very much and never had thought of ever cheating on her. She trusted him very much. The fifteen years of marriage was bliss. Their marriage was spotless, a typical Hollywood story.
Two months ago, a very fine spotless Fulani girl, who looked as beautiful and unearthly as a mermaid, had come in for some pictures. . She had just returned from the Uk, as could be observed from her British accented English. He was playing with his phone reading jokes and laughing alone in his office at the studio, when he heard a very tiny but pleasant voice ask of him from one of his workers;
Zainab: “Is your boss around?” it was the voice of a nightingale.
Who could that be? He pondered within himself. He was tempted to jump out and check but he fought the temptation and remained glued to the chair as one of the workers ran into his office and told him a lady was asking of him.
Osaze: “Let her in!”he exclaimed, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice.
Zainab entered with a blue gown and a head scarf tied in a beautiful fashion. The makeup she had on was lit and didn’t in anyway get into the way of her natural beauty. Her skin shone like refined gold. It was obvious that she was from a rich home.
Zainab: “My name is Zainab and I came here because, I was told you’re the best in town!” she said, rolling the words out without really opening her lips.
She was bold, and her essence filled the office. The perfume she had on was mild, and wasn’t intrusive like most of the perfumes worn by northern girls. Zainab didn’t look timid like most girls from the north there was something in her eyes that he couldn’t pinpoint, like embers of hot coal.
Osaze could feel the heat. He just didn’t know what to say to her.
Osaze swallowed spit and managed to say,
Osaze: “You’re welcome to G.A. S Images!”
That was the name of the studio, it was formerly known as O-Images but changed the name using letters of his wife and kids as the new signature for his studio. To him family came first.
Zainab: “Thank you,” she said simply, with a small smile. Osaze wasn’t himself. She was seductive in the manner she carried herself but Osaze wasn’t comfortable with her around. Maybe it was the fire in her eyes. The silence in the room was deafening, as she walked around the office, fingering the captivating images hung on the wall. She kept up with that for ten minutes and Osaze followed her with his eyes- they roved from one corner to the other. Every step she took his eyes moved with her even its blinking didn’t lose track of her movement of activity.
“Your pictures are poetic!” she smiled, and added, “ I’ll be back soon!”
She departed and as each day passed Osaze waited for her return; the joy he had while capturing his subjects had been jaded- he couldn’t find it anymore. It seemed Zainab had gone with it. He wasn’t in love with her, no, he was so much in love with his wife. But he couldn’t explain the effect Zainab had on him.
That night after the rice and stew dinner, he retired to bed early. The thought of Zainab popped up again. She had showed up after two months and left leaving behind same words,
“Your works are poetic! I’ll be back soon!”
He sighed as his wife entered the room.
Do you think Osaze is in love with Zainab? Why was she always coming and leaving without actually taking pictures? Would the way he was feeling affect his love for his wife in the near future?
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