Masi came to my room holding a package.
‘Hajiya said you should wear this and come to Baba’s study.’ She said.
‘What is it?’
‘I don’t know aunty.’
‘Go.’ I said.
I opened the package, it contained a black Habaya with swarovski crystals encrusted on it, I wondered why I was being summoned, I wore it and went.
On getting there Mama was there, already dressed in a similar attire, she asked her hair stylist to arrange the veil on my head so that bangs will show.
A seasoned photographer arranged us on stools and sofas and we took pictures, I was the only one called for the shoot from all of Baba’s kids.
I later learnt we were shooting for a magazine that named Baba as the richest man in the north, me and my mother were the only ones my father chose to be featured along with him.
Abhas my brother returned from the UK almost a week later, Noora must have informed him about the selective photo shoot because he acted somehow towards me and was very affectionate towards Noora, he came back with news to get married but the news was not taken lightly, his wife was not from a rich background, that bothered Baba much because he was lover of class and beautiful things, Abhas was adamant, being a man he got his way. We all thought his wife must be beautiful, we were wrong she turned out to be ugly as well as poor, that was a blow to my father’s image.
Baba was stinking rich, his businesses varied from small scale to big scale, modern as well as local. He had factories, filling stations, residential estates, hotels, shops, malls as well as farms and herds of cattle which a fulani man looked after.
His father was moderately rich, after his demise his properties was distributed among his children, my father worked hard to multiply his share to build an empire.
His success made him accepted in the high class society, the Emir offered him one of his daughters to marry thus he was accepted into royalty after his marriage to Nana, she gave him 3 sons and 2 daughters.
While attending a friend’s wedding he met this ravishing beauty by the name Raliyah, though she was already betrothed to another Baba’s money helped him get her as his wife. That ravishing beauty is my mother, she conceived 13 times had 8 children and lost one.
Abhas is Mama’s firstborn child, then she miscarried twice, had Halima, Sarah another miscarriage, then came Noorah myself, Aliyu, Adnan and Nazma she had 2 more miscarriages she then decided to tie her tubes.
My siblings except for Adnan were all fair like mama, Adnan was dark as well as very handsome, of all my sisters Sarah was the most beautiful, followed by Halima then Najma Noora was the last.
Mama is shuwa, a tribe of beautiful women in northern Nigeria, she had a nose that looked like an over enthusiastic plastic surgeon worked on it, her skin was very white and flawless, her natural hair was very long, she had almond shaped eyes and naturally pouting lips which seemed to be pink in nature. In short she was very beautiful and I looked exactly like her, just that I was 17 years younger.
Our outstanding beauty made us Baba’s favorite, that was why only us were featured in the magazine article with him, he had a portrait of Mama and I in his bed chambers as well as the hall and the palour where he received his guests. I was always the one Baba called to introduce to his guests, the one who followed him out, I was named after his mother, though he gave me a fancy name “Shehnaz” meaning a musical note, I was often called Ladidi as his mother was called.
The attention I got from Baba made my siblings jealous of me especially Noora, she never hide her disdain towards me. When Abhas wanted to marry an ugly girl by the Nafisa to taint Baba’s image only her supported him, though Sarah did too but was not as open as Noora, Najma was young else she would have supported wholeheartedly.
We didn’t know Nana’s children, we lived separately and attended different schools we only met at occasions, We had our primary education in Nigeria then secondary and tertiary either in America or Europe, as a result we all had foreign accents, Sarah, Abhas and Adnan attended schools only in the US, Noora, Najma and Aliyu attended schools only in Uk the rest of us alternated.
Marriages excluding Abhas and Nazma’s were all arranged and conducted by Baba, Halima married at age of 18 before the completion of her tertiary education to a serving senator, her marriage was not successful, her husband had two other wives, he was very violent and that resulted to many hospital visits, he was very powerful, therefore no one dared to raise a voice not even when Halima complained bitterly, she died from childbirth complications, her death was a blow, we all broke down.
Sarah was next, she married a serving minister at 20 after graduating from Stanford with a degree in economics, she was very practical and could not be easily intimidated, she met 2 other wives, who her husband sent packing at short intervals after sarah’s arrival.
Noorah married a powerful general, he had only one wife before, she and Noora never saw eye to eye, she also graduated before marriage with a degree in Home sciences from Cambridge.
I had my high shool in Cambell Harris in london then university in Harvad, I graduated with firts class honors in computer engineering, networking and cyber security.
Baba was proud of me, his best child was not just beautiful but intelligent as well, I topped in my class, a party was organized for my success. And Baba gifted a red ferrari 575M Maranello.
Aliyu and Adnan were both studying medicine in Uk nd US respectively.
That was when Baba chose my husband, but it was the best thing he ever did, his business partner’s ambitious son, Asad.
Almost six feet tall, fair, muscular he was every girl’s dream man, physically Asad was perfect, he had MBA from Yale he ran his father’s company which made it rival Baba’s own, but Baba was still richer. The alliance was fixed without me or Asad’s consent but since we were of the new generation Asad expressed his thought of meeting me.
Mama came to my room herself to tell me get ready the following day as Asad would be taking me out. My jaws dropped later I called sarah to tell her.
‘Mhhh we never had such treatment, any way you are Baba’s princess.’ we talked some more and I hung up. Next I called my friend Nadia she was happy for me.
The following day both Nadia and Sarah came to help me, I had over a hundred dresses I have’nt worn yet but still I didn’t know which one to wear, Mama’s make up artist came to my rescue, after what seemed like a battle I emerged in a beautiful red and black maxi gown, the red color blended into the black at the end.
With my silver head scarf and black bolero I looked very modest, yet stunningly sexy, the dress flattered my figure so much I looked like an hour glass. My reflection in the mirror pleased me so much I was rest assured this Asad am about to meet will definitely fall in love with me as soon as he set his eyes upon me.
True to my thoughts Asad lost his heart as soon as he set his eyes upon me, He was drinking from a wine glass when I entered, my powerful perfume must have drawn his attention which made him look straight at me, he gazed so hard his wine glass fell off his hand, that gave me so much pleasure. I walked up to him, but he greeted me first, I answered but did not lower my gaze as a good girl should. I called Masi to come clean up the mess, he seemed really happy about that.
After talking for a while, he took Mama’s permission to take me out, she readily agreed, for the first time one her daughters would be someone’s first wife.
Am an avid lover of cars, I was very impressed when we walked over to his silver Cadillac XLR, I looked with admiration as he opened the door for me.
‘Nice car.’ I said, I could clearly see the pride on his face, as we drove off.
‘So you like sport cars’ he said, thought ladies only liked big cars.
‘Not all ladies.’ I replied. We talked about cars for the rest of the evening, we were both happy to have something in common. He was very romantic and attentive during our outing.
When I got home, Nadia and Sarah were ready to bombard me with questions of how it went. I didnt hold back I told them every little detail.
We went on many more dates, he didn’t have to take permission any more, one day I decided it was time to show him, what was better than his Cadillac XLR so I asked if I could drive us in my car.
Asad’s jaw dropped at the sight of my red ferrari 575M Maranello
‘This is a ferrari’ he said slowly.
‘Yep 575M Maranello’ I said proudly.
‘Didn’t know they were on the road in Nigeria.’
‘They aren’t, just this one, daddy bought and got it shipped to me as a gift for topping my class in Harvard’. I said as a matter of fact.
‘Well nice ride you’ve got here.’
I caressed the streamlining of the car as I told him about it.
‘ Its assembled in maranello, designed by Lorenzo Ramciotti, it has FR layout and a 5.7L tippo F133E V12 engine also with a 6-speed ‘F1’ electro hydraulic transmission.
When I was done I saw a shadow in his eyes, the kind that interpreted defeat, he had been over the moon for is ordinary cadillac XLR, well Cadillac XLR isn’t so ordinary, it’s an extremely expensive car, just that my ferrari 575M Maranello was much more expensive.
‘Wanna drive.’ I asked waving the key (a remote censored key) at him. Normally no man would like to miss the opportunity to drive such a car, but Asad’s pride denied him.
‘No,’ he said, ‘why don’t you do me the honors.’ He said, and off we went with me speeding beyond limit, I love driving especially sport cars.
Coming back I persuaded Asad to drive, which he did, he couldn’t stop praising the chasis of the car and I couldn’t help contributing, after all it was my car. How do you know so much about cars, never seen a northern girl crazed about sports cars, its rather jewelry or designer clothing.’ Asad had said
‘I love those too, but nothing compares to my passion for cars.’
by the end of the day, I could see the look on Asad’s face, the downward look people had after spending time with me, I always let them know who the boss was,who was in control and who would call the shots, it gave me satisfaction to thwart people that way, letting them believe they were on top and making their ego crash down like a house of cards.