ONE

Hester Douglas Tobechuckwu looked
down the second compartment of the
stairs wearily. She paused momentarily
and then taking each step gracefully, she
alighted the stairs. She entered the
exquisite sitting room, impeccably
designed and furnished, also depicting the
status of its owner. ‘Good evening Dad.’
‘What’s popping Beauty? ‘ Douglas
Tobechukwu winked at her. He was
seated in his favorite sofa, he set his IPad
on a side table.
‘Dad …’ She drawled sweetly, ‘ I wonder
what your younger days were like, I’m
sure you must have ignited many hearts
and took to your heels.’
He chuckled. ‘You’re right dearest! It did
earn me the love of a one time beauty
queen of the Universe.’ He head for the
bar. ‘You know dear, it is not easy then as
it is now for you to marry a beauty
queen.’
She nodded and watched as her Dad
brought out two wine glass cups.
‘You wouldn’t mind chilling with me?’ He
poured the wine.
‘I don’t mind chilling with you but I do
mind the wine.’
‘Oh …Agatha wouldn’t have. ‘ He
shrugged, ‘I shouldn’t forget that since
that is one of the peculiarities of my
Beauty. ‘ He settled across her.
‘How is my country’s bank ?’ She sat back
still retaining her smile.
‘Doing excellently well.’ He grinned
before sipping his wine. ‘
‘That can be attributed to the guy in
charge giving it his best shots. ‘ Hester
beamed.
‘You can say that again and again and
again! ‘ He smiled warmly. ‘You shouldn’t
have missed that party Hester, I actually
believed I had succeeded in convincing
you until the last minute. I met old
friends, dignitaries and it would have
been same for you. It was the best have
attended in a long time.’ Douglas place
the glass on the side table. ‘All you need
do is to ask your sis, I am sure she won’t
stop talking. We all had fun darl.’
‘Daddy, there are something’s that don’t
matter to me,’ She met her father’s
gaze,’Probably for now because I don’t
need them. Her voice was serene but
emphatic.
‘All my friends who have met you couldn’t
help but spread words …they all wanted
to meet the central bank governor’s
younger daughter. I would have loved to
show you off and dance with you for a
change. ‘ He feigned sadness.
‘It’s Okay Dad. ‘ There was a sparkle in
her eyes.
‘I wanted to talk time you last night but
when we came back, you were asleep.
‘Did you get my gift? ‘
She nodded in reply.
He searched her expression. ‘ I’m certain
you’ve not opened it, it contains a
bouquet of flowers, balloons and your
favorite chocolate. ‘
‘You never forget my childhood trend that
is always in vogue with me.’ Her smile
was broad displaying her set of white
teeth. ‘Thank you daddy. ‘
‘You’re so welcome Beauty. ‘ He took a
sip. ‘Some people are supposed to taking
turns treating you like the Princess
you’re.’
‘What do you mean? ‘ She narrowed her
brows.
‘Male friend, male friends. ‘
‘Aww! ‘ She chuckled. ‘Male friend, male
friends, singular and plural? Daddy! ‘ She
chided before laughing.
‘Pardon me dear. ‘ He rubbed his
forehead with his left fingers. ‘But you
know you can have them.’
‘Never changing Dad, how hilarious! I do
have a good mind of dropping on my
Knees and laughing long and hard.’ Her
smile returned. ‘When I left the shores of
Nigeria, we never had this line of
conversation but now I am back after so
many years, all grown, he tells me I can
have a male friend. I do have friends Dad,
you should have visited me in Hollywood.

‘You can also have friends here ’cause
your beauty radiates.’
‘Yeah right Dad! I understand that
perfectly but no …don’t start. ‘ She
waved her right index finger with a grim.
‘Hmmmm …’ He was thoughtful for a
while. ‘ I remember the day you tagged
as “the highest joke day “. I said -Darling
hold on and listen to this and you were
like – Daddy don’t start again Okay? ‘ He
tried to micmick her demonstrating too.
She beamed remembering.
‘Then I dropped a bit of this and that, you
chuckled. When I finally dropped the joke
like it’s hot, you laughed long and hard.
Your mum came in and asked you to Stop
but you continued like she was the object
of your amusement. ‘
“Oh honey, I have told you to stop this
your endless jokes, what have you told
her now? Oh my God! Hester would you
stop laughing and listen to me … I can’t
believe this.” She panicked as tears filled
your eyes and came rolling down. “Stop
this very minute! ” She gave her me her –
if look can kill gaze. I still shudder when I
remember her gaze ‘
Hester laugh more at his gestures
He continued. ”your sides will ache badly
if you don’t stop. Why are you staring at
me like you don’t know you’ve done! call
the doctor. ” What do I tell him I asked
afraid. Keep asking me, keep asking me!
Hester if you don’t Stop laughing, I will
spank you! ”
‘She did just that and I try to refrain her.
Eventually you started crying and
laughing. Your mum pulled you to your
feet and then you slumped, the laughter
ending too. I carried you and you said –
Oh, my sides are aching me, my head hurt
…Oh my body! Mummy please carry me. ‘
He said with a high pitched voice.
Hester burst into laughter.
‘Mummy actually threatened me right on
my recovery bed, if I see you with your
Dad, I will lock you in one of the store
house for a month and because she was
so serious, I believed her. Anytime I
heard your voice, I fled. ‘ She laughed.
‘It’s my turn to say don’t start. ‘ Her Dad
laughed.
‘I won’t, I promise. ‘ She ended her
laughter and stood. She covered the
distance between them and took his
hands. ‘ That was like yesterday Dad.
while I was away, you’re the one I miss
the most. ‘ She embraced him. ‘ I love
you very much Dad. ‘ She pecked him on
both cheeks.
‘I love you too Princess. ‘ He whispered.
‘Goodnight Daddy, sleep well. ‘ She peck
him once more.
‘That’s for sure Princess, dream of me. ‘
He watched her leave all in smiles.
Hester eyes glisten as she head for the
stairs. She loved her Dad!
++++++

***
‘For goodness sakes! You know too well
that this is the twentieth century, the jet
age. That doesn’t exist anymore!’Hester
bobbed her head from side to side.
Douglas regarded her calmly. ‘You know
Princess, I know what is good for you. ‘
‘Truthfully Dad, I know what is best for
me more than anyone else.’
‘You need one to contribute to your
moving on.’
She glared at him. ‘That’s pathetic! It’s
simply pathetic for a female to consider a
male important to her moving on. It
solely depends on the person and the Big
man above. ‘ She stood and her arms
went akimbo. ‘Dad when I told you about
not needing somethings the other day, an
intimate male friend is one of such. Right
now, am done arguing with you.’ She
grabbed a shawl from her bed and turned
to leave.
‘Don’t …don’t darling, that is disrespect
and you know better. ‘ Douglas stated
not offended.
Hester turned on a heel to face him. ‘How
else do I explain the way I feel? ‘ She
opened both palms before her sad.
He exhaled. ‘Princess are you not
interested in knowing who the guy is? ‘
‘Daddy, I don’t care. ‘ She returned
almost in a whisper.
‘Come on darling, how about his name? ‘
‘I – don’t -care.’ She repeated slowly and
emphatically.
‘Aww darl! You have to learn how to start
caring. ‘
She rolled her eyes and shifted her
weight from one feet to the other. ‘How
more ridiculous can this get! ‘ She gave a
short laugh. ‘I care about you, I care
about mum, I care about Agatha, I care
about …’
‘Get interested Hester! ‘
‘Okay …okay. ‘She nodded slowly. ‘Fine.’
She exhaled. ‘Who is this guy? ‘
‘Oladimeji Adeniyi Gbolahan.’ He said
carefully and singularly.
‘Wow! ‘ She beamed and began
demonstrating. ‘Those names sound like
that of a machine gun …’ She used her
fingers to pose as guns. ‘Keke kekekeeke!
They sound like the swerving of a mighty
sword -waawaww waawaawaaa! They
sound like …’
He went wide eyed. ‘Darling! ‘ He chided
softly.
She frowned. ‘How come you’re stopping
me? ‘
It dawned on him that she might not
know. ‘He is the president’s son.’
‘Oh! Oh …’ She went to sit on the bed
before laughing merrily. ‘I get it. Wow Sir,
the CBN Governor, Daddy, thank you so
much for the effort …’ She met his gaze.
‘It makes no difference. ‘ With that, she
dived on her bed, pulled up the duvet
and closed her eyes, all done in a swift
motion.
++++++

***
Hester pressed the enter key and waited
for feedback, her anticipation was met
after few seconds. She studied the
information and when she got to the
diagram at the end, she allowed it fill the
screen of her laptop.
A knock on the door.
‘Come in.’ She said, eyes not leaving the
screen.
The door opened and close afterwards.
Eventually, she looked in the direction of
the door. ‘Make yourself comfortable
Mum. ‘ More often than not, she couldn’t
resist saying that . That she could
attribute to her mother’s sophistication
and the grace of her steps as she head to
a sofa. Even in her late forties, she was
stunning but her beauty was now
pampered with expensive cosmetics. She
admire her mum but had no aspiration to
be like her, maybe it was because they
didn’t agree most of the time. She was
more of Dad than Mum, she used to tell
herself.
‘I know am a crasher honey, I only need
few minutes. ‘ Empress Tobechukwu
smiled at her daughter ability to
concentrate.
Hester sipped from the bottled water on
the table before going to sit opposite
her.
‘Mum, your dress is lovely. I love the
embroidery. ‘ Her gaze lingered on the
dress.
‘I’m glad you do honey. This is courtesy of
my latest Nigerian designer.’ Empress
beamed.
‘My never changing momma! ‘ She
laughed. ‘As a child, I had the ability to
guess real good.’
Empress nodded.
‘I can guess why you’re here.’
‘Tell me.’ Empress said gleefully and sat
back.
‘You’re here to take turn on listening to
what went down at the outing.

That was a date not an outing. ‘ Empress
tried not to frown.
Hester pointed to the screen. ‘When am
done with that, I will use a dictionary. ‘
She sat back. ‘The outing was platonic and
that’s just that. ‘
‘Honey, do you hate him already? ‘ Her
expression remained as she studied her
daughter.
Hester buried her face in her palms and
suppressed a groan. ‘I can’t create, just
make, who am I to hate the Almighty
creature? ‘
‘Well said Darling. ‘ Empress was
delighted. ‘You have to free your mind,
open your heart, make sure you …’
Oh no! She wasn’t going to go through
this again. She stood and turned her
back.
Her mother was taken aback. ‘You’ve not
changed your mind to your father’s
request?’
She shook her head.
Empress exhaled relieved. She wanted to
talk to her daughter some more but she
knew better. She touch her shoulder.
‘There’s a fashion show tonight, will you
like to come with Agatha and I? ‘
‘ Thanks Mum but I’ll be busy.’ Hester
gave her a quick smile before heading to
her earlier seat.
Empress was disappointed as she head
out but stopped at an after thought.
‘Honey what will you like for lunch so I
could tell the cooks on my way out.’
She gave her a sincere smile. ‘You’re
indeed caring Mum, I’ll come downstairs
to fix something for myself. Thank you.’
By the time the door closed, she was
drawing from the screen.
Empress head for the garden. After pacing
for about five minutes, she sat troubled
and remembered a dialogue she had
heard with Hester when she was in her
early teens.

“I thought I told you never to enter that
kitchen and most especially not to
interact with those people as if they are
of your social status.”
“We are all created by one God, isn’t it? ”
“Spare me that Hester! I told you not to
defy my order.”
“But I love to learn Mum, I want to be
independent. ”
“Independence breeds destruction my
dear child. ”
“That’s heavy Mum, it will be more
enjoyable if I can prepare what I eat.”
“That is no excuse! ‘
“I can’t help you then. Anytime am free,
if you don’t find me in the room, look in
the kitchen next.”
“You can as well forget picnic on
sundays.”
“With all pleasure Mum.”
Empress mouth was agaped as she
watched her daughter leave.
Come Sunday even when she had come to
get her for the picnic, she had politely
refused.
Back to reality, she sighed. She wouldn’t
give up on her, even if she wanted to,
there was no choice.
++++++

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