“Tinuola Adebunmi Fehintola, you are a woman, a complete woman. And a woman has so much power, so much more power than a man does. Know how to use this power and you would have a good life”
That is one of my mother’s favorite sayings to me.
The earliest memory I had of hearing that, I was a teenager. Maybe fifteen or sixteen, but I heard it clearly. She said it in Yoruba. She always said it in Yoruba. Over the years, I found that things like that were better said in Yoruba. They have better weight and sway when said in Yoruba.
My mother was never married. Or rather, my mother was always married. Depends on how you look at it. it’s a little hard to explain.
She was a smart woman, a big socialite of the late 80s and throughout the 90s and early 2000s. She had money and she had it well. She had power too, political power, and all the men around wanted some of it. Some of her. And this was where the power she talked about came in. Sex.
She used sex to ruin so many marriages, to ruin so many men, to grow her business, to ensure me and my older brother had a better life. And I can only imagine that with the number of men she went out with, she must have been very good at it. Very very good at it.
She only brought a few of them home with her though. Those were the really important ones. She would bring them home and take them upstairs and for a week, only the maid would be allowed to go upstairs. After which she would be gone for another month again. She was always in the newspapers with this person or that. She was always in magazines for her hairstyles and clothes styles and gele styles. Think of Vogue, but not Vogue. In this part of the world, we called them ‘Ovation’. If you don’t get it, it’s okay. Just think of Vogue.
My mother was at every party. Wedding, burial, birthday, and any celebration that was worth something. She was there. She was very popular too. From Lagos to Ibadan to Ondo and everywhere in between, she was well known. There was hardly and musician that didn’t know her by name.
My mother’s smarts were used in a way that so many of her friends didn’t know. All the money she had?? She invested it. Asides the money she spent on me and my brother, and her business where she sold beer and all kinds of imported alcohol, and the money she used on her upkeep, everything else went into investments. But not Nigerian ones. They were all American and British based investments. She didn’t care about if the profit margin was small or huge, she just wanted profit. And she did long term investments only. The kind of investments that would allow the government to give her a visa to come and check on her investments and business partners. The kind where she could decide to take all of us for summer today, and we would be there within the week. My mother could do that then. She had the money, and she had the influence.
She gave us everything we wanted, but there two conditions attached. Just two. Do very well in school. Exceptionally well. That was the first condition. The second condition was to never get in trouble with the police. It was a little harder for my brother than for me, but we made it work. We knew what she did, she made us know what she did, but she let us know that it was all for us. Everything she was doing was for us, and we had to make all her grinding worthwhile.
I learned so much from my mother.
She is the single individual I learned the most important life skills from, she is the single individual I draw the most inspiration from. Folashade Oluranti Ayinke.
She died of course. HIV/AIDS. She knew what she had done, she knew what was going to happen to her, and she took it like a soldier. Her last five months on the face of the earth were dedicated to us. Me and my brother. Taking us to see people, important people that would help us after she had gone. Bankers, lawyers, politicians, businessmen, drug dealers, babalawos, pastors, everybody. She was announcing to the world that “Awon omo Ayinke ti de”.
When she couldn’t move around anymore, she sat in bed and talked to us. She told us stories. She told us locations of events, she told us words that would give us access to certain people, to certain gatherings, she told us secrets, she told us several things.
For me in particular, she told me “A woman has so much power, so much more power than a man does. Know how to use this power and you would have a good life”.
She said it so many times that I started to think it was a secret password of a kind. I never forgot it.
She died in my arms, refusing to cry until the very end. Her last words were “Bami gbe bag mi ni isale” Anticlimactic, but significant. She was trying to get me out of the room so I wouldn’t see her pass, but her brother knew what was going on and he asked me to stay. I didn’t know why until after it had happened.
We took over the business, me and my brother. He took control of everything, even though we owned it together. From the imports to the locally sourced items. He took up her political image too, the worthy successor. Mobilizing thugs and weapons and money for politicians and just about anyone that needed them. There was never a year that we didn’t record profits. My job was to go out into the world. To go into the streets of Lagos and make sure that the political climate was always in our favour. That we were always safe from the occasional ambitious or idealistic politician, or the scorned one looking for who to drag down with him. It was an easy lifestyle. Fun, thrilling, exotic. It was dangerous too. I can’t count the number of times I have been in situations that I could have died from. That I probably should have died from. But I guess Ayinke has a strong spirit watching over me from the beyond.
I ‘retired’ at thirty-two. I stopped playing the field when it was getting obvious that it was a new generation of women that were being sought after. The ones with tight jeans and perky firm breasts and expensive attachments and wigs. I could have done that too, I could have changed my game to stay on top, but it was better to leave as I did. Plus the new wave of stakeholders and powerbrokers in Lagos didn’t know Ayinke anyways. The ones that did were on their last haunches. I got married to a dole old guy when I was thirty-five.
We had an agreement. I would use my contacts to promote his business and political ambitions, but by word of mouth only. Maybe a few business deals here and there, but absolutely no sleeping around, and he would finance my lifestyle with everything I wanted. All I had to do was ask. He didn’t want children from me, and I doubt his equipment was fully functional enough to get me pregnant, but that was fine with me. I had my daughter that I spent the summer with in London. Ayinke, named after my mother.
I could still go to parties though, I could still get home late or decide not to go home at all like I had no one to answer to, and that was perfectly fine by me. In all honesty, taking myself out of the pool of names that the Lagos men had on their beck and call to fulfill their depraved fantasies was a plus for me. The moment I started to decline calls and jobs for the sake of my marriage, my respect went up. My prices went up too, and my husband’s name became more popular. I wouldn’t have had it happen any other way.
So why did I break my marriage agreement for Teslim?? It was simple. It was all very simple.
I wanted Teslim. I wanted Teslim. And I wanted Teslim for myself.
All my escapades have always been geared towards a particular goal in mind, and not always my goal. I had been a tool for other people to get what they wanted. I had lived my whole life as a tool. I wanted to change that. With Teslim, I was the one choosing to use my body as a tool. And what was the goal?? My own pleasure. Intimacy was a little farfetched, and honestly it would leave both of us in complicated waters so I left it. I wanted intimacy too, but I left it. I would settle for well delivered orgasms from him. It also helped that Teslim had been a friend from the time before my ‘worldly’ ways, and he was well versed in women’s anatomy. He was a wonderful lover.
And he was nearby too. It was so convenient. So so convenient. He could come over and spend a few hours together. Rocking our bodies and the big king-sized mattress in my husband’s bedroom.
It always tickled me to know that my husband was sleeping on the bed that another man had devoured his wife on. It was even worse when he made love to me while Teslim’s sweat was still on my body. While his milk was still inside me. Maybe even his baby. Maybe.
I enjoyed sex with my husband better after I started having Teslim on the side, but it wasn’t because my husband was so exceptional in the bodily arts. It was a mental thing for me. It’s a little hard to explain but the idea of doing something so sinful with Teslim and still having another man – the rightful owner, if I may- climb on me and do the same thing without any knowledge of what I had done turned me on to no end. It was like serving someone leftovers and hearing them say it was the best meal they had ever had. I would be on top of my husband or underneath him and be thinking of how Teslim had done this to me just hours ago. Or how he had put me in this position just yesterday. Or how I had screamed and peed when Teslim made me climax.
I felt so dirty, so useless, so promiscuous, so cheap, and so horny at the same time. I loved the feeling.
I loved being used by Teslim and then having Mr. Husband come home to the leftovers.
I started to look forward to having Teslim over. If we had done it more than twice in a week, I would book a hotel for us somewhere and pay for it and wait for him to stroll in. I liked rubbing his bald head, and I liked the way is moustache and beard tickled me when we kissed. I liked the way he responded to certain things. Like spanking me and like letting me play with his balls and stick my fingers up his rectum. Things I saw that people did now that I wanted to do too. Teslim was my man for my pleasure, and he snored. He snored lightly and I loved that. Knowing he was still there even before I turned my eyes around filled me with a kind of feeling.
I don’t want to think of what will happen if we get caught, I really don’t want to, but I can’t imagine being threatened by my husband. I had helped him more than he had helped me. I had bragging rights over his career.
And I have my own money. All the money I made from fornicating around in Lagos, all the lands and houses I had on the island, and I still had my part of Ayinke’s company waiting for me. If it got too messy, I really can’t imagine being thrown out or begging to stay. I would probably leave and start a new life with or without Teslim, even though I’d prefer him to be in it.
Maybe he could even give me the second child that I want. Maybe…
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