Yes, for the first time, we have a Part 3; and it comes just two weeks before the blog turns 1! I don’t like stretching a story so I can confidently tell you that this is the last part of the story. I have never had a story move people as strongly as The Help and The Help II did! Maybe it is because many modern day families struggle to find a balance between maintaining a career and a home. This story is fictional but it is also real. Enjoy the last bit of the triology! 😊
Aku adjusted the push-up bra and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Satisfied with what she was seeing, she slipped into the skirt that Agatha had given her last night and went downstairs to prepare breakfast. Agatha was the only one she had confided in, since she started having the dreams. Yes, she had been dreaming about Dr. Frank, dreams that would make Father Anthony bow his head in shame. Father Anthony was the Catholic priest that recommended her to the Tachie-Mensons when they were looking for a house help. He had solemnly looked her in the eye and told her to serve them with all her heart and love them as though they were her own family, the night before she left for Accra. The dreams she had been having and the places her mind had been wandering to during the day could equate her to that lady she had seen under the bridge, the night that she had gotten home late. The woman was busty and wearing a very skimpy red dress that looked like it was a Size 6, instead of the Size 10 she should have been wearing. She had leaned over and was talking to a man in a car with tinted windows. Her breasts looked like they were ready to spill out of the dress and into the car. The man’s eyes were on her breasts of course, and not her face. After a while, she jumped into the car and they sped off.
Prostitute. That is what Vanessa said she was called, when she asked her the next day. A woman who wanted the love of a man that was not hers.
The dreams had started the night that Dr Frank pulled her into his lap and begged her not to go. Racing out of his study, she felt a number of things- shock, fear and pleasure. Yes, pleasure. She had not felt like that since Kojovi asked her to see him at 7pm in front of the Methodist Primary School, five years ago. They sat in front of the school, holding hands and talking. He told her that she was the prettiest girl in the village and that he wanted their children to look like her. All she could do was smile and silently plead with her heart to stop racing. She never got to tell him that she liked him too and that he had nice eyes, because just then her mother appeared with a look on her face that would make the village fetish priest quiver in fear.
‘I will beat the demon out of you! Which demon taught you that it was okay to hold the hand of a man who had not asked for your hand in marriage? All he wants is to impregnate you!’
Every word was accompanied with a hefty slap. Mama was the one who prepared akple for the entire township anytime there was something to celebrate, so she had been ‘working out’. She had very strong arms. There was power in that hand that kept landing slaps on her body-each one more painful than the one before it. That night, with her whole body stinging from the beatings, she vowed not to let a man make her feel like that again. And yet here she was, fantasizing about Dr Frank’s bare chest. Every dawn at about 3:30, she woke up with a start, sweating profusely. Dr Frank was always in the dream. Always bare chested too. It made it difficult for her to look him in the eye, and that was why she told Agatha about it. Agatha had a lot of experience in this area, you see. She was sleeping with her master’s younger brother.
‘He did what? Aku, you are sitting on a gold mine! Chineke! Why didn’t you bring this one my way now? This is a jackpot waiting to be uncovered.’
Agatha had grown up in Nigeria and so her Nigerian accent kicked in by default whenever she was upset or excited. She leaped off the kitchen counter and pulled her kitchen stool closer to the one Aku was sitting on.
‘Listen, these men have needs and since we are in their homes to help, we must help in that regard as well. You barb?’
‘But he loves his wife and we don’t know if he meant to do that or not. He misses Auntie Korkor, that’s all.’
‘See this girl oo! Sometimes I don’t understand God oo, why didn’t He allow this manna to fall in my laps? Who cares what he intended to do? You think Koku intended to sleep with me? Men are like dogs. Give them a bone or even pretend to have a bone, they will wag their tails at you and completely be at your mercy. You think I got this iPhone by scrubbing floors and cooking jollof? Make him forget his wife. You even like his children so you don’t have to fake it. This is what they call ‘hostile takeover’ on TV. Your skirts must become shorter, your tops more revealing. If anyone asks why, tell them that the cloth was not enough so the seamstress made it smaller than usual. Send his food to his bedroom. Reach out and take something behind him and let your breasts brush against him. Drop things and bend over in the kitchen when he is there. Let him see you like a woman. The rest will fall in place by itself, trust me!’, Agatha exclaimed with a satisfied look on her face.
Without realizing it, Aku was beginning to warm up to the idea. She had always pretended that the house was hers anyway. She finally had a chance to transform wishful thinking into reality. Dr Frank was a good man. She tried not to think about what Mama would think. Agatha shooed her out of the house because it was time for La Gata and she liked to watch it without distractions.
The tables had turned and Frank didn’t even know it. The hunter had become the hunted. He was now her prey.
‘Last call for flight number DF2753 from New York to Accra. Boarding gate 3A’
Korkor heaved a sigh of relief as she boarded the plane. It had been a long three days, meeting with clients and finally closing that merger. When it was all over, she just wanted to go home. She skipped the congratulatory dinner and jumped on the first available flight to Ghana. Settling in her seat, she thought about her kids. She would have stopped to buy chocolates and toys in the duty free stores to make up for missing either a game, play or school programme.Today,she didn’t have that burden. Strangely, she missed it.
‘I should probably call them when I land.’, she thought to herself.
‘Hi, good evening! I am Atsu.’ The gentleman who had just settled into the seat beside her extended his hand in greeting.
‘My ex-girlfriend is called Korkor. I never got over her and she is not even half as beautiful as you are!’
Korkor was disinterested and it obviously showed in her face. The man took the hint and settled back into his seat.
Towards the end of the journey, Korkor dropped the legal magazine she was reading and he picked it up for her.
‘I don’t look like a lawyer?’
‘No, you look like you should be on the front cover of Ebony. You need a rich man to take care of you so that you don’t have to work another day in your life.’
‘Actually, some of us enjoy working.’
‘Married?’, he asked, gesturing towards the ring on her finger.
She touched it, hesitantly. ‘Yes and no. My husband refuses to give me a divorce and I don’t live with him. But yes legally, we are married.’
‘Wow! It is that complicated? Well, call me when you have had a long day and you need company. We can have a glass of wine or something.’
‘Will do. Take care, Atsu.’
‘You too, Ebony model!’
For some reason, she decided to pass by the house to see the kids.
They should all be home by now.
Aku was the one who opened the door. She didn’t look particularly happy to see her but Korkor was too exhausted to deal with that. All of a sudden, all she wanted to do was to embrace her children and ask them what happened in school that day. She was not ready for what was before her. Frank was lying in the sofa with his right leg bound up in a cast and the kids were sitting around him, because he was reading them a story. Junior’s eyes lit up when he saw her and he ran into her arms.
‘Mummy!! She came! Mummy came!’
Korkor blinked back the tears and planted a kiss on his forehead. Ever- forgiving Junior: he was probably the one who had suffered the most since she left and yet he was the first to welcome her back.
‘I missed you, Junior’, she whispered against his neck. He smiled a gleeful smile and turned to his siblings.
‘I told you she would come back!’, he announced triumphantly.
Vanessa was going to be the most difficult challenge to surmount. Her back was still turned to Korkor, her eyes fixed on her father- clearly sending the ‘you are not welcome here’ message. It would take a lot of time and effort to regain her daughter’s trust, she knew. Gregory was of course indifferent and he waved at his mum, revealing a smile that was missing his two front teeth. Then she turned to Frank and asked the question she had been meaning to ask since she entered.
‘Frank, what happened to your leg?’
Apparently, he had fallen down at work, reaching for a patient folder from one of the shelves. He had fractured his leg and had been bedridden for the last two weeks.
‘Why didn’t anyone tell me?’
‘Well, we didn’t want to bother you. Plus we are doing okay, as you can see. How was New York?’
‘I don’t want to talk about work. Are you okay? I know I don’t have a right to ask but is there anything I can do to help?’
Vanessa haughtily rose to her feet and walked away, clearly displeased at the way things were going. Another person was displeased- Aku’s hostile takeover plan wasn’t going to work if Korkor kept coming to the house with her voluptuous self. She had been making steady progress especially during the day when the children were not around, but up until now, the ‘dog’ had not fallen for the bait.
Korkor started coming by every now and then to check on Frank and the kids. She also noticed that Aku had become increasingly hostile towards her. She walked into his bedroom one day and saw Aku bending over in front of Frank to clean up the water he had spilled on the floor. The jealousy filled her so quickly that she didn’t have time to process her actions.
‘What do you think you are doing? Get out of here. I will clean it myself. And oh, don’t come back to this room unless you are called or the kids are here. Is that clear?’
‘Jealous much?’, Frank asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
‘It is not jealousy. I am just setting boundaries in place. She can’t waltz in here like she is some madam.’
‘Oh wow! What have you done with the Korkor I know? That Korkor had no issues with Aku doing every thing except warming her husband’s bed.’
‘Have you slept with her?’ , she asked with an ashen look on her face.
‘Nope, but I have been tempted- more than once. She is also on some ‘mègye wo kunu*’ agenda but I have turned a blind eye to it. I have more than enough on my plate. These kids need me to be there for them. I can’t mess that up- not for a girl who doesn’t have an opinion on the effect of colonization on 21st Century Africa.’
‘What is that about?’
‘It is an inside joke I have with Mark.’
‘Frank, I am sorry. I should done better. I can take a few days off work if you need me to.’
‘Don’t worry. I didn’t say that to make you feel bad. And you are right- Aku needs some boundaries. I’d send her away if I thought she could not be controlled, but then again, seeing as keeping her around makes you jealous, I won’t send her away. It is cute that you still get jealous when it comes to me. Maybe I should exploit it. If there is anyone you need to direct your efforts towards, it is Vanessa.’
‘Yes, I need to win back my daughter’s heart.’
‘She is just hurt. Give her time. It is funny how we talk a lot more now that we don’t even live under the same roof. I could get used to it. Have a good day at work.’
The sunlight falling on Korkor’s face was what woke her up. She looked at the bedside watch- it was 6:32am. It was only then that she realized where she was- wrapped in Frank’s arms with barely nothing on.
‘Oh God! What have I done?’
Frank stirred and pulled her closer, still caught up in sleep’s grasp. The smell of his cologne triggered the memories from the night before. She had gone up the stairs to check on him. He was still in bed and his leg was propped up against a pillow.
‘You took the bandage off. Yaayy! That means you are getting better.’
‘Yep! I can’t wait to get back to normal life, and then you also won’t have to come back to check on us everyday.’
‘What if I don’t want to stop?’ It was more of a whisper but he heard it anyway.
‘I don’t want you to stop. I was half thinking of faking it so you could come around more often. I miss you Korkor.’
‘Me too, Frank. I miss all of you.’
He tried to embrace her and ended up dropping his reading glasses on the floor. She bent over to pick them up and put them on the bedside drawer.
‘You need to take better care of your glasses. You can’t keep-‘
Frank was smiling his ‘I am up to no good’ smile.
‘Why are you smiling?’, she asked with a quizzical look on her face. He didn’t like being scolded about his glasses so the smile was clearly out of place. She wondered whether the pain killers were beginning to mess with his head.
‘You are wearing waist beads, aren’t you?’
‘Ah! What does that have to do with anything?’ Now she was smiling too.
‘You are neither confirming nor denying. ‘Lawyer tins’. Are you wearing waist beads or not?’
‘Yes, I am. Now can we move on to talking about your reading glasses?’
‘We can talk about anything you like, Kay!’ Now, it was a goofy grin that made his boyish features light up.
They never got to talking.
‘Oh God! What have I done?’
She was beginning to panic because they had not really spoken about all the things that they had to deal with- her career, the kids, everything. Vanessa for one, had still not forgiven her. She still wanted to work but she also wanted to share in the children’s lives- she had already missed out on so much. She also wondered if the drugs were what amounted to what happened the night before- maybe it was a mistake. Then she looked at him. He was snoring lightly. That used to annoy her, but now she realized that she had missed even his snoring. She stared at him for a few minutes and then settled back into bed beside him. They could deal with all of that when he woke up later on. Right now, all she wanted was to stay here- in their marital bed.
He was her husband, after all. It had been a while..
*mègye wo kunu- I’ll steal your husband