Heels and Valleys Chapter Three

Favour tried to dismiss the guilty feelings that beclouded her thoughts and focused on the important things to do. As she parked her car by the roadside market, she contemplated having to get out of the car for the set of shiny tomatoes winking at her from fairly rusted iron tomato- displaying plates.

The buxom market woman in charge of the tomatoes stood up immediately. She adjusted her Ankara gele and moved to the tomato stand. Favour was glad of the woman’s eagerness to sell. Though she had made a show of wanting to get out of the car, her mind hadn’t wanted to get out of the car.

“Hundred naira each right?” she asked the woman who was getting ready to open the mouth of the black nylon already in her hands. The woman nodded and Favour made a sign of two with her index finger and her middle finger. The woman packed the right amount of tomatoes into the nylon. As swiftly as her body could allow, she walked from her stall to Favour’s car which had its window down already. After paying, the woman returned to her former position, watching how the cars passed by in the cool evening.

Favour checked the tomatoes in the nylon. The typical big, round, and red IITA tomatoes that graced the market when it was almost December time were in there. She smiled as she imagined the tomatoes on Jollof rice. Just then, she sighted one tomato with a dented side. She touched it to check how hard it is and it got more depressed. It was as soft as jelly. She saw another that looked like it. Fungi were already growing on it. She shook her head and wondered how many more like that were in the nylon. That was the price she paid for not stepping out of the car to pick the tomatoes she wanted. She remembered what her father said about free services.

“Oops!” she gasped. She had wanted to call her dad at the beginning of the month. Her busy schedule was going to come to an end soon. All the people who usually complained that she couldn’t find a single day to put a call through would get what they wanted. She just wondered why they couldn’t put a call through to her if she was that missed.

She kicked the car to life and drove along the road, allowing herself to take in the sights on the road she plied every day as a distractive measure. That bug at her heart would wait a little more.

The security man at the front of the gate of the estate where she lived waved her in. she nodded to him in greeting and drove her car in. On getting to her gate, she got down to open her gate. She heard footsteps coming from her compound. She paused and listened again. The footsteps were getting nearer. And then, she heard the familiar sound of the opening of her gate and nearly froze.

“Who’s there?!” she demanded, masking her fear and surprising herself with how powerful and fearless she sounded. Her chest heaved up and down. She didn’t know what else she would do if a thief suddenly appeared to her from behind. Her little knowledge of self-defence would be rendered useless if the thief should hold a gun at her. Neither would it be easy to call Segun, the security man to her aid.
She moved a step backwards, intending to return to her car. As the black gate flew open, she flew to her car. She chanced a glance at the gate before opening the door of the car. She felt like a load was removed from her shoulder when she saw her smiling father standing in front of her gate.

“Papa” she called faintly.

“My daughter.” The almost silver-haired man who looked like an older version of Favour called and held out his arms, ready for an embrace. She walked over to him and embraced him. Her father held her before him and took a good look at her, still smiling.

“I see you have been doing well, my Adaeze.”

“Yes, Papa” Favour replied. “But I’ve been very busy, I think I might collapse if there was no hope that New Year was on its way”

“These old eyes can see that too. Come, let’s go inside for now. Drive your car in, I’d be waiting for you” Papa Adaeze said and watched as his daughter leave to drive her car beside his white Prado jeep. Papa Adaeze itched his white beard with the key of his vehicle, a smile twitching on his face. His face shone with the utmost delight of being around his only daughter.

“You have been doing well, my girl,” he said again when she came within his hearing.

“I must tell you though, you almost frightened me when I heard your footsteps. How did you get in? Segun is more strict than he looks”

Papa Adaeze laughed a deep belly laugh. The laugh reverberated within Favour’s compound.

“I see that there are still some things you are still yet to understand,” he said after the long laughter. He continued laughing after that.

As they walked towards the entrance of Favour’s flat, Favour looked up at her father, a question was clearly on her mind. “Since when have you been here daddy?” she asked. She only used the term “daddy” when she wanted a straightforward answer.

“Shouldn’t we rather talk about why I’m here?” he answered, a serious look on his face.

Favour didn’t speak again but focused on opening the door. Papa Adaeze chuckled to himself. He was sure that her defense mode was already on—a result of his simple question.

Thirty years since he had known her and she still hadn’t understood the fact that he understood her as he did himself.

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