Knives meeting forks and spoons meeting plates were the only sounds that could be heard as the reunited Akinyolas sat down to eat. Everyone's eyes were glued to the table, they acted as though Medusa sat amongst them. Even thoughts were minimal, they drifted in and out like the wails of ghosts and then disappeared all together. Amongst them, Jude was the least uncomfortable and he wanted the rain, he could smell the discord in the air, feel the almost wet winds of anger on the tip of his nose. He couldn't let the moment stay stagnant.
"So Ruth, do you have a date set? I'm sire Mother would like to get things prepared, the Aso-ebi the food, or maybe you don't want a big wedding, maybe you just want a court wedding, that's definitely going to be easier."
She gave him the death glare and decided to ignore him. After taking a sip of wine and wishing she could have the whole bottle, she cleared her throat and smiled.
"So Mamma, Papa, tell me, what's been happening..."
"Jude asked you a question.." Mr Akinyola interjected. "We do need to know those basic things, obviously we'll have to meet him soon, I don't know what kind of man proposes without asking for blessings."
"Ok..." she started and reached for the bottle of wine, but Jude swiped it from her and put it out of her reach with a smirk on his face.
"What is your problem." she said in a hushed tone.
"My problem? I don't have a problem, no, infact, today for the first time in forever, your the one bringing all the problems.."
"Oh shut up, please, don't you have someone to kill..."
"Oh, there we go, I wonder, why do you always attack me on that particular subject when our beloved Father is the architect of it all.."
"Stop squibling you two!" Mr Akinyola snarled. "You act as though your not brother and sister.."
"And why won't they!" Mrs. Akinyola added with a scowl, "hmm?tell me? Why won't they!?." she picked up a napkin, dabbed both sides of her lips and threw the napkin back on the table as though it disgusted her.Then she got up and proceeded to leave the table.
"Where are you going?" Mr. Akinyola inquired.
She turned and looked at him as though the answer to his question was obvious. "Why to get dessert of course. I mean it's quite obvious we are going to be here for a while, might as well have food to eat while we're at it." and with that she left them.
Jude returned the bottle of wine to his sister. "I guess you'll need this after all."
She took it with a sneer and refilled her glass.
Minutes later their mother returned with a bowl full of pudding and set it in the middle of the table. Jude hastily helped himself and she took her seat.After Jude was done she she served herself, then her husband and finally her Daughter.
"So Ruth, tell us, how long have you been seeing this mystery man."
"Well Mamma, we met in South Africa early last year, at first it was..."
"So his black?" Jude asked with a mouth full of pudding.
"Yes, Jude, his black, thought I don't see how..."
"I always thought you'd end up with a white guy, what with all the time you spend in the states, I thought your husband would be Caucasian, or Arabian.."
"Well given that you don't spend a lot of time thinking I don't expect you to be very good at it." She retorted.
"Hmm, maybe so, but life's filled with a lot of ironies, I mean, given that you spend a lot of time travelling it's a shock to see you settling down."
"Well, I will, I love him..."
"Oh so you don't love your family eh.."
"That is NOT what I meant..."
"Enough you too!" their father intervened again and cast their mother a questioning look. "Won't you do something about this?"
"If by "this" you mean the wedge which YOU put between them when you asked Jude to join you in your little business then no my dear, I will not, you started it, you end it."
Mr. Akinyola bit his tongue to keep the words from spouting out of his mouth.
"Mamma there is nothing between Ruth and I." Jude offered in defence of his father. "What Mr. Stanley and I do is..."
Mrs Akinyola scoffed, and looked at her husband, raising a fork to serve as a proxy finger. " You see what you've done, even here, beneath our roof, he refers to you as "Mr. Stanley" you see what you've done? Your son is now nothing but an employee to you, and you've turned him into something his Sister loathes, you."
"Mummy, I don't loathe papa." Ruth said with a whine. Then added reluctantly. "I don't loathe Jude either."
"Than you Ruth." Mr. Akinyola said. "It seems your Mother has forgotten that it is that little business that puts food on this table."
Mrs. Akinyola began to speak but her daughter took the words right out of her mouth.
"No papa. You're a business man, you own several clubs in key areas of this state, Abuja and Calabar. That is what puts food on the table, you know why? Because it's enough! There was no reason for you to branch out into this nonsense, no reason but greed!"
Jude bolted to his feet and slammed his fist against the table.
"You will not speak to Mr...., Our Father that way, The business was failing you all know that, I remember there were days we had to eat the same meal for lunch and dinner, and though that doesn't sound so bad it would've only gotten worse, Clubs didn't thrive in this country till late 2005, and Papa could only expand from the money he got from this business, you two would know that if you were interested in what me and Mr. Stanley do. He did what he had to do to provide for this Family, isn't that right Father?." He turned, searching for eyes to buttress his speech, but his father did not look at him.
"Sit down Jude." Mr. Akinyola said softly.
Jude's head drooped, he let out an exasperated smile, banged his fists against the table again and left.