Every third Sunday afternoon, after the hustle and bustle of carting family to and from the morning's service, the Daughters of Obasa meet in one of the homes of its members. When the group was just three people, they would meet in Anna's house on Oluwa Close on Allen Avenue but as the group grew and thus the distance some people had to travel to make the meeting, the need for the venue to be rotated arose. Also, there was the fact that some women felt uncomfortable around Anna's clearly amorous husband but that was not something that was shared with the tiny woman. Instead, it was cited in the minutes to be unfair that she had to bear most of the responsibility of hosting the event and thus, the rotation began.
That Sunday, it rained. It had been drizzling all through Saturday before and when dawn broke that morning, even before the cock had the chance to draw enough air into its breast to belt out its horrible morning greeting, the skies opened up and dumped its gallons upon the city of Lagos. While some people were running helter skelter to save their neighbourhood's from flooding, the Daughters of Obasa, securely ensconsced within securely and properly planned neighbourhoods prepared for both the morning's service and the meeting after.
Unlike other Sunday mornings, they would all take seperate cars from the rest of the family; the kids and their father--if present in the picture--would either pick up lunch at one of the eateries or head home to waiting arms of well trained maid. The Daughters however, would shed their church hats or hand woven silk scarves, put their luxury vehicles into gear and head for the day's meeting.
The evening before, they would all have paid a visit to the hair dresser who would have coaxed imported human hair into sculptures atop their hair; a clear sign to their husbands upon their arrival at home that there would be no action that night. Not that there was that much. The Daughters had resigned themselves to the fate that their spouses found entertainment elsewhere. For one, two Daughters were the entertainment of other men. Those kinds of things were not important. What was important, was the inclusion in an exclusive club of women with disposable incomes and enviable luxury lifestyles. Lifestyles that if profiled would make even Jackie Collins, the western author whose career had grown on her ability to write scintillating exposes on the lives of the rich and famous, sit with her mouth open. Jackie would not be able to fathom the kind of lives the women of Lagos society lived. The Daughters of Obasa did not keep up with the latest trends; they set it.
Theirs was a strict code of appearances. Hair was to be long and cascading. If you were not blessed with long tresses or had lost them due to years of chemical damage, you improvised with the imported purchases from Asia. Nails were the shiniest of french manicures and on no account was there to be colour on your toes. Those too were to be clear and tipped in white. Your feet were subjected to warm, salt water pedicure every week and encased in slippers hand made in the workrooms of a major Italian brand name. Clothing was never repeated and if it was indeginous was to be sewn with nothing less than a five figure sum; the fabric being imported from the UK or Eastern Europe.
Jewelry, oh the glitter. Each woman wore only signature pieces. These were not women who adorned themselves with gold chains and huge earrings. These were not women who would be caught dead with anything other than their wedding bands and engagement rings on their fingers. These were women who shopped with the stores closed to the public. They would receive the international calls from jewelers in their country of preference to let them know that a new line was in circulation. These would not be the designs that one would find in a magazine. These would be designs that came pre-insured. For daily use, they picked up simple strands of spun gold, platinum or fresh water pearls.
The Daughters would never be found on the pages of the tabloids. The press would never be allowed at events that they attended. When they walked into the room, whispers circulated like the cloud of signature fragrances that enveloped their beings. These were the Daughters of Obasa; the women of unique definition and all Hera wanted was to be rid of them in her life.
In the beginning, she had been giddy with the notoriety of inclusion. Her induction into the club took three years and almost bankrupted her husband. The husbands or men of the Daughters belonged to their own and one group did not exist exclusive of the other.
Consoling herself with the knowledge that the Daughters were a philantropic organisation, Hera launched herself at them with such determination that it was all but a given that she would be allowed into the group. Barely eighteen months in, and she was done.
It never ended. The conformity. She was to arrive at exactly 3.45, after the woman who was to arrive at 3.30 and before the woman who was to arrive at 4.00. Many times, she had had to park up the street, biding time in her plush air conditioned interior because she dared not break the status quo. Heirarchy was everything and if you stepped out of place, you were dropped like a bad fart. Nothing was ever spoken to the effect but arriving at the meeting to find someone absent was a sure sign. No one, not even when Laide Marinho had just undergone a hysterectomy, missed a meeting.
There would be the perfunctory greetings which also served as a wardrobe assessment. You were all but finished if you arrived carrying a purse worth less than 2,000.00 pounds. Almost all the women had Birkin's and if they didn't, they were on waiting lists. The greetings were followed by light refreshments of champagne in signature bottles. No one, seemed to consider the fact that these women would need to drive back home. No one ever came with a driver. These were independent, modern women and everyone knew that a driver was only a spy for the husband.
The meeting itself was always about 45 mins long. Minutes would be read and would be brief. Checks would be proferred for the monthly donations towards whatever cause had taken their fancy and they got down to business. This was the time, when they kicked off their shoes and reclined in the comfort of the couches and day beds. This was when each one would artfully try to out do the other with whatever scandalous information they had.
It was in the Daughter's circle that Hera had first learned that a governor had a male lover that his first wife had had killed and that the governor had been so broken up about it, he had signed off on the wrong government and nearly dissolved the state into chaos. Hera had watched the news of the riots in the state capital like everyone else oblivous to the goings on.
It was in the Daughter's circle that affairs were discussed, paternity issues were solved, information on the best traditional medicine man was divulged, contacts to "correct" husband's mistresses that were over stepping their boundaries, schools for children, plastic surgeon referrals, fertility treatments, shopping concierge referrals and whatever else struck their fancy.
At the very head was Miatta Khosa. And she ruled with a fist so strong and judgement so deadly that it had been rumoured that she had once made the president shed tears. She made everyone understand the price of their membership and everyone always paid.
Miatta had told Hera what to do. Sunbo Majekodunmi had had to "leave" the group. Someone had to take her place. Miatta was confident Hera would do a great job. Sunbo had been the social secretary of the group.
And Miatta's lover.