The alcohol in my system vanished like a fast volatile substance living nothing but a strangely sobber and bemused man.
I fixed my gaze on Chioma’s figure as she ran through the thick twilight grey that covered the atmosphere now heading towards my gate.
My head was totally damp and to think was impossible, My legs felt like it was nailed to the spot making it impossible to shift.
I wanted to run after her but somehow i couldn’t, my wits and reflexes were as if they were shut down temporarily.
Someone zoomed pass me, the high heel shoes she was wearing giving the ground a musical pounding as she ran after Chioma’s resigning figure.
Licia’s yelling voice kept resounding into my mind, as she kept calling after chioma who didn’t even turn back.
I managed to drag my frame the much i can towards the gate, my woozy head threatening to rip open, wobbling legs on the verge of giving in under me.
Chioma sped on without looking back, every step she takes left a matching thump effect on me.
Escaped from licia’s mouth buttered into a bag full of hissing sounds as she kept chasing chioma down gaining more ground.
Okon my newly hired gate man, a small stout very black man, with a funny facial look and an off coloured goatee stood beside the gate. I had hired him from the recommendation of Effiong, papa’s gate man and i clearly see the similarities between both.
Their smallish body hogging a whole lot of humour in one small package.
“Maram rem deh call you” he said as Chioma got to the gate.
“Open this gate” She yelled pulling him by his shirt collar, yanking his smallish frame like Big show would yank at a smallish figure like Ray mysterio in a WWE wrestling bout.
“Maram, mbok uka rem deh kol u” His thick calabar assent showing him off to be a fresh fish out of the river.
“Chioma please listen to me” Licia intoned on getting to the spot, holding Chioma by the shoulder.
I don’t why it didn’t come as a surprise, A slapping sound thundered through the air.
“Get your hands off of me!!!” Chioma yelled sending Licia backwards with a thunderous slap.
Licia clutched her cheek in her hands gazing at Chioma with a widened eyes.
“What is wrong with you?” I yelled at Chioma, my body was quaking, nerves were restless and my eyes threatened to shut and blank out any moment.
“Are you out of your mind!!!” my voiced wreaked sending okon on a task of hugging the wall tightly even when i was not referring to him.
“Sky, you are asking me what is wrong with me, what sort of a man are you!!!”
I have never heard Chioma talk in this pitch before and the free flowing streams of tears running down her face made her all the more fierce.
“You come back here clutching another woman God knows were you picked her up from, probably a prostitute and you are asking what’s wrong with me?”
I noticed Licia’s face twitched and her eyes went dim while Chioma’s voice rented the air in an uncontrollable tempo.
“I should have known you were still the same, this was exactly the same thing you did with Cynthia. You are a cheat sky, a big cheat and a he- goat”
My mind was taken aback to the Cynthia’s saga 5years ago.
Cynthia as i am told got pregnant a year after i was sent to U.k.
She was denied by the young engineering student that got her pregnant.
She now stays in the united states as a single mom.
“Chioma would you at least listen to me?” My voice was strangely calm and hands making to get hold of her.
“Leave me alone you cheat, don’t touch me” She blurted out pushing me as hard as she could muster.
“You are the worst mist…………”
“Hey hey hold it there” Licia’s voice barged in without announcement cutting Chioma’s long rebuking sermon half way.
Chioma’s eyes widened a bit and her mouth fell open as she fixed a surprised gaze at licia whose dimmed eyes now sparkled in an untold fury.
“You don’t even know what you have until you loose it, you can’t even give your man a chance to explain himself” Her hands were waving at Chioma as she spilled an unheard yarn.
“Yes i am a prostitute and i don’t deny that” I could see Chioma’s intense look as the word ‘prostitute’ registered into her mind coming out from Licia’s mouth.
“He could not even bring himself to cheat on you even when he is drunk, what you have here is a broken man. Broken by your inability to show restraint when it is needed, broken by the fact that you made his already troubled life even more troubled than it should have been”
“You were supposed to be there for him, to know your man but you compounded his problems”
Chioma’s face now wore a relatively calm and quiet look and licia’s face got all the more twisted and mean.
She took a couple of steps towards Chioma, looking into her face.
“If anything happens to him, Just know that you caused it”. The seriousness in her voice was unmatched, the contempt out of the world.
Everything was spinning faster before me, my wits have dissolved in an instant and my legs could give in any moment.
Chioma was transfixed in her position, interchangeably looking at me and Licia, a strange calmness was at work but yet traces of anger could still be noticed.
The voices were banging hard into my ears.
Amanda’s chuckle and giggling taunts echoed in.
“Young man, i am highly disappointed in you” In Chioma’s father’s voice.
“Sky this is haimdal’s pills” Jessy’s voice was next to echo in my head.
“I only came here to give you these” this was Chioma’s voice accompanied by a resounding jingling sound of a ring and key crashing down into the ground.
“I have been waiting for you, and i have a surprise for you” Amanda’s clear tone voiced in smeared with a cracking bout of chuckle.
Ryan’s innocent and hearty laugh,
” the child’s deoxyribonucleic acid strand is matches yours more” the doctor’s voice crept in inducing a piercing sharp pain in my head.
My head was numb and i could feel sweat rushing down my face in quick successions, the flashes were constant and over whelming.
“Uka!!!” Okon’s voice yelled.
Complimented by a shrieking yell of my name from Chioma and licia.
Nothing else happened, everything was suddenly blank and dark.
“Sky who is this?” That was the very first hello i got from Jessy on drifting back to consciousness.
She nudged her head towards licia’s direction to make me understand who she was talking about without her noticing.
Chioma was seating beside me at the right flank clutching my right hand in both her hands. the sagging eye bags and swollen face clearly showed she had being crying.
“Oh Jessy, she’s just a very good friend of mine i met somewhere” Jessy’s face twitched betraying the suspicion that she still harbored but she masked it with a smile, of course that was meant for chioma she could never mask her emotion from me even with a smile.
Jessy did some medical magics as usual, restoring my full consciousness, my blurry vision, the throbbing headache and severe wooziness all vanished.
“Sky you had a severe case of stress coupled with depression and taking alcohol didn’t help at all. your body couldn’t take it anymore and it gave way, please sky don’t take alcohol again in such situation” it ranged like a warning and a command at the same time. but the little pinch of fear made it clear she was serious.
“Baby please am very sorry, forgive me” Chioma sang out bursting into another round of uncontrollable tears.
From the sign licia gave me from the opposite sofa where she sat, it was clear she had talked to chioma and told her everything while i was out.
“Please sky am so sorry forgive me” She made to kneel down, i held her in my arms and dragged her up in one fluid movement.
Here before me i could see my future, the ground from whence my little seed germinated waiting to say “hello” to a crazy world with a crazy short time.
My gaze moved from Jessy who was almost crying too, to licia who stood with a pouty smile on.
I gave licia a hard wink, and she handed me over the ring she took while taking the car keys from me.
The curtains around the house lay still as if they understood the anxiety that hugged the atmosphere.
Only the buzzing sound of the air conditioner defiled all bid for quietness as it went on singing its own cold buzzing song.
I went down on both my knees again, my gaze fixed on the ring in my hand, it tilted up to Chioma who was mopped on tears still streaming down her face in fast successions.
“Life they say is full of raging tides” I began, “but a wise lady once told me” my face tilted to give Licia an appreciative smile.
“That what makes a successful life is riding with the tides” Chioma’s face grew reddish pale, her hands covered her mouth but they tears persisted.
“I humbly and sincerely ask again, Miss Chioma Ugwu, will you marry me?”
My voice was shaky and a gulp of throaty air made it sound croaky.
Chioma’s face went from weeping to a mixture of crying and laughing.
She looks at Jessy and Licia this time, falls down on her knees too and threw her hands around me with a hard quick reflex.
“Yes sky, yes i will marry you” she blurted out the tears now streaming down harder than before but yet she was laughing hard.
**Na like so them deh take confuse us finish, which one you deh do abeg??**
I slipped the ring into her finger for the second time, this time i have a feeling it will never slip out.
Our lips met in a very explosive kiss, it was a combination of all the kisses we didnt have through out the troubling times. A huge chunk of passion smeared in a rush of intense affection.
Chioma got up and rushed into Licia’s arms, clasping her tight in embrace.
Their are times when people you least expects comes into your life and makes it better, mine was fixed not by papa or Jessy, but a call girl who would imagine that.
“Thank you and am sorry” Chioma whispered to licia but yet it was audible enough for Jessy and i to hear.
“Who is there? Jessy yelled at the door as a knock sipped in.
The whole scenario was changed again as a figure of Amanda walked into the sitting room with Jessy.
She had Ryan in her arms and his back pack in another.
The way she walked in, one would not help to think her steps were intentionally gentle and slow.
She was clad in a pink flowery tight leggings and a white top to go with complimented by a pink high heeled shows.
Her face was dragged to an expression of surprise and contempt immediately she stepped in and Chioma was standing there.
Chioma even clasped her hands around me immediately she entered. She shrugged and rolled her eyes slightly.
The atmosphere went stale all of sudden, it was like everyone held their breathe except Jessy’s whose heavy breathing could be mistaken for a raging waterfall.
“What is it Amanda” I asked, the black mascara line bordering her eyes gave her a sinister look before me.
“Is that a way to address the mother of your child, your son?” She returned looking at me squarely on the face then Chioma, she widened her eyes as she took her gaze down to Chioma’s stomach which still seemed as flat as a concrete wall to me.
“Please i am not in the mood for this, say what you want and get out as you can see am busy”.
The little chuckle she gave out made licia turn in her current seating position as she watched on possibly trying to add the pieces together the much she could.
“Your son have been disturbing to visit you” She intoned giving Ryan a gentle nudge as she stressed the word ‘son’ a little exaggeratedly.
“I can see you have a full house” she was now looking at licia who returned her gaze squarely.
“So i have to leave him here, cus i need to go somewhere now”
She nudged Ryan gently and he gently ran to me clasping his tiny small hands around my legs.
“Be a good boy” She intoned, not so sure if that was meant for me or Ryan, she dropped his back park and then cat walked out in a rehearsed manner.
Jessy carried Ryan off to play with him immediately the door closed behind Amanda.
I slumped back on my chair, my hands on my face and a loud sigh.
“Baby don’t worry, everything will be well” Chioma said throwing her hands around me, but i could see an unsaid worry written all over her face.
It was a stale day having chioma and Ryan in my house at the same time, no matter how hard she tried the masked look of insecurity in her eyes could hardly be hidden.
Her eyes which perched like a blacked out jewel always seemed to dim in a twitched face when ever Ryan was there.
She had officially announced to me that she was pregnant and was 2months gone already.
The news sounded fresh and new to me even though i have known before.
It still felt like it was the first time i was hearing it, maybe it was because of the smile and pride in her eyes or the explosive kiss that followed.
In the morning Jessy had gone home with Ryan back to papa’s house, Licia have retired to her own home leaving the house only for chioma and i.
“Baby i think i will have to go and see your parents now” i presented checking to see any strange reaction.
“I think its a good idea” she intoned from the kitchen as jangling sounds of dishes sipped out from there.
The afternoon sun hung lazily across, but the rays it gave off was weak and gold. Dusty air swayed around as we drove towards chioma’s house.
The very view of the gate sent an alien scare in me, i haven’t seen Chioma’s parent since this issue arose and i fear what might come out from this visit.
Chioma’s mother was hot tempered, fast to conclude, opinionated, strong willed and stubborn. Her father was more rational, cool tampered, a mild talker but always seemed to be on his wife’s side.
The look on Hassan’s face as i walked past the gate with chioma was an impossible mixture of fear and sense of obligation.
He had been charged to hold the gate from me by his oga but here was i moving straight without opposition just that scared look in his eyes.
A look from chioma had done the trick, hassan needed no more persuasion. He knew his oga could sack him but disobeying small madam could make his oga sack him three times faster than normal.
The house was cold and a looming cloud of an untold rain threatened to fall right there inside.
I was tensed and scared but chioma’s hand holding my tight was a little soothing.
“what is he doing here” that shrieking voice sang out just before the stair case, i looked up and chioma’s mother was speeding down the stair case, her hands clutching the rails tight and long flowing gown flying behind her in all her thickness.
“What is he doing here” she barked again peering her gaze from Chioma to me, her widened eyes glowed with fury and contempt.
A loud silence engulfed me, i could see her lips moving but heard nothing, her fingers pointing at Chioma who stood still without shaking.
“what are you doing here?” Am sure that question was meant for me this time and the stronger the look of contempt she wore.
“Good afternoon ma” i spilled looking beside me to be sure Chioma still was there, her face was blank and from the watery sparkle it was obvious tears were forming in her eyes.
“Sky my parents are really mad especially my mum, i don’t know if they will listen to anything we say” she had intoned as we drove to her house.
“Don’t worry, am sure they will still come around” i had assured her with an unsure tone.
“Didn’t you hear me, what are you doing in my house. Have you not done enough already”
Chioma’s mum stood in front of me squarely facing me directly with a hard accusing finger.
“Oh God, please let this hot temper and stubbornness not be hereditary” i muttered a quick prayer under my breathe looking at chioma.
“Mummy please listen to him” her voice was shaky castigating the tears that choked her throat.
“You shut up” She turned her attention towards chioma. “Despite everything, you still had the impetus to bring this boy here!!!”
Thumping foot steps could be heard descending from the stairs, a crisp green jumper of shimmering material marked his presence as he filled into the room.
Heavy and thick black with a sort of thicker personality and obviously an ego bigger than both.
My voice was lost, how could i even start explaining myself to Chioma’s mother who wouldn’t even have me say anything from the way she interrupts me anytime i wanted to utter a word.
Mr Ugwu’s presence in the scenario was even more frightening, with his full support nobody could be sure what his wife could do.
“what’s going on here” he intoned rather calmly but it had more audacity than all the shrieks and shouts i have been bathed with since i came in.
“Daddy please listen to him” chioma’s eyes freely washed down clear tears now.
“listen to him for what chioma, so he could cook up more lies and feed us? How he had a son of almost 5years and you never knew? His face was growing pale and hard.
A neat copy of Toriperi’s magazine lay proudly on the glass table, it was the magazine that aired my wedding with chioma. The bold picture of i and chioma smiled back at me as i mopped at them.
The date boldly written in white Gothic form said 25th day of march which is three days away if my head is correct enough about the dates.
“But he didn’t know!!! ” Chioma yelled out maybe to her father but i think it was meant for her mother who haven’t stopped with her finger pointing and singing the lead song while her husband’s sounded like a back up.
Mrs ugwu gave out a shrieking chuckle which was easy to to tell wasn’t a genuine chuckle.
“he didn’t know?” she asked chioma but had her gaze on me and a lot of mischief surging within.
“Chioma you are a fool for believing this boy”
“Darling i think you have to call her now” Chioma’s father addressed his wife with that calm tone that always wreaked of untold doom.
“Yes yes i think its time i did”
“and what has that person got to do with this issue? ”
These questions surged through my mind, inducing a sense of scary curiosity but i knew what ever it was it wouldn’t be good on my part.
Chioma had a look of surprise and curiosity watching as he mother disappeared into the stairs. Her handkerchief was already soaked with tears but she wiped out more with it anyway.
The bold grin on chioma’s dad face as he relaxed on a sofa was very an ear to ear to type.
My breathe was held, hands numb and sweat tickled down my face. Chioma’s hands were clasped together like she was begging.
Screeching sounds emanated from the stairs,it was obvious two people were descending down the stairs. You can even make our laughters and chuckles
Every thing slowed down, every tiny sounded heavy and loud. I could even hear my own heartbeat ladened in wild heavy breathes.
“No it can’t be!!!” my mind shouted not quite sure if anyone else heard it.
Chioma took a couple of steps forward.
“How possible is this?”
Chioma’s mother entered the sitting room with Amanda walking beside her wearing a shouty smirk.
I slumped hard on the sofa on getting home sighing heavily with a weak composure, chioma wore a gloomy look as she sat next to me, the way things ended had been worse than we both anticipated.
“Sky what happened between you and my aunty Nancy ” she asked peering into my face with question ladened eyes and her face still smeared with that gloomy look she had.
My mouth fell open and words tried coming out but always failed, all i did was look just like i did in Chioma’s house not to long ago.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when i watched as Amanda matched majestically side by side with Chioma’s mother who had a shouty snear on.
I had to blink several times to make sure it wasn’t an optical illusion or maybe i was going crazy.
Chioma couldn’t hold back her surprise and confusion.
“what is she doing here?” her eyes moving from her father to her mother with an impossible look.
“You remember your Aunty Nancy?” Chioma’s mother intoned.
Amanda winked slightly at me at the mention of the name Nancy.
My escapade with Nancy Amanda’s friend 5years ago flashed through my memory which has been one of the numerous actions i regret in my life. I can give anything not to remember.
If i ever was to make a list of the things i regret in life, Nancy would be second to Amanda’s in the list for sure.
“this lady here, Amanda was your aunty’s bossom friend, i have known her for more than 5years now and as you already know happens to be the mother of your fiance’s son”
My mouth felt dry like i have been on a desert far too long, the house closed in all around me threatening to crush me in.
“But mum she was the one that seduced him, this woman is a devil!!! ” chioma shrieked pointing at Amanda who did nothing but smile, her gaze fixed on me showing little interest to what transpired between chioma and her parents.
“Sweety, i am a senior pastor/evangelist in church, a nationwide renowned christian leader and preacher. I wouldn’t go down the pot of scandal by having my daughter marry a man who already have a child by another, what would the world think, what would God think, what would the church think of me- that i am a leader that doesn’t lead by example? -Chioma i won’t allow that”
I fidgeted where i stood while chioma’s mother recounted her reasons for objecting. Church, God and the people.
“And am sure he didn’t tell you he was the one that broke your aunty Nancy’s marriage” Chioma’s mum cursed on loudly, her husband doing occasional adjustment of both his bold medicated crystal eye glass to his whole frame resting on the sofa looking on at his wife, but never failed to nod as she spoke on.
“What happened to Nancy’s marriage?
And what has it got to do with me? ”
My mind snapped but i wouldn’t dare ask, seems everything i say or do made matters worse than they were in the first place.
Like the police always asserts; “whatever you say will be used against you in the court of law.
That was exactly the position i found my self in.
I could notice chioma’s gazed shifted from her mum to me, it wasn’t the look of anger and frustration she had anymore but an innate curiosity and confused eyes ladened in swirling questions.
Little did she know that even i was even more confused than her as things stood.
“Excuse me ma, but i have no idea what you are talking about here” i tried mustering up some defence, its obvious Amanda have fed them some glaring lies they find too hard to deny.
“I said shut up and don’t bring that lying tongue up here again” she countered almost immediately inducing another wicked sneer from Amanda.
“I am tired of all this” Chioma yelled out stamping her feet many times of the ground, her face turned almost as red as the rose designs on her top.
“common lets get out of here sky” she intoned dragging me by the hand making for the door.
“And where do you think you are going young lady” her father said standing up taking a couple of steps towards us.
“Don’t you dare step out of this house with him” her mum chipped in pointing furiously at Chioma.
“I am going with him and nothing you say can stop me, i won’t stand here i watch you ruin my happiness”
She sang back to her mother, the teary mark on her face showing a pale track through her make-up but none dropped again.
“If you leave this house, don’t come back here again ” her mum chipped in throwing a stern look at me instead of her, could see chioma’s dad take a sharp look at his wife who seemed more interested in her threat than any other thing that went on around.
“For your information mum, since you haven’t noticed – i am carrying his child”
I watched as chioma’s mother’s face grew pale, her father’s mouth dropped open and Amanda’s eyes widened hard.
“what? – is that why you have been avoiding me all in this house all this while” she asked in surprise, her pointing fingers already dropped and was now open like the congregation saying ‘our lord’s prayer’ during mass.
Chioma scoffed hard, rolled her eyes and turned towards me again.
“Common baby lets get out of here”
I followed her glancing back just in time to see her mum slumping her weight down into a sofa with her hands on her head.
Chioma’s breathe grazed my cheek, my face was buried deep in my palms and her hands across my shoulder.
“Sky please tell me, what happened with aunty nancy, what is mum talking about?
“Honestly i have no idea what they are talking about”
i sounded throaty and confused. “It’s true i had some runnings with a friend of Amanda’s named nancy but i was young and foolish then. Cant believe how much my past naive mistakes is destroying my life” I m0aned to almost to myself.
“Don’t worry my love, i know God will see us through” she muttered coldly.
“Where are you going sky? ” she blurted out as sprang up from the seat picking my car keys immediately.
“sky, what is it?” she asked again jolting up herself to grab my arms.
“Going to do what i should have done a long time ago” i retorted before she even finished. “i will be right back”
I strode out of the house with speedy long thumping strides, literally jumping into my car driving off immediately heading to papa’s house.
Papa sat outside seating on a lone back chair, a plate of groundnuts and holandia yoghurt was on a little side stool beside him as he flipped through the pages of a news paper, his glasses hanging loosely on his nose making him look something near a 1940 professor.
He was gaining more weight by the day and his pale skin looking more better than before.
“Nnam how are you” he called after me as i greeted him and made my way into the house.
“My am fine” i sang back not stopping a bit.
“what is wrong” he called after me dropping the newspaper to follow me with his gaze.
“Nothing papa i just need to get something from my room” i yelled behind me disappearing into the house.
Making my way through the stairs, a picture of mama and papa hung on a far side of the wall, the sharp smile on mama’s face cut through me..
“This wouldn’t have been happening if you were here” i cursed under my breath sustained a lone drop of a teary crystal.
The house was empty, just like i have presumed. Heading towards Amanda’s room, a pale reddish wooden door stood clearly in front refusing to bulge open after i yanked the handle many times trying to get it open.
With a sharp t—-t of my body weight under a kicking foot, the door barged open with a huge bang bringing the room into view.
Clothes lay carelessly on the bed, mostly Ryan’s.. I flung the drawers on the bed open, tearing through piles of primary school Rhymes, little shoes.
The second drawer joined, it was a pile of magazine’s neatly arranged even the Toriperi magazine.
I singled out every magazine in the drawer, what i was looking for i had no idea but am sure they must be something, anything, anything at all.
The third drawer house a large collection of toys in it, i moved to the other side which only had one drawer on it. Yanked it open it had a huge pile of medicines most of them with pictures of women and children on them. I hissed heavily but what is this?
My hand delve into the pile of medicines and retrieved a small round container, identical with the one jessy took from papa’s medications. Those yellowish little tablets lay still inside.
I looked at it for some minutes, smelt it a bit but am sure i really have no idea which smell i should be expecting.
I slid the small container at the back of my trouser, closed the drawer again and resumed search now more intently.
The ward rope was just a pile of clothes, and so was the space above it. Only a few shoes could be seen under the bed. I was not sure anything was there anymore, she was cleaner than i anticipated or always had her tracks covered.
Their was one more place i need to search, yes yes i think their is. I lifted the mattress up in one full swing taking it clearly out from the bed.
It was blank and empty except for one little brown envelop, neat and crisp lay lazily.
I picked it, could swear it was the second copy of the DNA test the doctor gave to Amanda.
Opening it amidst scrambling groans made by the envelop as i retrieved the neatly folded white sheet in it.
The name Ryan Williams was all i could make out from the jibberish that passed as the doctor’s handwriting. I have never understood any doctor’s writing before, i dont know if they are given special classes in school on how to have bad handwritings, only jessy’s.
I don’t understand what was written on it but i could swear it is not the same thing written on the one the doctor gave us in the hospital.
“This was supposed to be the same result.. ” I muttered to myself, my heart pounding faster than usual.
I slipped the paper into my pocket, dropped the envelope to its previous position and placed the mattress back to it’s place.
Jessy really need to see these result and pills to check what they really are
I left the room closing the door behind me, locked or not, its not my problem..
..To be continued..
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