TITLE: THREE GENERATIONS
WRITTEN BY: OGECHI ALABI
Nwadiuto wasn’t happy with Kasiemobi’s condition. $h£ had also been pray!ng ab©vt it. $h£ didn’t know what else to do. $h£ told Josh that $h£ wi$h£s someth!ng could be done.
“Naomi is a foreign tra!ned paediatrician. Should I !nvite h£r to take a look at h¡m? $h£ is quite good”
“You know $h£ acts funny towards me but I really don’t ¢ar£. $h£ will still eat my food”
Josh laugh£d at h£r comment and said “I will br!ng h£r tomorrow”
“$h£ shouldn’t give me attitude wh£n $h£ comes”
Th£ next day, Josh came with Naomi. $h£ went to speak with th£ doctor !n charge.
Wh£n $h£ came [email protected]¢k, $h£ said “I have asked th£m to run some tests and th£y were act!ng funny. Discharge h¡m from h£re and br!ng h¡m to wh£re I work now. I will discuss h¡s case with th£ h£ad of paediatrics before you arrive. I’m mak!ng copies of th£ file. Th£ doctor on duty is hitt!ng on me and h£ is h°t. Once I get everyth!ng, you will request for h¡s discharge”
Nwadiuto discussed with h£r moth£r on th£ phone what Naomi said. $h£ wasn’t thrilled ab©vt it. Th£y had used four hospitals !nclud!ng government facilities. Even Nwakaego supported Nwanneka.
Naomi called Nwadiuto. “Th£ h£ad of paediatrics is !nterested !n your broth£r’s case. h£ has asked for some tests to be conducted on h¡m. I th!nk we have gotten to th£ root of th£ matter but th¡s test will determ!ne it”
Wh£n Nwanneka h£ard th£re was hope, $h£ quickly discharged h£r son that Monday morn!ng and took h¡m to th£ hospital as directed by Naomi. h£r son hadn’t stood up for weeks. As h£ got to th¡s hospital, th£y took samples for th£ test. Th£ doctor recommended h£ should be placed on some medication.
Six hours after tak!ng th£ medication, Kasiemobi sat up on th£ b£d. It was like a miracle. h£ stood up to ease h¡mself after th£y rem©v£d th£ cath£ter. Everyth!ng was gone. h£ felt stronger before th£ end of th£ day.
Th£ h£ad of paediatrics came to ch£ck Kasiemobi. h£ told th£m, “th£ test results confirmed h£ didn’t have cerebral palsy or any !nfections. I only gave h¡m a wide spectrum of antibiotics and h£re h£ is jump!ng ab©vt. I don’t know what happened”
h¡s recovery was a miracle. How it happened, no one could expla!n. Th£re was rejoic!ng everywh£re. Th£ thanksgiv!ng Nwanneka did !n th£ church showed h£r h£artfelt gratitude. While danc!ng to th£ altar surrounded by friends and family, $h£ testified. People listened and praised God.
Wh£n th£y were go!ng home, a woman stopped h£r. $h£ said to h£r, “I thank God for your child. I remember th£ day you came to church to pray on a Monday morn!ng after ma$$. You visited th£ Blessed Sacrament and th£n went to use th£ toilet. I was stand!ng ©vtside th£ toilet with two oth£r women. You asked for a tissue and we gave you th£n you went !n. Wh£n you came ©vt, even though obviously troubled, you commended us and our service to th£ church. Madam, you gave us N30,000 to share. One of us, h£r son needed N5,000 to make an urgent payment !n school. $h£ was lament!ng to us how $h£ couldn’t raise th£ money. Th£re you came and gave us N10,000 each. $h£ knelt d©wΠ and thanked God and told God that whatever br!ngs you h£re every time to cry to h¡m, may h£ grant you a miracle j√$t as h£ has done for h£r. We all said Amen. Today, you testified of God’s goodness. Your son’s h£al!ng will rema!n permanent”
From that day, Nwanneka gave th£ Sanitary department of th£ church N100,000 monthly to take ¢ar£ of th£ir welfare.
Nwanneka stayed with Kasiemobi for anoth£r month until $h£ was sure th£ illness wasn’t com!ng [email protected]¢k aga!n. $h£ didn’t let h¡m ©vt of h£r sight for that month.
Wh£n it was obvious h£ was so much better, $h£ decided to travel for a weekend. $h£ called h£r moth£r to h£lp babysit Kasiemobi so $h£ could travel t Port-Harcourt to see Paul. It had been a long while.
“You are not be!ng fair with Paul. Br!ng th£ child to Port-Harcourt with you. Leave h¡m with me h£re and meet Paul. h£ will not always be wait!ng for you wh£n you cut h¡m off. I do not support what you are do!ng but I like th£ man. If you want to [email protected]!$fy your f|£$h why not do it honourably?”
“Marry th£ guy. Make it legal. Let h¡m meet your children and let your children meet h¡m”
“I like th£ way we are”
“It is th£ wrong way. I don’t want you to lose th¡s guy. I have expla!ned to h¡m why you couldn’t speak with h¡m dur!ng your try!ng period and h£ understood. But for how long? It is unfair”
“h£ hasn’t proposed to me and I am also not !n a hurry to remarry. See, Chike’s moth£r wants to prove to th£ world I am adulterous. I don’t want wahala”
“You can shut h£r up by marry!ng aga!n”
“Mma, I don’t want to experience anoth£r h£artbreak. I’m s¢ar£d I might lose Paul like I did Chike”
“God forbid! Affliction will never rise a second time. Come with th£ child and spend a weekend”
Wh£n Paul saw h£r, h£ took h£r !n h¡s arms and asked h£r if $h£ was ok now. $h£ cried !n h¡s pres£nce for th£ first time. $h£ ₱0ured h£r h£art ©vt to h¡m. $h£ talked ab©vt how afraid $h£ was $h£ would lose h£r son. $h£ told h¡m how $h£ thought it was h£r mess!ng with h¡m that caused h¡s illness. $h£ shared h£r deep-rooted fears concern!ng th£ir relationship and mostly h£r fear of los!ng h¡m.
“I am not go!ng anywh£re soon. I will always be h£re for you”
“That was what I thought with Chike but h£ left me”
“I won’t leave you. I love you very much and I want you to be happy. I can’t determ!ne what God has !n store for us but I know one th!ng; h£ doesn’t have plans to take me any time soon”
“I promise you, my love”
“I’m sorry I cut you off wh£n I needed most”
“We have to talk seriously. We can’t cont!nue th£ way we are go!ng with you disappear!ng and appear!ng wh£n you wish. You know I love you and I will always be h£re for you but you take it for granted. I would have come to Lagos to be with you. I would have done anyth!ng for you even if it was j√$t to share your pa!n each day but you blocked me. How long are we go!ng to cont!nue ₱|@y!ng th¡s game?”
Nwanneka didn’t have a response. $h£ knew h£r moth£r was right and so what Paul. h¡s biggest fear was what people will say. How long ago did Chike die that $h£ had replaced h¡m so f*st? h¡s sibl!ng might no longer support h£r. What was $h£ to do?
“I know you have reservations ab©vt our relationship. I th!nk we should call off th£ relationship and rema!n j√$t friends until you are ready for someth!ng serious. I am no longer !nterested !n casual encounters. If I am not worthy to be with you wh£n you are go!ng through a tough time th£n I am not worthy to share a b£d with you”
“I thought you said you loved me and you were go!ng nowh£re. Isn’t it what you said to me j√$t a m!nute ago. Why th£n are you say!ng all th£se? I do love you but it is too soon after Chike death to be !n a relationship and openly dis₱|@y it. I need time to get my act togeth£r.”
“How much time do you need?”
“I don’t know”
“I need to know. How much time would make you realise what you are ab©vt to lose”
“I love you and I will stand by you but, I do not want to keep sacrific!ng my h£art and it is only [email protected]!$fied wh£n you want it to. I feel like I am th£ only one !nvested !n th¡s relationship. Th¡s is th£ truth. It is easy for you to come now, we make crazy love and on Sunday or Monday morn!ng you go [email protected]¢k until it is convenient aga!n. Th£n th£re is anoth£r issue and you disappear for anoth£r month or two or even three and th£n come [email protected]¢k aga!n. I don’t th!nk you love me as deeply as I do. I th!nk you are comfortable with me and enjoy our escapades but it ends th£re”
“I love you. I am j√$t afraid of what people will say. I don’t want to be called names because I found love aga!n so soon after Chike’s death. I don’t want it to appear as though my husband wasn’t properly mourned”
“Nikky, it is m©r£ than five years s!nce your husband died and we are hav!ng th¡s conversation? You didn’t mourn h¡m enough for five years? You are both£red ab©vt what people will say? I can’t believe I am h£ar!ng th¡s. Make up your m!nd, woman. Do you want to be with me or not? If you need time to tell everyone, how long do you need”
“I don’t know for now”
“F!ne. I give you a month to tell everyone that needs to know.”
“That’s too soon. Why are you try!ng to be difficult? I came h£re to have a good time with you but you are mak!ng it difficult for me”
“You came h£re to ease all your tension until you disappear aga!n”
“Do you want me to leave?”
“I don’t want you to leave but I feel like a booty call which hurts. You can stay. I give you a month.”
Josh asked Nwadiuto for h£r summer plans. h£ wanted th£m to go somewh£re togeth£r to spend th£ summer holidays. $h£ was excited ab©vt it.
“Let’s explore West Africa. Road trip from Nigeria to th£ Ben!n Re₱vblic, to Togo to Ghana to Cote D’Ivoire. Road trip all th£ way. One week of fun”
“It sounds stressful”
“It will be fun. We could spend two nights !n each country”
“Why don’t we travel abroad; Uk, US, France, Canada, Spa!n….”
“We can go to those places any time. Let’s do th¡s beautiful road trip. We love travell!ng togeth£r. It will be our adventure”
“Th¡s is what you want? We could do it h£re !n Nigeria you know. Road trip from state to state”
“Hmmm. Cross river, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Enugu, Benue,”
“It isn’t safe !n some of those areas for a road trip. I would rath£r do th£ West Africa trip. Let’s decide on th£ date”
Th£y agreed on a date that was convenient for both of th£m. Th£ next problem was conv!nc!ng h£r moth£r $h£ was travell!ng alone. $h£ decided to confide !n h£r that $h£ was travell!ng with Josh. $h£ knew th£ questions that would follow. $h£ had made up h£r m!nd to answer th£m honestly. $h£ couldn’t cont!nue to hide h£r relationship with Josh as it was gett!ng serious.
Wh£n $h£ told Nwanneka, Nwanneka asked h£r who $h£ was go!ng on th¡s trip with. $h£ told h£r it was with Josh.
“What’s go!ng on?”
“We are !n a relationship”
“Isn’t h£ too old for you? I th!nk you should date someone closer to your age”
“Thanks for th£ advice mum, I love h¡m and I will be !n a relationship with h¡m.”
“I was j√$t say!ng”
“I can see how you are mop!ng @r0vnd look!ng lost. I know it is because of your lover. I won’t be like you; I will openly enjoy my relationship and not allow any external !nfluence to affect it. You should do th£ same. Each time you go [email protected]¢k, h£ takes you [email protected]¢k. For how long do you th!nk h£ will put up with what you do to h¡m”
“How do you know all th¡s?”
“My ears are close to th£ ground”
“We do not have th£ same cir¢vmstances. Th£ guy is much older and h£ isn’t even Igbo. Why would you want to be with someone like that?”
“Because h£ is human and I love h¡m j√$t th£ way h£ is. Is Paul Igbo?”
“h£ is not. That’s why I have cold feet. I would have preferred to remarry at Igbo man”
“Paul makes you so happy and your only !nterest is to marry an Igbo man. You are funny. Look for th£ Igbo man who will take what you dish ©vt to Paul”
“Are you hav!ng s€× with Josh”
“Mum! Respect my privacy. I am travell!ng with h¡m and that’s it”
“Th!nk ab©vt what I said. Igbo men respect our culture and value women. Edo men don’t value women; I have witnessed some of th£ir women’s experiences. Know what you are gett!ng !nto”
“Josh values me; that’s all that matters”
Nwanneka wasn’t comfortable with th£ way h£r conversation with Nwadiuto went. Nwadiuto was still dis₱|@y!ng h£r !ndependence. $h£ spoke [email protected]¢k at h£r s!nce $h£ found ©vt ab©vt h£r fath£r which Nwanneka was no longer f!nd!ng comfortable. Know!ng ab©vt Paul didn’t h£lp matters. Wh£n $h£ told h£r moth£r ab©vt it, $h£ replied, “What moral right do you have to tell h£r not to fornicate wh£n you are neck-deep !n it?” It touch£d a nerve.
Nwanneka had agreed to spend part of th£ summer holidays with Paul. h£r children were travell!ng with th£ir grandmoth£r to France and $h£ was to jo!n Paul !n New Jersey, th£ United States. Two weeks with h£r family and two weeks with h£r lover. It was well planned ©vt.
$h£ begged Paul to give h£r m©r£ time for h¡s ultimatum. $h£ asked that th£y resolve it after summer. Nwanneka needed to be with Paul. h£ made h£r feel loved and appreciated. $h£ never believed $h£ would ever have a second chance at love and now $h£ has a man who loved h£r m©r£ than $h£ could ever love h¡m. $h£ didn’t feel $h£ was betray!ng Chike anym©r£. $h£ enjoyed th£ times $h£ spent with Paul. Th£y [email protected] ever had a misunderstand!ng. Th£y talked th!ngs through very maturely. h£ was a good man that ticked all th£ boxes. Society was h£r biggest obstacle. Th£ way society judges widows was very unfair. People might even !ns!nuate $h£ killed Chike with h£r adultery. $h£ j√$t didn’t want to expla!n h£rself to anyone. $h£ didn’t want to h£ar th£ gossips that will take place. What $h£ was enjoy!ng !n secret was better for h£r.
Th£y went on th£ trip to France first and th£n Nwanneka jo!ned Paul !n New Jersey. Wh£n h£ picked h£r up from th£ airport, h£ was pretty excited. h£ drove h£r to h¡s apartment complex. Wh£n h£ opened th£ door to h¡s apartment, $h£ h£ard a noise !n th£ sitt!ng room.
“I’m home” Paul announced. “$h£’s h£re”
A boy who looked so much like Paul and a girl who was th£ almost splitt!ng image of h£r moth£r came ©vt to greet h£r. Th£y couldn’t be m©r£ than seventeen years old.
“h£llo, I’m Paul Junior. Th¡s is my sister, Paul!ne”
“Nice to meet you. My name is Nwanneka”
“That’s not th£ name daddy told us,” th£ girl said confused.
“That’s h£r name but $h£ is my Nikky” Paul replied to th£m. “Welcome to our home. Would you like a home-cooked meal or prefer we go ©vt for d!nner”
“Which£ver one is f!ne. Can you show me to th£ room?” Nwanneka replied.
Paul took h£r !nto h¡s b£droom and left h£r th£re to jo!n th£ children for a few m!nutes. $h£ was uncomfortable. h£ never told h£r $h£ was meet!ng h¡s kids and th£y would be stay!ng over. $h£ tried to have a conversation !n that regard wh£n h£ came [email protected]¢k but !nstead, Paul spoke first.
“That went better than I thought. Th£y chose to have d!nner at home tonight so th£y could get to know you”
“You should have warned me”
“You would have [email protected]¢ked ©vt. Th£y like you. Th£y said you’re h°t. Th£y were teas!ng me ab©vt tonight”
“Tonight? What’s happen!ng tonight?”
Paul laugh£d at h£r as h£ came closer to klzz h£r. $h£ stopped h¡m. “Noth!ng is happen!ng !n th¡s apartment with th£m with!n earsh°ts”
“Th£y don’t ¢ar£ what happens h£re; th£y have th£ir lives to live. You are gett!ng worked up for noth!ng. Come h£re, I’m so happy you are h£re”
Th£y had an amaz!ng d!nner prepared th£ Paul and th£ children. Th£y chatted until late. Nwanneka that had been !ntroverted s!nce th£ demise of Chike became h£r bubbl!ng self aga!n. No topic was h£ld sacred dur!ng th£ir discussions. Th£ tw!ns were very bright and Nwanneka had a good time talk!ng with th£m.
Th£y all retired by 2am. Nwanneka laid d©wΠ with Paul, drew h¡m close to h£r, klzzed h¡m and said, “You make me happy”
Th£ two weeks went by so f*st. Nwanneka didn’t want to go [email protected]¢k home but $h£ had to. Th£se were th£ best two weeks of h£r life. Paul and th£ tw!ns were wonderful. Th£y had fun togeth£r and made h£r feel like a part of th£ir family. Paul!ne told h£r $h£ had never seen h£r fath£r th¡s excited to be with someone. h£ talked ab©vt h£r every day for two weeks before $h£ came. Paul was th£ one; $h£ knew it. But th£n $h£ was still s¢ar£d of what people will say.
Josh asked Nwadiuto if $h£ would m!nd if Naomi and h£r new guy friend would jo!n th£m on th£ trip.
“Th£ m©r£ th£ merrier. And we would split bills. I feel we should have anoth£r guy on th¡s trip. What do you th!nk?”
“I thought it would be j√$t us. Like a honeymoon”
“Th£ guy has travelled th¡s r©vte several times and can guide us. Please say yes”
“You know my problem? Wh£n we are with Naomi and oth£rs, you enter !nto your $h£ll and you don’t look at me or touch me th£ way you do wh£n we are alone. You have told me you didn’t have anyth!ng to do with h£r but I worry you might be nurs!ng such feel!ngs”
“You should know by now baby girl, that I am not one for open dis₱|@y of affection. $h£ had feel!ngs for me and I can’t disrespect h£r by be!ng openly affectionate towards you !n h£r pres£nce. $h£ knows someth!ng goes d©wΠ wh£n we are alone !n th£ room thanks to you, but I don’t need to prove that I love you by putt!ng it ©vt th£re”
“If you feel comfortable with th£m tagg!ng along, why not?”