WILDFIRE – Episode 3
A short story by Ebuka Stan
The whole place was as quiet as a cemetery. Chief Obinna beckoned on Ifeanyi to speak.
“Sir, I am the father of your three children,” Ifeanyi blurted out.
The chief felt a cold shiver run down his spine. His whole body trembled. “Please, repeat what you just said.”
“I am so sorry sir. I am the father of the three children. Your wife seduced me down this road. For so many years, I hated myself. You’ve been so good to me. You don’t deserve this. But each time I wanted to tell you, I’d be afraid that your wife will plot against me and come up with an allegation that will make you not to settle me.”
Chief Obinna couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It’s not true, he kept saying in his mind. “Honey,” he said as he launched his intense gaze at his wife, “did you hear what this boy is saying? Please, tell him to shut up.”
No denial. Silence.
“Mama Obianuju, I order you to speak now!”
The deep, authoritative voice made her to almost jump from her seat. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it again. Chief Obinna was dumbfounded. His wife of twenty-five years had changed in his eyes. Or had she always been like this? At a point, he had to accept that everything he believed to be true was a lie.
When he finally found the strength to speak, his voice was a whisper. “What about our first child, Obianuju? Everyone knew she resembled me.”
“It happened the second time you went to China,” Adanna had finally found the will to speak. “You were away for six months and I was so lonely.” Her soft voice was swallowed up by a throaty sob. “Your mother had been telling me that she wanted to see her grandchild before she passes on. I and Ifeanyi had become so close then. He was the only one that kept me company. I didn’t know what came over me that rainy night. I would later discover that I was pregnant. We both panicked. Ifeanyi had been so good to us. It wasn’t his fault. When you came back at the end of that month, we made love that night. Two weeks afterwards, I told you that I missed my period. We both rushed to the hospital and they announced that I was pregnant.”
“My God!” Chief Obinna was finding it hard to breathe.
“What about our only son, Mezie? I remember I came back from South Africa as soon as you told me, and stayed with you in the delivery room throughout the night.”
“None of them is mine?”
When he turned to her again, he saw her kneeling down beside his Apprentice.
“We are so sorry sir. Please find it in your heart to forgive us. It was a mistake,” both his wife, Adanna and Ifeanyi pleaded.
Chief Obinna’s face turned white. His heart sank and he felt his world spiraling out of control. For ten minutes, no one talked. The living room was besieged with an unnatural calm. Then, the chief stood up and reached for the windows. He rested his body against the wall.
“Honey, I am so…”
“Stop it!” Her husband cautioned. A minute later, he felt his chest tighten. “My heart,” he grunted.
“Honey, what is it?” Adanna asked.
They both stood up at once. By the time they reached him, he had tumbled to the floor.
* * *
Two days later, Chief Obinna was lying in a bed inside a hospital. When he finally gained consciousness, no one was allowed to see him except his lawyer, Mr Innocent Okafor, a dark-skinned man in his fifties. The lawyer stepped out of his client’s hospital ward and was surprised to see that Adanna and Ifeanyi were still waiting for him in the lobby. He was holding a manila file.
“Can I see my husband now?” Adanna had a concerned expression on her face.
Mr Innocent brought out a letter from the file and gave it to her. “Divorce letter. Sign at your own convenience. He said both of you should pack your bags and leave the house immediately. And since the children are not his, there is no point in keeping another man’s children in his house. You should go with them as well.”
It took a moment for the words to register in Adanna’s mind. “No!”
She used her right hand to cover her mouth as an uncontrollable sob tore through her throat. What started as a night of passion had spread like a wildfire that had consumed them all. Ifeanyi placed both his hands on his head. What have I done? He wondered.
At his hospital bed, Chief Obinna had aged so fast in just two days. He looked ten years older than his age. A distinct wrinkle filled his forehead and dark circles covered his eyes. The shocking revelation had destroyed whatever was left of his family. He’d gone back to square one. Childless. Broken. Battered.
In his early years, before he succeeded in business, he had no money but had his peace of mind. Now, the most important things he thought he had, never existed. Despite being surrounded by wealth and luxury, he felt like a man in a bottomless pit. He’d been living in a world managed by his unfaithful wife and his snake-like apprentice. All these years he’d been sweating under the sun across countries to create a life of comfort for his family, he never knew that the young man had been banging his wife, right under his roof.
It felt so unreal that the two people he trusted so much in the world had been deceiving him with lies. What else had they hidden from me? I had lost everything, he thought. He was sure of one thing; life had lost its taste. Nothing would ever remain the same again. And all those years, everything he knew as reality, was just an illusion.
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