Thursday, June 25, 2015

MUST READ: Her Story 2


In case you missed it, read Episode 1

*****
It doesn’t take as long as most people think it does for your life to change. One moment, you are the happiest spirit in the whole of the Milky Way, and in the next instant, your whole world is shattered into microscopic pieces, and the very thing that was your source of joy becomes the dagger in your heart. I was immobilized, I could not move a limb. I had one of my “moments”. 

My moments are something like this – you know how watershed events tend to make you look through all the past experiences that led to that moment with every minute detail now vividly replaying itself? That’s exactly what happened in the five minutes it took me to recover from being struck deaf and dumb by the shocking blow Ochuko had just dealt me. 


I remembered an incident when I mentioned how that spot on his finger looked paler than the rest of his fingers, and he had told me that he used to wear a lot of rings in his juvenile days and the finger had never recovered its color. And I foolishly laughed and imagined him as a juvenile delinquent. I remembered another episode when we were both in Shoprite and we ran into someone who seemed to know him very well from way back. When that one asked him, “how family,” he had looked flustered for some seconds before answering that they were fine and quickly hurrying the fellow along. I had asked about it, and he had told me some sob story about having a sick sister who was being treated in India and that the question about his family had brought that back to him unexpectedly in the middle of the mall. I comforted him, and even offered to contribute something to her treatment, but he told me they were fine and handling it. Many more events flashed through my mind in that period and I saw clearly that I could have known if I wanted to know. Oh, I remembered and remembered and remembered. I could have asked harder and pressed further. But I unconsciously stopped myself; I didn’t want anything to burst my bubble. Now, it had been unceremoniously shattered to a million pieces. That Asa’s song, Binbanke played in my head like a movie soundtrack to accompany my misery.

I frantically gathered my things together and ran after him. Thankfully, I was forming preggy mama not just sexy mama when I was leaving home, so I hadn’t worn any of my outrageous heels, otherwise I would have probably destroyed my ankle trying to catch up with him.

I ignored the curious looks all the fine people that I went past on my way out gave me. All that mattered was catching up with Ochuko to extract an explanation of what he just did from him. I caught up with him just as he was getting into his car

“Ochuko, what the hell is the meaning of all that? Please tell me this is some sort of joke” I demanded angrily.

“Meaning of all what? Who told you to go and get pregnant? At your age, you don’t know what to do to make sure that you don’t get pregnant? Or you just chose to get pregnant deliberately? To what end? To trap me?”

“Trap… damn you Ochuko!” I screamed. “Stop being coy. Forget that I’m pregnant; let’s say I was joking about being pregnant. Let’s even say I don’t have the capacity to get pregnant! What was that stunt you pulled with a wedding band and leaving wordlessly? That is what I am demanding an explanation, a sensible explanation for.”

“Ask yourself truthfully, have I ever told you I was going to marry you?” he asked pointedly.

I could not come up with any sensible answer. That was a low, low blow. True, he had never said he wanted to marry me in those exact words, he had not proposed or anything, but what was a girl to think when a man did all those things he did for me? Or when he said things like he wanted us to spend the rest of our lives together, growing old together? Or that he would still love me when I was a little fat, wrinkled and grey?

He continued “you can’t answer because I never said so. You merely assumed, based on whatever reasons you decided to. And look, Rekiya, assumption is the least of all knowledge. I am not going to be trapped…”

“Arrrrrrgh!” I screamed. “We are not talking about my pregnancy here. I am talking about that damned piece of metal you are wearing on your finger. What the hell is it about?”

“You mean my wedding ring?” Ochuko said, almost casually. I felt like bludgeoning him to death in that moment, and as if he read my mind, he wound up a bit more, so my hands could not reach into the car.

“Ochuko, what are you saying? Wedding ring how? Married to whom? How can you be married? We are not married yet now, so you cannot be married. No way! Is it not me that you’ve been with that you want to marry ni?” I rambled. When I stopped, my eyes unconsciously took in what would be my reflection on his now wound up windscreen. The image was a far cry from the “sexy preggy mama” that had left my house. My hair was a huge mess, flying all over my face, my powder was messed up, and the tears I was struggling to hold back now had done their worst to my makeup. My eyes looked like a drug addicts own, wide and out of focus.

“Look, will you calm down and let me explain? Or will you just keep shouting without allowing me speak?”

“Okay, okay, okay, I’m sorry dear. I’m listening,” I said, trying to gather myself together, hoping against hope that he would say something that would make everything fine.

He wound down a bit when he saw that I had calmed down, and a thought crossed my mind to lurch for his neck. I bound that devil who was about to make me destroy my relationship with such impulsive action like that woman who met her hubby with a frying pan at the door because her sister (who was later discovered to be lying) said he was the one that impregnated her.

“I travelled to the UK eight years ago, penniless, without papers and a pure hustling Benue boy. When I got there, in order to get my papers, I met this other Benue lady, who was born and raised there. We got married and I got my papers not long after our first child was born. I have two kids with her, but look Rekiya, I don’t love her at all. It’s just a marriage of convenience, just to get and keep my papers. It is…”

That demon got full hold of me in that instant and I lurched for his neck, digging my acrylic nails into his neck. He let out a surprised yelp and quickly pressed the automatic button that would activate the windscreen on the driver’s side. I refused to let go, until the pain from the glass that was pressing against my flesh compelled me to. As soon as I withdrew my hands from the car, Ochuko stepped on the accelerator, and zoomed out of the car park like a drunk driver. It was a miracle he didn’t bash the car into any of the other cars. I stood there for a couple of minutes, then robotically went to my car and drove home. It was a miracle I did not bash the car on my way home.

I had been home for less than five minutes, and was still undressed, when my phone rang. “Damn! I didn’t turn these damned phones off,” I said to myself. If it was any other ringtone I had heard I would not have reached for the phone. But it was Nel Oliver’s Baby Girl (you cannot believe how much I love that song. Thinking about it now, it’s the song I wanted to dance with my father to when he gave me away to Ochuko. Yeah, dreams, right?). That was my daddy’s ringtone. I picked the phone. It is one of those things about life that people that care about you just seem to be able to sense your times of distress and reach out to you at that time.

“Hey princess,” his deep rich voice came sailing over the phone.

“Good evening daddy,” I said, trying to sound as normal as possible. I obviously didn’t do a great job, and if anyone could decipher when I was distressed, it was my dad.

“Rekiya, what is the matter?” he asked straight up.

“Daddy, there’s nothing…” I responded.

“Young woman, you will tell me what the issue is this minute, or I am coming over to hear it myself right now,” he threatened. Knowing him, he would do just that if I didn’t start talking and I didn’t want him to see me in the state I was.

“Daddy, Ochuko left me,” I said. It was not a lie, but I knew it was not the whole truth. Daddy was quiet for seconds and I thought I had lost him. “Daddy, are you there?”

“Rekiya, what happened,” he said, finally

“I found out that he is married to a white woman and we had a row,” I blurted out. Still not the whole truth. For the first time in my living memory, I heard my father swear “that lower than swine son of a bitch! I am coming over this minute.”

“Daddy, you don’t have to…” I began

“Oh shush. I AM COMING,” he said and then hung up. I hadn’t told him all. Daddy would know the moment he saw me. I would not be able to look him in the eye and not tell him I was pregnant.

I suddenly heard a sound at my door. It could not be my dad, except he had used some of Baba Risi’s disappearing juju to appear at my door the moment he hung up. I lived in Phase One, just off Admiralty at the first right turn off the road and my folks are in Agungi, so it would take daddy another fifteen to twenty minutes to reach me if he left immediately. So I became tense when the sounds told me that the person was actually opening my door from outside.

Ochuko let himself into my flat and stood briefly in the doorway. A primal fear crept up my back as all those nonsense things I’d watched on C&I flashed before me. Abi he was a serial killer who specialized in babes like me? I have a silly imagination, and in the split second it took him to reach me, a thousand terrible images from television flashed through my mind.

He opened his mouth and said dryly “Rekiya, you have to understand. I don’t want her; it’s you I still want to be with. It might look terribly complicated right now, but it can be sorted out if you do not leave me now.”

*****
Tunde Leye

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