By Adeola Nissi
Mr. Bello sat in his study looking thoughtfully at the wall. What sort of father would he call himself if he could not even say truthfully that he had raised Alex well. All his life, he had made sure that he was never unjust to anyone, he had tried his best to impact the same values into his son, but it seemed his best hadn’t been good enough. Where had he gone wrong? He probably should not have gone into politics. If he hadn’t, maybe he would have had more time for Alex. Maybe, he would have noticed this heartless behavior in him and changed it before it became too late. But he had failed. He had failed as a father to be a good mentor to his only son and child. His wife had never been a good role model, he always knew that. It was not his fault that he had fallen in love with her, despite her misgivings. He could not tell the heart what and whom to love. But he should have been the better parent. He should have been the better parent for Alex.
He swallowed hard as he thought of the various things his son had gotten himself into lately. He had impregnated a poor secondary school girl and it had only taken some investigation to find out that he gambled on the girl’s pride. That knowledge had hurt him more than he was willing to express. It was so unbelievable that his own biological son could be so cruel as to do such a despicable thing to an innocent girl. This had informed his threat to Alex several weeks back. He knew categorically that Alex would not lose the company for anything in the world so it had been good bait. He would never allow any injustice to befall Amara. It had been because of the guilt that his son had bet on Amara’s pride that he had gladly given Amara’s father, Mr. Peters, what he demanded for – an apartment, which was well furnished. Mr. Bello had rented the apartment, paying for three years at once. If the press could wind of the scandal his son had caused, his political ambitions would be thwarted. But that was not his problem
Alex had come to them with another shocking news. He had impregnated Lisa. Mr. Bello had never liked the spoilt girl who thought herself higher than everyone but he had tried to accept her when Alex showed his interest in her. How would he sit back and watch his son marry two wives at this early stage. Even though Alex behaved ten times his age, he is just twenty five years old. Marrying two wives could kill him before thirty. Yet, it would be unjust to throw Lisa away. She is definitely carrying is grandchild also.
He sighed heavily. He had no clue as to what to do salvage the situation. It seemed to have gone a bit out of control.
Two days passed without me seeing Alex. He apparently hadn’t come home at all and I found myself wondering where he was. It would not be surprising one bit if I found out that he was out making other babies, since he had turned into a baby making factory. During the past two days, Tola had become almost as close to me as Tina and I found myself liking her. She seemed sweet and funny but no one would take the place that Tina occupies in my heart. She was not just my closest friend but was also like a sister and sometimes, even a mother. If Tina hadn’t been there, I am not sure I would have survived all that I have been through. She was there when no one else was there to support me and for that I would forever be grateful.
Tola was not the only one that changed within the past two days. I also noticed that Lisa was quiet now. She always looked at me with hatred brimming in her eyes but she always kept her mouth shut. Since she always ran her tongue like a parrot, I instinctively knew something was wrong. She must be up to something, and it did not smell good. Living in the village, I knew certainly that two women could never live in peace if they had to share a man. One woman would try to kill another just to make her vanish. Well, I certainly wanted her to vanish from my life, along with Alex and all the problems he brought into my life, but I definitely am not a killer. I can’t kill anyone to achieve that. Although, even though I am not a murderer, I don’t know if Lisa would resort to killing me. It was probably extreme to think that Lisa might try to kill me but the feeling that she was planning something was strong. I have been crosschecking everything I eat and had decided to cook in the kitchen along with Tina. Tina would definitely not do anything to hurt me but, who knows, Lisa might sneak in and…
I laughed suddenly. The movies I have been watching on that massive television were beginning to get the better part of me.
Tina turned and stared confusingly at me, stopping the rice she was busy rinsing. “What is so funny uhn? Why are you laughing?” she asked. “Considering the fact that you are slicing onions, the opposite should be the case”
I smiled. “I am just thinking that the movies I watch is becoming too much. It is beginning to pollute my good reasoning”
She frowned. “Hmmmm… I see” she eyed me suspiciously. “Is that all you were thinking about?” she raised a brow.
I frowned at her and shook my head. “My God Tina, you are too nosy. Wash that rice before we all die of hunger”
She grinned. “It is my duty as your friend to be nosy. Be sure to tell me what you are thinking uhn?”
I sighed. “Ok, if you are a good girl, maybe I might confide in you” I said cheekily.
“And what is the secret?” I turned to see Tola bouncing into the kitchen as she stared at both of us suspiciously.
“What?” I stared at the two ladies grinning at me with questioning eyes. “You both are so unbelievable. Who would imagine that an ordinary laughter caused this?” for some reasons, I had a reason to think that they were on a totally different page from my line of thoughts. They looked at me with this knowing look on their faces and I started wondering about what was going on in their small heads.
“Well, if you are laughing, there must be something behind it right?” Tola winked and Tina grinned as they both gave themselves high-five.
I frowned at them now, looking from one to another. “Tell me you two. What the hell are you cooking up?” I was now confused.
“Aaaarrrhhhh… nothing. Only jollof rice” Tina answered as she returned to the rice.
“Don’t you dare give me that! What is going on?” I snatched the bowl of rice and faced them squarely with a look that said ‘spit it out’.
They grinned. “Ok, let’s see Amara” Tina began. “You suddenly agreed to get a nice wardrobe; you look exceedingly great all the time, you smile more often now than you have done in the past months…”
“And now, you are laughing” Tola finished and raised her brow, even though I was still frowning. “What informed all these changes? Is there… a man involved?” she asked grinning.
“What?” Oh! I stared at the two ladies and suddenly began to laugh. I laughed and laughed and laughed until I ended up crying. Once I started crying, I could not stop. Just when I thought I had reached my bus-stop where tears were concerned! The smiles on their faces vanished instantly and they were trying to stop my tears. “There is a man involved” I said between sobs. “He has instigated all the changes in my life. I wonder when that would change” I sobbed and Tina and Tola held me, blaming one another all the way for taunting me.
I walked the street two days after that incident. It hadn’t been easy getting my cheekiness back and getting rid of the emotional side of me, but I had done it. It is not easy to keep my emotions at check because it always comes to the surface every time I am alone but I knew for a fact that I had to be strong; if not for myself, then for my son. He was already caught in between, I did not want anything to hurt him.
I got to the roadside flower stand I had noticed several weeks back and stopped again. I stretched out my hand and played with the striking flower. Only now, the flower seemed to look pale, compared to the first time I saw it It had been so bright and alive with a lively glow the last time I saw it, but now, I could tell that the weather was not being favorable and the flower might die soon. Great sympathy and compassion engulfed me as my thoughts took over me. It was probably unfortunate that wherever I go, I would always be reminded of Alex. It seemed impossible to forget. Only one mistake had turned my life around. It was a mistake wished I could undo. If only I hadn’t fallen for him, I would probably be on my way to the university by now. I have not been in this trauma for long considering the fact that I was barely five months pregnant, but it feels like my whole life had been spent in this pain. It feels like I have never known a minute of joy or contentment.
The flash of a camera brought me back to my senses and I raised my eyes to stare at the very same guy I had met at this very spot weeks back. Kelvin. Yes! That was definitely the name he gave me, that is if it is true, of course.
He was staring at the small digital camera in his hand and he raised his eyes to mine. He was not holding a smile, neither was he frowning; he just stared at me, making me nervous with the intensity of his gaze.
I felt like punching him. “Do you make a habit of taking pictures of strangers without their consent?” I asked in annoyance.
He stared at me for so long, I in fact thought he would never answer. The picture he took was not my problem though, it was his unsettling gaze. He managed to hold my gaze without even trying and he seemed to see into my soul. He suddenly looked down until he was again staring at his camera.
I shifted nervously and tapped my feet in annoyance. How dare he take my picture and ignore my question? I opened my mouth to hurl insults at me when he suddenly looked up at me again. “A flower is a symbol of great beauty and love, opening up its buds in the sun, beaming with life and promises” he walked up to me and his fingers played with the flower even though his eyes were holding mine. “But what happens when the sun it opened itself up to gets too hot for it to handle?” he asked. “The ground dries up, leaving the flower without water to sustain it; leaving the flower to face the vengeance of the hot sun without support” he glanced briefly at the flower then back at my pale face. “Slowly, the flower begins to fade… then it withers… and if care is not taken… it dies…” his gaze had become so intense and for several seconds, minutes, hours…I have no idea how long I stood there; I just stood, gazing at him as his words ran through my mind over and over again.
I blinked and shook my head. “What do you mean?” I squeaked.
He looked at me for several seconds then looked again at the camera. I wanted to see the picture he took now. “You have a faraway look in your eyes. Your body posture and set jaw tells me that you are going through a lot of pain which you try to hide behind bravery.” He raised his eyes to mine. “You are like this beautiful flower. Radiant with unrivalled beauty, open to life and filled with a lot of promises. Although, I am afraid you might have let in too much sun. I…”
“Stop” I yelled. “Stop filling my head with rubbish” I blinked furiously, trying not to lose the battle over my emotions. “Why do I always have to bump into you” I yelled, even though it was the second time I was seeing him. But why does it always have to be at this same spot? “I am not a flower, and unfortunately, I did not let in any sun. Do you know why?” I asked. “Because all I have in my life is complete darkness” I screamed and turned instantly, heading home. I did not hear him following and I was extremely grateful. At least he knows when to back down. I refrained from looking back and marched home.
I opened the door of the sitting room and did not even pause when I saw Alex for the first time in days. I was in no mood for anyone, least of all him.
“Where are you coming from woman?” he boomed.
I paused and turned to look at the man who destroyed my life. I shook my head and turned towards the stairs. “When I ask a question in this house woman, you answer me” he was marching towards me. “You are definitely a slut. You are now spreading your legs for everyone in Abuja, isn’t it?”
I turned and swallowed hard. “What if I am uhn? At least, I am not in the danger of impregnating someone, am i? You should really think of opening a baby-making company, I think you have the talent of spreading your sperm where it is not needed”
His arm swung with alarming speed and connected with my cheek. Before I got my balance, his other hand connected with my other cheek, sending me crashing to the ground at once. I heard running feet approaching but the pain coercing through my body had me curled up on the floor. The pain was so unbearable but I would be damned if I cry. I bit my shaking lips so hard, I ended up tasting my own blood. I turned to raise glaring eyes at Alex, despite my pain and that obviously turned to a great mistake because he literarily pounced on me.
“Don’t you dare look at me like that” he roared as he rained punches all over me. I shrieked loudly as I curled up in a ball, protecting my child with my hands and legs as every blow landed. Tears came rushing down my face and I discovered that the screams I was hearing were mine.
“Mr. Alex.” Tina cried as she tried to push Alex away. The pain coercing through my body was eating at my senses and I was slowly losing consciousness.
“Please leave her… Please” I faintly heard Tina cry with shaky voice. “Please sir… she is pregnant… aaarrrhhhh…….” Darkness engulfed me as everything faded out of sight.
…to be continued