By Adeola Nissi
Mrs. Bello exited the discomfort of the car before it even parked fully. Her brain was in overdrive and being confined in a car with her husband, whose silence was more dangerous than a pointed gun was almost running her insane. He had been quiet throughout the drive home from Amara’s party, with his gaze outside the window and she knew that he was trying to come up with a logical explanation for her actions in the party. She had been too obvious in that gathering and, thinking of a logical lie to give her husband when he finally probes her was a major worry. She did not even know what was scaring her most right now.
 
She hurriedly entered her personal room and locked the door before the senator thought about probing her but he did not seem in a hurry to do that. She flung her purse onto the bed and started pacing restlessly. No! It can’t be! It just can’t be! She wiped sweats of perspiration off her forehead. This had to be a great coincidence, she thought shakily. Of everyone in the world, it can’t be Amara! It cannot be HER!
 
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed and crumbled onto the bed. She rubbed her sweaty palms across her face before burying her head in it. Her mistake could not be closing in on her! Not now! Never! And Alex? The pregnancy in Amara’s womb? “OH God, it just can’t be!!!”
 
**20+ YEARS AGO**
 
Katherine Bello arrived at the hospital, finally deciding to allay her fears before the situation got out of control and becomes exceedingly obvious to all. She could not explain what the problem was, but heaven knows she definitely had her suspicions and it scared the hell out of her. The fear of the unknown had prevented her from going to the doctor because she did not want the doctor’s diagnosis to tally with her instincts. As she was allowed into the doctor’s office, she prayed to heaven that her thoughts were wrong, because if not, she was in for deep shit.
 
“Hello doctor” she said as she entered the doctor’s office and sat down instantly, to hide her shaking legs. She was using a hospital distant from home now, so this was not their regular family doctor. She could not afford to risk it.
 
The doctor smiled. “Good evening ma’am, how may I help you please?”
 
Mrs. Bello sighed softly. “I have been feeling somehow lately, for some weeks now to be precise. I expected it to go away so I ignored it but it is not going away” she said, beating about the bush.
 
The doctor nodded, with her professional look firmly in place. “Can you explain the symptoms you have experienced?”
 
Mrs. Bello nodded vigorously. “Erm…I am sure it is nothing serious. Just some feelings of dizziness, desire to eat all the time and also irritation and nausea” she rambled. “I mean, I don’t erm… feel nausea or urge to vomit all the time, just once in a while, it can even be overlooked… I hope it is nothing serious”
 
The doctor smiled and her eyes seemed to probe Mrs. Bello like her eyes alone was enough to carry out the needed examination. She smiled further. “I think I know what the matter is” the doctor said. “But since I am sure you don’t expect me to ‘think’, I would call someone to run a test on you. The results would be out within minutes, so it would not take long” she said, frightening Mrs. Bello.
 
She swallowed. “Are you sure I don’t need to come back?” she asked nervously.
 
“No! The results of the test would be out very fast” the doctor assured. She picked her intercom and called a nurse, who appeared almost immediately. The doctor gave her a few instructions which Mrs. Bello did not listen to as her mind raced on the possible outcome of the test. With stiff legs, Mrs. Bello followed the nurse into the lab where the test was carried out.
 
Mrs. Bello sat in the waiting room, looking at the ticking hand of the wall clock. She had never been so frightened in her life. Her brain rotated on whether or not to leave. She could not afford to have her instincts right because only doom was hers if the result of the test proved that she was indeed pregnant. She stood up and she turned towards the door to leave, a nurse called her.
 
She turned with a shaky smile on her face.
 
“The result is out ma, you can go in now” the nurse said. “Were you about to leave?” 
 
She shook her head, ignoring the question. “That was fast, are you sure it is ready?” she had turned as pale as sheet.
 
“Yes. Please, come with me ma”
 
The nurse led her back to the doctor’s office where she hastily sat her pale form. Without wasting time, the doctor declared. “This is the test result” she gave her a brown envelope. “My assumptions were confirmed” she smiled affectionately. “Congratulations ma, you are three months pregnant”.
 
 
The news landed like an atomic bomb, rubbing her of her speech. “There… there must be a mistake” she stammered shakily.
 
The doctor frowned. “There is no mistake. This should be good news, are you not married ma?” the doctor asked, looking from the patient’s pale face to the ring on the left hand. Mrs. Bello totally ignored the doctor and stood up, leaving the office without a backwards glance.
 
***
***
Mrs. Bello roamed her sitting room with nerves all over the place. Her son, Alex was taking his nap, and she was glad that he was not down, disturbing her.
 
Pregnant? How can she do this? Her husband had been gone for over four months now, to the United States, establishing a new company there. Because of the rigor of starting a new company and the necessity to be there to pioneer and kick start this initial stage, her husband had gone to be there personally and had been there for more than four months, so there was no way in this world that this pregnancy could be her husbands. It could only possibly be for one person; their driver.
 
Being away from her husband for months had been more than she could handle, and when she complained to her friend, Bimpe, she had given her a ‘solution’. Her friend had pointed out her strong and sexy-looking driver who had been driving her for about two years now. Though she was still very young, he was definitely older than her, so she would not be a sugar mummy to him or anything like that. Cheating on her husband seemed like a ridiculous idea at first but when his absence became irritating, she gave in to the advice. It proved to be a really difficult thing to do because all her seductions seemed not to be working on Habeeb, her driver. He was a strong man who did not seem like one to easily fall into temptations. She wore really exposing clothes, he noticed, she knew he did but his reactions never exceeded simple glances which could almost be overlooked. Katherine Bello almost thought there was something wrong with her own appeal. Getting Habeeb had taken all the feminine cunning tactics she could have or even come up with, but eventually, Habeeb fell for her charms and beauty. He had treated her better than any man – even her husband – had ever treated her. He had treated her like a teenager, even though she was thirty. He had given her flowers, taken her on dates, but still kept the relationship hidden from all and sundry.
 
But now, this is the result. She waved the pregnancy result and crushed it in her fist. She was carrying the result of her infidelity in her womb. Right at that moment, she hated the child she was carrying. She had risked her happiness and home for moments of pleasure. It had seemed like a good idea then, but now, she was face to face with reality. How could she hide this? She had always feared abortion more than anything on earth. Ever since she watched her best friend die from abortion, she had sworn never to attempt it. As bad as this situation seemed, Katherine still did not want to die. But how could she hide the pregnancy from her husband who would be coming back in a week?
Ever since she gave birth to Alex, four years ago, Katherine hadn’t been pregnant ever since and she had been glad because it had been really tough for her when she carried Alex in her womb; it had been even worse during labor, that she had to go through Caesarian Session when her life was threatened. Now, she could not afford to lose her family. She could not lose her husband or make her son lose his happy home, which might happen if her husband found out about her infidelity or the ungodly result in her belly. What could she do?
 
***
***
The day Mr. Bello was to arrive, Katherine Bello made sure she used a really tight girdle to flatten her already bulging belly. The belly looked perfectly flat after using the belt and she was a bit relieved. Her next worry had been how to keep it on for the rest of the week before her husband returned to the States. She thought of pretending to be sick, knowing that her caring husband would be too concerned about her health, to even think of making love to her. That would be hard though, because they had been apart for months. It was natural that he would want to perform his husbandly rights.
 
Mr. Bello had arrived and the excitement had been great. Alex had fussed over his father and Katherine’s nervous state hadn’t been so obvious. She had carried out her plan of being sick. Her husband had been really caring, taking care of her even when it was obvious that he would rather be doing something else. He said it so many times but whenever he tried to remove her clothes, she would pretend to catch a cold and he would let go of his desires to take care of her. It was a really stressful week and she could feel the tension in her husband when the week elapsed. Her suggested staying longer to take care of her but she quickly turned it down, asking him to take care of the company abroad instead.
Knowing that his departure would be for another couple of months, Katherine decided to take care of the mess before he finally arrived. The first thing she did was to fire Habeeb. It had been really hard, especially when she saw the hurt and betrayed look on Habeeb’s face. She tried to pay him off but he refused like the arrogant man he was. He left without a penny but Katherine could not even think of calling him back. She could not allow him find out about the pregnancy. No one was aware, only her friend. Thanks to her stature and girdle, the pregnancy stayed hidden, but as she approached seven months, she had to put on loose clothes to hide the really bulging belly, despite the girdle. She had done really stressful things, hoping that it would bring down the pregnancy but nothing worked.  Finally, she gave up attempts to have a miscarriage and decided to see how she could discard the child after birth.
When she was seven months plus, she took Alex to her friend’s place to spend his two months long vacation there. That way, she knew that she would have an excuse for her husband if he called to ask of Alex. She wanted to go to a faraway place to give birth to the child; somewhere where she was not known. A place where gossip could not float to her husband’s ears. Her friend told her of a village and a woman there, who could help with what she wanted to do.
 
Mrs. Bello travelled to the village and was able to breathe freely for once. She stayed with the woman that Bimpe, her friend, told her of, until she finally gave birth to the child. The baby girl had been pretty but she had hated her at once for all the trouble she had to go through because of her. She would have left the village immediately after giving birth to the child but the woman told her to wait for two more weeks before leaving, in order to use the time to shrink the size of her belly and also feed the child. After the two weeks, she made sure the woman abandoned the child in a dumping ground where anyone could easily see her. After that, she left the village, glad that it was over at last.
 
**PRESENT**
 
Now, Mrs. Bello could fully agree that nothing is hidden under the sun. You might hide it for a while but a secret would always bounce to the surface sooner or later. She had thought that that mistake with Habeeb was gone and gone forever and that her secret had been successfully buried, but now, she had to face the glaring reality of the situation at hand. Her mistake of years back was back, and not only was it back to taunt her, but it was ready to destroy everything and everyone in its path. The woman had given the baby girl a permanent black (+) mark at the back of her left ear. She had told her that it might be very helpful in future and that it was always important to have a mark on the child with which the child can be identified, in case her path crossed with her child in future. She had prayed it never happened then but now, it was obvious that her prayer has gone unanswered. If Amara was truly that unwanted child of hers, then…
 
“Oh No!” she said with a sickly pale face. “My son cannot be married to my daughter” she whispered in fright. She shook her head. “No! It is a coincidence” she tried to reassure herself. “Amara can NEVER be my child. My Daughter cannot be married to my son. IT HAS TO BE A COINCIDENCE”
 
**********
**********
I sat at the edge of the bed and put my head in my hands. Try as I may, I could not forget the scenario of the past hour. What could have been Mrs. Bello’s problem? I knew my mother-in-law was so harsh and wicked but she had seemed almost insane. She had been totally different from the composed woman I knew her to be and she had looked completely shaken and scared.
 
And she had noticed my birthmark! It was totally confusing. She not only noticed the birthmark, it seemed to be the main reason why she was agitated and scared. Thinking about the drama again, my brain was in overdrive. It almost looked as if Mrs. Bello recognized my birthmark! I frowned and shook my head as I stood up to wash my face in the bathroom, hoping that it would at least clear my mumbled thoughts. It didn’t though.
 
I had only been able to see the mark with the aid of a mirror and the feel of my fingers. Why did it seem as though my mother-in-law knew the mark? And why had my mother seemed uncomfortable by it? She had remained uncomfortable even after Mrs. Bello’s departure, until she finally left with my dad. The whole drama was beginning to confuse me and I hoped something would distract me from my thoughts before I run mad from thinking too much.
 
I heard a knock and heaved a sigh of relief, ordering the person to come in without even noticing the difference in the knocking pattern. The door opened and I was so surprised to see Alex. It was so surprising that I found myself gaping idiotically.
 
“Sorry to disturb you Amara” he said, gaining my attention.
 
I blinked several times to gather my scattered wits. “What do you want with me Alex” I was impressed that my voice was very firm.
 
He stood straight, confident as ever, but he looked a bit uneasy. “I… I have not wished you happy birthday, and I wanted to do so before you went to bed” he said.
 
I stared in surprise. I have had too many surprises in one day. First, he said I was pretty, now, he is wishing me happy birthday. “Why do you want to do that?” I asked.
 
He shrugged, “I just wanted to” he responded.
 
I did not know what it was, but somehow, he looked different. For a second, I could almost glimpse the man I had fallen in love with in the village. Did he think that he could win me over by being sweet? I almost laughed. The easily deceived Amara was already gone, replaced by a cautious one. “Why? You want to acquire my sympathy? Since Lisa is not home, you are looking for a woman to share your bed right?” I laughed. He looked a bit hurt but I really wanted to slap his face for his audacity. “I am not a fool Alex, I have a brain, and neither am I an object of sexual sport. If you are looking for someone to roll with in your bed, go outside and get one, I am not available for for such rubbish. Now, can you leave my room?” I boomed in a perfectly pitched voice, with my feet tapping the floor in anger.
 
For some seconds, he stood there, frozen. He looked at me and I stared back boldly until he finally turned, opened the door and left. I breathed deeply and sank onto the bed.
 
**********
**********
the senator stared at his wife, who sat opposite him in the dinning, trying hard to eat her food. He saw the shake in her hands and watched her trembling lips as the half-filled forks went in periodically. It was already hours since they arrived home, yet, they have not exchanged a single word. He smiled to himself and pretended to concentrate on his food, making noticeable noise with his cutleries.
 
“I am sure you have come up with a perfect explanation for your actions earlier” he said, seeming unconcerned. “Tell me Kate, what lie would you tell me?”
 
He heard the fork drop from his wife’s fingers and refused to raise his eyes from his plate. “What… what do you mean?”
 
He raised his eyes slowly. “You know what I mean Katherine. What was the meaning of your display earlier? I sense there is something you are hiding from me” he said bluntly.
 
She fixed a brave look on her face and faced him. “Without listening to me, you assumed I was planning to lie to you. Why is that? Are you calling me a liar? Why would I need to lie to you?” she looked hurt.
 
The senator decided to go subtle. “I am sorry then. Can you now explain the drama?”
 
“Yes!” she declared. “I told you, didn’t i? I told you it was a bad idea to allow that girl marry Alex. Did you see that mark behind her ear? It is a diabolic sign; only incarnates have that mark behind the ear.” She said.
 
The senator looked at his wife in complete surprise. “Kate! Since when did you start believing in all these trash? You said you do not believe in witches or stuffs like that, and now, you know the marks?”
 
“I don’t forget things, a friend told me that mermaid queens exist in the normal world and they destroy the lives of people they are associated with. She told me of the mark. Just imagine, since she came into the family, Alex has turned into something else. She destroyed the relationship between Lisa and Alex, now; she is making you turn against him. Now you have suspended him from your own company. Isn’t that enough proof? You need to drive her out of our lives. She is evil” she declared.
 
…to be continued



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