By Adeola Nissi
Today, the Senator slept in his room without his wife. They had had a heated argument over a totally bizarre issue. Nothing his wife could say could convince him that Amara was a ‘mamiwater’ or whatever it was that his wife was insisting she actually is. Nothing she did could also make him agree with the fact that their son needed to divorce her. Maybe the reason why he could not make himself believe anything she said was because he knew her too well. She gets shaky and tense when she is hiding something really important, and would always hide secrets under believable shades of lies. It was disheartening that he never could trust his own wife to be completely honest with him. A lot of times, he wondered why he married her, and now was one of those times. Katherine was keeping something from him, and if all her fretting was any indication, this was not something small. What he did not know was what Amara had to do with this. What was it about Amara that unsettled Katherine so much? He had never seen his wife this distressed before; she was almost like a moth skipping through fire. No doubt, Mr. Bello surmised, that birthmark was the key to this. That plus mark definitely had a history if his wife had looked ghostly immediately she saw it. The  ridiculous explanation of Amara being with an evil spirit was senseless to him. He needed to find out what this was all about.
 
Finally decided, he picked up his phone and dialed the number of a secret private investigator. He waited patiently until the investigator picked up. Without waiting for pleasantries, he went straight to the point. “Luke, see me in my office tomorrow. I need you to do something for me”
 
**********
**********
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Toba asked in anger. “Are you really sure there is nothing going on between you and your village bet? You seem to have changed”.
 
“of course there is nothing going on, besides, even if I want it to, Amara would not accept anything with me on a platter of gold” Alex retorted feeling anger creep into him as he remembered the way his own wife chased him out of her room like a piece of trash.
 
“Why do I have a feeling that you already want it?” Toba bellowed.
 
Alex fixed Toba an angry questioning look. “And why does it seem to bother you so much?” he asked.
 
Toba glowered at him. “Why should it not bother me? You come running to me for help, yet I give you advices and you don’t follow them. Don’t come bothering me if you would always do what you want to do”
 
Alex’ eyes narrowed. “You asked me to beat her up, see where that led me?” he returned in anger.
 
“The only thing I see here is that you have become a chicken just because of that thing you keep in your house. She is keeping you on your toes like a puppet. When did you become so soft?” Toba bellowed, looking at Alex as if he could not quite believe he was the one.
 “Say that one more time and I would show you how unsoft I am with my fist” he said with clenched fists. He looked just as dangerous as Toba knew he was, or used to be before Amara surfaced.
 
“Oh, you can display your fists here but when you see Amara, you turn to jelly” he spat out.
“I am warning you Toba”
 
Toba saw the telltale flash in Alex’s eyes and knew he had to tread softly if he would be leaving the bar without a swollen eye. He sighed. “Alex. All I am saying is that this girl is too small to keep you locked firmly in her small palm, how old is she? She just clocked twenty!” she exclaimed like he could not quite believe it. “You are a whooping five years older, yet she seems to be the boss in that little house of yours, where is your edge? Why can’t you put her in her place?”
 
Alex grimaced. “I let her have her way. I have really destroyed her life”
 
Toba’s frown deepened. “And now you are regretting your actions!” he exclaimed in bewilderment. “Are you sure something is not wrong with you? What has that girl done to you?”
 
Alex stared long at Toba. His coming to meet his friend was not helping matters at all. After listening to his friend rant and rave like a frozen dock, he was certain that he would not be able to help him in any way; not like he had been of any help ever since. To be sincere, Alex did not know the type of help he sought. His head had been in the clouds lately and he was beginning to wonder at what he actually needed. “I think I need to go home now” he said, paid the bill and stood up. Toba shook his head and trailed after him.
 
“You are being pathetic Alex. What do you plan on doing about Lisa uhn? You did not get her out of jail until her poor parents were able to pull the required strings to get her out on bail. When she surfaces, you would be in for it; remember, Amara is not the only one carrying your child in her womb” he said with piercing clarity.
 
Alex swallowed as he marched to his car. “You don’t have to remind me that I have two babies on the way; if I don’t remember, who will?”
 
“I think the only child you remember is that of the little whore in your house. How sure are you that the child is even yours?”
 
Alex stopped suddenly and fixed Toba with a firm glare. “As much as I am not overjoyed at the prospect of having a baby at this early stage of my life, I know the child is mine. The reason is simple – I was the one who made her a woman, and there was no other person, I assure you. She has never lied to me, despite all I have done; I am the only lying party here, that much cannot be denied” he said and entered his car without waiting for another annoying comment from his friend.
 
As Alex drove home, his anger grew until it became gravely unbearable. He almost started soliloquizing in anger as he drove home. What angered him most was that Toba had been right. He had changed! Even the blind would see it vividly. He could not tell what triggered it. He was beginning to blame himself for what he did to Amara; and why? He could not even tell. Maybe because Amara had picked up her pieces so bravely, doing the damnest to put the past behind her. Or maybe it was because she had become so bold that she now had the effrontery to stand up to him; even Lisa could not that effectively as Amara did; it was as annoying as it was amusing. It was probably her growing beauty that was getting to his head, he mused. With each passing day, she grew in beauty and it was not half as annoying as it was fascinating. It was even more surprising that she was that way with the bulging pregnancy.
 
Alex rubbed his palm over his face and stroked his thumb against his day’s growth of beards, in frustration. He did not understand what was going on. There was this strange feeling he had towards Amara that could not be named. He felt a strange connection between them. It was not a feeling he identified with. He had loved before, yes, but he was did not think this growing feeling was love. On the contrary, he would have known instantly if it was love; or wouldn’t he? Lisa did not hold his heart, there was just this strong sexual attraction between them that Alex could not do away with. He had loved a woman only once in his life and got burnt from it. But now, what was this that he was developing for Amara? He groaned in frustration. He hated something he could not name or identify more than anything. He sighed and drove into the compound.
 
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I adjusted my silk night robe about my body as I walked down the stairs to grab a cup of water. I was finding it difficult to sleep. It was one of those nights when my memories would come floating back through my mind, getting my emotions all worked up. Many times, I thought I had gotten past the hurt and anger and bitterness, that I have them successfully locked away never to resurface; but more often than not, they always came back to haunt me, especially when I find myself alone in my massive bedroom.
 
As I walked fully into the sitting room, I found Alex sitting at the mini bar in the sitting room, drinking. His head turned and his eyes bore into me as I stood transfixed, staring back at him.
 
“Are you willing to join the party?” he slurred. “It seems you also could not find sleep”
 
I noticed the drunken state he was in by the way his voice dragged. I shook my head slightly. “It startles me that everything I knew about you was wrong” I said in amused anger. “So you are also a drunkard”
 
His posture still seemed composed even though he was obviously drunk. Only his voice could make someone realize it. “I am not drunk madam, only tipsy” he said and raised a half-filled cup. “You should join me”
 
I eyed him. “You are pathetic, you know? You need help” I said as I made my way to the dispenser.
 
He smiled. “Yeah! I need help to get to my bedroom safely. My legs feel shaky”
 
I hissed. “You can sleep on the bar, even sleep on your feet; it is none of my concern” I drank my water and replaced the cup. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Alex rise to his feet. He seemed stable enough until he took a step and swayed. My first instinct was to hurriedly grab him but I caught myself in time. ‘I don’t care’ I told myself again. I don’t care if he falls and breaks his pretty nose; it won’t mean a thing to me!
 
He closed his eyes tight for some seconds and later opened them. He seemed to be trying to keep his gaze straight. He took four unstable steps again and nearly fell over; before I knew it, I was at his side. Realizing it, I became so angry; more at myself that him. I should happily watch him fall without helping him. I should even walk over his fallen body; so why am I here, worried that he might hurt himself by falling over? I sighed slightly and grabbed his hand roughly. I but it around my neck roughly, supporting him with my shoulder. “I guess it would not hurt to prevent you from breaking your neck” I said as I dragged him up the stairs in anger.
 
He smiled annoyingly. “I guess you still care about my neck” he drawled.
 
I felt the great urge to topple him down the stairs. “It would be better if you keep your mouth shut if not, I would gladly watch your head roll down the stairs”
 
He continued smiling but kept quiet. I had a cause to enter his room for the second time since I entered the house and it brought back the remembrance of the terrible day Alex told me I was nothing more than a bet. My teeth bit into my lips as I shook away the overwhelming emotions and anger that took over me. I practically tumbled Alex onto the bed and straightened.
 
Alex looked sleepily at me. “It feels so good to have your arms around me again” he said with half open eyes.
 
I stiffened and almost slapped him at that. Controlling myself with great difficulty, I turned to leave. “Savor it while you can cause it would never happen again, you can count on it”. I exited the room and slammed the door shut.
 
**********
Mr. Bello marched into the house like the fires of hell were in pursuit. “Katherine” he bellowed like a madman. The maids in the house squirmed and skipped off, wondering what on earth was wrong with their usually calm boss. “Katherine…” he yelled again, feeling as if he were about to fly into a million pieces.
 
Mrs. Bello ran down the stairs from her room. She had been at the edge of her nerves for the past one week ever since Amara’s birthday and her husband had also been equally quiet. She had been doing all her research, but seeming helpless because she had to be extra careful so as not to be found out. She found out nothing. The only way to find out would have been to meet with Amara’s parents and that was the last thing she would think of doing. Now, hearing her husband shouting her name scared her half to death. She appeared before her husband and he was breathing very hard. His eyes bore into her like daggers and she knew she was doomed.
 
“B… Bello”
 
He turned instantly and made for the door. “Follow me. Now” he barked and she instantly obeyed in fright. She had never been this scared of her husband in her entire life. He looked like a deadly animal, ready to devour anything in its path, and right now, Mrs. Bello felt like the prey.
 
“Bello” she rushed shakily. “Please talk to me”
 
He did not appear to have heard. He entered the car, not even calling his driver. “Get in” he barked as he fired the engine. The gateman was wise enough to open the gate without being told. All the servants were staring in bewilderment as the car flew out of the compound with lightning speed.
 
Tears were beginning to form in Katherine Bello’s eyes as her husband drove the car like a mad man. All her intestines shook with fright as she gripped the handle of the door for support. Mr. Bello’s features were set in firm hard lines and his veins were in clear view. “Bello” she called again as tears slipped down her cheeks.
 
Mr. Bello gripped the steering harder, to prevent himself from beating his wife into a pulp while on motion. When Mr. Bello drove into Alex’s compound, there was no doubt left in Kate’s mind that the secret was already out. “Please Bello” she pleaded but her husband simply alighted from the car, slamming the door so firmly, it nearly shook the ground. He marched towards the entrance and turned to see her standing shakily by the car.
 
“If you don’t get in now and I descend on you, you would be alive to tell the colour of your skin” he growled.
 
**********
**********
I sat in confusion as I stared at my parents. Why on earth would my father-in-law ask them to come over so suddenly? Was he in for one of his pleasant surprises again? Of everyone in this new family I found myself in, the only person I like is the senator and I had a respect for him that would not be rivaled. What was more confusing was my mother’s tense state. She was constantly asking to leave and if not for my persuasions, she would have fled the house.
 
I heard the door fling open and the Senator materialized, looking quite odd. Anger seemed to have enveloped him and he stood there with clenched fists, glaring at me like he had never actually seen me before. Have I done something wrong again? I wondered. Would the only person I like in this family desert me also? My mother-in-law surfaced, also looking the exact opposite of herself. Crying? I would never have believed it if I did not see it myself.
 
“What the hell is going on here” I did not notice that Alex had left his study to join us until he spoke. He looked at his parents in alarm and confusion.
 
The senator stared at his son and then rotated his eyes from Alex to me and back. He shook his head vigorously and ran his fingers through his hair. “Can someone explain the meaning of this?” I asked in total alarm. They were all beginning to scare me to death because my parents were also beginning to behave strangely, looking at one another with pale faces.
 
The senator stared at my parents. “Tell her” he boomed.
 
My father glared at him. “Tell her what? We are not hiding anything from her”
 
The senator’s anger sparked. “For God’s sake tell her” he boomed and my parents shifted.
 
“Tell me what?” I asked palely
 
My parents were silent. “Won’t you tell her?” the senator boomed. “Won’t you tell her that you are not her real parents?”
 
My ears rang as the words repeated over and over again. I grabbed a couch for support as the wind knocked out of me. “That is an expensive joke sir” I murmured weakly with a tight smile. “I don’t find this surprise very amusing”
 
“Do I look like I am laughing?” he roared. “On the contrary, I feel like dying because I have spent my whole life in deceit just like you”
 
I did not even care to understand the meaning of that. I faced my white-faced parents. “Mama, papa, won’t you talk?” I asked. “What is he saying?” I asked louder. They remained annoyingly silent. “He is not saying the truth is he?” I yelled.
 
The senator laughed bitterly but his face did not even show any sign of laughter. “Of course I am saying the truth because I am here with your mother” he dragged a shaking Mrs. Bello to the front and she nearly tumbled. “Amara, behold!” he roared. “This whore here is your real mother”
 
Everything fell silent as I stood like a pillar, looking at the people before me. I gripped the chair harder as I replayed what I just heard because I was certain I hadn’t heard correctly.
 
“I am sorry but what nonsense are you saying that?” Alex roared. “This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard you say”
 
I laughed suddenly and my laughter increased by the second until I was barking in laughter with everyone looking at me. “Sir, this is the most…” I laughed. “Hilarious thing I have ever heard you say” I said between laughter. “I never knew you were a comedian too. She is my mother-in-law, how can she be MY OWN MOTHER” Controlling my shaky laughter I looked at the senator who looked about to explode in anger. He glared at his wife.
 
“You had better open your filthy mouth woman, or God help me, I would choke you to death” he roared and my mother-in-law faced me in fright.
 
My laughter vanished and my face blurred, swimming as my gaze ran over her. “He… He is… He is right” she declared. “I abandoned you in the trash twenty years ago… and… they probably picked you up. I am your birth mother”
 
I shook my head vigorously. “No! No… Noooo………” I screamed as the bomb settled. My gaze blurred again and did not seem to clear as the ground rose to meet my falling form.
 
***
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I focused on the camera and bit hard on my trembling lips to at least stop the tears. I took several seconds to breathe in fully before I was able to talk again. “My whole life has been spent in lies and deceit. Nothing is as it ought to be. I don’t have the straight-forward life that most people in the world have.” I said, facing the camera. “How do I live with this? How can I live, knowing that my brother’s child is growing in my belly? How can I go a minute without remembering that I had commited the greatest abomination imaginable? Incest!” I exclaimed.
 
“My life is in shambles. Life is not worth living. Now, I wish Lisa had succeeded in getting rid of my pregnancy.  How can I give birth to a child who would live the rest of his life knowing that he was a product of abomination?” I shook my head, looking at the camera and the audience I hoped would watch this one day. “This is too much for me. Just because of one mistake. That one mistake has wrecked my life and brought me nothing but pain and endless tears. I had hoped that one day, I would be able to bid farewell to tears, but now, I know that would not happen. Do you think my mistake was having sex with Alex?” I asked. “No! My mistake was losing focus! I had my dreams a step away, all I had to do was remain focused; but I got distracted. I destroyed my own life because of momentary pleasures…” I breathed and took a deep breath.
 
“I am sending this message to you all, hoping that you would learn from my story. Nothing but pain would come from pre-marital sex. Please, never make the same mistakes I made. I should be in school now, pursuing my dreams with little regrets but I strayed. I strayed and found myself in the lion’s den; unfortunately, I don’t think I am Daniel because getting out is practically impossible. One last thing: Beware of Corpers”
 
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I tied the rope firmly on the tree, tying the knots over and over again. I tied the other end also, securing it around my neck. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I gazed for the last time at the world. Life is not worth it. I consoled my child with my palm, apologizing over and over for putting him through this pain, although, I was sure he would thank me for doing this. I swallowed hard, removed my wedding ring and threw it on the ground. I shook my head and wiped my tears. It is over! Finally over!
 
I swallowed hard in resolution and kicked off the stool from beneath my feet.
…to be continued



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