“What did you just say?”, Maxwell’s mother asked again as if she did not her Alberta loud and clear the first time. “Mummy, please, I said Maxwell has impregnated me”, Alberta rephrased her statement. “This cannot be possible”, Maxwell’s mother refuted Alberta’s claim. “I know my son and I know he will never do a thing like that”, Maxwell’s mother defended her son. “I see”, Alberta responded sarcastically. “Why don’t you find out by asking your son whom you seem to trust so much”, Alberta added and hang up the line. At this point, Maxwell knew there was no way he could escape from what was about to happen. He looked at his mother and said, “Don’t say what you are about to say”. “I don’t know what happened but I think Alberta is pregnant and I am responsible”, Maxwell said to the hearing of both his mother and sister. “Oh Maxwell, I am highly disappointed in you”, Maxwell’s mother said as she put her hand on her chest and tears began to flow down her cheeks. “I had great hope in you and I knew you were going to make me proud but look at the mess you have gotten yourself into?”, Maxwell’s mother said, wiping her tears away with her cover cloth. “Are you ready to become a father?”, Maxwell’s mother asked angry and charged like a raging bull towards Maxwell who was sitting in the sofa with his head bowed. “You might as well go to the kitchen, get a kitchen knife and stab me to death”, Maxwell’s mother said. “It would be equivalent to what you have done”, Maxwell’s mother continued. “Mummy, don’t say that”, Maxwell and his sister said in unison. “What do you want me to say?”, Maxwell’s mother asked the two of them rhetorically. “I know what to do”, Maxwell’s mother said and stepped outside. When she got outside, she called Alberta back. “Now you listen to me”, she started. “Even if it is true that you are really pregnant, that child does not and will never belong to my Maxwell”, Maxwell’s mother said with venom. “You better look for who is responsible for your pregnancy and don’t you dare call my son again”, Maxwell’s mother added. “Better still, you can have an abortion to kill that thing growing in your womb because my son is not ready to become a father at this age”, Maxwell’s mother added. “I thought we were going to handle this like adults but it seems you are not ready for that”, Alberta started. When your son was on top of me every night, where were you?”, Alberta asked. “How dare you talk to me like that?”, Maxwell’s mother fired back. Maxwell’s mother took the phone off her ear and yelled out Maxwell’s name summoning Maxwell to the place where she stood. “You see what your action has caused?”. Maxwell stood there confused yet he feared to utter a word knowing full well what the wrong words could bring. “I am talking to you”, Maxwell’s mother said. “You silly girlfriend has the effrontery to talk back at me because you could not protect yourself by wearing a condom”, Maxwell’s mother added as she handed over the phone to him. “Speak some sense into her head before I go there and teach her a lesson”, Maxwell’s mother said. Maxwell took the phone and started, “Hello, Alberta, this is Maxwell”. “Take it easy please”, Maxwell said as he walked away from where his mother stood to prevent her from hearing what the two of them were saying. “My mother is very angry and upset right now so please watch what you say to her or how you respond to whatever question she asks”, Maxwell pleaded. “I know her well enough and I can assure you that it won’t be long, she would forget all of this and we would find a solution to this problem”, Maxwell assured Alberta. “But why should she talk to me like that out of anger?”, Alberta asked. “I don’t know, but I am sure you would be pretty much upset if your son came home to tell you that he has impregnated someone after his first year in the university”, Maxwell explained. “I want you to do your best possible not to respond to anything she says even if they are intimidating”, Maxwell pleaded. “Why should I do that?”, Alberta asked. “I just can’t have your mother insult me for getting pregnant for you”, Alberta said. “I understand but please do this for me”, Maxwell pleaded. Alberta hang up the phone and Maxwell returned to where his mother stood and handed her mobile phone back to her. Maxwell went back into the house and straight into his room. His mother went about the house ranting and accusing Maxwell for being such a fool and allowing the devil to make him his tool. Maxwell quietly took his shower and decided to step out of the house. As he planned sneaking out of the house, he met his mother standing behind the gate. “Where do you think you are going?”, Maxwell’s mother asked angrily. “Haven’t you caused enough trouble already?”, she asked. Maxwell looked at her and decided to speak, “Mummy, I am really sorry for what has happened”, he started. “Do you think saying sorry will miraculously cause the baby to vanish from her womb?”, Maxwell’s mother cut in. You should be ashamed of yourself for setting such a bad example for your siblings. As Maxwell received the bashing from his mother, her phone beeped and she paused to check it. “What?”, Maxwell’s mother exclaimed in anger. “Have you seen what you have caused?”. “This girl is really trying my patience”, Maxwell’s mother said as he handed the phone over to Maxwell to read a text message she had just received from Alberta. Maxwell took the phone and the message read, “When you got pregnant with Maxwell, did his father ask you to have an abortion? So why do you want me to have one? I thought you were a Christian.” Maxwell looked at the message but could not believe what he was seeing. He quickly beat a retreat into the house, picked up his phone and called Alberta. “I thought we agreed on keeping silent”, Maxwell said angrily. “What was that message for?” “You just don’t get it do you?”, Maxwell added. “My mum was just cooling off now your text has brought all of us back to square one”, Maxwell continued. “Just listen to me for once and do what I tell you to do”, Maxwell added and dropped the call. That afternoon, Maxwell’s mother cooled down and even asked Maxwell to run a number of errands for her. Before long, they were back to being one big happy family again and Maxwell revelled in that moment. His mother sent him on an errand and he figured he could use that time to pass by Alberta’s place to check up on her and run the errand before going back home. When Maxwell got to Alberta’s house, she was sitting in front of her gate. “What do you want?”, Alberta asked Maxwell when she lifted her head and saw him coming from a distance. Maxwell got close to her and said, “Albie, I told you to stay put didn’t I?” “Exchanging words with my mum would make things not only difficult but bad for us as well”. “Maxwell, let me ask you one question”, Alberta started. “Have you ever gotten pregnant before?” “No”, Maxwell responded almost laughing out loud. “Good!”, Alberta said. “So don’t come up in here to tell me what I can and cannot do”, Alberta said. With that, Alberta got up and started to walk away from her house. “Where are you going?”, Maxwell yelled out after her. “It is none of your business!”, Alberta yelled back. Maxwell shook his head in disappointment and walked back to his house thinking why Alberta was behaving the way she was. When he arrived home, his mother summoned him to her room. “Maxwell, why did you go to see that girl?” Maxwell was stunned by his mother’s query. “How did she know I was there?”, Maxwell thought to himself. “I…I…I…”, Maxwell tried to explain but could not find the words. “This girl is so disrespectful so I wonder why among all your university female friends, you could not find anyone but rather you went in for her”, Maxwell’s mother started. “Do you know she just sent me another text message?”, Maxwell’s mother asked, looking intently into Maxwell’s eyes as she sat on her bed. This time, Maxwell’s mother did not hand him the phone to read but rather read out the message to his hearing and it read, “Please teach your son some manners”. Maxwell was shocked to the bone when he heard the message Alberta just sent to his mother. Maxwell could not understand why his mother appeared calm and collected over the issue. He wished he could see what was going on in her head. He shifted aside slowly from his position on the bed. His mother ordered him out of her room after she had told him how disappointed she was in him and how he could allow his lustful desire to make a woman drag her name and reputation through the gutter.
The next day, Maxwell’s mother woke up early and left the house. She headed for Alberta’s house. Maxwell knew something bad was definitely going to happen. His mother did not know Alberta’s house so she asked Maxwell’s sister for directions which she gladly gave out. After an hour, Maxwell’s mother returned. Maxwell quickly ran out to meet her. “I thought your girlfriend was going to be as brave in person like she was on the phone”, Maxwell’s mother started. “I knocked on her door severally and I knew she was inside the room but the good thing she did was that she did not come out”. “I would have given her the lesson of her life and taught her a few manners too”, Maxwell’s mother said. “If I hear that you have gone back to her house again, I am going to eat you up alive, do you understand?”, Maxwell’s mother warned. Maxwell dared not go against his mother’s warning so he stayed at home till his school reopened. Maxwell went back to school without seeing Alberta. When he got to school, he received a message from Alberta that she was told by a doctor that she had complications with her pregnancy and that she had to abort it. Maxwell called her immediately and asked her if she was sure of what she was saying. She confirmed her claims but had her own reservations. “Even though I have received this news, I am still going to give birth to prove to your mum that this baby is yours”, Alberta said as he spoke to Maxwell over the phone. “That is totally ridiculous!”, Maxwell said, after Alberta had made her intentions known to him. “There is absolutely nothing to prove here”. “You having to risk your life to prove a point to my mother would actually prove nothing”, Maxwell added. “Please listen to the doctor and do what is right”, Maxwell pleaded. Maxwell did not hear from Alberta again till after a week. Alberta called Maxwell and informed him that she had successfully gone through a ‘D and C’ to rid her of her pregnancy. Maxwell vowed to steer clear of Alberta but his conscience weighed heavily upon him like an albatross. “How can I abandon her like that after going through all of this for me?”, Maxwell asked himself as he lay in his bed one evening. He knew deep down inside of him that he owed her a favour and had to find a way of repaying it and then finally cut ties with her for good. He stayed in contact with her and always tried to be there for her when she needed a listening ear. One afternoon, Maxwell closed from lecture and received a call from Nancy, Alberta’s friend. “Hello Nancy”, Maxwell said when he answered the phone. “How are you, Max?”, Nancy asked. Nancy said she had called to check up on him after the incident that happened with Alberta the previous semester. Maxwell and Nancy kept calling each other and none of them told Alberta about it. Alberta also called Maxwell as and when she needed to talk to him but it seemed to her that Maxwell was drifting away from her. They spent less and less time on the phone. Maxwell had developed a liking for Nancy and vice versa. On one of their nightly chats, Nancy asked Maxwell if he had a wish. Maxwell replied that if he had a wish, it would be that the night never ended. Nancy sounded a bit disappointed over Maxwell’s response. “I thought you were going to wish for something like my heart because I am going to gladly give it to you”, Nancy said. “Okay then”, Maxwell said. “Give me your heart”. The next day, Maxwell called Nancy to check up on her. “What happened last night?”, Nancy asked when she answered Maxwell’s call. “I think we started a relationship”, Maxwell responded. Maxwell and Nancy laughed over the comment. Maxwell and Nancy kept their relationship from Alberta. Alberta noticed that Maxwell had changed towards her. Maxwell appeared cold and always was in a hurry to hang up the phone whenever they were talking. “Max, you have changed”, Alberta complained one day when he called in to check up on Maxwell. “You no longer have time for me like you used to and even when I get to talk to you, you are in a hurry to hang up”, Alberta added. “Alberta, it is not like that”, Maxwell started. “There is a lot of pressure with my academics nowadays so it makes it difficult for me to get enough time to chat”, Maxwell said in his defence. “I have not been to the university yet so I would take your word for it. Maxwell did not know how to let go of Alberta and also did not want to lose Nancy because he felt more comfortable around her. He knew it was going to be disastrous if he kept both of them company. Moreover, Alberta and Nancy were classmates so he knew it was a classic recipe for disaster if any of them, especially Alberta got to know that he was so much as seeing both of them. He knew Alberta was going to kill him if she got to know that she was going out with none other but her friend, Nancy. One early Saturday morning, Maxwell was laying his bed and received a call from Nancy. “Hey you”, Maxwell said when he answered the call. “Hey sleeping handsome”. “Wake up already, I miss you”, Nancy added. “I am up now, thanks to you”, Maxwell responded as he yawned. “What’s up for today?”, Nancy asked. “Today is Saturday so I would wash, do some cooking then I would watch football because my favourite team is playing today”, Maxwell responded. “That’s nice”, Nancy said. “And what will you be doing today?”, Maxwell also asked. “I am a young woman so I will wash, do some chores and above all, I would cook some sumptuous meals”, Nancy said. “I wish I was there to judge for myself how sumptuous the meals you are going to prepare will be”, Maxwell said. “Don’t worry, when I see you, I will prepare your favourite dish for you”, Nancy said. “So tell me, what do you remember about me from the last time you saw me?” Maxwell was about to answer Nancy’s question when he heard a knock on the door. Maxwell thought he was not hearing properly. He waited silently and heard the knock again. He tried waking Ben up by calling his name but he was lost in his sleep. Maxwell managed to wrap his blanket all around him and dragged his feet all the way to the door with the phone pressed against his ear as he updated Nancy on what was going on. *Clock* *Clock*, Maxwell unlocked the door and opened it widely. The next words that came out of his mouth were, “Let me call you back, okay?”. He was lost for words and did not know whether to shut the door or ask the guest to come in. “Surprise!”, Alberta said softly and let herself into Maxwell’s room. Maxwell could still not believe who he was seeing. He stood at the door in shock and had been instantly rendered dumb. “Why are acting as if you have seen a ghost”, Alberta asked because she was surprised that Maxwell was behaving the way he was. Maxwell’s phone rang and he looked at the person calling and it was Nancy. He exchanged glances with Alberta and put the phone on silent. Alberta looked at him suspiciously but preferred not to say anything about what he just did. “Anyway, I was on my way to my uncle’s and I figured I could pass through to see you”, Alberta started, although speaking very softly so as not to wake Maxwell’s roommates. I was considering what you said about being under pressure and all with school stuff so I actually came by to take your dirty laundry and wash them for you so that on my return, I would bring the cleaned clothes back to you”, Alberta added. Maxwell was sceptical about Alberta’s offer but he wanted her to just leave. Maxwell went into his wardrobe and packed his dirty clothes into a jute bag and handed it over to Alberta. Alberta left after she asked Maxwell to extend her greetings to his roommates when they woke up. After noon that day, Alberta called Maxwell and informed him that she could not come back the same day with the clothes and if it happened that she had to leave the next day; her uncle was going to drop her off. She pleaded with Maxwell to come and get the clothes from where she was. Maxwell took his bath and dressed up to leave but before leaving, he called Nancy and informed her that he was going to watch a football match. Nancy apologized for not calling him earlier owing to the fact that she was busy preparing some food. Maxwell boarded a car and arrived at the bus terminal where Alberta was waiting for him to take him to her uncle’s house. When he got there, his clothes were on the drying line but Alberta had prepared some food and had dished out Maxwell’s portion and had laid a table for him. She went out to get some soft drinks from the supermarket and returned with some of Maxwell’s dried clothes and asked him to take off the clothes he had on so she could wash those too. Maxwell quickly took off the clothes, wore the clean ones and continued enjoying the meal. After about ten minutes, Maxwell was looking for his phone and realized that it was still in the pocket of the jeans which he just gave to Alberta to wash. He quickly rushed out to stop Alberta from putting the jeans in the water she was washing with but when he got there, Alberta was already going through his phone. He did not know what to do. He walked up to her and quickly snatched the phone from her hands, “What are you doing?”, Maxwell asked. “Maxwell, I can’t believe that you would go out with my friend behind me!”, Alberta started. “As for Nancy, she doesn’t know what is coming”, Alberta added….
…To be continued