Even If I Don’t Find Peace – Episode 9

By Edwin Lamptey

Maxwell stared at Alberta as she stood at the door leading to the balcony with the knife in her hand and tears in her eyes. They stared at each other like the two sworn enemies they used to be way back in high school. “Are you kidding me, Alberta?”, Maxwell exclaimed in shock. “Are you thinking of stabbing me with that knife in your hand?”, Maxwell asked as he held on even more tightly to the handle of the door leading outside the room. Maxwell shook his head in disappointment. “Are you going to do to me the very thing I prevented you from doing to Calvin?”, Maxwell enquired. All this while, Alberta  stood like a statue not even budging at Maxwell’s enquires. All of Maxwell’s roommates were out of the room because Maxwell had early on begged them to excuse him so he could have some ‘alone’ time with Alberta. “Drop that knife this very minute!”, Maxwell yelled. He was beginning to get infuriated by Alberta’s violent behavior. “So does it mean that anytime we have an argument, you would pull out a weapon?”, Maxwell asked as he began to walk towards Alberta although carefully and alert so as not to cause her do any harm to him or herself. “Baby, just give me the knife and let us talk this over”, Maxwell tried to persuade her as he stretched out his hand to take the knife from Alberta. “I hate you, Max”, Alberta said, with tears rolling uncontrollably down her cheeks. “What have I ever done to your mum for her to hate me that much?”, Alberta asked Maxwell as he inched closer to the place she stood. “Don’t you dare come any closer Max, I am warning you”, Alberta added. “I don’t want to hurt you”, Alberta said as she wiped her tears away from her cheeks with her free hand. Maxwell defied Alberta’s warning and kept moving slowly towards her but constantly  kept his eyes fixated on the movement of the knife in Alberta’s hand. Maxwell was now just inches away from Alberta and her weapon and courageously made an attempt to disarm Alberta. Before he could lay his hand on the knife, Alberta panicked and hit his hand with the knife. Luckily for Maxwell, the tip of the knife hit his wrist bone. He only missed been cut by the knife by inches. Maxwell finally got a firm grip of the knife and aggressively pulled it out of Alberta’s hand. “What has come over you?”, Maxwell asked sternly now that he had successfully disarmed Alberta. “Maxwell, I love you so much don’t you get it?”, Alberta started. Before she could continue, Maxwell cut in, “I am confused”. “If you claim to love me, why would you pull a weapon with the intention of hurting me?”. “I am so sorry”, Alberta started her defense. “I don’t know what came over me, Max”. Maxwell held Alberta’s hand and helped her to sit on his bed. She placed her head on Maxwell’s shoulder and made a confession she had promised herself several times not to tell Maxwell. “All my life, I have loved people with all my heart and they end up disappointing me or hurting me or sometimes do both”, Alberta said. “Even my family members  have hurt me several times and have treated me badly”, Alberta continued. “Before I met you, I went out with a guy I met through a classmate of mine”. “I really loved that guy with all my mind, body and soul”. “One day, a cousin of mine visited me and we both visited my boyfriend in his school”, Alberta continued, wiping her wet eyes with her palm. “The next thing I heard was that my cousin had visited my boyfriend and spent two nights with him on his campus”. “What?”, Maxwell exclaimed. “So how did you hear about it”, Maxwell probed further. “His roommate who was concerned and had apparently seen I and my cousin the day we visited called me and informed me about it”. “I confronted both of them and they confirmed it”. “As for my cousin, she was so blunt in her response so I vowed not to talk to her ever again”, Alberta added, looking into Maxwell’s eyes. “Then you came into my life again”. “Despite my hotheadedness, you still show me so much love, care and attention”, Alberta confessed. “No one has ever done that for me and that includes my parents but you are so gentle and kind and patient and truth be told, it has made me fall madly in love with you”, Alberta said and paused to catch her breath. “That is why when anyone tries to come between us, I go crazy and don’t know what to do because I don’t want to ever lose you to anyone in this world”, Alberta added. After this revelation and more, Maxwell and Alberta had their dinner and Maxwell called his roommates to come and have their supper too. That night, Maxwell and Alberta took a stroll on his campus and chatted in the open night’s sky. When they got back to the room, his roommates where asleep so Maxwell used his copy of the room’s key to let himself and Alberta into the room. On the dawn of the next day, Maxwell took Alberta to the bus terminal where she boarded the first bus going back into town. Before she eventually boarded the bus, she turned and said, “It seems you are forgetting something”. “Oh sorry”, Maxwell said and dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out some notes and handed them over to Alberta. “Alberta stretched out her right hand and took the money from Maxwell. “I didn’t mean that, Max”, Alberta said as she stashed the money into her hand bag. “You forgot to give me a goodbye kiss”, Alberta said as she blushed. Maxwell then leaned in from where he stood and locked lips with Alberta who was halfway into the bus. After the kiss, the driver started his engine ready to drive off as if he was waiting on the two of them to kiss before leaving the bus terminal. As the bus exited the terminal, Maxwell waved one last time and found his way to the taxi station where he was to join a commercial taxi which was going to his campus.

The pressure of the semester was on. It was three weeks to examinations and Maxwell and almost all the other students were preparing for the end of semester exam with fear and trembling. Maxwell’s courses for that semester were quite tricky so he had to put in extra effort to pass the papers. He received a call from Alberta one dawn when he had gone to the library to study. “Albie, is everything alright?”, Maxwell asked as he looked at the time Alberta was calling. “Everything is not alright, Max”, Alberta started. “I miss you so much and I want to see you”, Alberta said. “Alberta, you know my exams are coming up and I need to study for them right?”, Maxwell asked. “Yeah, I know but I miss you and I just can’t help it”, Alberta fought back. “Just let me see you for one day, that is all I ask”, Alberta pleaded. “Okay”, Maxwell agreed. “You can come over on Thursday and leave on Saturday”. “Wow!”, Alberta exclaimed. “I just can’t wait to see you”, Alberta added. Early on Thursday morning, Alberta was already on Maxwell’s campus and was knocking at his door. When she was ushered in, she had with her, assorted stews and a little bag of uncooked rice with a loaf of bread and two 2 litre bottles of Coca-Cola. When she finally settled down, she asked Maxwell to turn on their TV so she could watch a soap opera. Maxwell informed her that their TV set had developed a fault and so it was not working. Alberta begged Maxwell to find an alternative for her. Maxwell went from room to room on his floor and asked for permission to allow Alberta use their TV set for an hour. Kennedy was in Room 4 and Maxwell was in Room 10. Kennedy agreed for Alberta to watch her soap opera in his room. Maxwell sat with Alberta throughout the whole programme even though he had very little knowledge as to what the programme was about. After the programme, Maxwell introduced Alberta to Kennedy as his girlfriend and the two of them left the room after thanking Kennedy for his hospitality. The soap opera was airing the next day but this time, Maxwell asked to be excused to be able to catch up on some group discussion for one of his difficult courses. Alberta knocked on Kennedy’s door and Kennedy politely ushered her in and offered her a seat. After the TV programme, Alberta stayed on a while and tried to acquaint herself with Kennedy. Both of them chatted for a long time and soon, they had become friends. Alberta postponed leaving on Saturday and begged Maxwell to allow her stay on yet a while. Maxwell reluctantly agreed after Alberta promised that she was not going to be a distraction for him in the build-up to his examinations. Alberta had managed to stay on Maxwell’s campus even after his exams had commenced. Maxwell was supposed to write eight papers that semester. Unfortunately for Maxwell, the exam timetable had been structured in such a way that Maxwell had to sit for three papers in three continuous days so Maxwell had to learn more in order to pull off that feat. Maxwell’s roommates had been nicknamed ‘the miners’, reason being that, they were always found at odd times in the library constantly  studying so Maxwell used that time to also study in his room while Alberta slept. One morning when Maxwell’s roommates had gone to ‘mine’, Alberta requested to go and see Kennedy but Maxwell vehemently refused. “You are just jealous”, Alberta said when Maxwell turned down her request. “I am not jealous in any way whatsoever”. “I am only being cautious”, Maxwell added. Alberta who tried to make inferences from Maxwell’s remark felt offended and said, “Is that what you think of me?”, Alberta asked. “You think I go about sleeping with people?”, Alberta enquired. “I haven’t said that”, Maxwell fired back. “I think it is just wise for me to throw caution to the wind because if anything happens to you throughout your stay here on this campus, I would be the one held responsible”, Maxwell explained. That morning Maxwell refused to let Alberta see Kennedy. The whole of that day, Alberta refused to eat anything Maxwell offered her. She even moved from his bed and settled on Ben’s bed because she was angry with Maxwell. Maxwell had just returned from the first day of his three-day marathon examination week. Alberta was still on Ben’s bed but Maxwell’s roommates had not returned. “Are you still angry with me?”, Maxwell asked trying to be nice to Alberta. Alberta refused to speak to Maxwell or answer any of his questions. After talking without receiving any response,Maxwell sat behind the little study desk they had in their room and started flipping through his notes for the paper he had to write the next day. As he did that in silence, Alberta finally spoke, “I want to go out”. Maxwell turned and asked,  “What are you going to do outside?” “That is none of your business”, Alberta responded in a cheeky tone. “So far as you are here with me, everything you do around here is my business”, Maxwell fired back sternly.  Alberta got up and started for the door. Maxwell quickly rushed behind her in pursuit and in the attempt to hold her back, he held her dress and pulled it and it tore. He tried to hold another part of her dress but mistakenly held onto her hair and ended up with a few strands of hair in his hand. Instantly, Alberta turned and slapped him twice. “How dare you lay your hands on me?”, Alberta asked angrily when she had successfully landed her second slap. “It was not intentional”, Maxwell tried to explain while he used his hand to rub his bruised cheek. Before he could find words to add to his apology, Alberta started for his other cheek and he quickly stopped her hand in mid-air and hugged her tightly. “Get a hold of yourself”, Maxwell pleaded. Alberta tried to wriggle herself free from Maxwell’s firm grip and in so doing, more of her clothes got torn. She began to scream on top of her voice and the screams attracted other people from other rooms who had already gathered in front of Maxwell’s room trying to find out what the fuss was all about. Maxwell had locked the door  so Alberta banged on the door from the inside and forced Maxwell to open the door. Immediately he unlocked the door, Alberta flung the door open and marched out of the room with her tattered clothes. The people who had gathered in front of the room could not believe that Maxwell could even hurt a fly let alone beat up a full grown young lady. Maxwell’s hostel mates rushed into the room to assess the situation. Maxwell joined them and saw that Alberta had left her phone on Ben’s bed so he took it and pocketed it. Soon, Alberta came rushing into the room with a white uncooked egg in her hand and crying uncontrollably. She flung the egg at Maxwell which fell on top of his left foot and Alberta uttered some words. All Maxwell could make out of what Alberta said was, “No girl will ever…”. Instantly, Maxwell’s temper lost its hold and Maxwell, knowing full well of what Alberta’s action implied, angrily started making his way to where Alberta stood. “I have had enough of your stupidity!”, Maxwell exclaimed and held Alberta’s throat with both of his hands. As he began squeezing, his roommates appeared at the scene and together with some of the boys gathered, they managed to separate the two of them. Alberta marched into the room and packed her bags. It was almost 10 PM. Maxwell had not studied for his paper which he had to write the following day. Alberta came out abruptly and angrily asked Maxwell, “Where is my phone?”. Maxwell told her he had it but would not give it to her if she didn’t calm down. Alberta did not say a word and went back into the room. On her return, she had a kitchen knife in her hand. When his roommates and almost all the people gathered saw the weapon in her hand, they gave her room to pass for fear of being hurt. Alberta marched straight to Maxwell and desperately tried to stab him in the chest but Maxwell dodged the attempt. He quickly handed over the phone to Alberta and she packed her bags out of the room and headed for the taxi terminal in front of Maxwell’s hostel. When she got there, all the taxis had left. Maxwell begged her not to leave but she refused and insisted on leaving. Maxwell then called Nancy and told her all that had happened and asked her to tell Alberta not to leave but wait till it was morning. All pleas fell on deaf ears since Alberta insisted she was not going to spend another minute with Maxwell. It was almost midnight and even though there was no taxi in sight, Alberta still insisted on leaving. When Maxwell and all the people gathered started to give up and one by one return to the hostel, one of Maxwell’s course mates came by and finally convinced Alberta to stay the night and leave the following morning. Soon, they were all back in Maxwell’s room and the ‘Gossips’ had finally all left. Alberta lay on Maxwell’s bed and suddenly began to weep, Maxwell who was trying hard to study for his paper that morning walked to her side and asked, “What is wrong with you?”. “I am sorry, Maxwell”, Alberta started. “I am pregnant”…

…To be continued

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