BISI – THE OTHER WOMAN EPISODE 15
By Jon Doe
Nothing followed those weighty words which hung heavy in the air between them. Each syllable delivered with little emotion or inflection, lips held in a straight line. Still, in it Namdi could sense a threat, a promise of unrestrained violence simmering just below the surface merely waiting, hoping, for a reason to be unleashed. Namdi did not dare look in the direction of the older man beside him. The forest of curly hair along his arms stood straight, remnant of long forgotten instincts. Somehow he managed to keep the pandemonium in his mind from his facial features. Woodenly Namdi looked on into the night wishing desperately there was a thousand miles between him and the manifestation at his side. However wishes granted are a thing of fantasy, his only option to fight now that flight had failed him.
What did he know? Namdi internally cried out the question, his unease manifesting in the rigidness of his posture. Carefully he combed over his memories of the last couple days searching for any aspect that would raise alarm bells. No, there is nothing that would give him a reason to suspect; Namdi concluded, his muscles relaxing as tension bled from fibers. Pivoting, he faced his father in law.
“I don’t hurt the ones I love.”
Time had trudged on before Namdi answered. Enough to be noticeable but not enough to be unfathomable. Mr. Shagari turned, steady gaze on his son in law. Namdi did not flinch away from the piercing brown eyes of the older one, wholly determined he would not be cowed; a determination not lost on the man before him. In the dimly lit balcony the whites of their eyes were all they could truly see. A slight curve appeared unseen on the lips of the older man. His hand reached into the deep pockets of his native attire bringing out a leather humidor little bigger than the length of his hand.
Carved ivory ran along the edges of the leather, the pearly white still able to gleam in the gloom. Popping open the case revealed four Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapped cigars. A slight aroma of cognac wafted through the cool night air. With great reverence he took one out placing it beneath his wide Nubian nose. His eyes closed drinking deeply, Namdi standing in front of him temporarily forgotten. No longer able to wait, he clipped the end of the cigar. In-between his teeth it went, thumb and forefinger holding on to the golden band.
Namdi did not waste any time, bringing a match to life. It flared up driving away the subtle darkness around them for a time. It lit up Mr. Shagari’s face, alternating between shadow and light giving a hard unyielding vibe. Around his eyes Namdi could see lines forming trenches that told a tale he knew he would never take the risk to ask. It did not mean he was any less curious. War was an experience they did not share. Like all things alive, the match soon died, its life passed on to the smoldering end of the now glowing cigar. The scent of cognac grew stronger in the air among other flavors Namdi could not quite pin point. His father in law took a long drag from the cigar, his countenance visibly becoming as the smoke he released into the air; free.
An expression of surprise grew on Namdi’s face when he saw the hand with the leather case held up to him. It was not the first time Mr. Shagari had lit up in his presence, yet each time he had been nothing but a spectator. Afraid a change of heart would occur Namdi put aside his reservations, helping himself to his father in laws generosity. In his hand Namdi could feel the opulent nature of the cigar. It was heavier than he initially expected. Finger and thumb travelling down to the band led him to the truth behind the mystery. Real gold! he realized, shocked enough the etches in the band were lost to him.
Clipping the end he placed the cigar between his teeth, a match lighting the end. Two puffs in quick succession followed by the release of bluish white smoke. He watched the smoke float, dragons in the cool night air. They curled around roaring silently, freedom suiting them well before their inevitable disappearance into the ever dark night. He felt he could watch them till the end of time, the multitudes of flavor still undecipherable. Like all good things, there will be some kind of end.
“The first time I cheated on my wife was not planned.”
The two men no longer faced each other, pupils firmly trained on the stars above them.
“I can never forget her name, at least I could never bear to try. Even now those sweet four letters hold me in their sway.”
Namdi’s determination to not look at his Father in law grew the more he listened. Why is he telling me this? Namdi racked his brain to no avail, meaning eluding him. The night grew darker, a cover of clouds denying the twinkle of the heavens. Namdi’s hands gripped the balcony railing steadying himself; the feel of the cold metal a reminder this was not a dream.
“Was it love? I’m not sure. But what I cannot deny is she lit a roaring fire within me. I once believed with conviction I would never be that man. I had the war to blame.”
Mr. Shagari took a deep drag from the cigar in his mouth, the smoke billowing from his nose like the discharge of a fired cannon.
“Our passion burnt fiercely. Alas she wanted more than I could give her. She soon burnt out.”
What does he mean by burnt out? Namdi thought, his tongue losing its function when he attempted to voice out the question.
“You must be wondering why I am telling you this. Wondering if my wife knows.”
The cigar fell from Mr. Shagari’s mouth landing on the floor, the end still smoldering. Without bothering to look down he flattened it beneath his sole.
“It is simple, you can do nothing to me. You are powerless, insignificant, a bug beneath my shoe. Crushing you can be achieved with a mere thought”
As he listened Namdi found it more and more difficult to keep hold of the railing. Palms sweaty, knees weak, he cut a pitiful picture. All that kept him upright was the dread of the shame he would have to bear if he collapsed in front of his father in law. Mr. Shagari brought out another cigar, this time bringing out a cigar cutter made of bone. Namdi could not see this cigar cutter but in the silence he could hear clearly every minute movement his father in law made.
“You must know by now how much I treasure these cigars. Between you and what I hold in my hands, which I hold in higher regard should be evident. I know you can’t see what i’m about to do to this cigar but your imagination should fill in the blanks”
With the bone handle cigar cutter Mr. Shagari snipped the head of the cigar. Namdi heard distinctly as the blade bit into the brown shaft of the cigar with a crisp clear snip. The older man did not stop there. Bit by bit he snipped, the pieces fluttering to the floor till only a gold band remained. It was neither hot nor warm where they stood; still beads of sweat popped out the forehead of Namdi. Each made its way down his cheeks to be absorbed by his collar. Namdi did not dare reach up to wipe it away, reduced to a rabbit a paw away from the jaws of a beast.
“Have you cheated on my daughter?”
The question slammed into the gut of an unprepared Namdi. His heart beat a mile a minute, shivers running down his bent spine. His mind screamed at him there was only one answer. There was only one path to life and all others would lead to his eradication. Truth be damned his inner demons chanted as they all marched to the only option they could. NO! was the answer he thought, the only answer that mattered. A deep sense of hopelessness fell on him bathing every inch of his person as his mouth opened to speak. He wasn’t given a chance
“You know what, don’t answer. Your words don’t matter. All that matters is that she and more importantly I don’t find the answer to be yes.”
The balcony light came on, flooding what was once dark with a rich white light. The roller coaster of emotions was too much for Namdi. On shaky legs he made his way to the only chair on the balcony. He sat down heavily, the unapproachable broad back of his father in law filling his vision.
To be continued