On Trial – Episode 12
© Onyinyechukwu Mbeledogu
On Saturday morning, Kaira cleaned up ahead of Erhus’ arrival. She couldn’t wait to see him again. He was the only male who wasn’t related to her that she let come close.
Hottest thing on trousers, she thought. That was the nickname Chibuogu her twin had given him and it literally described him. When you are with him, you end up as the envy of the womenfolk. 6’4, rich chocolate complexion and with an athletic figure, Erhus played basketball at his spare time, a sport he loved so much. Even at 5’9, he had a way of making Kaira look short.
His smile was breathtaking and Kaira would normally want to advertise him to her female acquaintances, but her Erhus deserved nothing but the best. Besides, he was already taken.
She met him at Airport because he was coming in from Lagos. According to him, he had already sent his things ahead of time to Port Harcourt through a colleague’s brother.
Dropping his bags, he lifted Kaira off her feet, twirling around until she saw things in triplicates. To the ordinary observer, he probably looked like a soldier back from the warfront and being welcomed by his lovely wife.
‘It’s so good to see your face, tots,’ he said as he let her slide gracefully to her feet.
‘It’s so good to see your face too. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.’
He was dressed in a multi-coloured t-shirt and a pair of combat shorts looking like he’d just walked out of a sports magazine. Seeing him was the best thing that had happened in her life all week. Hand in hand they headed for her car at the airport. With him in Port Harcourt, there would be no dull moment.
He gave directions to his new apartment in GRA. It was in a mini estate built by the company made up of identical bungalows for their staff. Erhus’ staff ID gained them entrance into the premises. Erhus’ apartment was a three bedroom house towards the end of the estate. The caretaker in handing over the keys informed Erhus that there was an official vehicle assigned to him and which was parked in the garage. The key to the car was in one of the shelves in the room divider in his sitting room.
The apartment was furnished and not bare as she had expected. Kaira walked into the kitchen. The tiny store was empty. There was an empty freezer, refrigerator and gas cooker fitted in the cabinet. Kaira stepped out briefly to retrieve the provisions she had bought on the way to the airport as well as the food flask of ofe nsala she had taken her time to prepare for him.
Out of curiosity, she explored the bedroom and en-suite bathrooms telling Erhus that she had made the choice of the bedroom she would be staying in whenever she had to sleep over.
‘Free loader,’ he teased her and she stuck her tongue out at him.
When Erhus saw the caretaker off, Kaira made herself right at home, laying on a couch and flicking through the channels on the television.
‘What do you think?’ Erhus asked, joining her on the couch and lifting her legs to his laps.
‘Nice place,’ she replied. ‘I envy you. You should see the dump I live in.’
‘Dump? You forget that I’ve been to your apartment.’
‘Compared to this place, it’s a dump.’
‘Don’t start entertaining ideas of spending three-quarters of your time here.’
‘You took the words right out of my mouth. When the traffic is nasty on my way home to D/Line, I’ll definitely branch here.’
‘Well as long as you don’t snore and keep me awake all night.’
‘I don’t snore.’
‘You snore like an elephant trumpeting.’
‘You’re the one who snores.’
He gave a snort of disbelief.
‘You know, you should be thinking of filling this apartment with lots of children,’ she told him. ‘It’s too big for a bachelor.’
‘If you’ve found someone like you here in Port Harcourt, then I’ll take her to the altar later in the day.’
‘You’re not serious,’ she laughed because he had a serious girlfriend.
He’d dated a lot in the past but Oghenefegha was the only girl he had taken home to meet his parents and she was the only one of his girlfriends she had approved for his wife.
‘I am. I’m thinking of settling down within a year. You should consider doing so too.’
‘I’ll see what I can do about it,’ she promised.
‘Are you seeing someone now?’
‘Why not? Don’t tell me you’re still bothered about Ekene’s betrayal! The man is an ASS. Capital letters all through. A man who would leave you for another, especially your friend, does not deserve you. The only reason I didn’t knock off his front teeth was because he would have been compensated by the thought that you still had a thing for him.
Kaira had taken Ekene’s betrayal to heart. She had dated him for three years, from her fourth year at O.A.U but her family had accepted him and she had even quarrelled with Erhus because of him because Erhus hadn’t liked him from the moment they had met. According to Erhus, there was something off about Ekene. Ekene was good looking with impeccable manners and Kaira had been madly in love with him, so in love that she probably would have travelled to Lagos and jumped off the third mainland bridge just simply because Ekene had asked it of her.
They had talked about waiting until they got married before having any form of sexual intimacy. She had been certain she had found the right man. And then the engagement had stretched from a year to two years and then the third year. She had bought his excuse that he was trying to hustle in order to be able to provide for them and the children they would have. She hadn’t even suspected that he was seeing her good friend by the side. The same friend she had taken into confidence because she had quarrelled with Erhus following his rejection of Ekene and Ekene being threatened by her friendship with Erhus. That showed how stupid she had been.
When discussing with her friends, she’d brag about how amazing he was, and how fortunate she was to have a man who stayed true to her. How Dilinna must have laughed at her naivety! It had turned out that a lot of her friends had known about his flings and subsequently his affair with Dilinna and they hadn’t thought it necessary to tell her about it!
Ekene was an extrovert and Kaira didn’t see anything wrong with him taking her friends out whenever he ran into them as he always informed her about it and so she hadn’t suspected anything. Dilinna’s office was on the same building as Ekene’s and he dropped her off on the way home. Kaira was just happy that her man liked her friends and was friendly towards them. And so one could imagine the shock in her face when she paid Ekene a surprise visit one Friday evening and met Dilinna there.
The front door was closed but their voices were raised.
‘There is no way in hell that I am going to have another abortion, Ekene. I’m keeping this baby.’ Dilinna had yelled at him.
‘No you’re not. I am dating your good friend for crying out loud.’
‘You should have thought of that all those nights you had me in your bed, swearing upon all your ancestors that I was the best thing that had happened to you in bed.’
‘You should have used a contraceptive especially after the first pregnancy.’
‘So it’s my fault now?’
‘I didn’t say that. I should have been more careful but I don’t want Kaira finding out about this.’
‘At least she has Erhus to console her.’
‘He’s only her friend,’ Ekene had said with certainty.
‘And that just only because they haven’t spent enough time alone. I’m not aborting this baby Ekene and I don’t intend to have a child out of wedlock. So you have two choices, either you end your relationship with Kaira and marry me or I marry Obiorah and my baby becomes his and you never get to see the child.’
‘How can you even imagine that I would allow another man bring up my child?’ Ekene had ground out.
‘Then do the needful. It’s not like you love Kaira. We both know that you are still hanging on to the thought of marrying her because that’s the only way you can get between her legs.’
Kaira had gasped but it wasn’t loud enough to catch the attention of the two lovers.
‘This changes everything.’
Kaira had chosen that moment to knock on the door. There was silence and then a few whispers before the door opened. Ekene had looked surprised to see her and rightly so. She hadn’t informed him that she would be visiting. His eyes had taken in her dressing, a simple sleeveless gown that ended a few inches above her knees, and then the overnight bag she had with him and it must have dawned on him why she was there. She walked past him into the apartment.
Dilinna sat cross-legged on the couch in the sitting room and barely acknowledged Kaira’s presence. She was dressed in a white sleeveless dress at her midriff and revealing her fair belly and a pair of three quarter jean shorts.
‘I can’t believe you and Dilinna are having an affair,’ Kaira had blurted out. ‘I have never felt so betrayed in my entire life.’
‘Welcome to reality, girlfriend,’ Dilinna had said sarcastically. ‘A man has his needs and when you deprive him of the opportunity of taking care of those needs then he seeks someone else who is willing. When you are too busy forming virgin nwa Chineke , what did you expect?’
‘Three years and you insist on a platonic relationship as though I am made of wood,’ that had come from Ekene.
Suddenly she was to blame for their affair!
‘You swore you loved me but you held yourself back from me,’ Ekene had continued. ‘You left your responsibility for someone else and she did a great job.’
‘I can’t believe you’re saying this to me,’ Kaira had stuttered, telling herself that this couldn’t be happening to her.
‘You’re not a child. Dilinna satisfied the desires you refused to sate and now she’s expecting my child, so I shall do right by her and marry her.’
‘Just like that! Doesn’t our relationship mean something to you?’ she’d asked, sounding weak.
‘You’re not my type. I’m sure you already figured that out. If you’d given me what I had asked in the first year of our relationship, I would have been over with you a long time ago.’
And to think that Erhus had rightly warned her that Ekene was only sticking around because he wanted to get her in her bed!
‘You’re a b******, Ekene. I curse the day I met you.’
‘Thank you. Now get out of my house.’
She had left his apartment deep in thought and wondering where she had gone wrong. This was her Ekene. How could he talk to her like that? How could he betray her like that? And Dilinna, Kaira hadn’t suspected that the she liked Ekene like that. She had never given Kaira a clue. Or perhaps she, Kaira, had been too blinded by her love for Ekene to notice what was happening right under her nose.
She had surprised herself by leaving without throwing tantrums and breaking things. She had taken his betrayal to heart. Rather than take a cab home to her self-contained apartment in Ikotun, she had decided to walk off her annoyance. Big mistake. She had been hospitalised for weeks, diagnosed with acute depression and had to undergo psychotherapy. She had realised that loving a man wasn’t enough to make him change. Erhus had been there for her through, proving what she already knew: that meeting and knowing him was the best thing that had happened to her.
The last time she had heard of Dilinna and Ekene, they were involved in a nasty divorce and custody battle. Well they weren’t her problem. She had vowed that if she ever allowed herself to fall in love he would have to love her ten times more than she loved him. She wasn’t sure she could handle another heart break.
‘Don’t tell me you’re still mooning over him,’ Erhus said, ‘because if you still are, I will personally book a flight for both of us to Lagos, drive down to the third mainland bridge and throw you off it.’
‘I’m not mooning over him. It’s been over ten years and I’m completely over him.’
‘Good, because he doesn’t deserve you. You deserve a guy who would not give you a headache. You have enough headaches to deal with from your clients on a daily basis without adding one idiot to it.’
Why couldn’t she be in love with a man like Erhus? Kaira asked herself. Why couldn’t they be in love? E for make sense die . But she knew the answer to that. Erhus was the friend God sent to you to keep you sane in the midst of all the nonsense one had to face all the time. He was the kind of man you talked to without realising you were divulging your secrets to until you were done. He had drawn her out of the shell she had buried herself within and she was forever grateful that he had. He’d been her number one strength throughout her ordeal forgetting about all the nasty things she had said to him in defence of a man who had been so undeserving of her love!
‘I know you also blame him for what happened afterwards but you need to free him. I’m glad you’ve channelled your anger into helping innocent women get justice but Ekene should never cross your thought. Having said that, I hope you have found someone in Port Harcourt?’
‘No, I haven’t.’
‘Then Port Harcourt men must be blind o,’ Erhus laughed. ‘Just come to Warri and someone would literally sweep you off your feet.’
‘The only Warri sweetheart I’m interested in is my darling Rukky but then if I marry him I’ll be permanently dubbed a cougar.’
Oghenerukevwe was Erhus’ only sibling and born while Erhus was about to write his WAEC examinations. Rukky was currently a third year student at the Petroleum Training Institute and was really tall for a twenty year old.
‘You’re his everyday crush,’ Erhus admitted with a smile. ‘Well, while you are waiting for Rukky to graduate, you need to remove that inscription you have on your forehead that says ‘ Back off Guys or Be Unmanned.’
He proceeded to look at her forehead, as though searching for the sign. She punched him on the arm.
‘No wise cracks baby boy,’ she told him laughing. ‘Unless you want to end up in the Accident and Emergency Unit of the nearest hospital.’
‘The sign isn’t visible,’ he continued joking. ‘Perhaps I’m blinded to it because I’m your best friend.’
‘There is no sign on my forehead.’
‘At least some guys have asked you out.’
He feigned a sigh of relief.
‘Then there’s still hope for you. So tell me, how many invitations did you accept? And please don’t tell me none because I shall faint ten times in a space of a minute.’
‘That’s the most ridiculous thing I have heard,’ Kaira said, rolling her eyes. Drama King! ‘Men don’t faint.’
‘Want to test it? Just say that you didn’t accept any invitation and you shall watch a grown man faint before your very eyes.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ she told him. ‘Okay, I accepted one man’s invitation and that’s because he was getting desperate.’
‘Yet you’re not seeing him.’
‘I enjoyed our date but not enough to date him. I wasn’t into him.’
Erhus shook his head.
‘You shouldn’t let what happened years ago continue to affect you. You need to let go.’
‘I’ve moved on,’ she assured him. ‘I’ve just been really busy with my cases that I can’t slot any guy in at least not before the year is over.’
‘Legal practice isn’t all there is to life. You also need to leave yourself open for love. Date more often and treat men well so you don’t miss out on your future partner.’
‘I’ll think about it,’ she told him. ‘How’s Fegha?’
‘She’s doing good, just not happy with my transfer as we’ll be seeing less of each other.’
‘I’m sure you’ll work something out.’
‘I’m already working on a plan. I made copies of her Curriculum Vitae and I intend to help her secure a job here.’ When Kaira smiled, he quickly added, ‘that is intended to be a surprise so I don’t want you telling her when you’re engaging in your girly gossips on WhatsApp.’
‘Do I look like a big mouthed person?’
‘We’ll put that to the test.’
Kaira laughed. ‘I can’t believe she trusts you to behave yourself in her absence.’
‘She has an ally here. You. She trusts you to keep me in check,’ he laughed.
‘And what is the rationale for trusting another woman to keep your man out of trouble.’
‘You’re my best friend and I’ve spent more time with you than with any other female. If there was going to be something between us, it would have happened a long time ago.’
‘True. So I’m your chaperone?’
‘Yes, and I have no doubt that you shall enjoy being that.’
‘Of course. Fegha’s interest is my interest. Step out of line and you will have two angry females to contend with.’
‘One of you is more than enough. Two is too much for the sanity of any man.’
Kaira laughed. She knew Erhus was joking. He was a one-woman-man. He would stay faithful to his woman even if it killed him. Sheer discipline.
‘Before I forget, any message from home?’
Kaira had no doubt that the moment her mother and siblings caught wind of the fact that Erhus was now based in Port Harcourt, their minds would start running wild.
‘Just for me to keep an eye on you and report if you start seeing anyone.’
That was to be expected.
‘I am certain Aunty Nkiru left you fully loaded before you took that flight.’
Nkiru was Kaira’s mother’s younger sister.
‘You can trust your aunt but she doesn’t cook as well as your mum. I miss raiding her kitchen.’
‘I’m sure she would enjoy hosting you whenever you are in Enugu.’
‘Definitely. We have so much to catch up on, darl.’
‘You have me for the whole day so take advantage of that.’
‘I intend to.’
To be continued