CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS
I carried my sack of clothes effortlessly, as I marched with great vigor towards the sitting room. I obviously had enough of this melodrama which had been on constant replay in my life. Jeez, it was abundantly clear that I made a mistake, but should I be treated like a rejected leper because of it? Well, all that is coming to an end. This has gone this far because I allowed it. I swallowed, trying to put my anger and irritation under control before getting to the sitting room. I won’t want to spoil my exit by ranting like a rebellious child.
I entered the sitting room unceremoniously and my blood stilled before it erupted into a whirlwind of explosion. Corper sat there in the succulent chair, and the snake of a woman, sat on his laps, curled like a child. She ran her hands slowly from Corper’s chest to his shoulders, and to his face, tracing his bottom lip with a finger. Anger coursed through me, making me feel like I would fly into a million pieces from too much anger.
Corper raised his head and a slow smile lit his face immediately he saw me. I froze. What was going on? Was he expecting me? He surely did not look surprised or angry that I was standing there. It was as if he had known all along that I would come there. He met my eyes and bent to kiss the lady’s shoulder and I almost exploded on my feet. The woman’s head went backwards and in the process, caught sight of me. She stilled and sat up instantly.
“Who are you and what are you doing standing there?” she asked on raised voice. I fixed her with an angry glare.
“I think there is a better place to carry out your impropriety rather than the sitting room” I retorted.
She stood from Corper’s leg, with her hands on her hips. “Are you mad?” she yelled then turned to Corper. “Alex, what is the meaning of this? Who the hell is she and…” she turned to run her eyes up and down my body. Anger seemed to flare. “…And how come you got a new maid without informing me?”
She had called him Alex! That alone made me angry. Why hadn’t I thought to call him by his name instead of the ‘corper’ I was used to. Maybe if I had, he would have seen me differently, instead of the secondary school girl and drop out that I am. Anyways, there was no time again for me to re-write that mistake. I am leaving!
Alex seemed a little shaken.
“Don’t you dare call me a maid” I roared as I stomped my foot.
The girl looked like she would match over and kill me.
“And what are you?” it was Corper – sorry, Alex, that spoke. He was glaring at me, as if daring me to speak. Oh, I thought sternly. If he thought he had instilled enough fear in me to keep me mute, he surely did not know me at all.
“Oh, I would tell you exactly what, or rather, who I am” I returned as I carefully put a dangerous smile on my face. I turned to face the stunned queen diva, when the door to the sitting room suddenly flung open. I turned round to see the Senator and his wife standing at the entrance. If there was anything like a bad timing, their entrance would definitely be a perfect example. But that did not deter me at all.
“Get back to your room Amara” Alex ordered but I did not move an inch. The lady clapped her hands in bewilderment, like she was still having a difficulty understanding what was going on. I turned to Alex’s parents and since everyone seemed to have forgotten their manners, I quickly put that straight.
“Good morning sir, good morning ma” I greeted, kneeling slightly. I moved to them to usher them to a seat. “I am sorry for the scene you witnessed, please make yourselves comfortable” I murmured, feeling proud of myself. I knew that once I got my head out of the clouds and stopped feeling sorry for myself, I could actually be quite entertaining. They walked to their seats in confusion and sat down. The senator seemed to smile secretly, as he stared at everyone.
Before they uttered their unspoken question, I asked quickly. “What would you like to drink? I do believe we have anything you need” I knew nothing about what I was saying but I said it anyways.
Corper – no, Alex. It would take a little practice, changing the name, I noticed mentally. He seemed to grumble something but I missed it. I swallowed slightly, as I placed a great smile on my face, pretending to be unaware of the tension.
Alex’s mother glared at me. “I want nothing, thanks” she said sternly.
“Oh, I would have something. Could you get me a fruit wine please dear” the senator said, inciting the glare of his wife. I smile victoriously. I had no idea what a fruit wine was but I surely would not disappoint him.
“Just a minute sir” with that, I floated out of the sitting room, with my bag of clothes left on the floor, at the middle of the room.
I smiled as I glanced back and saw the silent state with which the sitting room seemed to be in. the girlfriend of Alex seemed to have gone as rigid as a pillar of salt as she tried to make sense of the situation. I smiled to myself. Well, if I would leave, I might as well make my exit a memorable one.
Immediately I entered the kitchen, I saw Tina and Tola staring at me in shock. Tina’s expression was more of bewilderment and Tola expressed her undiluted irritation.
“What did you just do there?” Tina asked in shock. They had obviously been eavesdropping.
Tola snarled. “what she has just done is clear. She has revealed her true nature, behaving like the nuisance that she obviously is by disrespecting her boss. Get prepared to get sacked. Frankly, I cant wait for that to happen” she said with disgust.
I fixed her with a firm glare before turning to smile at Tina. This was not the time to banter words with a fool, I told myself. “Tina dear, could you do me the favor of showing me where you keep fruit wines? The senator requested for it and I would like to serve him myself.” I said in a pleading tone.
Tola laughed hysterically but I ignored her. “See this little fool. The wines are there at the bar in the sitting room. You have no business here little novice” she said.
My blood drained as I heard her. OH no! I had just spoiled the fun. If the wines were there, I could bet that glasses would be there as well, so what would I say I came into the kitchen for?
Inspiration hit me at once and I went to the cabinet and grabbed two glass cups.
“Madam, that is not a wine cup” Tola said again.
I ignored her and rinsed the cups, placing them on the tray. Tina looked confused but, bless her soul, she decided to help me by explaining where, in the bar, I would get a fruit wine. I thanked her and carried the tray back into the sitting room. The room was as silent as I left it and I smiled internally again. I was having so much fun at their expense.
As I dropped the tray on a side table, moving it to them, I quickly explained. “Please make do with these glasses sir. I fear the glasses at the bar might be a little unclean, at it might no well with your system” I was saying arrant nonsense, I knew, but I pretended to mean what I said. “I would just get the wine” I walked to the bar, remembering Tina’s descriptions. I picked the first cherry wine I saw and walked back to them. Opening the wine seemed like a really difficult task since I had never opened one before. I stared at it like a work of art until the senator came to my rescue again.
“Let me open that. Your fingers might be a little tender for this” he said with a smile and I heard Alex mutter something that sounded like a really terrible curse. As the senator took the bottle from my hands, I realised instantly that he was actually a likeable man. There was no disputing the fact that Alex got his looks squarely from his father. Although elderly, the elderly man looked exceptional, and coming from me since I am terribly picky, i would say he is exceedingly handsome. He looked so breathtakingly masculine in the dark brown suit he had on and I could imagine several young girls falling for him. Looking at him, I wondered just how handsome he would have been in his youth, if he could be this compelling at 50. When I stared at Alex, I knew exactly what he would have been like at that age. Alex was more handsome than he had the right to be. Who would imagine that someone with the behaviour I recently noticed in him would be as handsome as he is? No wonder women were swimming all over him, just to gain his attention. Unfortunately, I happened to fall into his trap.
The senator popped the bottle, snapping me out of my thoughts. He was about to fill the cups when I hastily collected it. I would show them the good daughter in-law they would miss before I leave, I told myself.
“Let me do it sir, I am sure you would love the taste of this cherry wine” i murmured and his eyes flashed with something i could not place. I risked a glance at his wife who was practically my mother-in-law. She had an uncertain look on her face, like she had not decided whether or not to accept what was going on. I filled her glass with a smile.
“Mummy, I am sure you might want to reconsider your desire for a drink. You must have had a long day”
I stood with a satisfied look on my face.
“Can someone tell me what the hell this maid is doing here? Who is she” The lady’s patience seemed to have snapped. She really is sausy, I thought. I am sure she had not even greeted the Senator and his wife. How can Alex marry this one?
The senator frowned. “Which maid?” He asked in total surprise. For the first time, he noticed the dress I was putting on and a sharp shock went through him. His wife shifted on her seat uncomfortably.
I laughed slightly and was about to talk when Alex cut in, talking for the first time since his parents’ arrival. “Don’t you dare talk” he yelled with deadly warning.
I glared at him. “You can’t do anything to me Alex” his stunned expression registered when he noticed that I used his name. For the first time! I smiled and turned to the senator. “Sir. I was made to resume the duties of a maid, the very day I got married to your son”
“What?” The senator bellowed
“Married?” The girl yelled. I wish I could remember her name, but frankly, I keep forgetting. She turned to Alex, who was glaring at me, making me squirm a bit. He looked uncomfortable and I guessed his girlfriend, or fiancee was the cause.
“What sort of s*** is this Alex?” She screamed.
He stood beside her with a pained expression. “I can explain” he said, pleading.
She hissed and picked her bag. “Explain to the dogs” she said and marched out of the sitting room and I was surprised her feet did not drill holes into the tiled floor. Alex pursued her until he got to the slammed door and the Senator’s voice rang out.
“Bring yourself here Alex, this minute and explain the trash I just heard”
CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS
If eyes could kill, I was pretty sure i should be dead already. I swallowed heavily as I thought I might have gone too far in my little melodramatic displays. Alex seemed to be boiling with rage as he marched to the place I was standing, seizing me by the shoulder.
“Are you crazy woman?” he roared. “Was I not clear enough when I told you expressly to shut your stinking mouth? Do you have any idea as to the tenacity of what your stupidity has just caused?”
“Alex” the Senator bellowed. “How dare you constitute a nuisance of yourself in my presence? And when in the history of your life have you seen me rough handle your mother the way you are doing currently? Let go of her this instant” the Senator was on his feet in anger. I had trouble determining whose anger seemed greater as they both glared; Alex glared at me, the senator glared at Alex. The equation became balanced when the senator’s wife turned to glare at her husband.
“Mark, you should be in support of your son instead of scolding him because of this piece of trash here. I don’t blame Alex for treating her like a maid, she certainly looks like one.”
“Will you shut up woman” he barked at her as he faced her. “Do I blame Alex? I wonder what devil transformed him into this, and I would wager that the devil looks very much like you” she gasped and her face turned red. Alex’s fingers dug into my shoulder painfully. I had definitely done everything wrongly, I thought sternly. As much as I disliked my evil looking mother-in-law, I did not want everyone to get insulted because of me. I opened my mouth to speak but before I could jump in, the senator proceeded. “Why do I have the strange feeling that the whole ‘maid’ thing was your idea?” he glared at her.
“Are you insulting my mum because of this thing dad?” Alex rasped and his anger seemed to have increased several degrees.
“This ‘thing’ is the woman you impregnated, and as long as you remain my son, you would have to accept her. If you don’t love her, learn to.” He said with a dead serious look on his face.
“I am a grown up man dad. As much as I respect you as my father, you cannot teach me how to run my family. I am capable to do whatever I damn well please in my own home, irrespective of your opinions. You know me well enough to know that I don’t take orders from anyone” he took his hands off me and stood taller, like an immovable pillar. I knew without a doubt that he was dead serious. I could not imagine anyone making Alex do what he did not want to do. Even though he was coerced into marrying me, I wondered how he had been pressured into the messy arrangement.
The Senator smiled dangerously, making my heart skip in fear as I anticipated what he was about to say. Alex was so much like his dad in so many ways, I noted, as they faced each other. I wondered within splits of seconds why Alex took everything from his dad, except his dad’s character; although the charming character had been evident in the village. It was probably just deceptive pretense, with the sole aim of getting into my pants, I thought. My thoughts came back to the sitting room when the Senator paced gently, circling Alex and I.
“You, my son, are probably the most stubborn man on earth, I agree, but you should know that every stubborn man has a father. If I remember correctly, Amara’s father threatened to disown her if she did not get married to you.” My heart raced as my eyes widened at the direction his words were going.
“Sir” I called, pleading.
“Be quiet, Amara, I am talking to my son” he scolded and my lips slammed shut.
He continued. “I would not threaten to disown you, because, apparently, you are my only child. However, the child in Amara’s womb in most definitely my grandchild and I would not have you subjecting her into unpleasant duties. If you refuse to treat Amara, your wife, with the respect she deserves, I would withdraw you from your position as the head of ‘The Bellos Crow’”
“What?” Alex gasped out as the words sank in. I was pretty sure I was as pale as a plain sheet. What have I done?
“You can’t be serious honey?” The senator’s wife said in horror.
“You can’t do that dad; I have spent several years of my life serving the company. You surely would not take it from me now.” He gasped out. I vaguely wondered how that was even possible since he just finished his service but that was the least of my worries.
“I can, and I will do just that Alex. Not only that, you would no longer be a member of the board at Belzinc. I say what I mean Alex, you know that”
“Oh my God” I gasped. “There is no need for all these sir. It is really not necessary. Please don’t fight your family on my behalf sir, I am sure I can’t bear that” I choked slightly at the thought. I had definitely done everything wrong. “As you can all see” I pointed to the sack of clothes on the floor. “I was about to leave this house. I can’t possibly stay in this house. I assure you that I was not pressured into that decision. Being a maid was a good thing because it kept me busy; I really am not used to having people do things for me. I am a village girl. Please don’t withdraw the company from him or anything for that matter. I have caused too many problems and it would be good if I just leave”
The senator smiled. “Like Alex rightly said, I can’t run his family for him.” He turned to Alex. “Son, the mother of my unborn grandchild wants to leave your house; it is for the both of you to decide. You either find a way to make her stay, or let her leave. Chris has been eyeing your position for years, I am sure he has the managerial abilities I look out for” he said with silent threats which nonetheless were loud enough for the deaf to hear.
He turned to his wife and said sternly. “I believe we should be heading home. We have a lot to talk about” he murmured. For the first time, the senator’s wife seemed agitated. They both swept out of the sitting room and within seconds, I was stunned to find myself alone with the man who was supposed to be my husband.
My knees started going weak from all the tension I had just experienced, but staring at Alex as he paced, I discovered that facing his wrath would be much more sapping that what I had just witnessed. I was exhausted though, and was not in the mood to get into any meaningless arguments with Alex. Watching him pace was exhausting enough.
I walked silently towards my sack with a heavy heart. I could not believe that I was being separated from my husband, barely a week into the marriage. Normal couples would still be on their blissful honeymoon by now, but we are definitely not the picture of a perfect couple. It felt like a heavy weight had just landed on my shoulders as I thought of leaving. Why does it hurt so much to leave Alex despite all he has done? I wondered. I surely should not still love him after all these! I swallowed painfully as I cleared my throat.
“So I guess it is goodbye Corper” I said. It had felt so good to call him Alex in the presence of everyone. But now that everyone was gone, I decided it best to call him Corper. Calling him Alex now would create a picture of intimacy and I did not want that because it would make my exit more unbearable.
“And where the hell do you think you are going to?” he growled, coming to a stop at my front, making me shiver. Whether from fear or reaction to his nearness, I could not tell.
“Oh, so you can rejoice in the fact that you left me destroyed right?” he asked in anger and chills went through my spine. He glared at me then paced again. “In case you don’t know, let me tell you. ‘The Bellos Crow’ is my life. After my secondary school, I spent four years learning the managerial tactics from my father until I became an expert, even much better than my father. After gaining admission, I partly managed the company from school by giving orders of what should be done, even without being there. The company grew tremendously until it became as big as it is today. I would be damned if someone else would take over what I have toiled for all my life.”
I felt for him. With the way he talked about the company, I knew instantly that he really loved the company. Though I noted this, I saw no reason why all these should affect me. Surely the Senator’s threat was not real, was it? “I still don’t see why you are telling me this” I said to him and his face softened slowly, with embarrassment creeping in slightly.
“You can’t leave this house, you have to stay”
I inhaled as anger set in again. “You want me to stay? Sacrifice my happiness and freedom for you? Just because you want to keep your company? How dare you?” he really had a lot of nerves. “You have given me nothing but sadness. If not for this child, I would have cursed the day I set my eyes on you. Where is Corper Bello, because this man standing before me is not the man I met in my humble village” I ranted as I paced too.
A pained expression seemed to cross his features but it was gone in a second. “I am sorry, I know this is selfish of me but please look at it positively. Your parents would still disown you if you leave me and you would have nowhere to go in this large city. You could stay here instead, have a roof over your head and food also” he started pacing as if he could not believe the words coming out of his own mouth. “It is your only choice cos I won’t give you a divorce”
I laughed softly. “You think that would stop me?” I asked. “I would rather live on the streets than be a maid in my husband’s house”
“You don’t have to be a maid. You would be recognized as the… woman of the house. You would have your own room upstairs, including everything you need” he rasped in irritation.
I swallowed. “But there is one thing I cannot have, right? I can’t have my husband” I said.
He nodded. “We would both live together but have the freedom to do whatever we like. You have the right to go anywhere and do anything you like with anyone and I also have the same rights. We can be mature enough to manage this situation we found ourselves without inconveniencing each other in any way”
“In other words, you want us to live in the same house like tenants, or strangers, right?” I asked bitterly.
“You must admit that it makes perfect sense” he said.
The drama just never seemed to end. From being a maid, to being a housemate in my husband’s house. Can life get any worse? I sighed. But thinking about it, the proposition was not totally bad. In fact, it sounded ok. Once I get rid of the ridiculous motion that Alex would come to love me as much as I still foolishly love him, I should be able to live by those rules. I swallowed. “Ok” I murmured finally, feeling the last of my strength drain out of me.
He exhaled in relief. “Perfect then. Please ask Tina to show you to one of the rooms upstairs. There are four rooms there, you can choose anyone you like” he said in total indifference. I have to go out now, when I get back, I would give you a credit card for you to use for whatever you might need. I would also have a lawyer draft an agreement in order to make this arrangement legal. This would protect both our rights. I hope this is ok?” he asked and I nodded numbly. He turned towards the door instantly and was out of the house within seconds.
I did not know what a credit card is but I let him leave. I have had more than enough and I needed some space to assimilate the turn of events. I knew instinctively that Alex was probably going after the saucy girlfriend but I quenched the bitterness I felt at the thought. Since I have agreed to this insane arrangement, I would most likely experience this s*** on a regular basis. And the legal agreement he talked about would definitely give him the legal rights to do that; I surely hadn’t seen that coming. I turned on my heels, walking slowly towards the kitchen. There was only one thing I wanted to do with the last iota of strength in me.
I got to the kitchen and met the two ladies looking as though they had just fallen into a ditch. I was sorry for keeping this away from Tina who had been extremely helpful from day one. They both looked scared but Tola looked like she wished the ground would swallow her. There was no mistaking the fact that they had heard everything. I smiled. “Tola, I want you to select a very good room for me upstairs, preferably anyone that has a good view of the beautiful garden. Make sure it is sparkling clean without a speck of dust, do you understand?” she was silent. I glared at her. “Do you understand me?” she nodded stiffly and I smiled. “Good girl”.
I smiled softly at Tina and left the kitchen.
I pray for everyone reading this story, God will turn your life around for good in the eyes of your enemies and make them your stepping stone in Jesus name.
CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS
I smiled softly at Tina and left the kitchen. The excitement of taking everyone by surprise vanished with each step I took, replaced firmly by an overwhelming sadness. By accepting this arrangement, I have given Alex the right to hurt me the more. Since we could both do anything we liked, I knew that he would take advantage of that by having as many women as he liked. I closed my eyes and prayed that I would have the ability to withstand what was to come.
Two weeks dragged by and the swell of my tummy became visible for all to see. Unfortunately, the only things that saw the swell apart from me were the four walls of my bedroom and the sparkling furniture that were hung in several places.
Alex had brought the agreement, just like he talked about, two weeks ago and I had signed instantly, wanting to get the deal over with. Ever since I endorsed the document, I have not set my eyes on him. It was not surprising since I almost never stepped out of the room. I had everything I needed there; the soft warm bed, the enticing bathroom which I learnt had hot and cold water a fingertip away and a refreshing view of the soothing garden from my window. I initially paid Tola back in her own coin, making her do everything, ranging from washing my rag-like clothes, to washing the bed sheets every blessed day. It was not much work since I learnt that they used a machine to do all these, but the fact that I was ordering her around was enough to frustrate her. It was not long before I grew weary of this because it was not in my nature to have people do the chores for me, so I decided to apply maturity by allowing Tola have her space. She was surely regretting her earlier actions, it seemed unnecessary to add more fuel to the fire.
Tina was helpful as usual, never letting me rest. She tried to see me as the madam that I was but I was not comfortable with it. Living big was so strange, it was almost scary, and I needed a friend to stand by me. After carefully schooling her and letting her know that I would rather have her as a friend than my maid, she finally gave in, though, she still showed great levels of respect.
Tina has been responsible for making sure that I eat, and she would talk me to death if I don’t eat anything. It was annoying sometimes but many times, it was refreshing because it felt good that at least someone cared for me. I wondered why my mum hadn’t visited. If my dad didn’t visit, it would be great in saving me mental and physical stress but I needed my mum more than I could express. Even though she behaved too soft many times, making other people ride her easily, I still loved her so much. And despite my dad’s awkward behaviors, I still loved him nonetheless, but would be happy to avoid him for some time. Our poverty state seemed to have changed his mentality.
I sighed and rolled off the bed to answer nature’s call. I had been urinating a lot and Tina attributed it to the pregnancy. After releasing the content in my bladder into the water closet and flushing, I walked back into the room. I heard a knock and instinctively knew it was Tina. I had grown so accustomed to her knocking pattern.
“Come in Tina” I said as I sat on the bed carefully. The dizziness had gone, thank God and my appetite was improving, thanks to Tina’s unrelenting efforts.
Tina entered with a big smile on her face which effectively made me smile also. I was just so blessed to have her at a time like this. “Good morning. How is my madam doing today?”
I smiled. “My name is Amara. How many times would I repeat that?” I asked softly. The tray in her hands caught my eyes and my mouth watered when the tantalizing aroma assaulted my nostrils. Whatever was in that tray would definitely be devoured by me because I heard my tummy groan in response to the aroma. My child seemed to jump up in excitement.
She grinned. “You may be my friend but you are still my boss. You can perceive the aroma, right?” she asked knowingly. She was the best cook I had ever seen. I vowed to learn how to make some of the complicated delicacies from her, as soon as I am able to get myself off this mess.
“This aroma is more than enough to awaken my taste buds.” I murmured, with my mouth salivating as she lowered the tray.
“Thank God, I won’t have to force it down your throat” she said with a smile. Immediately she opened up the glass plate, I confirmed my suspicion. There was a large piece of deep fried chicken, which was largely responsible for the aroma. A small quantity of jollof rice was beside it, and I noticed the fried plantain with great joy.
I smiled wholeheartedly. “I see you are bent on making me happy today” I said.
She nodded. “I can’t have you starve the little angel in your tummy, can I?”
I dismissed her words and started eating immediately. Tina sat by the bed, watching me eat, with a calm smile on her face. “If this is what it takes to make you eat, I might cook this everyday”
I nodded vigorously with my mouth full. I truly would not mind this delicacy, if it tastes like this all the time.
She looked at me softly. “I was actually planning to ask you something” she said and I nodded my head for her to continue. “Are you not going for antenatal care?” she asked.
I raised my brow. “What is antenatal care?” I asked ignorantly.
Her eyes widened as though she could not quite believe her ears, but she soon wiped out the facial expression. “Oh, antenatal care is used by hospitals to monitor and guide pregnant women through the stages of pregnancy” she said.
I almost stopped eating. “I have never heard of it. Hope it is not too late” fear gripped my heart at the thought that something might have happened to my child.
“Of course not. I can follow you to a hospital this evening if you like” she offered.
“Of course. Thanks Tina” I said gratefully and she smiled.
I pulled my faded gown over my head as stared at the full length mirror. The gentle swell of my tummy brought joy to my soul. Notwithstanding what I was going though, my child was my happiness and I have made the habit of talking to my child before I sleep, believing that the fetus could hear everything I said. This would be the first time I am stepping out of the house and there was a tiny feeling of excitement. My hair was pulled tight into a pony tail and I turned away from the mirror, not looking at myself for a long time. I stared at the credit card that Alex gave me two weeks ago. How could there be money in this plastic card? I wondered vaguely. I picked it up nonetheless. I hoped that Tina would be able to use it since we might be needing money.
I climbed down the staircase and found Tina waiting for me. Even in a maid’s cloth, her appearance was way better than mine but I did not give a damn. I would be damned if I would accept Alex’s money for my own personal expenses. I would only take whatever is necessary if my child is involved.
We walked to the door together talking quietly and out of the corner of my eyes; I caught Tola staring at us. I paused slightly and turned to Tola. “Please take care of the house, we would be back soon”
“Yes ma” she said bitterly.
I turned and proceeded out of the house with Tina. “Do you think you can walk? The hospital is not far but if you can’t handle the walk, we can ask a driver to take us”
I laughed. “Oh Tina, the pregnancy is not on my feet. If I can’t walk now, what would happen when I am nine months gone? I am sure I would not be able to lift a finger.”
She laughed and we both started down the beautiful street. I stared shamelessly at the beautiful surroundings and decided that taking a stroll every morning would be a fantastic idea. It would be good to leave the depressing house every morning, I told myself. It did not take long for us to get to the hospital. I went through the registration process and was made to take lectures with many pregnant women. It was refreshing to see women who were also pregnant, especially the heavy ones who looked like they were carrying nothing less than a dozen children in their tummy. I wondered what I would look like in the next six to seven months. I smiled at the thought. I might look three times my current size but I did not care. I was always a lover of children and the thought of having my own was too exciting a thought; I would not let thoughts of the child’s father kill that silent joy.
Before leaving the hospital hours later, a female doctor approached me. “Hi” she said with a soft smile.
I was in a really good mood for the first time in a very long time, so I smiled gaily at her. “Hello doctor”
“I don’t think I have seen you here before” the nurse said.
Tina smiled. “Actually, she is new in the environment” she said hastily.
The doctor smiled kindly. “Oh. Have you done your scan?” she asked and my heart froze. I definitely knew what a scan was, through extensive reading. But what I did not know was if I was ready to know the sex of my child.
“I… I don’t think…erm…” I stammered in anxiety.
Tina faced me. “Actually, that is a very good idea ma’am” her brows creased in a frown. “Why not? It would help you know the kind of clothes to buy. You might even be carrying twins” she squealed in sudden excitement.
I fidgeted with my gown in anxiety. She really had a point, and a part of me really wanted to know. In fact, all of me wanted to know. My only wish was that the man I loved was there with me holding my hands. I swallowed, quickly changing my line of thoughts. I smiled weakly at the doctor. “Can I do it now?”
She nodded excitedly. “I am sure you would be glad you did the scan.” She said. “Come with me”
I followed her and the presence of Tina was really a life saver. I did not know why I was so agitated. Probably because a part of me knew without a doubt that the child would be a boy. I swallowed. It was also probably because the scan would remind me vividly of the time the life in my tummy was created. How Alex worshipped me with his hands, body and words. I concentrated on breathing properly as the doctor led me to bed in the lab. I lay on the bed with my heart pounding and fixed my wide eyes on the screen ahead of me. Tina was standing beside me, hopping anxiously too. The doctor did some things on my tummy and an image appeared on the screen. My heart skipped and raced wildly as tears came to my eyes. I saw my baby! My baby! My thoughts centered on the life growing in me as my love for my child grew several degrees.
“Oh so cute” Tina cooed and jumped like a four year old girl. I wiped my tears which was making my vision blurry and fixed one hundred percent attention on the child. Oh, how could I not love the child?
“A boy right?” I gasped out. Even my voice sounded strange in my ears. I swallowed hard.
“Yes. A boy” the doctor grinned happily. The baby turned slightly, as though in confirmation. I gasped and my hands flew to my tummy as my eyes blurred with tears again.
“My baby. My baby boy”
I entered our large house several minutes later. Today had to be the best day of my life. I was bubbling with excitement. I was having a baby boy! Wow. The thought was so pleasant. Tina was right. Right now, all I could think about was clothes. I wanted to buy so many clothes for my child, and I tapped the credit card in my hand with excitement. I could not wait to buy tiny clothes for my baby boy.
I opened the door to the sitting room and entered. As soon as I stepped fully into the sitting room, I froze. Tina almost bumped into me but I was not looking at her. My gaze was fixed on Alex and the woman with him. Everything I had experienced during the day evaporated as I stared at them. I had avoided Alex for several days, why did he have to show up today of all days? That was not as annoying as the fact that he was with that lady whore. The very same one he brought the other day. I wondered why she went back to him after knowing fully well that he was married. She really had no shame. Anger coerced through me and I felt Tina touch my arm softly but I snubbed her. I approached the two people who apparently were too busy caressing one another to notice my presence.
I raised my voice. “Like I said the last time, you both should be sensible enough to restrict your shameful act to the bedroom” I yelled, gaining their attention at once.
Alex’s gaze pierced through me and instantly, the agreement I had signed came to my mind. I froze slightly as I swallowed. I had thought this would happen but why did it feel like a knife was been stabbed into my soul?
The girl rose from Alex’s lap, seeming more confident than she was last time. She smiled like a serpent as she ran her gaze over me, stopping on the slight swell of my tummy. I placed my hand on the evidence of my superiority in the house. She smiled.
“I wonder what Alex saw in you. You look worse than a one night stand. But don’t think that because of this thing in your tummy and that wedding band, you have won” she grinned. “On the contrary, you have just signed your death warrant because I would make your life hell on earth. Apparently, I have Alex’s heart” she said with a grin and turned to gaze at Alex. “And I have something else” she continued frighteningly. “I also have his seed growing in me”
The rotation of the earth seemed to stop at that. Alex seemed to have gone pale. The little witch placed her hand tenderly on her flat tummy. “I accepted you back because of this Alex. I would have told you the other day but this thing showed up and shattered everything. Since then, I decided I would like to have her in audience when I break the good news.” She paused slightly and then grinned happily, with her eyes shining. “I am pregnant Alex”
CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS
“What?” Alex looked terribly pale, like he was going to fall sick. I must look exactly that way too, if not worse. My jaw seemed to have dropped to the ground as shock waves sliced through my veins.
Instantly, I remembered her name – Lisa. How nice! Now, I was to be subjected to having a polygamous family? I could not quite believe it, it took several minutes, or hours but I finally found the courage to close my mouth.
“Yes Alex” Lisa said, jumping happily like a girl who had just been given a Christmas dress. “You are going to be a father, my love” she said to the white-faced Alex.
I could not stand this. My legs almost unbuckled beneath me. This was just too much. In fact, I had been dealing with ‘too much’ of everything since I met Alex. How could I have been stupid enough to fall in love with this man? Yeah, you can’t tell the heart who to love, but as I thought about it, I realized just how unfair that was. Why shouldn’t I be able to dictate who I fall in love with? It was just so unfair. How many more people would get pregnant through this man? Tears spilled down my eyes. I looked at Alex who still hasn’t been able to utter a single word.
“What on earth did I do to deserve this Corper” I cried out in agony. “You should have just put a knife through my chest instead of this slow torture you are putting me through” I fought for control but found none. Alex sat looking spineless, like he was in a state of shock. “Well, you have another baby in the making, congratulations daddy. It seems you are now a baby-making factory”
I turned and almost tripped as I ran upstairs. The tears blinded my gaze but I just let my legs lead the way as I raced into my room. I slammed the door violently behind me and collapsed against the door, crying my eyes out. “Oh God” I cried. Why me? We have been ordered not to question God but all I have in my head is loads of unanswered questions. Now, there was no doubt in my mind that I had lost Alex. My Alex is dead and all I have left is a complete womanizing stranger. Would they also get married? I swallowed hard as the possibility came to view. Oh no, this is definitely a living nightmare.
I dragged myself to the bed as depression set in. where the hell were my parents? I should have left when I had the chance. I should not have allowed Alex to change my mind with tempting incentives. I should have known that nothing good comes out of the lion’s den.
As I sobbed quietly into the pillow, I heard a knock. Without studying the knock pattern, I knew it was Tina. “I don’t want anything Tina, please go away” I said with little or no strength. The door opened and I turned to glare at her. I knew she would not listen. That is the price I had to pay for having her close to me. “I said I don’t need anything” I yelled.
She looked so sad and sympathetic. “But you would need the company” she said.
“I don’t need anything. ANYTHING. Leave me alone Tina” I barked.
She swallowed and moved towards me instead of going out. Oh Crap! I just never get what I want, do i? I just wanted to die.
She sat beside my head and the expression on my face was enough to make me cry all over again. “You can get me fired afterwards but I won’t leave you to wallow in pain.” She said softly. Her words made me cry anew and she pulled me till my head was on her laps. She ran her fingers through my packed hair as she whispered consolatory words.
“What did I ever do to deserve this torture Tina? What?” I cried, like she had the answer to that. “If I hadn’t slept with Alex, my life would be in shape now. I am the only cause of my problems. Me. Only me. I wish I would just die”
“Shhh… Don’t say that.” Tina whispered. “A wise man once told me that if we continue to blame ourselves for our past mistakes, we would be making another mistake. We all make mistakes but we must get past them and move on. I know you can” she whispered.
I could not measure my level of respect for her then but I was totally shattered. “I can’t. I feel trapped and helpless.”
“Yes you can” She said strongly. “I know you can. Think about your baby. Your adorable baby boy. He is relying on your strength; you can’t afford to fail him. You can do this” she whispered. The mention of my baby instantly got my attention. Tina was absolutely right. I could not afford to despair, not when my depression could affect my baby. “Whenever Mr Alex gives you a reason to be sad, just think about your child.” She whispered.
I controlled my sob until I was left with a few sniffs. “Thanks Tina. I don’t know what I would have done without you” I said.
“I am here to help ma’am. You would be fine”
I smiled surprisingly. “Do you think you could ever call me Amara?” I asked.
I felt her smile without seeing her. “I don’t know”
Mr Peters glared furiously at his wife. She was seriously a pain in the neck. Many times, he had wondered why he had married such a dumb woman, because time and again, she never failed to prove to him that she was a first degree fool. He wondered if their perpetual state of poverty had destroyed her ability to think well. The difference between he and his wife was that his wife was not only poor but she was also thinking poor. What is wrong in geering your brain into moneymaking thoughts? The woman was just being a total stumbling block on his road to success.
“Listen to me woman, I have come this far and would never allow your stupidity to hinder my financial breakthrough” He barked at his wife. “Look at this house” he waved his hands at the tastefully furnished house that the Senator had rented for them after a few persuasions. “Don’t you like to live a good and normal life? Don’t you think we have suffered enough? This house is the product of my smart thinking. You should also do something useful with your brain. My request is simple. Talk to Amara. Encourage her to take advantage of Alex’s wealth. If she does, we can set up a business. You can start selling something and our family would be ok”
Amara’s mum glared back at her husband. “How can you say that Papa Amara? It is our daughter’s life and happiness that we are talking about here. She is not happy in that house and you know it. That Alex is a b**** and I am sure he is maltreating my Amara. Let me go and see my daughter”
Mr Peters decided to go soft. “Who told you she is not happy? Money brings happiness. Now, she can buy everything she needs, do everything she wants, go anywhere she wants. What else can she ask for?” He asked, waving his hands.
“Money cannot buy happiness” Amara’s mother almost yelled.
“But it can rent it” Mr. Peter countered. “Whatever you can’t buy, you can borrow” he said. “Listen to me woman, I am ordering you to do this. Talk some sense into Amara *, she listens to you. Do your part in this family, or else, I would get angry, and what you have been trying to hide for years would be out in the open for Amara to see.”
As usual, this got her attention. “Do you always have to blackmail me with this?” She asked in pain.
“What I am doing is for our good Mama Amara, stop* being stubborn. Do what I say and we would both be happy.”
I stayed in my room throughout that day. The following morning, Tina brought breakfast to my room. I decided then that I would reduce Tina’s work by getting my breakfast myself. I also needed to start doing some chores. It would help get over my constant depression. With strong determination to get over my depression, I decided to go for a stroll during the late hours of the morning. The stroll proved helpful because the street was so beautiful. My mind constantly went to my problems but I changed those thoughts as soon as they came.
I sighted a beautiful flower by the sidewalk and stopped. The flower was so captivating, with a hint of pink, yellow and white. My fingers traced the beautiful flower in amazement and I soon got lost in thoughts. Alex came to my mind and this time, I was not able to shut out the thought. He had given me a flower that looked similar to this in the village. I had been on my way to the stream when he suddenly popped out of the bush. It had been frightening but once I saw that it was him, my fear disappeared. i knew he could never hurt me. How wrong! If only I knew the level of hurt he had in store for me… he had walked with me to the stream and had surprised me by picking out a stunning flower from the bush. It was the most romantic gesture any man had ever shown me.
“A penny for your thoughts”
I jumped in fright, taking my hands away from the flower. Before me stood a man, who was smiling softly. I blinked rapidly, coming back to my senses.
“I am sorry to have startled you, it was not my intention” he said apologetically.
I swallowed. To say this guy was handsome would definitely be a huge understatement. He looked just as breathtaking as his deep baritone voice. He was not as tall as Alex but he was definitely tall with broad shoulders and masculine muscles which were clearly visible through the clingy top he had on. No one should have the right to look this good. As I assessed him, his face broke into a blinding grin which brought one dimple to view. I swallowed hard when I realized what was happening. The guy was obviously aware of his breathtaking outlook. Can I ever stop being an idiot? Did I learn nothing from the father of my unborn child? My face came up with a scowl.
“I hope you like what you see” the guy said, grinning. Jeez, did he know just how handsome he looked when his sparkling white teeth were in full display?
I glared at him. “People should learn to run far away from good-looking things”. Where had that come from? This guy hadn’t done anything wrong.
His grin seemed to increase. “Well then, I am glad that I am not a ‘thing’” he murmured. “My name is Kelvin” he stretched his hand for a handshake.
Oh men! Their effrontery and arrogance knows no bounds. I stared at his outstretched hand for a long time before I turned, heading back home and leaving him standing with his hand still stretched out. I did not give a damn if he was hurt by my rude actions. One man was more than enough to tell me that all men had evil agendas, I would be damned if I allowed myself to fall into the same pit twice.
“It is nice to meet you” he yelled after me. “Just so you know, you are more beautiful than that flower”
I swallowed and walked home without a backward glance. Men! I thought again, bitterly. All they ever think about is getting between your legs. Even though this Kelvin of a guy never said a thing to suggest sex, I knew that was what he was after, because that is what all men are after.
I stepped into our compound, still trying to keep my anger towards men at bay but immediately I opened the door to the sitting room, my thoughts and anger evaporated.
I stared in surprise. “Mum?”
CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS
Mum and I sat facing each other in silence. I had gone through the hasty motions of ensuring that she had been well entertained, but it was unnecessary because Tina had taken care of that for me before I arrived. Mum had practically jumped on my shocked form when I entered the sitting room, then she had righted herself, considering my condition, I suppose. But after getting over the sudden rush of excitement I felt at seeing my mother, different emotions set in. curiosity was the first, followed speedily by hurt and anger. I had stayed in the house for several weeks and she had not thought it necessary to visit till now. My pregnancy definitely had some good impacts on my parents’ appearance, I noted when I saw her clothes. I could believe it if it were my father, but my mother? I thought she really loved me.
My mother was silent and I noticed that she fidgeted slightly with the costly Igbo rapper she had on. “This house is massive Amarachi. One can get lost in it”
Oh! Now it is Amarachi! I thought vaguely. I could count on my head, the times that my mother called my full name, and those times were really awkward. “Yes, it is really big” I replied stonily.
She swallowed. “I can imagine. Knowing your husband’s family influence, the size of this house is expected” she said, looking around as though fascinated, without meeting my gaze.
I nodded wordlessly. Unable to hold it any longer, I voiced my thoughts.
“What are you doing here mum?”
She shifted uneasily. “So it is ‘mum’ now, no longer ‘mama’?” she asked.
I breathed impatiently. “Tina told me that ‘Mum’ is a more civilized way of calling your mother” I answered. “That is not the point. What are you doing here?”
She looked me straight in the eye.
“Don’t I have the right to come and visit my own daughter?” she asked, as though offended.
I forcefully put my anger under control. It seemed that my life has become full of anger ever since I met Alex. Or rather, ever since I got pregnant for him.
“You have the right mama; I just wonder why you took so long to recognize your rights. I am pregnant mum. Did you not think that I would need you? I have never been pregnant before, but you have. Many times, I needed motherly advices but you were not there to help me.” I ranted and my hurt became obvious.
She shifted again and her eyes clouded. I averted my gaze instantly, not wanting her emotions to get me off track.
“I am sorry my daughter. God knows I wanted to visit you. I never wanted to leave you alone”
“But what mama? Let me guess, papa did not allow you.” I voiced the obvious.
She looked at me quietly for some seconds. “Don’t think I am a fool Amara. I know what you mean, and I feel insulted. I never taught you to be disrespectful, especially to your own mother” she said sternly and instantly, I knew I had gone overboard. I was hurt by my mother’s neglect but I knew without a doubt that she loved me a lot. She always stood up for me but everything changed immediately I got pregnant. She turned to something akin to a jelly fish. I had never seen this side of my mother, and I wondered what happened to her. She had never been much of a talkative and it was obvious that my dad lords it over her but it seemed to have gone terribly worse ever since I got pregnant. A single glance from my father was enough to turn her into an overcooked vegetable. I wondered what caused this but that did not take away the hurt I was feeling. I felt alone.
“I am sorry mum”. Silence reigned again. This was definitely awkward. We seemed more like strangers, instead of the mother and daughter that we were and did not like the feeling at all. She looked at me for some seconds and seemed to grow much more fragile than she already looked.
“I am sorry I have not been here for you” she said with watery eyes. “I never meant to hurt you my dear, but I wanted to give you time to balance things with your husband. You would agree that your marriage was pretty unusual, I thought it would be best if both of you stayed together without any disturbances”
I swallowed. It was a very sensible explanation, I thought. One would expect that living with Alex would at least lessen the pregnancy tension; if only they knew the true situation of things.
I stared at my mother and put a small smile on my face. Although it irritated me that she hadn’t visited, I couldn’t express how happy I was that her appearance was splendid. The clothes she had on were nothing compared to the rags she used to wear in the village.
“You are looking good mum” I said truthfully.
She did not smile, she even seemed pained. “But you are not, my dear”
“Amara; is your husband not giving you enough money to take care of yourself?” she asked. I noticed the tiny trace of anger and hatred that crept into her voice.
“I do not need his money” I said smoothly.
“But you should. Look at yourself Amara” she traced my body with her eyes. “You do not befit this house in these clothes. I can see that that husband of yours does not have feelings for you my daughter. You should take advantage of this situation, take as much as you want from him, so that you can leave his house as fast as you can”
Oh no! “Mama” I called, “did papa ask you to come here to deliver this lecture?” I asked in shock. This was the last thing I expected from my mother.
“Were you not the one that taught me that money and wealth should not be allowed to cloud our senses? Have you forgotten those lectures mother? How can you ask me to do this?” My voice rose. I stood and paced and sat back down in total confusion.
She stood up and came to sit beside me, holding my gaze. “Amarachi, you are my daughter, and I know what is best for you. Yes, your father suggested this and I argued against it” considering her recent attitudes, I highly doubted that last statement but I kept mute, staring at my mother like she was some sort of stranger. “I argued it but immediately I got here and saw you looking tired and lean, I knew it was not a totally bad idea. True, I taught you the values of integrity and self-respect, but you have to admit that I never envisaged you getting pregnant out of wedlock for a man like Alex.” She swallowed slightly.
“He is maltreating you Ama. You have to think of money now because you are not the only one involved. You have your baby to think about. If you leave empty handed, what would you use to raise a child? Tell me” she demanded fiercely.
“I never said I was leaving this place mama” I said dryly.
She started. “But… But you cannot be satisfied with the way he is treating you. You are in the same old clothes you took from the village Amara, and he does not care”
“I am in my old clothes because I wanted it that way.” I countered.
“I would not let you stay here Amara; I would not allow you hurt yourself and my grandchild with this foolishness. The man clearly does not care about you, why stay with him?” she asked in bewilderment.
I smiled in sudden irritation. “It is rather late for all these mama; I would not be married to him in the first place if you had been this aggressive with papa. I am a married woman now and I am not ready to get a divorce. Don’t worry about my marriage, I can handle it myself. Something tells me that you have your own issues to fix mama” My voice softened. My mum had really changed; even the blind would see it.
“What is going on mama? Is there something that I need to know?” I asked worriedly.
She shifted nervously again and I felt the great urge to hug her. Before I could control myself, I hugged my mum tight. She seemed stunned at first, later, she melted into me. She held me so tight like she thought I might vanish.
“You can tell me anything mum” I whispered.
“I know that I am still a small girl and may not have any word of advice to give but maybe if I listen to you, it would make you feel better”
She withdrew suddenly. Her eyes seemed unusually bright as she pasted a fake smile on her pale face.
“I can handle my problems dear, my focus is on you. I want to help you my girl. I want to put a smile on your sweet face again” she said desperately, holding my face, and I could see that she really meant it. I looked at my mum in concern. I did not like the pain and struggle that was obvious in the haunted look in her eyes. I felt the deep desire to get rid of her problems. If I could only do that, I would get my old ‘mama’ back and she might be able to help me through my own problems
“Let’s make a deal. Tell me what is troubling you and I would do whatever you want” I said with determination. She froze slightly, blinked and stood up instantly. She looked around, searching for something.
“Oh, it is getting late. I need to head back. I need to make your dad’s meal. If not, he would be hungry, and you know your father, he would be furious ”
She ignored me and went to pick her small purse. I reluctantly sighed and dropped the subject and stood up.
“Take care of yourself my daughter, my visits would be frequent now, I need to monitor you now that your tummy is beginning to rise.” She placed her hand tenderly on the rise of my belly.
“Take care of my grandchild, ok?” I nodded. She swallowed slightly.
“Think about what I said Amara, you deserve all the good things you can get” she said.
I warded off the last sentence and hugged her tight. “I am here if you need me mama” I said affectionately. She nodded without looking at me and made for the door.
I entered the house after seeing her off and made for my room. It had been a long day and a cool bed seemed like a really pleasant idea. As I entered the room, I instead made for the window which overlooked the beautiful garden. I felt confused to say the least. Dad had talked about this, having my mother buttress that point again was unsettling. The sight of the garden calmed me down but could not erase my confusion and helplessness. I heard a knock and instantly told Tina to enter.
She entered and I turned to face her. “Your mother is a lovely woman” she said with a smile.
I smiled back. “Yes. She is definitely lovely”
“She is right, you know?”
She swallowed and shifted from one leg to the other. “I… I am sorry, I”
“You were eavesdropping our conversation” I cut in.
“I am really sorry, I did not mean to. I was in the laundery and… well… your voice was loud enough. I could not stop myself from listening even if I wanted to” she explained.
Currently, all I wanted to do was put her in her place, but that would not be fair. She had been there when I had nobody and it would be bad if I made her feel like a maid now, despite the fact that I made her compulsorily see me as a friend. Besides, I knew for a fact that my voice tends to increase in pitch whenever I am angry. Hearing the conversation would have been very easy.
I reigned in my anger. “And what is she right about?” The last thing I needed was for someone else to agree with my parents. With the way things were going, I had a feeling that I was about to get just that.
“You need to buy new clothes. Mr. Alex is rich; you should take advantage of it. Miss Lisa would be visiting constantly now that she is pregnant, you don’t stand a chance in these clothes. I am sure you would be prettier than her if you are properly dressed” she ranted.
“What you are saying is that I don’t look pretty because I am not in fancy clothes, right?” I asked angrily.
“No. No. you look beautiful in anything but you would look better in fancy clothes” she tried to explain.
“Oh, so you want me to extort money from my husband, just like my mother said?” I asked again. My anger seemed uncontrollable now.
She swallowed. “Look at it objectively ma’am. You are married to Mr. Alex, so whatever he has is yours. You are not extorting money from him; you are taking what rightfully belongs to you. I am sure he is aware of that, which is the reason why he gave you a credit card. Secondly, you have a competition, in person of Miss Lisa. You need to be able to fight for your man and… I am sorry ma; I don’t think you can effectively do that in these clothes”
“Now listen to me” I retorted sharply. “I am not taking a single penny from Alex for myself because I am not a selfish luxury-seeking girl. Neither am I ready to get into a beauty contest with that good for nothing prostitute because of Alex. He saw me in these rags when he approached me in the village, if he can’t love me like this, fine. I don’t care. I care only for my child.” I took a deep relaxing breathe. “I won’t want to get angry with you Tina over Alex, please don’t ever talk to me about this again”
She swallowed. “Yes ma” she murmured.
Tola paced her room. “I can’t continue to take this” she murmured. She had suddenly become a shadow in the house and Tina was blooming by the minute. She had become good friends with the madam, thanks to her brain. Tola could not comprehend the shock she had experienced when she realized that the maid she had been victimizing was her own madam. She had wished the ground would swallow her alive at the revelation, but that alone could not be compared at all to the humiliation that followed. Tola was sure that nothing in life could be that humiliating. But after going through weeks of being totally ignored by everyone in the house, she started feeling hatred towards everyone. Hatred for Amara who had made herself a thorn in her flesh, by asking her to do most of the chores. Hatred and jealousy towards Tina who was in the madam’s favor. She knew without a doubt that Amara would give Tina anything she asked for.
Tola felt her blood boil. She wondered how she could take revenge. She wanted to make the two of them pay for making her life miserable. Making the two of them turn against each other would be a good start, she thought. After thinking about it for some time, she nodded.” It would be a good start”.