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Noma’s Dream – 16

NOMA’S DREAM – GRACE OCHIGBO

EPISODE SIXTEEN

The house looks completely deserted and even though everything is still in its usual position; the size of the rooms and appliances are not altered at all. However, there’s a difference in the atmosphere, a difference in the air filling the house. There’s a difference in all and nothing has remained the same since Iye moved out of the house – her home. She’d moved out of the official house meant for the VC in the school staff quarters back into their main duplex in town, which is actually her own house.

Iye’s family had been largely involved in Audu Akpa’s life for a long time now. Right from when Iye, a master degree student, supposedly fell in love with the undergraduate Audu. It was the most demeaning thing for her late father who was an emeritus professor in the university at the time, but she knew what she wanted and held tightly onto it.

“You mean you didn’t see any suitable young man to love except that little boy?” Iye’s father had asked out of curiosity one day.

“He’s not a little boy, baba.” She cut in. “And…” then she tightened the muscles on her forehead to display the degree of her seriousness. “That little boy would soon become your son in-law, baba, and you have to learn to deal with it.”

Iye is Professor Bako’s only daughter – only child, and her worsening arrogance over that matter didn’t sit well with her parents at all. Out of their own wisdom, they arranged for her to go out of the country immediately after her master degree program, but she refused. She was sure her parents wanted to separate her from Audu who then was just signing out of the university as a fresh graduate.

A lot of water had gone under the drain threatening to pull them both apart but Iye held tightly onto the man she love(d). Soon enough, her parents had to come to terms with it and accept Audu; a young man with nothing other than his smart and intelligent brain. Prof Bako had invited Audu to the house one day,

“So what’s your plan for my daughter, young man?”
Iye watched with pride as Audu, her man, politely and confidently answered her father.

“Sir, I love Iye and want to have her for the rest of my life.”

Professor Bako looked irritated at his guts. His ego was rubbing off on all his facial expressions but Audu didn’t feel intimidated by all those. An undergraduate who had the guts to ask for a love relationship with a post-graduate student in the same university could be awarded ‘A’ for boldness.

“What if I tell you, boy, that I’m not ready to give out my daughter, at least not to you?”

Iye’s heart broke within her because of her father’s question but she stood firmly, hoping that Audu would say the right thing. He always said the right things at the right time. Isn’t that how he won her heart?  Everywhere was dead silent awaiting what’s going up Audu’s head for so long that he’s been quiet. After what appeared to Iye like eternity, Audu drew out to the edge of the chair and faced her father squarely,

“I’m not asking you to give out your daughter, Prof…”

The older man frowned his face. “So what are you asking?” His voice had no known trace of niceness in it.

“I don’t want you to give out your daughter, sir. All I’m asking is that you accept a son. Please, accept a son.” Audu said, falling on his two knees. Soon enough Iye joined him in that position and their parents blessed them right there.

The Bako’s family took over Audu’s welfare because his initial sponsor had been himself and little support from his old poor mother in the village. Professor Bako arranged for him to be employed as a graduate assistant immediately after his graduation and with all the numerous certifications Audu gained afterwards, he could glide up the ladder of his career at a rapid rate. Iye had become a professor before him, two years earlier. Their first house was gifted to them by her parents; including their first car, their first vacation and their first everything. The Bakos literally made Audu who he is today. So no one should blame Iye for giving him a divorce after such a hard blow on her face.

Joyce had opened the hospital door that day to see Barrister Omata, Iye’s family lawyer. Everyone else in the room could guess what the barrister gentleman had come in to do.

“Sir, I would like you to sign this edge and…” he flipped the pages to the end. “And this too sir,”

Professor Audu had felt all blood drain from his face as he first glanced at Joyce before fixing his gaze on his wife. She had talked about divorce quite alright but who would believe that she won’t wait to get out of the hospital before asking the lawyer to bring papers for signing.

“Iye, please!” Audu got down on his knees and Joyce stepped backwards. “Please, Honey, you can’t do this to us now. Please. Consider our name and prestige. Consider how people will react to this. Please.” He tried to hold onto her hand but she flung it so hard it almost hit his own face.

“I should consider the shame that comes with the wife of a sitting vice chancellor asking for a divorce? Oh! The tan it would bring on your highly exalted name when the whole school realize that you put a strange woman in the family way? You are more concerned about the outside world much more than the fact that you have buried me alive? You are unbelievable, Audu.” She drew a weak but long hiss.

Audu took in a deep breath. Perhaps he’s always considering the wrong things, majoring on the minor and minoring on the major.

“It was the same selfish considerations that sent my daughter away. The same one.” The bitterness in Iye’s voice was palpable as she turned “Barrister, make sure he signs the documents and kindly call the doctor for me thereafter.”

That was it. That was the last Audu heard from his wife. She’d told the doctor she needed to be discharged to go with her lawyer that very day and inasmuch as the doctor told her the danger of leaving the hospital at that time, she remained adamant. She dared Audu to say anything else to her. She boiled and raged like a wounded tigress and truth be told, she’s completely justified for her actions. Audu had taken years to gradually but consistently bore holes on the soil of her heart, and now there’s nothing to close those up. That very day, she’d left the hospital, herself, her lawyer and of course, her daughter.

It’s been two weeks now and there’s the hole in Prof Audu’s heart that has refused to know any medicine. The mother of his son had called to mete out threats again but this time, his boldness to damn was high. He’s lost the family he’s been trying to protect anyway. Damn everything else. He comes to work on a regular basis but everyone and everything could tell something was wrong with him. In fact, one action that’s strange to Mr Gbenga Lawani as he exchanges pleasantries with the secretary to the VC’s office is that the latter hasn’t shown up at any of their rehearsals lately. No one could give a good reason for that and he’s taken it upon himself to come confirm. The VC’s divorce saga didn’t go out, or at least hasn’t gotten out,

“I’m sorry, sir, he’s not picking up his intercom. Guess he’s busy.”

Mr. Gbenga Lawani wouldn’t take that. “I thought you said there’s no one in there?” He waits for her to give an affirmative stare. “So how did he get busy again?”
Mr. Lawani’s patience is running out. The date of the festival is with them already and the VC promised to be constantly around anytime around this concluding part for necessary corrections.

“Please lead me to his office?”

“Sir?” the secretary didn’t get the memo early enough because Mr. Lawani turns immediately, and heads towards the office.

“Sir, wait sir, sir you cannot just do that. Sir, you have to…” the secretary calls after him but he hastens his steps until he pushes the door open to meet the greatest shock of his life.

 

****

 

Akoji dabs at the tiny drops of sweats from the scorching sun hitting his forehead. He’s gone out to check a place, a place where one of his buddies at the bank directed him to. He needs a job badly, that’s certain. A job; not to give him money really but to serve as distraction from himself, from the thoughts of Noma which always threatens to consume him whenever they come in their full measures. He’s been hanging out with Mr. P. at the gym ever since and it’s a good thing that he also could train people but that’s not enough. He needs something more brain demanding. Something similar to his last job as a bank manager.

As he stands at the edge of the road awaiting a bike or taxi, it dawns on him that the roads in this particular area appears somewhat deserted. He couldn’t say if that’s strange or not because he’s not close to being familiar with the area. He pulls his sleeves to check the time and that gets him more impatient and worried because he’s been standing on the same spot in the last forty-five minutes and not a single bike or taxi.

“Where are you headed?” a female voice calls out from a black and all-tinted-mirrors car that just pulled over in front of him.

It feels like a bag of ice water is just pouring on Akoji’s head and a smile escapes his lips before he could stop it.

“Agala ate, miss. But anywhere away from this place that I can find a cab or bike is OK.”

The lady smiles and something tells Akoji that his charms is at work again. It always works.

“Do come in.”

Akoji let out the breath he’s been holding onto unknowingly the whole time. God answers prayers, he thought.

The lady waits patiently until Akoji is well seated and belted up before driving away, pressing on the central car lock button. Akoji pulls back to rest his head and back against the back rest of the car seat before shutting his eyes to let the soothing chilly air in here replace the scorches from the sun he’s absorbed in the past quarter hour. Then, as sudden as the speed of light, he feels a strong hand wrap a black veil tightly around his eyes. He becomes completely alert and struggles to overcome the hand blindfolding him from the back but they seem to be two. After firmly tying his eyes, they forcefully drag his hand to the back of the seat and cuffs it. Akoji doesn’t understand. It’s near the time of election in the country and he’s heard about how people do anything possible to win including kidnapping and using humans for rituals. What he had never envisaged before, though, is that he would be kidnapped in broad day light.

 

*****

 

Francis has this very loud hysteric laughter that doesn’t sit right with Lizzy. They are in the bakery because Noma has resumed back. Noma says there’s the new flavor she ‘learnt’, even though she meant to say ‘thought out’. That’s what the she does most often. She thinks through items and ingredients to bring out a new beautiful flavor of cake. When she’s made research to ascertain that combining those ingredients is not in any way harmful for consumption, she comes to the bakery herself asking to try it out. That’s what they’ve been up to since morning.

Noma had put in so much effort to stay away from Akoji in the past two weeks. Good thing is that he’s not even disturbing her so much. The young man seems to have moved on from her because the last time he called and she asked him not to call her again was the last time he actually called. But she didn’t mean he shouldn’t call her again for real when she mentioned it. She was just messing with him – trying his patience to see if he could cling to her tightly as he claimed he would in the face of affliction. Perhaps, she’s being too hard on their love. The young man returned to propose and the least she could do was anything other than telling him she wasn’t ready to get into more complications than her life is in already. She regrets sending the love of her life away and hopes that soon, Akoji would return… with the ring on, preferably, same one knee and… ask her again.

The thoughts of that makes a coy smile dance around her face.

“Madam… madam…”

She jerks back as Lizzy gives her a slight nudge.

“Yes?”

“I’ve been calling you for a while now, Madam.” The young lady points out and Noma smiles. She knows the person she has in Lizzy.

“I’m sorry, ma, something on my mind.” Noma says, getting up to pull out a drawer. “Where did you people put that nutmeg? The new one I brought the last time?”
Francis quickly runs to another drawer above their heads, opens it and, “This one?”

“Which one would it be before?” Lizzy asks, sounding irritated and that draws Noma’s attention. She could tell there’s either something going on or about to go on between these two workers of hers, but she would keep her fingers crossed.

“Why did you call me, Lizzy?”

Lizzy smiles now. “Wanted to ask you to go and rest. Francis is already baking and…”

“Are you not happy that you get to watch a recipe? This is a golden opportunity people would die for.” Francis cut her short from his standing position near one of the giant ovens in this room.

Lizzy rolls her eyes and opens her mouth to respond to Francis before deciding against it. The whole scenario is interesting to watch, in Noma’s opinion. She feels they are two lovers working for her already.

“Ehen! Madam jare, better person…” Lizzy faces Noma. “Please go and rest. If need be, we would call for you.”

Noma is about to tease her that hope the suggestion is out of genuine concern and not so she could give the two lovebirds space. Not knowing how the joke would sit with Lizzy who has stayed formal with her and refused to become friends as she’d wanted, Noma only gets up, and walks to the sink to wash her hand.

“Alright guys, take care. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” She walks out through the door.

Lizzy stands still, daring Francis to say a single thing but he doesn’t. He simply moves to the oven, digs a knife through the ‘testing’ sample and pulls it out. Taking a fork from its holder, he holds the hot sweet smelling cake towards, but a bit far from Lizzy’s mouth. She feels mesmerized initially but gathers herself up to reach for it. Just few inches to grabbing the cake, Francis yanks it into his mouth. Lizzy, who couldn’t believe what just happened, draws nearer with feigned venom and begins to punch Francis on the chest. The latter doesn’t move and the mere sight of his shut eyes and seemingly unmoved gesture to all her punches makes Lizzy hit him even harder.

As Noma moves through the reception in the direction of her office, her eyes glance across the transparent glass doors and out of the shop. The roads are busy as usual with bike men and drivers moving like they had nine lives all to themselves. She glances at Lizzy’s table and finds some pieces of her official cards. She’s been so away from her workplace and needs a lot of briefing to completely get back on tract.

Not to worry, Lizzy is always equal to the task.

As she starts to walk away, she notices something on the glass doors. She wonders why the usual ‘Open’ side of the card that should face the outside is facing inside. She glances around. They must have become so engrossed in the bakery that no one remembered to turn the card. Without hesitations, she moves towards the entrance door. There, she steps out and pulls away the cardboard as though reading the writings on it for the first time before placing it back carefully.

She’s merely done doing this when she notices a huge young man standing just beside the door with his jacket pulled up displaying a pistol. Noma dies a thousand times inside before finally leaving her mouth ajar. The young man moves his first finger towards his dark lips, urging her to keep quiet. She could feel her hand tremble and suddenly her weight feels too much for her weak ankles to bear up.

“Look…” his baritone voice staggers her attention from him to a black all-tinted-windows car parked downstairs. “Move gently towards that car. And if you try anything funny, you may not live to tell the story. Is that clear?”

Noma nods with fear in the affirmative. Her phone is with her, thankfully, perhaps she would be able to reach anyone, especially Mrs. Gina who fears more than anything else. But before then, she has to move it – move towards a car to be driven to somewhere she has not the slightest idea about. Wherever.

 

****

 

“Uncle, I’m worried.” Chief Mbah confesses to Mazi Amadi. The latter is his father’s younger brother and being the oldest kingmaker around, Chief Mbah feels he’s in the best position to advise him. “Lolo has gone away. I don’t know what to do.”

“Mbanu!” the older man cuts in, vibrating his shoulders. “A king should never say he doesn’t know what to do. Mbanu!! It is an abomination. Aruu!!”

Chief Mbah swallows. “Mazi, you don’t understand.” He sits up on his chair and Mazi Amadi does likewise. “I don’t want to please my family against the wish of the people. These people put me on the throne of my fathers and I cannot be an ingrate for that.”

Mazi Amadi clears his throat and sits up straighter. “onye mmiri amaghi amagi mmiri nwere okpukpa,” chief Mbah raises frowns. “Yes my son, he who is not bitten by water does not know that water has bone. But one who is stung by a bee will forever live to be afraid of an innocent greenfly.”

The last patient knot in the king’s head just got loosened. “What are you saying, uncle? Because right now, you sound like you are placing a curse on me.”

“Tufiakwa,” Mazi Amadi gesticulates ‘God forbid’. “For if a child washes his hands clean, he dines with the elder. However, when an underage person ties wrapper, the wind will expose his nakedness.”

“For God’s sake, what are you saying, Mazi. Can you just talk to me in a language I understand?”

Mazi Amadi takes in a deep breath and stares back at the king for what appears like eternity. Then muttering some energy, he speaks out.

“Any woman out to set the king at loggerhead with the people he’s ruling as well as his son is a devilish woman.”

Chief Mbah couldn’t believe his ears. “Mazi, are you insinuating that my wife is…”

“Yes Igwe. If a woman decides to make soup watery, the husband will learn to dent akpu before dipping it into the soup.”

And as if that last adage takes the last strength remaining in the king’s body, he lets his back fall tiredly against the backrest of his high rise chair.

 

****

 

Igwe Godfrey Anayo is an independent man in his own sight. Being the number one person in his esteemed position as the traditional leader of Umuogbu Village, Awka South LGA of Anambra state, he’s tried to rule within the confines of his territory, as well as give honor to whom honor is due. One person to whom honor is due would be the Obi of Onitsha and he had honored him enough to let his daughter travel all the way down to Onitsha to visit his son. However, he finds completely humiliating that his daughter returned home without either the queen or prince having the courtesy of seeing her off. That’s humiliating, right? It is. She’s of a royal blood and if her hands must be sought out for in marriage, the suitor must be the one running after her and not the other way round.

“Bia, Ada…” He motions to Nkechi who’s hanging onto the curtain separating her father’s chambers from the general sitting room. “What did you even tell me happened between you and the prince of Onitsha?”

Nkechi stands holding her two hands in front of her with a bent head and eyes staring straight at the floor as if she is reading something from there.

“Papa…” she says, dragging the word.

“Yes yes, my princess. Go on!”

The young woman takes her time to narrate from the moment she got into the palace of the Obi of Onitsha; the warmth and love showered on her by the Lolo who appeared too pleased to meet her. It was in no time that she was left alone with the prince. The young man seemed at loss for words or more rightly so, he sounded forced to have the conversation. She didn’t mind. She’s been crushing on that prince for a long time now and having their parents arrange a meeting between them both was like a wish come true. They talked on the surface, nothing deep, nothing intimate and something in the prince’s voice showed that his heart is no longer stuck between his own lungs. The reason why his parents had called her to come over was what she didn’t understand. All the awkward silence that sat between them as they spoke wasn’t as embarrassing as when Lolo herself came to ask her to excuse them. The woman had literally chased her away.

“Are you serious? The queen did that?” Igwe Godfrey sounds alarmed.

“Yes papa. She asked me to greet mama that she’d come pay a visit soon.” Something tells her to complete the story. “I thought it was even one of the big chiefs and elders that had come to visit the prince, or that an emergency demanding his presence had happened.”

Igwe Godfrey got interested now. “Is that so?”

“As I came downstairs, papa, I saw a young woman sitting on the couch in their sitting room. She looked like someone that just returned from a journey. I felt a pang of jealousy boil up on my insides but when I tried to give an excuse for her in my head, one of the maids told me in confidence that the lady I saw actually came to see the prince.”

“No!” Igwe jumps onto his feet. “My daughter was excused from the palace because a nobody came to visit the prince? What nonsense?” He trembles and Nkechi feels her mouth fill up with sore fear. Then the man calms down, like he’s not the same person that screamed a while ago. “So how is it going? Has he called you till now?”

Nkechi takes in a deep breath and rolls her head from side to side. “No, papa.”

“You have to be joking right, Ada?”
Nkechi finds a seat and collapse into it. “My informant in the palace, that maid, I got her number you know…” she seeks confirmation. “She says, the young woman I met that day is the girl the prince wants to marry. But she has a daughter and his parents have refused to consent to the wedding.”

“Of course, of course.” Igwe says, adjusting his royal robe well. “He cannot marry a woman that’s with a child. It’s against our tradition.” He turns to face Nkechi. “Look, Nne, you are just the perfect match for that prince. Can’t you see how God is arranging everything to favor you?”
Nkechi sighs. “Yes papa. God must be really arranging things to favor somebody that’s definitely not me.” She pauses and continues immediately. “Because both the prince and Lolo have deserted the palace.”

Alarm rings in the Igwe’s head. “Why is that?”

“Because the prince says he must marry the young mother at all cost.”

With that, Igwe’s mouth drops down almost to the floor.

 

*****

 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to take you there?”

Joyce scoffs. “That’s why I have a car, Nick. And I don’t need a driver too.” She smiles broadly towards the end of her statement and Nick chuckles as well.

They’ve become pretty too close in the past weeks. Joyce had continuously battled with pain and heartache from his parents ongoing divorce process but refused to show any of them exactly how she felt. Her father had returned into his shell; somewhat cold and clammy lately, while her mother appears to be having opposite of that reaction. The woman is now al-a-gog over everything including seeing movies. Yes. They now see movies every night she sleeps over at her place. Joyce spends two days in Mum’s house and another in dad’s house and one more in Nick’s place. She doesn’t like the turnout of events in her house but at the same time, she cannot let their problems drown her at this age.

“But on a serious note,” she withdraws a bit from Nick’s hands. “Whatever has happened to dad must be pretty serious. The CMD himself called me.”

Nick couldn’t believe the gross nonchalance in her voice. The CMD called her to quickly rush down to the hospital on account of her father and she’s here sounding like it’s Collette, her puppy, who needs medical attention? Quite strange.

“Your attitude, babe…”

Joyce scoffs weakly. “Look Nick, I’m tired of my family. If only there’s a way to get another family, so I…”

Nick shushes her with his first finger before she could finish. “No, babe. We don’t choose our families, but we must love them. It’s family over everything, babe.”

“Yeah right!” She yanks her hands off and enters her already blinking car.

“You are sure you can drive, babe?”

Joyce rolls her eyeballs longer this time. “The last time I checked, I drove myself to your house.”

Nick shrugs. “But…”

“Later, Nick!” she says, stepping on the accelerator.

 

****

 

Akoji could feel the fumes coming from his insides as he sits uncomfortably in this exotic presidential suites of the Wisdom Home hotel. He could literally see himself strangling the hefty young man standing tall beside him as though grounded to the floor. The lady asked to give him a ride and he obliged. Some folks tied him until they were close to the entrance of their destination. Because of security checks, they’d asked him to respect himself and just sit mute. They even threatened that any act of misbehavior may leave him responsible for whatever consequences may come. So he remained calm; calm through the gate and security checks, through the reception and the elevator, and through the door leading into this large apartment.

“Madam would see you soon.” The girl had said casually, pulling her jackets away. “Guy stay here with him and…” she moved so close to Akoji until their faces almost touched. “Do you mind making a new friend?”

Akoji felt the impulse to hold her neck and strangle the living daylight out of her, but decided against it for the sake of his dear life. “No problems!” He answered simply.

“Good!” The lady said, leaving the room alongside one of the two guys while the other ‘stayed’ with him.

It’s an hour now and Akoji’s patience is completely running out. He wants to charge at the man standing beside him; he wants to yell and scream, demanding for whoever the madam is and wherever she’s coming from that she’s not here in an hour. And as if the man could hear his thoughts,

“She’s here.” He says assuredly.

Akoji’s eyeballs pop out. “Where?” he involuntarily looks around to be sure his eyes are suddenly not failing him.

Then, like a knock on the head, the large apartment door flies open. Akoji doesn’t realize his mouth opened with it until the ‘madam’ walks in through the door and he couldn’t believe his eyes.

 

****

 

“It’s not too serious, Joyce.”

“I know!” Joyce cuts in, finding a place on the wall to hold onto.

“You know?” Surprise fills the doctor’s voice.

Joyce nods his head. “Never mind, doctor. What’s the plan?”

The doctor takes in a deep breath. “I’m sure prof would not want this to be made public. So you’ll have to help us with that.”

“Me?” Joyce frowns. Are these people thinking she’s a child like those folks that would come on social media to post literally everything that goes on in their lives?

“Let it stay between the few persons that are aware right now.”

Joyce swallows, shifting her weight from one leg to another. “No problem, doctor. Would do.” She says on a dismissive note before a question comes in her head. “But doctor, is my mother aware?” she asks the question like it burnt her mouth.

The doctor just looks back, moping into thin air as though searching for the best way to answer her question.

 

*****

 

“You?” Akoji points out. “You asked them to kidnap me?”

“To bring you in. Choice of words!”

“Godamn it, mother. What’s all these for?”

Lolo takes a seat just opposite where Akoji is sitting. She waves her hand and the other people in the room knows just what to do. As soon as she and her son are left alone,

“How are you, Akoji?”

“Lolo, has it gotten to kidnapping me?”

The older woman smiles and rests her back. “I’ve been in this town merely two days after you left Onitsha.”

Akoji’s looks stoned.

“Yeah, I left the palace.”

She starts narrating the ordeals since Akoji’s departure and how that she couldn’t bear the thoughts of his staying away from them all over again. She’d had to choose between being a queen of a big kingdom and running after her dear son to save his life, and she chose the latter. Akoji could feel his heart well up as his mother spoke. She talked about her men; the same ones who’d helped her gather information about Noma earlier. All they needed was her wish and it’d be their command. They’d found Akoji and Noma’s whereabouts for her in less than twenty minutes after her arrival at Anyigba and checking into Wisdom Home hotel. Severally, in the past weeks, she’d resisted the temptation to go to Noma’s bakeshop or to Mr. P’s gym to find her children.

Akoji’s face marvels at the precisions with which his mother spoke about their locations. And that makes him calmer. The woman sure has informants, reliable and excellent ones at that.

“I couldn’t stay there, Akoji.” She holds his hands. “I couldn’t remain in the luxury of that palace while my son, my first son, is in excruciating pain over the insensitivity of his parents towards a lady he loves.

“Mother, you left Onitsha? How about the festival? It’s so close now.” He sounds unbelieving.”

Lolo scoffs. “The festival has been holding long before any of me or your father was born. It would still hold long after we’re dead. But the bond we share as family, son, the bond of love and friendship, like nerve cells, may never rejuvenate after they are dead.”

Akoji falls on his knees and moves that way till he collapses in his mother’s arms.

“I love you, mother!”

“I love you too, dearest son. I love you and I cannot trade your happiness for any known or unknown tradition in this world.

Akoji hugs the woman tighter and could feel his hands shiver as they clamps onto his mother. Both cries in each other’s arms for nothing shorter than ten minutes before finally disintegrating from the hug, yet hands in hands.

“She refused my proposal, mother.” Akoji sounds so pathetic right now. “She gave me a lot of excuses that my attempt at assurance didn’t hold water in her heart. She gave me a full breakdown of how Hallie came about and all the things in-between. I’m just tired.”

Lolo grabs his shoulders before he would fall tiredly to the floor like a sack of unripe potatoes. “Tired? That’s definitely not coming from you, Akoji.”

Akoji shrugs. “It’s from me, mother. They’ve been a lot of dangerous turns in my life since I fell in love with this lady. The pain is increasingly getting much more than the gain and her refusing my proposal culminates it all.” He pauses and continues. “I haven’t even been back in that house since that time. I feel I’m not even capable at the moment to have her.”

“Why?”

Akoji rolls his eyeballs. His mother is back with her annoying questioning modules. “Mother, I just told you that I was tired, right?”

Lolo smiles lightly. “Don’t get angry yet, son.”

Akoji lets a forced smile dance around his lips. “You have a way of asking questions back and forth, mother. It can be frustrating sometimes.”

“As frustrating as Noma going out to call Mrs. Gina in instead of responding to your proposal?”

“Exactly!” Akoji says, like the words have just been picked directly from his throat. Then, “Wait, mother, how did you know she called in her mum to speak to me?”

Lolo blushes carelessly now and Akoji gets on his feet out of curiosity. “Mother, talk to me.”

“She was kidnapped too and I actually came to your place late because I’ve been speaking with her. You know I owe her a lot of apologies.”

Akoji could feel his head spin and hopefully he wouldn’t lose his mind yet. “Mother, tell me you are kidding?”

A tap on the door jerks him back and takes his face from his mother to the door and back to his mother.

Lolo, still all smiles, just says, “Please come in.”

Door opens and one young man, Akoji recognizes as one of his captors, holds it as the lady walks in elegantly. She takes Akoji’s breath anytime, any day, anywhere. He steals a glance at his mother who urges him to go on. Noma’s face appears quite expressionless and that scares Akoji. He feels the impulse to get up and grab her in a warm embrace but for fear of her reaction.

“C’mon son, you know you want to.”

Akoji knows how accurately his mother could read his mind. It’s been so for a long time now and she’s not about to go wrong just yet. Gathering more and more boldness from his mother’s urge, he gets up slowly and by the time he’s standing, he’s face to face with Noma. His eyes blink but the lady’s is straight.

“Ehm…” he starts, confused as to what exactly he should say first. “I’m sorry you were ‘kidnapped’, finest girl.” He lets out a quick smile. “Believe me it’s not planned. I… I …”

“You were also kidnapped?” Noma cuts in smiling. “Lolo already told me that, so can you tell me something new?”

“Like, I love you?” He raises his left eyebrow, lowering the other one.

“I’ve already been told that too, say something new, king of my heart.”

Lolo shuts her eyes tightly after what Noma just said. She feels like the proudest mother ever right now.

“Well, I don’t have lines to use on you. Seems your smart head has defied all my lines.”

They begin to laugh loudly. Then he leans forward and places a kiss on her forehead. “I want a set of twins as first kids, Joshua and Grace. Can we have them in less than a year’s time?”

“Awwn, now that’s something new you have said.” Noma says, giggling.

Akoji, all smiles, draws nearer her and she could feel her heart race loudly. He picks her hand and places a soft kiss on it before moving his face gradually until it meets her eyes. He makes his nose move across the skin on her neck and Noma shuts her eyes.

“Now, children.” Lolo calls, but none move, neither does Akoji stop what he’s doing. “Mummy is still here.”

They only smile in each other’s face and Akoji is about to lower his face again when the phone in Noma’s pocket vibrates and begins to ring. Everyone could hear the frustrated deep breath from Akoji and Noma smiles.

“It’s Rhodess.” She shows him the screen before wiping on and placing the phone against her ear. “Hi babe, what’s up?” a wide grin colors her face.

She listens as Rhoda speaks and gradually her face turns from grinning through smiling until it contours into a deep frown.

“Are you sure of what you are saying?” she asks, and could barely say more as her phone glides down gently from her ears. Akoji has confusion running all over his head and holds tighter to Noma’s hand as she threatens to drop to the floor.

“What’s the problem, finest girl?” he asks before he could stop himself.

Noma looks at him with sorrowful eyes. A tear drops down her smooth face and a lone cry escapes her throat. She looks on helplessly until her wall comes crashing down finally and she breaks out in loud inconsolable tears.

 

 

To be continued.

Merry Christmas!

Guys, I’m sorry. Have been so busy my computer has been the farthest thing to me lately. But I’m trying to be here. No vex biko.

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About Grace Ochigbo

Grace Ochigbo
Grace Ochigbo is a Christian, storyteller, inspirational speaker and the Founder of Gemstone Sickle Cell Aid Team, a non-profit organizations working to end Sickle Cell Disease.

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    Yap we are nice one but it’s really been long

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