NOMA’S DREAM – GRACE OCHIGBO
Agefu stares coldly from where she’s standing still holding onto the door knob of her one-bedroom apartment. She doesn’t seem to understand, in the very least, what the men in front of her are saying.
“We advise you to remain quiet, Miss Agefu, as whatever you say or do will be used against you in the court of law.” One of the mean-looking men says as his other partner moves nearer the lady.
“Officer, I think you have the wrong info.” She tries to protest but the men are too mission focused to listen to her.
“We shall find that out when we get to the station, ma’am.” The policeman, already leading her away from the door, says politely.
Agefu smirks. She’s getting infuriated and angry. Whenever she’s furious, she could be violent. Extremely violent. There’s this little, well… quite bulky, thing of the ‘oma Anyigba’ in her and she doesn’t hesitate to show anyone who tries to ‘look’ for her trouble double for the search.
“You don’t know what you are doing officer…” She gives a light sarcastic chuckle. “It may be late by the time you realize you are making a huge mistake.”
The men just sigh and walk her away in silence, not saying anything to all her threats and abuses. They have a warrant to arrest her and that’s what they’ve done.
“You can’t go out right now. Not after all these.”
Noma scoffs, seriously putting some of the cloths on the bed in a brown bag – a bit of Hallie’s things, a bit of hers.
Mrs. Gina gets more provoked by her nonchalance.
“Why are you even this stubborn, Ojonoma?” The woman yells, pulling Hallie’s dress off Noma’s hand and throwing it onto the bed. “Why don’t you listen to anyone? You are so self-willed that you do whatever you like, however you want it.”
Noma is taken aback by the sadness in the woman’s voice. She sounds really heartbroken and bitter, and Noma feels extremely bad for subjecting the older woman to such ill-feeling. She’s not always self-willed. No. Not at all. Let’s simply say she knows just the right thing to do at the right time.
Is that not a plus?
For a lady as young as her with a sick child to handle issues and handle them well? All she demands from everyone is trust. They should trust that she’s well able to handle things; to handle this; to handle everything that once and would ever befall her.
“You almost got killed some minutes ago, Noma…”
“I didn’t get killed, mummy,” Noma interrupts, getting on her feet. “The vigilantes were there just in time to salvage the situation.”
Mrs. Gina bits her lips. “Really? And that’s why you are going out already?”
“Mummy, we need to be placed on admission today so they can start preparing Hallie for surgery. As you know, the surgery is long overdue. I feel like I’m subjecting the poor lad to an avoidable pain. I don’t think you know how that feels, mummy.” Compassion feels her voice
“Really?” The woman’s eyeballs widen as she cups her chin in her palm. “Tell me about it.”
Noma could bet feeling sarcasm in the older woman’s voice, but she doesn’t let that impede her flow. “Look mummy, I’ve been scared the whole time. Scared that I might lose Hallie. A while ago, I prefer her alive and sick to being dead and well because that’s what I think surgery is. That’s how I saw Dr Ebiloma’s surgery option.”
Mrs. Gina takes a deep breath and places her buttocks on the closest available seat
“So what changed?” She asks, genuinely curious.
“Mummy…” Noma’s voice is laden with pain. “Akoji said something.” She stabilizes her weight on one leg. “He said, what can lead you through adversity is the art of living. Sometimes you never know how elastic you are until life teams up to stretch you. And…” but the sound of a car driving into the compound interrupts her.
Mrs. Gina sits up as Noma carries questioning eyes to her. She remains calm until they hear the front door open.
Noma doesn’t know exactly what the woman in front of her deserves right now – a shout or a yell?
“Seriously, Mummy! You called him here?”
“You just recollected something Akoji told you. His words were so wise, they made you finally reconsider giving a shot at Hallie having a surgery. Who knows?” She gets on her feet and drags down the edges of her blouse. “Perhaps we’ve found that one person ‘all-knowing’ Noma would listen to.”
That said, she walks out of the room and closes the door.
Noma feels like collapsing. Like the ground she’s standing on could just open up and swallow her. She’s not cool with this stunt Mrs. Gina just pulled on her at all. And as she hears Akoji’s voice draw nearer on the veranda after exchanging loud pleasantries with Mrs. Gina, she feels her heart in her mouth.
“I think the woman is right, you know?” Is Akoji’s first word as soon as he steps a foot into the room. He’s on a white long-sleeves, slightly squeezed as it’s tucked into a pair of blue pants. The sleeves are folded and his tie is loosely adjoining to his neck. All these, with one characteristic cologne of his filling the entire atmosphere.
How dare you? Noma wants to ask but she can’t even do as much as get her face off the spot it’s fixed to on the floor. She couldn’t believe he left work to come and act as an advocate over a matter that least concerns him. He must be a very jobless staff at his place of work.
“We should be on our way already!”
Noma’s head lifts up immediately as she stares at his smiling face in utter confusion.
“Yes. Let’s take Hallie to the hospital already!”
Noma gasps and couldn’t help it as she closes up the short distance between them before collapsing into his widely spread out arms. The hug is soothing coming from the guy that knows just the right buttons to press on her at the right time.
Chief Mba strolls majestically through the large chamber where he just finished a four-hour-long heated moments of deliberations with his Ichies. It’s been so hectic for everyone in the last couple of weeks and they cannot truly wait to get this festival right behind them.
“Mazi Amadi…” He calls softly, with the usual boisterous aura that comes with being the sole head of an empire as large as this. “That’s been my situation. You see the Ichies, especially Mazi Obinna, still hinted on it at the meeting today.”
Mazi Amadi heaves, careful not to make a wrong comment. The wrapper tied around his waist and rolled into a knot at the sides feels heavy on him all of a sudden. It’s always an honor for the king himself to find one of his king makers worthy of a conversation as deep as this.
“My king, you will live long.” He pauses, then continues almost immediately. “Our people say that when there are several meats in the soup, one may have to poke his spoon through the entire circumference of the pot in search of the biggest one, but when there’s only one meat in the pot, Igwe, we simply go in and take it.” He lets out a laugh connoting deep satisfaction with his own statement.
Chief Mba looks to the side at his chief. He is well familiar with that adage but just can’t place where it’d come in here.
Seeing the confusion on the king’s face, Mazi Amadi clears his throat. “My king, have you forgotten that our Opara works with Boniface?”
Chief Mba is still not getting the point Mazi Amadi is trying to make, yet, already running out of patience.
“The only meat left in our pot, Igwe, our only option, the only way to get our Opara is to call Boniface…”
“And how does that work, Mazi Amadi. How?” Chief Mba interrupts him, sincerely confused.
Mazi Amadi gives a cocky but brief laugh, drawing nearer and clearing his throat as he prepares to download the strategies and plans already sticking out of his head.
“At least pick this call for Christ’s sake. This person has called a thousand times in the last second.”
Akoji smiles lightly, turning sideways to give a contemptuous gesture at Noma. She sure knows how to exaggerate. Impressive!
As he turns into the usual lonely street leading from Mrs. Gina’s house, the phone begins to ring again and this time Noma reaches forward to pick it but Akoji snatches it away from her hand.
“Why are you not taking the call?”
“Because it’s not important, Finest girl”
Noma scoffs. She’s not in for any of Akoji’s subtle deceits right now.
“Why is it not important? Oh! It’s that lady, right?”
Akoji’s smiles get even broader. “Yes. It’s the lady. And are you suddenly jealous?” He asks carelessly, bringing the car gently to a halt.
If Noma’s eyes carried guns, Akoji probably would have dropped dead immediately he gave that sarcastic, nonchalant answer.
“Ėnĕnyi, àwà, excuse me.” Akoji calls out, winding down the car window on his side.
Noma’s eyes reflexively look backwards at where Hallie is lying in a cot strapped firmly in such a way that the little girl should feel no discomfort whatsoever as the car is moving.
“Òròkà òmàye.” Akoji greets the hefty and rough looking young man that is now closer to the car ‘good afternoon, brother’ in Igala Language.
They exchange pleasantries and in no time, Noma recognizes him as one of the vigilantes that came to her rescue in the past hour.
“Patrick kpù wà chè.” The man, popularly known as head of the àlòdès(vigilante groups), explained how Patrick had called and charged them to go wait around the lonely vicinity as a coup was being planned against a young lady.
Noma watches Akoji hand a bunch of naira notes to the man, thanking him exceedingly for yielding to the call and coming out to save the life of his precious one. The vigilante goes ahead to affirm that the hired young men and their sender have been arrested and would be made to face the full force of the law. Noma could only thank God in her heart, while still wondering who would want to kill her and for whatever reasons. She’s not the prettiest girl around; she’s not the richest; she’s not even anywhere near popular and worst of all, she’s nursing a five-year-old kid living with sickle cell disease.
Why would anyone want to kill her?
On Akoji’s end, his thoughts fly around the entire circumference of the town. Patrick called the vigilantes to be at alert to defend Noma? Incredible. The truth remains that even though this estate is pretty much for the rich and wealthy people in town, it is very large. So large the security check points at the entrance is nowhere near where Mrs. Gina’s house is. And whatever assault those men were sent to mete on Noma would have gone on rather smoothly without anyone noticing it.
The remaining drive down to the hospital is extremely quiet with Akoji thinking through the occurrence again and again. Noma, on her own part, imagining what would have become of her if no help came or if it hadn’t come at the time it did. The both of them unconsciously and consciously thanked God, their creator and the giver of life.
Patrick throws the phone onto one of the couches in frustration. He was wrong. True. He shouldn’t have tried to push a girl, such a terrible person, into the life of his friend. Akoji is one humble young man; humble enough to agree to be and stay friends with someone of extremely low background like him. However he is going to get Akoji’s friendship back, he’s ready. All he asks now is for the young man to at least pick up the calls. Only then can he explain himself.
Sipping from the glass of wine in his hand, he lets his frustrated self drop onto the floor right behind him and it’s a miracle he didn’t crush his back against the wooden part of the chair.
“Sir, I can assure you that there’s no such thing. In fact, sir, I…”
“Would you keep quiet and listen to me?” The man on the other end of the phone yells.
The founder cum chairman of the board of this noble bank is calling the general manager of Kogi state branches. Aside that this state manager is first of all surprised that the chairman would put a call through to him at such an awkward time, he’s even much more surprised, astonished and perhaps flabbergasted at the man’s request.
“I’m sorry, sir.” He readjusts his tie firmer on his neck, so much so that one would think he’s about strangling himself. The room is really becoming uncomfortable for him and yeah, he’s sweating.
“Yusuf, do anything, whatever.” The chairman says on a stern note. “Call for certifications, announce an emergency audit, do something. Anything.”
Yusuf takes in a deep breath. He’s reluctant to talk because Mr. Chairman might not let him make any point. He’s not allowed him say any more than a few phrases in the last ten minutes since they’ve been on this call.
“With all due respect, sir…” Yusuf starts, careful not to use an absurd voice. “They are few loyal people in our bank that I must say we’re most blessed of all to have.” He pauses, waiting to see whether or not the chairman would stop him, but seeing the latter is suddenly attentive, he readjusts himself on his seat to continue. “Mr. Akoji is one of such persons. Dutiful. Disciplined. Well-cultured and excellently behaved. I’m yet to see a more loyal person, sir.”
He hears the chairman take in a deep breath on the other side of the call.
“Sir, I can assure you that spending money to recruit auditors for the Anyigba branch of our bank would only amount to wasting resources, sir.” He knows he’s overstepping his boundaries, but then, this confidence. “In the end, we’d find nothing incriminating.”
Chief Boniface Asogwa clears his throat. “Mr. Yusuf.” He calls out. “Yusuf.”
“Sir… sir… si…” Yusuf stammers, moving uneasily on his seat.
“Just do as I have instructed. Have I made myself clear?”
Yusuf nods hurriedly as though the man can see him. “Yes… yes… yes sir. The auditors should be there by next week.”
Alarm resounds in Yusuf’s ears as he exclaims, “Tomorrow, sir?”
“Yes, tomorrow. And the reports should be ready, compiled and sent to the board latest two days from tomorrow.” Chief Boniface says on a note of finality. “Enjoy the rest of your day, Mr. Manager.”
The two faint sounds from Yusuf’s phone jerks him back to the reality that the call has come to an abrupt end and that Mr Chairman is done talking with him, done instructing him, done putting an almost impossible task out to him.
They have auditors they always use. Yes! That notwithstanding, why the all-of-a-sudden interest in auditing the Anyigba branch of the bank? As he lets his mind drown in the numerous thoughts wrecking the peaceful state of his brain, he draws nearer the intercom.
“Please, kindly forward the template of the letter to our auditors to me immediately.” He waits. “No buts.” He waves his hand up carelessly. “And put me on the phone with the manager of Anyigba branch right now. Thank you!”
Replacing the intercom, Yusuf takes in deep calming breaths that are suddenly not helping his nerves. Something must be wrong somewhere but he can’t just fathom it.
Rhoda Badmus holds her phone tightly against her ears with a lifted shoulder while letting the files on her hand onto the table.
“Ehen… I am with you.” She says, unstrapping the laptop bag from her back after dropping her handbag. “You don’t mean it!” Her eyeballs pop out as she pulls her laptop out of the bag.
“So why would she send men after you?”
“I stole her man.” Comes the voice from the other side.
Rhoda smiles at Noma’s sarcasm. Noma is not the type of lady to fight over a man she loves. She feels love shouldn’t be forced and that translate to, if a man cannot choose you over another lady then he’s not worth your love. As vague as she thinks her thoughts and takes on relationship and love are, Noma would never go into as little as word battle with any fellow lady over a man.
“C’mon babe, it’s not his fault that the girl did what she did.” Rhoda stresses.
“No, Rhoda.” Noma interrupts. “It’s my fault.”
Rhoda rolls her eyeballs. “Now, you are being paranoid. Why do you see the guy as the cause of all these?”
“Because my life was a peaceful rested soil until the Monday I met Akoji, Rhodess.” She pauses. “Things are drastically taking an awkward spiral than I can handle. I now have these butterfly feelings in my lower abdomen, I now feel like calling and staying on the phone with him all day. I now feel like chatting…” she giggles lightly and continue. “You won’t believe it, Rhoda.”
Rhoda’s bits her lip, waiting.
“I now stay online chatting late into the night. After which we would talk for another hour before sleeping.” Noma laughs hysterically. “As if that’s not enough, I reach for my phone first thing I wake up, knowing that Akoji must have left a poem he composed for me there. Can you see what my life is turning into?”
“Noma…” Rhoda starts, but the former interrupts her again.
“I’m a business woman o. I need concentration. I have bills to pay. Whenever I’m talking with Akoji, I completely forget about everything and everyone else. When I’m not sixteen.” She lets out a dry hiss and Rhoda burst into a loud and long laughter.
“Finally, someone is in love.” She jeers
Noma snorts. “No be only love. My life is in danger here, you are calling love.”
“Love is a battle, babe. The more you fight and win, the merrier. Moreover, I thought you said the girl has been arrested?”
“Rhodess, this is Anyigba. Who knows all the big people that girl knows? Her release and freedom is only a call away.”
“Relax babe.” Rhoda admonishes. “Relax! It’s not as bad as you think.”
Noma heaves. “Well, Hallie and I are back in the hospital again. Let them just do this surgery once and for all. I don’t want to have guilt locked up in my heart if anything happens to her because of my delay and refusal.”
“Nothing will happen to our baby, Noma. Just relax.” Rhoda smiles. “And if you feel too worried, take your mind back to Akoji. Imagine him kissing the pain out of your soul…”
“Shut up, Rhodess.” Noma exclaims. “You are so corrupt. Yuck!!!”
Rhoda begins to laugh again, shrugging. “OK. Imagine him praying the pain out of your soul.”
Noma laughs this time, rolling her eyes. “Yeah right.”
Rhoda hesitates. What should she say now?
“He just dropped us and says he’d go tidy up some things in the office before coming back.”
“My friend has found husband like that o…” Rhoda jeers, tapping at a new message on her computer now. “Babe, I got to go. Take care of yourself.”
“Get out of my phone.” Noma says jokingly and they both laugh before the call goes off.
As Noma looks around, she can’t believe she’s still doubting something that’s most likely a fact already, – Akoji loves her dearly.
“No please. The manager is not on seat at the moment. Kindly leave a message.” The young woman with curly braids says politely into the telephone. “Oh ma’am, could you give me a minute while I try to get the HR on the phone then?”
The call goes dead and she dials the HR’s number. Whatever network connection problem was going on in this bank right now that numbers are not just reconnecting up and down beats her imagination. After trying the line for another three times, she gets up and drags down her blue gown. The heels fit comfortably on her legs as she walks out of the office into the long veranda.
“Good day, ma’am.” She greets another lady sited quite too relaxed on her seat for comfort.
Theresa nods her head, not taking her face from one of her fingers she’s filing. Akoji’s secretary rolls her eyes, feeling pretty disgusted. She is nowhere near Theresa’s class but the woman gives her some very annoying attitudes over and again. Maybe it’s because she works in Akoji’s office and Theresa probably thinks something is ongoing between them, if only she knew Akoji better. Even the desks in this bank know about Theresa’s uncontrolled affections towards the young man.
“There’s a call from the state headquarters for you, ma’am.”
“So why didn’t you just call me up and connect right away?” she drops the nail filer in her hand. “Seriously, girl, you still don’t know how to connect two people to have a call? How come you are still our manager’s secretary?”
The young lady is going to say, ‘I’m his secretary for good, remove me if you can’, but there’s no need. She couldn’t have walked all the way down here for word battle with an egoistic female.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. Your number wasn’t connecting.”
Theresa lets out a sarcastic chuckle. “Are you saying that…” but the lady quickly interrupts her.
“As a matter of fact, the call from the state manager is still waiting. I came to be sure network connection here is poor.” The lady takes in the entire circumference of the room in a second. “If you could come take the call in my office, ma’am.” She walks out slowly, taking her time to sway her hips at Theresa’s face.
Theresa curses in her mind. It’d taken until the young lady closed her door for Theresa to realize something. The state manager is on the other side of the call waiting for them.
Alarm rings in her head as she jerks up, slips her legs into a very high heel and hurries out.
Patrick opens his eyes to the dimly lit room. Though it is daytime, no one has opened the thick curtains. He tries to move one of his legs but it hits a bottle which falls onto the thick blue rug. It feels as though the blackest of clouds are over his head and with no intentions of clearing until further notice. He squints, dry mouth sticky with thick saliva and moans before turning over. But then, his hand hits something that makes him jerk up immediately; his eyeballs struggling to stay open as he gathers himself up slowly.
“Relax.” A voice comes through his ears almost at the same time a hand taps his shoulders lovingly.
Like magic, the drowsiness clears off his eyes and he jerks up. “Akoji?”
“Mr P, what did you do to yourself like this?” Akoji is smiling, glancing from one corner of the sitting room where a bottle or two of hot liquor is laying to another.
Patrick feels strength in his bones. “AK my guy, I’m so sorry, bro. I’m so sorry.”
Akoji feels soberness in the former’s voice and drags him in for a bear hug. “It’s alright, Mr P.”
“It’s not alright, Akoji.” Patrick withdraws a little to see his friend’s face and something in the way he looks shows he’s not fully convinced that it is Akoji sitting on his couch. “I swear to God I wasn’t getting anything from that girl.” He puts his first finger on his tongue and then directs it towards heavens. “I had nothing to gain from her yet I can’t comprehend how much she caged me, making me do her biddings over and again.” He buries his head in Akoji’s palms now, “I’m sorry, AK, my guy. Please.”
“It’s alright, Mr P. I hold no offence against you.” Akoji makes sure the smile is constant like a plaster on his face. “You even made calls to save my darling babe from the hands of the people that your lunatic of a young woman sent after her. That’s enough reasons for me to forgive all the thrash you did.”
Patrick sends Akoji a nudge on his sides and they begin laughing in no time. He feels like a vital part of him that went missing had just been found.
Akoji clears his throat, looking around. “Mr P, we talked about this…”
Patrick rolls his eyes, confused. “About what?” then he notices where Akoji’s attention is, and shifts uncomfortably. “I swear, AK my guy, I stopped. I can’t remember the last time I tasted alcohol in a long time. But that your refusal to pick my call got to me, mehn!”
“I went into the gym first; it was locked up. Then headed over here and knocked to no avail until something told me to push the door open. So you slept without locking up?” Akoji carries a genuine look of concern on his face.
“That gym mehn, you are my motivation. You see how my life sharpen up, me sef come resemble human being since I met you?” He turns questioning eyes to Akoji and the latter blushes carelessly. “You showed me how to be and stay a man, bro, never you consider punishing me the way you did in the past two days again.”
Akoji smiles. “Never you give Agefu the key to my house again.” He hands out the spare key he’d seized from Patrick some days back.
Patrick forgets his mouth open as he stares back at Akoji. “Are you sure about this?”
Akoji scoffs. “Take the key off my hand already, and stop pretending like you don’t want to.”
Patrick giggles excitedly, and moves forward to take the keys but the ringing on Akoji’s phone interrupts them.
“Theresa?” Akoji mouths as soon as he picks up the phone.
It takes just fewer than a second for several thoughts to fly around his head. He should be at his office, sure. His secretary had called him on his way to Patrick’s house but he ignored. He would return to the office once he’s out of here and whatever the case should wait up for him. If there’s anything, it should be his secretary calling him repeatedly, or messaging and not Theresa, the HR, calling.
“Yeah. I guess it’s network.” He hurriedly responds to Theresa’s claim of not being able to connect to him for the umpteenth time. Out of curiosity, he couldn’t wait for the young lady to download everything. “What’s going on, Tessy? Talk to me.”
His expression gradually drifts from curiosity to shock and then fear as the young lady speaks on.
The voices coming from the siting room downstairs is pretty too loud, disturbing the king’s study time.
“Lolo, why all the noise?” Chief Mba calls from where he’s leaning against the stair case
Beatrice gives her son a cold look. “I wonder what has gotten into this boy’s head.”
Now that’s pretty too harsh coming from Beatrice Mba – the quiet and peaceful Beatrice. She’d never be able to use a wrong word on anyone, let alone her last son.
Chief Mba comes to join them now, staring unblinkingly in Collins direction. He’d always warned the boys never to stress their mother for whatever reason and he would be mad if that’s the situation right now. Not after all the stress Beatrice is going through at the moment.
“You what?” Beatrice screams, cutting him off. She swallows against a tightening on her heaving chest and opens her mouth. “My king, your son wants to travel to China. Collins wants to travel to China.” She spills
Chief Mba’s eyes pop out. “China?” It sounds unbelievable.
“Yes o. China.” Beatrice clasps her hand in a gossip fashion.
“One of my most important machines got damaged by the dullhead I put in the control room and I have to take it down to China, dad.” Collins is facing his dad, hopeful that the man would understand better than the woman before him.
Chief Mba only keeps quiet with eyes urging his son to speak on.
“A lot of the company’s work is dependent on that machine, dad.”
“And I told him to waybill it there or, what’s the proper word?” Beatrice turns questioning eyes from one man to the other. “Send it. Moreover, Okechukwu is there. He’s still the biggest importer and exporter in this state. Oke will help you with whatever you want to go there and do.” She sounds really and completely infuriated.
“Dad…” Collins starts, sure that his mum is done talking. His voice is calm, subtle, appealing. “I need to be there to see that machine is fixed and in time, dad. Moreover, I have a couple other things I need to buy. So, I really need to get to China, dad.”
“And when do you plan to leave?” Chief’s question seems to infuriate his wife even more.
“My husband, this boy is not going to Awka sef, let alone China. He’s not stepping out of this house.” She stamps her left foot hardly against the floor and one would think she’s attempting to tear the floor open.
Chief Mba with compassion, places a soft hand on her back, patting it. “Be calm, my queen.” Beatrice is about to respond but Chief continues immediately. “Let’s hear the young man out.”
Glad, Collins readjust to rest more comfortably on both feet. He’s careful not to let a victorious smile slip off his lips. His mother might take it overboard and that would be an issue, a big one.
“I’d like to leave by Friday, sir.”
“Just two days away?” Chief couldn’t bear it.
Collins nods in the affirmative, playing with a part of his pocket. “The earlier I get things ready and working, the better.”
“How about the festival? Did you take any thought for that?”
Beatrice couldn’t take in anymore of her husband’s unusual calmness. She is the calm one while he’s the rash one. She’s the one that likes to listen to people’s say and take on a particular subject. He’s the one to dictate and overrule whatever anyone has to say. Why then is he too quiet right now? It beats her imagination.
“He didn’t think about the festival obviously.” Beatrice points her first finger at Collins almost poking it in his face. “Because if he’d thought about the festival, he’d have taken a better option rather than going all the way to China at this injury time. Why? Uhm! Why? Kedu ihe n’eme gi?” Her voice cracks and she begins to cry.
Chief hurries over to her, shielding her in his arms.
“My king, why will this boy do this? At this time. Why are they two bent on putting us to shame and letting the whole world see us as failed parents?” She sobs louder.
Chief continues to pat her lovingly on the back without saying anything.
“Mum, I’m sorry.” Collins spills out carelessly, sounding provoked as well. “Look mum, guess it’s because I’m still living under the same roof with you and dad that you want to order me around.” Chief tries to signal him to keep quiet or not to go down that line of thought but Collins isn’t looking at Chief one bit. “If I were living in another city, I would only need to have called you from China. I’m not a baby anymore, mum, you have to…”
“Shut up your mouth.” Chief Mba thunders. He can’t bear anyone talking back at his wife. No. Not at all. “Didn’t we set things up for you? I got you a house in Haven estate, you were the same person that turned it down, saying you want to still stay with us while you can. So what are you here blabbing about?”
Collins could see and feel the gross provocation in his father’s voice and swallows.
“I’m sorry, dad. I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Sorry for yourself, boy!” Chief cuts in. “You can be on your way to China now for all I care. My P.A will wire some money into your account.”
Beatrice pulls away from the hug enough to see her husband’s face. She looks really bewildered. “What are you saying, my king?” She couldn’t believe her ears. “You will give him more money, so he can travel?”
A smile curves around Collins’ lips but he dares not let allow his mother see it.
Chief pats Beatrice’s back but the latter is not having any of that. Chief looks calm, too calm in the face of a mighty flood that’s just about engulfing their family. Mouths would wag, she’s sure of that. Women in the market place will talk about how she’s not able to keep her home in one peace; how she’d raised only disobedient children. The Ichies may summon their king. Never should it be heard that none of the princes is around for the great festival. They cannot have a king whose children break traditions as flimsy as one would a worthless pencil.
“My king, you let him go and you have me to contend with.”
That sounds like a deep threat, but Chief Mba knows his wife pretty well. She has no strength to harm a fly.
“Don’t worry, My Queen.” A reassuring smile lit Chief Mba’s face. “I have everything under control.”
Beatrice looks more deeply into his eyes now, the questions in her mind pouring out. “How do you mean, My king?”
To be continued.
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To be continued.