This thing called LOVE – GRACE OCHIGBO
EPISODE TWENTY THREE.
“Just to be sure, Doctor, what exactly causes it?”
“As I said earlier, ma’am, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD, is a disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self importance. Research has shown that kids with extremely traumatic upbringing – as in the case of loss of one or more family members most often develop NPD in the nearest future. That’s also related to children brought up under extreme show of love and affection. Simply put, experiencing either of the two extremes of emotions may result in NPD in some children.”
Aunty Flora’s eyebrows blinked a thousand and one times as she listened to the doctor – their family doctor who Angela had been seeing over the past years before she relocated to Nigeria.
“The basic symptoms of NPD include, but not limited to, need for admiration, disregard for other’s feelings, inability to handle criticism. And it’s most prevalent between the ages of 19-40.”
“So it cannot be cured?” Her voice was so low it became a whisper. She could literally feel the doctor giving a disappointed shake of his head from her position on the bed.
“Cure? No. People suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder can only undergo therapy, talk therapy. The therapy could be in support groups, intervention, family therapy and group psychotherapy. A specialist in clinical psychology or a psychiatrist like me usually sees that patient.”
While he spoke on, aunty Flora’s mind drifted to a scenario that took place six years ago, on Angela’s twenty-first birthday. Aunty Flora and Angela had both planned on visiting the city museum together as soon as she got back from work that fateful day. Angela had been reportedly fully dressed and ready in anticipation for her yearly special treat, only that year’s was more special to her – going to the museum. Aunty Flora, unfortunately, got stuck in files at the office so much so that the more she tried to tidy up her duties and head home to her niece, the more work kept coming to her table.
Knowing how insensitively and badly Angela handled disappointments, aunty Flora was torn amidst choices. She’d thought to put off her phone and simply say that her battery ran out, but that wasn’t logical considering the stable electricity supply. She also wanted to say that the phone had suddenly developed a fault, but that also didn’t make sense because she’d bought that phone only a week earlier. Aunty Flora didn’t know what to think but then after much persuasion, she put her phone off anyway. She got home later that night to learn that her husband had rushed Angela to the hospital two hours earlier. He said she had sliced her wrist and was losing so much blood. The doctor said everyone ought to be thankful for timely intervention.
After that incidence, which was the most fatal of all her shows of vexations in the past – Angela would throw herself on the hard floor if anyone screamed at her; she would run across the busy expressway without waiting to watch out for oncoming vehicles whenever her opinions were not taken; a little critical look into her opinions and she would already feel unwanted, already digging her fingers into her hair, scattering it and looking like a wounded tigress. All these, aunty Flora and her husband had to put up with, thinking she was just, perhaps, an over pampered child who was still hurting from the demise of her family members; a child who didn’t like to be nagged at; a child whose opinions must just count – that’s until the event on her twenty-first birthday that almost took her life.
“Most persons don’t know about NPD. They may feel one’s excess demand for love and affection may be merely a weakness. But we recommend that once you see the above listed symptoms reoccurring frequently in anyone, the person should be urged to see a mental health physician. Else, he or she may do terrible things as a result of feeling rejected.”
Aunty flora thanked the doctor before removing the iPhone from her ears. She stared at it, as though her eyes read something else from the screen. Her eyes then went back to the laptop in front of her and she stared at the photo. Everything was gradually coming together. After they’d narrated some previous scenarios to the doctor that handled Angela’s sliced hands that fateful evening, they had been admonished to take Angela to see a mental health physician, which she eventually did, although very reluctantly.
Angela had few appointments and talk therapies, and at a point, joined a social group of people with psychological disorders similar to hers.
Her condition improved, right?
Her reflexive rash reactions – when not complimented after dressing up in the morning, or after fixing lunch for family, or when her opinions weren’t sort after on a particular matter – began to reduce. She wasn’t completely open to criticism, yeah, but it got better. At least, she could manage going on a day without someone complementing her dress, which hadn’t been so in the past. Perhaps, everything; the inflated sense of self importance, the need for admiration and inability to handle criticism all came back flooding into her in the months since she left the U.S and of course, stopped her therapy.
Aunty flora literally could feel herself trembling on the bed. She tried to stop, to stabilise her breath but her lungs felt thicker by the seconds. A reality and possibility, which may never have come across her mind, was suddenly dawning on her consciousness.
What had the doctor said again?
NPD has no cure. Was that right?
The only treatment was talk therapy.
Not just that. People with narcissistic personality disorders can do terrible things as a result of feeling rejected?
Pastor Festus paced the short distance to the right and back left. His hand was rolled into a fist as thousands of thoughts flooded his mind. His wife was right. She had been right all along. It’s just part of the nature of a man to do wrong – to hurt his fellow man. The least the hurt, like him in this case, can do would be to forgive and open up a new slate. Because if he doesn’t forgive men their trespasses, how would his heavenly father forgive his?
He jerked back into the room as Ajifa’s voice called out to him. He hadn’t notice her enter the room let alone walk to the bed.
“What is bothering you so much?” She couldn’t hide her curiosity.
“I called the police commissioner, Ajifa!”
Ajifa blinked her eyes in confusion. Until he just mentioned that, she didn’t think they had any business with the police. Pastor Festus saw the questions in her eyes and decided to answer immediately.
“It’s for Caleb.” He saw Ajifa’s mood lighten and her face almost contorting into a big smile. He swallowed and continued. “The Holy spirit has been convicting my behaviour since that evening you spoke to me in the garden, my dear wife…”
He narrated all his failed attempts at paying deaf ears to the warnings from his inner self. Whenever he opened his bible to study, he would stumble on a phrase or statement that points to forgiveness. Whatever event happened around; a butterfly hits the window frame and tumbles, the sun strikes the windshield of his car, every single thing had been pointing to and coming across as a call to forgiveness. And so he muttered the courage to call the DPO today to find out about the progress of the case and confirm whether it was still possible to rescue the young man, or not.
“The case has lots of complications, Ajifa.” He said with a tone of resignation. “It’s scheduled for court hearing first thing tomorrow morning. In fact, the DPO categorically told me there’s very little or nothing he can do as it stands.”
Ajifa took in a deep breath and held it. If her husband could place a call on behalf of Caleb, then that’s good, that was thoughtful and that can only mean that healing was coming to the poor man’s heart, no matter how slowly and gradually. She was thankful for it.
“You know, maybe if I hadn’t gotten so pained by the boy’s behaviour; if I had called few persons earlier, I would have been able to help him out somehow. Now, I don’t know how to have it on my conscience that I let a human God loves rot in jail. Just like that.”
Ajifa got up and went to stand behind him. Their height difference was not so much. She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his back.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Sunshine!”
“I preach forgiveness, Ajifa. How did it become so impracticable when it was my turn to? The very first time I got really hurt by a young man and I let carnality have the better of me?”
Ajifa blinked. If they continued this way, her husband was only going to lament and lament and lament, which wouldn’t help him, her or even Caleb. She thought of something and knew immediately it was the best solution.
“We could pray, Sunshine.” She moved round to find his face. “We could pray that God would deliver Caleb by His mighty hand.” A smile formed around her lips, and it was all that her husband needed to see a little ray of hope. “When Peter was held in prison by the mighty men of the land, all the other apostles had left was prayers. Remember that God sent an angel, who went in and delivered him, just the morning he was to be executed.”
Pastor Festus took a deep breath and her hand simultaneously. She had said the most sensible thing to him and he needed not give it any further thought.
“The God that performed miracles in the days of old, is the same God today!” She reassured and held tightly to his hand.
Without anyone leading the way, Pastor Festus and his wife found their knees on the rugged floor and their backs leaning against the bed frame as they poured out their hearts in prayers to the God of last-minute miracles.
Susan trudged tiredly as she walked away from talking to the eight group of people. She’d showed them the photograph and none seem to know Mallam sediq or, even as much as, seen him before. She pulled her jacket up to see her wristwatch. An air of defeat flushed through her face and she suddenly felt like dropping into the muddy floor of the riverine area.
Time was rapidly going, or was it up?
She had no success in finding Angela’s gateman, so no other suspect except Caleb. The case would be heard tomorrow morning and if her guts were still anything to go by, Caleb would most likely be sentenced to death by hanging. It’s not about the poor man actually, the judgement would be a political plan serving as a deterrent to intending murderers that justice and security were topmost on the agenda of the governor, especially with the upcoming gubernatorial.
Susan hissed dryly as the thoughts made her sick to her stomach.
She got back in her car and started it. All hope seemed lost. Now, she would go back to the station and surrender their findings, as well as Detective Samson’s newly found stand, to the DPO.
If she perishes, she perishes.
The DPO stared at the mobile device in his hand. His mouth slightly opened. The table in front of him suddenly seem like an insurmountable mountain and he really felt like he took in liquid fire in the place of oxygen in the room. Thankfully, there was a tap at the door. Someone needed to come to his rescue as soon as possible.
Detective Samson walked in gallantly and the DPO motioned him to his side before handing over the tablet. Detective Samson thought his eyes were seeing dreams and flashes of imagination and so looked around the room to be sure he was still in the right place.
It can’t be.
The DPO’s curious eyes urged him to watch on.
To the other side of the table sat a man, a woman, he would assume was his wife and a boy, barely ten years old. They were all looking at him too, as if expecting a response and he summoned courage to watch the video playing.
The screen looked unclear initially, but then, whoever captured seemed to have zoomed in well enough to see the actions better. He need not drag his face closer to realise who it was. Her hair was extremely rough and scattered – like weaves would be when fingers dug carelessly into it. Her eyes were puffy and swollen which confirms that she must have cried so much so, enough to exhaust her tears.
Then came the part that made him gasps for air.
He could recognise it.
The knife he and Susan saw in the security man’s ceiling.
Angela was holding tightly onto that knife right in front of her house. She muttered something inaudible and still held out the knife tightly in her hand. As tears poured down her face, she appeared like a legit mad woman – a wounded tigress.
Detective Samson’s eyes shut involuntarily as Angela moved the knife from high up in the air until it drilled through the layers of her chest and she fell to the floor heavily. The gateman on hearing the loud sound from her fall ran out but it was too late. He watched as the gateman shook his madam’s corpse on the interlocked ground helplessly to no avail. Not knowing what to do, he slowly pulled out the knife from her chest and fresh blood splashed on his face in the process. Angela’s blood gushed out like volcano eruption and by the time the gateman saw how stiff and cold her body had become, he dashed towards his house with the dipped-in-blood knife still in his hands.
Detective Samson took in a deep breath as he set down the tablet on the table. He didn’t know which side he was to turn first because the hairs all over his body stood straight up as utter fright gripped him. It felt like the temperature in the room could ice him, or everyone else for that matter, if proper care was not taken.
The DPO gave him a nod he understood quite clearly and he cleared his throat, turning to the boy’s father.
“Ehm… well… sir?” He stammered.
“Myself and my wife were just about going out when she went to our son’s room to get her tablet…”
“I don’t know why I was particular about the tablet today as the device is always with him. Junior had a headphone plugged…” His wife cut in. A first-hand information would be far better than a reported speech. “So I yelled and yelled until I got to his room upstairs. He didn’t notice me come in and I took out the first few minutes to spy on what he was watching on the tablet.”
Junior buried his jaw in-between his palms as he all-of-a-sudden looked sober and apologetic.
A tap on the door jerked the DPO up. He gave detective Samson the ‘are-we-expecting-more-persons?’ look and the detective looked completely blank.
“Come in!” The DPO called out.
The door opened slowly, presenting Susan. She looked extremely drained and the sweat on her denim looked like she had been immersed in a pool over the last half hour. She held her sunglasses and car keys on one hand and a black face cap on the other. As she approached, the curious eyes staring at her could make her miss steps, but she tried not to be distracted. Not by Samson – she felt a growing hatred for the man by the minute and it would take until Caleb would be killed tomorrow to define the depth of how much she was beginning to hate Samson.
The DPO’s face looked tensed, with fear colouring his brownish eyeballs but that didn’t unsettle Susan. She had made up her mind to report Samson directly to the man. She could guess that whoever had bought Samson over may have also done same with the DPO, but to what does it matter? She had nothing to lose right now. She planned to resign her duties tomorrow anyway. She wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt of Caleb’s death. No.
The couples’ faces look very familiar and as she approached. She flashed back to the night they were at Angela’s place. Finally sighting the ten year old boy, stubborn boy, joggled her brain faster than the speed of light. He’d thrown a cup to hit her shoulder; he had called her a witch; he’d infuriated her that night and it took only the intervention of her brain to withhold from climbing the stairs after him and whipping his tiny buttocks with his own belt. Susan wanted to smile at her own thoughts but Samson immediately stretched the tablet towards her. She cut him a disdainful look before collecting it. Deafening silence fell all over the place again and fear gripped her as she watched.
She gave questioning eyes from one person in the room to the other and went over to where the boy sat, between his parents. For the first time, she could see how humble the boy could become.
“Tell me how you got this?” Her face was kind, her voice tender.
“Ma’am, I was only practicing video effects taught us in ICT class.” Junior’s voice trembled as he answered Susan. Thankfully, Susan’s eyes were encouraging, urging him to go on.
“The window of my room opens towards the right side of the house. I love to photograph the dark sky in the night; the sight of the moon and the indistinct stars; the view of the estate at night. That’s what Zeus, my favourite cartoon character, does. So at times, I sneak into the corridor adjourning my room to get a better view.”
Everyone listened attentively as he repeated the explanations he had given his parents before they came to the station. He had barely stayed out to snap that night when he noticed Angela trudge out of her house tiredly. His own position was dark but brilliant light reflected over where Angela stood, few inches from her entrance door. Junior decided to video her instead of snapping the sky. He zoomed in to get a clearer view when he realised the lady held out a knife. It reminded him of a scene in one of his diehard epic movies. His friends had talked about the movie in school and he hadn’t hesitated to download it on his mother’s tablet. His combat video games wasn’t as satisfactory as the fight he watched in those movies. And it was a good feeling to watch someone replay a scene out of the movie live and direct before him.
“Why didn’t you film the gateman to where he ran to?”
“I started hearing footsteps coming from downstairs. I know my parents sleep quite early and wanted to ignore the steps but as they came heavier and closer, I quickly had to sneak back under my duvet and pretend to be sleeping before being caught. The tab was of course slid underneath my pillow.” He gave a saddened look from one person in the room to the other.
“Today, I remembered the video I covered that night. I had saved it where mum may never have thought. Moreover, she never uses her tablet.” He glanced at his mother and quickly brought down his eyes. “She only thinks it’s not good for me to use a mobile device.”
“Is that right, ma’am?” It was detective Samson. He just got back his composure.
The boy’s mother nodded in the affirmative. “Junior is too smart for his age. And inasmuch as I don’t know whether his ICT teachers give him a private lesson on the use of computers and devices, I didn’t want him to get too exposed to the internet at such a tender age.”
No one questioned again and silence sat between them for another two minutes before Junior continued.
“I copied the original video into another folder and tried to edit the copy, inserting effects and imaging. My ears were plugged and I didn’t know when mum walked in on me. I ran downstairs thinking I could get away somehow, delete the videos before returning her tablet, but I guess I was unlucky today.” He let his head fall sadly. Nothing appeared funny to the disturbed faces looking back at him.
“Detective Susan here told us to call her if anything.” Junior’s father spoke out. “Since her number reported switched off, we decided to come over to the station ourselves.”
The DPO finally found his voice. “I really appreciate this. Really. Really. A lot of Nigerians wouldn’t come forward with such information because they think the police shouldn’t be trusted but I salute your courage sir, ma…” he turned in Junior’s direction. The boy was avoiding his eyes. “And you too, my boy. You have no idea what this video you brought is capable of averting. We are…” the ringing from his phone cut him shut and he reached out for it, taking permission from them with his first finger. His eyeballs bulged out on seeing the identity of the caller.
“Honourable commissioner, sir!” The DPO was almost saluting, as though he could see him.
“From the governor, sir?” He sounded really unbelievable and everyone’s eyes looked like they couldn’t wait another minute until he was done with the call. The confusion in the DPO’s eyes deepened more and more while the person on the other end of the phone spoke on.
Caleb couldn’t concentrate. Barrister Chuks had told him about all his futile efforts and now they’d resigned to fate. It was just better to rehearse than to go and embarrass themselves in court in the morning. Caleb wasn’t sure if Barrister Chuks’ ideas made sense.
He should plead guilty? Or as the second option pinpointed, insanity?
How was that possible? He had never had any issues with his brain before. At no point whatsoever. In fact, Angela was who he suspected to have some mental issues due to her obsessive behaviours but he dared not raise it before her. She’d have done something unthinkable realising that someone saw her as mad or insane, let alone Caleb, her own Caleb.
“I know how difficult this is for you, Caleb. But you have to put up your best act at the court tomorrow. This is not only for you but your family inclusive.
Caleb scoffed. “So I should run mad in court or act like I’m just recovering from insanity?” The whole idea sounded ridiculous to him.
If he was able to convince the judge that he had mental challenges and had killed Angela under that influence, he may be lucky to only be thrown into a rehabilitation centre for at least a year, after which they may consider him fit to join the society again. It was not as easy as said though, because this case had more higher guys involved than a mere ‘usual’ murder. But they had just one card to bring to the table after all, and he can’t afford to fail himself.
The door to the visiting room opened, presenting a sergeant leading in another person.
Caleb always feels jittery whenever he sees the DPO. It can only mean trouble and it wasn’t the right time to have additional trouble yet.
Barrister Chuks greeted the DPO fondly and got up, presenting an empty seat. The former only kept his focus on Caleb and inasmuch as Caleb thought himself prepared for the worst, he felt a gross rumbling on the lower part of his abdomen.
“A driver is being sent from Lugard house to pick you as we speak. So you may want to freshen up. I was told the driver would come with your clothes. You can use my restroom.”
Caleb and the barrister almost screamed, “Lugard house?” together but both refrained from it.
Or was there another place called Lugard House aside their state government’s house?
“I… I … I don’t understand, sir?” Caleb stammered as he tried to seek clarification but the DPO wasn’t ready to give one, or maybe he was running out of time indeed.
“Sergeant?” He motioned to the young man still standing few inches away from the entrance door. “Please lead him to my restroom immediately.”
Caleb’s eyes begged whoever it fell on for explanation. He wasn’t that sort of criminal that needed to be killed in the government house, right in front of the governor, right?
He swallowed against the lump in his throat and walked as the sergeant led him out of the visitor’s room.
At the back of Angela’s diary, Victor had found something really intriguing. He knew the girl acted quite strangely at times but what he’d found looked stranger than all. It was titled, ‘NPD talk therapy schedule’ and a timetable chart was well drawn out with columns of ‘date’, ‘venue’, ‘phone number’ and ‘specialist’. It filled the first page and up to half of the next one. The place this chart was written was so backwards it would be easy to miss it in the whole book but Victor had decided to open every single sheet one after the other until finish, especially after realising he had been wrongly accusing Anone in his mind.
He read the lines again and went down each column to see different dates, same venue, and different specialists. This could only mean one thing. That Angela had something she was seeing a therapist to talk about. And if the schedule on that book was anything to go by, then it would be that she had been on that therapy for a long time. The venue there wasn’t Nigeria, so he could conclude that she had therapies abroad before coming here. If she was having any in Nigeria, he would have become aware of it in the weeks they became hyper close.
So then, what’s NPD? He asked no one in particular as he reached for his phone. Clicking on his most used browser, he typed the search words, NPD into the space provided for it. Few seconds and a thousand loads of responses opened before him. The first page bore “Narcissistic Personality Disorder, also called NPD”.
He took in a deep breath and relaxed better into his chair. He needed to read it up, with full attention.
Barrister Chuks hung up and suddenly regretted why he had thought to call Caleb’s mother in the first place. Very wrong choice. The woman could be very dramatic to a fault. For example, he had barely reported how the DPO came to the visiting room and announced that the governor would love to see Caleb immediately. He barely explained the urgency with which the police officer ordered the sergeant to get Caleb ready to be driven to the government house by an oncoming driver when the woman started a long trail of screams that almost damaged his ears. She was wailing at the same time saying things that sounded like prayers of regret and for safety at the same time. Barrister Chuks had to end the call when it was obvious the woman had abandoned her phone as he could no longer heard her answer to him.
He held the phone tightly to his chest. A lot of things need be done and on time. It was even more painful that he had been put in the dark as to what was going on. They were having a rehearsal, a plan on what would be the best thing to say in court tomorrow morning. Hope Caleb won’t be forced to consent to something else under pressure there and spoil all the plans? Hope Caleb wouldn’t shoot himself, as well as the barrister, in the leg? All these questions and more begged for responses as he scrolled down his contact list.
“Helloo sir.” It was Mark, Caleb’s younger brother, the one who directed him to help Caleb out in the case.
There had left Mark out of the picture for a while now, partly because he’s currently not in the country and so didn’t have the luxury of coming down to visit his elder brother. Now that everything seemed messy, barrister Chuks was sure it was time to report to his sender.
He took his time to narrate all his effort so far, not forgetting to point out the complications and unbearable intricacies of the case. Mark paid full attention until he got to the event of the last few minutes.
“I don’t know, sir.” Barrister Chuks responded in self-defence. “The police officers said nothing to me. And I wasn’t allowed to follow him either.” He had a remorseful guilt in his voice.
As he listened on, he noticed Mark wasn’t sounding disappointed or condemning in any way, instead the latter took his time to explain the importance of winning that case to his brother Caleb, him and everyone in the family for that matter.
“I understand, sir!” Barrister Chuks said and hung up.
Caleb felt really uncomfortable and sweat drained from his hair through the back of his ears till it dropped on the back of his new long sleeves shirt. The AC in the room that appeared to be oozing out freshness wasn’t getting to the part of his brain that was dishing out hotness, fear and anxiety. Here he was, sitting helplessly in one of the offices in Lugard house.
The governor would like to see him? Him?
How would it sound being executed on gallows in such a prestigious place as this? It’d make him feel like a martyr, but death would have happened anyway.
The woman, he recognised her very well. Aunty Flora, Angela’s aunt. She sat down looking out through the window. Outside, some military men paraded the entire circumference of the area, and they inside could see through the transparent glasses in this executive lounge. The woman didn’t say any word to him, not even a response to his greetings. He’d just swallowed and sat back. The other person in the room was a man and he introduced himself as the Angela’s family lawyer. Perhaps he was the defence counsel in the hearing tomorrow morning? No one was giving him any details as to why the governor called for him and he’d resigned to his fate not to worry anymore. It wasn’t helping matters after all.
The door opened briefly, presenting a rotund man with protruding stomach.
“I’m so sorry for keeping you waiting, ma!” The man apologised to aunty flora. Only aunty flora. As though the rest of them should be happy that they’re kept waiting in the office of the governor.
The man found a couch and took it, dropping his briefcase on the side stool beside him.
“His excellency sends his apology for unavoidable absence, ma. He’s been at a council meeting all morning. He said to tell you, ma, that he even had to step out of the council meeting to pick your call earlier before asking you to come over. He was hoping he would be back to his office after that, but a memo came that the president would be having an emergency meeting with all governors of state in his party. It’s all because of the fast approaching elections.”
Everyone, except the so called Angela’s family lawyer paid attention to what the police commissioner was saying. Aunty Flora, because she had briefed the governor about what she remembered and Caleb, because he was hoping the man would somehow clear his doubt. The lawyer was only sorting through a stack of white papers in a slightly opened briefcase on his thighs.
“The governor already briefed me about your call to him and he specifically placed orders that we in the security team should do whatever your conclusion on the matter is.”
Aunty Flora made her face into something that sat between a smile and a frown. She sat up better on her seat and facing Caleb, the young man felt his heart in his mouth.
“Angela is literally my daughter.” She started, her voice soft. “I’ve been responsible for all of her ever since my brother, his wife and Angela’s two younger siblings died in a fatal plane crash. Suffice to say that I watched her grow from when she would always cry every minute about missing her family till when she got comfortable with my husband and I as her family.”
Caleb didn’t know if he needed all these details that were obvious to the blind and audible to the deaf. After all his escapades with Angela and he wasn’t aware of basic upbringing histories like these? How possible? He couldn’t interrupt the older woman anyway, so he had no choice but to listen… attentively.
“I’m sorry for all the torture we made you go through, Caleb. Now I’m sure you called off your wedding because Angela indirectly or directly made you to.” Aunty Flora raised her left eyebrow and lowered the other one.
Caleb heaved a sigh of relief. It’s humbling coming from aunty Flora that she knew the manipulative extent her niece could go. He can’t recall how many times Angela had threatened suicide, real suicide, if he ever left her. He can’t count them.
“I was going through a folder on my laptop in which I saved her things when I stumbled on one of her therapy reports that had been mailed to me the early days she returned to Nigeria.”
Aunty flora continued on and on about how Angela had to stop her therapy since she came to the country.. and they all didn’t see any cause for worry as she seemed to have improved greatly. It took her until she had called their doctor this evening to realise that Angela must have killed herself. The way she sounded defeated on the phone that night and how that she didn’t say anymore thing after Aunty Flora’s advice of letting go of Caleb. If Angela’s previous shows of frustration was anything to go by, there was no fun in telling that she could have ended her own life for that singular reason – feeling of rejection.
Caleb took in a deep breath. Should he be scared or excited? He couldn’t pinpoint which. Wasn’t it rather rash a conclusion, coming from Aunty Flora?
“Well, Mr Caleb. I guess you are vindicated.” The police commissioner said like he heard his thoughts. “The DPO sent a video of the incidence.” He brought out a computer from his briefcase and powered it. “The little son of her neighbour had covered the event and was playfully editing and adding effects without knowing any implications. It was until his mother got hold on the device this afternoon that they hurriedly came to surrender it at the station.”
Aunty Flora felt really shocked. She wasn’t aware of anything like that. And as the police commissioner set his computer in a way that everyone could literally view the video, she felt tears sting her face. The back of her palm couldn’t do anything as the tears seemed to be gushing from an uncontrollable spring water. Caleb felt like going to hold onto her and maybe, just maybe, pat her back. Her tears broke his heart, every woman’s tears has that effect on him actually.
“We’ve not been able to find the gateman up till now but we learnt he packed out of the compound before anything else.” The police commissioner managed a light chuckle. “The baba don’t want to be implicated.”
“I’m sorry, Caleb. You didn’t deserve all the torture.” Aunty Flora called out with the faintest voice left in her throat.
Everything felt so good to be true in Caleb’s ears. What had the police commissioner said? That he was vindicated? Just like that? Incredible!
“I don’t know how best to say this, Caleb. My niece. She’s given you so much trouble. I know. I can imagine.” She sniffed in. “Her hyper attention seeking character got you so confused about marrying your fiancée or not. She had pushed you to that wall of emotions and vulnerability where so many things had been damaged. She made you quit your job for Christ sake…” tears poured out much more again and the others rose their head up at the mention of ‘quitting job’. “I don’t know. But I’m sure even the deceased Angela would be sorry right now. Please forgive our dear girl. She was suffering from NPD. Please.”
“It’s OK, ma’am.” Caleb finally found his voice. The woman had flashed several things in his mind and a great worry became where to pick up the shattered pieces of his life back from. “At least, I now know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder even though I had to learn from a negative experience. I can tell someone else to be watchful and careful.”
Aunty Flora stretched forth her hand and Caleb took it. She massaged the top of it and wiped her face one more time before clearing her throat.
“Of course, there would be no court case nor hearing anymore. I, with the consent of the governor, have withdrawn the case.”
Caleb felt his breath release before realising he had been holding onto it the whole time.
“One more thing…” She announced and that drew the attention of the remaining two persons in the room. She smiled through her tears. “I invited Angela’s family lawyer over here to get things done and over with once and for all.”
“Honourable Commissioner, if you don’t mind excusing us?” Aunty flora requested with a polite voice.
Shrugging, the rotund man walked out of the room.
Caleb’s face brightened, coloured with fear of the unknown. He could only hope that nothing would go wrong anymore. He’d had enough.
Aunty flora motioned to the older man who had been sitting so quietly the whole time like he hadn’t been in this room with them. He gave a half smile and sat up on his seat.
“Good day, Mr Caleb. I am Barrister Okpanachi, SAN, family lawyer to the deceased, now extinct Hon Daniel Okpe’s family.”
Everyone blinked at the harsh reality he had just pointed out. Angela’s entire lineage had been wiped out now. Sadly.
The man fumbled with some papers and continued.
“I would like to read out the last will of the deceased to the hearing of family members!”
Caleb’s eyes pushed out of its hole like they may drop to the floor sooner than later.
The only impossible journey is the one you never began.
To be continued.