Seno arrived Uyo that night.
Susan and their sons had made different delicacies and smoothies for his homecoming.
His wife gave him a warm hug as he stared at her with fear in his eyes.
His sons; Ubong and Eugene greeted him oddly. He knew that something was wrong, but he wasn’t sure until he got home, there was a surprise welcome party, it was one that changed Seno’s life forever.
As Seno got into the house, he tried to summon peace of mind. His sons appeared in his side with plates of rice, soup and chicken in curry sauce.
The Antihistamines and beer he had in the plane made his head swim dizzily as he staggered to a seat on the dining.
“Are you okay daddy?” Eugene asked boldly?
Seno nodded as he took a glass of water from the table and gulped it down his throat uncontrollably.
Everything seemed different in his eyes; His sons grew taller. Eugene was twenty-two, while his youngest son Ubong had clocked twenty a week before Seno’s return.
They both graduated from Army schools. They had gone all gruff and macho when their dad asked them to sit so that they could talk. They waited anxiously for their mother to come to the dinning table with the bowl of chicken; while they glanced at each other.
Susan appeared in the dinning moments later with a bowl of chicken and a sword.
She placed the chicken on the table and curved a smile as she lowered herself gently on the chair with the sword on the floor.
“What are you doing with a sword?”
“It’s for keeps.” she chuckled.
“We missed you darling, welcome back home. The boys missed you so much.”
Susan said shrilly as she forked a chicken lap into her plate and passed it on to Seno.
For a few minutes, only sounds of cutleries were heard until Ubong broke the silence.
“Daddy, where have you been all these while?” He asked gruffly.
Seno choked as he took the glass of water and gulped down the second time.
“Emmm…London, yes. I was in London.”
“Doing what?” Eugene threw the question at him rudely.
“Didn’t your mom tell you guys?” Seno asked, looking confused.
“We wanna hear from your mouth that you were living with a woman in London!” Eugene exclaimed.
Everyone dropped their cutleries as they all stared at Seno sternly.
Seno turned to Susan and then said, “Susan, you told the kids about our misunderstanding, that wasn’t right.” Susan got up immediately and poured the juice from the jug on his head. He yelled and got up from the dinning table, but his two sons held him down firmly.
They took a rope under the dinning table and tide his hand and legs to the chair.
“What are you doing? let me off!” He yelled shrilly.
Susan took the sword from under her feet, twenty threeheld it in her hand firmly.
“So Seno…You walked into this house with full confident, that even as a woman who loves Jehovah, I will let you in just like that?”
Seno shook his head desperately. His heartbeat accelerated and a bead of sweat limned his upper lip.
“I am sorry Susan, so sorry please…” He said, breathing heavily.
“I have been heard twenty-three years now. ‘I am sorry Susan.’
You spent all my hard earned penny on women. You bought them cars, built them houses, slept in five star hotels with girls and came back falling sick on me. You came back with STDs and Infections I spent so much money to get rid off. And after every pains I bore, you still came back to say ‘I am sorry’.
When Eugene was born, you left me on that hospital bed and went away with Mercy your former staff…For three consecutive months. I came back home and did the work of a boss and a mom, all alone. And then when she finally eloped with the company’s money, you came back home pained and walked right into my arms. You still said ‘I am sorry.’
We started from square one, I suffered, sold my family’s gold, sold lands that I wasn’t supposed to, just to start up life over again.” Her voice broke down, as she sobbed softly. Tears running down her sons eyes.
“And after we picked up, and the company name became firm again, you slept with hundreds of girls, came back home drunk and weak.
I took over my company, and you came back begging that things were going to change, and that you were going to be a good father to our sons and a good husband to me.
I came down and handed to you the position of a CEO, you took advantage of it woefully. You failed again. This time, even worse.
You eloped with your staff, worse a married woman. A woman who had not been married for even a year, you ruined her home and took her away from her child and her less privileged husband.
And now, you’re here again to tell me you’re sorry.” She broke down and wept bitterly, then comported herself. Her countenance changed, she unexpectedly held Seno’s fourth finger and chopped it off, blood oozing out. His son’s faces were stern and mean.
By the time his brain registered, he yelled and screamed uncontrollably; his voice echoed.
Seno’s words rang in Atimma’s head several times. She imagined his face when he said them. She walked around the house, murmuring words to herself.
She was pregnant, and the signs were beginning to show on her face. She counted the money Seno gave to her over and over again.
She had missed home, she missed Harry and Linda. She had wondered what her daughter might look like now, and thought of how she was going to face them. She had Harry’s number off hand, but she was ashamed to call him.
She stared at her phone for a while and then began to search for Linda’s number. She dialed it and placed the phone slowly to her ears.
“I have been planning to call you, what’s happening? I feel everything isn’t right with you. I saw Seno with his wife at the Ibom Tropicana yesterday, he didn’t see me. I tried calling you at that moment but your number didn’t go through.” She said shrilly, reeling off.
Atimma was mute for a while, then she suddenly broke down in tears.
“I am pregnant Linda, I want to get rid of it.”
“You’re pregnant for who?”
“Seno of course. We broke up two weeks ago, he left Nigeria and said it was over, that he was going back to his wife.”
“How can he say such a thing? After using you for how long? No, you can’t get rid of the pregnancy. Keep it. Come back to Nigeria and let him know you’re still carrying his baby.”
“What if he doesn’t accept?” She asked through a hard breathe.
“Tell his wife. When you do that, he is going to know you’re serious.”
“I thought of that too. But I didn’t want problems.”
“Babe, na wa for you o. How can you think of getting rid of a whole Seno’s baby. Do you know the kind of share of wealth you will have by keeping his baby? you might even have him back sef.”
Atimma became relieved as she held her chest.
“Have you been seeing Harry and my daughter?”
“No o, the last I saw him was at the market. He was selling water as usual. Abeg, leave that poor thing. You should think of coming to see your daughter.”
“She won’t know me.” She said pensively. And then became quiet for a moment.
“I just hope to see her soon.” She muttered.
“Okay. thank you for calling me o, I will be expecting you in Nigeria soon.”
“Thank you bestie, you always help me out when I am bothered.” She said softly, as she hung the call.
She began to search for her international passports and ID cards.
She started making calls to find out about ticket bookings.
Didi woke up with a fever. She had been shivering and crying all through the night, keeping Harry awake all through the night.
He gave her the medicines Enomfon brought the previous day, but she vomited them with everything she had in her tummy.
“Enyofon, Dada enyonfon…awant enyonfon.” She cried out softly.
Harry stood stiffly beside her on the bed, hurt and pained.
He held Didi in his arms and tried to sing to her. Didi placed her small hands on his mouth.
“You don’t like the song honey?” She nodded softly.
“What song should I sing for my angel?”
Harry took his phone and typed a message to Enomfon… ‘Didi is ill. She has been calling your name for hours now. I need to take her to the hospital urgently.’
Within a minute, his phone rang. He stared at it, his heart trembled as he saw that she was calling him back.
“Hi.” He said huskily.
“I want to be sure you’re not tricking me, place the phone on Didi’s ears.” She said in soft whispers. Harry placed the phone immediately on Didi’s ears and whispered “it’s Aunty Enomfon. Say hello.”
“Enyomfo, come, come…” She said softly.
Harry placed the phone back to his ears and said, We need you badly sweetheart.”
The sound of their voices melted her heart, she couldn’t wait for another moment. She took her car keys and drove speedily to Harry’s house.
Harry was already waiting outside for her, with Didi covered with wrapper in his arms. Enomfon ran out of the car, threw the car key at Harry and got Didi from him.
She held her tight like she was never going to let her go. They sat behind the car, humming songs together as Harry drove hastily to the hospital Downtown.
After the nurses and Doctors had attended to Didi, Enomfon injected the syringe into her soft, small buttocks. She screamed in the hands of her father, who held her hands and her legs tight.
“You’ll be fine darling.” Enomfon said soothingly as she disposed the used syringe and took Didi from Harry’s hands.
Didi sobbed until she slept off in Enomfon’s arms. They both watched her sleep peacefully.
“You called back immediately I sent you the message, weren’t you sleeping?” Harry asked huskily.
Enomfon glanced at him and took her face away immediately.
“You were thinking of me.” He said in soft whispers.
She closed her eyes, trying to keep the tears that were burning in her throat from escaping.
“Tell me the truth, what happened between you and your wife.” She asked softly.
Harry held her hands. “She isn’t my wife. I made a mistake, I have told you this a lot of times….”
Harry went on to narrate how Atimma dealt with him and how his mother died. Tears running through their eyes uncontrollably. She watched his mouth move, and couldn’t wait for him to tell her more of his bitter experiences. She grabbed him to herself and kissed him passionately, throwing her phone and car keys on the bed.
“I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” he said, holding her face with his hands.
“I want to shower, I am hot.” She said weakly as she led the way to the bathroom in the hospital.
“Won’t the nurses come to interrupt?”
“They won’t. I work here. They know Didi already, they think I am her mother. Nobody will come, except I sent for them. She began to remove her clothes before him. He averted his gaze when he saw that she was naked. But she held him to the shower. She stood underneath the water, hoping it would wash away all the painful memories Harry had experienced. The incredible tenderness with which Harry coaxed her into response, the unbearable pleasure that his hands, mouth, and body had given her, the explosive completion he’d shared with her.
Her knees felt water soluble, melting away under the steamy spray.
Enomfon put out a hand against the wall of the shower to steady herself as the echoes of passion pummeled her more effectively than the shower spray.
She felt whole for the first time, when Harry began to touch her. He removed his clothes and threw them on wet floor.
She blushed when he stared at her lustfully.
“I love you, Eno.” He moaned, as he pulled her to himself and began to do magical things to her body.
He pinned her to the wall, blocking her exit. He put his hand around her neck, caressed her nape, an act that never failed to make her crazy with the need to kiss him.
Atimma arrived Uyo in the early hours of a Monday morning. She took a cab to a hotel room and after she placed her luggage in the wardrobe, she became calm. Thinking.
She went to her former house and was told by the new tenant that Harry was no more staying there.
“Do you have any idea where they are now?” she asked.
“I don’t even know them.” The man responded rudely.
“Shit! shit! shit!” She said, banging her hands on her forehead. She took a long breath and walked away hastily, heading to Seno’s office.
The securities cheered her up as she walked passed them and stepped into the elevator.
As she walked into the hallway that led to Seno’s office, her eyes narrowed with suspicion and wariness.
She opened the door slowly, she didn’t knock. Her heart trembled as she saw Susan face to face for the first time. They had always seen themselves in photos and the company’s end of year party or gala night.
Susan took a deep breath, clutching a mug in both hands and looking at Atimma sternly. She didn’t blink an eye, she didn’t show any expression of shock or surprise of seeing her.
Her peripheral vision was filled with the long expanse of her husband’s bare flesh.
“You have no modesty, no shame, Atimma.” She got up slowly to the door and locked it with a key, then walked majestically back to her seat with the key in her hands.With a shake of her head, she took her eyes off Atimma who had been quiet all the while.”So finally, you’re back from London?” She gulped down the substance in the mug and kept it slowly on the table.”It’s my pleasure meeting you face to face. I mean God is good right?” She giggled. “He puts our enemies right in our hands…””I am not an enemy.” Atimma interrupted shrilly. Susan gave a loud laugh and fell back on the chair, and looked at her oddly.”Did you hear that? She said she isn’t an enemy.” She laughed out so loud again like she was possessed.
“You’re the biggest enemy of my family. You’re the biggest enemy of my company. You’re a terrible woman, a very terrible one. You see this?” She took out Seno’s fingers from a shelf and pointed at her.
Atimma glared at the finger, her eyes widened.”Whose finger is this?””I don’t know.” Atimma whispered shakily.”Jeeezzzz, you don’t know yourex-lover’s finger? Amazing..
This is Seno’s finger. I chopped it off last week and was about feeding him with it when my sons pleaded. I had to chop his fourth finger because he doesn’t deserve to be married, neither are you. The both of you. But thanks be to Jehovah, the lion and the tribe of Judah…He created me with a heart of gold, I forgave him and took him back as a good woman I have always been. I had to give him a mark on his body so that he will never ever cheat on me again. I am going to do same to you.” She said boldly.Tears ran out from Atimma’s eyes as she began to shiver.”Your husband deceived me. He told me you both had issues, and that he was going to marry me.””You’re shallow minded and stupid. He pulled your panties and forced you to bed? He dragged you out from your husband’s house with chains and ropes? He smuggled charms into your drink that made you to be this stupid? Your husband came here weeping like a child, the poor man was so unlucky to have met a cheap, greedy slut like you. You’re so pathetic. “Atimma’s chest was suddenly so tight, it felt paralyzed.
Susan took a razor blade from her drawer and stared at it for moments.”I have been wanting to dispose this razor blade, but my instincts said to me ‘a day will come when you will need it.’ So I kept it back. I will always listen to my instincts, it is always right.” Her voice had cracked, as she became stern and looked strange.Atimma clenched her fists on the table and looked down at them. All she saw was the terrified look in Susan’s eyes.
“I am so sorry Susan.” Atimma whispered. Susan looked at her, surprised at how hazy and sweaty she looked.
“You still had the effrontery to come back here, in search of my husband. You still had the guts to send him messages of how your pregnancy has made you miserable.” She paused and then whispered. ” You’re pregnant for my husband.” She giggled.
“It was a mistake. ” She cried out.
“You walked into that mistake with your eyes wide open. I will not ask you to get rid of that baby, of course I am not going to be heartless like my husband. I am a child of God, daughter of the most high God…I don’t support infanticide. You’re leaving here with your pregnancy, but with bruises on your skin!” She yelled as she grabbed a penknife from the drawer and slitted Atimma’s skin bit by bit. She was so powerful that she grabbed Atimma in her legs and chopped her right hands off, blood splashing all over the place; Atimma wailed bitterly. Her loud scream attracted the security men who ran helter skelter and bounced on the door hard till it almost fell. By the time they entered the office, they all looked terrified at the bloody scene.
They all held Susan to a chair, while they managed to take Atimma out. She wept bitterly, with bloody bruises all over her.
The next morning, Atimma stood in front of the company’s gate dragging her fragmented thoughts together. Parts of her body wrapped with plasters and bandages.
She waited anxiously for Susan to arrive. As soon as Susan’s car got to the company’s premises, the police surrounded it and took her away.
“You’re under arrest for assault madam.”
One of the police officers said as he clicked the handcuffed locked in Susan’s hands.
“Officer, you don’t also arrest people for sleeping with people’s husbands?” Susan asked shrilly. One of the polices laughed out so loud as he shook his head.
Susan entered the black maria willingly as they drove off.
Atimma had written statements against Susan, and after she left the police station that morning, she went straight to her hotel room and then took her bags to the hospital. Her money was finishing, as she could not afford hotel bills anymore.
She dialed Linda’s number.
“Hello, something bad happened. ” She said softly.
“What happened again?”
“Susan, Seno’s wife almost killed me. I didn’t know she took over the company, I went to tell Seno that I was still pregnant of his child. She almost killed me… I have just one hand now. It’s really painful Linda. I am stranded. I don’t have where to go. I would have visited my late mom’s sister, but it will be too shameful.” She said weakly.
“Okay. I left my key under my carpet at home. I will text you the address to my new apartment. I am so sorry, I didn’t know it will result in this. I would have not have advised you to go close to those wicked people. That lady is mad.”
“I arrested her this morning.”
“Good. Listen, I am in Lagos now, I came to see my man friend. I will be coming back later today. I will see you when I come.”
“Thank you very so much Bestie.”
Atimma said softly and hung the call.
Linda sent the address to her house via text message. She packed her bags and took a cab there.
Later that day, Seno went to the police station and bailed Susan. He knelt down at the police station and pleaded with her to let things go. She had signed an undertaking letter to take care of Atimma’s bruises.
“I will do no such thing!” she whispered as she held her husband’s hands and got into the car.
“If you get angry because I beat up that girl, I am going to cut off your balls when we get home.” She said meanly.
Seno became frightened. “No honey. I am not angry, I love you.” He said in a shaky tone as he started the car and drove back home.
On that same day, Harry had left for work in Lagos.
Enomfon and Didi pecked him goodbye as he strode away excitedly.
Enomfon and Didi waved at him till they could not view him anymore.
As Harry got to Murtala Muhammad airport, he waited for the company’s driver to come pick him up at the airport. Just as he saw him from afar, and tried to reach to him, a loud feminine voice called his name shrilly.
He began to wonder who might have known him in Lagos, and when he turned, his eyes met with Linda.
“Linda hi.” He greeted casually.
“Mr Harry, long time no see. Where have you been? Since you took my friend away, I haven’t heard from you both.” She said and glanced up at him. She was awed at how much Harry had changed. From his head to his feet, he looked so handsome and adorable.
Harry returned a light smile.
Sadique the company’s driver approached him and said ” Welcome sir.” he took away his bags respectively.
“Well, I haven’t heard from her either.” Harry said calmly.
“What are you doing in Lagos?” She asked.
“Work. I work here now.”
“oh that’s great. I would have asked where you work, but I don’t want to be inquisitive.”
“I don’t have your number anymore. I will like to call and pay my god daughter a visit.” She said with a loud and amused laugher.
Harry returned her smile and got his complimentary card from his pocket and handed to her. She collected the complimentary card stylishly withholding his hands.
Harry took his hands away from hers and said, “It was nice meeting again Linda.”
The sound of his deep voice ran through her like quicksilver.
She suddenly lost her voice as she watched him walk away.
She stared at the complimentary card till she got to Uyo.
As soon as Linda alighted from the taxi, she was so anxious to see Atimma.
When she clicked her door open, and saw her on the sofa, her heart broke.
“Abasi! What happened? Is it this bad. Ufan, this is crazy. You look awful!” She exclaimed.
Atimma lost her voice when she was trying to talk.
“Susan is a bastard! God will punish her.”
“I almost died. She almost killed me. When I saw myself in the mirror, I could not believe my eyes. I don’t know what to do.”
“You will heal gradually. Take it easy please.” Linda said soothingly.
“I can’t even lift my hands.” Atimma said almost in tears.
“Where did she keep your hands? I mean the one she cut off?”
“I don’t know.” Her answer was swift and short.
Linda stared at her pitifully. “God will punish Susana Seno in this life. Na only she get husband?” She muttered to herself as she tossed her sandals into the shoe bag.
“You will not believe who I saw today at the airport.”
“Who?” Atimma asked softly.
“Guess right and get a sumptuous dinner from me tonight.”
Atimma shot a grateful look at her.
“I don’t know anybody. You’re my only friend. so tell me who you saw.”
“Which Harry?” She asked with her eyes widened.
“Harrison, your husband…”
“What was he doing at the airport? selling water? or has he turned to a cab guy?”
“Non of the above. He works with Chevron now.” Linda said as she searched hastily for the complimentary card in between the partitions of her bag. She handed it to Atimma excitedly.
“That’s it! babe, this guy fine! if you see his skin, shining like oyigbo pepper. He was scenting like a rich guy. Even his wrist watch, his shoes, his T-shirt, babe I bow for the guy, he was too fine!” Linda exclaimed.
“Wow, how things can change so fast.”
“I am going to call him, so that I could at least see my godchild for the first time.”
“I wonder what she might look like now.”
“Cute like her father of course. I am not exaggerating o, Harry too fine. When he stood enh, girls were just looking at him as if he fell from the sky.” Linda said sweetly.
The dullness in Atimma’s eyes became grief.
“I will like to see Didi. I will like to touch her. Even though she doesn’t know me.”
“And do you think Harry will let you go close to his child?”
“Harry loved me. I believe he still does, he will let me. And even if he doesn’t want me anymore…”
Linda cuts in, “Want you? As you are now? Maybe this is the first time I am going to tell you the bitter truth. Forget Harry, he will never take you back. I am sure he is already in a relationship with someone else, or he might be searching, and anyone could be lucky.”
“You can help me, you can help me talk to him.” Atimma said in broken whispers. Pain exploded in her brain. Only the meager cushion of the blanket kept her from being knocked unconscious.
“Are you okay? Atim…” Linda held her hands slowly.
“I am fine.” Her brain was whirling with the implication of Linda’s words about Harry. Her body was filled with pains.
“I will try and get to Harry and find out when he will be back, so that you can see him and talk about your child.” Linda said soothingly as she held her hands tight.
She began to cry weakly. Trying to get her feet under her, she began to scream at the pains she felt on her hands.
“screaming won’t help. Calm down…” Linda’s voice was muffled.
Pain stole the last dregs of coherence and nothing at all made sense.
Didi ran around her father’s new house excitedly.
Harry had sent money to Enomfon to get a big edifice at shelter Afrique. She had started buying room furniture, art works, room decors and got painters to paint the walls with snow white acrylic paints.
A feeling she could only label as happiness swept through her like a cleansing wind as she stood, watching her lover’s well furnished new apartment.
“We did a good job right Didi?” She turned to Didi.
“Yes!” She yelled excitedly.
She carried Didi into her arms and drove back home. She was anxious for Harry’s return.
Harry’s return from work put smiles on the faces of Enomfon and Didi. Enomfon had made atama soup and wheat for him in his new house.
He strolled around the house, admiring every piece of arts and furniture, the curtains and the bed sheets, the chandelier, the rugs and the clocks were exclusively beautiful.
“I hope the money was enough? It seems you spent more than the amount I sent.” He said while moulding a lump of wheat into Didi’s mouth.
“More than enough…” She said softly.
“We need a TV for Didi’s room. She won’t be watching some channels with us here.”
He said huskily. Didi began to grumble words to herself.
Enomfon giggled. “She doesn’t like that.”
She said with a soft smile, looking at Didi’s frowned face.
Harry gave a loud sigh and kept eating while feeding Didi too.
He kept staring at Enomfon. She was the most perfect creature he had ever met, she filled his heart until it overflowed.
Later that day, Enomfon and Didi had gone to church for the midweek service. While Harry laid tiredly on his soft couch.
The sound of his ringing tone woke him. When he saw that it was Linda, he reluctantly picked the call.
“Harry the fine man…I want to come and see you for something very important.”
” I hope there is no problem?” he asked boldly.
“Not at all…”
Harry gave her descriptions to his house and in an hour later, she was right before his gate; Standing on her six inches high heel and mini gown.
“Harry! nice meeting you again today.” She said shrilly as she pulled him close to herself and kissed him on the cheek.” Harry was uncomfortable with the act of greeting, but he comported himself and led her into the sitting room.
She placed her hands on his arms and hugged him backwardly.
“I missed you o.” She said in soft whispers.
Harry pushed her off gently.
“What can I offer you, Linda?”
“Yourself my baby.” She whispered as she looked around the sitting room with her eyes wide open.
“Your house is too beautiful. Is this really your house?” She asked again. Harry nodded boldly.
“Wow….it’s beautiful. It looks like those houses I see in American movies.”
Harry giggled and lowered himself on the couch.
“You said you wanted to see me.”
“Yes. But first, how about my god daughter?”
“She is out with my friend.”
“oh I miss….I really wanted her to see her god mother.” she said, shaking her breast. Harry took away his eyes and placed it on the TV. Linda walked seductively and sat on his laps.
“What are you doing?” Harry asked. She turned her face to offer him her lips, but he turned his face away.
“Please stop it.” He said rudely.
“I won’t.” She whispered against his ears. “I always loved you, even when your stupid wife, who calls herself my friend took you for granted. I always wanted to help, but I was afraid she might think otherwise.” Her words were almost like a plea.
“I am not ready for this drama Linda. I never wanted to see anyone that has to do with Atimma ever again. And you’re one of them. I invited you over because I thought you had something important to say. But you don’t. please leave…”
She grabbed his muscular arm. “I want you to kiss me before I walk away.” He didn’t say a word. The grimness behind his smile sent terror streaking through her.
Harry lowered himself on the couch again and thought for a while.
“I will kiss you on one condition…” He took a deep breathe and then turned to her. “You will find your friend, and make her sign a divorce paper.”
“She is not far fetched. She is right in my house…”
“I am not done yet. You will also represent her in court, for the divorce processes… because I know it will be difficult to bring her along.”
“And after the divorce?” Linda asked with a mean look.
“I will kiss you. And do whatever you want.” He said in soft whispers.
“No! you will marry me!”
He looked at her strangely, and a hollow laugh escaped his lips.
Harry made a large photo frame that had Enomfon and Didi on it. He hung it gently on the wall and admired it for a while.
Enomfon came out from the room, wearing a filmy dressing gown over her night gown. She was amazed when she saw the picture on the wall.
“This is beautiful. You enlarged the picture I sent to you when you were in Lagos.” She said as he walked towards him.
“I want us to marry this year. Before Didi’s second birthday.” He said huskily.
“Are you proposing? where is your ring?” She asked tenderly. He laced his fingers through hers.
“There are things I wanna get over first. You know America more than I do, you schooled there. I want us to move down there after we are married. Being here brings back the sad memory of the past.”
She puts a finger on his lips.
“It’s okay. Let’s not talk about it. We have to pay your mom a visit. Get her flowers, and maybe sit there for a while.” She said. Harry’s chest rose and fell, and he wondered if she knew how beautiful she was to him at that moment.
He almost could see her heart through her eyes, and was touched by the concern for his late mother.”
“I am saving up some money, I want to build a church. I am going demolish my parents’ old house and build a church on the space.”
“Your mother is going to be proud.”
He nodded sadly.
“She would have stayed a bit longer. At least watch Didi grow. She would have stayed to see the woman who came to my life and changed it. You’re my good luck charm, I am crazy in love with you.” He began to kiss her succulent pink lips.
He moved his hand down and touched her intimately. He drew in a quick breath when she arched against his hand, inviting him to do more. “Where is Didi?” He asked in soft whispers.
“Asleep.” She whispered.
He exhaled, feeling his heartbeat settle into a natural rhythm.
She opened to him, her arms going around his neck, touching her lips to his throat. Then he suddenly paused and then said, “I am officially divorcing Atim next weekend. I spoke with a lawyer. I didn’t wanna waste my time trying to force her to come get a divorce, which I know she might not want to. She would want to frustrate me, and I don’t want that. I want to marry as soon as possible. I wanna get you pregnant.” He whispered against her ears, she giggled and held his hands tight.
“How are you gonna divorce her without her being there?”
“I have gotten someone. She said she is going to do it, on the condition that I am going to marry her.”
Enomfon chuckled. ” She must be a joker.”
“A serious joker.” They both laughed out loud. His laughter was deep and sexual. “I told Ani about us.” Enomfon said softy.
“Who is Anni?”
“My brother. He was excited but he had this feeling that if my mom was going to agree or something.”
“She must agree…she has no choice.”He drew her back into his arms, holding her tightly.
“There is so much about you that makes me feel like you were created for me alone. We didn’t know each other so well when I gave you my daughter and gave you my heart. Although my heart spoke to yours long before you answered.”
The passion that had flared between them was just below the surface and it would take only a touch of his hands to bring it back into flames.
Atimma shook her head, staring at the gun she found in Linda’s kitchen shelf.
She was feeling weak and nausea, due to the pregnancy.
“What are you doing with that gun?” Linda asked boldly.
Atimma gave a wide grin. “It feels good holding a gun for the first time in my hands. Who owns it? I got it here.”
“My police inspector friend. He is my ex though. I stole it from him.”Linda said shrilly.
“you stole a gun?” Atimma asked amazingly.
“Madam abeg, drop that gun in there. You look funny with it, look at how you’re just carrying it one hand. Susan has really dealt with you.”She said, trying to remove her earrings. Atimma’s face frowned.
“For the past few days now, you’ve been making fun of my cut palms. I don’t like that.” She said sadly, threw the gun in the shelf and walked away.
“I met Harry at his house. He said he will forgive you and take you back on one condition.”
Atimma’s heart melted as she looked at Linda, looking aghast.
Her head slowly cleared and the debilitating nausea and dizziness faded.
“Did you tell him that I am pregnant for someone else?” She swallowed, then took another deep breath.
Linda nodded. “He is aware. I was shocked myself. He really loves you. But I didn’t tell him that you had your palms cut out.” Linda stared down at her, her face closed and grim.
“Did you see Didi?”
“No, He said she went out with his friend.”
“What of his mom?”
“I didn’t ask him that.”
“I know that even as Harry is planning to have me back, his mom will protest.” Linda stared at her with a betrayal on her face. Then Atimma asked again, “What’s the condition he gave?”
“That you will have to sign an undertaking that will be given to you in few days from the court. And that undertaking says that you will never ever runaway after he takes you back.”
Atimma nodded and gave a half smile, a pale phantom of her usual flippant grin.
“That’s no problem. Did he say when he will see me?” She asked again.
Linda gave a loud sigh.
“You too ask plenty questions! He said after signing the paper I will bring to you from court, he will come and carry you.” She said dryly.
“I will sign that paper and sign again. God will bless you, Linda.” She walked towards Linda and tried to hug her, but she shifted.
“Wait o Atim…These wounds on your body are scaring me away.” She said with a disgustful glance.
Atimma moved backward a bit and lowered herself on a chair.
“It doesn’t matter how disgusting I might look now, at least, my husband wants me back.” The excitement began to build within her.
“Indeeeeeed!” Linda exclaimed as she tried to remove her brazier.
Atimma’s mind settled. She smiled to herself and felt fulfilled for going to have her husband and daughter back.
Enomfon woke up feeling sick and weak. She had been expecting her menstruation for the past one week.
She drove down to a drug shop and bought a pregnancy test strip.
Her hands shook when she inserted the strip into a urine; Moments later she saw two bold red lines.
She took her phone immediately and dialed Harry’s number.
“I am pregnant. I just tested. It’s positive.”
She said in broken whispers, her heart was pounding.
“Oh sweet Jesus…this is good news, honey.” He said excitedly.
“No Harry, my mom is going to kill me.”
She said weakly.
“She won’t know. Just tell her that I am planning to come for introduction with my uncles before I get back to work. I will inform my dad’s brother about this.”
“What about your ex-wife?”
“Don’t be scared. I will refund back her money for bride price. This will be settled. Divorce will be done in few days. I love you.”
“I love you too. I hope that this gets over soon.” She said softly.
She stood helpless, as she realized she had a life growing inside of her. She was going to start buying baby clothes without her mother knowing.
She was going to give birth in America, and if it were a boy she would name him after the man she loved, “Harry.”
She felt awesomeness, as she touched her belly. She was carrying part of Harry in her, and she felt very comfortable in it, she was only scared of her mother’s actions.
“Over my dead body! You can never marry a man who is a divorcee!” Enomfon’s mother screamed as she angrily whisked the egg the more. She could not control her anger when Enomfon told her of Harry’s visitation with his uncle.
“Mom, First you called him a married man. And now a divorcee…”
“You do not have a clue of what you’re going into. You don’t even know what you’re saying. Didi will grow up and want her mother. Harry will never forget his wife.”
Tears clouded Enomfon’s eyes.
“He loves only me Mom!” She yelled as she wiped her face. “I have never felt this loved since I was born, from someone who isn’t my blood. He loves me with his life. I can feel it within my body and my soul! he will never ever go back to a woman who left him when he had nothing, eloped with another man to London and left her two months old baby with her poor mother inlaw who couldn’t even afford a two square meal for herself. She died mom, she died because Harry couldn’t afford common inhaler for her…She died! Harry couldn’t even afford money to bury her…” She sobbed softly.
“This man has suffered enough. I love him perfectly, and I am happy that I am that woman who put sunshine and light back to his life.” Her heart ached at the echo of her voice.
“He doesn’t have a friend, I am his only friend and family, myself and Didi. He loves just the two of us and nothing can come between us.”
For a few moments, her mother listened to her talk passionately about Harry.
She threw the whisker on the table and held Enomfon’s hands.
“Go ahead…follow your heart. As far as you’re happy. I will give you my blessing. call your brother and let him know of their visitation.” Her mother said softly. Enomfon hugged her tight to herself and kissed her cheeks.
“Thank you, mommy.” She whispered softly.
Two lawyers sat in front of a Mercedes-Benz, while Linda sat behind. They handed papers to her and a pen.
“Let her sign that. We are waiting to get it back. Tomorrow we will be using it in court.” One of the lawyers said.
Linda stepped out of the car and appeared in the bedroom, she found Atimma deeply asleep on the bed.
“Atim! Atim!” She called her name.
Atimma turned her body and yawned.
“You have to sign these papers now. They lawyers are waiting outside.”
Atimma got up from the bed immediately and took the papers from her. Linda got the papers back and folded it.
“Sign this place. Don’t read, it will take time.” She said boldly.
Atimma’s hands shook as she signed the five pages of papers and handed to Linda. She hugged Linda unexpectedly.
“I know you don’t want my messy body to touch you, but I am grateful. You’re the best friend anyone could ever have. Thank you for taking me back to my family.” She whispered softly.
Looking at the clock, Linda hurried out of bed.
“The lawyers are waiting, tomorrow, you will be meeting your Harry and your daughter. I am so happy for you.” She said convincingly.
Tears streamed out of Atimma’s eyes as Linda walked out hastily from the house. She heard the door slam, she overheard the car starting, she felt in her heart a deep joy that she had never felt before.
The next morning, Atimma woke up early, had her bath and attempted painting her bruised filled face. But she couldn’t. She washed her face off with water and started folding her clothes into a bag. She held the toy she had bought for Didi from London and stared at it for while. She had imagined how she was going to hand it to her, sleep on her bed. She had imagined making love to Harry and telling him how sorry she was for breaking his heart.
She groaned as her body reacted to her thought. She squeezed her eyes shut and took a long breath.
There was a knock on the door, She reluctantly got up to see who it was, her heart trembled at a woman corporately dressed in black and white polka dotted gown.
“Barrister Judith from the customary court. Your friend Miss Linda stood in for you in court today. Please, this is the letter given to you by the court.”
Atimma collected it with a confused look on her face.
“I am sorry for your hand. The wound is still fresh, you should see a doctor.” Judith said as she couldn’t take her eyes off Atimma’s cut hands.
Atimma ignored her and said, “Linda didn’t tell me they were meeting in court today.” She opened the letter reluctantly, it occurred to her at that moment, that there was a danger that was part of her, and fear streaked to her like lightening.
Atimma gulped down the first bottle of dark rum.
She tried to thrash the weakness in her body; gasped and coughed, straining for air.
The acrid smell of the cigarette she held in her hands wasn’t good for her, but she kept inhaling it and exhaling through her nose.
She whimpered hoarsely and struggled weakly, fast running out of energy and will.
She gulped the second bottle of dark rum and coughed, then sucked air in through her mouth.
She felt terrified as if she was experiencing claustrophobia.
Her stomach had started paining her, but she was so drained in the alcohol that she was drunk and didn’t feel much of the pains.
“God go punish you!” She yelled. Dazed and nauseated, and choking from the acrid smell of the cigarette.
“I say my God go punish Una!” She coughed again uncontrollably.
“Harrison and her mother are fools! poor wretched fools….oh my Harrison. My Harrison…You hurt me!” She kept yelling, futile as it was.
Her chest was squeezing so tight that it hurt so bad.
Then she began to feel thrushes of blood running through her panties. She began to hum sorrowful songs to herself, mumbling senseless words.
The door suddenly clicked open, and all she heard was, “Why are you smoking in my house?”
Linda said with an angry stare. The whole house was stinking ethanol and mint cigarette.
All she could see was that the dullness in Atimma’s eyes was grieved, and that the slump In her shoulders was defeat, and that she had never seen her smoke before. She stared at her for a while.
It was just too much to take in, she thought of how much she must have hurt her friend.
“Atimma I don’t like this. Why are you smoking?” She asked again with a gruff voice. She got choked and started coughing.
“Is that you Linda Darling?” Atimma asked in a strange but weak tone. She was obviously drunk, but could not control it.
“It’s me.” Linda replied softly.
“A lawyer said you stood for me in court, thanks to you. You divorced my husband for me so that you can take him.”
Linda’s heart skipped.
“What are you talking about?”
“Do not say that crap! you’re a liar, you took away everything from me!” She screamed as she pulled out the gun from her pyjamas which had starting draining blood.
“Jesus!” Linda exclaimed at the sight of the gun. “Listen Atim, please do not pull the trigger. There are bullets in that gun.”
Atimma laughed strangely like she was possessed.
“Oh my best friend. You dealt with me. I was so foolish I would have known. From the day I met you, things started turning around negatively.
You know who you are? A killer! you have killed me! yes, you have. You have taken away my joy and everything.”
“That’s not true. Harry wanted to divorce you. He doesn’t want you anymore. He told me he loved me, and that he will marry me if I make you sign the divorce papers…” She said in a shaky tone.
“Liar! Harry will do no such thing. Even if he agreed to a divorce, he will never marry you. He never liked you being my friend. He hated your nose rings, he hated the color of your hair, he will never marry you! He just deceived you, but you will never live to realize….”
“Look Atim, you’re bleeding… please I need to take you to the hospital!”
“I will kill you right now…”
Remembering back, Linda was amazed at how callous Atimma had been. In reality, she is been numb, running on nervous energy and caffeine, desperate to be her friend and sister. And now, she was the embodiment of everything she had lost.
And then Atimma pulled the trigger. Linda fell on the floor, pain exploded in her brain after few moments. Something smelly and hot covered her legs. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t see. Her legs were kicked out from under her and she was dragged across the floor.
She tried to scream, but when she took a deep breath, all she got was a lungful of smokes. She coughed, choked and coughed again.
Then like a flash of lightning, she knew she was shot the third time on her laps. Adrenaline shot through her, and she forced air into her burning lungs and screamed.
Atimma whacked her upside the head with something heavy. She rolled and kicked, trying to get her feet under her, screaming at the top of her lungs.
She plastered a strip of tape across her mouth, cutting off any sound she might have made.
Then she heard the siren wailing in front of the house.
She squinted against the bright blue and red light that flashed from the siren. Her pale body thinning, her bloody look, her red teary eyes shinning brightly.
Atimma watched Linda take her last breathe before she threw the gun on the floor and raised her two hands up.
She was taken to the hospital in handcuffs.
The doctors confirmed that she was still pregnant before she was taken to prison. She was granted thirty years imprisonment for killing through self-defense which she claimed it was. And for holding a gun.
She was just coming out of a deep sleep, and she groaned, dreaming that she got married to Harry the second time.
She was sore and her body ached.
She had muttered ‘Harry’ since the first day she was taken to prison, and the prison securities demanded that Harry visits her, even though they felt she was becoming mentally unstable.
After few weeks of considering if he was going to visit Atimma or not, he finally made up his mind to give her the opportunity of seeing Didi.
Right in front of the prison, before Harry was called in, he carried Didi in his arms and said, “We are about to see your mom. She hurt us, and I want you to forgive her because I have…” Tears ran out of his eyes uncontrollably, he began to sob softly.
“Dada don’t cry. I am here.” Didi said in soft whispers. Those were the same words Harry said to her when she cried.
The prison guard appeared.
“She is ready to see you now.” He said boldly.
Didi wiped her father’s tears with her tiny hands and held him tight. She bent her neck on his arms as he walked into the prison with confident. He was huge, handsome and the smell of hisdesigners’s perfume went into the air. He was a wealthy man, it was obvious. The prison guards stood for him as he waved his hands at them.
“Welcome sir.” They greeted in unison.
It felt like a celebrity just walked in, and they wondered who he was; a cute man with so much delectability.
Atimma’s heart broke when she lifted her face. There was sorrow in her gaze. She didn’t move, didn’t blink an eye when Harry walked into the room she was.
“Nice perfume.” She said softly, and then she began to cry softly. “Didi, is that you?” Her voice quivered as Didi nodded. “I feel like holding you in my arms, but the guards won’t let me.” She sobbed.
“I called you both today, to ask for forgiveness. I know it’s going to be hard, but just let this go.” She cried bitterly, trying to breath. “I cheated on your father, I was greedy.” she stared at Didi’s face. “I want you to grow and become better woman than I was. I want you to love God and your father…”
“And Enyofo?” Didi asked, her eyes snapping open at the sound of her own voice.
Atimma cried and then said, “whoever she is, if she means something to you and you love her, be a good girl and make her proud.”
“Enomfon is the woman I am getting married to.” Harry said huskily.
“I had a feeling when I saw her number in your shirt pocket. I disposed it. If it’s the same lady, then you two were meant to be. I was the wrong code, I was the one you made a mistake with. How is your mother?”
“She died, few months after you left.” There was deafening silence as tears filled Atimma’s face.
“I am so sorry. I deserve to stay here. Our daughter is so beautiful.” She smiled tearily.
“The doctors said you’re pregnant, and that after your baby is born, it will be given to government.” Atimma nodded.
“I am going to give your lawyer two million naira, it will raise your child.”
“Thank You… thank you so much…” Atimma cried out.
“Oga, time is up o.” The prison guard said.
Didi handed her a picture of herself, and she collected it hastily and squeezed it inside her breast…
“Thank you, my baby.” She whispered. The guard appeared and took her away.
There were tears in Harry’s eyes. The woman he once loved was in prison uniform.
She was going to be there for thirty years; And by then, Didi was going to be thirty-two years old.
He was going back to the love of his life. (Enomfon)
He was getting married to her. She belonged to him now, and nothing was going to take her away.
He opened the car door and gently lowered Didi on her seat.
“Dada I want to drink Fanta.” She said girlishly.
Harry heard her, but he didn’t reply.
He drove her to the food club and watched her as she gulped down a bottle of fanta in few seconds. She stared at her father excitedly.
Eight months after Harry and Enomfon’s traditional marriage, they had relocated to Tennessee, America.
The pastor of their new church had told them to come back for marriage blessing after Enomfon had put to birth.
And right after nine months she had twin boys.
Harry was at work when she put to bed, but Didi was right beside her, holding her hands and shouting “Push!” just after the nurses.
She didn’t know what was going on, but Enomfon had told her when she started having labour pains that baby was coming.
The nurses pulled out the first baby and pleaded with Enomfon to push one last time; and when she did, she pushed out her son with all her power and might.
She felt a feeling of joy as she heard the cry of her two sons. She opened her eyes, feeling calm and rested.
“cute boys!” the nurses screamed as they showed the babies to her. Didi widened her eyes and stared at her brothers amazingly.
She started crying and struggling with the nurses to carry them in her arms.
Enomfon smiled weakly, it was a lazy and sensual smile.
“Let her just touch them please.” Enomfon said to the nurses.
Harry returned back from work two days after his sons were born.
He cuddled them all through the night, while Didi sang lullabies for them. The both of them watched the boys as if they were magical beings.
Harry’s joy was beyond.
Everyone was expecting Enomfon’s mother and brother in two weeks time. They were going to be there at the naming ceremony of the boys. Harry was anxious to meet his brother inlaw, who was once his cell mate in Uyo.
Harry had bought drinks and food stuffs in large quantities, he could not wait for the ceremony to come. He had two most important ceremonies in one day; His sons naming ceremony and his marriage blessing.
Enomfon was awake to watch the sunrise, It was going to be the most memorable day of her life, the day she would marry the love of her life in church, and also the day she would give names to her sons.
Didi was always calling them baby one and baby two, and Enomfon would smile and stare at her. She could not wait to hear their real names.
She turned her head, and her face bumped against Harry’s chest. She propped herself up on the pillow and watched him as he slept. With his intense spirit, she was happy that she was that woman who bore him sons and whom he was going to wed that morning. He was going to be first and only man he would kiss before her brother, her mother and the church.
His dark lashes laid like a silk against his tan cheeks. She loved the way his lips was, she could hardly resist kissing him. She lightly touched his lips, and jumped when he grabbed her hand, coming instantly awake.
For a moment, she stared at his brown eyeballs. His mouth moved into a smile, and he stretched slow and long, then pulled her toward him.
“Today, you will be known as the mother of Ukeme and Utibe.” He gave her the most seductive look.
He pulled her on top of him, yanking up her night gown so her bare flesh touched his.
She felt him swell against her, and caught her breath. Leaning slowly toward him, she touched her lips to his.
“Enomfon, I am bathing the babies, start bathing too so that you won’t keep pastor in church. Wake your husband.” Her mother screamed from the corridor close to their room.
They both of them giggled. His mouth ground against hers, and was lost to the flowing emotions that passed through them.
“I want to hold you forever.” He muttered, sliding into her.
An hour, Didi was beautifully dressed in her pearle beaded little bride’s gown. It snow white, and she loved the way the shiny flowers dropped on her skin. She led her new mother beautifully down the aisle.
Enomfon closed her eyes when she was almost close to the podium. Love shot Harry’s eyes, he couldn’t control his tears as he wept uncontrollably as Enomfon held his hands.
When he was about to make his vows, he held Enomfon’s hands and stared at her eyes for a moment, then when he finally spoke, there was wonder, emotions, and power in his voice.
Written by Vicky Bon Uzuazor