Moses asked if he could see his sister but was told she was resting and couldn’t have any visitors for the time being.
“But is she going to be fine?” He asked the nurse.
The nurse smiled at him as she reassured him. “Yes, she will be fine.”
He sighed. Suddenly a good day had turned out to be a horrible one. He took his seat beside the other person who had come to see his sister and bowed his head. “Where is Kayode?”
“Biko Nna . . . I don’t know. I hurried here as soon as he called me and I haven’t seen him yet.” His mother said, frustration heavy in her voice. He heard her draw up a snort back into her nose.
Moses brought out his phone from his suit jacket. He saw seven missed calls from his wife, Linda. He would call her after he got through to Kayode. He dialled Kayode’s number. No answer. Moses tried again but it was still the same thing. Why isn’t he here? Why isn’t he answering his phone? Moses got up from the chair. He needed a drink. He needed something.
“Mrs. Ekafor?” Moses turned around to face the doctor. His mother was already upstanding and facing him.
“Yes doctor. That’s me” She patted her chest with one hand and adjusted her wrapper with the other. “Is everything okay?”
“Your daughter wants to see you.”
“Can I go in as well?” Moses rushed to ask.
The doctor shook his head. “Not yet. Please be patient.”
Moses’ mother picked her bag without looking back and rushed past the doors leading to the patients’ rooms amongst others. Moses took the seat his mother had just vacated and loosened his tie. He checked the time on his watch. It was a few minutes to ten. His wife would be worried. He brought out his phone and saw eleven missed calls. He called her immediately.
“Linda. Sorry there was an emergency, Theresa was involved in an accident and I’m at the hospital.” Moses heard her gasp on the other end of the phone.
“How is she? Is she okay?” She rushed to ask. Moses rubbed his eyes and sighed out-loud.
“She’s recovering. I would let you know what happened later on. I would be home late, please just take care of yourself and don’t worry about it. Mama is here with me.”
“Please keep me posted.”
“I will.” Moses promised and ended the call. His stomach grumbled and it occurred to him he hadn’t eaten since afternoon. He thought about crashing at Victoria’s place but thought better of it. After she had behaved the way she did the other night he wanted to give her time to cool off and miss him. He decided to go home, it wasn’t like he was doing anything in the hospital.
He got up and told one of the nurses on duty to notify his mother that he had left and would return in the morning. There were few cars on the road as he drove home. He was in deep thought as he drove, recalling his childhood and how he had grown up. Theresa had been a very quiet child. Gentle. Stubborn. Afraid. When all the troubles went on in the house she would run to him to talk; scared of their parents’ fights and seeking comfort. Moses had preferred to be alone and not talk about it. Chasing her way to sort her own issues. They had never been close, minding each other’s business. It wasn’t like he didn’t love or care about her. He just preferred being alone.
The show lasted well into Friday morning. Thankfully Tomike could sleep in all day and even till Saturday morning. She knew her mother was going to eat her raw as soon as she entered the house. Her mother would have listened to the show well before she fell asleep. Her elder sister, Bimbo, would have joined her in her rantings but she should have left for work already.
Tomike walked into the house, and shut the door gently behind her. She could hear hushed voices in the kitchen. It was past eight o’clock in the morning, and she wondered why her parents were having a little tête-a-tête so early.
“I don’t understand her ehn Bimbo. You should talk to your sister. If you heard all the things she said last night. . . It makes me wonder if she wants to remain single for the rest of her life!”
Tomike heard her sister laugh. “Come on mum. Tomike is just expressing herself. It’s freedom of expression.”
She chose that as her cue to walk in on their conversation. “Good morning mum, hi sis.” They both stood at the marble kitchen counter and turned to look at her. Bimbo held a slice of bread in one hand and a knife in the other.
Their mother looked at Tomike with annoyance written all over her face. “Good morning Tomike. I won’t waste time beating around the bush and acting like I didn’t listen to your show. Why do you continue to behave like this? What’s your problem?”
She held back from rolling her eyes. It would be terribly rude of her.
“Mum, please stop. She has never said she doesn’t want to get married. She’s just not interested right at the moment. Mummy please let her go and rest; she must be tired.”
Mum folded her arms and looked away. “Go and rest. We would talk later.”
That being said she quickly did a U turn and hurried off to her room. Not before looking back at Bimbo who winked at her.
Bimbo is a beautiful big-shot architect and works with a company in Victoria Island. She’s engaged to be married to a well-to-do man that has won their mother’s heart. Kamal. Back then Tomike had wondered on how her sister had managed to catch his eye. He was extremely handsome, the kind of Lagos big-boy that you wouldn’t think would notice you. Tomike recalled what Bimbo had said when she asked her.
“It’s very simple Tomike.” She clapped her hands together and began, as if she was telling her one juicy gossip.
“If you want to meet a guy like that, you have to dress the part! Dress in such a way that he would notice you. Now I don’t mean you should dress and show-off all that mummy gave you. No. Mummy will just dis-own you and me I’m not there! Just dress to attract; modest but chic. I saw Kamal while I was in a store at the Palms in Lekki, and I told myself I wanted him to notice me.
“I left the store and glided down to where he stood with his friends with my head held up high and with all the confidence that I had and more . . . And passed by him. I was so grateful I had dabbed on some expensive perfume ‘cause it trailed after me, leaving a distinct mark on him! As I was going down the escalator I heard him trying to get my attention. And that was just it! The rest is history my dear.”
Tomike laughed. She remembered when she had asked Kamal how he had met her sister. He had mentioned Bimbo’s scarf falling to the ground and having to rush after her in the hope of returning it as she pretended not to know he was calling after her. Tomike obviously chose to believe the latter. She knew her sister had too much drama going on with her.
She had a quick shower and got on her pyjamas. She wasn’t so much interested in eating but having a much needed sleep. It was Friday and later on in the night her mates would be partying. She wasn’t an introvert neither was she a lesbian, she loved men. She believed in relationships. But just not at the moment.
She knew her mum loved her. She was still under her custody and her mother knew what was best for her. But come on! She needs to take a chill pill. It was Tomike’s life after all. Tomike thought back to Geroge’s statement about God. Was there one? She didn’t believe in God. She only believed in herself and her abilities, and with that thought she drifted off to sleep.
Victoria’s story was something she never liked remembering but when she did so, it was to punish herself. It was one of hurts and pains, and she felt she needed the pain ‘cause that was what she was destined for; to feel pain, to suffer. When she was much younger, barely a week old, her father had left the house. He had left her mother alone to raise five children. Left without saying goodbye. Left without getting to know Victoria and be there for her and her older siblings when they needed him in their lives.
According to what everyone told her, he had not wanted another child and had asked her mother to abort her. Her mother was told she couldn’t, ‘cause if she aborted the baby she would die. So Victoria’s father felt he had no alternative but to walk out of their lives for good.
“Victoria?” She heard someone call her name, breaking into her thoughts. Victoria looked up at her Tony’s face. His face creased in a frown, concern written all over his face. He was holding a tray with food and moved to sit opposite her in one of the canteen’s on the university campus.
“What’s wrong? You’ve been staring at your food for the past five minutes.” Tony was her course-mate. He was the only one that had really come close to her. Victoria wasn’t friends with the other girls, but was cordial enough with them so she could ask for their notes if needed. Well, except for Funmi. Funmi was her rich friend that had invited her to her father’s birthday party where she met Moses. Funmi was nice and liked her, but Victoria wasn’t that comfortable and couldn’t share her past with her. It was pretentious relationship Victoria had with her. There were only two people she had ever opened up to.
Victoria looked away from Tony. She had always wondered why Tony was interested in her. Did it have anything to do with the fact that he was a Christian? Or was he that he wanted something more? Suddenly his concern irritated her. “Were you checking the time or what?” She picked up her fork with her left hand and put some grains of Jollof-rice in her mouth, chewing slowly.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m just worried about you.”
“I don’t need you to worry about me Tony. I’m fine. Thank you.”
“That’s a lie Victoria. Even during our class with Dr. Solomon you looked off. There’s something bothering you and I just want you to feel free to talk -”
“Tony!” She snapped. “Please leave me alone. My personal business does not concern you in any way. We are just acquaintances. Nothing more. Can I eat in peace or do you want me to get up and leave?”
Tony held up his hands in defeat. “It’s fine. You weren’t eating in the first place but just staring into thin air. But it’s fine. I won’t bother you any longer.”
Victoria continued eating. The food was bland, but she ate it anyway. She hurried with her food so she could leave his presence. She just wanted to be alone. She left a few grains of rice on the plate, cleaned both sides of her mouth and got up. She didn’t say good-bye to him.
She took her seat on a bus that would take her closer to home and then she would take a tricycle that would stop in-front of her house. There was traffic on the way, so it gave her time to resume her thoughts.
The abuse had started thereafter; physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Her mother had been bitter at being left alone to raise her children and it was all Victoria’s fault. Her other siblings were far older than her and neglected her. No one loved her and so she sought love in those who were willing to give it to her. Victoria closed her eyes as she remembered the first time a man had ever touched her. She was thirteen and very much a virgin. . .
“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.” He smiled down at her. He moved down and Victoria felt his beard on her laps and she laughed as he rubbed his face on her legs. His beard tickling her.
“You see? I don’t want to hurt you . . .” He said as he parted her legs slowly.
Victoria opened her eyes and realised she was breathing hard. She placed her hand on her chest and took a deep breath. She was seated at the far back of the bus, close to the window.
“You dey ok?” the woman beside her asked.
Victoria nodded. “I’m fine. Thank you ma.”
The woman looked at her, as if she could perceive her lie. Victoria looked away and stared outside the window. That was enough for the day.
Kayode summoned up the courage and got out of his car. He took slow steps to the reception. He greeted the nurse. It was the same nurse he had met yesterday. Maybe she takes night duty, he thought.
“Good evening ma. I came here the other day with my fiancée. How is she doing now?”
“Evening sah. Yes I remember you. She’s fine. You want to see her?”
“Is that possible? I know you have a specific time you allow visitors.”
The nurse nodded. “Yes, I normally would have told you to come back tomorrow morning if not for the circumstances. Her mother is with her now. I was surprised to hear the news when I resumed this evening.”
Kayode was confused. What news is she talking about? He voiced his thoughts.
“Oh you didn’t know? Your fiancée was pregnant and lost the baby. The fall has damaged her womb and she can’t have babies any-more.”
It was a huge blow to the chest. Theresa was pregnant? Why hadn’t she told him? Kayode’s hand balled up in a fist, anger gradually seeping into him . . . But then in the same way it had come it began to dissipate as he realized it was his fault she had lost the baby. Their baby.
“It was a really sad news. I’m sorry for your loss sir.”
Kayode sat down on the nearest seat.
He raised his up and looked back to find Mrs. Ekafor staring at him. She approached him slowly and he was half-afraid that Theresa had told her mother everything that had really happened.
“Good evening ma.” He got up.
“Why are you just coming? Theresa has been asking after you and when we call you don’t pick up the phone. What if I wasn’t here to look after her?” The nurse who stood beside him quickly went off to see to her duties, she would eaves drop and gather gist for her colleagues. Those were the perks of her job.
“I’m sorry mama. I had to rush home to get some things for her and I also had to inform the people at her place of work about what happened. I’m sorry ma.” Kayode hoped she would put an end to all the questions.
“That’s what you’ve been doing for the past two days?” Theresa’s mother sighed. “It is well. How did the accident happen in the first place?” Kayode told her the same lie he had been spreading.
“- that’s how I rushed her to the hospital. I’ve told her to move to my housed ‘cause that place isn’t safe for her but she has been too stubborn.”
Theresa’s mother eyed him. “She’s not yet married to you my son, but that didn’t stop you from getting her pregnant.”
Kayode looked down sheepishly. He didn’t know what to say. Was he supposed to say sorry?
“Please bring in the things you brought for her.”
Kayode literally ran out of the hospital to get the things in car, away from his future mother-in-law’s dangerous gaze if only for a few minutes. Kayode remembered the man he had bumped into the other day. He had better keep his promise to shut his mouth or else he would regret it. No one could know his secret.
It was Monday afternoon and Victoria didn’t have any class for that day. Being so in love with pastries, she bought cakes and sausage-rolls; for her and Sandra’s children. She was on her way to Sandra’s place, a good friend of hers that she had gradually grown fond of and found as a good person to confide in. She was the only one that had the slightest idea of all what she had been through. Sandra had also had a rough time in life. She had been forced into prostitution when she was just nineteen just to fend for herself and her younger ones. She had three children now.
Victoria had been trying to get Sandra to stop her ‘business’ as she liked to call it. She was a beautiful and intelligent woman in her late twenties. Six years older than Victoria’s twenty-two years of age.
“Vic Vic. How you dey?” Sandra asked as she sorted out the laundry.
Victoria took her seat on the worn-out brownish couch. “I’m good. How have you been?”
“Fine jere. Business has been slow. How far you?”
Victoria shrugged. “Everything is just there. I fought with Moses and he hasn’t come back to see me.”
“Why are you now upset? I thought you were complaining before that he was married, so why are you looking like that? To me it’s not much of a big deal.”
Victoria shook her head. How could she tell her she missed him and he was the only one who truly loved her? How could she share the news that she felt she was pregnant with his baby? She had already faced the excruciating pain of aborting twice. Was she going to go over it yet again?
“Where are your children?” Victoria asked, changing topics.
Sandra hissed. They are serving punishment in the room.”
Victoria raised her brow. “What did they do?”
“Victoria raising children is not an easy thing. Especially when there’s no man around. You have to keep an eye on them every single time. I caught Ngozi and my neighbour’s son playing mummy and daddy.”
Victoria’s eyes widened in shock. “What? Are you for real? Hope they didn’t -” Victoria paused, thinking on how she would rephrase her next words. “Do anything?”
Sandra shook her head vehemently. “God forbid! What is happening to me will not happen to my children. I’m doing all this for them to have a better future, not for them to be like me . . . Sleeping around with different waist-sizes of men and having to play dumb to some of them just so I can get paid.”
Victoria shook her head. “This can’t continue like this. There has to be a better way.”
Sandra picked up a small t-shirt from the chair and folded it. “Vic . . . There’s no better way to life. There’s only black and white . . . While some people would always be in the white, others would continue to be in the black. That’s just the way it is. We have to accept whatever good we can get now.”
Later on in the evening when Victoria was at home, she thought back to Sandra’s words. She picked up her phone and punched some numbers; she knew his phone number by heart. She hesitated for just a brief moment before finally calling him. He picked up on the third ring, with the same hushed tones whenever she happened to call him when he was home with his wife.
“How are you doing?” Victoria frowned upon hearing his voice. There’s something wrong.
“I’m fine. What’s up with you? Is everything okay?”
“My sister had an accident.”
Victoria’s hand flew to her mouth in shock. She moved the hand to the side of her face that was free from her phone and asked if his sister was okay.
“She will be. I’m just trying to keep it together.”
Victoria nodded in understanding. She didn’t hesitate when she said the next words. “You can come over if you want. I – I can cuddle you up in my arms.” She bit her lip. She hated how desperate she sounded but at the same time was hoping he would come.
“Okay . . . I’ll be there in some minutes.” The call ended. Victoria dropped the phone on her bed and let out a shaky breath. Sandra was right. She had to accept whatever good that came her way, even if every part of her being felt it was wrong.
Stay tuned for the next episode . . .