F T B -4

FOUR

FOUR
‘What is it with you skipping your lunch,
dinner and then breakfast? Do you intend
to start a marathon fast? ‘
Satisfied with the style of hair, she
gathered it into a fancy hair clip. ‘I don’t
disrespect my elders not even their
instructions. ‘
‘I gave the order with your meal time as
an exception.’ Her father told her with a
blank expression.
‘I discovered being in could be more fun
than being out. I am also making a
discovery of what will happen if I don’t
eat while my right is violated.’ She set
her combs back in its set.
‘Princess, this is much more …’
‘Gracious Lord in heaven, do I have to go
through this…? ‘She closed her eyes and
waited. ‘No …?Okay. ‘ She opened her
eyes and stood. ‘I’ll like to use the ladies.

‘Oh no …’ He groaned knowingly
‘No? Can’t I?’ She asked few steps away
from the rest room with a broad smile on
her face.
‘Is that going to take forever because I
have an interview in forty five minutes. ‘
‘Yes Dad, it will.’ She continued her
strides.
Douglas exhaled dismayed, his mission
unaccomplished. He shrugged and walked
out.
+++

****
‘Aunty Hester, you can’t keep doing this
to yourself please. ‘ Aunty Joy sat on the
bed.
Hester sipped from the tumbler of water
containing glucose. ‘Mama the Ma stop
worrying yourself, I will be Fine.’ She
continued reading her mails.
‘I am passed the stage of worrying about
you, I am afraid, I really am.’ Her
forehead creased.
Hester faced her. ‘Afraid? for me? She
went wide eyed baffled. ‘Mama that is
uncalled for. I am A okay. ‘ She beamed
in reassurance.
‘You are not fine my dear girl.’ She held
her gaze.’ I’m sure about that because
the sparkles that once graced your eyes
are gone and that is one out of many. You
are handling this violently and that is
wrong. ‘
‘Violently. ‘ She said and laughed. ‘That is
strange, I am not posing around with a
gun nor a knife.’
‘You are sacrificing your body on the altar
of your displeasure. ‘
Hester exhaled and lowered her gaze.
‘You know me so well.’ She looked at her
once more. ‘I am disappointed, so
disappointed that I don’t know what to
think. My family has given a shock, right
now I’m still dazed ‘ Her voice came out
almost like a whisper. She shook her
head,’Feeding is the last thing on my
mind. ‘
‘Oh my dear child, you’re hurt.’ Aunty Joy
took both of her palms in hers. She was
sad. ‘I see no reason why you should be
confined! ‘Her anger was portrayed in her
voice. ‘There is a better approach. ‘
‘Don’t bother Ma,it won’t change
anything. ‘ She said flatly.
‘How can you say that? ‘ Aunty Joy stood.
‘We will continue later, there somethings
your mother want me to attend to at this
hour.’ She pat her back fondly.
‘Okay.’ She managed a smile,’ Thank you.
‘ She watched her leave. Hester stood
and the portrait of her Dad and her on
fifteenth birthday just before she left
Nigeria to study medicine and surgery
caught her attention. She moved closer
unconciously and her eyes got clouded.
Her smile, his smile, their happiness but
when she raised her hand to touch it, she
felt like she was about to touch a furnace,
she retracted instantly and head for the
balcony upset with herself.
++++++

****
‘Talking to people without communicating wearies me, Mum let me be.’ Hester
blinked severally, she was lying on her
side with the duvet pulled up to cover
her arms and her big teddy bear.
Empress stooped and touched her face.
‘Darling you can stop doing this to
yourself. It does not appeal to me please.

She smiled weakly. ‘I …I am not a free
born of this house and …’
‘Cut it Hester, how can you say such a
thing! ‘
‘When the order first came, you approved
it by standing and saying nothing. ‘
‘That is not true Hester. Darling please
make my day, come and eat, darling
please …’ She drawled sweetly.
‘Hmmmm …’ She muttered before
looking at her mother through glassy
eyes. ‘I … I am not the one to make your
day. I asked of you earlier and I was told
you went to your Senator friend birthday
party.’ She smiled. ‘The style, the blinks,
the fashion … the glitz and glamour, the
cream de la creme. I know you Mum, my
pain, my pining away is nothing to you
compared to pleasure and fun you had.’
Her voice was slow but steady.
‘You’re impossible Hester! You’re
impossible! ‘ She hit her fists on the
mattress, loosing it in guilt. ‘I can’t take
this nonsense anymore, I will just call the
doctor! ‘ Empress stood.
‘And the doctor will say – Mrs
Tobechukwu, she is okay but her not
eating, is the major problem. The solution
to her exhaustion lies there. Don’t waste
the doctor’s time Mum. ‘
She took quick breathes to calm the anger
brimming in her. ‘You are impossible
Hester! ‘ She matched out and slammed
the door.
Hester eyes closed.
+++++

****
‘Big bros! Big bros!! ‘ Kasali stood at
attention as he hailed and then, he
saluted.
‘Bros! Bros!! ‘ Kabiru seconded in the
Same vein.
‘How una de? ‘ Christopher Tobechukwu
chuckled, he shook hands with them. ‘All
these my powerful juniors, nawa o! I de
gbadun una build up, wetin una dey carry
sef? ‘
‘Bros leave that thing o jare.’ Kasali
laughed heartily.
‘Kabis! Kabis! Easy o.’
‘Na so. ‘ Kabiru chuckled. ‘How family? ‘
‘Kampe my brother. ‘
‘You are here to see your baby. ‘ Kasali
stated factually.
‘Yes o, hope say una no dear trouble am.’
Chris retained his smile.
‘Our power reach?’ Kabiru stated.
He head to her door. ‘See you guys.’
‘Welcome Sir. ‘ They chorused.
Chris was in charge of his eldest brother
security for a long time before he opened
a textile company and got married.
He hit the brass knocker twice before
entering since he got no response. He
stopped short at the sight before him.
Her duvet was drawn up, her face was
pale and her eyes closed.
He covered the distance and pecked her.
‘Hi boyfriend. ‘ Her eyes were still closed.
He moved a chair close. ‘Hey sweetness,
were you dreaming of me? ‘
‘I don’t dream anymore. ‘ Her eyes
blinked severally and then she was able
to focus. She smiled weakly. ‘How is my
wife and baby? ‘
‘Splendid. ‘ Chris studied her for a while.
‘You look far different from when I came
for you at the restaurant. Though things
have not been in best condition for you.
How come nobody told me you are now a
shadow of yourself. ‘ He was sad.
‘I wasn’t expecting myself this way.’
‘I heard everything that happened …’ He
took her hand in his. ‘I’m sorry My
sweetness, I really am. I understand how
you feel but just because some things
went wrong does not mean you should go
down too.’
‘You don’t understand bf, my own
daddy .’ Tears filled her eyes. ‘ My heart
is heavy.’

Oh my angel, Oh dear! ‘ He shook his
head. ‘I know you well, for you to be like
this, you’ve been wounded. Starving is
not an option, it’s not sending any
message to them rather it drains you. For
you to have gone this far and Daddy is
not moved, you need to change your
approach. You need energy Hess, you
need food.’
‘I am not happy boyfriend. ‘
‘I am here for you dear. You have to
make yourself happy, have all the fun you
can within your limitation, eat well, that
way you can think well and stand to this
situation. We both know this is not the
worst that has happened. ‘
‘Yeah.’ She muttered and the tears came
rolling down.
‘No my sweetness no …’ Chris fetched a
hanky from his pocket and dabbed her
tears. ‘Aunty Joy met me on her way up,
she said if I don’t talk you into eating, I
will visit you next in the hospital. ‘ His
countenance became serious. ‘ My angel,
for the sake of us that truly care, eat
please. ‘
Hester eyes closed.
‘You can Hester, my baby said I should
tell you that if you don’t start eating, she
will stop eating.’
Her eyes opened and it sparkled, ‘Uncle
Chris, my baby can’t talk yet. ‘
‘Emmmm … hmmmmm …mmmmh …’ He
stammered and scratched his head.
Hester laughed. ‘I will eat.’
He removed the napkin on the basket he
had come in with and brought out its
content. Oranges, apples, a ball of water
melon and a food flask. ‘All this courtesy
of your wife. ‘
‘So nice …’ She beamed.
He had gotten plates and cutleries on his
way up. ‘I will take it that you have
fasted for the growth of this country. ‘ He
winked at her.
She nodded and then chuckled.
He lifted her off the bed to a sofa, he
pulled a side table close and placed the
sliced apples on it. He got water from the
mini fridge. He gave her water first and
then the apples.
‘Oh Uncle Chris, you will over feed me o! ‘
She complained after few minutes.
‘Her voice is ringing already yet she is
doing shakara.’ He laughed mockingly.
‘I love you too.’ She retorted pouting.
They both burst into bouts of laughter.
+++++++

****
Keep on with the force don’t stop, don’t
stop till you get enough …..The music
blasted from the home theatre.
Hester tried to do the break dance in the
MJ Way . ‘Wow.’ She laughed at herself
and as the sweat broke out, She slumped
on the bed and laughed hard.
The brass knocker sounded.
‘Come in.’
‘Good afternoon darling. ‘ Douglas said
with a smile.
‘Good afternoon Dad.’ She turned down
the music and switched on the TV.
‘I see you’re getting better. ‘ He was still
on his feet.
‘I aint getting better. ‘She quipped in
foreign accent. ‘I -am -better, with no
thanks to you.’
‘Princess I thought we gone pass this.’ He
beamed.
‘Definitely not.’ She picked the remote
once more and begin to change channels.
‘We are going for a dinner party today. ‘
Hester sat up. ‘Who am I seeing there? ‘
‘The first lady will be there and even the
president. ‘
‘Really? ‘ She perceived he skipped the
most tangible information, the presence
of their son.
‘Yes darling. ‘ He affirmed.
‘What time? ‘
‘6pm darling. ‘
‘Excuse me for few seconds, let me check
my schedule. ‘ She picked her tablet and
check through. ‘Oh shocks! ‘There movie
that I have to see by 5, it will for 2 hours,
after I have to read chapters of my Bible,’
She look up at him and beamed, ‘I am
trying to finish the Bible this year, I read
at least three chapters everyday, I am
now in John, afterwards I will Pray. My
time with God cannot be negotiated for a
party. Her face was straight. ‘Just before I
retire to bed, there is there is dancing
instructions show I will love to watch. I
am upgrading my dancing steps.’ She
laughed self satisfied.
Colour drained from Douglas’ face as he
stared at his daughter, he couldn’t
believe his ears. Worst still he couldn’t
remember when a situation had made
him tongue tied as he was now.
Hester increased the volume of the music
and swirled thrice. ‘Ooooops! ‘ She
chuckled as she caught herself and took
smooth steps backward. She continued
dancing completely ignoring her father.
Eventually without another word, he
stepped out quietly.
‘I’m so happy! ‘ Hester squealed
+++++

***

‘Those were very important visitors, you shouldn’t have rejected the invitation to come down. ‘

Hester gaze were scrutinized as she continued to read from the column in a medical journal Chris had sent her.

‘Hester, you are becoming impossibly rude these days. I am talking to you, young lady! ‘Empress waited. ‘Hester! ‘

Hester looked up slowly and frowned. ‘Mummy. ‘ Her attention returned to the journal.

‘Oh no! You haven’t been listening to me.’ She groaned.

‘What have you been saying? ‘ She picked a pencil and began underlining.

Empress shook her head.’Never mind.’ She studied her momentarily and took a doubtful look at the beautifully designed silver box she was carrying cautiously and then she put on her most charming smile. ‘Honey I’ve got a parcel for you. ‘

‘I’m busy Mum. ‘

‘You have to see it now.’ She stressed sweetly.

‘Put it on my study table.’ She used a well trimmed finger to trace the diagram.

‘Hester! ‘ Her Mum chided. ‘It’s important you see it now, I won’t leave until you have seen it.’

‘You are Welcome to stay in my room, make yourself comfortable, I think I have one of your favorite drink in the fridge. ‘

Empress rolled her eyes apparently loosing her patience. ‘Is what you are reading more  important than I your mother? ‘

‘I’m sure you don’t want me to answer that.’.She muttered.

‘I am not  interested in your answer ! Get off that bed and come and see this right away! ‘ She was hysterical.

Hester looked up at her mother. ‘Nobody gives a heck about me, yet I won’t be left alone. ‘ She laid aside what was on her lap and crawled out of bed.

***

‘Those were very important visitors, you shouldn’t have rejected the invitation to come down. ‘

Hester gaze were scrutinized as she continued to read from the column in a medical journal Chris had sent her.

‘Hester, you are becoming impossibly rude these days. I am talking to you, young lady! ‘Empress waited. ‘Hester! ‘

Hester looked up slowly and frowned. ‘Mummy. ‘ Her attention returned to the journal.

‘Oh no! You haven’t been listening to me.’ She groaned.

‘What have you been saying? ‘ She picked a pencil and began underlining.

Empress shook her head.’Never mind.’ She studied her momentarily and took a doubtful look at the beautifully designed silver box she was carrying cautiously and then she put on her most charming smile. ‘Honey I’ve got a parcel for you. ‘

‘I’m busy Mum. ‘

‘You have to see it now.’ She stressed sweetly.

‘Put it on my study table.’ She used a well trimmed finger to trace the diagram.

‘Hester! ‘ Her Mum chided. ‘It’s important you see it now, I won’t leave until you have seen it.’

‘You are Welcome to stay in my room, make yourself comfortable, I think I have one of your favorite drink in the fridge. ‘

Empress rolled her eyes apparently loosing her patience. ‘Is what you are reading more  important than I your mother? ‘

‘I’m sure you don’t want me to answer that.’.She muttered.

‘I am not  interested in your answer ! Get off that bed and come and see this right away! ‘ She was hysterical.

Hester looked up at her mother. ‘Nobody gives a heck about me, yet I won’t be left alone. ‘ She laid aside what was on her lap and crawled out of bed.
Empress handed the parcel to her.
Hester opened it and at the golden
inscription that greeted her eyes, she
frozed.
For seconds, everything else blacked out,
her hands shook, her lips quivered, her
feet buckled under her and her face
became deathly pale. She lurched.
Empress had her expectations but what
she saw quickened her heart beat.
‘Honey …emmmm … darling please calm
down.’
‘No …impossible …never….this is not
happening to me.’ She muttered staring
into space.
‘Mummy what is this? ‘ She demanded
mustering strength.
‘Hester don’t be like that, we can talk
about this.’ Empress said contemplating
moving close to comfort.
She closed her eyes and her tears flowed.
And then,
In a swift motion, she pulled out a
container and some other thing her
mother could not identify before holding
the parcel still holding the box.
Rings of sweat formed on Empress
forehead. ‘Hester! Hester!! ‘ She called
desperately ‘Oh God …Oh my God!
Hester! Hester!! ‘ Empress was about to
run out to call for help when Hester
emerged.
As she emerged,
Gripped with fear, Empress stepped out
of the way because she saw her daughter
like never before. She saw of combo of
pain, betrayal, anger and determination.
Hester left her room for the corridor, she
poured the content of the box on the
tiled rugged floor.
The lighter.
The flame rose to the ceiling.
She kicked the box into fire.
It took a moment for the bodyguards to
grasp what was happening. The fire alarm
snapped them out of their reverie and
they ran to switch it off and get
extinguishers.
‘Are you crazy! Do you know much that
cost? ‘ Empress was furious and slapped
her.
Hester laughed heartily. ‘What a
coincidence Mum. ‘
‘What are you talking about? ‘ She glared
at her daughter like she had lost her
sanity .
‘He slapped me too.’
‘Oladimeji slapped you? ‘ Empress went
wideeyed. ‘How dare he lay a finger on
you! ‘ She caught herself. ‘You must have
done something wrong.’
By then, Kasali and Kabiru were battling
to put out the fire.
‘I thought as much.’ She nodded with a
grim. Like a bolt from the blue it dawned
on her that even if she had told them that
piece of info on the day it happened,
nothing would have changed. She held
her mother’s gaze. ‘I don’t want
disturbance. ‘ Hester entered her room
and locked the door.
She had received her own wedding
invitation cards to marry Oladimeji.
+++++

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