TWENTY ONE

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‘Is this my angel …?’ Chris squinted peering at
her. ‘Oh look at you. ‘ He sobered before
taking her into his arms.
‘I desperately needed to see you. I needed
someone I love to hold me.’

‘Is this what they have done to my baby? ‘ He
took in the lean features of her face especially
her sunken eyes and then the 1000mls of
dextrose water infusion moving in drops to her
vein and others attached to her.

‘Yes.’ Hester blinked severally.

‘They’ve killed
me Uncle Chris, they have finished me. ‘

He took the palm that was free from cannula
in his. ‘I saw your parents outside looking like
rumbled paper. ‘

She sighed and looked away. ‘I refused to see
them since I became conscious. ‘

He would probably have done worse in her
shoes. Now was not a time to convince her
otherwise.

‘How is my wife and baby? ‘ She tried to smile
but it ended up thinly.

‘They are fine but not happy with everything
that you’ve been through. I saw your car
outside. ‘

Her voice was more of a whisper. ‘I asked for
it. I am leaving.’

‘Leaving! ‘ He gasped, eyes almost popping out
of its socket. ‘Leaving for where? For God’s
sake, you’re in no state to leave for anywhere.

She went on like she hadn’t heard him. ‘This is
the last of you I will be seeing. ‘ She stared
into space. ‘I am leaving for a place where I
would be able to die quietly. ‘

‘Heaven forbid! Angel, I understand how you
feel and I know it’s pretty difficult but …’

‘Don’t go there boyfriend, there is nothing you
will say that will make me change my mind.
I’m Sorry Uncle Chris, my life is meaningless.’
She stated simply with no display of emotion,
like she knew her tear gland might had become
a vestigial organ due to over production of
tears.

‘No Hester, it is not.’ He stated firmly and
prayed in his mind that God will put the right
words in his mouth to convince her otherwise.

‘Because of fifty million naira, Osagie Osahon
died. He loved and adored me and I would
have love with him so with time but money
took away that time. Ethelbert died for Same
amount. They lost their lives in the course of
protecting me. Uncle Chris …?’ Her voice
trailed off.

‘Yes baby. ‘ His eyes didn’t leave her face, he
saw her pains and he felt them .

‘I love Ethel… ‘ Her voice shook and she
trembled lightly. ‘I knew the definition and
sacrifice with him but now.. he is gone away
from me… far away.’

‘I am deeply sorry Sweetheart. ‘ He sighed
remembering how Hester introduced him.
He knew she was in love but oblivious to her,
when they were alone, Ethel had told him how
much he loved and how afraid he was for her
physical and mental health.
It was with great control, he didn’t bolt out of
the private eard and grab his eldest brother
by the collar.

‘How will Ethel family feel at the loss? How am
I going to face them ever again? My heart is
too shattered to be fixed. How would I live
with the gory memories? Where do I start …? I
can’t… never again. Who knows who else my
life would kill. ‘

He was heartbroken. He swallowed hard. ‘How
do you expect me to feel knowing you told me
all these and I didn’t do anything to convince
you otherwise. ‘

‘You can’t help me, I am past redemption. ‘ She
focused her sunken but dried eyes on him, ‘I
die Uncle Chris …I am down the lane already …
down and down I go until I fade out.’

Tears rolled down his cheeks for he didn’t
blame her. He had know her all her life and didn’t
deserve a tittle of what happened to her. She
was a bright and shining star! Her destiny was
of glass and now,
it was shattered …shattered beyond
redemption.

He embraced her lean frame and closed his eyes
tightly and wishing them all away.
She fought, she was even assisted to fight back
but in the end she lost it all.
Or so it seemed.
+++

Akudo looked away from her miracle clad in
shorts and polo. He was seated on thd bed
with both legs under him. She entwined her
palms and exhaled deeply.

‘So many things things don’t make sense to me
anymore. No …not without her. I must find
mum, alive or …’ Ethel shook his
head.dreading the thought of even completing
the statement. ‘I won’t give up, I can’t lose her
mum …I can’t lose her.’ He looked up at his
mum with tears filled eyes.

‘No honey. ‘ His mother sighed. ‘You don’t
know how this whole thing is making me feel.
Hester shouldn’t have decided. ‘

‘That ruthless Oladimeji! ‘ Anger sprang up in
remembrance. ‘I don’t blame her, She blames
herself for Oladimeji’s death, she never wanted
me to get involved in her fight and when I did,
she became appalled and slumped into
unconsciousness. Now that she believes am
dead… ‘ His voice trailed off.

‘I understand. Living must mean guilt to her. ‘

‘When I spoke to her Uncle, he was crying
because she told him she was going to die and
didn’t allow him help her live again. She was so
close to him, like the way the way I am with
Aunt Grace. Can you imagine Mum, fifty
million was the cost of everything she went
through.

‘Whaat!! ‘Akudo sat up and glared at him. ‘How
outrageous! ‘She sobered. ‘Oh my poor baby!
They’ve killed her.’

‘Mummy? ‘ He called and took her hands.

‘Yes Sweetheart. ‘

‘If you had witnessed all she went through, you
would have learnt how to handle weapons for
her sake.’ He swallowed. ‘As the days went by,
I got fond of her. I …I thought if anyone was
going to die, I will be the one so I didn’t
bother to get or acquire the littlest hint of how I would live
without her. I love her awfully …’ His tears
came down. ‘I love her very much. Mummy …if
you love me, you will pray …you will pray with
all your heart that I find her because she is
mine …she means the world to me.’

Tears rolled down his mother’s cheek. She
embraced him and prayed that God would have
mercy. The pain was enough.
+++

***

‘This house is not the same without her .’
Chime stared at the table tennis court blankly.
‘She is so selfless, free, so humble that it just
blows my mind. ‘ Kalu commented.
They were seated on the plastic chairs at the back of the house.

Godwin shook his head. ‘Life treated her
unfairly, she didn’t deserve any of what happened to
her. Oladimeji is lucky that I didn’t have a one
on one fight with him.’

‘I was hoping to invite her for my birthday this
year. ‘ He sighed. ‘I am never going to forget
the one with her. In fact, I have said to myself
that if our boss do not propose to her, I will.
Dominic expressed.

‘Hmmmm …’ Wale heaved. ‘I’ve never seen the
boss so downcast. I think he has even
forgotten he is a presidential candidate and his
appointments.’

‘Do I blame him? ‘ Dominic used his palm to
support his chin.

‘I miss her so much.’ Godwin blinked severally.
‘Life is mysterious indeed.’

‘Relishing memories is great but there is a
chance we can take since her body has not
been found yet. We can send a joint SOS …no
‘Precious stood. ‘SHS to heaven on her behalf.
Let God save her soul, Let God save the soul of
our lady. ‘Precious closed his clouded eyes and
extended both hands.

‘If only I could see her again.’ Dominic stood
and took one of Precious hand. ‘Please let’s
join hands to pray.’

They all stood and formed a chain to connect them and above to the throne of mercy.
++++
***
He rolled to his side and stared at the photograph
he had now framed.

Ethel had stumbled on her
album when he had entered her room soon
after his recovery.
The photograph was almost same with the
magazine he had kept for so long except that
the one he had framed was full length, her
teeth was all out and sparkling her pose was
different and full lengthed.
She was stunning and gorgeous. The day she
was declared a youth ambassador.
The real Hester void of pain and betrayal.
He had chosen and removed that because he
saw her laughter, sparks and felt her aura.
The embodiment of the woman he had prayed to marry.
A woman that fear God, she spared her family
despite the betrayal. Who wasn’t quick to hurt those that had hurt her.
Oladimeji had seen something in her, he was
driven and had gone about it in a wrong way.
He loved her. He had female friends, lot of
them but was yet to find his heart desire until
moments with her.
Ethel sat up and his collar was now wet with
tears.
‘Dear God, the Creator of all things, I believe in
you with all my heart. I love you so much, you
saved and called me your very own.
You healed me when the surgeons, doctors and
nurses gave up on me. You gave me life and
am grateful dear Lord.
I have faith in you to touch Hester, heal her
broken heart. Keep her alive, make her whole.
You know I love her so much. Your will
supersede my will.’ He closed his eyes and
tears rolled down his face. He hugged the
frame. ‘Let your will be done …’ He muttered

++++

***
Dear Lord in heaven… how do I forgive myself
if I don’t ever see her alive again? please …
look on her and wipe her tears. Send your
comforter to her. Please don’t Let her die.
Merciful father …give her a miracle. I need her
…I love her, we love her. Have mercy Dear
Jesus. ‘ Chris prayed on bended knees
concluding his fast of three days.
+++
***
‘She is the greatest friend I have ever had,
keep her safe… I care a great deal about her.’
Her palms were closed before her. ‘She fought
for her freedom and indirectly gave it to me.
Please my heavenly father, treat her better
than you’ve done to me…give her a hope she
can cling to. You know I love her very much,
she is like a sister to me …I believe it is not
too much to ask that I see her again. ‘ Vanessa
was on her knees.
+++

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