This post is dedicated to everyone who have taken time to comment on this story, thereby encouraging me.
We’re past half of the story and I’ll like to know what your favorite part is and why? Do indulge me.
Nervously, Lillian gestured to the rug and chuckled mirthlessly. “Pardon the apartment.”
“You sef.” He rebuffed. “Most times I prefer placing my butt on the ground.” Adesoji handed her the customized nylon. “I brought you food and fruits.” He sat on rug with a leg placed on the other.
“Thank you very much.” She smiled. “I don’t have anything to offer you except water. Let me wash the fruits so we can eat them together.”
He patted his abdomen. “I’m coming from my best friend house and his wife did justice to my stomach.”
“Oh…okay.” She joined him on the rug.
“How have you been?” He directed his gaze at her.
She averted her eyes remembering how he had scrutinized her from head to toe with a frown as soon as she had opened the door. Her physical appearance spoke volume. She knew she had lost five kg or more within a month and the dark shadows around her eyes were enough response. “I am fine.” She replied with a faltering smile.
“Hmmm…” His gaze swept the apartment void of any furniture and electronics. “How did you get the apartment?”
She was glad he let her be despite the fact that he didn’t believe her. “The building belongs to my boss. I spoke to him and he loaned me this apartment that has recently been vacated. I can’t keep staying in hotels. Despite it all, I’m still a married woman and though the news did not get to the media, I need to comport myself.” Her boss on seeing her for the first time void of make up and with swollen eyelids had been more than willing to grant the only female and one of his best consultant her request and extended the period of her leave off work.
“How is Matthew?”
She clasped her palms on her lap. “He gave instructions for me not to be allowed in the hospital. He doesn’t want to see me and I can’t even apologize to him.”
“Most men in his shoes would have gotten you arrested by now. He is obviously in shock and it is understandable. He needs space.”
She nodded. “Members of my family has been going to see him though. He is recuperating slowly but it is really frustrating that I can’t see him and his family has refused to see me.”
“Hmmm…” He resolved thoughtfully. “If you ask me, I’ll say that shouldn’t be your priority now.”
She met his gaze stunned.
“Your priority should be to ensure such an incident never occurs.”
She glared at him. “Are you trying to apply insult to my injury?”
“No dear.” He beamed flashing a smile that would make any toothpaste model envious. “Let me take it this way, what have you done to ensure that such an incident like that never occur again?”
“It can never ever occur again Soji.” She stated firmly. “How can it occur again? My action was the product of a rash decision besides I have been praying relentlessly and asking God for forgiveness.”
“Unfortunately Lil, this is not something prayer can take care of, at least not totally.”
Not knowing if she should be offended or alarmed, she said nothing.
“I am ardent believer of Christ. I love him obsessively but I also know that prayer alone wouldn’t help you. You have issues, you have demon or demons that you’re yet to confront and until you deal with them, you will be only remorseful for a while and you will relapse once more.”
Lillian shuddered like cold water had been poured on her.
“You need a clinical psychologist.” Adesoji told her quietly.
She couldn’t bring herself to argue with him. Was she now regarded as a woman who was slowly loosing her mind? She heaved a sigh and massaged her forehead.
Adesoji stood. “I’ll like you to ruminate over what I told you. I’ll call you later.”
She nodded and watched him till he was out of sight. Tears rolled down her face.
She was now regarded as a woman who was mentally unbalanced. Was that why her family had despised her? Her mother had neither picked her calls nor returned them.
The shrill ringtone jolted her back to reality and it took moments for her to realize it was her phone. She hurried to the bedroom.
“Good afternoon Uncle Tunji.” It was her father’s youngest brother.
“Hope you are fine.”
“Good, there would be a meeting at Ikorodu tomorrow by 10a m, it is important you are present.”
“I will be there sir. Thank you.”
The call ended and she stared at the phone certain she was the reason for the gathering. With heavy steps, she walked to the bed and laid on it.
Tears welled in her eyes. Her perfect life, the life she had all planned up and was in perfect control had suddenly fallen out of place and it was her fault.
With her stomach filled with yam and beans porridge that her heavily pregnant elder sister, Elizabeth had coaxed to eat on her arrival, she lowered herself into the sofa and wished she had the power to halt the numerous thoughts running through her mind and will it to blankness.
Thankfully her mother had returned her greeting but afterwards disappeared into her room while her elder sister had embraced her and for the first since the incident occurred, she felt a sense of belonging.
Her gaze swept through the framed photographs hung on the wall, photographs that speak volumes of her family. Her mother had pride herself in using them to decorate the sitting room of the home.
They ranged from her elder brothers, sister and of her as babies till their wedding ceremonies with their various professional achievements in between. She looked at the photograph of her father in the complete agbada attire. The same photograph was used for his obituary posters, her eyes lingered. He seemed to be smiling at her but she knew with no iota of doubt that if he was alive, he would have disowned her and every plea for him to change his mind would have fallen on deaf ears.
She knew him that well. Relatives have always ascertained she looked more like him than her mother but she never believed, not then and definitely not now. If she…
Her train of thoughts was interrupted by the chiming of the door bell.
“Lil are you there?’ Elizabeth called from the kitchen.
“Yes.” Lillian replied, already on her way to the door.
“You’re here.” Uncle Tunji beamed at her.
She genuflected. “Welcome sir.”
“It is well with you my dear. Where is my wife?”
“She is in her room sir.”
With brisk steps, he head for the stairs with a leather bag in hand while Lillian watched him till he was out of sight, her heart thumping before attempting to shut the door.
The sound of a car driving into the premises made her throw the door open and step outside, it was Linus her immediate elder brother.
“Aero! Aero!” He hailed.
She beamed at the pet name he adopted after she graduated as an aeronautical engineer. “Welcome brothermi.” She genuflected.
“Thank you.” He hugged her. “Where is Uncle Tunji?” He asked when he observed the sitting room was void of anyone.
“He is with mummy in her room.”
Without another word, he head for the stairs.
She raised skinny hands to her chest to still her heart which was threatening to burst out of its cavity.
At exactly five minutes past 10 am, they filed down the stairs with their facial expression blank, her sister first, followed by her brother, uncle and mother whose eyes appeared puffy and they avoided meeting hers as they settled.
Her mum and her barrister brother sharing a sofa while her uncle and her architecture sister sat singly.
“Lizzy, give us a brief prayer.” Tunji instructed.
A couple of minutes later, Tunji began. “We are gathered here today because of you Lillian. It has never gotten to my ears in the two scores of my living and a half that a child was thrown away with its bathing water.”
Lillian heart sank.
“I trust you must have rebuked yourself severally but that is not going to stop me. What you did was atrocious in the sight of God and man and for that, I am highly disappointed. I am highly disappointed because I had three sittings with Matthew who I encouraged to confide in me and thankfully, what he said correlate with everything you told me. In most Africa culture ours inclusive, the man is the head of the family and not a pawn. Irrespective of where you rise to, what you become and the number of males you are boss over, the holy book admonish wives to submit to their husbands. What you did was inexcusable but all thanks to God that it wasn’t worst. All thanks to God that he and his family didn’t decide to pay you back in your coin.” He heaved before reaching into the bag he held earlier and pulling out a medium size brown envelope. “This belongs to you.”
Lillian stood to receive it.
“Your brother and I were in the hospital three days back along with his parents and two of his elder brothers to honor their invitation to a meeting.” He began once more when Lillian was seated. “The conclusion wasn’t pleasant to us and we know it wouldn’t be pleasant to you but it was fair enough.” He paused.
The silence was the longest one in her life but she dare not compel him to speak.
“Matthew had decided that the incident was beyond his greatest and most accommodating imagination but in as much he had loved you wholeheartedly, he couldn’t bring himself to do that anymore.”
They all directed their attention to her.
She shut her eyes tightly. “No, no, no.” She shook her head vigorously. “Uncle Tunji, Matthew can’t do that, he can’t do that to me.” She slumped to her knees. “He can’t stop loving me when he has not listened to me, when he hasn’t given me a chance to apologize.”
Tears rolled down her mother’s cheek.
Tunji shook his head while Elizabeth fought back her tears.
“Lillian, Matthew already filed for a divorce and the content of the envelope you are holding should shed more light.”
Stunned, she glared at her brother in disbelief and confusion. Through blurry eyes, she looked at her mother whose body shook in sobs. She observed she wasn’t that teary-eyes when her husband passed on. It must be true, Matthew didn’t want her anymore.
“No. It is not true.” She slowed picked herself up. “Matthew cannot divorce me.” She picked her bag. Blinded by tears, she head for the door but her brother faster.
“Leave me alone! I cannot be divorced. No…” She struggled to break free but her emaciated and dehydrated self was no match for him.
“Lillian, Matthew would not change his mind. The papers have been drawn and I saw them myself. He doesn’t want a messy divorce and that shouldn’t be an option for you either. Truthfully, I will do same in his shoes. It would be cruel to ask anyone who had survived the brutal attack of a knife in sleep and yet again awake and kissed death to live with the offender under the same roof as though nothing happen.”
That was the truth in black and white. She stopped struggling and he let go of his grip on her.
She sat on the ground and placed both hands on her head. “Brother Linus, I am finished. My life is ended.” She wailed.
Linus crunched before her. “It would have probably finished if we are having this conversation in the prison premises baby girl but we are not and you should be grateful for that. It is okay to weep, mourn your marriage and the dreams or plans you had that would never be fulfilled. Don’t over do it because you have the opportunity to redeem yourself and wash off the soil you’ve brought upon the family. I love you and am proud of you even what you did cannot change that Lillian but remember, there is no smoke without fire. You need to find out what prompted your action and deal with from the very root. Matthew is having sessions with a clinical psychologist and I think you should see one also. What do you think?”
Lillian opened and closed her mouth before bursting into tears. “Brothermi, I am not mad.”
Don’t forget to comment.