Very early the next morning, the weather was cold and rain was drizzling, Richard made his way to see his wife,he got to her house and jumped across the short fence.
He knocked on the door but no one answered.
“Tanure, please talk to me, just give me a few minutes to explain everything to you, please”
Mr Ojaide who was in the living room dropped the newspaper in his hands,he grabbed his walking stick and headed for the door.
“Iyawo mi, I need to……..”
“Shut your mouth and get out of my compound!”Mr Ojaide ordered.
“Keep your stupid greeting to yourself.You think you can always hurt my daughter and I’ll always remain quiet?”
“I’m sorry, I can fix this… I can…”
“You are not fixing anything,as long as I’m alive,you will never see my daughter again”
Richard swallowed,this had gotten much worse than he imagined.
“Baba.. please,let me talk to her for just a few minutes”
“Oh! I think you don’t understand what I said.Leave my house now else you wouldn’t like what I’ll do to you”Mr Ojaide threatened.
Richard ignored him,he started shouting.
Mr Ojaide hit him hard on the back with his walking stick knowing fully well that Richard wouldn’t dare retaliate.
The rain started falling heavily.
“You’re lucky.If you like wait here till tomorrow, I won’t allow my daughter to see you again”With that,he walked into his house leaving Richard in the rain.
Richard just stood there feeling like a hundred years old.
Bisi stared at Remi and saw boys supporting a drunk Richard into the compound.
“What happened to him?”She asked alarmed on seeing the bruises on his arms and face.
“I found him at the pub, I was told that after drinking to stupor,he fought with Gbenga and his crew”
Bisi sighed sadly,those were the area boys who no one dares to mess with.She thanked the boys while she and Remi took him inside his bedroom.
He laid down flat on his stomach,Bisi managed to take off his shirt and saw a long reddish mark on his back.
“Did those area boys beat him up with sticks?”
“No, I heard they dealt blows on him”
Bisi gulped,he had told her that he was going to see Tanure, Ojaide must have done this,the situation keeps getting worse.
“Go heat up some water,Remi”She instructed.
Remi nodded and walked away.
Minutes later,he walked in with a bowl of water,Bisi dipped a towel inside the bowl, she squeezed it and started massaging his bruises.
He groaned, and started muttering something inaudible then he laughed weakly, and slowly his breath became deep and even.
Richard slowly opened his eyes,it was as if his head was going to fall off.He brought a hand to it and sat up.
Bisi walked in.
“Ekaaro Maami”He greeted reaching out for his shirt.
“Where are you going to?”Bisi asked.
He stood up and a surge of dizziness made him sit right back.
“Tanure didn’t talk to me yesterday, I have to….”
“Richard, you can barely move, Ojaide would add to your injuries, you’re not leaving this house!”Bisi declared.
“What should I do, Maami?”He asked, sadly.
“You’re really sure that child isn’t…..”
Richard held her hands.
“You know I can’t lie to you, Maami.No one believes me.You have to believe me, please. I didn’t cheat on Tanure, I love her so much”He said with tears filled eyes.
Bisi hugged him.She knew this son of hers more than anyone else and right now,he was telling the truth.
“Leave my house, woman.My daughter would never associate with any single person from your family!”Mr Ojaide yelled at Bisi.
Tanure quickly hurried out of her bedroom,Bisi didn’t do anything wrong so she didn’t deserve to be yelled at.
“Baba, please let me talk to her”She pleaded.
Mr Ojaide stared at her then walked off.
Bisi and Tanure sat on a chair in the living room.
Tanure sighed, she couldn’t tell anyone what Christine did,not even her father,she didn’t want anyone to hate him and she hated herself more for covering up for him.
Bisi stared at the forlorn look on her face,she immediately lost the courage to beg on Richard’s behalf.
“I don’t know what to say,My dear”She confessed.
She held Tanure’s hands and stared at her closely.Christ!Was she…..
“Are you pregnant?”
Tanure knew she couldn’t hide it from her even if she wanted to.
“Kayo doesn’t know about this,does he?”
“No. I was going to tell him but he has a child already”
“And you believe that, right?”Bisi asked, seriously.
“Maami, you won’t understand…..”
“I know.But I’m sure of one thing,he loves you alot.This time, I won’t force you two into anything, I won’t make you feel that you two must be together. I just want you to know that love recognizes no barriers,it jumps hurdles, leaps fences,penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope”She moved closer and stroked Tanure’s hair tenderly.
“Whatever your decision would be,I’ll respect it wholeheartedly.”She assured and placed her hand on Tanure’s flat stomach.
“No matter what happens, I must be a part of this child’s life”
Tanure smiled sadly and nodded.
Bisi walked into Richard’s room,he rushed towards her.
“Maami,is she okay? What did she say?”He asked, almost at the same time.
“Tanure is pregnant”Bisi announced.
Richard slowly retraced his steps and sat down.He had totally forgotten that she had gone to see a doctor that day.He pictured how it’d have been to receive the news if only Christine hadn’t ruined that day.
“What did she say?”He asked again, anxiously.
“I don’t want to raise your hopes up, Kayo, she’s so sad and If you can do anything to make her feel better, please do.But don’t expect things to be okay again.Even if she might want to come back to you someday, Ojaide wouldn’t agree to it”
Richard bit his lower lip hard,there was only one thing he could do to lessen her pain.
Christine was startled by the person in front of her,this wasn’t the handsome Richard she knew,he looked pale with a bruises on his face and hand.He walked in and sat on a couch.She was home alone.
“Richard”She called shocked beyond words.
“I really underestimated you, Christine”He began.
“If only you had…..”
“If only I hadn’t be such a coward before,if only I had realized that Tanure and I had something so beautiful together, I wouldn’t have led you into her life.I wouldn’t have hurt her this much”He said, remorsefully and for the first time, that remorse tore at Christine.
He stood up and walked over to the baby’s crib.
“Who’s the father of your child, Christine?”He asked, nonchalantly.
She was quiet.
“You think you can just force another man’s child on me and I’ll accept you?Or you think I’ll be terrified of your father.Nothing that would lead to the birth of this child happened between us and you know that very well!”He thundered.
“We can be happy, Richard, that woman doesn’t love you as much as I do”
At that moment, Richard almost believed her.He knew he did the wrong thing keeping what Christine did a secret.But after proving and proving to Tanure over and over again that he couldn’t be with anyone else,she still was so quick to believe that he was the father of Christine’s child.
He quickly shook his head trying to focus on his reason for being here.He carried the baby in his arms.
“Who does she look like?you or her father?”He asked staring straight at Christine who was starting to feel tortured.
He headed towards the door.
“Richard, where are you going with my baby?”She asked, alarmed.
“You said the child is mine, remember.So it’s baby’s day out”Richard said and hurriedly walked away.
Defeat washed over Christine as she slumped on a chair.
Hours later, Richard texted Christine the address of where he was with the baby.
Christine walked into the hospital and found him at the lobby.
Wordlessly,she sat beside him.
“I had a DNA conducted, I’ll get the medical report in five days but you and I already know the result”
She sighed.”I knew that was what you were up to”
Richard frowned.”Why didn’t you stop me?”
“Cause I just realized that I have been fighting a lost battle”She replied, frustratedly.Richard handed the baby to her.
“I saw on your baby’s crib,her name’s Patra.You’ve got a beautiful baby, Christine.You ruined my first chance of being a father.And now, the second too. I have no idea if I’ll ever have a close relationship with my child”He said,wearily.
“I have HIV”She confessed.
“I cheated on you when I traveled to Paris. I thought you would always want me because of my money, and I thought when I’d come home, you’ll propose to me so I wanted to have a taste of other men before settling down as your wife.
I had so many casual hook-ups.When I got back and met Tanure already carrying your child,I was angry and disappointed, and when you said the only thing holding you two together was the child, I thought you still loved me alot so I made her lost the child.”She sniffed and continued.
“After that,you started avoiding me like a plague, I got so furious and frustrated, I got drunk in a bar and I slept with the bartender. I hardly remember that night, but just three months after that,
I was feeling so sick and I went to get to a hospital and it was discovered that I was three months pregnant,and there was more, I tested positive to HIV too.
I didn’t know what to do,my dad would kill me, I didn’t even know how to tell him about this,I didn’t want to blame myself for all this so I blamed you for it.
Since my pregnancy wasn’t conspicuous then, I had my dad talk to the CEO of your company so that I could be close to you, I wanted to have you wrap around my fingers but it was impossible and I realized it when you rejected me in London.”
Richard sighed deeply.And he thought he had seen everything.Who was this woman?
“I took a leave before people starts noticing my pregnancy, I traveled to US so that I could deliver safely without infecting the baby with the virus, I don’t know how my dad found out, I couldn’t tell him a bartender was responsible and I couldn’t tell him about my illness so I decided to use it against you ….. I decided to try just one last time if I could make you love me again.But no one can get away from karma.Nemesis is catching up with me,this is the price I have to pay for all my deeds”
Silence fell between them.Richard just sat there for some time highly dumbfounded.He clearly didn’t have any protection with him that night, assuming he had slept with Christine…….Christ!
His love for Tanure had saved him.
He went down on his knees, tears sliding down his cheeks.
“Please… please Christine, I’m begging you, you’ve done more than enough already, now please let me spend the rest of my life waiting and hoping for a miracle to bring her back to me”He begged, tearfully.
Christine broke into tears feeling like a demon…..a demon who wanted to change.
“I’m sorry, Richard… I’m so sorry”She apologized, sincerely and kept on crying and apologizing even when he stood up.
Mr Boyowa read the medical report,he slowly placed it on the table.
“I’m sorry for doubting you,Kayo, it was because you love women too much”He teased.
“I love one woman now”Richard replied and gave the papers to Bisi.
“Maami, can you help me give these to her today?”He requested.
Bisi smiled and took the papers from him.
When she got to Tanure’s house,Mr Ojaide refused to let her in.Bisi gave the papers to him.
“Please give it to her”With that, she walked away.
Richard paced to and fro in front of his house, the ache in his chest increased seeing his mother coming towards the house alone,he had told himself not to expect her to come back to him, but he couldn’t stop himself from being hopeful that she might.
Bisi patted him on the shoulder.
As he took a step forward,she held his arm.
“Ojaide didn’t allow me to even see her so don’t think you have a chance to talk to her”
“I curse the day I met you”
Her words ran through his head.
“Should I give up,Maami?”
Bisi looked away.
Richard shut his eyes.He never thought that they would end up this way.
Tanure sat on her bed, feeling so lonely,she hardly did anything in the house,her father wouldn’t allow her to,Maami Funmi had distant herself from her to avoid getting into trouble with her husband.
As hard as it was to admit, she missed Richard.Her father had dropped her cellphone into a bowl of water though he said it wasn’t purposely but she knew it wasn’t a mistake when he threw the sim card away along with the damaged phone.
She didn’t have the energy then to quarrel with him but now, she wished she did, even if nothing good would come out of it.She shook her head, berating herself mentally for wanting to hear his voice right now.
Mr Ojaide walked in.
“Bisi came here,she wanted you to have this”He said giving her the papers.He had been at war with himself whether to give her or not, but then it dawned on him that it might make her stop crying herself to sleep.
He stared at her,this was against his religion but he had been a terrible father and this was the time to make it up to her.
“Richard left”He announced.
“He left”She repeated, faintly.
“Yes, I saw him leaving the village myself”He moved closer to her and held her shoulders.
“He’s going to move on with his life and you should do the same.Don’t worry,my dear. I can take care of you and your child.It might seem hard now but soon, you’ll forget about him”He assured.
Tanure wished it’d be that easy.Mr Ojaide smiled encouragingly at her and walked away.
Tanure opened the medical report and skipped most of the details then read the bottom.
“Patra Ekure and Richard Boyowa are 99% unrelated”
She swallowed hard,a piece of paper fell off,she picked it up and realized that it was a letter,she could see many traces of teardrops on the paper and as she started reading,hers joined his too.
I’d really love to hear your voice right now but your phone is switched off, I won’t stop calling till the day it rings. I just wanted to lessen the pain you’re feeling right now by proving to you that Christine’s child isn’t mine though it pains me so much that you still doubted my fidelity after everything.
What Christine did to you is unforgivable and I’ll keep blaming myself for not realizing soon enough that you were made for me.
I don’t know what to ask for right now because I know I don’t deserve anything from you but at least when you go to bed, don’t cry, I can’t erase those sad moments but I want you to think of the happy ones.When it was just me and you, Richard and Tanure.
I want you to think of when I was your shark and you were my dolphin. I want you to think of the times when I would do anything you want,the smiles,the laughs,the piggyback,the games.When the sun goes down each day, I’ll think of the times when I’d hurry home to see my Orente.
I’m sorry Tanure, I’m so sorry for ruining everything, I’m so sorry for hurting you.I’m so sorry for all the times I made you cry. I wish I could erase everything. I don’t regret loving you this much though it hurts that I can’t stop. I don’t regret all the times I spent with you,they were priceless.
Even if we can’t be together at the end, I’m still glad that you were part of my life.