Everyone stood completely still when Sandra’s cloth tore. The man’s wife suddenly realized what she did. Immediately, knelt in front of Sandra, begging. My mum and her company joined in. I just stood confused, not knowing what to say. Surprisingly, Sandra smiled and asked me to tie back the hand of her singlet. Three soldiers rushed towards us but she stopped them by just waving her hand and nodded it’s okay to them and they went on their way.
“get up! It’s okay,” Sandra said to the woman with a warm smile.
We all looked at each other in complete surprise, then to Sandra who just smiled.
“it’s okay. Get up,” she repeated, still smiling and helping the lady up.
“thank you ma, thank you ma.” the lady said as she stood up.
“like I said earlier, your husband will be released tomorrow. He’s fine.” Sandra said before turning to my mum, “mummy, I’m sorry for the stress. Please allow me drive you home.”
What the lady did and how Sandra responded to it made everyone agree to everything she said afterwards. Mum, the man’s wife and I joined Sandra in the car while the rest went home via public transport. No one saw my neighbor and no one dared questioned why. They all accepted Sandra’s word into-to.
We were caught up in traffic for about two hours. During the time, Sandra engaged mum in an acquaintance discussion. Later, they focused on domestic violence and how she was against men who beat up women. My neighbor’s wife seemed to agree with her but was reserved. Mum, who clearly concurs with Sandra openly aired her hatred for women beater and pointing that since i was little she hasn’t seen me lay a hand on a woman. This made Sandra blush and looked at me with pride.
It was already evening when we got home. Sandra dropped us off and drove away. We got in and met Ruth playing with her phone at the dinning table.
“hey,” Ruth said, dropping her phone on the table and focusing on me.
“hello,” I responded, sitting on the couch in front of the TV.
Ruth greeted mum who just exchanged few words with her before entering her room.
As soon as mum went in, Ruth walked to where I sat. Sitting beside me she said, “I heard what happened today,” looking at my hand and head with great concern in her face. Then she continued, “Mike, you are entering too much trouble of late. I advise you run away whenever you smell it from a distance.”
“it’s okay dear, it’s just a minor injury,” I said, forcing a smile.
“I heard your lady friend came around and arrested him…I also heard she’s a soldier,” this she said silently.
I looked at her, void of what to reply so I shrugged and smiled.
“Mike!” Ruth called.
I looked at her, aware of the storm coming my way.
“do you really care about me?” she said, looking pitifully at me.
“come on! Is this the right time for this?” I asked, frowning.
“this is just the right time dear. She’s always surfacing every time I blink. I am not comfortable with it. Please, I need to know if I mean anything to you.” She said, holding my arm tenderly.
I didn’t know how to reply her so I pretended as though my head suddenly started hurting so bad.
“what is it?” Ruth asked, stunned at the sudden swap.
“my head! My head!” I said, touching the bandage part of my head.
“am sorry…am sorry,” Ruth said, close to tears.
She tremulously searched around the bandage, while I played my role professionally.
“what happened?!” she asked in a worried tone.
“I need to rest, my head aches terribly,” I responded.
“Okay! Have you eaten? I can fix you something,” she asked, still sounding worried.
My tummy reminded me of how hungry I was, so I nodded my approval for dinner.
She went in and came out with fried plantain and potato chips few minutes later. She brought me some juice too. I instantly sat up, still putting up my act.
“has mum eaten?” she asked as she fed me.
“I don’t know,” I said, opening my mouth to accept another potato chip.
“let me check on mum. Hope you can manage?” she asked in a concerned tone.
I nodded. She stood up, went to the kitchen, came out with a plate full of potato chips and plantain. Few minutes later, she came out and resumed her duty of feeding me.
I managed to avoid Ruth’s nagging that night. The next day, Ruth woke me up with a peck on my cheek. I looked to behold her smiling face. She was sitting beside me.
“good morning handsome,” she greeted.
I wiped the saliva on my mouth and the side of my face with the back of my hand feeling slightly embarrassed.
“good morning. Are you ready to go?” I asked, slightly burying my face in the pillow to hide patches of saliva.
“yes baby! I hope Sandra won’t come around when am gone,” she said, looking towards the door in the opposite direction. “you have stopped asking about madam and your baby, why?” she added.
Suddenly I remembered the money Amaka sent. Funny enough I haven’t called to say thank you and she hasn’t called either. I immediately felt the rush to inform mum of the good news but Ruth seemed as though she would spend into my impatience.
“you are late for work. When you come back we will discuss about it.” I said, intentionally sending her away.
“and Mike, I want to spend the night with you, you know what I mean,” she said, blushing.
“alright! Anything for you. Get going!” I said, pushing her off my bed.
The moment she was gone, I went straight to mum’s room, she wasn’t there. So I went downstairs to her shop where she was arranging her goods.
“good morning ma,” I greeted as I entered the shop.
“Mike. Good morning. How’s your injury?” mum asked, pausing to look at me.
“fine, fine. Mum, I have a good news! Sit to hear it,” I said, sitting on a long bench close by.
Mum sat beside me, wondering what could be so good that I couldn’t wait till later.
“I have 500,000!” I said, the moment mum was settled.
“how? Who gave you?!” she asked in an expected surprise.
“you won’t believe who…” I said, smiling.
“Sandra?” she guessed.
“no!” I said.
“then who?!” she asked, sounding impatient.
“Amaka!” I said.
“which Amaka?” mum asked.
“my former boss,” I described.
“what?!” she said in a shock.
“yes mum,” I answered with a broad grin feeling excited.
Mum paused, reasoned it through then finally said. “Mike!” heaving a sigh.
I looked at her, wondering what she has suddenly cooked up.
“return that money!” she said.
It sounded unbelievable in my ears. I felt like I didn’t hear her right, so I asked again, “what did you say?”
“Mike, I said return that money, we don’t need it. That lady is a witch.” her voice sounded rigid.
It felt strange to me. We needed this money and we have something close to it and now she doesn’t want it?
So, I said, “mum, sometimes a witch’s gift can solve one’s problem. Why don’t we solve our problem now and wait for the repercussion tomorrow?”
Mum looked at me for a while then said, “my son, you don’t owe a stingy man and expect to find peace. It’s better to patch a small hole that can result to a problem tomorrow today. You won’t understand, my son. Just return that money. Return it!” she said, then returned to her work.
I picked up my phone severally to call Amaka but I couldn’t make up my mind to call. Coincidentally, her call came in.
“good morning,” I greeted, battling with my choice.
“good morning Mike. I have been expecting a call from you to confirm that you received my gift.” she said.
“oh yes! I did…I…I was just trying your number.” I said.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that I won’t be needing the money. So, I said, “mum is really grateful for it. I owe you Amaka, thanks a lot.” just then i realized the gravity of showing my indebtedness to her.
“I’m happy to hear that. You know what Mike?” she said.
I could guess what she was about to say but I just had to enquire.
“what?” I asked.
“I want to see you. I want you for a week.” she said.
My mind quickly flashed to Sandra and Ruth who wouldn’t skip a day without me.
“I can’t do a week, please. My girlfriend will kill me.” I answered.
She laughed for a while then said amidst her laughter, “you? A girlfriend? Please Mike, how much does she have? Why didn’t she give you the money if she had it? Make up your mind. I want to see you this evening. Don’t disappoint me.” then she hung up.
I was in a dilemma of what to decide. I still had the money in my account. I can’t spend a week with Amaka. I wondered how I was going to cope with Sandra who I am now scared of. I can’t begin to see her as I use to, something left me the day I saw her other side. Yet, I had to make up my mind on what to do fast. So, I took a stroll to a bar a few yards away from mine. I sat at the extreme so I could see whoever comes in first without being spotted.
The bar man brought me a bottle and a glass. I sipped it gently as I reasoned what to do. Suddenly a guy came to where I was.
“hello!” he said.
I looked at him, he was on a buttoned up blue sleeve top on a red jean. I wondered what kind of fashion sense his was.
“hey,” I replied.
“please can I sit with you?” he asked.
“of course, you can.” I said.
He took a sit opposite me and placed his drink on the table. We watched the musical program on the TV together while the guy did the talking. He seemed to know much about celebrities and their lifestyle. I just kept quiet for him to educate me.
He ended up buying much more drinks for me. I was tipsy and started telling him about my problems. He listened with great concern which motivated me to keep on Talking. In the end, I discovered that I had drank a little too much. So I told him I was done. He paid for our bills and offered to drop me off. I obliged.
He drove me in his gulf car a little distance, then he suggested I know where he lives which he said is not far from my street. Because I was drunk and didn’t feel like going home, I agreed. I didn’t know how long we drove. All I know was that we arrived his place.
He came down, opened the gate, drove in. He shut the gate and led me into the house. He lives in a single bungalow. It felt as though he was the only one living there because of the quietness of the place.
To be continued…