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Image Source:     It was a lavish party. Everyone was in their best outfit. Bola had invited friends from a...

Image Source:   

It was a lavish party. Everyone was in their best outfit. Bola had invited friends from across the country to his home on December 22. He held a pre-Christmas party for the first time fifteen years earlier; afterwards it became an annual event. It was a day to enjoy with his friends and staff and their families. His staffers were allowed to invite as many friends as they wanted. A renowned caterer had whipped up her magic; the food was impeccable and there were lots to drink. Ndukaku sat at a table with his friends along with Fumi and her friends. Fumi made sure she was seated next to him. There was live music on the premises. The live band churned out old tunes that sent the older folks into a frenzied waltz as they rocked the dance floor with vivacious energy. “I never knew your parents could dance like this,” Ayo pointed out referring to Fumi and Nduka. “They were once young you know, and they grew up with these songs from the sixties and seventies,” Nduka answered with a hint of humor. Fumi placed her hand under the table and gently moved it so that it rested on Nduka’s hand. They both felt an inexplicable blend of peace and excitement surge through their bodies. Fumi smiled to the jokes around the table, but said little herself. She was not quite ready to give up the only luxury she had come to know since finding out they were half siblings, which was holding his hand. It proffered her some sort of respite; perhaps something to cling unto in the face of a colossal, heartbreaking loss.

“I have to use the bathroom for a moment please,” Nduka excused himself from the table. “You can use the one over there,” Fumi offered, pointing to the main house. She did not want him out of her sight for long. A quick run to the main house would reduce the duration of his absence significantly. “I will be right back,” Nduka insisted. He walked across the massive compound over to their staff quarters. “Come to me Ngozika,” a voice said in a drunken stupor. “Remember how we did it back then? Please come to me one more time,” the voice said. Nduka knew the voice. It was that of his father’s close friend, Kennedy. Nduka stooped down, moved a few shrubs aside and saw his mother discussing with Kennedy. “Kennedy, please stop disturbing me, I am a married woman. I am going back over there, and I don’t want you to bother me anymore. I only came here to politely tell you to stop badgering me. You are my husband’s friend, so you should not be doing this,” Ngozika warned. “But it was a great time we had then Ngoo. Let’s do it again.” “You are drunk! Go home now Kennedy.” Ngozika walked away from him. Nduka hid in-between shrubs to keep from being spotted by his mother. Ngozika walked to their apartment and headed straight to the bathroom. Nduka waited for a moment watching Kennedy trudge back to the party like a leaf suspended in the air. When Nduka got to their apartment, he could hear his mother sniffing in the bathroom. She had been crying; Ndukaku could sense it. He did not want to make her feel worse, so he found a spot that was hidden from the light and eased himself outside. He could not expunge the discussion he overheard between his mother and Kennedy from his mind. He watched his mother return to the party with a plastic smile on her face. She tucked into her seat beside Chidubem. Was Kennedy drunk? Or did he actually have something to do with my mother in the past? Days after the party, Ndukaku continued to ponder that particular incident.

“I will be most pleased if you could do this for me,” Ndukaku explained. “I can do it but it will cost you some money,” the man in a white lab coat explained. “I will pay. How much are we looking at?” “It will cost you at least twenty five thousand Naira.” “That is fine. I will pay.” “But if I have to re-run any of the tests, it will cost you an extra four thousand Naira per test.” “What is the likelihood of a re-run?” “Let me see,” the man said as he returned to the fridge to count the samples. “There are ten of them altogether, so I reckon we may have to re-run up to three of them.” “That will amount to about twelve thousand Naira…go ahead. Here is your deposit.” Ndukaku handed him ten thousand Naira and left. “Did you follow my instructions while collecting the samples?” The man asked as Nduka was leaving. “Yes, I followed your instructions to the letter.” “Good. Check with me in two weeks’ time.” “I will be right here in two weeks.” He left with his hands clasped in prayer. He went to see Bola who had just returned from a long trip to France that night. “My boy, how are you doing?” “I am doing fine sir,” Nduka answered. “You don’t have to address me as sir, Nduka. Feel free around me okay? You are my son. If you decide to leave your parents; I mean Chidubem and Ngozika and come over to the main house, I will make room for you right away.” “That will not be necessary sir?” “No more sir, please.” “Okay sir.” Bola smiled. “I see you will take a while to get over that,” he said while placing his hand on his shoulder. “Yes, it will.” “No problem. Take your time. So you don’t want to move in?” “No really sir. I don’t think it’d be fair to my parents. I have been with them all my life, so, deserting them now will not sit well with me. I will take my time and see what happens.” “Okay, take your time my son.”

“So, did you come over to see me for anything in particular?” Bola asked. “Yes sir. I was wondering if you could help me with some money. I need to pick up a few things in preparation for my return to campus.” “I will be with you in a moment,” Bola said. He disappeared to his bedroom and returned shortly with a cheque in hand. “That is a cheque for one hundred thousand Naira. It should take care of things. You have never asked, so I am grateful you did. It shows we are making some progress.” “Thank you very much sir.” “You are welcome son. I am glad to do what I should have done all these years.” They talked about the economy and politics for the next two hours before Nduka returned to the quarters. He stopped to say good bye to Fumi. “I would like to see you tomorrow Nduka. Can we meet at the beach?” “Is everything okay?” “Yes, I just want to spend a few hours with you.” “Sure, I will be there, How about 4:00PM?” “That is fine by me.” “See you tomorrow Fumi,” See you too,” she said. They looked at each other for a moment without saying anything. He turned and walked away. Nduka looked at the cheque one more time before he tucked it away. He could not wait to cash it the next morning. Now I have all the money to pay that guy at the lab, he thought.

“I want to run away,” Fumi said after they had settled into their respective chairs in a bamboo hut on the beach. “Why would you do that?” He asked her. “Can’t you see it? Can’t you see we are madly in love with each other but because of some other people’s mistake, we can never be together? Don’t you feel what I feel?” “I feel more than what you feel Fumi, but what do we do?” “That is why I want to run away from here after graduation. I want to leave for the USA; somewhere so far away from you. Hopefully I can forget you. I get a lot of advances from men, but they mean nothing to me because of you. I have loved you all my life, growing up with you, fighting with you and being up to childish mischiefs with you. I never thought anything would ever come between us, but here we are, madly in love with each other, and only finding out that we are siblings, or shall I say half siblings.” 

Nduka stared into the empty sea, as if he was asking for answers from the sea. “I wish I could change our fate Fumi. I want you more than anything else. I want you so much, but you are the one thing I cannot have. It is like putting a knife through my belly and ripping me to shreds. Life no longer means anything to me,” he said quietly. “Let’s run to the USA then. There, we can get married and forget that we ever found out about our blood relationship. We can cut off our parents and carry on by ourselves.” “Can you do that Fumi? We know the truth. It will always haunt us. We cannot pretend that what we know about each other does not exist. I cannot cut my parents out of my life for the mistakes they made. I am sure my mother and your father did not wake up that morning planning to sleep with each other. They succumbed to temptation, but they are not alone. We all do. I am not willing to cut them out of my life. I care so deeply about you, but unless there is contrary evidence to our relationship, I will not start another mistake that you and I will regret in future if we run away.”

Fumi hated it when she knew that Nduka was right. “Why do you always have to be calm in situations like this? Why can’t you just give in to emotions for once and do something impulsive.” “It was an impulsive action many years ago that has brought you and I where we are today. Do you want to create another one for our unborn children? The world is changing fast. No matter where we go, someone will find us and the story will come out – they are brother and sister, and our children will hear it in person or by Facebook. How do you think they’d feel? Remember how you felt when you heard about your father and my mom.” “You are so right Nduka, and that is driving me insane right now.” “It is okay Fumi.” “It is not okay!!! I am going crazy over you.” “Calm down. You don’t have to make a scene my dear.” “You called me ‘my dear’. I wish I could hear that more often without either of us feeling guilty.” “I am as hurt as you are Fumi, but I am not prepared to run yet. Who knows, you might meet someone better…way better than myself if you keep an open mind…and me too, I could find another girl. I wish I had a solution to this dilemma, but there is none. It is the bitter truth we both have to live with.” Afterwards, they tried to talk about other things for the rest of their time on the beach. When Fumi got home that night, she locked herself in and sobbed bitterly.

“So are you going to explain the result to me?” “Yes, I will be with you in a moment.” Nduka waited for the lab scientist in the lobby. He scrutinized the sheaf of paper he had handed to him earlier, but they made no sense to him. “Okay, come into my office,” the lab scientist said with a smile when he returned. Nduka followed him. His heart was beating against his ribs. His hands shook so much that he nearly dropped the results he was clutching. “Here is the summary of everything in the results I gave you earlier,” he said. Nduka looked through the one-page summary. “Is this true?” He asked. “Yes. I ran each sample three times. Our facility is the most renowned in Lagos, which is why the American Embassy uses us. The results are very reliable. That, I can assure you.” Nduka was still looking at the one-page summary. Mixed feelings were rioting within him. His hands shook violently; this time with positive excitement. “Can I have a spare copy?” “Yes of course. I need some time to print it off – a few minutes.” He left and retuned shortly with another heap of paper work. Nduka requested an envelope for both copies. He shoved each into an envelope with shaky hands. “I have to leave now. Thanks for your time,” he said. “I hope you found the answers you were looking for?” The lab scientists asked. Nduka was gone by the time he had finished asking the question.

“Mom, I have to ask you this please. I don’t mean to insult you but it is important that we have an honest discussion about this. I love you and I will always love you. No matter what, you will never lose my respect. However, I need you to tell me the truth,” Nduka said. He spoke slowly picking his words carefully. Ngozika had never been open to discussing her son’s ill-fated paternity. It was a sore topic for her. She faced the ground once again, refusing to make eye contact. “Mom, I heard you having a discussion with Kennedy, dad’s friend the night of Mr. Bola’s party. What happened between the two of you?” Ngozika was quivering feverishly. Tears lined the edges of her eyes. “Kennedy is my father, isn’t he?” Ngozika’s sobbing intensified. “How do you know that Nduka? Just because of what you heard a drunken man say?” 

“Mom, I love you and that will never change. Be honest with me please. Your lying to me does not help matters. I have evidence to show that Kennedy is my father. I am not sure you knew that actually. I am guessing you never mentioned Kennedy to dad because of the level distrust he’d feel for you and Kennedy. I think he deserves to know. I have DNA results to show that Mr. Bola Okewole is not my father. Kennedy is my father mom…that I know.” “I am so sorry Ndu my beloved son. I have let you down so much. I have watched you and Fumi suffer for the fact that you cannot truly express your deep-felt love for each other. I see the way you look at each other and my heart bleeds. I am relieved Bola is not your father, but I never knew. I always believed he was. I was a fool, Nduka. I was young; very young when your father married me and brought me to Lagos. I have no excuse for my mistakes, but I did not know what I was doing. Please forgive me. Yes, I did have something to do with Kennedy, but I could not bring myself to tell your father about it. I guess I have to now. Please forgive me. So you and Fumi can now be together?” “Yes mom!! I am so happy, and at the same time, I am sorry that I am putting you through this again. I guess you have to tell dad yourself. If you want me to be there, I will.” “That will help son. Now, go and let Fumilayo know.” “I will do that right away mom. I wanted to talk to you first.”

Fumilayo lay almost lifeless on the floor. Her mouth was covered in foam. “Fumi!” Nduka yelled. He lifted her to his shoulders and raced outside. His mother saw him running out of the main building. She ran towards him. “Is she okay? What happened?” “I think she may have tried to take her life mom. God please save her for me!” He placed her on the porch, ran back into the house and picked up the key to Fumi’s car. He placed her limp body in the car and raced to the hospital. Within minutes, she was in the intensive care unit. Bola arrived at the hospital with Nduka’s father. “Your mother told me, so I called Mr. Bola right away,” Chidubem said. “I am glad you two are here,” Nduka answered. “Is she going to be alright? What did the doctors say?” Asked Bola. It was a cold evening, but thick streaks of sweat snaked across his face like a flood breaking through the barriers of a dam. They could hear the sound of his heart hammering ferociously against his poor ribs. Nduka was sweating profusely too. All of a sudden, he had begun to stutter. “I…I…I have…yet to…hear…hear…from…the do-c-t-o-r-s,” he said, visibly troubled and emotionally shaken.

It was not until five hours later that the doctor in charge of Fumilayo came to see them. “I am afraid she had ingested an overdose of expired paracetamol, which violently attacked hr liver,” Dr. Osuji announced ominously. He was a young bespectacled doctor, no more than forty two years of age. He seemed self-assured and in control. “So is she going to make it?” Ndukaku and Bola echoed in unison. “We think so. Her liver may have taken quite some beating though, so we can only hope that no permanent damage is done to it. We cannot say for now, but we are monitoring everything. I am afraid you cannot see her tonight. I reckon she awake by tomorrow. Do go home and come back in the morning.” “I don’t mind watching her all night,” Ndukaku offered. “There is no need for that. We have some of the best nurses in the country. Be rest assured that she is in good hands. Let’s allow her to sleep tonight. She will be alright. We are doing all we can to rid her body of all the toxic compound stemming from expired paracetamol.” “Please don’t let my daughter die doctor. She is all I have got. Her mother died after delivering her and I promised her that I would take care of Fumilayo. Please take care of my daughter,” Bola pleaded. “We are doing our best. Go home and pray for her while we do what we can humanly do. Pray and trust God.”

Reluctantly, they drove home in silence. They all rode in Bola’s Lexus jeep. It was not until they were close to the house that Bola uttered a word. “Why would she bother to take her life?” He asked Ndukaku. “You are closer to her than myself. Why would she put me…us through this?” “We’ll have to ask her when she can talk sir,” Ndukaku answered. He was surprised Bola had not noticed that he and Fumi were still madly in love with each other. The driver pulled into the mansion having opened the gate with a remote control, one of Bola’s latest installations. “I would like to ride to the hospital with you in the morning,” Ndukaku requested. “That is fine. I will be looking to leave for the hospital about 7:30AM.” “I will be ready.” “See you in the morning then. You could stay in the main house tonight if you want…to keep me company?” Bola suggested. Nduka pondered Bola’s offer for a moment. He was in a quandary as to whether to go along with it or not. “It is okay. Go on Ndu,” Chidubem urged him. “Okay, that’s fine by me.” Chidubem walked towards the staff quarters with the driver, while Ndukaku and Bola headed into the main building.

“So you don’t know what has been troubling Fumi?” Bola asked him as they climbed the stairs. “Help! Somebody help me please! Make una help me ooh!!!” A frantic cry for help rang through the compound. It emanated from the staff quarters. The voice was unmistakable. It was Chidubem’s. Alarmed, Bola and Ndukaku raced towards the staff quarters. By the time they got there, Chidubem was holding unto Ngozika’s flaccid body.  There was very little to indicate that she was still alive. Chidubem was trying mouth to mouth. In a frenzy, they were headed back to the hospital. Ndukaku tried not to cry, but his heart was being ripped apart by guilt and indescribable pain. A feeling of emptiness enveloped him. He was hard on himself for confronting his mother earlier with the DNA result. God, please save her. Please don’t let her die, for my sake. I can’t stand it if she dies. In one day, I have come close to losing my love and my mother….Will I make it through this day?” He prayed quietly as they raced to the hospital. The nurses and doctors went into action as soon as they arrived at the hospital.    STORY CONTINUES…
This story was written by:

Victor Chinoo

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