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Roland and Mary were seated on the boat in the middle of the lake in Tinapa, Cross River Stat...

Roland and Mary were seated on the boat in the middle of the lake in Tinapa, Cross River State, Nigeria. Roland had just killed the engine. The scenery around them was breathtaking. Overlooking the lake were rolling hills with lush green vegetation. They were serenaded by birds that strutted from branch to branch, displaying resplendent colors as they soaked in the beauty around them. The sun was fading beautifully behind the clouds, forming an awe-inspiring pattern in the sky. The structure of the Lakeside hotel stood magnificently in the distance. “It is impeccably beautiful here,” Mary observed. “Not as beautiful as you are my beloved wife,” Roland answered. He wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed her neck gently. She felt a beautiful sensation run through her. “Wetin I for do without you (What would I do without you)?” Roland asked her. They were on their honeymoon after a small wedding with only close friends and immediate family in attendance. They both did not want a big wedding. Also, they refused a honeymoon abroad, even though they could afford it. Roland’s adopted father had offered to pay for a trip to France, Spain or Italy, but they both turned it down as well.

“Dad, we are not going on any extravagant trips. There are things that are so close to my heart that Mary and I have agreed to do with that money,” Roland told his father. “What might that be?” He asked. “First, I want to put some money away to make sure that my biological parents never lack. Secondly, we want to help my brothers, Ozoemena and Ugochukwu establish their businesses. We also want to put some money away for my twin sister, Elochukwu to further her education abroad. Finally, we are giving some money to two orphanages here in Lagos and one in Ibadan. These orphanages do great work in finding good homes for orphans. My heart goes out to every child at these homes. I wish I could take them all. For now, I hope our token will help place them in good homes and provide for them while they are still at the orphanages,” Roland explained.

“Your own story has redefined your goals and aspirations in life, I can see,” his adopted father remarked. “Yes dad. I wonder what would have become of me if you and mom did not adopt me. I hope I can put a smile on the faces of other orphans…children who crave the comfort and safety of a loving home.” “I am very proud of you my son. It is amazing to see who you are becoming. I pray you remain on this path.” “I am never straying from this path, dad. I think I have finally found my calling in life – to help orphans…disadvantaged children in general.” “God will fill you with power, wisdom and resources to make that happen, my son.” “Thank you papa.”

“Na me wey suppose talk like that (I should be talking like that),” Mary answered. “You were the one who sent me a friend request on Facebook. Ever since then, my life has not been the same.” “You could have ignored my request, you know, but you didn’t. So, I am grateful to you.” The fading sun made a last ditch effort to shed some light on mother earth. Slowly, it ducked behind the clouds, forcing Roland to turn on the headlights on the boat. He did that quickly and returned to Mary. Her permed hair smelled like red roses. He buried his nose into her rich dark hair. “I fit chop your hair (I could eat your hair),” Roland joked. “Well, that would leave me bald. I am sure you don’t want that,” Mary answered. “I don’t want you bald my love, but if that were to happen, I wouldn’t mind anyway. You’d still be as beautiful as the moon that is beginning to appear elegantly in the sky. “Are you saying that my head would shine like the moon if I were bald?” She teased. “I never said a thing like that…I said you would be as beautiful as moon in the sky.” She smiled, took his hands and placed them around her torso.  She tilted her neck to the left allowing Roland to bend over and plant a kiss on her lips. She closed her eyes completely for a moment, entering another world altogether. Roland’s eyes were firmly shut too. Their lips waded and searched hungrily with incandescent passion.

“I can’t wait to see them,” Mary said after the kiss. “Who?” Asked Roland. “Our children, of course,” Mary replied. They had put in an application to adopt two children, a boy and a girl from an orphanage in Lagos. “I am very excited too. I pray that I can be the kind of father that my parents have been to me all my life.” “You will surpass them, my love. I know that for sure,” Mary heaped encomiums on him. “Thanks love!” “You are welcome my sweetheart. She leaned into his chest and he held her tightly, stroking her neck gently.

“Mr. and Mrs. Okeke!” The bulky lady at the orphanage reception shouted. Roland and Mary walked up to her. She was brimming with life. She smiled charmingly. Her name tag bore the inscription, Mrs. Olabisi. “I am pleased to inform you that we have a set of twins for you; a boy and a girl.” Tears began to stroll lazily down Mary’s face. Mrs. Olabisi stopped, rose to her fee and gave Mary a firm hug. Roland was fighting back tears. He wanted to say something, but he was not sure what to say. He was speechless, overwhelmed by emotions. “I can tell you are truly thrilled at this new chapter of your life,” Mrs. Olabisi said to Mary. “I prayed to God for twins and He has answered my prayer,” Mary replied. “Their mother died of bleeding just after having them. She was a teenager who conceived at the age of eighteen. The father disappeared, as you would imagine. We don’t want to separate the children. Their mother walked in here alone, so we have no idea who her relatives are,” Mrs. Olabisi explained. “From the love in both of your eyes, I am convinced that you’d make great parents for these two children. Come with me,” she instructed them.

They marched expectantly behind her. Mary felt as though she was flying…her feet barely touched the ground. Her heart was thumping excitedly. Roland nearly choked with excitement. He imagined himself being given to his adoptive parents years back. Mrs. Olabisi opened the door to a tiny room. There were two cots in the room, and in each of them, a bright-eyed baby smiled and kicked with zest. “Aren’t they beautiful?” Mrs. Olabisi asked. She was smiling from ear to ear. “So cute!!!” Mary exclaimed. Roland reached out and picked up one of them…the boy. He smiled handsomely, hugging him as if he had known him all his life, which was only a few months. The baby girl bounced around in Mary’s arms, tugging at her hair. “I can tell they are at peace with you two. If you are happy, then we should go to my boss and have all the documents signed,” Mrs. Olabisi explained. “Of course we want them,” Mary replied with exuberance. She could not take her eyes of the babies. “Yes…yes, we certainly do want them,” Roland added.

“We have not given any names to them yet, so you have the honor to name them,” said the director of the orphanage, Mrs. Alabi. She was tall, slender and bespectacled. Grey hair had formed a pattern on the edges of a thick tough-looking tuft of hair that smacked of 1960 hair style. “The girl will be Joy Chiasoka,” Mary answered elatedly. She could not contain her excitement. “Interesting,” said Mrs. Alabi. “What does Chiasoka mean?” “It means – God is sweet,” Mary fired back at her before she could finish asking the question. “And the boy shall be called, David Chidiebube, which means God is great.” “Those are beautiful names,” Mrs. Alabi remarked. They signed the papers and soon, their parents on hand to help them take the babies home. Mary’s parents had been visiting since they returned from Tinapa. Both Roland’s adoptive and biological parents were around. Chinelo, Mary’s younger sister had flown in the previous day. Elochukwu, James, Amarachi, Ozoemena, Ugochukwu and Miranda were also around. Roland and Mary were not expecting their siblings. Chinelo had stayed with Miranda and her husband previous night. When Mary and Roland returned to the lobby, they were surprised by their siblings who circled around them to receive the babies.

Mary threw a pile of clothes in the washing machine and headed back to the kitchen to fix lunch. The twins were singing away in their cots. She had just finished feeding them. Their parents and siblings had finally left, although the visited frequently. Roland’s biological mother was due back in the house in two days, while Mary’s mother was meant to return in less than two weeks. She stirred her pot of egusi soup. Lumps of goat meat tumbled over chunks of okporoko and dry tilapia. The aroma wafted tantalizingly past her nostrils. I know Rolly would love this, she thought. All of a sudden, she felt dizzy. Her knees creaked under the weight of her body and her vision went blurry. Everything seemed to be tumbling upside down. She managed to step away from the pot of soup. She held onto the wall and searched frantically for her phone. I have to call Roland, she thought. What is happening to me, she pondered in a wave of panic. The twins smiled and laughed out loud, talking to each other from their separate cots. Marry slumped to ground before she could reach her phone. The pot of soup simmered, whistling away; at first slowly and later on, violently as most of the water content to the air as vapor, leaving behind a burning chunk. Soon, smoke began to fill the kitchen, spreading fast to the living room where Mary and the twins lay.

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