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A Nigerian romantic story, Romance, love, love and family, a near death experience, marriage, raising children

More smoke filled the air, snuffing out oxygen from the living room. The twins had no idea what it was. They chanted and kicked excitedly at the dense smoky vapor that drifted towards them. Mary’s nostrils were already collecting thee thick smoke as she lay numb on the floor. Soon, the smoke began to hit the twins’ eyes, leaving them teary-eyed. Chiasoka was the first to start crying. Chidiebube followed suit shortly afterwards. The pot was turning red fast, spewing out hot debris that flew around the gas cooker. Any moment, the house could be on fire as the heat was reaching ignition point. Roland dialed Mary for the tenth time. This is unusual, he thought. Is everything okay? His mind continued to wonder. He sensed that something was wrong. Mary always called him back. He looked at the time and he still had forty five minutes before the end of his work day. He was willing to leave ahead of time, but he could not shake off the thought that that something was wrong. It would be another hour at least before I am home. His heart began to beat fast. He remembered his neighbor in the house next to the one he and Mary had just bought in VGC. He had exchanged phone numbers with him some weeks ago. He quickly dialed him.
“Hi Okon, this is Roland, your neighbor to the right.” “Hey Roland, how are you?” Okon answered enthusiastically. “I am fine, thanks. Are you at home?” “No, I am at work, why?” “Is your wife at home?” Yes, she is.” “Please can you do me a big favor? I have been trying to reach my wife without luck. Please could you have your wife go over to see if she and our children are doing well?” “Sure, I will call her immediately.” “Okon dialed his wife and she did not pick up. He tried yet again and there was no answer. He placed his phone on the table and went back to work, hoping to dial her back in a few minutes. By now, a dark, thick mass of smoke was sneaking out of Roland and Mary’s house. The twins were crying violently. Both they and Mary were taking in smoke. Roland peered at his phone every few minutes. He dialed back Mary and there was still no answer. He could no longer take it. He ran outside as though something was tugging at him. He jumped in his car and sped off. He placed his phone on the passenger’s seat for easy access in case Okon called back.

Even as he drove, he could not shake off the eerie feeling that something was wrong. He dialed Okon back. “I am sorry; I forgot to ring my wife back. She did not pick up at first. Please bear with me. I will call again right now,” Okon implored him. He dialed his wife back, and this time, she answered. He explained the situation to her. “My God!!!” Mrs. Okon shouted. “I can see smoke coming out of their house,” she yelled.  She dropped the phone and ran towards the house. Okon did not know what to say to Roland. “Hello!!” He yelled into the phone, but his wife was gone. He too, ran outside and dove into his car, driving frantically to VGC. Mrs. Okon was shouting as she ran. Other neighbors joined her. Young men reached the door and broke it down. A part of the kitchen was burning already. The twins were yelling violently. The young men passed them on to women waiting outside. They ran back in looking for Mary. They too were worried about the smoke. They were inhaling a massive dose of it. “Here she is!!!” One of them shouted. They carried her hurriedly outside. Mrs. Okon quickly rushed both Mary and the twins to hospital. Neighbors rallied to douse the fire in the kitchen.

Okon’s office was closer to home. He parked hastily, jumped out of the car and ran towards Roland’s house. “Are they alright? Where is my wife?” He asked in panic. Some of the neighbors were moving some items out of the kitchen and opening the windows to let out the smoke. “We think the children and their mother inhaled a lot of smoke. Your wife has rushed them to hospital,” a young man in his late twenties answered him. “Which hospital?” “I don’t know?” He replied. Okon’s phone rang. It was Roland. “What is going on?” He asked. “I am sorry Rolly; there has been a fire in your house. It looks like it was started by the gas cooker in the kitchen.” “Is my wife okay? How are my children?” Roland asked. He nearly lost concentration, moving far too close to the car in front of him. He regained his composure just in time to avoid ramming into the car. “They are fine,” Okon said in an attempt to calm him down. “Thanks be to God,” Roland exclaimed. “I will be here when you arrive.” “Thank you, Okon. Thank you very much.”

Roland swerved into his parking lot and dashed into the house. “Where are they?” He yelled, gasping for air. Okon had been on the phone searching for the hospital where his wife had taken Mary and the twins. His wife had left her phone at home, so he could not reach her. Browsing the internet, he managed to get the phone numbers of the hospitals closest to them. “They are at Salem Hospitals, a short distance from here,” he told Roland. “I thought you said they were alright?” He asked. His heart sank into his stomach. “Please tell me the truth. What happened to my family?” “They will be alright. My wife rushed them to hospital because they had inhaled a lot of smoke from the fire.” Okon drove, as he was the calmer of two of them.

“Are they going to be alright? Can I see them now?” Roland shouted on sighting Mrs. Okon. “The doctors and nurses are attending to them now. I think they will be alright,” she answered him. Roland paced the floor from one end to the other. Streaks of sweat journeyed the length of his face and dripping under his shirt. His palms were sweaty too. He had never known such fear his whole life. It was another hour before a nurse emerged. She hurried out of the room walking briskly away. “Are they going to be alright? Can I go in now?” Roland asked. “The doctor is in the best position to tell you,” the nurse answered. “I am afraid you can’t go in yet.” Shortly afterwards, she returned with a few items in hand. She reentered the room, leaving Roland in absolute torture. “Your wife is pregnant,” the doctor finally told him. She is going to be alright. “We think she and the babies inhaled quite some smoke, but not enough to hurt them seriously. We have them on medication now. They should be alright in no distant time,” he added. Relieved, Roland sank into the seat behind him. “Thank you doctor. I am so relieved.” ‘Congratulations,” said the doctor. “Congratulations,” Okon and his wife added.

When Mary came around Roland was seated beside her, watching her like a hawk guarding its young. The twins were still sleeping in cots next to them. “What happened?” Mary asked. She looked bemused. “Everything is alright honey. There was a fire at the house, but everything is alright,” Roland assured her. “And the twins?” “They are sleeping peacefully right here.” She raised her head a little bit and looked at them. She heaved a sigh of relief. “I don’t know what happened honey. I think I left a pot of soup on the fire….What happened to me?” Roland explained to her that she may have slumped with the pot on the fire. “You are pregnant, my love, hence the reason you slumped,” he explained. He placed his hand on her belly. “More children are coming,” he said with a smile. “I am so glad the children are fine.” “I am so glad you and the children are fine,” Roland replied.

They were discharged a few days later. They moved into Roland’s adoptive parents’ house while theirs was being fixed. “I almost burnt down the house,” Mary said apologetically one evening. They were on the balcony soaking in cool evening breeze. “As far as you and the twins are the one inside there are fine, the house can burn, for all I care,” Roland said. Mary smiled. She leaned into him and gave him a peck. “You are the best,” she said. “You mean the best amongst many? So how many men are in your life?” He teased. “I mean you are the only one,” she replied smiling. She smacked him gently on the shoulder. “I am glad to know that I am the only one.” A few weeks later they moved back into their house. Roland’s mother found a house help to give Mary a hand at home. Some weeks afterwards, they went for a scan…Mary was carrying a set of twins! “Wow!!! God is great,” Roland’s mother exclaimed. “We are so excited…I know it won’t be easy though with four toddlers in the house,” Mary replied. “Yes, it won’t be easy, but we will get through it,” Roland answered. He brought in a second house help after Mary delivered. He also returned home early from work to help with chores at home. He cooked when Mary could not find the time to do so, and he helped with laundry and cleaning.

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