THE PROMISE - Episode 6

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - intelligent biochemist, the lamb curry, TV in the living room, returned to London, University College London, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church on Ogle Street, London is a big city, Father, British Museum, paramedics.

Lydia worked briskly in the kitchen, mixing and pouring over the burner. “Can I help you?” Abhimanyu asked. He was standing by the door behind her. Lydia had not seen him walk from the bedroom to the kitchen entrance. She cringed a bit. “Why are you fidgety?” He asked. “You scared me. I did not see you walk all the way to the door. By the way, I don’t need help. Go to the living room and wait for your breakfast,” she instructed. Abhimanyu did as he was instructed. He had taken her out to a really classy restaurant and bought her very expensive jewelry to apologize for his mistake – having called her family without her approval. Lydia gladly forgave him, but she did not stop thinking of how to extricate herself from their six-year-old relationship. Her mother had even called to warn her not to leave Abhimanyu. “Are you out of your mind?” She asked caustically over the phone. “Do you think you can buy love or pick it in the street just like that? The guy loves you and he is willing to let you practice your own religion. What more do you want?”

“But mama, what if he changes his mind after we are married? What of our children? How do we raise them?” Lydia queried. “If he loves you, you two will work it out eventually. Love conquers all things.” “What if I don’t love him mama? What if I don’t?” She was literally yelling. “You once told me you loved him…or didn’t you?” “No I don’t, or rather, I used to!!!” “Since when?” “I don’t know mama…I really don’t know.” “Stop joking around. You should know. Since he began to gain weight? How come you never mentioned it? He has been spending heavily on you all these years and now you no longer love him? You had better learn how to love him again. You cannot kick him to the gutters just like that. You have crossed the bridge, so there is no going back,” he mother warned ominously. As Lydia worked in the kitchen, her mother’s words rang like a bell in her head – “You have crossed the bridge, so there is no going back!!!”

She took out the paper wrap containing the powder and glanced at it for a moment. Her heart was racing violently. She looked over her shoulder to make sure that Abhimanyu was not in sight. He was gazing intently at the TV in the living room. Her hands shook as she unwrapped the powder. She poured a portion of it over the lamb curry. Then, she hid the rest of the powder under the sink, making sure it was carefully stowed away. Then, she proceeded to stir the curry carefully with a disposable plastic spoon, which she quickly discarded in the trash bin. She placed the food on a tray with a glass of cold water beside it. She dashed to the living room and placed it before Abhimanyu. “Your breakfast is ready darling,” she announced as she set the tray before him. “You are an angel,” he replied as he began to gorge himself. “I will see you in the evening, honey,” Lydia announced as she grabbed her bag and made for the door. “Let me finish off my breakfast and drop you off.” “No, not to worry. I have to be in the lab in a few minutes. I need to walk to lose some weight anyway,” she replied. “Have a nice day honey.” “You too.”  She closed the door and left as fast as she could.

“Does that mean I am pregnant?” Shomaila asked the nurse. “Yes, you are my dear,” the nurse replied with a smile. Shomaila had returned to London amid pressure from her family to marry Ismail right after her father’s funeral. She took a deep breath, sat on the chair and dialed Everest. “Are you at work?” She asked him. “Yes, I am. Why do you ask?” “I need to see you. I am coming to your office. Please can we meet in the café across the road from your building in the next hour?” “Yes honey. I will be there in an hour. You sound tired…unhappy. Are you okay?” “Yes, I am.”

As soon Everest hung up, one of his colleagues called to him. “Everest, Prof. Linda is looking for you,” he said. Everest walked to Prof Linda’s office. She was his boss and of late, she had been trying to lure him to bed. Prof. Linda was a tough and intelligent biochemist in her mid-forties. She was one of the very women to have attained such position at such an early age at the prestigious University College London. “Hi, I was told you were looking for me,” he said on entering her office. “I wanted to let you know that your position is terminated,” she replied unemotionally. “But I have been doing well. I have a manuscript under review and another one in the pipeline. I am doing better than anyone else in our group. Why am I being fired?”

“I am afraid; I don’t have enough money to keep everyone. A grant I had applied for lately was not funded, so I have to trim down my research group.” “But you can’t let your best staff go?” “I am afraid; I decide who stays and who goes. Your last day is the 31st of next month. That gives you enough time to look around for another job.” Everest gazed at her in anger. She stared back at him for a moment and then turned to face her computer monitor. “I am through with you,” she said coldly.

Lydia entered St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church on Ogle Street. The church was empty. She walked close to the altar took a seat and stared straight intently at the altar. Soon, tears began to rain down her face. She got to her feet and walked closer to the altar and knelt down. With her face staring down, she cried and prayed. “God, how did you let me get here? Could you stop me? Abi may die…he might even be dead now. My goodness, how could I have gone through with such an evil plan – to poison the man who has catered for me all these years? God, I have asked you to make me love him, but You wouldn’t do it. How am I supposed to be with him when I don’t love him? And how can I leave him when he loves me so much, without breaking his poor heart?”

She wiped her tears, took a deep breath and stared at the Statue of Jesus Christ hanging above the altar as though she was expecting to hear from it. After nearly half an hour of waiting and listening, she heard nothing – well, nothing audible. She returned to her seat, almost afraid to leave the church. That was when the narrow door behind the altar opened quietly; it creaked as it opened. The priest, an older man in his seventies, originally from Poland entered the church hall. “Good morning Father Kaminski,” Lydia greeted him. “Good morning dear, how are you?” “I am fine, thank you.” “You look troubled,” Father Kaminski remarked. “I am fine father.” Father Kaminski smiled. He slowly walked around the altar and took a spot in the pew near Lydia. “What is troubling you my daughter?” he asked in the gentlest of manners. His face glowed with a smile as he spoke.

“I heard your cry from in there. London is a big city. I see a lot of young people arrive here with hopes and expectations, but before they know it, the big city devours them like a great white shark. It shows no mercy. There is nothing wrong with pouring out your heart to God. That is the best place to pour your heart. Sometimes, God uses people to help us get back on our feet when we have fallen. What is troubling you?” Lydia could not look him in the eye. It seemed as though he could read her mind through her teary eyes. She stared at the floor instead. “I…I no longer know who I am, Father. I crave things I cannot have and I seem willing to do anything to get them. I am with someone I don’t love…I am hooked to the material things he offers me. I want to end our relationship but I have no strength to do so. I am so weak, Father. I am lost, confused and broken inside.”

Father Kaminski moved closer and placed a hand on her shoulder. “We are all broken inside my daughter – all of us. You are not alone my dear, but you have to allow God to fix you from the inside. Don’t let your desires run your thoughts. When they do, they will run your whole life. We cannot have everything that our desires crave. Take life one day at a time and let God fix you one piece at a time,” Father Kaminski admonished her. She nodded as she continued to cry. She could not bring herself to tell Father Kaminski that she had just poisoned her boyfriend and that he was probably dead.

“What is going on?” Everest asked Shomaila. They had both taken a table by the window in a café near the British Museum. “I am pregnant, Everest,” Shomaila announced. “Wow!” He answered. The news plunged him into a deep thought, pondering how they were going to make it, but he tried to mask his fears. “Are you happy?” Shomaila asked. “I am happy and afraid…a bit,” Everest replied. “I am afraid too. My grandmother told me that I would have tribulations if I broke my promise to my father. I don’t know what to do. What do we do?” “I wish I knew, Shomaila. I lost my job…I have another month and a few weeks before I return to the job market again, full time.” “I am very sorry sweetheart.” Shomaila walked around the table and hugged him. “I wonder why these things are happening at the same time.” “Maybe my father’s spirit is after us.” “I don’t believe that…such is life. We will get through this. You are not getting rid of the baby. I will not be a party to that.” “You will stand by me?” “Yes…I hope I can get another job soon.” “Thank you. I am so afraid,” Shomaila said as she held tightly onto him.

As Lydia walked to the front of the building, she could hear her heart playing a riotous tune. There was an ambulance in front of the building. Paramedics worked hastily to drag Abhimanyu into the waiting ambulance. She stood by the sidewalk, unable to say or do anything else but cry. She was transfixed. So, I am now a killer, she thought dreadfully to herself. Is he dead? Is he still alive? She was plagued by a myriad of thoughts. She shuffled her heavy feet to the ambulance as they put Abhimanyu’s body down. The paramedics worked hastily. He had an oxygen mask over his mouth. “Is he dead?” She asked one of the paramedics. “You are not supposed to be here. Please move away. We need to rush him to the hospital now,” the man answered. “I am his girlfriend. Can I come with you?” She asked through teary eyes. “Come to the hospital across the street,” the man replied. He shot the door and the engine of the ambulance came to life while the siren blared with exuberant energy, as the vehicle sped towards the hospital on Euston Road. Lydia watched helplessly; broken about who she had become and confused as to what to do next. She barely moved as she watched the ambulance disappear around the corner.

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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THE PROMISE - Episode 6
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - intelligent biochemist, the lamb curry, TV in the living room, returned to London, University College London, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church on Ogle Street, London is a big city, Father, British Museum, paramedics. An African Literary Blog
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