SILENT CRIES - Episode 3

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - what went wrong with the date, street gangs that almost destroyed my life, a relationship with her, the Silverbird Galleria, Account Reconciliation Protocol Officer, First Bank, General Hospital Ikeja, hoped a brusque dismissal would.

The day after the date, Nnamdi called his friend Udochukwu, Tochi’s brother, as he walked to his car after work. Udochukwu picked up after the 6th ring. As he waited for an answer, Nnamdi recalled how he stood there staring as Ijeoma’s taxi sped off. It wasn’t hard to figure out what went wrong with the date. Why had he blurted out that he was an armed robber? That was certainly what made Ijeoma’s attitude change.


“Hey Udochukwu, what’s cracking with you and where you at?”

“Hey, Nnamdi, I’m good. What’s the deal?” Udochukwu answered grudgingly.

“What are you up to over there, ‘cos you sound like you kind of busy or something.” Nnamdi asked.

“Nothing much dude, just doing some overdue laundry over here at the moment, but I can talk,” chimed Udochukwu.

“Anyway I had an incident with your sister’s friend yesterday, the one that she setup with me for the blind date? I think I might have spooked her.”

“What happened” Udochukwu asked.              

“Well, we were just rambling, you know trying to know each other. She insisted I talk about myself, so I thought why not? You remember I told you about the crazy things I did when younger, the stuff with the street gangs that almost destroyed my life. Well I told her that I used to be an armed robber, which isn’t far from the truth really. Shey you get my drift?”

“What did she do?” Udochukwu chuckled.

“I think she got the wrong impression. She ended the date before I could go into details or say any other thing.”

“You sef, how you go talk that kain thing? Of course she’ll run away!”

“Well…” Nnamdi stuttered. “She asked, didn’t she?”

“You don kolo sha! You like the girl abi na to move on be this?” Udochukwu queried.

“Well it seems like there might be some potential there…”

“Then you need to apologize dude, and in a big way too. Chicks like that sort of thing, like flowers saying you are sorry…”

“But dude, did I do anything wrong?”

“Then call her and say you were just trying to make conversation.” Udochukwu suggested.

“Okay. Fine. I will think of something, but I’ll wait till Tochi gets back to me. She was the one that arranged this so I’m sure Ijeoma will tell her how it happened and she’ll come blasting me.”

“If you say so…” Udochukwu concurred. “In the meantime, would we still see tomorrow night?”

“I’ll meet you at the SWE bar by 10pm if that’s okay.”
Udochukwu was already on his second bottle of Gulder when Nnamdi walked in the next day.

“My guy why you dey always late?” Udochukwu queried him.

“I like to move by night, thought you already knew that?” Nnamdi joked and both of them laughed it off.

“Yea back to my wahala, Tochi still hasn't called,” Nnamdi started after his drink was served. “And I kind of felt a connection between me and Ijeoma. Just talked to her for an hour and I felt something I have not felt in a while. It was like we had known each other for a long time and were just catching up. Well…until I decided to yield to her and opened my big mouth.”

“I have told you that honesty will get you nowhere but you no dey listen.” Udochukwu spat out.

“Well you know most people I meet get to hear my life story one way or the other, so this time I decided to bring it up before Ijeoma hears it somewhere else. Especially because I feel I might have a relationship with her, a very personal one...”

“I don’t like this kain lovey dovey gist,” Udochukwu joked. “Abeg make we change topic…”

 “My guy this one serious oo.” Nnamdi laughed before he obliged.

They hung out again the next day and went to Cubes Lounge inside the Silverbird Galleria to meet up with a couple of their friends. Seyi and Folarin were already there with three ladies and Seyi introduced them. Immediately, one of the ladies started paying a lot of attention to Udochukwu who whispered that she would make a nice laundry. Nnamdi shrugged but was not really interested. His mind was caught in a loop of Ijeoma and why Tochi had not called. He knew Udochukwu would not appreciate him raising the topic there with the new girls, so he decided to snap out of it.

“So Bola what do you do?” Nnamdi asked one of the other ladies after some heavy flirting. “Oh I work for First Bank as an Account Reconciliation Protocol Officer” Bola replied.

“Hmm...with all those titles you must be the biggest shot in that bank.” Nnamdi teased even as he thought; another First Banker again.

“Don’t let those titles fool you o! I’m one of the smallest fishes.” Bola replied.

Nnamdi couldn’t stop himself. “Hey I have a friend that works for First Bank; her name is Ijeoma. What branch are you in?”  Bola straightened up when she heard the uncommon name. It must be the same, her new colleague who had acted strange at the meeting today. Where had Ijeoma met this guy? She was the nice but quiet type and judging by his friends, Nnamdi was the opposite. Bola sat forward with a smile.
Ijeoma got out of her car as fast as she could and hurried up the steps of General Hospital, Ikeja. In the corridor beyond the nurse’s station, she saw a slightly harried, fifty-something year old woman with an arm around a sobbing younger woman. Her heart rose into her throat. It was her mother and sister. Something really was wrong…her nephew had crises all the time…but this time was different. Her sister had a strange…aura around her. She was crying like there was no tomorrow, like all hope was lost.

Ijeoma swallowed. She didn't know how to deal with grief. Her legs suddenly felt like lead, but she managed to lift them one after the other, each step filled with dread.

“Mum…Ngoo, what did they say?” she asked, dreading the answer.

Her sister looked over and the despair in her eyes cracked Ijeoma's heart. She reached for her. “Ijeoma…Ijeoma…my baby, the doctors…said…he's going to…die,” Her voice broke on the last word. “Ijeoma, what will I do…he's my life…” she sobbed “my life…”

She clung like a leech and Ijeoma could do nothing but cry too and murmur useless soothing words. When she could finally get up, she handed her purse to her mother and went into Obi's ward.  He was sleeping very peacefully, but there were so many tubes. It should be illegal for so many tubes to be attached to one small child, Ijeoma thought angrily. What kind of world is this, where the young die and leave the old behind?

Minutes passed…or was it hours?? Her mother came in and hugged her, offering wordless support. They stood like that for a long time, looking at the boy beneath the sheets, each thinking their own thoughts.

“One Nnamdi called,” her mother said.
 Ijeoma looked at her mother in shock. “Who?”

“Nnamdi…the same number called so many times, I decided to pick it. Who is he?” She pulled out of her mother's embrace.

“Just someone I met some days ago…”

“Anything I should know about?”

Should I tell her? Ijeoma wondered.

No, she decided as she put on a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Not yet mum, I’ll let you know if there is.”

“You know I want you to settle down soon right?”

“I know but not now…”

Her mother shrugged. “Okay but I told him where you were and that you will call him back later. Anyway, you can go home and have some rest.”

Ijeoma stared. Trust her mother to make all the arrangements. Ijeoma hugged her without a word and said goodbye to her sister who came back in then.  As she drove home, she became depressed and the tears brimmed over again. Her mother had called after her earlier phone conversation with Tochi. When she had not heard from Ijeoma, her mother had flown in from Port Harcourt to be with her sister in the hospital. Ijeoma had gone straight over totally ashamed of herself. She had assumed her sister and nephew were back home.

She now thought of all Ngozi had been through. First with her husband's mysterious disappearance, and now her son, Obi, was about to die. She prayed that by some miracle, the little boy pulled through this.  In her street, she noticed a car parked beside the gate and wondered who it could be. Could it be him? The headlights shone brightly on the figure leaning against the wall.

It was Nnamdi.

Her heart gave a very uncomfortable lurch that had nothing at all to do with her family. She frowned and got out of the car. She really didn’t need any distraction right now. All she wanted was to crawl into her bed and cry her eyes out, for Ngozi and for Obi. She hoped a brusque dismissal would get him off her case.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Tochi called me after you both spoke earlier…” he trailed off at the sight of her tears. “Your mother told me about your sister and nephew. Is it very bad…”

She raised her hand and halted him. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Ijeoma, I’m sorry I didn’t call in the past few days. I wanted to hear from you or Tochi first. I’ll like to talk to you…”

“Can I just go in please?” She tried to move away.

Nnamdi held her hand. It hurts, he realized. It hurts me that she's hurting. “I left some friends to come over here after speaking with your mother. You can talk to me you know?”

Don’t be nice please, she inwardly pleaded. I can't take it if you're nice.

To her utmost horror she began to sob. The sound grabbed his heart and squeezed. He pulled her into his arms while she wept it out. He gathered little from her unintelligible gabbling, but it saddened him the more. He pried the keys from her fingers and opened the door, and then guided her over the threshold.

“First you're going to sit down, and then I'm going to get you some water. Where's the kitchen?”

“First door to the left,” she sniffed. She loved being babied. He sat her on the couch then he removed her shoes and her jacket. He smiled at the way her eyes widened.

“Don’t worry, that’s all.” He could guess where her thoughts had gone. He gave her a wink that was absolutely charming…it had her staring stupidly at the door long after he had left the room.

Good man, she mused. What could have possessed him to be an armed robber? She fell asleep with the barest hint of a smile on her lips and the slightest frown on her forehead. That was the exact expression Nnamdi saw on her face when he came back out. He held the sweating glass in his hand as love budded in his heart for the girl who had fallen asleep with a stranger in her house.


                                           CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Ikpo Henry Chigozirim

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SILENT CRIES - Episode 3
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - what went wrong with the date, street gangs that almost destroyed my life, a relationship with her, the Silverbird Galleria, Account Reconciliation Protocol Officer, First Bank, General Hospital Ikeja, hoped a brusque dismissal would. An African Literary Blog
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