LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 4

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Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog - Father, Love, Tinapa Lakeside Resort, Cross River State, Nkanu West Local Government Council, Self-esteem, Club, Smoke, Drink, Cigarette, Will you marry me? Diamond ring, Glitz, Enugu

Ifunanya nwa m, o bu gini butere ihe nke a? (Ifunanya my daughter, what led to this?)” My mother asked. She, my father, my siblings and Umunna were hovering over me with anxiety etched on their faces, as I lay on my hospital bed. My mother’s face was soaked in tears and her eyes were red from days of crying. I felt a deep pang of pity for her…and my entire family. “What is this all about?” My father asked. My father is a typical Igbo father. He does show his emotion, but when things are critical, he reins his emotions in and sticks to the task at hand. He loves me to death, so I knew he was just as bruised inside, but he wanted to get to the root of the matter. “Answer me Ifunanya, what led to this? Who hurt you to the point of ignoring your family that you were willing to take your own life?” He queried me with intense seriousness. I found out later that I had been in a critical state for nearly a week. I thank God for the doctors who weaved magic to save my life. They had performed several rounds of detox to get the most of the poison out of my system. 

My father’s eyes gazed at me with piercing urgency. “It was…It was Emeka,” I finally answered. “What happened?” He followed up, raising his voice. I narrated the incident at the restaurant as well as the information I had gotten from Agnes and Nkemjika to my family. “He slapped you?” “Yes papa.” That was all my father needed to swing into action. He is overly protective of his family, but at the same time, he is a very fair man. He did not want to go after Emeka just because he dumped me – even though I wanted him to. On the contrary, he wanted a reason that sounded valid enough to go after him, so when I mentioned that he had slapped me, my father stormed out of the room. Within the next hour, Emeka was in detention at the New Haven police station. My father had the police beat him into submission. I gathered later that they slapped him around and stripped him of his clothes.

Chidera quickly rang up Emeka’s father who was on a business trip in Lagos. He too knew a few people here and there, so in less than twenty four hours, Emeka was released. His father pulled enough strings to get me out of police detention…not before he was beating thoroughly though. My father quickly filed a law suit against him citing assault against me, and his father filed a counter suit citing assault too, on the basis that I had smashed his son’s head with a glass plate. The situation degenerated into a big family fed. It was messy! Lawyers for both families were constantly in court arguing their case. I was delighted to know that he had been thoroughly beaten by the police. I wished that Chidera had gotten a dose of the eating too.

Weeks after the incident, I completely lost my self-esteem. I had hinged my entire life on Emeka without knowing it. With him gone from my life and now dating my former best friend, and the manner in which he had dumped me, I was shattered. I pretended as thought everything was okay, but deep within, I was far from okay. I returned to Enugu after a brief stay in Onitsha. Every day and night, I cried myself to sleep. I ate very little, drowning in a bowl of sadness and brokenness. “Let me love you,” Umunna pleaded with me. The word ‘love’ sounded like leprosy to me. Of course I wanted to be loved, held and taken care of, but a part of me felt unworthy…besides, I could not bring myself to trust anyone. How can another person truly love me? I wondered. They are all like Emeka, I assured myself. “I am not ready for love,” I lied to him. “Then let’s start from where you are, Ify. I promise, I will not rush you. I will never let you down, Ifunanya,” Umunna implored fervently. 

It was about 12:00 noon and I was at home instead of being at university. I had been skipping classes and sessions towards completing my master’s degree. “I don’t believe in love anymore, Umunna. Please find someone else,” I begged. “What do you believe in?” “Nothing.” “I don’t believe you. I know you well enough to understand that you believe very much in ‘Love’. Whenever you get over Emeka, I want you to know that I will always be here for you, Ify.” “If I were you, I’d find me someone else,” I replied sarcastically. 

When he left my apartment to go and get ready for his next class, I turned on my iPad and logged onto Facebook. Even though Emeka, Chidera and I were no longer friends on Facebook – I had blocked them off on Facebook and they blocked me too – I created a new Facebook account with a fake name and fake pictures I had gathered on the internet. I added him with the fake account and somehow, he accepted my friend request. So, I logged on to the fake account and began to browse through Emeka’s pictures. He had just posted pictures of himself and Chidera. They were at Tinapa Lakeside Resort in Cross River State for the week. There were over thirty pictures of the two of them in all. They were holding hands, kissing, and hugging in the pictures, and with each one I looked at, I felt sharp pains in my heart. I locked my door and began to cry all over again, but I kept looking at the pictures. I could not stop myself. 

After nearly two hours of torturing myself by scanning through their Facebook pictures, I got dressed and raced downstairs. I went straight to Okechukwu’s apartment. Okechukwu was a classmate of mine during my first degree. He was a playboy; perhaps the biggest playboy there ever was. He had asked me to sleep with him back in the day, and of course, I shrugged him off. He was not the type to have a serious relationship. He was at home watching a movie when I got there. “What brings you here?” He asked. “I was in the area and decided to stop by,” I lied. “Interesting, what a pleasant surprise. You are still looking great,” he said staring at my bust. “So what are you up to?” “Just wasting my time. Jobs are hard to come by you know, so I am sitting here watching a movie.” “I sat beside him. I was clad in a skimpy skirt and a somewhat see-through top that was equally skimpy. I had been wrapping a scarf around my body, so I took it off, revealing my see-through top more glaringly. I saw Okechukwu’s eyes lit up as he stared more closely at my bust. He made little attempt to hide the subject of his attention.

I deliberately let my skin rub against his as I sat down. He was not the type not to get the message, so he got up, locked his door, walked back to me and began to yank my clothes off. Minutes later, I was moaning in his arms. A short while later, I lay naked beside him. I cannot describe the feeling of emptiness that engulfed me. I had lost every ounce of self-dignity that ever existed in me. All I wanted was to just numb my pains. I saw having sex with random men as a means of masking the razor-sharp pains that gnawed at me deep within. I was hardly satisfied; on the contrary, the more men I slept with, the emptier I was…that did not stop me though. 

By night, I was at a night club, dancing like a possessed demon on the floor. I hooked up with a man who took me to his house somewhere off Okpara Avenue. I had started to smoke like a chimney and drink uncontrollably. I was completely drunk when we reached the man’s house. All I remembered the next morning was that he was on top of me at some point. When I got out of bed, I treated myself to three sticks of cigarette and some whisky before we jumped into bed for another session of lovemaking. Afterwards, I took a taxi home. Even though the man called me several times, I did not take his calls. I guess it was part of my way of getting back at men. Sometimes I ran into men I had slept with before at the club and they would want to take me home again, but I would put my feet down and say no, only to leave later with a different man. I enjoyed punishing them that way…so I believed, I guess.

One night, I said no to one of those men and moved on to a new catch for the night. Later, the new catch whose name I hardly remember found another girl that was more attractive to him and switched to her. By now, I was in a drunken stupor, so another guy swung by and took me home. I woke up the next morning lying beside a guy I had been with before. I had no idea how I got there – alcohol can put you in an entirely different world. “So, you had me again, right?” I said to him shamelessly, as I puffed cigarette smoke into the air. “Well, you begged me to take you home,” he replied with a naughty smirk. “Did I?”  “Yes, you did. You have no recollection of it?” “A little bit,” I lied. I had absolutely, no recollection of that. There was no way I would have gone home with a man I had previously slept with. I was spiraling into a ditch and I could not help myself. I did not even know who used protection with me and who did not. I would go home and cry, promising myself that I was done with this dirty and lewd lifestyle, only to hit the club again the next night. 

“Why are you doing this to yourself?” Umunna asked me one evening. I was locking my door before getting on my way to the club. “What do you mean?” I shot back at him. I had been careful not to bring any man home; I opened my window when I smoked at home so I could puff the smoke into the open without leaving my apartment smoke-clogged. I would brush my teeth after smoking and chew gum to get rid of the odor. “When did you start smoking? You are destroying your health. Which club are you going to tonight?” “Who said I was going to a club? Me? Smoke? Stop imagining things Umunna.” “Stop lying, Ify. I hate to see you go down this path. I still love you…if only you would let me love you…let me help you.” “I don’t want love…I don’t need any man!!!” I retorted angrily and walked past him in a haste to get out. I had no idea how Umunna figured out my new lifestyle. He must have followed me a few times.

That night, Umunna camped outside the club while Ifunanya drank and smoked in the club without restraint. His bike was on hand; ready to hit the street whenever Ifunanya came out with a man. He had been following her for some time to determine where those men were taking her. Each night, he would follow them at a safe distance, noting the car or taxi number that conveyed her and the men she slept with and the address where they made their last stop for the night. On this night, it was not until 3:30am that he sighted Ifunanya. She was reeling like a leaf under the influence of a gusty wind. She dangled to the left and then to the right until the man with her guided her into his car. He looked around before grabbing his phone to make a quick call. Umunna watched closely. “Agunna, are you guys there?” The man asked the person on the other end of the line. 

“Yes, we are ready. Did you pick up a girl?” Agunna replied. “Yes. I was lucky...very lucky. I found a girl who is so drunk that she has no idea where she is. She was begging me to take her home and make love to her. Make sure everything is ready for the ritual. Finally, we have an opportunity to make it big. Tell Ikoro that we have a head to sacrifice this night.” “Everything will be ready when you get here.” He hung up, opened the car and jumped into the driver’s seat. Umunna did not hear the discussion, but as he always did, he wrote down the man’s plate number. Shortly after the man drove off, he revved his motorcycle engine to life and followed him. He made sure not to get too close. The streets were empty except for a few revelers who were making their way home from the club. 

The man drove towards Independence Layout. He passed Michael Okpara Square, took a left turn and then, joined the Enugu Port Harcourt Express Way. Where is he going? Umunna wondered. As soon as the car hit the highway, the driver sped off, forcing Umunna to kick his speed up a notch. There were more vehicles on the highway than in the city, but hardly as much as you would find during the day, so he still ran the risk of being noticed by the driver. He his heart began to race as the man sped along the highway. He was worried that he may not have enough fuel in his motorcycle to go the distance, and all the filling stations along the highway were closed. 

“Take me home and make love to me,” Ifunanya said in a drunken stupor. “We will soon be home baby!” The man replied. He had veered off the highway and was now headed towards Agbani in Nkanu West Local Government Council. He had noticed the motorcycle in the distance. He watched it carefully in his rearview mirror. Then, Umunna’s motorcycle began to make a funny noise. Umunna had been expecting it. He was running out of fuel. His palms were sweating. “God, please don’t let this happen,” he prayed. Two minutes later, his motorcycle stopped as the engine died. Umunna yelled out in pain as he watched the car disappear into the darkness of the night.

Earlier that same night in another part of Enugu, Chidera had arrived from Onitsha. She had returned to Onitsha some two weeks earlier to see her family. When she walked into Emeka’s apartment, she was greeted by a loud crowd – Emeka’s friends and some of hers. Everyone was staring at her with a funny smile on their faces. “What is going on?” She asked, with a perplexed look on her face. Is a party going on here?” “It is better than a party dear,” answered Miranda, one of her closest friends. “Will you marry me, my beloved Chidera?” Emeka asked, dropping to his knees. He produced a shiny diamond ring that shimmered with eloquent glitz under the gaze of the fluorescent light. Chidera was breathless for a moment. The glitz of the ring left her giddy. “Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes, I will marry you my love” she exclaimed jubilantly. Their friends began to clap as some of the girls swiped specks of moisture around their eyes. 


                         CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 5

                         CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 3
Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 4
Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog - Father, Love, Tinapa Lakeside Resort, Cross River State, Nkanu West Local Government Council, Self-esteem, Club, Smoke, Drink, Cigarette, Will you marry me? Diamond ring, Glitz, Enugu An African Literary Blog
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