SILENT CRIES - Episode 13

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - gourmet cake making in Lagos, latest cupcake designs, his marriage proposal, Louis Vuitton bag, start divorce proceedings, the dark-blue pencil jacket, You don't want to get married, borrowing money from banks to cater for his family.

James wasn’t doing this to her anymore. She was a successful “single” mother, and a force to reckon with when it came to gourmet cake making in Lagos. Her shop which was her garage was always bubbling with the high and mighty trooping in to check out her latest cupcake designs. She had always loved baking and so her business was more like a hobby for her. She made sure she had the right things at affordable prices and she was supplied directly from the wholesalers which made her shop even more unique. Her mind diverted to Ikeobi’s side.

That man was just too good to her.  A superior at her former office, he had stood by her through it all. James’ disappearance, her son's illnesses, her business. Ikeobi had really done well to help finance the expenses to start her up, but she had refused to remain indebted to him. She had insisted and actually paid up just a year after she started. That hadn't stopped his friendship. In fact, after Obi's near shave with death, he had proposed. He said she was the first woman to have made him feel loved since his late wife, but she thought his marriage proposal was just a way to entice her into an affair.

Alas, she couldn't bring herself to 'cheat' on James. To now find out that the man she had been keeping herself for did not even want to return to her, made her sad. She shook her head vehemently and strode back to the sofa. One man couldn't do this to her. As much as she thought he was worth it, she had mourned him enough. If he didn't want her, it was time to move on.

She walked into her bedroom and hurriedly reached for her Louis Vuitton bag. She ransacked its contents for her W90i…her resolve began to weaken, but she caught herself, and dialed the number instead.

“Hello,” the masculine voice on the other end said.

“Hi,” she replied almost regretting the action, short of words.

“Are you still there?”

“Ehmmmmmm, yes...I...” her voice failed her again. He must have decided to take over the conversation even though she had made the call.

“Ngozi, how are you?”

“Ikeobi, I really need to talk to you,” she said, hitting the nail on the head.

“Is anything the matter?” he asked with worry in his voice.

“No! but it’s important, I need to see you…are you free this evening?”

“I am not even in town at the moment. I’m in Abuja for a business meeting, but I’ll come over once I get back.”

“When will that be, if I may ask?” she was getting impatient, and she just couldn’t hide it.

“I’m taking the last flight back today.”

“Okay, I guess it can wait……see you then.”

“Alright and please don’t panic. Whatever it is, we can handle it,” he replied affectionately.

She ended the call still not satisfied. Her thoughts just seemed disjointed…she wanted someone to convince her that this wasn’t happening. After all she had been through? James had shown no remorse, had not even wanted to see her or talk to her.

Her mind played back that fateful night…  “I have to see him Ijeoma, I have to see him,” she had mumbled into her sister's shoulder.

“You will, we’ll find him,” Ijeoma had said firmly. But did she really want to find someone who didn't want to be found. Maybe it was time to start divorce proceedings and accept Ikeobi's offer.

“It's just that I don”t want wahala with those his ajebo kids sha,” she thought to herself. She was brought back to the present by the shrieking sound of the doorbell. Reluctantly, she walked to the door and peered through the peephole. She was taken aback by the sight of her mother on the other side of her front door.

“When were you going to tell me, eh?” Her mother charged at her with eyes filled with annoyance once Ngozi let her in. She dumped her overnighter just inside the door and marched to the sofa.

“Mama, please let me call Ijeoma. She's in the best position to tell you about it. She was the one that talked to him.” Ngozi dialed her sister immediately.

“Ijeoma, Mama is here. I think she's heard about his return...” She stumbled to a stop as she noticed her mother looking strangely at her.

“What has Ijeoma got to do with Ikeobi's proposal to you? Who did she speak with? Whose return?” The older woman walked back towards her in measured steps.

“You're not here about James?” Ngozi could have kicked herself.

Her mother was standing right before her shaking her head. “Tell Ijeoma to get over here now!”
By the time Ijeoma finished her call and begged off from lunch with Jane, she had developed a headache. She knew the cause of the headache was the coming showdown with her mother. Coming on the heels of her face-off with Bola, it was a bit too much to know that her mother was in town and spoiling for a fight. Still numb from the things she heard from the conversation between Bola and Adaku, she grumpily set about getting ready to leave the office. She was further taken by the realization that the dark-blue pencil jacket which the dry cleaner had dropped off, sported a very visible stain at the collar. And he had left with his full payment. Terribly frustrated because she had so set her mind on wearing the dark-blue jacket the next day, she felt like cursing him for ruining one of her best jackets.

About thirty minutes later, she was at Ngozi's place. As Ijeoma rolled down the driveway and parked, she saw her mother outside, pacing the length of the small compound. She had to pause for a minute when she noticed Mama’s eyes boring into hers with hurt and disappointment.

Immediately Ijeoma knew this was one of those days one wished to go back to bed and wake up with all the past events being a bad dream. Not that her dreams had been very peaceful at the moment. Ijeoma sighed and got out of the car. As she walked towards her mother, it was obvious Mama was angry. She was as tense as a cat on a spring and ready to pounce.

Instantly, Ijeoma began to dread the days ahead. She didn’t totally welcome her mother's temporary visit under any guise because she knew how much Mama loved planning other people’s lives. As she guessed, Mama was too angry to notice Ijeoma’s discomfort and began to barrage her with questions even before they were inside.

“So that was why you ignored all my calls to your mobile phone these past few weeks and just sent me text messages? If the information had not now slipped out of Ngozi, you had no intention of telling me that you found my missing son-in-law?” Ijeoma continued on her way into the house.

“Mama, I'm sorry but...”

“How long did you think you could keep such vital information from me, Ijeoma? Or do you think I have no right to know?”

“I didn't want to be the one to tell you. I hoped Ngozi would do that. James is her husband...” Her mother cut her off again.

“Or as you believe and have never minced words to let me know, it is not my business? You don't want to get married and now you want to put your sister's marriage in jeopardy?” Mama poured out more questions. They were now inside and Ijeoma spied Ngozi on the sofa. She sat with legs crossed and her jaw resting on her flexed fist.

“Ngozi, you better tell your sister that life is not all about work, work, work!”

At that point, all Ijeoma could see was Adaku’s smiling face as she handed over a query or termination letter if she returned a minute late to the office. She turned to Ngozi for help, finding none there, she turned back to her mother.

“Mama, I’m sorry for everything, but could we do this quickly? I have to get back to work.”

Giving her a smothering look, her mother retorted, “Not this time around, Ifeoma, you will stay here and answer all these questions I have to ask you!”

Being fully acquainted with her moods, Ijeoma knew her mother could be highly irrational when she got like this. In a reconciliatory voice, she quickly gave a short version of the whole story. “I bumped into James about two weeks ago in a taxi. That evening he came over to my house to explain why he abandoned his family. He said he lost his job but kept going to work for months, borrowing money from banks to cater for his family and also to take care of Obi’s high medical bills. Soon the bank began to mount pressure on him to pay back or forfeit his house which he had used as collateral. He resorted to gambling and loan sharks whom he now owes millions of naira. He said he had to abscond when he realized the loan sharks were getting ready to draw blood since he was not forthcoming with their money.”

Looking at Mama when she was done, Ijeoma saw that her mother looked sceptical. Ngozi had the same raw look she wore two weeks ago when Ijeoma was in her house.

“Is that all? Ngozi said the same and I was hoping you could add something more.”

“There's really nothing else.”

There was silence in the room. Finally, Mama in a small voice quite unlike hers said, “I think that was a very brave thing James did.”


                                        CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 12

Written by:
Ikpo Henry Chigozirim

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SILENT CRIES - Episode 13
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - gourmet cake making in Lagos, latest cupcake designs, his marriage proposal, Louis Vuitton bag, start divorce proceedings, the dark-blue pencil jacket, You don't want to get married, borrowing money from banks to cater for his family. An African Literary Blog
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