“I didn’t want to leave you. I didn’t want to hurt you. I told myself you deserved better. I did what I had to do”. Zion’s words rang in my head as I sat in the corridor, the left side of his room door. The doctor had arrived a little earlier with two nurses and asked to be excused, as they wanted to carry out the routine check and also conduct some tests.
With two hands clasped, resting against my stomach, I sat back and sighed. Memories came flooding back. For the past 30 minutes, Zion had explained all that went down. His parents had forced the other woman on him and when he still rejected her, they had threatened him with everything he held dear and even went as far as plotting to set me up so I would be arrested by the police. He warned them though. If anything happened to me or I was arrested by the police, he would take it out on the entire family. He took the heat for me. But there was a slip-up. Not that it was any fault of his.
I remember the day he rushed to my place to tell me the good news – his mother had finally accepted that her son loved me and was not going to push the matter any further. We celebrated the lie, not knowing it was all part of her game plan. She pretended to be on his side by quarreling with his father and brother, even with his uncles and aunties, whenever they tried insisting. She used her pretense to pull him closer to her again. He confided in her about personal matters and she knew where to hit him – between the legs.
One day she paid him a surprise visit at his residence. It was the night. She brought with her, food and drinks. How was he ever to know, that his own mother, could drug him just for her selfish reasons? He ate and drank without question. After the drugs had taken effect, he was far too stoned to understand what was happening around him. Comfort, the other woman, was brought in, still by his mother. She pretended to be me. The effects of the drugs made him fall for the trick. They had sex. That night, his seed was planted in her womb.
When he woke up the next morning to discover he had been fooled, he was furious. Worse, he couldn’t even remember what transpired the night before. He sent both Comfort and his mother out of his house. But the harm was already done. He couldn’t bring himself to tell me what had happened because he feared I would not understand him. He feared I would judge him and he feared I would feel betrayed.
But he knew things would go out of hand, as Comfort came over to his office to tell him she was two months gone. He told her to abort it. She refused. His mother quarreled with him for suggesting she got rid of her grandchild. Exactly 7 months later, Comfort put to bed. A boy. Then all hell broke loose. She threatened heaven and earth if he didn’t take care of her and the child.
He thought I deserved better. He thought I shouldn’t have to go through the pain of knowing he had intercourse with another woman while we were still together. And worse, he had a child with the said woman. A woman he never loved. And her threats to maim me if he didn’t let me go were no mere threats at all. He drew my mind back to a near thug harassment I experienced during the same period, if not for the timely intervention of policemen stationed in the locality. Under such dangerous circumstances, Zion felt letting me go was for the best.
He’d had more flings than a casanova within these past five months. And because he paid Comfort no attention, she did all sort of things to get it. First, it was going to his company and announcing to everyone who cared to listen, that she was his legitimate wife. Then it was fighting him and tearing his shirt when he ordered her to leave. She destroyed the windscreen of his car and went as far as laying hands on some of his important documents and ripping them to shreds. She became uncontrollable. Not even his parents who had brought her in could control her. As long as she was concerned, she had a child they loved so much and they had to treat her well and make their son love and marry her, else, they would never be allowed to see their grandchild.
All the while, his relationship with his parents deteriorated and he left the company to focus on his own business. He never wanted to see them or have anything ever to do with them again, especially as they had ruined his life by chasing away the love of his life and replacing me with a vicious woman.
For Comfort, she wasn’t happy that the man who was supposed to be her husband was sleeping around with other women. So after trying hard and long to get him to love and wed her, and he still didn’t budge, she resorted to getting thugs to beat him up mercilessly while he was on his way to an event. She had called thugs for him several times in the past, but he survived. However, this last assault was something extraordinary – like she might have instructed them to kill him. The brutality was what landed him in hospital.
“You deserve better”, he said, remorseful. “So I had to let you go, while I resorted to having flings and drinking, hoping it will either sink me or my problems. I soon realized you weren’t moving forward. You were suffering because of me. So I hired Daniel. I paid him to make you fall in love with him and I have been paying him ever since. Yes, I have been spying on you too. I just wanted you to be happy”.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to rain blows on his sickly form. I wanted to curse him and I still wanted to ask questions. I felt like a knife had been driven into my heart. For five months I had been living a lie. I needed things cleared up but the doctor and nurses chose that moment to come and I had to excuse them.
“Please don’t leave”, Zion begged as I headed for the door. Just wait outside for a few minutes. The doctor won’t take long”.
It was because of his plea I still found myself sitting in the corridor. But I couldn’t bear it anymore. The pain, the realization that Daniel was a paid date. The fact that Zion didn’t allow me to decide if I still wanted to be with him despite the fact that he had a child with the other woman. The fact that I suffered because of a lousy decision that I should have been the one to take. It was too much to bear. Tears had started to freely run down my cheeks. I couldn’t take it.
While I was wondering where Zion’s parents and Tony were, I was also thinking about the next line of action. My phone chose that moment to ring. I looked at the caller ID. It was Daniel, probably calling to ask where I was. I had questions for him. And he was going to give me answers. I picked the call.
“I’m sorry I’m running late”, I said into the receiver. “I’ll be with you shortly”.
“Ok. baby. I’ll be looking out for you”.
Within 15 minutes, I was at Kada Fries. Daniel smiled broadly when he sighted me.
“Baby, I’ve been waiting for you”, he said, spreading his hands out for an embrace as he advanced towards me. I pushed him away and briefly surveyed the restaurant. It was lightly decorated. Soft music played in the background. There were lots of his friends around and some of mine too. Even Ruth was present. She eyed me wearily from where she sat.
So he wanted to propose marriage ehn? I thought. A paid proposal and a paid marriage too? No way! “What’s the occasion?” I asked, turning back to face him.
“Don’t call me that”, I slapped off his hands off as he made to touch me.
“What’s the problem?” He looked dazed. “What have I done wrong?”
“You haven’t answered me. What’s the occasion?” I repeated.
“Baby, baby, please. You look angry and sound very upset. Let’s talk somewhere private so we can clear issues up”.
“Were you also paid to throw this party?” I went on to ask, ignoring his plea and suggestion
Daniel looked shocked. But he quickly recovered. “Baby please, let us…”
“Don’t baby me. I know everything. You’ve been nothing but a paid boyfriend, a paid looser. Money is all you have ever cared about”.
“No. Please, Kel…”
“Don’t you ever call me that again!” I yelled, pushed him away from me and stormed off, ignoring the surprised looks and murmurs from those present. I didn’t care what they thought. That was their own business. I was already out the door and heading for my car when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I slapped it off as I turned around. It was Ruth. “What?” I barked.
“Jeez Kelechi, take it easy. If there is a problem, talk to me. You’re obviously upset. What is wrong?”
“You. You are. You cajoled me into accepting the two-faced liar as a boyfriend. Look at him now? And look at you”
“It is unfair for you to judge me based on his wrong-doings. Just tell me what he did”.
“I need a break from all of you. Don’t bother looking for me”. I turned and continued hurriedly, towards the car.
“Kelechi, Kel…” Ruth called. But I didn’t answer, not even when she ran after the vehicle. At that moment, I didn’t consider her a friend I wanted to share my life with and discoveries with.
To be continued…
©Karo Oforofuo. February 2017