Hi muses. I had to be away to attend to personal matters. Forgive me for not informing you earlier. Hope this makes up for it. Cheers.
After her lunch with Aunty Nwando, Ekene went to visit Miriam. She had taken a week off work on discharge from the hospital. Ekene and Regina ensured they visited her daily to cheer her up. She had slowly come to accept that her baby was no more.
“Kene”, Miriam greeted her as she let herself in. She was sitting on her couch, gouging herself on some pasteries and pop corn.
“Mimi, how are you?”
“I’m okay. How’s business?”
“Really good. God is faithful. How do you feel? ”
“I’m fine. The pains have gone, though I vomitted yesterday. I called my doctor and he said it is a side effect of some of the anti biotics”
“Okay. Have you eaten real food?” Ekene had pulled off her shoes and settled in a couch.
“This one I am eating, what is it called?” She raised the pastry in her hand.
“Junk, it’s called junk”
“I hear” she scoffed. Ekene reached for the remote to change channels.
“Why are you changing the channel?”
“What kind of movie is this? So morose !”
Miriam reached across and snatched it back. “My house, my rules”
Ekene laughed. “When last did Regina call you?”she asked.
“She called a while ago. It seems She and Magnus are having dinner”
“Eh?” Ekene exclaimed.
Miriam ignored her, taking a sip of her drink.
“And what have you told her about her new found ‘man'” Ekene asked.
“Do I need to preach? Am I not a walking sermon? Compromised my values for a blue-eyed snake! Wanted to raise a child on my own since God was wasting time. Lost the child because I wanted to prove that pregnancy could not slow me down at work”, She hissed.
“Don’t blame yourself. Fred said you can’t always tell why a pregnancy doesn’t thrive”
“How is he by the way?”
“Fine. His aunt came by, shopped and took me to lunch”
“I hope she didn’t buy on credit”
“She paid full price”
“Ezi okwu! That is the kind of in-law I need!”
“Not those who even bring their friends to collect freebies”
“As if you picked the stuff along the street”, Miriam snorted.
“She’s really nice”
“I can tell”
“I really need you to talk to Reggie. This her thing with Magnus worries me. Please, she won’t listen to me” Ekene suddenly changed the topic, turning in her seat to face her.
“Neither will she listen to me, then”
“So, you won’t try”
“We are all adults. Our duty is to be there for when it crashes, because, crash it must. Except, his wife is not a praying woman”
“I wonder if she knows what they are up to”
“I’ve met her. A pretty lady, with 2 kids”, Miriam stated.
“I don’t know her. What is her husband doing if she is so pretty? ”
“I really wonder, my dear. I wonder”
Regina was part of the team delivering some furniture to a client. He was a high profile client who had ordered some very exotic pieces and she decided to personally supervise the delivery. At his house, she parked her car outside while the truck was driven in. She alighted, straightening her jeans and red T shirt. The interior decor was to be handled by a new employee of another firm they often contracted. She would be meeting him for the first time.
“I hope he is punctual”, She thought. While the furniture was moved in, she made a call to him. “Hello, Is that Osas? Where are you?
“I am just outside. I had to go out to buy some things I forgot. Have you arrived?”
“Yes. Please make it snappy”, She replied.
Regina was busy with work when a voice behind her made her turn.
“Good morning. You must be Regina?”, Osas asked.
“Nice to meet you. Do take custody of the furniture” She shook his hand and turned away.
He smiled at her back, thinking to himself that she was very pretty. Whipping out his Ipad, he marched into the house to get to work. Regina stayed till he signed that all the goods complete and in good condition. Then she turned to leave.
“Already leaving?”, he asked.
“Yes”, she was busy replying a text from Magnus.
“You work really hard for a lady” he complimented.
“Mmmmm?” She was typing away furiously on her phone.
“How about I finish early and we meet for lunch?”, He was trying to make her look up.
“I’m busy”, She didn’t even look at him.
“Hmmmm?”she was still typing away.
“Sorry, if I’m being pushy”
“I have to go. Take care” She started towards her car, typing and smiling at the message Magnus had sent.
“Yeah, take care”, he watched her go, wistfully.
“Nice girl” he thought. “Wonder if she’ll be offended if I call her?”
Magnus was meeting with a client when his phone beeped. It was a message from Regina. He read it and chuckled, then replied.
“Are you newly married, Barrister?”, his client, Don teased.
“No, why do you ask?”
“Only couples in honeymoon phase, text each other and laugh the way you are doing”
“Sorry, it’s just a friend”
“O” he raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah. She’s fond of sending jokes to me to distract me from work. Thinks I work too hard”
“Don’t mind me. I’ll just turn it off. I’ll get her later”, he laughed.
“Hmmm” Don cleared his throat.
“What? ” Magnus asked.
“This friend is female?”
“And your wife approves?”
“We are sort of going through a divorce”
“So you are in court already?”
“No but, soon”
“Barrister, can you stand to hear the truth?” Don leaned forward.
“Stolen waters are sweet but they turn to gravel in the stomach”
“I beg your pardon” Magnus was offended.
“You are on a blind alley. This path leads nowhere. Trust me. I have been down this path” Don smiled sadly.
“I don’t understand”
“O, I think you do. Your wife seems to be lacking certain qualities. Rather than prayerfully work with her to improve, you cop out. The first lady who smiles at you, suddenly has everything your wife doesn’t. Best of all, she places no demand on you. ‘Just friends’, you tell yourself. From hugs, you kiss, from kissing, you grope, from there, it’s baby making, guy”
Magnus turned away. He felt naked, like Jesus had come into the room and put on the light. Scratching his head, he searched for words.
“Don’t say anything. Just go and reconcile with your wife. No matter how far you have gone, you can turn back. I’ll be praying for you” Don went on.
“You don’t understand. We have drifted apart”
“Get rid of the strange woman and your love for your wife will be restored. You have my number. Call me when you need an ear”, Don rose and picked up his keys and phone that were on the table. “I have to pick my son up from school”
“Yeah, today is the beginning of mid term break. He is in JSS1”
They shook hands as they parted.
Magnus sank into his seat. “What have I done?”, he wondered.
Fred was doing some volunteer work for his church. They were conducting a 1 week free medical treatment program in a fishing settlement in one of Lagos’ slums. He was the team leader.
“Hello”, Ekene had called him during his break.
“When will this ‘Hi, Fred’ change to ‘Hi love, or Hi baby’?” he asked.
“Hapu go di”
“No, seriously. Have I not told you severally, that I love you?”
“How’s the project going?”
“Is that supposed to be a way of dodging? ”
“Okay” he laughed. “We are doing great. The turn out has been overwhelming. I saw 109 patients yesterday alone. Then imagine how many the others saw and how many we turned away”
“The fish pepper soup is something else though”
“Are you there to eat or work?”
“Nne, the kind of mosquitoes they have here, if you don’t replace what they suck, you could die of anaemia!” he joked.
“Seriously. The bugs have teeth. They even wear hats”he joked.
Ekene laughed again. “You are so funny”
“Say you love me”, he pleaded suddenly.
“Say you love me” he repeated.
“I’ll think about it”
“It’s almost a year”
“Yeah, right. 8 months you mean”, she snorted.
“Marry me, Ekene”
“What? I didn’t hear that! Is that how your mates propose?”
“I’m too chicken to do it right”
“I have no plans of marrying a chicken!”
“You treat me so badly” he complained.
“Yet, I’m calling you” she laughed.
“I’ll let you get back to work. Keep your legs covered. We don’t want the mosquitoes to suck you dry”
“I love you, Ekene”
“Thank you. Have a great day”
“See ya” she laughed and ended the call.
Miriam was sipping a drink while Ekene made the call. She had dropped in to visit her. Usually, she and Regina went to Ekene’s house to inspect her new merchandise when it arrived. That way,they got 1st pickings before it went to the store.
“Was that Fred?”
“Yeah” Ekene replied, folding the blouses she had strewn over the couch.
“Why the cold treatment? Are you having doubts”
“My sister, it is a huge commitment. I can’t enter lightly. Besides, I didn’t ask God for a widower”
“What do you mean?”
She sat down to enlighten her.
“Last year, a young pastor came to preach at Elyon. He told us how he wrote his CV to God when he was looking for a wife”
“Uh huh. He was the good guy ladies kept dumping for bad guys. About 3 ladies broke his heart, before he decided to change his approach”
“He said getting married is a commitment to partner with someone to bring God’s kingdom purposes to pass here on earth. For that reason, he decided to give God the job of placing the right woman by him. Then he wasn’t even a pastor. He just became a youth pastor 2 years ago”
“I see” Miriam was intrigued.
“He gave us a sort of template for the CV. You submit it to God, then he begins to search for the man or woman who deserves you. According to him, many people are busy telling God what they want in a partner,without telling him what they are bringing to the table” Ekene stopped for breath.
“So we shouldn’t tell God what we want in a husband?”
“You do, after you write your own CV. First, God has to work on you to modify you for his use. Writing it down exposes your flaws and makes you humble yourself for him to change you. Then you can demand the best of his sons”
“Many people scoffed at the idea. I mentioned it then, but you and Regina laughed. So, I kept it to myself. For 6 months, I prayed using the scriptures he gave us. After that, I met Fred”
“Wow! That means it works? ”
“Yeah. I mean he has been awesome: Godly, handsome, caring, generous, great family values.My only worry is being a 2nd wife. I never told God I wanted to be a 2nd wife” Ekene agreed
“Well, you didn’t say you would be unwilling to marry a man who had been married before, either?” Miriam reminded her.
“True that” Ekene paused thoughtfully.
“Better watch it. Don’t lose a good thing”
The doorbell rang and Regina let herself in.
“Hello, girls!” She greeted, going round to hug and kiss each of them.
“Late comer! I have selected the best things” Miriam teased.
“Sorry, dear. Magnus and I had to thrash out some stuff with my MD”, she dropped her bag and began to sort through the boxes of clothes.
Ekene and Miriam exchanged glances.
“This is the 1st time I am hearing you talk about work and Magnus in one breath” Miriam commented.
“Meaning? “Regina asked.
“You know” Miriam motioned with her head.
“You guys were carrying on like lovers”
“No, we were not”
“Can you honestly say, you would be proud to show a videotape of all the times you spent together?” Ekene asked.
“For what? It’s nobody’s business”
“The day you gave your life to Christ, you made it His business” Ekene asserted.
“Hian!” Regina turned her back on them. She was trying on some shoes. “Some people are always forming holy”
“Not me”,said Miriam.
“I refused to intervene all this time because I was so wrapped up in guilt about my pregnancy. Today, I am telling you, break it off or I will walk up to his wife and report you”
“What! ” Regina turned furiously. “Why”
“Just because” Miriam threatened.
“Anyway, it doesn’t matter. They are getting a divorce” she shrugged.
“Good, because, I plan to tell Pastor Shedrack too”, added Miriam.
“You wouldn’t! ” Regina gasped.
“You know I would” she narrowed her eyes.
“Ekene, did you put her up to this?”, she hurled at her.
“Yes, I did, as a matter of fact. We have let this go on for too long. I would not want to be labelled as the friend of a home wrecker”, she faced her squarely.
Regina looked from one friend to another, realizing that they were quite serious. “I am disappointed. This is the price of confiding in false friends”, she muttered.
TO BE CONTINUED.
* Eziokwu: For real
*Hapu godi : Leave it alone.
*Chai: Exclamation trying to evoke sympathy
*Hian: Exclamation of surprise or wonder
*CV : Curriculum vitae
*You are always forming holy: You pretend to be holy