He nodded, too shocked to speak. As the Matron left, Ijeoma stood up to shut the door behind her. Regina was standing in the centre of the room, looking bedraggled. Magnus sat up in bed, head in his hands.
“What do you have to say for yourself? “Ijeoma asked him.
He turned pain filled eyes to her. “Nne, why are you embarrassing me like this?”
“Nwoke m, answer the question!” She snapped.
“She’s just a friend. Is that how you’ll thank her for helping me?”
“Onye oma emeka! Helper!” She jeered. “What is she helping you to do?”
“She heard I was ill and recommended this place”
“Sister, did you hear him”, She turned to Regina. “He has denied you O! You are just a friend! After all the skills you displayed in the bedroom, you are just a friend? Ha! Will you get out of here! If I ever see you or hear you called him, I will descend on you. Goat!”
Regina ran out of the room like a puppy. She collided with the nurse and the security man who were listening outside the door for any sign of trouble. Lowering her head in shame, she walked out briskly.
“Stupid girl!”, the nurse frowned at her back. “I know her in Gateway church. Can you imagine what these girls do in secret? See how she was exposed today”
“Is that how your church members behave?” the security guard asked.
“Please, she is an exception! We are not like that! ”
“It is well, it is well, God of Gateway did this and that……” he scoffed.
“Excuse me. I am not getting into this with you”, the nurse raised a hand to shut him up as she walked away.
Magnus was debating whether to come clean or to keep protesting his innocence. Ijeoma sat on the chair by the bed, hands folded over her breasts, watching him silently. Should he turn the tables on her, accuse her of neglecting him, nagging him, cheating on him? What if he admitted they had become more than friends? : though God knew he never intended for that to happen. Regina was his escape from reality but, he never wanted to hurt his wife.
When he didn’t offer any explanation, Ijeoma brought out her phone and dialled Pastor Shedrack’s number.
“Good day Pastor Shedrack. Yes, Sir”, She spoke into the phone.
Magnus got down on his knees pleading with his eyes for her not to report him. She ignored him.
“Sir, I want to report someone to you” She went on. “I just caught Sis. Regina of the Ushering department having an affair with my husband!”
There was a pause, while she turned her piercing gaze on her husband. He had wilted on the floor, covering his face with his hands.
“Okay, Sir. I will be in your office tomorrow. The reason I am telling you is that she is probably in bed with other married men in church. Who knows how many homes she has broken, while you are busy praying for marriages to thrive” She made a hissing sound.
Magnus raised his head, silently willing her to say no more. She rolled her eyes at him.
“Tomorrow, then. Bless you” She ended the call.
“Why, Ij? That was too…..”
“You ain’t seen nothing. Tomorrow I am going to your firm to report you. If they don’t sack you by the time I finish with you, give a dog my name! Anuofia!” She spat.
“Ij! You have no proof. Don’t do this please” he pleaded.
“Watch me” Ijeoma rose.
She was looking around for her bag, when she realized she had left it in the reception. Magnus had come to stand before her. She evaded his out stretched arms and strode out, banging the door behind her.
“Regina, what happened? “, Ekene broke the ice.
She and Miriam had hurried over to Regina’s house when she called in distress. They couldn’t make out her words through her tears, so they went over to comfort her. Regina was in her pajamas, eyes puffy and red from crying, a box of tissues by her side. Both friends sat on either side, waiting anxiously.
“Are you ill? Pregnant? Or what?”, Miriam asked.
She shook her head.
“Trouble at work?”, Ekene asked.
She shook her head again.
“So tell us”, Miriam was getting impatient.
Regina sighed and put her head in her hands.
“Magnus fell ill today”, She began.
“O, no! Is it serious?” Miriam asked
“Is he in the hospital? ” Ekene asked.
“He called me from the general hospital this morning”, Regina replied.
“Ewo! Don’t tell me he’s dead?”, Miriam exclaimed.
“No”, replied Regina.
Both friends let out a collective sigh of relief.
“So?”, queried Miriam.
“I went over to see him and decided to move him to Dr. Jubril’s hospital”
“Yeah, Dr. Jubril is good”, Miriam nodded.
“This afternoon, as I was preparing to leave, his wife walked in…….” She choked.
“Isi gini?” Ekene exclaimed, slapping her friend’s thigh.
“She pounced on me in the reception. Nearly tore my clothes, ranting like a mad woman”, Regina burst into fresh tears.
Both friends gasped.
“I was so embarrassed! ”
“Chei! The worst has happened! “, Miriam rose to pace the room.
“What did Magnus say?”, Ekene asked.
“Magnus is not important. Of course, he’ll deny her. My question is, how did she find out?”, Miriam was holding her chin thoughtfully as she paced.
“I don’t know. She’s so uncivilized. It’s not like she saw me in his arms or anything”, Regina sniffed.
“I hope she didn’t hit you?”, Ekene was examining her friend for cuts and bruises.
There was silence for some time, only interrupted by Regina’s sniffing. Neither friend wanted to say “I told you so”. Yet, that was all they could think.Her delusion had made her believe loving Magnus gave her the right to him, regardless of him being married. Ekene broke the silence.
“What are you going to do now? ”
“Exact my own revenge! She thinks she can get away with this? I am going to inform his law firm that Magnus scammed me of millions of naira. When he loses his job and they start starving, she will come begging me to forgive her! ”
“I don’t understand! You want to punish the wife by endangering his job?” Ekene asked, confused.
“Yes”, she folded her arms across her breasts, defiantly.
“I think this your plan is foolish” Ekene shook her head, clucking her tongue in disapproval.
“You are busy planning vengeance. I hope you know she has her own plans? “Miriam interjected.
“What more can she do? She has done her worst, disgracing me publicly”
“For starters, she is likely going to report you to Pastor. Except Magnus is able to stop her. At least that is what I’d do” Miriam warned.
Regina had not thought of this. She treasured the regard of Pastor Shedrack and did not want to lose his goodwill. Pausing in thought, she put her chin in her hand.
“Would she go that far? That would implicate her husband too”, Ekene observed.
“You don’t know how bitter she will feel. It’s better you report yourself first”, Miriam suggested.
“To what end? It is not my business what she tells Pastor”, Regina sputtered in false bravery.
Her quivering lower lip however, betrayed her true emotions. Church was all she had. It was her pillar of support, her network, her community, everything. To be ostracized, publicly disciplined, or possibly suspended was going to be unbearable. She would have to change churches.
“Why don’t we pray about this? God will give you the courage to apologize to her and end the wholething. That is better than seeking vengeance”, Ekene suggested.
“If God was hearing my prayers, he would have given me my own man before now. Better still, he would have convinced Magnus to divorce his wife. Heaven knows their problems started before I came along”, Regina stubbornly stated, rising to discard her used tissues.
“Look at this girl!”, Ekene exclaimed.
“Everybody is wrong but you”, Miriam remarked.
“O di kwa egwu O!”, Ekene shuddered. “I see this is beyond us. Nne, I’m leaving. Do as you see fit”
“Leaving? Why?”, Miriam asked. “I am not ready to waste my time with a hardened heart. When she accepts she’s wrong, let me know”
“Let her go! “, Regina made a hissing noise as Ekene left. “She always pretends to be holier than others. Who knows what she does with that Dr. Fred in secret?”
“They are abstaining, actually”, Miriam replied.
“How did you know? That tall glass of gorgeousness! I doubt it”, Regina scoffed.
“Not everyone is living is sin. God always has a remnant”
“I called you to be a shoulder for me to lean on”, Regina complained.
“That does not mean we should watch you step into a pit of snakes! We have avoided saying ‘I told you so’ but, we did!”, Miriam scolded angrily.
“All I know is his wife went too far! I wouldn’t fight in public, a hospital for that matter! Mtchewww! “,she made a hissing noise.
“My dear, you are missing the point. Please give me something to drink. I can see you don’t need advice, since you have decided what you want to do already”
“Help yourself”, Regina turned her back on her. She picked her phone, hoping desperately for a message from Magnus, anything, just a sign that he still loved her. Her world had become wrapped around him and she couldn’t let go.
*Nwokem : My man
*Anuofia : Curse
*Ewo: Exclamation of shock
*I si gini?: What did you say?
*Chei: Exclamation of shock or pity
*O di kwa egwu : Unbelievable
Note: Hope all those commenters who promised me nannies and more are ready to make good their promises? Lol. Cheers. Do click on the title to leave a comment.