Miriam’s Tale – The Concluding Episode

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

Dear Miriam,

If you’re reading this, it means I’m dead, or I’ve finally summed up the courage to leave this letter where you can find it.

I have wronged you terribly Miriam, and I apologise for two wrongs can never make a right.

It started as a stupid joke some years ago; one of the guys had joked about men not knowing whose children they were raising, and just as a joke I took fibres of Daniel and Ada’s hair and had them tested with mine. Daniel’s returned negative. I had it retested; same result. I realise now, it was a stupid thing to do, and my actions thereafter were even more stupid. Rather than discuss it with you I volunteered to go for the Abuja project for five months and when I returned, Ifeoma was pregnant for me already.

I remembered that period, Ken had been behaving funny at the time, and upped and went to Abuja for a ‘project’ for a five month stretch.

Her parents insisted I marry her traditionally, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I don’t know what happened with Daniel, I’m not sure you do either, but he is my son, and I love him with every fibre of my being.

I am sorry for betraying you, for two wrongs never make a right, but I ask one thing. If you’ve ever loved me; I ask that Daniel remain my son, regardless of who his biological father is.

Also, I ask that you find it in your heart to accept Ifeoma’s children, for they are mine biologically.

I love you,

Kenechukwu.

 

That letter felt like Ken speaking to me from the other side. Lol. I smiled through my tears.

Here I was, waxing lyrical, thinking of the first line in the refrain of Adele’s ‘hello’ in the midst of my pain and heartbreak. I sat weeping silently as I considered the gravity of what I had just read. I hadn’t even allowed myself to consider what it would mean if Ken knew or even doubted Daniel’s paternity. Now I had proof that not only had Ken known about Daniel, he had even kept my secret!

I was touched beyond anything I could ever imagine. These past year, I had stayed hating Ken, while for years he had covered my indiscretion! It didn’t make him having another family right, but his act of discretion really touched me.

I was sitting and weeping when my phone rang; Emeka. I didn’t want to speak to him at that moment, but I also knew not taking his call was going to get him to come over.

I braced myself and took the call. “Hi Emeka, hope you got home ok?” I asked in a forced cheerful voice.

“Yes I did. How are you?” he replied.

“I’m ok, just tidying up.”

“Ok, how’s that going?”

“It’s going well.” I replied.

“Any skeletons you need help with shaking out of the cupboard?” He joked.

I laughed and he laughed with me. “No, I’ve got this. Thanks for offering.”

“You’re welcome. So I’ll leave you to your packing.”

“Aite, thanks again for a pleasant evening.”

“It was my pleasure.”

I ended the call wondering when my heart and mood had lightened.

I made an instant decision. Ken had asked one thing of me; that I never let out that Daniel wasn’t his biological son, and that wish I would keep God willing.

I began arranging the room, throwing out the things that needed to go. This was a new dawn, I really was free.

I felt lighter than I had ever felt since Ken’s death, my grief was over. I had loved Ken deeply and felt betrayed that he had had another family. But with the knowledge that he had known our son wasn’t his biologically and had kept my secret, I freely forgave him.

Unfortunately he had died young, I would give anything to have him here with me. Unfortunately he was dead and I had mourned him. Now it was time to live.

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Miriam’s Tale E11

For Taemy, and everyone of you who has kept faith with me, enjoy!

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

Emeka and I sat to see the movie. I honestly don’t remember what we saw. Probably a romance flick or something. For a guy, he sure enjoyed the movie; once in a while he would say something, or refer to something from the movie and we’ll laugh about it or discuss it.

As the movie credits rolled, he turned to me.

“So are you going to tell me why you have built a wall between us?” he asked.

Huh! In a million ears, I never expected that!

“Uhm, I haven’t uhm….” I stuttered grasping for words. My thoughts deserted me, this was like having prepared for an exam, the examiner comes at you from another angle and you’re left scrambling. For the life of me I couldn’t think of a response to that question.

And then it came to me, honesty has always been the best policy, so I went all in.

“I lost my husband a year ago, when he died, everything went to pieces. I’m in the process of rebuilding my life, and there’s no room for a man in that process.” I said sincerely.

“Why not?” He challenged.

Again, I was flustered. I had expected him to take that response without questions asked. “I can’t merge both. I need to focus on my children, I have two kids.”

“I know you have two children, I’ve met them. So I know they are a part of you.”

“It’s not as easy as that, Emeka. What will people say?”

“What will people say about what?”

“I have to be a good example for my children, I can’t parade relationships in their presence, they need me to be a good example for them.” I got up and began to pace, I was suddenly so very uncomfortable and couldn’t sit still.

“I remember the first day I told you I wanted us to be more than friends, what was that, fifteen years ago?” He asked quietly. “I remember it like yesterday. I told you I was going to marry you.” He laughed. “I remember you eyed me thoroughly with all the sass in your teenage body and asked me what I knew about getting married. Do you remember my response?”

“Yes.” I whispered. He had replied my question with a ‘nothing, but you are the one I intend to find out all about marriage with.’

“The fiancé who died; she was a story I made up.” He went on. “I mourned my loss when you married another man. I came back to Nigeria soon as I could when I heard of your husbands passing. I’m not going to be another in a line of lovers. I’m here for good, here to make it work.” He came up behind me and turned me around gently to face him. I avoided his gaze fixing my teary eyes firmly on a point behind him.

“I have two children for my late husband.” I said as though it was in dispute.

“Do you?” he asked softly.

My eyes flew to his, and I saw that he knew. Oh my God! Had he known all along? I felt faint, and actually staggered. He held me from falling and led me to the nearest chair.

“You knew?” I asked in an accusatory tone.

“I’ve always suspected, you just confirmed it.”

“I, I don’t know for certain, I never suspected until that day I saw you both together. What made you suspect?”

“His date of birth. My mother told me when you had Daniel, by my calculations it could have been.”

“But all these years you never said a thing.”

“I love you Miriam and will never do a thing to hurt you.”

And I burst into tears.

My heart was broken in two. This wasn’t how I envisioned my life to be. Who would believe my story. What if it were true, what if Daniel were Emeka’s son? Do I tell Daniel; do I tell Ken’s family ‘oh I’m sorry, I made a mistake, but this is the boy’s biological father’; where do I go from here?

Ken had loved our children, would this be fair to his memory, to unearth information that will tarnish his memory.

I asked Emeka to go.

“I can’t leave you like this.” He protested.

“I’ll be fine, please go.” I insisted.

“Are you sure?”

“Very.”

He left reluctantly, promising to call me in an hour to check up on me. He said if I didn’t pick his call, he was coming right back.

I promised to pick his call. I just needed him gone. I had a burning urge to open that envelope all of a sudden.

Soon as he left, I went back to the envelope.  There were two folded pieces of paper, I opened the first one, it was a letter dated three years ago and addressed to me.

Dear Miriam,

If you’re reading this, it means I’m dead, or I’ve finally summed up the courage to leave this letter where you can find it.

I have wronged you terribly Miriam, and I apologise for two wrongs can never make a right.

It started as a stupid joke some years ago; one of the guys had joked about men not knowing whose children they were raising, and just as a joke I took fibres of Daniel and Ada’s hair and had them tested with mine. Daniel’s returned negative. I had it retested; same result. I realise now, it was a stupid thing to do, and my actions thereafter were even more stupid. Rather than discuss it with you I volunteered to go for the Abuja project for five months and when I returned, Ifeoma was pregnant for me already.

I remembered that period, Ken had been behaving funny at the time, and upped and went to Abuja for a ‘project’ for a five month stretch.

Her parents insisted I marry her traditionally, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I don’t know what happened with Daniel, I’m not sure you do either, but he is my son, and I love him with every fibre of my being.

I am sorry for betraying you, for two wrongs never make a right, but I ask one thing. If you’ve ever loved me; I ask that Daniel remain my son, regardless of who his biological father is.

Also, I ask that you find it in your heart to accept Ifeoma’s children, for they are mine biologically.

I love you,

Kenechukwu.

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Miriam’s tale E10

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Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

The shoe box held a lot of papers, something told me I wouldn’t like the contents of the box, but I had to go through it, so, with a resigned sigh I settled in on the floor to go through the papers.

Bank details and data; I had all that already, work documents, his last promotion letter; my jaw dropped at that one. Huh? Ken at his death was earning over 10million Naira per annum? What the …? And I remembered pleading with him for just 500 thousand Naira in the months before he died to set-up a small business, and he had rejected that on the grounds of ‘no money’. Hmmm! Anyways, factor in the fact that he had been running two parallel families, I guess that explains the ‘no money’.

Riffling through, I found more papers, Ken kept both the useful and inconsequential, or so it seemed to me. I found even a receipt for dinner at a restaurant; I would love to hear the gist behind that receipt being kept, it must have held some sentimental value for him to have kept it. I found an envelope at the bottom of the box, it was in an unaddressed envelope, and it wasn’t sealed, so no one can claim I trespassed. Neither did it have any conditions attached to its being opened, so I went right on to open the envelope.

It contained what looked to be Ken’s will, and it was recent; dated a year from his death.

The doorbell rang just as I was about to open it. Insistent ringing typical of Susan. Talk of wrong timing.

She knew I was home, and they was no way I could ignore her. The will wasn’t running away, right? I stuffed it back into the envelope and went to get the door.

“Susan!” I said by way of greeting on opening the door.

“Hello sister dearest, how you doing?´ She tried to do an imitation of Wendy Williams.

This made me smile despite my irritation with her dropping in unannounced. “I’m good, come on in.” I stood aside for her to come in.

“Duh, was there a chance you wouldn’t let me in.” She asked wryly.

“Yes, I wanted to ignore the bell, especially knowing it was you.”

“But I brought chicken!” She brandished a bag from a popular chicken restaurant. She knows I love their chicken. She came with a bribe, lol. What was Susan up to?

I sank into a chair and watched in amusement as Susan went from room to room opening doors and peeping in. she returned shortly.

“Miriam na wa for you o! So you shipped the kids off to our place so you can be all alone by yourself.”

“That’s tautology Susan, you need to mind your grammar.” I teased.

“Forget the grammar! You mean you’re all alone in this house, no guest? Haba sis, you can be boring.”

She collapsed into the chair beside me, opened the chicken pack took a piece and offered the pack to me.

I picked a piece of chicken and bit into it remaining silent. It infuriated her when I did that, patience wasn’t one of Susan’s strong points, but it was mine. Lol.

“Are you certain there’s no man in this apartment?” I teased her.

“Are you saying there’s a man in this apartment?” She countered.

I laughed out loud. “I was sorting out Ken’s stuff, come help me.” I decided to put her out of her misery. I got up and she followed me into the room.

“I’ve sorted out his clothes, I was sorting out his shoes when I found this box of papers.” She was my sister, and I knew I could trust her.

‘What’s on the papers? Any more skeletons creeping out of the closet?” She asked as she settled in opposite me.

“Not really, this one I haven’t read, but I have a suspicion it contains something explosive.” I waved the envelope in the air.

“Open it already!!!!” Susan urged excitedly.

And just as I was about to open it, the doorbell rang again.

Ahn ahn! “Who was that again?”

“Uhm, my guess is that’s Emeka.” Susan said uncomfortably.

“Emeka?”

“Yeah, well, I ran into him this morning, and he said he was going to visit you. Uhm, that was why I searched the house when I came in.” She looked uncomfortable.

This was distraction I didn’t need. Was Susan encouraging Emeka?

A part of me wanted to ignore the door, I didn’t want Emeka around me or my kids. While I wasn’t sure of Daniel’s paternity, I didn’t want to risk him coming around lest anybody see the similar feautures and suspect…… If Daniel was Emeka’s son, who would believe me when I tell them I didn’t know and only began to suspect recently?

Everyone would feel betrayed. Where do I begin? Do I tell Daniel the man he called father isn’t his biological father? Do I tell Ken’s parents Daniel isn’t their grandson?

How do I tell Emeka I gave his son to another man to father.

Who would believe I didn’t know or suspect? If I were on the other side would I believe me?

This whole thing was sordid business and had the ability to destroy lives. I couldn’t risk that happening.

“Aren’t you going to let him in?” Susan asked startling me out of my thoughts.

“I, I don’t want to.” I replied. “Susan, I don’t want to encourage him, I’m done with men.” I said wearily.

“Miriam you are still young, you cannot end your life because of one bad experience. Yes Ken betrayed you, but you have to move on. Not all men are the same.”

“What if I also betrayed Ken?” I whispered.

“What do you mean?” She asked sharply.

“It’s nothing. Go and get the door. I’ll finish up here later.” I replied composing myself.

“Miriam, you were about to say something….”

“It was nothing. Get the door.”

“Miriam…….”

“Go get the door Susan, mind your manners, and don’t keep a guest waiting at the door.” I put the unopened envelope in my bedside drawer to be read later at night, and tried to tidy-up the room. Susan hesitated for a bit before she went to get the door.

*****

I joined them in the living room a while later, Susan had offered him refreshments already.

“Hi Emeka, how are you doing?” I greeted him.

“I’m very well, and you?” He replied rising to his feet.

”Please have a seat, no need for formality in my house.” I said.

“Not formality, courtesy. When a lady walks into the room, it’s proper to rise in greeting.”

“Perfect gentleman.” Susan whispered aloud.”

I rolled my eyes inwardly. Susan had started again.

“I ran into Susan this morning on my way from my morning jog and I promised her I’ll come see you today.” He said as he returned to his seat.

I quirked my eyebrows at Susan. ‘Promised’ ? That wasn’t quite the way she told it.

“How nice of you.” I said instead.

“It’s not niceness, I enjoyed catching up with you at your parents. You know I’m still in the process of renewing friendships, been away for a while.”

“I can imagine.” I said dryly.

“It’s no hardship, and I love your kids. I don’t know how you manage to be away from them.” He smiled brightly.

Susan beamed when he said he loved my kids, and in my mind I said ‘whatever’. My kids were wonderful, who wouldn’t love them?

Yeah, I know, Overdose of mothers pride!

“So, what’s up, thought you said you were in town for a few weeks or so?”

“I decided I’m staying. I’m back for good.”

“Wow! Such good news” Susan said excitedly.

God help me get Susan out of my house right now!

“Good for you. I’m sure your parents are thrilled.”

“Yes they are. Let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about you. How are you spending your alone time, with the kids at your parents? Let’s hang out. You can show me all the interesting places to be.”

“I don’t know the interesting places to be.” I replied wryly.

“That’s not true. Remember that new mall you were just telling me about last week, the one with the cinema, that you hadn’t visited. You guys should go there.” Susan urged excitedly.

“I’m tired, been on my feet all day, I don’t want to go out.” I replied forcing a yawn.

“We could just go see a movie, minimal movement, you get to sit still for the duration of the movie.” Emeka urged.

“I don’t want to go out.” I insisted. “This is my alone time, I need to spend it resting, not battling traffic.”

“Its fine, we could work with that. Order in food, see a movie, gist, whatever you want. Or I could help you with the house chores. I have a spare set of hands, and I’m willing to work.”

‘Oh, she’s done already. You guys should order in pizza; Miriam likes pizza. And I have a movie on my flash I know she’ll love.” Susan replied.

I would gladly have stuffed her in a toilet at that moment. Lol.

“Okay, that’s settled then.” Emeka agreed.

“So, I’ll just start this up.” Susan said rummaging in her hand bag and emerging with a flash drive.

She connected it to the TV and selected the movie she wanted to play.

“I’ll order the pizza for you guys while I go see a client.” Susan said picking up her hand bag.

Sneaky little girl! She got him to come visit now she was leaving me alone with him.

“Thanks Susan.” Emeka said as Susan practically ran out of the door.

“You’re welcome darling. Pizza should be here in thirty minutes.” She replied from the door.

“Thanks for nothing.” I said under my breath.

“Pardon?” Emeka asked.

“Oh nothing.” I replied airily. “I hope you like chickflicks, because this is one.” I said to him focusing my attention on the movie on the screen.

“Oh, I’m versatile.” He replied with a smile.

I replied with a smile of my own. My phone beeped. Message from Susan.

Pizza ordered. Enjoy the afternoon.’

I quickly typed; ‘thanks for nothing

‘Lol’ She replied. ‘We’ll pick up that discussion on the Ken betrayal later, meanwhile, ENJOY your afternoon.’

 

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Miriam’s Tale E9

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……Emeka was having a conversation with Daniel. I got to the living room door and stopped short in shock.

I was plunged into that day many years ago. Emeka had returned to Nigeria for a brief vacation and I had greeted him with the news that I had a new boyfriend; Kenechukwu. He had been disappointed for when he was leaving for school we had childishly promised to wait for each other.  We had argued, then he had tried to convince me, and …….. Oh my God! It couldn’t be……

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

I did a mental comparison; the fair skin, the dark hair, slight dimple, ….. Oh my God! No! It couldn’t be. There must be another explanation for this. Ken had been light chocolate in complexion, and his mother was very fair. So, I hadn’t given a thought to it, but….. No! My mind must be playing games on me. This was like a mirage sighting on dry land. He looked up and caught and held my gaze. I snapped out of my reverie and smiled brightly at him, my smile masking all the tension and apprehension in my mind.

He returned my smile and got up slowly. “Hi Miriam, good to see you.”

“Same here Emeka. How are you?” I moved into the room. Daniel turned around and smiled at me, I smiled back. My smile concealing my inner turmoil.

“Where’s Ada?” I asked Daniel.

“She’s in grandma’s room, they are putting on make-up.” He made a gross face and I laughed genuinely. Daniel and Ada were typical boy and girl. While Dan liked all things masculine; sports, clothing, girls, etc, Ada liked all things feminine; from make-up, to clothes, to shoes. Lol! I had my work cut-out for me in the future.

Ada’s location worked perfectly for me, I needed Daniel out of the living room, I didn’t want anyone looking closely at he and Emeka and drawing undue conclusions.

“Go and stay with them and ensure she doesn’t stress grandma.” I said to him.

In my minds eyes, I saw those memes of African parents sending their kids on unnecessary errands to get rid of them. Lol, this was me now.

He went grudgingly. Bless his soul, Daniel was such a sweet child, very obedient and sensitive to my needs.

“The young man and I were just bonding. He’s a good boy, you did a fine job.” Emeka said after Daniel had left the living room.

“Thank you.” I replied sitting down in the sofa nearest to me. “So, what’s up, are you back for a holiday or finally?”

“I’m back for good. I’ve been feeling homesick, and I got a fantastic offer and I’m back!”

“That’s nice. I hope you don’t find this rude, I know you’ve told me what you do, but, I’ve forgotten.” I grimaced in apology.

“No worries. I’m a software programmer.”

“Oh, ok. Yes, rings a bell. Don’t mind me; old age.” I joked

He laughed out loud. “I remember your sense of humour.” He mused.

Susan chose that time to come into the living room. She practically snuck in as though hoping to catch us doing something sneaky, lol. No chance of that happening.

“Hi Emeka, can I get you refreshment? What would you have?” She said.

“I’m good, thanks.” He replied.

“Apologies, where’s my manners. We should get you a drink.” I joined her in persuading him.

“Ok.” He acquiesced.

“What would you like? We have soda, malt and some beer.” Susan offered.

“Soda is fine.”

“One soda coming up.” She flounced off, like really flounced off. Susan was such a drama queen, her theatrics knew no limits.

My dad joined us in the living room, and I left him and Emeka to gist manly stuff while I want in to conclude on the cooking before Susan gets experimental and something goes wrong. Not that it’s ever happened but there’s always a first time, and I didn’t want to have to deal with the kids having running stomachs, not to mention that we had a guest.

He left soon after the meal, and I dragged my family home, it had been a good visit, it was nice to see Emeka again, albeit unsettling but I refused to think about it. I promised the kids they could go over for the weekend at my parents soon and they were overjoyed. I was also happy about the visit. Them out of the house meant I could rest more, sleep a few more hours in the morning without them bouncing all over me. Other parents had difficulty waking their kids in the morning, I had my kids jumping over me at the crack of dawn. Lol.

Emeka tried to re-establish the friendship between us, but I refused. I wasn’t comfortable being around him. I didn’t want any funny issues to arise. Besides, I hadn’t processed the possibility of ‘that thought’. I was a fresh ‘widow’, wasn’t looking for a relationship, I wasn’t even sure I wanted a new relationship. Being single had its perks, I didn’t want to have to start again, begin dating again, yuck! I was past all that, to old, and I have baggage. I have kids. Anyways, not thinking about that. How can I be thinking about dating when I have bills to pay? Kids to cater for? Ah! No time.

It had been over a year since Ken died. The weekend the kids went to my parents, I seized the opportunity to clean out my room (more like cleaning out Ken’s stuff). It was a bittersweet cleansing ritual for me, I hadn’t removed or gone through any of Ken’s stuff since he passed. Couldn’t bring myself to then; too emotional.

I was down to his shoe boxes, Ken had a thing for shoes, and he had quite a lot of them. I opened each of them, mentally tallying up a list of people to gift them with when I found one that didn’t have any shoes in it, but held a lot of papers…….

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Miriam’s Tale E8

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My ringing phone startled me out of my reverie, an unregistered number. I knew instinctively it was Emeka. This was confirmed when I answered the call and heard a familiar male voice say; “Hello”

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

“Hello” I responded.

“Am I speaking with Miriam Ikoku?” He asked.

“Yes, this is her, Miriam Okoro now.”

“I’m sorry, my bad. Susan told me you’re married now, I should have asked for your married name.” He apologised sincerely.

“It’s fine, I understand. I have girlfriends who still refer to me by my maiden name.”

“I’m relieved I’m not the only one who’s made such an error. This is Emeka, Susan gave me your number.”

“Hi Emeka, how are you?”

“I’m very well, and you?”

“I’m good.”

“Great. So, I’m back in town for a few weeks and I thought I’ll look you up.”

“That’s nice.”

“So how have you been, I heard you lost your husband about a year ago, accept my condolences.”

‘Thank you, God has been faithful.”

“You have kids, how many?”

“Two; Daniel is seven and Ada is two.”

‘Wonderful.”

“And you? Are you married?”

“Unfortunately, no. so how have you been coping?” He tried to change the subject back to me.

“Why haven’t you married yet?” I brought the discussion back to him. Since my husbands’ death, I had gotten weary of talking about ‘poor lil me’ . People need to give me a break and talk about something else.

He sighed. “Three years ago, I was engaged, she died. Road accident.” He replied quietly.

Immediately I felt bad for prying. He clearly wasn’t over it from the tone of his voice. “I’m sorry for your loss.” I whispered. Wait a minute, why were we whispering? I sat up in bed, we needed to ‘re-formalise’ (if there was a word like that) the discussion.

“It’s fine. Was a long time ago.”

“Ok. So, you just visiting, or?”

“I’m just visiting, been a while I’ve seen my folks.”

‘It’s really been a while. Twelve years?”

“Yeah. You have a good memory.” He chuckled. “Although my folks visited a few times.”

“Oh, ok.”

“I would love to see you Miriam, can I come visit you, it will give me a chance to see the city further.”

Huh? Come and visit me, why? After ‘uncle Pius’ visit, I’ve been wary of men visiting me at home. “Tell you what, I’m bringing my kids over to their grand-parents tomorrow, you can pop over then.” I quickly improvised, ignoring his offer to visit.

“Ok, that should work.” He replied after a while. “So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, sure.” I agreed. Daniel and Ada were always up for a trip to their grand-parent’s.

**********

The next day, I doubt Daniel and Ada heard anything that was said in Sunday school. It had actually been a while since we had gone over to my parents, recently, it had been my parents coming over to ours. We drove straight over from church, they could barely contain their excitement, and my parents spoil them rotten.

Amebo Susan, immediately she saw us began to grin. She took in my dress and her grin widened.

“What?” I asked her.

“Nothing.” She replied in false innocence.

“Yeah right.” I muttered, passing her to go into the kitchen and help with lunch preparations.

“I like your dress.” She said following me.

“I like it too. I replied sarcastically.

She laughed. “Why are you grouchy?”

I ignored her.

“Aren’t you too old to be using your parents’ house as a cover to check out a guy?”

“Huh? Really?”

“Yes nau! He called you yesterday, and today, you’re here. Dragging my lovely neice and nephew along as a cover for your meeting.” She laughed longer.

Please can someone help with where I can return my younger sister!

Our doorbell rang. “Uuhhh!” She shivered excitedly. “Is that him?” She ran out of the kitchen to get the door. She returned a while later even more excited than when she left.

“He’s here!” She announced excitedly. She loosened the apron from behind. “Shoo! You can go.” She shooed me out of the kitchen.

I dashed to the bathroom and quickly looked myself over, passable. I wasn’t dressing up for nobody! I made my way to the siting room, I could hear their voices before I got there, Emeka was having a conversation with Daniel. I got to the living room door and stopped short in shock.

*****

I was plunged into that day many years ago. Emeka had returned to Nigeria for a brief vacation and I had greeted him with the news that I had a new boyfriend; Kenechukwu. He had been disappointed for when he was leaving for school we had childishly promised to wait for each other.  We had argued, then he had tried to convince me, and …….. Oh my God! It couldn’t be……

Miriam’s Tale E7

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Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

What was discussed outside, I didn’t know and didn’t care. I was too relieved to have my children back. I busied myself with preparing them for bed, there were sleeping with me that night. I had asked Amaka to see to my mother-in-law and step-children, while my mother made dinner should anyone want some.

The kids were exhausted and promptly fell asleep. I joined the adults in the living room, they were mid-discussion. I came in when my father was telling them they had to leave the next day, that I was just managing to make ends meet and it would be unfair of my in-laws to burden me with their presence. I wanted to scream I wanted them gone immediately, but I was too tired to say anything. My parents left shortly after that and we all went to sleep.

***

The next day I called my boss and told her I was going to be slightly late. I made sure I drove them to the buspark. I paid their fare and waved them off, ensuring they were no last minute hitches that might necessitate them going back to my house. With a relieved sigh I went back to work. Hopefully by the time I returned home my life would be back to normal. Or the normal I had been plunged into since Ken’s death a year ago.

**********

“Guess who I just ran into?” My sister Susan squealed into the phone. I had to move the phone away from my ear because she was so loud.

“I don’t know.” I replied dryly. I had just forced Daniel and Ada to have a siesta and I wanted to follow suit.

“Guess.” She prompted.

“No Susan, I can’t. I’m tired, your nephew and niece have been running me ragged all day!” it was a Saturday, and the kids hadn’t given me a moment of peace all day.

She laughed. “How are my darlings?” She asked fondly.

“Terrorizing their mother! I almost feel sorry for Amaka if this is what she has to contend with every day.”

She laughed again and I yawned. I was tired out. Doing chores with over-energetic children underfoot was extremely tiring.

“Anyways, guess who I ran into today?”

“Tell me.”

“Emeka!”

“Emeka who?”  I racked my brain for any Emeka I knew and came up empty.

“Emeka your secondary school sweetheart!”

Huh! Who was she talking about? Emeka…. Oh! Emeka! My first boyfriend, I remembered him. He had left for the States to further his studies immediately after secondary school to further his education; he hadn’t been back in the country since then as far as I knew. “Oh, you saw him where?”

“At his parents, he’s back in town.” His parents and mine were neighbors.

“Oh, how nice.”

She chuckled. “He recognized me immediately, well, I did too and he asked of you.”

“That’s natural.” Emeka and I dated in Secondary school, we were also neighbors so it was natural that he ask of me.

‘He’s so fine!” Susan went on as though I hadn’t spoken.

I rolled my eyes despite we were on the phone and she couldn’t see me. Everyone was ‘so fine’ for Susan.

“Anyways, I gave him your number.”

“I’m sure.” I mumbled dryly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Susan had also brought him up to speed on the happenings since he’d left town.

‘…And he said he’ll call you. So I just thought to give you a heads-up.”

“You’re so kind.” I replied sarcastically.

“Lol sis! Stop being such a fuddy-duddy, you’re just twenty-nine!”

Where was she going with this? “What does that have to do with anything?” I asked her.

“You sound older and older every time I speak with you. Lighten-up! Ever since….”

I knew what she had been about to say. “Yeah, ever since Ken died, I’ve changed, I know. Susan, Ken’s death opened up my eyes, opened me to reality, you and I know all the truths that have been unraveled with his death, and who knows what else is out there that I’m not yet aware of, so, excuse me if I’m a lot less excited than I was!”

That was a rant, a full blown rant, but I just felt like I needed to let off steam.

“Yeah sis, I know. But I want you to be happy, to live again. I feel your pain, but joining you in the doldrums won’t help you. So, I remain your entertainment. I have a date, which I need to prepare for; I just wanted to tell you Emeka will be calling you, so you aren’t caught unawares.”

“You have a date, who with?”

“Nobert ofcourse!”

“Really Susan, I’m impressed, you’ve been going with Nobert for a while now.” I teased. Susan had short attention span with guys, with most everything except fashion and cosmetics, that’s why she was a successful freelance makeup artist and fashion stylist.

“I like him, I really do.” She giggled.

“Oh my stars! Is my sister in love?” I teased.

She giggled some more. “No Miriam, not yet. I like him a lot but we aren’t there yet.” She said seriously.

“Early days.”

“Yeah, early days. So, I’ve got to run, we’re hanging out with his friends, and I want to look my best.”

“I trust you to knock them out.”

“Later sis. Love you. Give the kids my love.”

“Have fun.” I lay back on the bed and attempted to sleep.

I loved Susan to the heavens and beyond. She was so free-spirited; she brought sunshine into a room by stepping into it. My parents had her when I was seven, according to my mom, she and dad had agreed on two kids, my brother and I and had actually closed the birthing door when Susan happened.

Susan had been such a delightful child we all had spoilt her silly, she was a good selfless person, and very talented too. I doubt there was an art she couldn’t master.

My ringing phone startled me out of my reverie, an unregistered number. I knew instinctively it was Emeka. This was confirmed when I answered the call and heard a familiar male voice say; “Hello

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Miriam’s Tale E6

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Hello darlings, how have you all been? I apologise for not posting on Wednesday, work as a little extra busy. Here’s this week’s post, hope you enjoy, and do let me know what you think by leaving  a comment.

Also, don’t be stingy, don’t forget to share. Share with your friends and loved ones, and share on your social media timelines.

XOXO

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

The next day dawned bright, when I was ready for work, mama and the kids weren’t ready yet. I explained to her that she needed to hurry so I could drop them off at the park on my way to work. She said I should go ahead, that Jude was going to come by to take them to the park.

That made me uneasy, although I couldn’t pinpoint the reason for this unease. I tried convincing her that if they didn’t get to the park on time all the good buses will be gone; she insisted she wanted to wait for Jude. I left for work, leaving Amaka instructions not to forget to take the kids for their summer class in time.

When I got to work, I tried Amaka’s mobile, it didn’t go through, the usual Nigerian network error. I thought nothing of it; every Nigerian knows we experience network challenges often.

I returned from work the next day to a veerryy silent house. I had gotten some ice-cream for the kids because I knew they will be missing ‘the guests’ already. I refused to call them siblings; I just refused to process the thought.  Amaka opened the door even before I rang the bell, and I could tell she was worried.

“Welcome aunty.” She greeted me taking my bags.

“Thanks Amaka, how are you?”

“I’m fine aunty.” She led the way into the house.

“Where are the kids?” I asked. The house was too tidy and quite, very unusual.

“Aunty.” She dropped the bags on the dining table. “Uncle Jude came this morning and took everybody out, they are not back yet.” She blurted out wringing he hands.

My head spun. As in I could actually see white dots in front of me. What was Amaka telling me? That my brother-in-law came over since morning and took everyone out including my kids and they weren’t back yet? “How?” Was all I was able to utter, I began to panic. How could Amaka have let my kids be taken out without my permission? ‘He took my children to Abuja and you let him? Why didn’t you call me?” I screamed.

“No ma, he said he was taking them to the beach, not Abuja.” She replied fearfully.

“So their things are still here?”

“Yes aunty.”

I ran into the bedroom to confirm this, and truly, their stuff was all there. Still, the beach? Jude took my kids to the beach without informing me? It was past 7pm and they weren’t back yet. I ran back into the living room and got my mobile phone out of my handbag, I dialed my mother-in-law’s number, it rang though without her picking it.  I tried Jude’s number, he didn’t pick as well. My panic intensified.

I called my mom, my dad had been sickly of recent and I didn’t want to alarm him. My younger sister: Susan answered my mom’s phone and I poured out the whole story to her, sobbing through the tale. While we were on the phone I heard my mom ask her who was on the phone and she told her the story. I heard my mom say immediately that they were on their way. I was so scared, I didn’t know what to think. What if something bad had happened to them? Why hadn’t they returned? What if my mother and brother-in-law had kidnapped my children? Those children were my life, I couldn’t survive it should anything happen to them. I turned on Amaka who was standing silently in a corner.

‘Why didn’t you call me? Immediately he said he wanted to take the kids out you should have called me for permission. And to make matters worse you didn’t go with them? Haba Amaka? When I lefe for work this morning I told you there were going back to Abuja, that Jude was coming to take them to the park. So I leave for work and Jude comes and gives counter instructions and you obey his instructions. Why?” I scolded her through my tears.

This was so unlike Amaka, she had been with me for years and was usually very dependable, I totally trusted her with my kids. Why had she let this happen?

She began to cry and I got up and began to pace.  I tried Jude’s number again, he answered on the second ring. “Where are my children?” I asked without preamble.

“Relax sis, we’re on our way back.” He replied.

I struggled for calm. “Give Daniel the phone.” I demanded.

“Hello, mommy” I heard Daniel’s voice a moment later and I could have wept for joy. He sounded both excited and tired.

“Daniel how are you?”

“I’m fine mommy, we went to the beach.”

“That’s nice, Amaka told me. How is Ada?”

“She’s fine mommy, she’s sleeping.” He replied.

The poor child must be exhausted. “Okay love. How close are you, do you know where you are?” I hoped they were in the neighborhood.

I heard him asking his uncle where they were.

“Uncle Jude said we’ll soon be home.” He replied a moment later.

“Okay dear, see you soon. I love you.”

‘I love you too mom.”

Immediately I ended the call the doorbell rang. Amaka opened the door and let in my parents and my younger sister.

“Have you been able to reach them?” Susan asked.

“Yes, Jude finally answered his call. He said they are on their way back.

“Where are they, how far away are they?” My father barked.

“Daddy I don’t know, but I spoke with Daniel.”

He sat down, obviously very upset. This was why I didn’t want to tell him, I didn’t want to cause him any distress.

My mom went to the kitchen and got him a glass of water, which he sipped with a quiet thank you. She sat beside him and they held hands.

Watching my parents brought tears to my eyes. This was what I wanted, being so in-tune with your spouse that no words were needed to communicate. That was the kind of marriage I wanted, the kind I thought I had until Ken died and his death exposed what a fraud he had been. My parents had been married for over thirty years and still going strong. We hadn’t heard of any parallel family or love child. Ken hadn’t even gone two years with me before he started another family.

The doorbell rang a while later and I sprang up. I ran to the door and yanked it open. I was both surprised and disappointed to see my elder brother and his wife. Apparently, Susan had called them on their way over

I let them in and relayed the status update to them, and they joined us in waiting.

The next time the doorbell rang, my brother sprang up at the same time as I did. He asked me to stay back and let him get the door.

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Miriam’s Tale E5

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You know how it’s said; that the darkest part of the night signals the breaking of the dawn, or something like that. That was my story, Ijeoma’s goods was taking forever to arrive, I was fast running out of money with no hope in sight. Just when things had gotten so very bad, the dawn broke.

One day, I got the usual job alert emails from all the job boards I had subscribed on, it was the position of an admin officer in an FMCG. I applied, and wonders of wonders, they called me in for an interview, and offered me the job on the spot!

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

It wasn’t much, but it was something. My first job. I couldn’t believe it, I had gotten my first job!

What made me even happier was that I had gotten the job on my own merit. Without having to know anybody, which y’all will agree with me was fast becoming a rarity in our world today.

So, because I didn’t have a previous job which I needed to give notice at, I resumed almost immediately. It was exciting for me. New job, having to see new faces, interact with adults all day, lol (my day had been occupied with Daniel and Ada, I was so happy to rejoin the ‘grown-up’ world.

The day I resumed at work, Daniel and Ada were as excited as I was, if not more excited. Lovely kids, God bless them. My kids were a delight, my rock through the recent storm. Daniel was my checklist, he reminded me of every single detail I needed to have covered. Ada was just happily cooing. She could easily tell by her expressions whether she was pleased with a thing or not, and I could tell she was pleased. I left for work at the same time they left for school, their school bus drove off just before I did. Thank God for Ken’s car, that afforded me mobility.

In no time, I was settled into my job. It came with good benefits. I was starting at the bottom but I didn’t let that deter me, I was going to do my best, make myself indispensable, lol.

Ijeoma’s goods finally came in. She had some good stuff and thankfully, I now had a wider range of clients, I sold the goods, and got her money back to her. Things were truly looking up such that by the time our house rent was due, I almost had it all saved up.

***********

The long holiday came around, and my mother-in-law said she wanted to visit. She said she missed us (read the kids). Ofcourse I was uncomfortable with this visit. My mother-in-law was ok, on the mother-monster-in-law scale, lol, but……..

Firstly; my kids and I were just ‘managing’; it was just us and our maid; Amaka. We could eat anything, ‘go without’ as needed, but if she came over we would need to cater for her specially a-la-mother-in-law style. Also, thank God my job was on the mainland, so I got to come home earlier than most working class people, but I was conscious of the fact that the kids spent some time alone with our maid, I didn’t want her coming over and criticizing my parenting style or standard of living. And finally, when she was leaving, won’t I be required to at least pay for their transport if not give them some extra money. Money which I didn’t have, I was just managing to get by and didn’t need any additional burdens.

On the flip side; maybe she should come. She should come and see our current standard of living; some of it was thanks to her son. Him dying on us, and having to share his entitlements with his second family. Anyways; she should come. If she doesn’t like our standard of living, up to her. Besides, my family was in support of her visit. My mom said it won’t do to severe the bond between the families

She came. My mother-in-law came to visit us with two kids in tow. A boy and girl. And one look at them and I knew they were Ken’s from the other Lady.

How could she? Like really, how could she? What was the point? Bringing those kids to my house? They got to my house before I did, I got home to see all four kids playing in the living room. My kids; God bless them, welcomed them innocently without knowing who they were. Really if they did, what difference would it make?

“What’s the meaning of this?” I asked my mother-in-law without preamble. I had smiled at the kids, not betraying my boiling anger; but no; dearest mother-in-law, the architect of this whole mess wasn’t going to escape my anger.

“Miriam, my dear, you see, I thought….”

“You thought what?” I interrupted her ramblings. I tried to control myself. Tried to do the deep breathing thingy. Like seriously why would this woman tempt me like this?

“For the sake of Kenechukwu. Kenechukwu of blessed memory. Biko nwam, for the sake of the children. ” Her voice broke.

Who cares, she shouldn’t come with any theatrics. She lost a son, I lost a husband! Gini? She wasn’t getting out of this one with tears o. I waited for her to continue, she had to explain herself, and I doubt if there was anything she could say to make this acceptable.

“It will be good for them to know each other. They are one blood.” She clasped her hands together to show oneness. “Their father is gone, I don’t want them growing up not knowing each other, and perhaps growing to be enemies. It is for your own good. Let them spend a week here, bond as children, without any cares in the world. Look at them.” She opened the door a crack. Playing together. Blood is thicker than water. Biko nwam Let us help them bond now that they are young and innocent, so we won’t have problems of them growing to dislike each other in future. Biko.” She made to kneel.

I pulled her up and began pacing. How does this whole thing make sense to her? Where was she when Ken took the other lady for a wife? Ken had set-up a new family without my knowledge under the guise of visiting them and they hadn’t raised eyebrows. When Ken had been alive they were content for both families to be apart, now he was gone and they suddenly wanted a united family. No, they could spare me all that. I wasn’t interested.

“Mama,” I said slowly. “The respect I have for you, is what’s keeping me from asking you to leave my house tonight. But tomorrow is soon enough. First thing in the morning, you and those children are leaving my house.” I walked out on her and left her gazing open-mouthed at me.

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Miriam’s Tale E4

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……. I opened the door to Chief Pius mirroring the smile on my face. Chief Pius had been my husband’s mentor while he was alive. He was one of the people who hadn’t abandoned us since Ken’s death. He had a habit of dropping by unannounced, and always with treats for the kids.

“Good morning sir, please come in.” I welcomed him in.

He came in, his driver; Kunle behind him carrying two overflowing shopping bags.

“Please sit.” I ushered him to a seat. “Please drop it in that corner.” I pointed to the corner closest to the kitchen. “Is there anything in it that drips?”

“No ma.” Kunle replied.

“Then it’s fine there. Sir, what can I get you?” I asked Chief Pius.

“Nothing my dear.”

“Ahn ahn Chief! It’s not yet that bad.” I teased. He was probably refusing out of consideration for us.

“Ofcourse I know it’s not that bad, but I’m fine.”

“Ok sir. How’s your family?” I sat down facing him.

“We are fine, and yours?”

“We’re very well, thank God. The children have gone to school. They’ll be sad they missed you.”

He laughed. “ It’s ok, ofcourse I’ll come at another time when they’ll be at home, but today it’s you I’ve come to see.”

“Oh, ok. What’s it about?   

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

He laughed softly. “It’s nothing serious, I just want to talk with you. You know, find out how you’ve been coping, you know.”

I don’t know if anyone else feels that way, but, I get irritated by: ‘you know’, I always want to scream ‘I don’t know.’ I mean, why can’t adults talk without saying that? Now, back to this conversation; I was beginning to have a very creepy feeling that this man was trying to get ‘fresh’. “I’ve been coping. God has been my sustenance, like the Bible says; ‘He won’t give you more than what he knows you can bear.’ I replied calmly and primly, wiping all smiles from my face.

“That’s good, that’s good.” He looked around nervously. “I’m here for you, you know, whatever you need, whenever you need it, you can call on me. You see, I want us to be closer, very much closer.” He gestured by rubbing his palms together and anger boiled within me.

I said nothing. I guess he became uncomfortable, he shifted nervously on his seat. Still, I said nothing. He got up, I remained seated.

“Ok, let me run along. Remember, I am here for you.”

“Ok, thanks.”

“Won’t you see me off?” He put his hands in his pocket, and as a sharp girl that I am, I knew he had money in the pocket. I hissed in my mind. What? For what? Do I look like a beggar he could lure with money? Or all those shameless runs girls littered around the world with no brains.

I got up calmly. “Thanks for coming. We appreciate it. I’ll tell the kids you came by.” I said, trailing him behind.

“No hug?”

“No hug Chief Pius.”

“Okay, bye.”

He left, and I almost slammed the door behind him.

What nonsense! I turned in anger on the things he brought. Common-sense was the only thing keeping me from thrashing those gifts. Ah! Ken! Can you see the insults I’m receiving because of you? Tears rolled down my face unchecked. If ken hadn’t died would the likes of Pius have the guts to speak to me like this?

I was known as the ice queen back in school, men thought twice before they approached me. Even Ken confessed I was his toughest conquest. Now, in a very short while, I had been propositioned by two old lizards! How insulting!

My doorbell rang. I turned on the door. If it was that dirty old man I will give him a piece of my mind.

I stormed to the door. Wiped my tears and composed myself. Lai lai he won’t see me cry. I opened the door in anger; it was the gateman; Bala.

My emotion at the time was both relief and anger. Relief that it wasn’t Chief Pius; because him returning would have meant he thought he could get lucky. Anger that I had lost the opportunity to vent.

‘Bala what is it?” I said a tad rudely, some of my aggression still transferring.

Madam, na nepa bring bill.” He extended an electricity bill to me.

I collected it and sighed; what else is new? I was still thinking of where to get money, and bills were steadily piling.

“Jesus!” I exclaimed when I saw the amount I was billed “FOURTEEN THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED NAIRA?” I screamed out loud. What? In all my years on earth, I hadn’t ever seen a residential apartment receive a bill that much, just current charges.

Haba nau, Nepa, PHCN, or whatever they were calling themselves at the time. How could they do this to me?

I turned away back into the house, leaving Bala at the door.

I went into my room and wept.

***********

You know how it’s said; that the darkest part of the night signals the breaking of the dawn, or something like that. That was my story, Ijeoma’s goods was taking forever to arrive, I was fast running out of money with no hope in sight. Just when things had gotten so very bad, the dawn broke.

One day, I got the usual job alert emails from all the job boards I had subscribed on, it was the position of an admin officer in an FMCG. I applied, and wonders of wonders, they called me in for an interview, and offered me the job on the spot!

Chinma-Eke-Chinma-Ekes-blog.png

Dear valued readers, 

I thank you for your loyalty and patience to and with me. I appreciate each and everyone of you. I acknowledge this episode is a tad short, and I apologise, bear with me.I promise to do better. 

Have a happy holiday to my Nigerian readers, keep visiting Chinma Eke’s blog.  

Miriam’s Tale E3

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Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

My very first interview; I was a bundle of nerves. I was older than all the other applicants in the waiting room, with no experience to boot. I hadn’t even ever attended an interview; Ken had wanted me to stay at home with the kids until they were older before I could start a career.

I wanted to laugh out loud. If only we could see the future, we would have seen the foolishness in that. Now, he was gone, and I was left all alone to cater for our kids. At the thought of our kids I remembered the other two kids he had with Ifeoma. No. I wasn’t going to let that thought weigh me down. Those children were not my problem, I had been magnanimous enough; the entitlements paid by Ken’s company I had shared on a 60/40 basis. When Ken’s family had come to me to concerning the entitlements, I had wanted to tell them all to go-to-hell. I was the only wife known by his employers and my kids were his only kids on record, and considering how Ken had hurt me I was well entitled to that money. I was the wife who packed him breakfast every morning, kept dinner warm late at night, and sorted out his laundry every weekend. I was the wife who smiled and attended company social events even when I didn’t want to. I was the wife who gave up a shot at a career for him and our kids so he could be free to work the oddest of hours, and take business trips at the drop of a hat, which earned him high flying promotions, bonuses and commendations.

I don’t know what made me change my mind, it wasn’t even pressure from my in-laws; they could go to blazes for all I cared. I think it was the thought of those innocent children; like it or not they weren’t to blame for their parents’ behaviour. Anyways, I split the money with them. Ifeoma could do with it what she pleased, I had put my kids share in a school fees trust for them, what she did with hers, I couldn’t care less, and now was the wrongest time to dwell on any unpleasantness. ‘Today, I will be great.’ I repeated to myself over and over again. I was going to go into the interview and I was going to wow!

The interview went in a blur. The panellists smiled a lot at me, and I think I impressed them. I had all my fingers, toes and limbs crossed lol, I was going to get a job, I could feel it, somebody say Amen.

So, I called Bunmi, my friend who worked in the bank and told me about the vacancy. She said she was aware the interview went well, and we should commit the result to God in prayers. That, I could do, so I went to God in prayers.

Four months down the line, I hadn’t gotten any feedback from the bank on the interview. I was getting desperate, no other interviews were coming forth, everyone was singing the same song; the economy was bad, and no one was hiring. I didn’t know what to do, I had some business ideas; I could either open a convenience store, or I could go into clothes and fabrics trading, I was very good at picking clothes and fabrics, when my husband was alive my friends bought clothes of my back. Like I would buy a dress and definitely someone would want it so bad she wouldn’t mind buying it off my back. I had some savings left but I was wary of committing money into a business. If it failed, what would my children and I eat? I was good at trading, I knew that from the little trading I had done in the past, but I had always had a safety net, I couldn’t gamble my kids welfare now. Besides, if I went into trading, wasn’t it the same people screaming about a rotten economy who were going to be my customers?

Hmmm! It is well.

So, back to the present, I needed to make some money quickly. With the most care and careful budgeting and spending, the cash I had available could only last me two months at the most. We were half-way through our house rent, and if I couldn’t get a job soon, I probably might not be able to make the next rent.

I had considered moving to a smaller apartment, but the extras on it billed by the lawyers and agents were probably going to come to the same as the old rent. I considered subletting; we lived in a three bedroom apartment, I could let out one. My family and friends kicked against it, regaling me with tales of flat-sharing gone wrong, that when they were done, I think I was sufficiently scared. But support me with rent money now? Everyone said ‘they would see what they could do.’

One of my ‘friends’ went further to tell me of a job opportunity, what she had described to me sounded like an escort role, and I was like; really? Was that what life had reduced me to? I told her off, but it hurt nonetheless. Anyways; I can’t be dwelling on negativity.

*****

As though our minds were working in sync, my friend Ijeoma called me. Remember Ijeoma, my friend whom I met Ken at her brother’s wedding all those years ago? She and her husband lived in the United States with their four lovely kids. Ken and I had been planning to go visit them when tragedy struck. Ijeoma called that she wanted to send a shipment down to Nigeria for sale, but didn’t want to send it through family who might not return her money. She called to enquire if I was interested.

I was like; is this an answer to my prayers or what? I almost screamed for joy.

“Offcourse I was interested.” I replied her immediately.

“Ok, I’m yet to ship the goods, I’m tagging them right now.” She said through the phone. “Miriam please, this is a business, and I know what people say about friends and money; please let it not be our story. I’m sending clothes; new ones, and I’m sending them at very competitive prices such that you’ll be able to make a good profit.” She went on. “I could send you pictures of the goods for you to have a view.”

I agreed, and made some suggestions on things I thought she could include in the shipment. We ended the call with sharing tales of our kids just as my doorbell rang.

I happily went to open the door, the kids were away at school, and I was done with the morning chores. I opened the door to Chief Pius mirroring the smile on my face. Chief Pius had been my husband’s mentor while he was alive. He was one of the people who hadn’t abandoned us since Ken’s death. He had a habit of dropping by unannounced, and always with treats for the kids.

“Good morning sir, please come in.” I welcomed him in.

He came in, his driver; Kunle behind him carrying two overflowing shopping bags.

“Please sit.” I ushered him to a seat. “Please drop it in that corner.” I pointed to the corner closest to the kitchen. “Is there anything in it that drips?”

“No ma.” Kunle replied.

“Then it’s fine there. Sir, what can I get you?” I asked Chief Pius.

“Nothing my dear.”

“Ahn ahn Chief! It’s not yet that bad.” I teased. He was probably refusing out of consideration for us.

“Ofcourse I know it’s not that bad, but I’m fine.”

“Ok sir. How’s your family?” I sat down facing him.

“We are fine, and yours?”

“We’re very well, thank God. The children have gone to school. They’ll be sad they missed you.”

He laughed. “ It’s ok, ofcourse I’ll come at another time when they’ll be at home, but today it’s you I’ve come to see.”

“Oh, ok. What’s it about?  I asked.

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