It all started innocently. Christopher, a struggling young man, had gone to the backyard of the compound to bring in the clothes he had washed that morning. It was a public compound, with houses as old as the ancient times, with no hope of improvement. The lines were directly behind his neighbour’s flat.
The sharp smell of urine hit his nostrils as he walked towards the line, a result of the kids who preferred to pee outside than miss any play time. As he bent to pick a shirt that had fallen from his hands, he raised his head and that’s when he saw it, a sliver of light coming from a small crack in the window of a bedroom. The window was made of wood, the rains had washed away the brown rich colour of the wood, the years had left many cracks and tears. It wasn’t the crack that caught his attention however. It was the image behind it.
He could clearly see Ronke, his neighbour’s quiet fifteen year old daughter who was rarely seen except when she went on errands. She was standing and gazing at her reflection in the mirror as she tried out different poses in quick succession, wearing a short flighty nightwear. Perplexed, he stayed there, stooped on the floor, watching her until she left the mirror and out of his sight.
Her image stayed with him all through that night into the next morning. Ronke was not exceptionally pretty, he had never really paid any attention to her. The only times he bumped into her was in the mornings when she left early for school and even then, she would offer a mousy greeting his way with her head down, never actually looking at him.
That morning he delayed in his room till he saw her open the door in her school uniform. Not wasting any time, he grabbed his bag and headed out, catching up with her at the gate. He noticed there was something different about her. He couldn’t place it. She offered her greeting and walked past him.
It wasn’t until he got to his office that it hit him. For the first time, Ronke had not bowed her head to greet him. She had looked directly at him, her dark brown eyes filled with confidence. Her skirt had been shorter too, her shirt tighter. A smile spread accross his face. He recognised the signs.
On getting home that evening, he hurried through his evening ablutions, waiting patiently till it got dark. He picked up some clothes, making a pretext of going to spread them on the line. Nobody used the line in the evenings so he knew he would be alone. Peeping through the crack, he didn’t see anybody at first. He adjusted his neck painfully until he could make her out, lying on the bed and going through a phone. She had a wrapper tied on her chest which got to her knees. He continued to watch as her legs danced on the bed excitedly until she put the phone aside and stood up. She grabbed a hair net drying on the mirror stand and covered her hair. She retied the wrapper that was slipping from her waist as she removed a short night wear from the bag lying close to the bed and spread it out on the bed. She put a short towel on her shoulders and went out the room.
She had gone to take a bath. Excitedly, he sat down and began scratching his mosquito feasted legs. The bathroom window was on the front side of the house. He couldn’t go there without being seen. The creaking of the door brought him scrambling to his knees, his greedy eyes making their way to the crack.
She had cleaned her body and was spreading the towel out on a thin iron hanger, her wrapper still tied to her chest. She put her long smooth legs on the bed and applied lotion. Then she removed her wrapper and slid into her thin night wear. He grinned excitedly, his mind running wild as he went back to his room.
He could barely sleep that night, her image stayed in his minds eye.
So began the ritual. Every evening, he would wait anxiously until darkness fell before proceeding to his spot beside her window. He barely glanced at her when their paths crossed in the mornings. He was sure she would see the lust written all over him. He began to depend on seeing her image every night before sleeping. He would spend hours lying on his bed, dreaming.
One evening, two weeks later, he went to the crack but nobody was in the room. He waited for about an hour before giving up. He couldn’t sleep that night. He kept wondering where she had gone to. She wasn’t at the gate the next morning either. After waiting till he was sure he was going to be too late for work, he left. Her room and her parents’ seemed deserted. That evening, he paid a courtesy visit to the other tenants. He learned that Ronke had travelled with her parents and would be back at the end of the weekend. As Sunday approached, he got more anxious, more restless. He couldn’t wait for his Ronke to be back.
In the evening, he saw her. She was carrying a little travelling bag in her arms, her hair was slightly wet from the light drizzles, wearing a brown skirt under a white shirt. She greeted the other neighbours sitting in their varendah before going to her door. He looked around. Her parents were not in sight. He casually strolled to her as she struggled with the padlock on the door.
“Good evening Mr Christopher” she greeted as he approached.
He smiled what he hoped was an easy smile. “Welcome oh. Where are your parents na? I heard you people travelled this weekend.”
“They’ll be back tomorrow sir. I came back for school tomorrow.” she replied.
“Oh, Ok then…let me help you with that.”
He took the key from her, making sure their fingers touched as he did. He looked sideways at her. She hadn’t noticed.
Suddenly he felt angry. She was looking at her phone, paying no attention to him. Couldn’t she see that he loved her? What was so important that she couldn’t take a moment to talk with him? He banged the padlock as it opened, making sure he startled her before walking away.
He was in a rage. She didn’t really see him or notice him as a person. Every morning, he would risk being late to work just so he would see her in the mornings. He swallowed numerous malaria drugs to appease his legs which were covered in mosquito bites and despite all this, all his sacrifice, she gave him no more attention than she would give a passing fly. He was only fifteen years older than her, why couldn’t she just notice him? Even if for one time?
His anger only increased as darkness fell. Strapping a knife to the back of his trouser, he stomped furiously to her window, not caring if anyone saw him. He peeped through the crack, she was sitting on the bed, her bag open in front of her as she folded her clothes. He waited till she left the room, then he tested the window. It wasn’t locked. He removed his trouser and spread it on the line, securing the knife to his boxers. He slipped into the room and stood next to the shoe rack behind the door.
She came in a few minutes later, humming a song. As she went to the bed and bent forward, he pounced on her, covering her mouth with his hands immediately to stiffle her scream. She struggled until he pushed her violently to the floor and brought out the knife, holding a finger to his mouth. She covered her mouth with her hand as tears filled her eyes. He smiled as he used the knife to cut her skirt open. She covered her legs and moved backwards towards the door, pleading with her eyes. It only added to his excitement.
He knelt in front of her and started to unbutton her shirt, ignoring the tears that dripped to his hands. She was moving backwards slowly, he dropped the knife by the side and dragged her forward, going back to work on her buttons. His hands were shaking so much it was taking too long. He didn’t see her hands creep downwards. He didn’t see her hands reach the silver glinting knife. He was raising his head to grab her hair when the hard thin steel struck. The knife went three inches deep inside his left eye.
“I’ll be landing soon.” Richard said over the phone. I shivered, my body already tingling with anticipation.
“Okay sweetie” I replied. “See you soon. Think about me and all the naughty things i’ll do to you.” I giggled seductively and cut the call.
My body hummed with anticipation. I felt like I was going to explode. I quickly jumped up and rushed to the bathroom. I took my time in the shower, scrubbing away like I had fallen into a sewer. I even shaved my legs, admiring the long smooth feel of my shapely legs. Of all the assets in my body, I was most proud of my legs. These legs gained a lot of compliments. I grinned happily and expertly applied my make up. I opened my drawer and pulled out the sexy red lingerie I had bought just for Richard. He always said how he loved me in red. I had sent him a lot of nudes with me in red undies. I combed out my long tresses I had fixed the previous day.
I wore the black brief gown and my red six inch heels. I knew I had the power. The stares and whistles that accompanied my going out were enough compliments for me. At last, I was going to meet Richard face to face. This was a dream come true. I called my cab guy and waited for him anxiously. I had to get to the hotel room I had booked in advance before Richard arrived.
I called Trish, my roommate and best friend. She picked on the third ring. “Sup bae…” she said in a sexy voice. I grinned. She was still with Alhaji.
“Leave that accent for Alhaji oh. Don’t be forming for me. Na me and you dey this business…” I said gaily.
She laughed softly.
“So, is he still coming?” she asked me anxiously.
“Of course he is. He’ll be arriving in two hours. Am waiting for that my cab man….” I replied. I got up and went to get a cold drink from the refrigerator.
“Hmmmm….am almost jealous of you oh. To get such a good man on BBM. You’re so lucky sha.” Trish replied.
“I’ll see you tomorrow or whenever. I don’t know when i’ll be able to leave that room. We are going to make sweet sweet love tonight. Not all those old alhajis that don’t even know how to touch a woman.” I said.
Trish laughed. I knew she couldn’t speak much because of Alhaji so I cut the call and dialled Musa,my cab man again. He didn’t pick. I hissed in anger and called my second cab man. It was still ringing when I heard the horn outside. Musa had come. I pulled out my perfume and applied a generous amount before getting into the car.
“Madam the madam….e don tey oh. Atink say you don forget me sef.” Musa said.
“Musa shut up and drive. I don’t have time for senseless conversations.” I said in my best British accent.
Musa smiled the more and drove off to the hotel. I paid him handsomely, much more than was necessary. He bowed low, repeating ‘thank you madam’ like a mantra. I smiled condescending and entered the hotel lobby. Mr Yetunde had been kind the previous week, giving me much more than he usually gave after a night together. I paid for the room and climbed upstairs. I removed my gown and lay on the bed, watching the tele to pass the time. I had almost fallen asleep when my phone vibed. Richard. I purred and cleared my throat, assuming a sexy pose even though nobody was around.
“Hi sweetie……have you arrived?” I said in a throaty voice, the one I usually used when we whispered naughty things to each other when we talked at night.
“Am almost at the hotel. Did you wear the red lingerie I asked?” Richard asked.
“Maybe I did, maybe am not wearing anything at all.” I replied.
He breathed heavily and cut the call. I laughed and stood up, arranging my hair and putting on more perfume. Twenty minutes later, there was a knock.
“Come in” I called out breathlessly. Then Richard was in the room.
He stood tall, dark skinned and handsome as ever, dressed in expertly cut blazer and a sky blue shirt that looked expensive. His pictures did him no justice. He didn’t say a word. He simply jumped to the bed and ravished me over and over all through the night. In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and moved closer to him. He held me tightly, the way i always imagined he would.
I stood up and took a bath. Then I began dressing. He stirred and turned to me.
“Good morning baby…” I called out happily.
He smiled at me, then frowned.
“Where are you going?” he asked harshly.
I smiled, happy that he was so possessive. “I have to go see my mother this morning. She asked for some money.” I called out, bending towards the mirror to apply mascara.
He stood up, walked towards me and knelt down beside me, holding me by the side tightly, a bit painfully. Then he grabbed my hair violently and pulled my neck back. I grunted in pain but his hand at my side held me tightly so I couldn’t move.
“What are you doing Richie?” I called out, barely able to speak with my neck bent so far backward.
“You little whore…” He spat out viciously. “You think am an idiot? Who is the stupid man you’re going to see? Huh? Tell me…” He shouted in my ears.
“Sweetie, it’s not what you think. Am actually going to see my mother…i promised her that I would….” I tried saying through my hurting throat, my hair still wrapped in his hands, imagining how he could possibly know I was going to see Chief Adolphus today.
“Just shut up, I know what you’re doing. Tell me the truth…”
I held his hand on my hair, trying to ease the pain pounding through my head. He pushed my hand away and jerked me up roughly. Then he pulled my left hand backwards, twisting painfully. I shouted in pain. He released my hair and immediately closed my mouth with that hand.
“What are you doing Richie? It’s me, it’s Briella, the one you love…” I said in fright.
“Love? You think I love you? How can I love a woman like you? I know, Briella, I know about all the men you service for money….” He laughed bitterly. I looked at him through the mirror. All I saw was a face contorted in anger and…pleasure. He was enjoying this. Then he slammed my head into the mirror. I felt a sharp blinding pain as my head shattered the mirror. He released me and I crumpled to the floor. I could feel little bits of the mirror stuck in my forehead. I don’t know how long I lay there. I woke to the sound of the shower running. I could hardly move. I opened my right eye, I couldn’t open the left, and looked at the mirror stand. My phone lay next to my make up bag. I lifted my hand and tried to reach it. It was too far. I had to get closer. I shifted slightly, the glass on the floor stabbing me painfully as I moved. I tried to ignore the pain and continued creeping forward. If I could reach my phone, I could call Trish.
I got closer to the dressing table and grabbed my phone. Then I dialled Trish, hardly seeing through the blood running down my eye. I could see my left eye swollen shut in the mirror left on the dresser. I began crying, the salty tears stinging my eyes as they fell. Then Trish picked. “Bri babe, how are you en……” the phone flew out of my hands and slammed into the wall, falling in pieces to the floor.
Richard stood above me, wearing a white towel on his waist.
“So you’re a smart girl eh? You want to play smart with me.” He picked me up by the hair and punched me in the mouth. My head fell back and hit the tile floor heavily. I winced, feeling the blood spurt out of my mouth. I spat it out. I could feel my teeth shaking. The blow had loosened them. I curled myself on the floor, little shards of glass biting into my skin. My mouth began to throb. I didn’t have to look to know they were swollen.
I could see him smiling through the haze of blood on my right eye. He looked excited. Then he began to kick me with his foot, kicking my back, my head, my legs in an excited frenzy. That didn’t seem to satisfy him. He brought his foot slamming down on my stomach. I yelped in pain hardly able to scream through my throbbing mouth. I could feel the blood on the floor spreading quickly, seeping into my shirt and trouser I had worn that morning so happily. The tears began to drop, stinging my eyes as they fell.
Richard started dressing calmly. I couldn’t move anymore. He wore his shoes last, then looked at me thoughtfully. He went to his bag and brought out a tiny white case. When he opened it, then I saw what it was. Razor blades. A new fear entered me. It sat down heavy and cold on my chest, making it impossible for me to breath. I began grunting in fear. He oh so calmly brought out a muffler and tied it round my mouth. Then he dragged me through the floor, ignoring my muffled screams as the glass and blood bit into me. He threw me to the bed side, stepped over the trail of blood my body had left and went into the bathroom. I couldn’t see what he was doing in there. Then he came back in and knelt beside me. “You’ve betrayed me Briella. I thought I could trust you but you’re just like all the others. I never thought I would have to do this to you too. You seemed so different. But you’re just like the other whores. So am going to teach you a lesson, am going to leave my mark on you so you’ll never ever cheat on a man again. I’ll cut off your nipple and take it with me as a souvenir”
My eyes widened and hot tears filled my eyes. I began twisting on the floor, thumping my body against the bed to alert anyone passing by. “No one is going to rescue you. No need for all those antics Briella. You’re mine now. All mine.” He smiled ferociously, then began pulling my shirt from my body. He unhooked my bra and my breasts spilled out. He put the razor to my cheek and cut slowly. “That’s just a little of the pain you’re about to experience.”
Then he held my nipple and raised the blade. I watched in horror as his hand came down slowly.
Then the door burst open. Trish and Musa stood in the doorway.
“What are you doing here?” The sharp voice startled Daniel. He brought his head up. It was a girl, a senior girl. He knew her face. She was said to be the girlfriend of Senior Kelachi, the most wicked senior in the boys dorm.
Embarrassed, he tried to wipe the tears in his eyes surreptitiously but her smile told him she had already seen them. She walked closer, avoiding the stones and wild grasses. They were at a small farm behind the staff quarters. He suddenly remembered he was supposed to be in class and stood up immediately, “Good morning senior” he said. He stood there, wondering what excuse he could give her for loitering during class periods.
She sat down in the spot he had been sitting, beneath the palm tree.
“Your name is Daniel right?” she asked.
“Yes..” he stammered out, wondering how she knew his name.
She smiled. “I saw you when your parents and your sisters came to drop you. Cute little girls. How are they?”
“They are fine. Thank You.” He said confused.
“Why were you crying?”
Daniel was embarrassed. The heat rose to his cheeks.
“Don’t be shy.” she said. “You can tell me. Sit down.” she patted a spot beside her.
He moved slowly, afraid to sit so close to a senior girl. An image of senior Kelachi’s fierce face rose to his mind and he halted.
“I said sit.” she said authoritatively.
He sat down meekly, hoping and praying that no senior would come around that area by any chance. This was close to the Lovers spot. The place no junior student dared go close to, especially during the evening prep.
“So….” she said, an expectant look in her eyes.
He shook his head slowly.
“Common, you can talk to me. You can tell me anything.”
He was still hesitant.
“Okay, let me tell you a secret. When I came to this school in my Jss 1, I used to come here to cry too.”
He looked up at her surprised. He couldn’t imagine her in tears.
“Why?” he asked timidly.
“The usual. I missed my home, I hated this school, I had no friends, not even a school mother.” she smiled sadly in recollection and nudged him with her shoulders.
“Is that the same reason you’re crying?” she asked.
He nodded weakly, the tears came back to his eyes.
She laughed lightly. “You don’t have to be afraid. Everybody goes through it. Even the mean senior boys. And girls.”
He smiled as he thought of senior Kelachi in tears. It just wasn’t possible.
“You know you’re a fine boy. I’ll take care of you. Don’t worry. You’re in love house abi?”
“Let me walk you back.”
He nodded again, grateful for her presence.
As they got to the junior block, heads began to turn. He knew they were wondering how he was talking and laughing with a senior girl. He grinned broadly and puffed up his shoulders. Let them wonder. She said a short goodbye and left for the senior block.
He could feel the eyes staring at him as he walked into class and went to his seat. His seat mates, Arthur and Friday were still staring. Acting unabashed, he brought out his note and pen.
“How come you know senior Soty?” Friday finally asked.
He smiled. “She’s my friend.”
“Don’t you know she’s senior Kelachi’s girlfriend? Let him not catch you with her oh” Friday said hotly.
The banging of the desk heralded the entry of the Geography teacher. The class stood up and greeted. Daniel’s mind wandered. How would senior Kelachi react if he saw him, a mere junior boy talking to his girlfriend?
Dread filled his heart. He wasn’t ready. Senior Kelachi always gave the meanest and most creative punishments. Sometimes, it was better he flogged than punished. His slaps were known to produce bells inside a boy’s ear that would ring for days. There were so many rumours about senior Kelachi. He heard that one time, senior Kelachi had made an ss2 boy sleep on a tree outside the boys dorm all through the night. Another time, he had put a small junior boy inside a locker and closed it for a whole day. Daniel didn’t know if the rumours were true. He didn’t want to find out either.
He got through class and went to the dining hall for lunch. Junior boys kept staring at him like he had grown horns, increasing his fear.
It was in the evening as he was preparing for prep hours when he heard the counting in the first dorm room. He hurriedly picked his shorts and sandals, putting his stainless plate under his armpit while trying to hold on to his spoon. He didn’t make it. He heard the big footsteps and stood still. The whole dorm stood still.
A big voice rang out “Who is Daniel here?”
All eyes pointed at him. He raised his hand timidly. Senior Kelachi walked to him and sat down on top of his locker. “The rest of you go for food.”
The other junior boys scampered out, each grateful they were not Daniel at the moment.
Daniel stood still, wondering what the senior boy had heard. The senior’s big hand dropped on his shoulders.
He looked up.
“Where’s your bed?”
He pointed to his bed on the top bunk. Kelachi picked it up, rolled it up and put it under his armpit.
“Where’s your bucket and keg?”
Daniel shook his head. “They are missing, Senior.”
Kelachi smiled and ruffled his head gently.
“Let’s go. I’ll send some boys to bring your locker later.”
Daniel followed slowly, not really understanding what was happening.
Kelachi got to his dorm and dropped the foam on an empty down bunk, placed close to a single bunk. Only the seniors were allowed to use single bunks. Kelachi motioned for him to sit down on the single bed.
He sat down slowly.
“Soty asked me to take care of you. So now, you’re my school son.”
The exam pressure was getting too much. Her eyes were tired of reading, her body needed to be in another position except sitting, she needed fresh air. So she decided to take a stroll through the Love Garden that evening. As she got to the road, she saw Alex, her jovial funny course mate. He was the type of guy who made everyone laugh. He was standing in front of his room, wearing his usual t-shirt and shorts with a blue rubber slippers.
She shouted his name and went to meet him.
Wondering why he was just standing outside alone, she asked “why are you outside na? You no go go read?”
He looked at her like she had asked him a silly question.
After giving her the bad eye, he held her arms and started moving to the road “Oya come dey go your house, come dey go…..who tell you say I never read?”
She laughed…he looked like he was going to strangle her for laughing at him….which made her laugh harder.
“All these girls, una be distraction….I wan do night vigil this night abeg..i no need any girl to dey around me. In fact, I dey fast.” he continued.
She laughed so hard at this till passers-by looked at her like she was going crazy. Those who knew Alex simply grinned and walked past. It wasn’t like Alex does not read or go to church. He was just too playful that even when he tried to be serious, it didn’t work.
“Ok na.” She replied him. “Let me go and collect material from somebody in front”.
She felt lighter as she left, grinning broadly as she walked.
She had collected the material, photocopied it and was on her way back to her room when she spotted a familiar red shirt. She took a few steps back and saw Alex in a bucateer, a plate heaped with beans in front of him. She had never noticed the bucca before. A big pot of beans was cooking on firewood right outside the door beside the entrance, guarded by a fat woman with christian morther arms, sweating profusely as she turned the pot. She went inside. It was like she had entered a male gym with all the sweating and grunting except they were all eating huge plates of beans instead of lifting weights. They all looked up at her as she walked in like she had grown horns. She started to wonder if there was an unspoken rule forbidding girls from entering the bucca. It seemed the bucca specialised in beans, all the plates in front of everyone was heaped with beans.
She sat down accross Alex and he looked at her in surprise. “Didi, you mean say you dey enter this kind place? To come eat beans..” he laughed.
“Na here your fasting and night vigil end abi?”
Didi retorted as she collected a spoon and tasted his beans. It was delicious. She took another, then another. He picked up his, and soon it became a competition.
He paid the attendant who served pure water.
They tore it open with their teeth and drank, the cool water brought relief to the burning sensation in her chest.
As they went outside and started back, she heard a small sound. She frowned in concentration as she tried to place it. It came again. She turned to Alex. He looked uneasy.
“Why did you fart na? You’re polluting this environment.” She covered her nose with her hands even though there was no smell.
“Na this beans oh. Anytime I eat this woman beans, e dey purge me.” he replied.
Her mouth opened. “Nain you no tell me before I start to eat?”
“Na so you go take chop poison one day. Since you like to put hand for my food, I wan teach you lesson today.”
Already, her stomach was rolling. They began to walk faster, ignoring all the friends they encountered on the road. Alex’s farts became more and more dangerous, the sounds got louder and louder. As they got closer to his room, he broke off in a jog, holding his buttocks so tightly clamped together his steps became awkward.
She laughed inspite of her own discomfort. He entered his room and closed the door with such force it’s hinges rattled.
She was still laughing when she felt her stomach move. She broke into her own jog, the laugh forgotten.
There was no rain, no sun on the day events changed. There was a lot of wind rustling the trees, making the grasses dance to its rhythm. The houses in the area were all lavishly constructed, each straining to be better and bigger than the other, as were the cars that occasionally drove up the street. Only the newest and latest models of the biggest brands were seen in that area. No one came out to discuss with their neighbours. They passed each other with their noses in the air, boxed up inside their cars with tinted windows, cold white wind visibly swirling from the blasting AC.
No one noticed the figure that would hurdle in the garden in front of the third house until the gate would creak open around the midnight hour and the figure would quietly sneak in. The figure would be seen again in the early hours of the morning, sneaking off into unknown corners. This occured frequently for a long long time until the day the events changed.
The wind was blowing hard that day and the figure was shivering in the wind but it wasn’t alone this time. There were two others, each tapping their foot in apparent agitation and anger as they banged on the gate repeatedly. The gate opened and a head appeared. Instant recognition and alarm filled the gateman’s eyes as he saw the figure, Grace and her accompainants, her parents. They started talking at once, their voices loud enough to wake up the entire neighbourhood. The gateman gulped in morbidity, as he closed the gate to do their bidding. He had to call the one involved but he didn’t get far. The imposing figure of the house’s owner and his wife Mr and Mrs Obiekwe, in their designer jammies were already looking down at the scenario from the balcony. They hollered his name and gestured to allow them inside.
The three figures outside went inside, one fearful and the other two looking around the elegant compound in awe, despite their anger. They approached the main door which opened as they arrived by a uniformed maid. She led them to a posh living room and offered them water. They sank into the cosiest and softest leather couch, trying not to look too awed by their surroundings. The owner and his wife came out, accompanied by their only son.
Then came the embittered arguments: your daughter is an opportunist, your son is a rapist. So they argued back and forth for fifteen minutes until the son, Prince, who was only twenty four at the time, stopped the arguments and proclaimed, with his haughty attitude that Grace would stay with him until she gave birth. He didn’t mention what would happen after she did. Her parents didn’t ask. They left soon after. They didn’t see Prince pull their daughter up gently and lead her to his room. He didn’t see his mother’s eyes harden in hate. She didn’t see her husband’s eyes troubled with confusion. No one noticed the maid who had been eavesdropping, leave to make a hasty call.
Barely two hours later, an irate and thin figure, dressed in an expensive casual attire stormed into the house with the familiarity of someone who knew her around. She tossed her car keys in the dining table and marched to the Prince’s room. Grace was huddled on the bed, freshly bathed and dressed in Prince’s oversize hoodies and shorts, trying to eat a breakfast of tea and biscuits. The irate figure, named Isioma in her birth certificate but known only as Serene, frowned on seeing Grace and immediately dumped the tea on her head. Grace yelped in surprise. Luckily the tea was not hot and she was not scalded. Serene proceeded to give her two quick slaps and was about to give her a third when Grace held her hands and slapped her so hard, her head shot back. She pushed her back and took a defensive stance. Serene was still in shock when Prince walked in. He immediately noticed the tea on Grace’s hair and the line of a slim hand on her cheeks. Turning to Serene, he grabbed her arms and dragged her outside the room. He led her to the parlour and dumped her unceremoniously on the setee. She immediately stood up and started to shout violently. Prince stood and watched her hysterics, no emotion on his face. His silence annoyed her and the screams increased in tempo, bringing his mother to the room.
Her expression changed from one of pleasure then anxiety as she saw Serene. She held Serene with tenderness, promising her that she would make everything right. Serene cried into Mrs Obiekwe’s arms, seeking the comfort that Prince, who had left as the mother came in, could not giver her.
This only made Mrs Obiekwe resent Grace more. She had always wanted her only son to get married to Serene who, in her estimation, would be the perfect daughter in law. Not only was Serene also from a wealthy and affluent home, she was also well exposed and cultured. She never lifted an arm to help Grace all through her pregnancy. Neither did it bother Grace so much. She did the best she could to win her over but she gave up in time. Whatever hostility Mrs Obiekwe showed towards her, Prince showed her a hundred times more love. She knew she was lucky Prince didn’t reject her and throw her out. It hadn’t been her intention to get pregnant either but she was glad it happened. She loved Prince so much and now she could see he loved her too. This strengthened her, especially when Mrs Obiekwe would invite Serene over and the two of them would taunt her severly when Prince was not around. But she was had a tough skin and didn’t let it affect her.
It didn’t last long though. All the hatred and malice Mrs Obiekwe felt towards Grace dissolved the moment she laid eyes on her newly born grand-son. She looked at him with so much tenderness and tears filled her eyes. Infact, she was the one who hounded her son till he fixed a wedding date. Of course Serene attended the wedding in all her irate and thin elegent splendour. But it didn’t dampen the happiness in Grace’s eyes.