A blinding light shone on my eyes, causing me to flutter them open. I noticed the curtains were open, enabling the bright rays of the sun penetrate into the room. I shielded my eyes with my hand as I sat upright.
When my eyes finally got used to the light, I lifted them to look around me. I was still in my room. And, I was on my bed.
I was mystified as to how I got up there. The last thing I remembered was listening to Kelechi hum.
Suddenly, the thought that he put on me on the bed after I went unconscious hit me. It was then I also noticed the bedspread and its pillowcases were changed too.
I shifted my gaze to the clock in my room. It was already past twelve. For how long have I been sleeping exactly?
I came down from the bed, deciding to take a shower and get something to eat. Apparently, the happenings which took place this morning erased the thought of food from my memory. I guessed it to be it was the hunger that woke me up.
About fifteen minutes later, I was in the kitchen eating my brunch, which was nothing other than the bean cakes and pap Feyisayo made.
For the first time in a long time, I ate my meal real slowly. It was a good thing the thought of Kelechi didn’t occupy my mind whilst taking my bath and dressing up; the hunger didn’t let me. Now that my hunger was being treated, I thought back to the time I lost two important people in my life. The recent one just added to their number, making the total deaths three.
Why was it so impossible for a man to stay in my life? I lost my father to kidnappers. My elder brother, being a lawyer at time who tried to bring about justice to his death, was murdered too. Now, when my marriage anniversary was almost becoming five years, I lost my husband. Was I cursed or what?
Whilst wondering what I had done to deserve this, the doorbell rang. I dropped my spoon as I stared at the front door. Who could it have been?
I swallowed the huge lump in my throat when an image of my livid sister-in-law flashed. Had she come to visit too? Perhaps she had plotted with Ebuka that after he left, she too, would ask Kelechi for money.
Dragging my feet, I left the dining room. Once I stood in front of the door, the doorbell rang again. I looked at my hands which were raised to the door knob. Already, they were sweaty and shaking.
What was I going to tell her when she asked of her brother? I couldn’t lie to her. Even if I could, Ebuka would let her know eventually. Then, she could form an accusation because I lied about Kelechi’s state.
The doorbell rang once again. Within me, I prepared myself for whatever reaction I was going to receive.
I opened the door and behind it stood my children with huge cotton candies in their hands while my mum and sister were grinning at them. They were back! It was just few minutes to one o’clock. Why were they back now?
Be grateful they are, inner Fisayo told me. At least they can distract you from thoughts about your late loved ones.
“Mummy!” the twins screamed excitedly. “Grandma bought us cotton candy.”
I smiled at them. “I can see that, darlings.” I looked at my mum. You’re spoiling them too much, I mouthed.
She shrugged and smiled at me.
I opened the door wider for them to enter. Feyisayo greeted me as she entered with my children. My mum on the other hand maintained her position.
“Are you not coming in?” I asked her.
“The reason I’m here at this time is for us to talk, Fisayo. I’ve been worried about you ever since we left.”
She raised her hand to my face, interrupting my speech. “And you did promise me we would talk about it.”
Knowing she wouldn’t let the matter rest, I said, “Follow me.”
She entered the house. I shut the door and led her to the living room upstairs. This was because my sister and kids were already watching the television in the living room downstairs.
Once she sat on one of the sofas, I asked, “Would you take anything?”
She waved her hand. “I’m fine. Just tell me what’s going on with Kelechi.”
I went to sit beside her. Right away, I began to think of the best way to announce the news. Even up till now, I found it hard to believe I was now a widow.
She held my hand. “Fisayo, what happened that makes you cry now.”
I raised my other hand to my cheek. Indeed, there were tears on it.
I threw my head onto her shoulder and sobbed harder. She patted my head as her other hand stroked my arm.
“Kelechi is gone, Mummy,” I sobbed.
“My husband is no more,” I added.
She hugged me tighter. “I am so sorry, dear.” I could hear the sincerity in her voice. She had gone through the same experience, twice. So, she probably knew exactly how I felt about Kelechi.
Some moments later, my sobs died down. That was when she decided to ask what happened.
With my head still on her shoulder, I told her everything: how he woke me up and forced me to declare again the love I had for him before he cuddled me back to sleep; the things that happened from when Feyisayo woke me until the hospital. I even told her about Ebuka and the things he did today including his accusation and sudden change of behaviour, discreetly excluding the parts he decided he wanted to get intimate with me.
After my narration, I pleaded with her not to let anybody know about Kelechi, including my sister and kids. Despite the fact that I wanted sympathy, I still didn’t want it coming from anybody – whether my sister who had lost two dear ones in her life or my kids who had no idea what the gravity of death meant. Sure they might have been old enough to understand they would never see their dad again, nevertheless it is until later in life they would feel the impact of what – or rather, who – they lost.
Throughout, my mum kept consoling me, saying, “I’m so sorry, Fisayo,” and hugging me as tight as she could.
We were quiet for some time before I said, “What did I do, Mummy? Wasn’t losing Daddy and Tayo enough that I had to lose Kelechi too?”
“Fisayo… don’t talk like that.”
I raised my head to look at her. “How else do you expect me to talk?”
It was so clear in her eyes: the empathy she for me. Unfortunately, she didn’t know what to tell me to make me feel better. I couldn’t blame her; there was no way I could. At least saying sorry to me was enough.
I stood up from the seat to check on my kids.
I stopped in my tracks when she asked, “Have you called Atty Ayo?”
I faced her. “Why should I call him?” I asked, wondering why she mentioned our family lawyer, who happened to be husband to Florence.
“To know if Kelechi had a will.”
My eyes widened at her statement. “Mummy, he was thirty-one: how could he have had a will?”
She shrugged. “I’m just saying because of the way his family is. I know he loves you just as much as you love him too. However, if he doesn’t have a will, which I’m sure most of it will favour you, they might want to collect all his possession and possibly Taiwo and Kehinde, saying that Kelechi is their son and brother, Taiwo and Kehinde are their children too, and because you are Yoruba.”
She crossed her arms on her chest. “I’m sure you know how most Igbo people behave when it comes to money and possessions. They might even force Taiwo and Kehinde to stop using their Yoruba names to use instead their Igbo names, Chidera and Tochi.”
You have no idea how glad I was to know my mum knew the exact idea of what I knew I could face when Kelechi’s family would know of his current state. I felt like running to her and giving her a bear hug.
I didn’t though as I told her, “There is no way they would take everything from me. They were not there, have no idea, and know not what Kelechi and I have suffered in regards to our business and Taiwo and Kehinde.
“Even if they succeed in collecting the company, I can start another which wouldn’t be difficult to do as I have the knowledge of what I’m about to face. And, there is no way they would take my children away from me. I can lose everything but them.
“I may have been respectful to them in the past. But, if they try anything funny I’ll be ready for them, physically and spiritually.”
Right away, a broad smile appeared on her face. The smile was the type she gave me whenever she was about to say, “That’s my girl.”
I smiled back at her, knowing that she was in full support of me.
“So when is the burial?” said she. “Have you thought about it?”
I shook my head. “Perhaps, I’ll discuss it with Kelechi’s family on Monday ’cause they’re coming here.”
The anxiety that jumped into her was clear as day. “Fisayo, that doesn’t sound good.”
I sighed and bowed my head. “I know. I can’t even imagine the things they would say. I don’t want Taiwo and Kehinde to witness any of it.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw her stand up from the seat. She walked up to me, stood beside me and held my shoulder. “They should stay with me then while Feyisayo stays with you so you wouldn’t be alone with them.”
I glanced at her. “What?”
“It’s just to make things easier for you as their holiday has begun. You can pick them up after the burial if it’s before school resumption. I too, don’t want them to witness any sort of oral violence, which they could learn at such a young age.”
What I was ever going to do without this woman, I would never know. She was willing to help me without me asking for it.
I put my arms around her neck and gave her the hug I wanted to earlier. “Thank you. Thank you so much, Mummy.”
She hugged me back. “Don’t thank me, my daughter. I know exactly how it feels to lose the man you love.”
“I should tell them the good news then,” I told her after we released each other.
She nodded and we went downstairs to meet them.
Please, please and please! No Igbo person should be offended by the contents of this chapter. It is the how tradition is. The real reason why I am actually writing this story would be updated soon, so stay tuned for it. If it would make you feel better, my tribal people are almost like Igbo people (Ogba from Rivers, Nigeria). Even my native name is an Igbo name, which is why I am asking you not to be offended.
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