(Read the third part here)
Tamuno made her way through the gate of her school, her movement fluid, her demeanour pleasant, her eighteen-inch weave flowing graciously behind her.
She met Kachi leaning by the door of the green cab, his legs crossed, his sleeves rolled up his arms. She found him attractive, except for his slight pot-belly. She hadn’t noticed it up until now. She liked several other things about him, especially how he spoke- so gentle, so fluent, so polished- like a true gentleman, and that easily made up for his pot-belly.
“Hi,” she said, extending her arm.
“You look… beautiful,” Kachi said with an exaggerated seriousness, taking her hand in his, and drawing her closer for a quick hug.
“So where are we hanging out?” he asked.
“I thought you already had that figured out,” Tamuno replied incredulously.
“I don’t live in Abuja. I wouldn’t know the happening spots. So could you get off your high horse and help a brother?”
Tamuno sighed and flipped out her blackberry. She scrolled through her phone, down and up, up and down.
“Ok, errr… How about dinner at the hotel where I stay? Rumour has it that tonight’s special and promises to be sumptuous. Should we?”
Tamuno sat across from Kachi in a reserved corner of the restaurant, their knees touching.
She sipped on her drink, “So, I’m wondering why you are not married.”
Kachi took a sip too from his drink, not once taking his gaze away from Tamuno, “Did I say I was not?”
“Oh, you’re married?” Tamuno asked not hiding her disappointment. “I didn’t know that was a wedding band,” she said looking at his ring finger. “I mean, it’s too huge. Never seen a wedding band that huge, especially for a man.”
Kachi laughed, saying nothing.
“So what am I doing here with you?” she asked.
“I didn’t know that I couldn’t be friends with you if I was married.”
“I didn’t say that,” Tamuno responded pouting. “So tell me about your wife.”
Kachi raised his arm, “I don’t talk about my wife or my children. I could tell you any other thing.”
After dinner, they walked to the poolside arm-in-arm, talking in low tones. As they sat on the wooden seat, Tamuno shuddered.
“Are you cold?” Kachi asked pulling her close to him.
“Mmnh,” she cuddled comfortably into his arms. She liked his smell. She stroked the back of his neck, and Kachi remembered that Chikanyimma used to do that a lot. Now, Chikanyimma couldn’t even relax in his arms. She spent most nights going between their’s and Ahamefuna’s rooms to check if he had again awakened from his sleep, and to rock him back to bed. He closed his eyes and rubbed Tamuno’s arm tenderly.
“Mummy,” Nwakego called out closing the door gently after her, “it’s eight-thirty. Are we not going to church today?”
Chikanyimma still sat by the window from where she had watched Iya Ibukun and her son. “No dear,” she answered, “I’m tired today. You and Akunna should pray together in your room, and make sure you read your bible too. There’s hot water in the flask and bread in the fridge. Help yourselves. Is that okay?”
“Yes mummy,” Nwakego said and left the room.
Chikanyimma walked to the bedside fridge and brought out a glass, half-filling it with water. She searched her brown bag for the sachet of bromazepam the pharmacist had given her.
Two days ago, she had complained to the doctor, “I’m not sleeping well. I lie awake on the bed until well into midnight. I awake with headache, tired and heavy in the mornings. This has been going on and off for years, but in the last two months, I’ve not had any respite.”
As the doctor wrote into her file, he asked, “Do you sleep with the lights on? Or in a noisy neighbourhood?”
“Your blood pressure is rocket-high. It could turn out disastrous if you don’t religiously take your medication. I’ll place you on antihypertensives and prescribe a sedative. Also, take warm milk at night, and try to stop worrying about things you have no control over. Worry never solved anything, okay?” Chikanyimma nodded.
“Get these drugs at the pharmacy, and come back to see me in a week’s time,” he said tearing off a stamped sheet. “You’ll be fine, okay?” Chikanyimma nodded again.
“One tablet only at night,” the pharmacist said as she handed her the sachet of bromazepam. “Your doctor says for just three nights.”
“Thank you,” Chikanyimma said and walked out of the pharmacy.
Now, she brought out the sachet from her bag and popped open five tablets, dropping them into the glass of water. She stirred with a spoon and started to walk, glass-in-hand, to Ahamefuna’s room.
Ahamefuna lay clutching his pillow, several clothes strewn all over his bed. He didn’t stir when Chikanyimma tapped him on the leg.
Distraught by her actions, she went on her knees, and in a voice she had never heard herself speak with cried, her palms fitted in between her thighs, her head bowed, “God, if you are there, hear me out now. I can’t… I can’t continue this journey. You won’t heal him, then take him. Take him away from me. Let him be with you. I want my husband back. I want my family back. I want my career back. I want my life back. Take him and restore my life to me,” she groaned, sucking in the phlegm in her throat.
The door that was slightly ajar widened and cool breeze waded in. At the door, Akunna and Nwakego peeked, tears in their eyes.
Nwakego spoke first, “mummy, you are asking God to take away my only brother?”
Chikanyimma rested her back against the bed and her head on her palms, silent.
Akunna spoke hurriedly, as though to counter the words before God answered them, “God, please don’t. Mummy, please don’t ask God to do that. We love Aham, mummy. He’s only a special child, remember?” She went forward to sit by Chikanyimma, and took her hand in both of hers.
When Akunna spoke, she reminded Chikanyimma of her own mother, the surety in her voice, the unwavering of her belief, the wisdom in her words, “Mummy, you usually say no condition is permanent. This too shall pass.”
Chikanyimma looked at the glass of water by her side, a wry smile lurking at the corners of her lips. “This too shall pass,” she repeated after her daughter. She believed it. She would make it happen.