She didn’t realise I wasn’t interested in who won and who lost. Emeka said she would stay for three weeks but she had overstayed. I was unhappy. I took my things away to the house and came back to school. I refused to talk to Emeka again. I didn’t pick up his calls or respond to his messages. I went to the guest house to get a room. I was told I could only get a room if booked by a lecturer.
I came out dejected. That I will have to remain in the lecture hall to wait for tutorials was also sad. I would have to go back home late that night which wasn’t safe. As I tried to stop a bike, a bike stopped and the passenger came down. It was Amaechi.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I came here to get a room to spend the night but I couldn’t”
“Why do you want to spend the night here? What happened to your apartment?”
“It’s a long story. I don’t have where to spend the night after tutorials and so I have to go home”
“Let’s leave here first then we will make plans”
I climbed on the bike he came with while he stopped another. We went together. He took me to have lunch; I hadn’t eaten anything all day. After the meal, he paid. I was impressed. He wanted to know what happened and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I explained to him what transpired and why I was angry with both my husband and his sister. I felt used and deceived.
“That’s marriage for you. Talk to your husband, he has gotten the message loud and clear. I agree you should leave the apartment for now and see if they would leave. But, if she apologises accept and move on. She has only next year left and she won’t spend it with you”
“Yes. I need a lecturer to help me book a room. Do you know any?”
“You can’t stay there. Standing in front of the place means you went there to sleep with a lecturer. Don’t take such risks; you are a married woman. I have a place you can manage. I would have vacated my room for you but you won’t be comfortable. You can stay with my female friend. This should blow over in a week”
“Are you sure she wouldn’t mind?”
“She won’t. She’s like you; very studious. I will call her and let her know”
“You seem so confident. Is she your girlfriend?”
“Something like that,” he said and smiled. He called her and she agreed. she was in the room so she asked that we come there. I met her. She was a nice lady who was all over Amaechi. She gave me a spare key and asked me to stay for as long as I wanted. Amaechi grinned at me and I just was filled with so much gratitude that I thanked her a million times. I was happy.
We went to class and I spent my whole night there until the early hours. I laid on a bed alone and slept like a baby. I woke up much later in the day and went back to the faulty. I asked auntie Nneoma to send the driver with my box of clothes and toiletries to the faculty. I was happy.
Emeka and I didn’t talk for two weeks. I discovered Ugonna was still in the apartment so I stayed away. Dr Maduka came looking for me in my room but met Ugonna there. He wondered what she was doing there. He asked after me and she said I had gone to class. He called me and I told him where I was.
He took me to have lunch so we could talk. I explained to him what transpired and played the recording for him to hear. He was taken aback by her utterances. He was angry at her. He picked his phone immediately and made a call.
“Why did you allow Ugonna to stay with Akwaugo? Hasn’t she suffered enough in the hands of Jacinta that you sent her to a snake like Ugonna? She stayed alone for a year plus without any problem; why bring her? For your information, Ugonna is still in her apartment and your wife is squatting like a refugee with someone else. Why do you want her monitored like this? Why are you so insecure? I have lived with this girl for a year and I can tell you about her. If Ugonna cannot live by her rules then she should find her level. They should feed differently. She should stop taking Akwaugo’s things. She is a medical student and has no time for food so she should have cereal or snacks. Ugonna should have her own and stop wanting another person’s. Her eyes are always on other people’s things. I am not happy with all I have seen. Emeka, clear this mess”
I was happy someone understood me. That I loved Emeka didn’t mean I should suffer untold hardship. I never disturb him or withdraw from the account for books and handouts. I manage it myself. Auntie Nneoma has been a blessing; she sends food and provisions every fortnight. I was happy he told Emeka and also glad to hear an elder’s opinion on this issue from Emeka’s side.
“Nne, Emeka is missing you. Biko, pick his call. It is not his fault; his sisters are putting preserve on him not to allow you to live alone. They don’t want you to have a bastard for them. I know this but don’t tell them I told you. Ugonna will not leave; if she leaves, she will be back. Emeka is a man but he fears another person’s possessing his possession. He loves you. His sister can’t understand why so they are very envious. Don’t be deceived. If they can get rid of you, they will. Preserve your marriage. You have done well so far. If it is food that is the problem let Emeka bear the expense. Don’t allow Ugonna to believe she has won. Stay where you are. Emeka knows what to do to bring you back”
I thanked him. He acted like a father. He also asked me to concentrate on my studies and not get distracted. I was grateful. Ugonna coming to live with me was a ploy. Obviously, she was not going away. She was easier to manage than Jacinta in the sense that she can be bought. I decided to use that method on her. I will buy her co-operation. But in the meantime, Emeka needed to suffer for what he had done.
I had just come back from lectures one evening. I came back with Amaechi who escorted me there. He lived not too far away but I had never visited him and he had never offered. The lady I was squatting with treated me very well and I reciprocated because he told her I was his cousin. He told me to leave it that way. As we were talking outside about our tutorials, Ugonna and Esther arrived. I saw surprised to see them. Immediately Amaechi saw them and my countenance, he excused himself. I opened the door to the house and entered inside. They followed me.
Ugonna started, “Why did you leave the house? We had a disagreement you packed and left. You are being childish. You are causing more trouble between Emeka and I. Why aren’t you picking his calls?”
Esther was obviously pissed. She asked Ugonna, “Is this how to render an apology? What is wrong with you Ugonna. Thank God I followed you. He threatened to throw us out if his wife is not back by this evening and instead of you to beg her you are scolding her. What you did to her was wrong. I have told you severally” then she turned to me, “Akwaugo, we have taken you for granted, please forgive us. Your grievances are well understood. I would say, we have to contribute towards cooking and other utilities. Everyone should buy their own provisions and keep. You can ask for some of another’s but the person is at liberty to accept or refuse. We have lived in peace thus far. Ugonna stop wearing her clothes; you have yours wear them. I like where we are now. If he throws us out, we will go back to that mushroom place. I don’t want that”
Ugonna came to beg because of the threat. She must have thought she had inherited my apartment since I left. What she didn’t know is that I understood her game. I waited for her to apologise but she was reluctant to. Instead, she picked her phone and called her brother. She said she was with me at that moment. She handed me the phone and I refused to take it. She looked at me and then told him I
refused to take the phone. She dropped the phone and said to me, “What do you want?”
“I want an apology and reassurance you maintain your lane. I am a medical student and I don’t need stress, distraction or insults. I am writing my exams soon and you cannot stand in my way’
“Am I the one doing you? see me see trouble. Ok, I am sorry for what happened. Please talk to my brother so he will stop threatening me” Esther also added her voice in begging.
I picked up my phone to call Emeka but his call came through first.
“My love, I am very sorry. I didn’t realise you were this hurt. If you don’t want to live with them, I will get them to another apartment. I’ve missed you so much. My baby, please forgive me”
I was tempted to take his offer but I knew it will spell doom for me. I replied instead, “I asked you for an increase in allowance to meet our needs and then Ugonna attacked me. I still can’t understand how asking for an increase turned to verbal attack from another person. I am writing my MBBS examination and wouldn’t need any distractions. We have agreed on how we will live; any deviation from it then I either leave the apartment for them and get another or use the caretaker to throw them out”
I promised to call him later at our scheduled time. I asked them to leave so I could talk to the lady who squatted me. Esther insisted on taking my things back home with her. I let her. I rested and called my benefactor. I explained to her I was leaving and appreciated her kindness. I left the soup and stew remaining for her. She was a bookworm just like me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have Amaechi’s number. I decided to see him after the tutorials. I also called auntie Nneoma and Dr Maduka to inform them.
When I saw Amaechi, he was happy for me. Apparently, his girlfriend had informed him. We talked for a bit with him advising me about patience. For the first time, I realized he spoke more maturely than we did. He looked slightly older.
I didn’t know much about him and I never asked. This wasn’t even the time.
Exams were around the corner.
Everything went back to normal. I asked Emeka to release Ugonna’s allowance to her while I provided foodstuff from both auntie Nneoma and the village. Esther was our chef. During my exams, auntie Nneoma brought me food. Immediately after the examination, as I am stepping out, I will see her outside waiting for me. She brought food for me to eat. I invited Amaechi and others to join me. From that day, she brought enough food for all of us. She told me something. She said to me, “No matter what happens, Akwaugo, you must be a doctor” I promised her I would.
After our examination, we just had a week’s break and we were back in school. Our curriculum didn’t run like the usual school curriculum. I didn’t see uncle Emma and each time I talked to him, he sounded weak. He was with his sons in the United States. I had to ask auntie Nneoma what happened. She said, “Your uncle has diabetes from drinking excessive alcohol. That’s why he is still there taking treatment. He is getting better. We should thank God; he would have died here”
I went to the village to check how far the construction had gone. I was impressed with the work done so far. I was very excited. I sent the usual progress report to Emeka. He too was very excited.
“Before I come back it will be ready. We will spend our first night together in the house. I want to spend six months with you”
I was happy he wanted to spend time with me. We had halted our extracurricular activities during the quarrel and during my examinations. He was begging for us to resume but I declined. I assured him it will be more fun when he comes back the next year. He was coming back just after my third MBBS exams.
During the holidays, Esther and Ugonna left me back in school while I continued my studies. They were away for an over six weeks before they resumed. I experienced so much bliss while they were away while I studied. I made new friends as we were drafted into groups. Amaechi and I were drafted into the same group. He was automatically made the head of the group. We were close and worked very hard.
I got a surprise phone call while in my room one evening. I couldn’t believe who was calling me. Chiamaka. We had not spoken in a long time after the attitude she gave me when I just got married. When I picked up, she said, “If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed. How are you?”
“I am fine. And you? What of Kosi? And your family members?” I asked her.
“Everyone is doing well. We are as you left us. Married woman. How is married life?”
“Not bad. I thank God”
“How far with your Emeka?”
“He is fine. He’s doing well”
“I came back to the village and decided to call you”
“I appreciate this”
“Is your husband around? He would have dropped me off”
“He is not around. Call that taxi guy”
“That’s what I will do. Ehen, Amanze proposed to me but I declined”
“Amanze proposed? Why did you decline?”
“He is not what I want for my life. Look at you, you are intelligent and you married an intelligent man that loves you. He is not looking for anyone here at least. I cannot say of where he is. Amanze is not that smart and still likes women. Abuja he is, it is worse. They are ready to spend on him. He promised me he will stop after we get married. I know he won’t”
“In all, you said I never heard you talk about love. Do you love Amanze or not?”
“Love? I don’t know what love is. Marrying Amanze will restore my dignity and that’s all. But if he is still a womanizer, he might get other women pregnant and where does that leave me?”
“I don’t think you should rush; there is still time to fall in love with either Amanze or another. You are graduating soon so you have nothing to worry about. You will meet the right guy”
“You are saying this because it was easy for you. It’s not easy out here”
“It is not easy for me. I didn’t love him when I met him. It was with time I did. Have you caught Amanze with a woman?”
“I don’t have to. He goes outside to take calls. He passworded his phone, I can’t see his messages. He doesn’t communicate often and blames it on work but when I am with him, he is on the phone”
“Then leave him. you have already borne the shame of having a child outside wedlock. If he is serious, he agrees to your terms. If not, move on”
“What of Kosi? What if he wants Kosi? I cannot release my child to him no matter what”
“Kosi was supposed to have moved to Enugu. What happened?”
“Amanze was in Abuja so there was no need”
“Think about this very well. Put it in prayer. Why not write out the qualities of the man you want so when you meet men you can see who has the most qualities you want. You will have many suitors; trust me”
“Thank you Akwaugo. I have missed talking to you. I felt out of place when you followed the right sequence in life. I don’t want to make the same mistake. I will come around to visit you one of these days”
In as much as our relationship went sour, she was still very close to my parents and visited the village like her home. She was at least grateful for all my parents did for her. That was more than enough for me. I could feel her jealousy, therefore I gave her enough space.
When Esther and Ugonna resumed, everywhere was peaceful. One Saturday morning, Dr Maduka came to check on us. I was heading to a lecture hall so he gave me a ride in his car. He asked me how everything was going in the room and I said very well. He dropped me off and I went to meet my group members.
I did what I believed will keep all of us sane. I gave both Ugonna and Esther gifts.
I didn’t go for very expensive things because I didn’t want her to make demands.
I made some observations in the room. Someone seemed to be ransacking the entire place. I wondered why. I asked and nothing forthcoming was told to me. My bags were searched and all. I kept money in my locked bag and I noticed it wasn’t complete anymore. I changed where I kept the money and where I kept my keys. Ugonna became hostile to me. I ignored her completely.
One day, I decided to tidy up my bag and I observed one of my dresses was missing. I had never worn the dress; I brought it when I thought I would go for a dinner organized by our department but it was postponed. I searched everywhere I couldn’t find it. I then searched Ugonna bag and I found it at the bottom of her bag. She wrapped it in a jeans trouser and hid it at the bottom of her bag. She left her bag open. I also saw a pair of my slippers and a top. She had obviously worn the top so I left it for her. I was angry. I took picks as evidence. I would have lashed out at her but I decided to allow peace to reign. I placed the jeans at the top of her clothes so she would know I had taken my dress.
When she came back, she saw the jeans on top and shamelessly asked me who ransacked her bag. I told her it must have been the same person that had been ransacking mine. She flared up but I totally ignored her. She began to check the bag before she packed it up. I was waiting for my time with Emeka before I go for night tutorials. I was older and wiser. I wasn’t going to fall for her defence mechanism. I have done so much for her, what again did she want? Why did she have to steal my stuff? She stole even provisions that we kept in the cupboard. I
just gave up on her. Because she knew she had been exposed, she stormed out of the room. Esther stared after her in shock.
Emeka called and she had to excuse me. This was our time. Emeka and I spoke for a long time. He was coming back soon and couldn’t wait to see me. I was excited too. My examination was in June and he was coming back in July. He had told them they wouldn’t stay with me when he is around as he would be with me. I was happy. I had missed him. We talked about the building and how far it was going. They had roofed it and started the wiring. Before disbursing a kobo, I carried him along. I sent him an email and he acknowledged and gave his approval.
He wanted to ‘see’ me but I was in no mood for that and I made it clear to him. He tried to find out what was wrong but I couldn’t tell him. I just told him I wasn’t in the mood and I was stressed out. He agreed. What I didn’t know was that so many things were happening behind me but I was oblivious of them.
One night, I came back unexpectedly. My period started suddenly and I had to rush back to the room to bathe and change. I tried my key but it was locked from inside. This was after 8pm. I knocked but no one answered. I called Esther and told her I couldn’t get into the room. She told me she would call me back. I heard a phone ring in the room. It took some time before the door was opened. It was Ugonna inside the room with a man. I greeted him and took my things into the bathroom thinking when I come out, he would be gone. I came out dressed and he was still there. I decided to hang around to understand what was happening. I had never met this guy before and even if she felt like ‘being’ with him, she should have done it in his place, not ours. After a little while, I left them alone but I was disappointed in Ugonna. When I came back the next morning, I changed the bedsheet and pillowcases after sunning the mattress. Ugonna would not wash that bedsheet and I wasn’t ready to sleep on anyone’s secreted fluids.
While I concentrated on my forthcoming examinations, others were plotting against me. I was in the lecture hall reading one day when Dr Maduka called me. He asked me to meet him outside which I did. He told me the sisters have been meeting and he suspects they have something brewing. He warned me to be very careful.
I wondered what they were up to this time. I haven’t done anything to them except to try to love them which they didn’t reciprocate. Jacinta and Ugonna didn’t have anything against me. So, I thought.
When I wrote my last paper, I left the examination hall very excited. It had been a good examination which I prepared for. As I walked out of the faculty towards the car park, I saw Emeka standing right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. I then saw Uju with him smiling. I ran to my husband unashamed. He grinned from ear to ear as he opened his arms wide. I was encircled in his arms. My Emeka was back. My husband I hadn’t seen in three years was home. We held each other and left them in each other’s arms. I was happy. I was ecstatic. We got into the car before he kissed me. He had taught me how to kiss and I was a really fast learner.
“I missed you” he announced.
“I missed you too” I replied. I was so glad I had my hair done courtesy of auntie Nneoma because it was a mess. She got her girls to make it for me in my room. Maybe she connived with Emeka. I didn’t think so; she would have warned me to at least dress very well. I was glad I made it a point of duty to dress well during examination. I had on a navy blue knee-length slim dress with short sleeves and an O neckline. I had braided my hair with the human hair braids. It always made me look sophisticated.
We drove to town to have lunch. Emeka couldn’t stop holding me. I couldn’t believe he was there with me. He had checked into that hotel we stayed in. Uju got a room too. After eating, he took me back to the room to pack my things. We met Esther in the room. I packed my things together. I wasn’t going to spend a week with Emeka looking all saintly, I had my stash of clothes to drive him mad at home. Auntie Nneoma had been so gracious to buy them. Before we left, Ugonna met us.
“Akwaugo you didn’t tell me brother was coming back”
“I surprised her. How are you?” Emeka replied.
“I am fine. Where are you going?”
“I am going home”
“With Akwaugo? Isn’t she still writing exams?”
“She has finished, she is going home with me”
“Ok brother. I will come to the village over the weekend”
“Call before you come”
We left for auntie Nneoma’s house. I went upstairs to change my clothes; both the one I had on and the ones in my box. I exchanged the clothes in my box and took off my clothes to change to something sexier, Emeka walked in. He took me in his arms again and we kissed. We had missed each other dearly. Emeka’s hand began to roam. We were saved by a knock. It was my auntie’s help. She asked if she could help with anything. Emeka arranged himself and left with the box. I changed into a short Ralph Lauren Polo dress with pink buttons and a pair of tennis shoes. I sprayed and packed my perfumes and other toiletries I don’t take to school.
When I came down, Uju exclaimed, “You mean business”.
“At this rate, we won’t get to the room o” Emeka replied and we all laughed. AKWAUGO