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THE WEAKNESS OF A MAN: chapter 6

Rally Trade

                                            

     My name is Chief Mrs. Adeola Adebaba Adeniyi but most people call me Yeye, one of my many chieftaincy titles.  I am Biodun’s mother. As you read this, you’d probably conclude that I am the cruelest and the most ungrateful human being on earth. I urge you not to jump into any such conclusions just yet. I know that if you are sincere, deep down in your heart, between you and your conscience, especially if you are a parent, you’d know I did what any mother, under the same circumstances, would do for an only son and a beloved husband. I am not justifying my actions, I am only emphasizing my reasons.

     I must admit though that I have a personal motive and benefit in the matter and that my personal motive and benefit is quite enormous. But the girl should never have dared a woman driven by such ambition as I was. That was where she erred beyond my forgiveness. I hate to be dared the same way I hate challenges; I tackle both with utmost resilience, no matter who is involved. I am a go-getter and I get what I want.

    Yes, as I was saying, ambition, personal motive and benefit, I had a ton of each of them. In fact, they were my driving force and in order to clearly understand why I had to put my only son’s happiness aside, I will give a brief insight into my humble beginning. 

     I came from a very poor family. Extremely poor for that matter but thanks to God, it is all a thing of the past now. I knew what astute poverty meant from the tender age of two when I realized sadly that I couldn’t have what my peers had. Ever since then, I have loathed the word poverty with a strong passion that is sometimes very unbearable to me.  And I abhor the condition with an equal passion too.  I was given away at the age of six by my poor parents to live with my dear and childless aunt in Lagos. Before I became ten, I understood the importance of education in wealth acquisition and I strove resiliently to acquire it, making sure I never disappointed my aunt or parents back home. Before I was fourteen, I knew the magic of my beauty and the need for sophistication and glamour. And when I became an undergraduate at the age of twenty, I was already a high-class lady, mixing freely with the high and mighty political and business elite of the country.  I was very lucky and trust Lagos for her numerous opportunities.

    I was a sophisticated lady in every sense of the word. I was, I must say, a high-class chic. But despite my full participation in the glitz and glamour of such a bubbling city as Lagos, I did not neglect my education, for I knew, even at that time in my young life, that that was my only tool to change my family history for life. Not my beauty and certainly not my sophistication or exposure or experience, for all these without a solid educational foundation amounted to nothing really. I had my very rich and glamorous aunt, who adopted me as her own child, to thank for all of these.              

     I was very aware of my beauty from a tender age and I flaunted it openly. My dear aunt supplied the means and also gave me my first introduction into the society of rich as a young debutante even before I was eighteen. But quite unfortunately, she died before I could pay her back for her kindness. But she left me everything she owned.  And when her husband married another wife, I left their house and got mine.  I had enough money and I was old enough. Together with my money, intelligence, sophistication and class, I became the best choice for my husband, thirty-five years ago, when he returned to the country to find a Nigerian bride after many years abroad.

     My friends, acquaintances and rivals who were also eager to be the chosen ones, envied me.  It was a rat race back then but I won and ever after, it has been a matter of one plot or the other to ridicule me.  The fact that I was what is called a popular babe during my time made me have so many enemies who did everything possible to bring me down from what they termed my high horse. The struggle to remain on top continued. The plots and counterplots followed me into my marriage, it was a tug of war right from the very beginning. And it has remained that way even to date. Then years later, fifteen to be precise, Otunba, my husband, married another wife. A very much younger, insecure and naive girl I personally found disgusting.  I mean, she was such a tramp, a senseless mediocre who panders to her aunt’s every whim, including marrying my husband, a man old enough to be her father. I was later to discover that her aunt, a good friend of my ache enemy and rival, the wife of the incumbent president, masterminded it all. The first lady was my number one enemy, everyone knew it. We had both been in the race to win Ade, my husband, back then and she was still very much begrudging her loss even though she was now happily married and the first lady for that matter.  I learned she’d carefully schemed my mate into my husband’s bed and later into his home as his second wife all in the attempt to remove me from my matrimonial home. I didn’t realize the plan early enough so I couldn’t stop him from marrying her. It was a closely guided secret and I was forced to take the whole thing calmly when my husband claimed that he married her because he wanted more sons. I couldn’t have any more children due to some complications I had during my last pregnancy.  So I let it be but ever since she came into the house, she has plotted my downfall. I was very sure that was her mission in the first place. It was always a secret war in the house between us, unknown to our ever-busy husband.  And when she couldn’t bear him any sons but daughters, my husband became frustrated. He sadly reclined into his shell and pine secretly over his seemingly unattainable dream. Then later, he naturally decided to show more appreciation to the only son he had. My son naturally and automatically became her target and that was when the real battles began.

      My husband is not just a very wealthy man, he is also very influential. He is a go-getter and nobody is dear enough to him to stand in his way to achieve whatever he set out to achieve, not even his flesh and blood. He is over-ambitious, I must admit. I realized sadly that not even the fact that my son was his only son would stop him from dealing ruthlessly with him if he stood on his way to progress. I realized he won’t flinch at the thought of disowning his only biological son if he became an obstacle.  He was that determined. When he first showed his interest to go into politics and his party members unanimously assured him that only the presidential seat was big enough to carry his weight, my miserable and desperate mate and her cohorts sprang into action. They planted those guns in my son’s room at the university. Yes, I ran to Betty, my son’s girlfriend. I admit that she has been very wonderful to me.  Whenever I had problems with my son, she always helped me out.  She has been of immense help to me, in fact, she has been too good to me that I actually felt bad sometimes. The fact that she took the blame and full penalty just to protect him is one thing I will never forget. But this is a different ball game altogether. There is a war going on, a war of wits and will power, a battle only a clear winner will do, irrespective of who or what is sacrificed.  A war of absolute power, that power that makes you the head and not the tail; that puts you far above your peers or rivals. That very power that makes you invulnerable, that gives you complete authority and total immunity against your rival. You just may not understand it as well as I do. You will not understand too how I long to have a taste of it.

     Well, I knew my son was innocent. My private investigation revealed my sworn enemies were behind it all but since I had no proof and no one was willing to testify, I had to gratefully allow Betty take the rap. She willingly took it anyway.  I admit that I was shaken by such an act of love even though I have never believed in love myself.  I felt quite flummoxed when she volunteered to make the sacrifice but there was nothing I could do then. Even though I felt a pang of guilt within me then, knowing that their relationship was heading nowhere, I just couldn’t dare to stop her. I had to allow her to do it.

      His father was already making marriage plans between him and the daughter of one of his friends. I had been wondering how best to tell him and make him end his relationship with her. Then my mate planted those guns and there came my lucky break. I had to protect my son too, so I allowed her to make the sacrifice even though I knew it would all end up in vain.  I also wanted her out of the way so I could convince my son to leave her for his father’s choice for him. I was sure by the time she got out of jail, she’d meet a completely different Biodun who was no longer interested in her. I know I sound very selfish but it was just a coincidence and I made my plans upon it. I was lucky to have the right opportunity at the very right time.   I didn’t use her as a pawn, it was just unfortunate that she was there and willing to help.

    Now, I am prepared to pay her money for all her troubles. A financial settlement for the sacrifice she made for my son is exactly what I am willing to give her, nothing more. My son needs a befitting life partner now and that person is not her. I will give her any amount she demands but not my son.  I am a strong believer in the power of money and I hold so much faith in the saying “money answereth all things”. Besides, I now know that everyone has a price tag, she won’t be an exception.

        Maggie, the girl Otunba was wooing for Biodun, is the best girl for him, in every aspect, and she is in love with him.  I didn’t envisage having any trouble getting my son to fall for the beautiful and well-cultured girl until I told him about her. I was repeatedly shocked when he repeatedly refused to get involved with her or anyone else.  His heart belonged to Betty, he told me over and over.  But I didn’t give up. I just couldn’t give up, he was only a boy deceived by the illusion they call love. I had no doubt he’d dump Betty the moment he sets his eyes on Maggie. All he needed was more time and I was prepared to give him that. With Betty locked up in prison, I had no need to be in a hurry. I was very positive he’d realize he didn’t need her anymore. I pointed it all out to him but I was completely stunned to hear him repeatedly preach to me about his undying love for her.

      What exactly does he know about the affairs of the heart? Where exactly is the place of love in this war zone that is called life? All that matter is survival, your ability to face the realities of life squarely. I will certainly make him understand all this when the time is right, I decided.

“I am not asking you to rush into another relationship just like that,” I told him one day. “I only want you to meet Maggie formally.  After all, she is going back to the states soon.  The marriage won’t hold in a couple of months.” I added.  I was very positive that if he would only see her, he’d have a change of mind. No able-bodied man will behold the sight of Maggie and not have his erogenous zone stirred in sexual desire for her. I was so damn sure that my son won’t be different.

“Mum, I have told you times without number to leave me out of your schemes.  No one’s going to choose a wife for me. In short, I already have a fiancée and you know her very well. So please stop this game you and dad are playing,’’ he said determinedly.

“You don’t seem to understand that your so-called fiancée is no longer suitable for you. If she is smart, she’ll realize that by the time she is out of prison. And she will be too glad to receive a little financial settlement for her sacrifice.’’

“Mum, don’t talk like that about Betty, please.  You of all people know what she did for me. If not for any other thing, I owe her a lot for her sacrifice. I should have been the one in prison at this very moment and not her and you wouldn’t be match-making right now.”

“Do you want to marry her because you feel you owe her a lot?  We could easily settle her financially and move on with your life with your own equal you know.”

“Oh stop it mum, you know I love her.  She is the love of my life, prison record or not and certainly rich or not.  Before the guns issue you know I’d planned to marry her upon her graduation. So you see mum, it’s not about owing her, it’s about love mummy, the way I feel about her.  Can’t you just see it?”

“I see,” I said grimly. There was no point arguing with him. I will carefully scheme her out of his heart, I decided as I left him that day.

      Maggie went back to the United States to conclude her Master’s degree.  Even though my son refused to meet her before she left, I didn’t lose hope. I remained determined, plotting and scheming things but my dear son remained adamant.  How on earth do I make him understand that his relationship with Betty must end? The boy was so blind to reason and common sense.

       I decided to wait until Betty was released. I was very sure I could make her reason with me without the difficulties I was getting with my son. All I needed to do was convince her to leave him. I decided to hint that Otunba would disown him if he married an ex-convict. I will then offer her monetary compensation. I had no doubt whatsoever that my plans would work after a careful and well-arranged lie I planned to tell her.

        My plan ought to work, it has got to work. If I make out that Otunba would destroy them both, even his own son, she’d set him free. That was the reason she made the sacrifice to go to jail for my son in the first place. The poor girl wouldn’t hear of any harm coming to Biodun.  She’d do anything just to protect him and with that in my mind, she became my best bet to put an end to the unequally yoked union after all attempts to convince my son failed. So I waited patiently for her release. 

       You can then understand my anger when after several attempts to make her reason with me and she maintained she loved my son.

       Love my feet! What is love compared to what was at stake? Where is the place of love when we crave for power? Absolute power for that matter? Yes, it is true that I have a ton of personal or selfish interest in this matter. Call it whatever you want to call it, I don’t care but I must be the next first lady come next elections if Otunba wins. I have no doubt that he would win, there’s no single doubt about that now. That’s why I must tidy up my own end of the deal. I want to be the next first lady at all costs and Betty is too small an ant to stop me. There are very personal scores to be settled. The present first lady has slighted me not once or twice. It is in fact, uncountable times and I need to even that score. I really must even that score as a matter of urgency.  The old hag has always and specifically insisted that my mate, who was the junior, accompanied Otunba to all the functions of her NGO, sidelining me. It has always been a field day for the press.  Even the soft sell magazines got their sales up by making such hoopla of the whole thing, ridiculing me. I am not ignorant of the fact that it is all targeted to mock me. That is why I must pay her back in her own coin.  I need a chance to give her a taste of her own venom.  When Otunba becomes president, I must be the first lady. I am his first wife, I hold a doctorate degree, I have been in politics for a while now and I have everything it takes to be the first lady, including the charisma which my mate so obviously lacked. My mate knows she doesn’t stand a chance, she is no match to me and they all know this and they are desperate to bring me down by all means. I will not let them do that to me, I won’t give them the chance they want. This is my opportunity and I must take it. They must have a real run for it.  They should have chosen a better candidate when they decided to attempt to impeach me as the future first lady. That moron is empty upstairs. You could easily realize that after just a few minutes of discussion with her. I wonder how she got that master’s degree she parades about.  I am so happy Otunba knows this fact too, he’ll be a fool to make her his first lady when the time comes. I don’t feel threatened by her at all.

      Betty is actually my problem right now. I don’t know why she won’t just understand the situation and reason with me.  Why won’t she just leave my son alone? I have waited patiently for her release hoping she’d be more reasonable and easy to deal with than my son but she is even more obstinate than he is. I have even recited my well-rehearsed plea to her, a speech that took me three whole years to compose. And what did I get? What was her response to my well-rehearsed display? She practically made me feel she thought I was going insane. And the way she told me flatly that she couldn’t do without Biodun made me so mad. I had to resort to doing a lot of things to convince her, even blackmail when my initial feigned appearance of confusion and frustration did not move her. My pretense of regret and hurt at the turn out of things were obviously only felt by me alone. My act wasn’t bought at all. Not even my threats and to think that she actually returned the threats back at me was something I didn’t expect to happen. It was even most shocking to me when she showed very little care or concern when I told her that Otunba would disown Biodun if he as much as remain living with her under the same roof, let alone marry her.  This was a trick I have repeatedly used to blackmail her in the past. When I realized back then that she would willingly do anything to avoid Biodun having an ugly confrontation with his dad, I had promptly taken that discovery as my secret tool to twist her whenever I needed her to do something for me. Those were the magic words I told her that made her willingly take the rap for my son. It was exactly what made her decide to go to jail but as I made out the same impression, she seemed to care very less whether Biodun is disowned by his dad or not.  It was a big shock to me. Did her sojourn in jail do that to her? I wondered secretly, as I realized I was speaking to a totally different Betty.

      The instant I realized that even that wouldn’t work anymore, I mellowed and begged her. I was even ready to swallow my pride and dignity and kneel before her but she must have read my mind because she quickly and bluntly told me that nothing would make her leave Biodun. She spoke as though she’d bought him by going to prison in his stead. Imagine such nonsense. I was so, so, mad. I was so furious that I could have slapped her but I remained calm and I controlled my anger with considerable effort. I realized then that I must be a little cruel to drive home my point if I was to achieve any success. So I accused her of blackmailing my son and deliberately making him feel indebted to her. But she so flatly and so disrespectfully told me to call it whatever I wished.  My God, this wasn’t the Betty I knew. She wouldn’t dare to talk to me like that. She has certainly changed. Prison life has not only smeared her, but it has also marred her, turning her into a rude girl and I realized there and then that she was now not only unfit to be my son’s wife but also, now unwell. She was now a danger to him.  I resolved more than ever to separate them as I left her. I resolved to do something and fast too. I decided to employ more aggressive methods.

      Then one morning, she came and informed me she’d moved out of my son’s house to her own flat.  I wasn’t satisfied but I accepted the arrangement as a temporal solution, pending when I’d be able to put a permanent end to their silly relationship. I watched her with disgust as she told me the news which she probably thought was the solution to the problem. She actually called it an amicable solution. And since I hadn’t a better solution myself, I didn’t complain. Well, it was better than nothing, as long as they no longer lived together, the scandal, if any, won’t be too disastrous should any of Otunba’s political opponents decide to dig into Biodun’s activities.

      Then a few weeks later, I discovered she was three months pregnant for my son. What! My head reeled in uncontrollable anger and disgust as my son gave me what he must have believed was good news. He probably thought the news would make me jump on my feet with joy.

      My God, haven’t I been telling her she cannot marry my son? I fail to fathom her audacity to get pregnant.  Does the girl think she is smart tying my stupid son down with a pregnancy?  And to think that the stupid boy was so happy about the whole development was something that made me so mad with rage. Jeez, I must do something. I must use extreme measures or I won’t even smell the presidential villa let alone be the next first lady.

      So I paid her another visit and I made it very clear that I’d dictate the solution to the problem from then on. I also made it very clear that the solution to the problem was nothing short of an end to their relationship and not before the abortion of the fetus she was carrying. I then offered her the ten million naira again, as compensation for the three years she spent in prison plus a scholarship to further her education anywhere else in the world. But she was foolish enough to turn my offer down, bold enough to be insolent and stupid enough to threaten me too.  I didn’t need a soothsayer to tell me this was the time to use everything I’ve got to drive home my point.  I mean, how could she even allow herself to get pregnant when all I have been preaching was the gospel of a complete break-up? I knew I must stop them from destroying my chances. I realized at that point that I must make him leave her.

      I started making my own plans but even after a sleepless night of brainstorming, I was still in limbo. But as luck would have it, the next day, the insufferable fool visited me again and what did she want?  She came to offer another of her silly stories which she always termed an amicable solution. But I was so happy at the end of her visit because she gave me the chance I spent a sleepless night looking for. I hadn’t the slightest inclination to listen to her at first but in the end, I was lucky I didn’t let my anger rob me of that golden chance. I was so glad I was able to control my surging anger because my opportunity presented itself at the end of our little meeting.

“I hope you didn’t come here to feed me that crap about love again? I am really tired to hear it” I said, the moment she took her seat.

“Not at all. I realized there’s no point for us to fight, I came to beg you to give us a chance.” She said.

“A chance? What chance are you talking about? There is no other chance than for you to abort your pregnancy and leave my son alone.  You have just proved to me that you are not to be trusted.  I mean, we had an agreement for crying out loud.  You agreed to stay away until after the elections but now you come up with a pregnancy? My God, you are so unreliable.  Let me remind you of something you may have so foolishly forgotten my dear girl. Biodun is my only son, Otunba’s only son too just in case you don’t know it.  If you try to deceive him to leave his parents and elope with you, you will not even get past the borders of the F.C.T. I am assuring you that my husband and I will do everything possible and locate you anywhere in the world. You will go back to jail and this time, you’ll be there for so long that when you get out, that is if you ever do, you will be so wrinkled and shrunken with age that you’d look like a picture from a horror movie. So be wise, take the offer while you still have it and save yourself the humiliation.”

“I didn’t come here to fight, I am begging you to let us be. I will do anything else but please let us be afterward.” She said calmly.

“My God, we are not negotiating a business deal, we are talking about my son’s future here!” I snapped angrily, her deliberate calmness bore a hole in my nerves.

“I am willing to have the abortion tomorrow.” She continued even more calmly. I should have been moved to feel a bit of compassion for her at that very moment but I didn’t. I guess I was more desperate than she was.

“I am also willing to leave Biodun alone for the next two years. I will travel out of the country and I will stay away during that period but you will allow me to keep in touch with him while I am away.” she continued. “But please, after that, you must leave us alone.”

       I watched her for a moment, thinking she couldn’t have meant what she just said but she gave me a stare that told me she meant everything, there was also a strange look in her eyes I couldn’t place. It was fatal. I watched her a moment longer and decided not to argue with her. I have to play along with her, I realized it was my only opportunity.

“Are you serious?” I asked in disbelief. 

“Yes.” She nodded.

“Well, I guess that about settles the whole thing. At last, we have what I can conveniently call a reasonable compromise. It is okay by me if you’d do as you have said.” I said slowly. 

“I will do all I have said if you’d promise me you’d keep your own side of the bargain.” She said.

“I will, at least, for my son’s happiness I guess I should be ready to agree to a compromise, two years is good enough. We have a deal then.”

“Yes, we have a deal.”

        That is what separated the small ones from the big ones. Smartness! You see your opportunity and you grab it with both hands. That is what is called smartness and it is a needed tool in the world we live in. Again, I was convinced more than ever before that she wasn’t fit to be my son’s wife. She was senseless and a little insane. Now that his dad is going to be the next president, he needs a smart woman for a wife. He needs a strong wife. Betty is nothing short of a weakling, I realized as I watched her tell me her jargon.

       The last time we had a conversation, I told her she had become my enemy the moment I stepped out of her house. Does it mean I wasn’t explicit enough or she simply didn’t pay any attention to everything I said? Perhaps she didn’t take me seriously. How could she possibly trust somebody who has thrown so much threats and tantrums at her? And just yesterday I declared her an enemy. She must be dafter and more stupid than I had imagined.  I will finish this girl, I thought as I listened to her tell me about her compromise.  No little senseless girl is going to stand in my way.  I must become the first lady after the next elections.  I must put the present first lady and my stupid mate where they both belong. I must teach them the timeless lesson that says he who laughs last laughs best. And it shall be my pleasure. 

       So, when she came up with her idea or compromise, it was with great pleasure that I accepted it. I realized it was my only chance to make Biodun leave her.  I decided to set her up. It was so easy because she alone decided we shouldn’t let Biodun know she went for a D and C. She said she’d tell him she had a miscarriage and I couldn’t help but suggest a very good doctor to her. And she agreed to see him, it was my lucky day.  I advised her to leave her cell phone at home when going for the appointment. I was able to convince her that Biodun might call her while she was still at the hospital and because she wanted to cover her tracks and avoid any suspicion, she agreed to do that too.

         I couldn’t believe my ears as she yessed everything I suggested. The girl is such a fool. I am going to make good use of this opportunity, I will finally break them. Well, who, being in my situation, seeing my predicament, wouldn’t use such a golden opportunity to right a very bad wrong?

        The next morning after confirming the appointment with Dr Bernard, I drove straight to her flat to ensure she kept it.  I parked my car a few yards away from her house. I was in the car when Biodun left for work. Moments later, I saw her drive off and I was certain she was going to keep the appointment. I called her cell phone, I allowed it to ring on even though I knew she won’t answer it. Afterward, I drove to Biodun’s office with my watertight plan.

“Hi Biodun, how are you?” I said gaily as I entered into my son’s office.

“Mummy, what’s the problem? What are you doing here so early?” He asked, visibly surprised to see me in his office so early.

“No problem darling, hey relax. Won’t you ask me to sit down?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, please pardon my manners mum. Good morning and please do sit down. What’s up? What brings you this early to my office?  I hope Otunba has not started again?”

“Oh no, I have actually come to see you son.  Your dad is very fine.”

“Do you want anything to drink? Tea or coffee?”

“I don’t think there is time for that right now. This is kind of urgent. I want to show you something and it can’t wait.  We have to leave right away.”

“You sound bad.  I hope all is well?”

“Yes. All is well my son, let’s be on our way now and I will tell you everything as we go.  Let’s go.” We both left his office to the parking lot. I took the wheels even when he insisted he should drive.  I couldn’t let him handle the steering, considering what I was about to tell and show him.

“Well my son,” I began at last as I headed to the hospital where Betty was going to have the abortion. “Life is a lesson, you win some and you lose some. That’s the way it has been and the way it will always be.  I am not going to deceive you, no, I cannot do that to you.  And I am not going to beat about the bush either, right now, Betty is terminating the pregnancy.” I told him.    

“Mummy, will you stop your schemes? Can’t you see it’s not working? Haven’t you realized that yet?”    

“I realized that a long time ago. I realized you are blind to the facts so I appealed to her. Fortunately, she is smart. She is having the abortion as we speak.”

“That is impossible, mummy. Don’t even think of it. Betty wouldn’t do that. She loves me and she wants the baby, she is not just capable of doing such a thing mum, this must be one of your tricks and you are wasting your time.” he replied with so much confidence, laughing lightly.

“We shall see then,” I said plainly, allowing him to sink in the information properly. 

       I had paid in the sum of ten million naira the previous day into Betty’s account and I instructed the bank manager to keep it from her until I gave the go ahead.  I told him it was a surprise and he bought the story. I had the teller in my handbag which I planned to show my son as evidence.

“This is one of your schemes mum, I am quite sure of that.  She wouldn’t do a thing like that.” He said again at last, I could sense fear in his voice as he spoke.

“If you must know, this wasn’t my decision at all.  It was purely hers.  Although I know it is exactly what I want but believe me, she came to me with a proposal and I accepted it. The decision to terminate the pregnancy was purely hers.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Betty came to see me yesterday. She told me that after proper and serious consideration of the whole situation, she finally realized she didn’t stand a chance. So she asked for compensation in exchange, she’d abort the pregnancy and of course, leave you alone and I agreed.” I said plainly.

“You are lying. Betty is at home right now,” he said angrily, searching his pocket for his cell phone. I watched him patiently while he dialed her number. After several rings without response, he gave up. Without a word, I dialed Dr. Bernard’s number and when he answered, I put the call on speaker so he could hear us.

“Hello, Dr. Bernard and how are you today?” I said firmly.

“Hello Chief, I am very well and you?”  Dr. Bernard’s clear voice came to us in response.

“Very fine and how is Miss Betty Membe doing, is she there yet?”

“Oh yes she is fine and she is here with me in the theater.  Would you want a word with her?”

“Oh no, I only called to ask you to be very careful with her, she is family.  I hope you understand.”

“Yes Chief, you have nothing to worry about……”My regards to her and please tell her I am fine”…..” Betty’s voice came suddenly to us and before my son could recover from his shock, I hung up.  It was a miracle that he was too stunned to speak. Betty would have changed her mind if she had heard his voice and my plan would have been blown sky-high. It was my lucky week alright.

“Do you believe me now?” I asked him as I recovered from my own shock.

“What is going on mum? Please tell me the truth.” He said flatly when he got his tongue back.

“Well, as I said earlier, she came to me yesterday and asked for a settlement. We went to her bank and I paid her ten million naira. It was exactly what she asked for.  Here, this is the bank teller I used in paying the money into her account. I kept it as a guarantee until I am sure she has met her part of the bargain. That was our agreement.”

“Why? Oh no, I don’t believe it,” he cried.

“Then I will take you to the hospital,” I said as I took the turn that would lead us to the hospital. “But you must make me a promise. You must promise not to try to stop her for any reason. She made the decision and took the bold step to come to me, you must respect her decision. She has made up her mind and it is better you don’t force her to change it. I shouldn’t be doing this right now, she made me to promise not to let you know yet. She plans to disappear into thin air but I’m telling and showing you all these because you are my son and I don’t want you wasting your time, hoping she’d one day come back to you.  You have to let her go. It is all over now.”

“Take me to the hospital,” he said in a strange voice but I wasn’t moved at all. I must be sure he won’t spoil my plans.

“I am taking you there right away but you must promise me first. It was a hard decision for her and if you care about her, you must let her go. It is futile, you cannot marry her, you are the only one who doesn’t know it yet but I am sure you’ll realize that soon.”

“Please just take me there.” He repeated.

“I won’t, you must promise me.” I said bringing the car to a halt and thumbing the security lock so that he cannot open the doors. “I am betraying her by telling you all these and I don’t want her to know I told you, at least, not at this point.”

“Alright, I promise. But I can’t promise I won’t talk to her. Drop me off there or something, I won’t tell her you brought me. There must be an explanation. I can’t believe Betty would sell what we shared for any amount of money.  I really need to talk to her.”

“I forbid you to talk to her. I forbid you to as much as letting her see you.” I began angrily but I instantly realized being hard on him was not the best approach to it at that moment. So I mellowed. “You don’t understand my dear,” I began again after a short pause. “She isn’t selling the love, she has only just realized the futility of your love and she needed money to start afresh. So you see, you must let her be. Don’t force her to stay because it will never work out between you two. Your dad will never allow it.”

“Okay I won’t talk to her. Just take me there,” he said absently.

“I know you may decide to do differently when you see her but I must warn you, if you make me look like a fool before her and make her understand I told you everything, you’d be saying goodbye to whatever you both had because from then, it will be so over that you’d end up blaming yourself for everything. I will make life so miserable for the both of you that you’d wonder if I am truly your mother. I am promising you that. You can’t sacrifice your siblings and me for your love. I don’t need to tell you what this will cause us in your father’s heart and house.” I said angrily.

“I will respect your wishes mother, I only want to see her with my own eyes. If I can only see her with my own eyes, I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll take you by your words but remember, I never make empty threats,” I said and started the car again.  I drove to the hospital and Betty’s car was there in the parking lot. I drove away to a concealed corner where she wouldn’t see us should she suddenly come out.

“You see my dear, that’s her car parked right there.  What other proof do you need to see before you are convinced I have been telling you the truth?”

“Do you mind if we wait a while? I want to see her come out and drive away.  I really need to see her.”

“That’s okay if it will make you happy. You know I’d do anything to make you happy but remember I won’t take it kindly if you decide to embarrass me in front of her.” I said and resigned to wait.  I allowed him to dwell in his thoughts by keeping quiet myself. There was no harm in giving him one last chance to see his Betty again. After now, he’d never see her again, I have everything planned.

       He remained very quiet, I could only imagine what was going on in his mind at that particular moment and I could only feel sorry for him.  I knew I was destroying them or their supposed love but what must be done must be done.  I have to end it all now that I have the chance.  

      Moments later, Betty came out, flushed and confused. We both watched her as she walked unsteadily to her waiting car.  She must have been crying because she held a white handkerchief to her nose. The confused and dazed manner in which she walked convinced my dear son and I more than anything else that the baby no longer existed.  She got into her car and closed the door but she remained in the car, under the hot sun. 

        My God, the idiot doesn’t know she is supposed to drive off at once, I thought miserably as I watched her. She finally did after I literally threatened Biodun he shall cease to be my son if he went to her.  Gosh, that was so close.

“Please let her go, don’t make this more difficult for her than it already is.” I shouted when he was still sulking and pining beside me as we drove away. 

“She made a smart decision and a great sacrifice today. You must respect her courage.” I added carefully.

“What courage? She just killed my baby. Is that some courage to you? She is a murderer and I hope you don’t have anything to do with it more than you are telling me?” He yelled.

“Shut up and grow up,” I began angrily.  He was in the very mood I wanted him to be.  “It is only a fool that says money is not everything. What else do you think I have to do with it?  She came to me with her proposition and I agreed to pay her the money, we had a settlement of some sort.  She accepted to terminate the pregnancy and leave you alone, I didn’t force her. I didn’t even accompany her to the hospital.  You see the kind of love you guys had?  A love that has been bought and paid for and my dear, that love doesn’t exist anymore and so is the baby.  The earlier you stop sulking and face reality, the better for you.”

 “Oh God, why?” He cried out suddenly in an agonizing voice.

“Why what?” I snapped.

“Why didn’t she just tell me mummy, why?” he said and finally gave way to the threatening tears. But I didn’t feel sorry for him. Everything I did was done for his own good. He will realize it all later and probably thank me for it.

“She said she tried to talk to you.  Several times but you wouldn’t listen,” I said instead. “She came to me for help. It was a painful decision for her but she knew it was better for everyone that she left. She needed money but she couldn’t ask you for the amount of money she needed. You would have asked for an explanation and since she couldn’t bring herself to tell you the truth, she decided to come to me. When I offered to give her the money, she said she wanted to be rid of the pregnancy so I gave her Dr Bernard’s address. I am telling you all these because I want you to know she is not coming back, so you better get used to that now.  She is never coming back.  As a matter of fact, she should be on her way right now. You must forget about her.”

“Take me to her, I really must talk to her mum, please.”

“Of what use is that son? You will only hurt yourself. Be a man and forget her. It is over between you two, you must learn to accept that. You have me now. I will always be there for you. I am your mother and I will help you get over this. When she came to me yesterday, I started making plans too. Right now, my assistant is processing our visas.  We are going to the United States. I am very sure you’ll get a speedy recuperation over there.” I consoled him while he cried and still very confused and totally flabbergasted, he agreed to my plans. I convinced him to spend the rest of the day in the family house. I then took him to his house and he picked some of his personal stuff before I took him to my home, where I plan to keep him until our visas were ready. 

      He must never set his eyes on her again. If I let him see her, my plans will blow sky high. I will do everything possible to prevent that from happening. He didn’t even notice as I slipped his cell phones into my hand bag, they mustn’t have any form of communication whatsoever.

      I then went to see Betty, we’d agreed to meet at her house immediately after the abortion. Before I went to see her, I confirmed her condition from Dr Bernard who assured me that everything went very well. As I drove to Betty’s house, Biodun’s phone began to ring shrilly. I retrieved it from my bag and lo, it was Betty calling. I allowed it to ring until it stopped before I put it on silent mode. The phone would remain with me until I eventually destroyed it. My poor son was too devastated to remember owning a cell phone.

“How was it?” I asked as soon as I entered into her sitting room. “Piece of cake huh?” I added casually. 

“It went well,” she said weakly. She avoided my eyes and I felt she was hiding something but I didn’t care, whatever she was hiding was her business, as far as I am concerned, she was now history to us.

“Have you seen Biodun yet.”  I asked. 

“Oh no, not yet.  I really don’t know how to face him.  You know what I mean.” she said. 

“Oh yes, I think you should avoid him right now if you don’t want him to know what happened. Just one look at you and he’d know at once.  I don’t know how we’ll both face him if he finds out you aborted the baby.  I am a bit scared myself, perhaps you should leave town for a couple of days to recuperate.”

“Leave town? But I didn’t tell him I’ll be traveling. I can’t leave town just like that.”

“My dear, believe me, Biodun mustn’t see you the way you are right now. Besides, he wouldn’t believe you had a miscarriage unless his doctors confirm it. So what we should do is this. Take a trip. Leave him a note that something came up and you had to rush home. Tomorrow morning, call and tell him you lost the baby due to the stress of the journey. Make sure to discourage him should he want to visit you. I am sure after a few days you will be strong enough to face him without giving us both away.”

“Yes, you have a point there.” She said.

“I honestly don’t want our little arrangement to leak. I understand the sacrifice you have made for me today and I won’t forgive myself if you suffer any hurt from Biodun because of this. Take some time off, you need a break my dear. We’ll both come up with a convincing story.” I said patronizingly, giving her the false impression that I honestly cared about her. Her leaving town for a few days was very vital to my plan.

 “You are right. I think I need sometime alone.  I will check into a nice hotel for a few days.” She agreed.

“No, leave town, we can’t afford to take any risk of him running into you. Just explain to him that you had some emergency and you’ll be back as soon as you can. I will help you give him the note.”

“You will? Ok.  I hope I am doing the right thing, I am so confused.”

 “Don’t be, everything is going to be fine, all that stands between you two now is time and I know you are a very patient girl.”

 “Thank you for your understanding and everything.” 

“That’s nothing.” I said and smiled warmly at her.

“I want to use this opportunity to apologize once more for my rude behavior the other day. I am truly very sorry. It will never happen again.”

“Forget it dear. We both over reacted. We were both under serious pressure then but I am glad we have been able to resolve the matter amicably. Now please let us forget that it ever happened, okay?”

 “Okay.”  

“Come on, write the note and be on your way. Won’t you let me in on your hide out?  I might want to pay you a visit you know.”

“I don’t have anywhere in mind, can you recommend any?”

 “Port Harcourt! Yes, the Beach Resort is the perfect place for you. You will be far away from every one that knows you both. I’d also advice that you switch off your phones the whole of today. It wouldn’t do for him to call you and you are short of the right answers to give him for your impromptu journey”

 “How do I explain that to him? I mean my phone being switched off?”

 “Easy girl. No network coverage where you travelled to! Believe me, it is better you cover your tracks very well. Biodun is a very smart man, you must be able to think fast too to outsmart him.”

“Yes, you have a point there. I will switch off my phone until I am sure I can answer his questions but Port Harcourt? I was thinking of somewhere in town.  Do I really have to travel at all and that far too?”

 “As a matter of fact, yes. And why not Port Harcourt if I may ask? That’s the exact and perfect place to rest. You still have time to catch a flight.  I could drop you off at the airport.” 

“This is so sudden.  I didn’t plan to travel and certainly not that far.  I don’t think I can handle that right now.  I mean financially.”

 “Never mind that, I can give you some money.  I almost forgot, I paid a little token into your account yesterday.  Didn’t you get the alert?”

 “No, oh thanks mummy but you don’t need to give me money all the time.”

 “It’s my little way of saying thank you for your understanding over the years. You will no doubt make a good daughter -in-law someday.”

 “Why do I get the feeling that you are buying me?”

“And why do I get the feeling that you are refusing to be bought?” I replied and we both laughed heartily. 

       My God, she is so naïve. I never would have thought she was capable of such naivety. This is what that absurdity, that stupid illusion, that crazy fallacy called love does to a person and it became more disgusting as we talked. How could she not even suspect me? I don’t remember ever being this nice to her. To me, it was more than enough clue for her to suspect me. Her innocence didn’t even give my heart a prick. It merely annoyed me.

       Finally, she agreed to leave town but she decided to go to Kaduna. She decided to drive the almost 200km journey herself. 

      I took the note to my son.  It was the final stroke.  I made her put the time of her journey at 10.30am, the same time Biodun and I sat in my car and waited for her to walk out through the hospital doors. That made everything click and I finally clinched my son’s confidence. He was convinced beyond doubt that she was lying.

     I have won the battle. I warned her not to dare me but she wouldn’t listen. When she gets back, my son and I will be outside the country and he won’t return until he is legally married to Maggie, the woman Otunba and I have chosen for him.


http://www.leisuretimeread.com

Elizabeth Izebere is a prolific writer who prefers to write under the pseudonym Liz Brey Humphrey. She is a Nigerian. www.leisuretimeread.com is her brain child.

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