The next room oozed love. I was filled with it before the red door came to sight. I briefly wondered if it was my lover, my husband that was waiting for me behind the door. I breathed with excited anticipation. When the chair rode into the room, I felt my anticipation plunge down to my stomach at the sight of the young couple in front of me. My disappointment must have been picked by the room as the red took on an orange glow. I schooled my reaction, glad that it returned to its original color as quickly as it had changed to orange.
“Mrs. Chiemerie.” They stood up and bowed deeply, an expression of reverence on their face. I had the feeling of a goddess.
“Hello,” my voice betrayed the nervousness inside of me. The young boy looked no more than twenty-seven. He was tall and made the girl look even shorter as she only came up to his chest.
“Thank you for saving our lives. We are highly indebted to you,” the girl said in a singsong voice. While I liked my slim body and long legs, I was a little jealous of her small but compact shape. With the young man, they made a perfect couple, a beautiful, picture-perfect couple.
“I don’t remember…” Almost immediately as I was speaking, one part of the wall displayed a bright screen almost blinding my eyes. The chair took me closer to the wall.
The couple were in a keke, the girl was leaning on the shoulder of the man. “I’m so tired. I can’t wait for this wedding to be over.”
“I still don’t understand why you’re complaining. You are the one that insisted on a big wedding.” Though he was querying her, his eyes were filled with affection. He reached for her shoulders and started massaging it. She moaned in delight attracting a stern look from the middle-aged man that sat beside them.
The man chuckled softly and smiled at the man apologetically.
“We will drop here,” the man said as the driver made to turn into another road. They came down from the keke. The girl leaned on him as he settled the driver.
“When will we be getting the car?” the girl complained, probably thinking of the distance they had to walk before they got home. “I don’t mind the type of car, any car would be better than having to walk a hundred kilometers before getting home.”
The man sighed. “I know, but I want to buy a good car. If possible a Range rover. I’ve saved up enough for it. By the end of this month, I should be able to buy it.”
“Well, I feel really guilty,” the girl muttered. “If I had not requested for an extravagant wedding-”
“Hey, honey. It’s okay. It’s a once-in-a-life thing. I don’t mind how much we spend on it. I just want to make sure that life after it would be comfortable for you. I mean, among all the men that came for you, you still chose me. I have to make sure you get the life you deserve.”
“I love you so much.” Her eyes shined as she leaned into him. “Let’s get some roasted corn from the provision store lady.”
He kissed her forehead lightly. “Anything for you baby.” The scene faded back into the red wall.
I waited for some minutes so that it would continue playing. It didn’t. Apparently, it was the end. I turned to them. “I don’t understand. There is nothing about how I saved any of you.” I just got fed with the profound love between the both of you, I added silently.
“Well, you did in a big way. There would have been a big accident that day, where I and Mana’a stood. If you had not-” The screen became bright again. I looked at it.
It changed to another scene, the house where I had been killed. My voice filled the room, but I was not yet in sight. “I’m not going back to that house. That man will kill me. Mummy, did you see the way he beat me? I sent you the picture yesterday night.” I saw myself come into the living room. I gasped at my face; swollen cheeks, blackened eyes and worse, I was limping.
The voice on the other line was so shrill that I wanted to close my ears. “Austa, are you mad? How will you leave your husband’s house? He is here, and he said he is sorry. Can’t you forgive him?”
The reply was snarky. “Forgive? I will not die because of forgiveness o. I have forgiven him but I am not going back to that house.”
“Austa, he is coming to your house now. If you like, don’t go back to that house. You are still married to him and if you like-” Just then the sound of the doorbell resounded in the house.
I frowned. “Who is that?”
“It is Kanayo, better listen to him o. I don’t know what is wrong with these child-” I cut the call and limped to the door. With caution, I peeped through the keyhole.
“What do you want?” I seethed.
“Baby, please I’m sorry,” a croaky voice came through the door. “Please, just listen to me this last time. I swear after this time, you can do anything and I won’t stop you.”
“No, Kanayo,” my voice was firm. “I am not going back to that house so that you will continue using me as your punching bag. No!”
A weird cry reached her ears from the other door. “Baby. I love you so much, so much that I control myself when…I hate myself for raising my hand against you. I can cut off my hand for you if it means you coming back to me. Darling please, don’t make me leave without you.”
“I don’t want to. That was what you said the last time, you remember the last time, because I told you that I couldn’t prepare moi-moi on such short notice, and you beat me. I am not going to fall for your empty promises again.”
“Baby, I swear,” the sound of shuffles came from the door. “I’m on my knees now. I’m going to swear on my mother’s grave that if I ever raise my hand against you again, I will never succeed in anything I put my hands to.”
I could see the resolve of the girl on the screen began to thaw. She listened to him, and then when she opened the door to let him in, the screen went blank.
“That’s it?” I was stunned again. How had this got to do with the couple in front of me? The chair turned me to face them. I tipped my head questioningly at them.
“If you hadn’t let him in that moment, he would have stayed in his car for a long time, consuming the drinks he had in his car. He would have gotten drunk, he would have been driving through that road at that moment that we were standing there. He would have lost control and it would have been too late for the both of us to move away from the road. I would have been hospitalized for six months, the first five in a coma. And Mana’a…she would..she would have died.” His voice broke on the last words. He took her in his arms to assure himself that she was still there. “I would still hold our wedding, with her picture. But I would join her later. The same way she had died. I would have gotten drunk as well and plunge headfirst into an electric pole. I would never wake up from the second coma.” The red in the room had toned down to a pinkish-gray. The grief was encompassing, suffocating.
“But it didn’t happen,” I said.
They nodded and bowed again. “You saved us. We are still married now. Mana’a is pregnant with our third child.”
“Wow, congratulations.” I was genuinely happy for them. The room was back to its bright pink. “Wait a minute, you said you are still married? Are you still alive?”
They nodded enthusiastically. “For us this is just a dream. We would wake up and have little memory of it. But it doesn’t diminish our gratitude we have for you.”
“That’s good.” I nodded.
“Once again, we are grateful to you.” They bowed. The room began folding into itself. The couple folded into the wall.
Back in the yellow room, I was left wondering what happened to me after I let my husband into the house. If that meant I went home with him, then what was I doing back in my house at the time of my death. I had a sudden premonition that the question would be answered by the fourth person, and I surely wasn’t anticipating it.