Ijeoma shuddered as she remembered the words of Angela that morning. She rubbed her palm on her tummy although it was covered in foam from the plates she was washing. She had a vague feeling at the back of her mind, one that had only grown stronger as she was coming home from work. She was sure that it was because of Angela. The woman just wouldn’t give up. She seemed bent on getting Apham to her bed again. She was glad that Apham had no further interest in the woman. That would have doubled her worry. The repulse in his attitude to the woman was so genuine that it couldn’t be faked. She knew her husband well enough to know that he scrunched his nose to things he didn’t like, a reflex action that he didn’t know about. Her worry was how much more seduction would he take before he caved in. Angela was a beautiful woman, old but beautiful and still had a youthful feel to her. Or was she just being too paranoid?
Angela had left their home but she was still Thomas’ wife. She was still in Lagos. How long before she barged back into their lives? Well, not long enough because three days after Ijeoma dropped her at the hotel, she came to visit a distraught Ijeoma in the hospital after she had lost her first child in an accident that nearly took her life.
A sound from Ijeoma brought Apham back to the present, to the hospital where she was recuperating from her third accident and third miscarriage.
“Honey.” He reached blindly for the switch and turned on the bedside light. He looked at Ijeoma. She had a look of distress on her unconscious face and her hands were in a fist on his stomach.
“Honey,” he called softly, pulling her into his arms and rubbing her arms. He called again, adding “Wake up, dear. It’s just a dream.”
She struggled in his arms before she woke up with a start, breathing heavily. “You’re here,” she moaned and buried her head in his neck. “I thought you were gone. I thought you left me and the baby and went to her. And then I was there… lying in a pool of blood, my baby’s blood.” A tear dropped down on his shirt.
“I’m still here, honey. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here, beside you,” he comforted placing his lips on her head.
“I know, but that woman… she is… is so wicked. Why is she doing this to us?” She looked up at him with tearful eyes. “Haven’t we suffered enough?”
Apham took a deep breath remembering how his conversation with his father had gone. “We have to go to Abuja if we want to settle this once and for all. Honey, I know you don’t want to see her, but it’s the only way. I have looked for every possible person that she must have contracted to do this and I still came up with nothing. We have to hear it from her mouth.”
“You told your dad?”
He nodded grimly. “I had to. He was angry that I didn’t tell him sooner. He didn’t say anything to Angela though, we have to keep her in the dark if we want to get to the bottom of it.”
But that was not Ijeoma’s worry. “Did you tell him about…before our marriage-?”
Apham’s body shook. His voice was heavy as he said, “I had to. I told him everything. I thought he would get mad, he would insult me, probably even disown me, but he just focused on our marriage. He said he suspected it and when he tried to investigate, he found nothing about both of us but found out about the other men she was seeing. He no longer cares for the marriage.”
“Oh, honey.” Ijeoma wrapped her hands around him and patted his back gently. “We will get over this, don’t worry. We won’t let her succeed.”
“Dad is calling one of his classmates. He’s a pastor and he has experience with this type of matter.”
“A pastor?” Ijeoma was skeptic, remembering the two pastors she had given huge amounts of money to after her second miscarriage.
“No, don’t worry. Dad is certain about this one. He wouldn’t call a crook at this critical stage. Anything that happens can result in something worse. I don’t want to take any chances.” His voice was firm.
Ijeoma nodded. She had known that after the third accident, there would be barely any opportunity to give birth to her child. A lump caught in her throat and once again the tears flowed down her eyes.
“Babe?” Apham bundled her into his arms. A single tear rolled down his eyes as he listened to her broken sobs. This was what they had been reduced to—sitting on a hospital bed, crying in each other arms. Though he would have it no other way. He wished he had not cooked them this elaborate pot of troubles. He wished he had been able to keep his trousers zipped, his hands to himself. If he had, there was no way Angela would become obsessed with him, obsessed to the extent that she went as far as cursing his wife to a cycle of accidents and miscarriages.
The first accident had been just that to them, an accident. A trailer was speeding in her direction and she had to swerve to avoid crashing into it and in the end, ran into a car that was parked by the side of the road. It had been a small accident as the cars behind her were able to pull their brakes before any more damage could be done. She lost the baby, bleeding into the gray leather seat of her car.
It was the second accident that told them that it was not just an accident that led to a miscarriage. It was a scenario frighteningly similar to that of the first. The damage remained the same, her car was barely scratched but she still lost her pregnancy. That was when they visited the two pastors. At least, one told them that someone had planted a curse against her. But they were unable to get to the root of the matter.
When she got pregnant with their third baby, they attended a vigil service. They underwent fasting and serious prayers. He employed a driver to take her where she wanted and she quit from work to remain at home for the duration of the pregnancy. She only left the house for her ante-natal care. It was when she was returning from the hospital that the accident had happened. It was more serious than the previous two. The driver had no injury, yet she had a severe concussion and again lost her child.