The weather was warm when they walked out of the airport in Abuja. A jeep pulled up in front of them and they got inside. Ijeoma and Apham sat in the back seat while Lilian and the bodyguard took the middle seat. Ijeoma still didn’t like that Apham had all but forced the girl to join them. She had argued with him that morning when he insisted that she had someone familiar with her condition come with them. Lilian was the nearest match following their doctor friend that had treated her in all three miscarriages. But the doctor couldn’t leave his work, so the choice was Lilian. She liked the young girl. Lilian had the bubbly enthusiasm that she had when she was much younger before she met Apham. Through the few times they had talked, she discovered that Lilian despite her age was vastly knowledgeable. She was someone she enjoyed talking to. She had observed the girl’s look from when she arrived in their home in the afternoon and it was etched in worry. Well, that was until they got to the airport and the look on her face was replaced with awe. She laughed when the girl let out a visible sigh of relief when they stood in front of the counter, and then brought out her phone to take pictures. Going as far as to ask the stoic-faced guard to take full pictures of her.
It was dark outside as they rode out of the airport. She could no longer busy her mind with the thoughts of the young nurse. She had something more worrisome, that threatened her sanity. Going back to the family house to stay with Angela, the cause of her present predicament. She had not seen the woman in three years since she came to see her in the hospital. But she was not absent from their life. She had made a permanent position for herself that even if they wanted to, they could not eject her from it.
She wondered briefly how Apham would face his father. While the older man had sounded amiable on the phone, but this was his wife and his son. How would he take it? What would he do to Apham? She had shared her worries with Apham. He shook them aside, telling her that the main problem was Angela, and until the problem she ignited was solved, it was hard for them to do anything else. Though he spoke with certainty, she saw the fear and doubt in his eyes. What if at the end of it all, he loses the only surviving parent he had all because of a woman that had played him so roughly that he was still living in the pain?
The familiar gates came into view and Ijeoma prepared herself mentally for what was coming. When the car came to a stop in front of the house, they came down from the car in silence. The nurse gaped at the big house and Ijeoma almost laughed at her expression, but Apham was talking to the gateman.
“Is my dad at home?”
“Oga leave the house now now, e neva tey. Na only Madam Angela dey inside the house.” Then lowering his voice to a whisper, he added, “They quarrel serious quarrel this afternoon. I go listen but I no hear wetin dem talk well well.”
“When is he coming back?” Ijeoma asked, a look of distress on her face.
“I no know o. But he no carry car. He wear that him white short-knicker and singlet.”
Ijeoma sighed in relief. “I think he went out to jog. He wouldn’t take long, right?” She looked at Apham.
Apham rubbed his face tiredly. “I don’t know. Do you think we should wait for him? I don’t really want to face that woman right now.”
“Me too,” Ijeoma admitted. “I feel so scared of her. I still can’t believe that she actually cursed us like that. Is she that wicked?”
He shrugged. “She is. For her to put us through this because of a depraved sense of love, I feel she is crazy and wicked.”
They had moved closer to each other and lowered their voice, but standing close to them was Lilian who was tipping her head closer to hear what they were saying.
“Why is she so obsessed about you? There are many other young men like you. If she looks very well, she would find a willing person that is similar to you in body size. Why is she bent on having you?” Ijeoma asked. This was something she had never been able to wrap her head around.
“If I knew, I wouldn’t let it get to a stage that she put my wife in danger three times. I won’t talk about the children we have lost, three of them.” His voice was grim.
Ijeoma sniffed and buried her face in his chest. He brought his hands around her waist and pulled her even closer. “It’s okay babe. Everything will be alright.”
Just then, the small gate opened and a sweaty, breathy mass in white entered the house. Ijeoma pulled away from Apham wiping away the tear that was slowly rolling down her cheeks. “He is back.”
The couple walked towards Thomas, meeting him halfway.
“Dad, good evening.”
“Good evening, daddy.”
Thomas smiled widely at the two of them. There was no change in the way he treated them. It was still the same warm and welcoming attitude.
“I want to hug you both, but my body is so messy-” he was saying but Ijeoma was already on him. She flung herself on his body and began to sob.
“Oh, dear!” He handed the bottle in his hand to Apham and wrapped his hands around the sobbing woman. “It’s okay, honey. I will take care of everything.”
Apham came closer and patted her comfortingly.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” He threw an accusatory look at Apham. “And allowing it to turn to something like this? This is someone’s daughter, my daughter as well.”
Apham looked to the ground in shame. He had prided himself in being able to take of business matters well, but he failed in taking care of his family.
It took a while for Ijeoma’s sobs to reduce and then she pulled away, confused by the way she had acted in front of everyone. She could feel the curious look of the nurse on her, the look of sympathy from the gate-man, the look of worry on Apham’s face. She wiped her face and said, “Daddy, hope you are fine.”
“I should be asking you that question.” He put his hand round her shoulder. “But not here. You should go in and have a good rest. You are just coming from the hospital.” They started towards the entrance before Thomas noticed Lilian who had been standing at a corner watching the whole scene unfold.
“And who is this pretty lady?” Thomas smiled widely at her, stretching his hand to her.