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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Two Brides And A Ring (12)



Comfort adjusted the collar on his shirt then hugged him close.
"I'll miss you,  darling," she said, a sad note in her voice.

Ebuka laughed softly. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her lightly on the mouth.

"I'll only be away for a few days. You talk as if I'm travelling for ever."

He was going to Owerri to attend the burial ceremony of the father of his friend and business partner, Emmanuel. It was Friday morning and he was driving down to the city in the company of Ebiye, another friend of his.

"Anyway, " he said when they broke apart. "You ladies should live in peace while I'm away. I don't want to come back to hear you've had one of your fights."

"You don't have to worry about that. Ama has changed a lot these days- for the better. You know she didn't used to allow me near the children.  Now, she allows me carry and play with them."

Ebuka nodded.

"I noticed that too. That's the kind of thing I want to see- peace and harmony in this house."

"Well'll be going to the amusement park tomorrow with the children then go over to your parents house for a visit. Your Mum says it's been long she saw the children, " Comfort disclosed.

"I see you all are going to have a swell time in my absence!"

Comfort smiled then said: "You know the most wonderful thing?"

He looked at her curiously.

"What's it?"

"Little Nonso even calls me Mummy," she said softly. "The first time it happened,  I felt so happy, it was like I had won the lottery."

He held her hands in his and said: "I understand how you feel. Soon, I promise you, you'll be a Mum too, holding a child of your own."

She looked at him in a coy manner.

"And how do you propose to do that?" she asked.

He glanced towards the bed, a mischievous smile curving his mouth.

"Let's go over there and I'll show you how!"

She hit him playfully on the chest and pushed him away.

"Stop teasing me, Ebuka. No time for that now. Remember you've to pick up Ebiye at home and I'm sure he must be waiting," she said, bending down to pick up his small travelling bag.

***

"Mummy, cayi me!" little Nonso lisped as he ran towards Comfort who had just entered the living room later that evening.

Ama snickered at him.

"Always wanting to be carried!  You think you're a little baby like Munachi? " she said.

She was sitting on the couch breastfeeding her four months old baby boy.

Comfort bent low towards the little boy. "It's ok, sweetheart. I'll carry you!"

And she lifted him up and threw him in the air, making him squeal with laughter.

Later, after the children had been put to bed, both women sat chatting and watching a programme on TV.

"You know," Comfort said suddenly, turning to Ama who was curled up on the couch. "I never knew I'll say this but you've made Ebuka a very happy man with your presence here and these beautiful kids you've had. And when he's happy, I'm happy too. Thanks Ama!"

Ama raised her head to glance at Comfort.

"I should be the one thanking you. For accepting me in this house. Not every woman can do that," she said.

Comfort smiled ruefully at her.
"I had no choice in the matter. You know how Ebuka is. Once he desires something, no force on earth can stop him having it. He wanted you. So...she said, shrugging.

"You're right," said Ama. "This our man, he's one stubborn guy!"
They both laughed.

"You remember that night some months ago he returned from work and said he wanted pounded yam for his dinner."

Comfort nodded, smiling at the memory.

"There was no yam in the house and I pleaded with him to wait till the following day when I can buy some," she reminisced. "But he insisted he must have that dish so the driver had to go to one of the night markets in town to look for yam to buy. Worse,  I had to pound yam at 9pm at night just to satisfy his craving for pounded yam and vegetable soup!"

"Hmm. I think his parents spoilt him; you know being the only son amongst five girls." Ama said. For the rest of the evening,  the two ladies talked and gossiped about Ebuka and other issues,  laughing and having fun just like they used to do in the past before rivalry for Ebuka's love, tore their friendship apart...

Funtime
It was past noon when they arrived at the amusement park the following day. Being a weekend,  the place was filling up with parents and their children out for a day of fun.

Comfort stood watching as Nonso played with a couple of children on the slide.

"He will be thirsty when he's done playing. Let me get some drinks," Comfort said to Ama who was sitting on a swing, her eyes glued to her phone.

She walked towards a kiosk some metres away that sold soft drinks, ice cream and snacks.

"Comfort, is that you?" a voice behind her said.

Comfort turned to see a plump looking woman pushing a baby stroller towards her. By her side were a little girl of about three who looked as if she had been crying and an older woman who held the child's hand.

"Boma! Wow! Long time! Are you still in this Port- Harcourt? she cried excitedly, walking forward to embrace the woman, a friend and course mate at the University of Port Harcourt.

"I should be asking you that! We saw last like last year during Abigail's wedding. You don't even call!" Boma said grumpily.

"Don't be annoyed. I've been so busy with so many things going on in my life," Comfort explained. She turned to greet the other woman whom Boma introduced as her sister- in-law who was visiting from Lagos.

"What's wrong with Ibiso? Why's she crying?" she asked, looking at the child who gazed up at her with large curious eyes.

"Don't mind her. She wanted more ice cream after eating so much already. I refused to buy more for her and she started throwing tantrums." Boma explained. "So how's Ebuka?" she asked. "And his other woman?"

"He's fine. He's gone to Owerri for a burial. Ama's ok too. She's here with the children."

"Wow! You guys are really living like one big happy family now! Interesting," Boma said.

Comfort shrugged.

"What can I do? It's what my husband wants. I either endure it or get out. And at this stage, I can't live without Ebuka."

They stood chatting for a while then Comfort left for the kiosk.

Boma stood, watching her friend walk away and shook her head.
"I don't understand this my friend at all. How can she bear it, living with another woman under the same roof? I won't be able to cope. I'll go crazy or kill the other woman or even my husband," said Boma grimly.

"She's a grown woman and it's her choice. She could have left the man but she chose to stay," said the in law.

"Mummy, I want another ice cream!"  Ibiso cried, pulling at her mother's skirt but Boma ignored her as they walked away.

***
Comfort and Ama returned home that evening tired but happy. The day had gone wonderfully well. For the first time since they had started living together, they had had a nice family outing with the children.

"I think we should be doing this more often. What do you say to that?" asked Comfort as Ama parked the car in the compound.

Ama shrugged, turned and smiled at Comfort who was in the passenger seat with Muna in her arms. At the back seat was little Nonso who was sleeping peacefully, watched over by the maid.

"Cool by me," she said as she cut the engine and got out of the car. "I've had fun today with you and the kids."

Inside the house, Ama went up to her and flopped on the bed. Her mind went to the cream inside her wardrobe and her mouth twisted in a sardonic smile.

'Soon. Very soon, he'll be all mine!" she thought happily.

***
It was about nine o'clock the following morning and Comfort was getting ready for church when the phone call came.

A smile split her face when she saw the caller ID.

"Morning dear. How was the ceremony?  Are you on your way home now?" she said.

But it was not her husband on the line but a voice she did not recognise.

"Hello? Is this Madam Comfort, Mr Ebuka's wife?" asked the voice on the other end.

Comfort frowned.

"Who's this? And what are you doing with my husband's phone?"

"Madam, you need to come right away," the man said urgently. As he continued to speak, her heart froze with fear and she felt suddenly dizzy...

"There's been an accident. And you..."

"Accident?" Comfort cut in. "My husband, is he alright,?" she queried, fear gripping her.

"I can't say for now. Come to St Nicholas Hospital at Phase 2, GRA."

Comfort stood looking at the phone, a dazed look on her face. Then throwing off the elaborate headgear on her head and snatching the car keys from the dressing table, rushed from the room, shouting: "Ama! Ama!"

 ***

They both sat facing the doctor who was going through a file on his cluttered desk. Then he adjusted his glasses, glanced up at Comfort.

"What I'm about to say is confidential so she may have excuse us," he said, looking at Ama.

Comfort shook her head.

"It's ok, Doctor. You can speak freely before both of us. She's my husband's second wife," said Comfort.

A look of surprise appeared briefly on the doctor's face then he gazed down on the file once more and turned a page.

"You both need to be strong because what I'm about to say might shock you, " he said.

"What's it, doctor?" Ama said anxiously.

"It's like this. The injuries your husband sustained in the accident were so severe that we didn't give him much chance of surviving when he was brought in here a week ago. We are happy at the progress he's making so far; his condition is stable now. The only thing is," he said, pausing. "I'm sorry to say, from the tests we've carried out, the injury to his spinal cord was so bad, he might not be able to walk again!"

Ama's hand flew to her mouth as she exclaimed: "Oh my God!"

She turned to Comfort,  who was looking at the doctor, a stricken look on her face...


To be continued.


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