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Friday, September 22, 2017

Two Brides And A Ring (13)



One year after the accident...

 ***

Comfort came into the living room with a glass of water, then placed his drugs on a stool by his chair.

"Thanks, dear," said Ebuka as he took the glass from her.

She stood watching him as he took the drugs one after the other.

"Do you want anything else? Like a snack or something?"

He shook his head as he placed the glass on the stool.

"I'm ok. It's not long we ate dinner." As she made to walk away, he held her hand.

"Why don't you sit and rest a bit? You've been on your feet all day, taking care of me and the kids. What would I have done without you, Comfort?"

She sat down on a seat next to his wheelchair and sighed. "It's my duty as your wife. No need thanking me," she said, thinking of all that had happened in their lives in the past one year- Ebuka's accident that left him paralysed from the waist down, caring for him and running the household nearly all by herself as Ama, who was supposed to help, was hardly at home.

It had been a tough time for the family but they had been able to weather some of the tough storms so far.

"By the way, have you heard from Ama?" said Ebuka, glancing at the wall clock. "It's past 9 pm already and she's not home yet," he said. Ama had left  home earlier that morning to visit her friend Rosie.

"Maybe, she wants to sleep over at her friend, Rosie's place," Comfort suggested.

 "Why would a woman with young children do that? If it were not for you, how would I have coped with the children in my condition?  Anyway, she'll come home to meet me here!" he said grimly.

Just then,  they heard the sound of a car driving into the compound and a car door slamming shut.

Comfort got up to peep through the curtains.

"Looks like she's back." She went to open the front door just in time for Ama to stagger in barefoot, closely followed by a strange man.

Comfort looked at him enquiringly.

"Who are you"? she demanded.

"A friend. We were together at the nite club. She was drunk, in no state to drive so I brought her home."

He handed Ama's car keys, shoes and handbag to her.

"My God!" said Ebuka, his eyes flicking over Ama now slumped on the couch like one dead.

After the man had left, Comfort struggled to take Ama upstairs to her room. She was not keen, insisting on sleeping right there on the couch and even demanding another drink though she was reeking of alcohol.

Ebuka shook his head, his mouth twisted in disgust. "Look at the state of her! She claimed she was visiting her friend so how did she end up at a nite club? " he wondered aloud.

***
It was already noon when Ama came downstairs the following morning, bleary - eyed and rough-looking, her long weave hanging in unbrushed waves down her back.

Ebuka, who was checking his mails on his laptop,  looked up as she walked into the parlour.

"Morning, " she said perfunctorily. She flopped on the couch, yawning loudly.

He glanced at his watch. "It's past 12 already. I guess it's still morning to you since you just woke up!" he said sarcastically.

She glanced round the room.

"Where's everybody?"

"Comfort has gone to church with Nonso. Munachi is with Ene in the kitchen."

There was silence for a while.

"Why Ama? Why are you doing this?"

"What is it now?" she said grumpily.

"You know damn well what I mean!" he said sharply. "You're hardly at home. You go out and come home drunk most times. What's wrong with you? Have you forgotten you're a mother of two young children? What kind of mother are you? If Comfort was not here, how would I have coped in my condition? "

"At least she takes good care of them," she reasoned.

"So, is Comfort their mother now?" he retorted. "And what about me? When was the last time you paid attention to me? This is the time I need your care and love most but you're always out. Comfort does nearly everything for me and the children in this house. All you..."

"Look Ebuka," she cut in rudely. "I'm not in the mood for this lecture this morning.  My head hurts and I feel like shit."

"And you look like shit!" he pointed out. "And who's to blame for that? All you do is go out to party and get drunk! By the way, who was that man that brought you home last night?" he queried.

"Just a friend."

"A friend, " he said in a sarcastic tone. "And does this so called friend realise you're a married woman with kids? Are you cheating on me, Ama?" he glared at her.

"What kind of question is that?"

"You think I'm a fool or because I'm confined to this wheelchair, I don't know what's going on? I hear stories about how you are seen all over town with different men."

She shrugged.

"Believe whatever you want. I don't care!" she said defiantly.

"You better do! And try to mend your ways because this path you've chosen will lead you nowhere good!"

"That's my business! Besides, what have I done  to make you so angry? Is it now a crime to hang out with my friends once in a while? You want me to stay home to do what? Play nurse to you and the kids? That's not my style! Too boring!"

He wagged a finger at her. "Just remember for once that you're a mother. Learn to act like one!"

"Whatever!" she scoffed at him. She got up and marched to the kitchen, calling for Ene.

***

If Ebuka thought his talk with Ama would make her change her wild ways, he was mistaken. Her behaviour grew worse. It reached a point where she would leave home for days, stating she was either at her Mum's or Rosie's place.

"If you don't care about me, what about the children?  Do you even care whether they eat or starve?" Ebuka asked her one afternoon. She had just returned home after missing for days, reeking of alcohol as usual.

"They look neat and healthy to me. So, what's your problem? "

"You're shirking your responsibilities to them, that's the problem! Why's it so hard for you to understand that?" he said hotly.

Comfort, noting how his worries over Ama's behaviour was affecting his health, said one evening while they were at the dining table:

"Dear, the doctor says your BP is going up. I know you're thinking a lot about this Ama's issue but you need to take it easy. You need to be in good health for the operation you're scheduled to have soon. If it goes well,  the doctor says, there's a great chance you could walk again."

He sighed and placed his fork on his plate of rice.

"I don't understand Ama anymore," he said, shaking his head. "She has changed so much from the loving girl I used to know. She doesn't listen to me, she disrespects me. She's. .."

"It's ok, dear," said Comfort, patting his hand in a reassuring manner. "Everything will be fine. Trust me. I'll have a word with her. Now eat. Have some dodo (fried plantain). It's tasty..."

Two weeks later...

One Saturday evening,  Ebuka was in the parlour watching football on TV when there was a knock on the door.

"Ene! Ene, come and get the door!" he called out in the direction of the kitchen for the maid.

"Gooday."

Ebuka looked round in the direction of the voice. His brows went up when he saw the visitor.

"You!" he said. It was the man who had brought Ama home some nights before. "What do you want now?"

"I came to see Ama."

"About what? Look here, man..."

"Oh, you are here," said Ama, coming down the stairs. She was dressed for going out, her shoes clicking on the tiled floor as she walked towards the  mystery man.

"You look sweet, babe!" the man said, giving her a look over.

Ebuka could not believe his ears.

"Babe? Are you aware this woman you're calling 'Babe' is my wife and mother of my children?" he said.

The man did not answer but took Ama's hand in his.

"Let's go," said Ama, heading for the door.

"And you, where do you think you're going?" Ebuka demanded.

"Out. We have a party to attend and we are running late as it is," she said.

 "So, it has come to this Ama? You now flaunt your boyfriends in my face? How dare you?" he shouted at her. Comfort who was cooking in the kitchen,  rushed out on hearing the raised voices.

"What's going on here?" she queried. Then she noticed the man standing besides Ama.

"You again? What do you want here?" said Comfort.

"Ask him! And that bitch besides him! Can you imagine, she's bringing her lovers to my home?"

Comfort turned to Ama.

"Ama, what do you think you're doing? This is wrong on all levels! It makes you look irresponsible. What kind of example are you setting for the children? "

Ama raised her hand to silence her.

"This is none of your business so stay out of it!" She grabbed the man's hand.

"Come on, Gabe! Let's get out of here!" Ama said.

"If you step one foot out of that door, Ama, note that that is the last time you will enter this house! I might be wheel chair bound, but I'm still a man and I'll not tolerate anymore of your antics! Be warned!" Ebuka said threateningly.

At the door, she turned round to look scornfully at him. "Who wants to remain with you anyway? You call yourself a man? Ha! Listen, you're just a half man, a cripple who is useless to me, one who can't perform his duties as a man. When was the last time you touched me? Who wants to live in a place and with a man who looks at me like I'm a piece of furniture? This," she said, hugging her boyfriend. " This is what I need right now, a real man who makes me feel like a woman. So, bye!"

"Ama, come back here!" Comfort shouted at her. But she was gone, without even a backward glance...


***

Will Ama return or she's gone for good? Details in the final episode to be published this weekend.  Watch out!












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