Sunday, 22 October 2017

THE WIFE I NEVER MARRRIED Last Episode 33 & 34

Continues..
EIGHT MONTHS LATER.
Omachoko didn’t understand why his mother practically came over to open the car’s door for him. Now, she didn’t do that literarily, so to speak, but his mother haven’t come out to welcome him back from trips with this kind of worried look all over her face before. It is even more bothersome as it’s not any of his long trips. He only left here two weeks ago for Christ sake.
“Olodudu ma!” He prostrated courteously.
The old woman only smiled at him without responding to his greeting, neither was she moving any inch away from the place she’s been standing, just a little distance from the parking lot. Omachoko pressed down the car lock immediately he saw his assistant was done packing everything he came with. Not as though he travelled with a lot of luggage. He likes to travel as light as possible, and the only constant part of his load would be his heavy ‘timberland’ shoes.
He watched as his mother’s eyes followed the nylon in his assistant’s hand until the young man disappeared from their sight. Everyone in this house can tell what’s in that nylon and who it’s for.
“I chane mewn!” came her voice.
Omachoko felt relieved that his mother finally spoke out, even though her words were not consoling enough, as it were. The old woman narrated to him how ‘his wife’ as she normally call her has been ‘misbehaving’ ever since he left. She doesn’t respond whenever anyone wants to engage her in discussions. At times she sits crying and lost, deep in thoughts. The worst part was that she wasn’t eating well enough. Most times, she would give the lame excuse of not having appetite for the particular food presented and even when another is brought to her, she turns it down absolutely. Omachoko’s mother understands how it is with pregnancy, and how some people suddenly develop frustrating habits towards the climax of their gestation period. She thought initially that Omachoko’s ‘wife’ was having one of those mood swings and nauseating feelings that accompanies pregnancy, but lately she has resulted to worrying.
Not eating. Not sleeping. Not having peace of mind.
It’s not safe for the young girl, it’s not safe for her unborn child either.
Omachoko tried to encourage his mother and make her see reasons with the poor girl. She has gone through a whole lot in her little life and his mother knows all of these. He commends the woman though, because, he didn’t know how he would have coped with Laibe when she insisted on coming back to the village. Laibe’s aunty couldn’t even say anything when Laibe’s decision was told her. Omachoko could see guilt in aunty Udale’s eyes – the type that makes one sign off any deal just so as to regain respect in the sight of the other party.
Laibe on her own part gave him a lot of problems when she came back to Ofabo. Her both friends were gone – Ebi is married and Umali is hustling somewhere nobody knows in Lagos. Her grandfather – who was her rock in the village – was dead, and to crown it up, Omachoko has become helplessly busy, so much so that he can’t afford to stay back in the village with her at the times she probably wanted him to. He remembered Laibe insisting on going back to live in her empty grandfather’s house.
‘Has something come loosed in her head?’ Omachoko thought within, when those words left Laibe’s mouth. However was she thinking of living alone with pregnancy in an empty and isolated house.
Never!
Omachoko employed two more house helps, in addition to the three his mother had before. All was for Laibe. So that the love of his life can stay comfortable in his family house and have everything done for her at her beck and call while he continues on his marketing, distribution and agricultural research works that are all lined up in front of him. Things even got overcrowded after the federal government hired his labour in addition to the tedious demands from the state government.
“Ugbo I de abajoi?” Omachoko asked his mother where Laibe would be at the moment. The woman pointed in the direction that lead to the back of the house and Omachoko literally ran off there.
True to his mother’s statement, Laibe was sitting on the wooden bench at the back of the house. This place has become her most favourite part of the house for obvious reasons. Omachoko had asked her, a month after he finally brought her back to Ofabo, if she could grant him one of his lifelong wishes. And when she asked him what that could be, he simply asked to lay his head on her laps. Omachoko could remember how she laughed unbelievably.
At times, Laibe wonders why Omachoko practically adores her.
They had a very long discussion that sunny morning with his dreadlocks resting on her tiny thighs as she crossed her legs on each other, so as to make the ‘bony pillow’ high enough for Omachoko. The young man is so hefty that the bench that bore Laibe comfortably could only bear his right leg, on which he placed his cowboy’s hat, while the left leg rested on the bare ground. They talked about a lot of things, even though he did the bulk of the talking - as talking has practically been deleted from Laibe’s to-do list. His eyes bore holes through Laibe’s face and he wished he could not just kiss her deeply, letting his tongue roll through the entire cavity of her beautiful mouth till they both got breathless, but also kiss all her pains away. That was the closest they’ve gotten ever. He could feel his own heartbeat as Laibe’s hands gentle stroked his dreads. She has always been his worst addiction.
Even with the so much exposure Omachoko has now, they are two things about him that didn’t change. First is, he wouldn’t stop wearing heavily intimidating timberland shoes – very expensive ones now though, alongside a cowboy’s hat. A passionate farmer to the core. Second, and most important, is that his affection for Laibe hasn’t wavered in the very least.
Ocholi also came over to see Laibe after about four months of settling in Ofabo. By that time, her once flat tummy was shooting out and she felt very disappointed in herself, facing her one time crush with heavy pregnancy for none other than his elder brother. The good thing though is that no one seem to be stigmatising her for it. Omachoko’s mother has taken her in as her own daughter ever since. Staying in Omachoko’s family house was the most reasonable thing to do, even though she gave him a lot of stress before yielding to his suggestion. She is heavily pregnant, and being her first time, going to live alone in Baba’s empty compound wasn’t ideal after all. She could get scared, feel haunted or even harm herself when alone.
Laibe enjoyed Ocholi’s visit. He stayed two nights and Omachoko was around at that time, so it was all fun and games for the three of them. Ocholi brought her new sets of drawing materials and even when she wasn’t interested, he insisted she redrew the last painting she did - the painting in the white paper. Laibe couldn’t believe Ocholi preserved the paper until that time, but he did. According to him, he knew that wasn’t just a painting but some way of expressing deep inexpressible thoughts, so he was hoping that one day, Laibe would come around and let him in on all of it; on all of those things that terrified her silently and made light scare her. All of those things that made her attempt such a deep painting. That’s, of course, till everything turned messy. Ocholi was already getting to the middle of his first year in the master’s program then but he knew he needed to come back home after all Aunty Udale explained to him over the phone… or so he said. Laibe was more important than the very demanding course work he left behind. To Laibe, Ocholi’s coming brought some sort of healing to her, at least he didn’t sound like he was utterly disappointed in her.
“Woman!”
Omachoko startled her.
Laibe formed a little frown on her face. Omachoko would never stop doing same thing, especially after you let him know that thing is upsetting you. Typical of him. She had warned him not to call her ‘woman’ uncountable times but he wouldn’t bulge. She got used to it anyway; after these long months.
“You scared me!” Laibe got up and hit him hard on his chest till he screamed out in fake pain.
“Someone missed me too much she couldn’t eat her food, so I heard!” Omachoko said, touching her soft cheeks lovingly. Laibe has added a recognisable amount of weight, maybe due to the pregnancy and also due to too much enjoyment.
“Ahhh! Was that what Mama told you?”
Omachoko laughed, seeing the innocence Laibe was trying hard to portray. He drew closer to her, till the space between them would barely be enough for air to pass through, except that her protruded stomach gave a natural barrier. He could feel Laibe’s heart beating fast as he looked on at her.
“OK! Yes! I missed you.” Laibe said quickly, waving him off with her hand before turning her back. Omachoko laughed even harder. He knows Laibe has always been allergic to stares, especially when it’s deep and leering like the one some moments ago. He wrapped his hands around her waist as her back leaned against his chest.
“You still didn’t switch on your phone?” He said into her ears like a whisper.
Laibe shrugged. “Not again! You were at least contacting me through Mama, weren’t you?”
“I may not be the only one that want to call you, you know? Your friends may want to say Hi to you, Ocholi may want to talk to you too, it’s been over five months since he left here. Your aunty, your…”
“Enough!” she screamed, snapping herself off his hands.
Omachoko stepped back as he watched her flare up in anger. Laibe’s anger is interesting, because she would barely say anything before tears come pouring down. Her tears are golden, and Omachoko never want to see them.
“I bought you corn beef. The exact type you like.” He took another method to pacify her and like a baby, the almost crying Laibe started smiling through her tears.
Now, they were there.
“Why do you do all these for me, ‘Choko?” she drew nearer to the wooden bench and sat down. Due to her condition, she can barely stand for long before getting exhausted these days.
Omachoko came over to where she sat, and took his seat as well. He clamped his hand and this time avoided eye contact.
“I must have probably told you this enough times but there is no harm in repeating it, right? Especially when the big woman says to.”
Laibe eyeballed him coldly and he smiled.
“The day I told Baba that I was going to Ankpa, he asked me a question I would never forget in a hurry. He asked me to tell him whether that decision was made because of you or that I really wanted to go to Ankpa. Deep down, I knew my going to Ankpa was to combat with the distance created between you and I.”
“But I never saw you. Not even once.” Laibe cut in.
He nodded in the affirmative. “You don’t ask for the heart of an ambitious girl with an empty hand.”
Laibe scoffed. “So you take me to be money-seeking, is that?”
Omachoko could feel the provocation in her tone and knew he needed to thread with caution now.
“It’s not safe for my ego as a man! You are smart enough as it were and that’s intimidating enough. Coming to ask you out again without anything to show for it feels like abusing a goddess.”
Laibe blushed carelessly.
“All of those doesn’t explain why you are doing all these for me, ‘Choko.”
“Yeah. I know!” He took her hand and placed it on the left side of his chest. “You remember this?”
Laibe nodded.
He has done this enough times for her to narrate a video of it.
“You are here in my heart, now, always and forever.” He said, pulling her up. She reluctantly followed him up till he drew her into his arms for a long hug. Omachoko then withdrew from the hug and sat down.
“Come and sit.” He pointed her to his laps.
Laibe’s shocked eyes begged him to stop ‘rough play’.
He stretched forth his hand and dragged her till she fell on his laps.
“Choko, what are you doing?” Her shaky voice came out loud.
Everyone wonders why everything scares Laibe, especially the slightest show of emotions.
“I wanna show you something.” She wanted to respond but he shush her quickly. “Just close your eyes.”
“No, I can’t. Just show me.” Laibe protested.
“You are the one keeping us now o. Don’t think you are weightless on my legs o. I’m carrying two persons.” Omachoko winked at her and she smiled.
He can be funny in a ridiculous way. She weighed her possible options and decided to try closing her eyes, even when, she felt like a gun was pointing her head while doing that.
“Yeah! It’s two minutes now, open your eyes…” Omachoko whispered in her ears.
Laibe could not believe her eyes. She has only seen sapphire twice, in a movie, and the day she decided to search it out on Google. Here she is seeing it life and direct. The rays from the early morning sun made it even glitter the more on her face, lighting everywhere up with colourful sparkles. Omachoko dug his hand into the box containing the ring. He had searched everywhere for this particular ring and when he got it during this trip, he knew it’s about time.
“Please, marry me Laibe.” He popped out the statement that came like a question. Like a question because his searching eyes demanded an answer as it looked on like a hungry puppy.
Laibe covered her mouth with her hands as tears rolled down freely now. It felt as though she was dreaming and wouldn’t want anyone to wake her up. She looked down at her stomach and saw it’s still protruded.
Did Omachoko just ask her to marry him?
Who engages a pregnant girl?
She couldn’t help the thoughts, and as though someone hit her lower back with a dagger, she screamed out.
“Ahhh!!”
She tried to steady herself but the pain came again, sharper than the initial one. Omachoko didn’t understand what was going on. First the scream came like an over joyous and excited one, but now, it’s coming like pain… severe pangs. He looked on helplessly at Laibe, as the girl seem to be having unbearable pain on her lower back.
What to do?
He looked down to see water-like liquid flowing down her legs.
What is happening?
He quickly dropped the box containing the ring, gently let Laibe down and raced into the house to get his mother.
“Mama!!!”
The old woman ran out of the building and towards Laibe.
Laibe was screaming, wailing, and crying altogether.
“eeeeh! Ahhhh! Mama ooo! Ooooh!”
Omachoko saw his mother wasn’t as worried as he was and he admonished himself to calm down, bearing in mind the fact that he is the man of the house. The old woman smiled on seeing the water dripping down Laibe’s legs and held onto her, in a futile bid of stabilising her.
“Nya di Iye Ebi wa.” She ordered Omachoko to go call Ebi’s mother.
She sounded really urgent with the order, so much so that Omachoko started running out of the compound before he could stop himself. He wanted to ask his mother why Ebi’s mother should be summoned when Laibe is screaming out in pains. He wanted to suggest putting her in the car and racing her down to Aloma - where the nearest hospital is. Then he remembered that there is only one local midwife in the entire village and that’s who he was asked to go and bring.
***
“Of course. I know ‘I was held up in traffic’ would be your excuse.” He gave a disapproving look at the man who hastily walked over to his seat in the office. Dahunsi laughed, he had just a polo and midi-length trouser on.
“Now, that you know my usual say, what then would be my defence?”
The both of them laughed this time.
“Seriously mehn! I’m sorry, today’s game review was much and fans kept calling in. I couldn’t end the program abruptly.”
Ocholi shook his head as he stared back at his friend.
“When people like us are struggling to get a Master degree, just so as to gain relevance, children of the rich like you inherited the biggest Arts studio in Lagos on the platter of gold, yet you prefer to work as a radio Sports reporter cum host? Incredible!”
Dahunsi smiled. “How was your flight, man? It’s been over five months since we last saw you within the borders of our beloved country.”
“Course work has been tight. My flight went well. I came in the last flight and the car from Lagos here should have taken me closer to Lokoja by now if not that you didn’t show up on time at your work place.”
Dahunsi knew Ocholi so well. He can like to hold onto one point and beat it for as long as possible.
“I wonder who is a son of the rich among the both of us. You are taking a master degree in Fine Arts abroad. Abroad o. In this economic recession, you still enjoy the luxury of flying in and out of the country at will.”
“You know I wouldn’t travel if I had nothing important doing.” Ocholi was on the defensive.
“Ehennn! Same here! You know I won’t keep you waiting if I had nothing important doing on Radio.” Dahunsi winked at him and he scoffed.
“Even your sales manager wasn’t on seat. You are leaving this place for your secretary to run, right?”
“No. You see, it’s too early. Moreover, people don’t usually buy art works in this part of the world. They, more often than not, come on tours and excursions down here. Only few, like you that your life is tied to Fine Arts, come to buy.” Ocholi eyeballed him. “You haven’t told me who you always drop by to buy drawing sets for. Or don’t they sell it in your abroad school?” He sounded very sarcastic and Ocholi was ready to respond suit.
“They do. Ones with greater quality for that matter.” Ocholi waited till Dahunsi shot him an angry eye. He smiled victoriously before continuing, “…but then I prefer to buy it from you this block head. And don’t get it twisted, it’s for my younger sister!”
“Younger sister bawo? Are you not the last born of the Onoja’s anymore?”
Ocholi was just about to respond when the door creaked open. An elegant lady walked in. She was on little high heels, with hair flying down her shoulders. Ocholi stared at her absentmindedly. She was wearing a grey chiffon dress - it’s at knee level and fits her body perfectly in a way that displayed her endowed shape. Ocholi tried to distract his head from looking at her, but he couldn’t. Her cologne filled the entire room and just when her voice came through his ears, he felt his heart palpitating to the rhythm of it. Her teeth looked scattered, yet produced a very sweet smile anyone would like to have a taste of, if solid.
“Ocholi!!!”
He jerked up on hearing Dahunsi’s husky voice. He hissed out loudly. He had gone into a fantasy world as the melodious voice of the lady that entered pierced his ear lobes. He opened his eyes to see she was gone.
“What was that?” Dahunsi demanded, putting a serious look on his face.
“What was what?” Ocholi feigned ignorance, sitting up on his seat.
“Are you…”
“In love? Yes. I am in love! Love at all sights.” Ocholi cut in before his friend could finish.
“What? All sights or first sight? Kai! Ocholi, you are not serious!”
“Why?”
“You are asking me ‘why’? That’s my new sales manager for God’s sake.” Dahunsi felt Ocholi was sounding unbelievable.
“And so? At least, you are married to Beatrice with a son. Don’t you want me leaving the bachelor’s league anymore?” Ocholi rose his right eyebrow and lowered the other one.
“I do. Of course. I mean… why not.” Dahunsi was stammering. “The thing is, she is new here, man and I even barely know her yet. I don’t know how to help you run this kind of parole.”
Ocholi smiled, displaying his handsome self even more clearly.
“I didn’t ask you to help me run any parole yet Mr Dahunsi.”
Now the former looked even more confused. Thought Ocholi was sounding like he was swept off his feet by the lady that just left here? Why is he now acting indifferent all of a sudden?
“I don’t understand you anymore, Ocholi.”
“Just create a platform for us now and step back.” Ocholi said, winking knowingly at him.
Dahunsi took in a deep breath as he picked up the intercom.
“Yes. Mr Oluwadahunsi on the line. Please take everything you came to the office with and come back to my office immediately.”
Ocholi smiled as he dropped the call.
“Being a boss isn’t good for you at all. Don’t you think that was pretty too harsh?”
Dahunsi covered his lips with his first finger when he heard the light knock on the door.
“That was so fast.” He said as the lady walked in. This time holding her bag firmly in her hand.
“You are the boss, sir.”
“Dahunsi!” he corrected
“OK! You are the boss, sir Dahunsi.”
Everyone, including Ocholi, laughed at her little show of humour.
“Alright. Meet Ocholi, my classmate at the federal university, Lokoja. He is currently undertaking his master degree abroad.” He stressed the ‘abroad’ and Ocholi felt embarrassed about it. More so that Dahunsi has never taken to mind the name of Ocholi’s school as he prefers the ‘abroad’ thing.
“Don’t mind your boss. I am Ocholi.” Ocholi cut in before his friend would spoil everything for him, seeing his overexcitement. Ladies are ultimately turned off by any little show of pride, however minor it seems.
“Nice to meet you, Mr Ocholi.” The lady stretched out her hand courteously and Ocholi took it.
“You are really beautiful.” He added, while holding onto her hand.
Dahunsi, at this point, didn’t know if he was interested in watching another episode of ‘the wedding party’ right now. He looked as his sale’s manager blushed carelessly while his friend kept leering eyes on her. Ocholi should be described as ‘beautiful’ really, and it’s as if the weather ‘abroad’ is really doing some more magic on him.
Dahunsi cleared his throat and the both of them turned to face him.
“Ocholi here would like to discuss something with you.” He said and Ocholi felt shocked at first but maintained himself, leaving no clue whatsoever. “So you can take the day off and resume back tomorrow.”
Ocholi could see the confusion on her face but there was nothing he could do. It’s good to have a lady’s boss for a friend – on paving way for you. He smiled broadly as that mischievous thought popped in his head. He opened the car door for her and let her sit.
“Don’t worry, I am not really taking your whole day. I have to be in Ankpa today.” Ocholi said as he joined her in the car.
“Ankpa in Kogi state? That’s pretty far. You had better get going o, before it’s late.” She responded.
“How did you know Ankpa is in Kogi state?” Ocholi demanded with shocked eyes.
The lady smiled. Her smile is sensational.
“Because I am a Kogite. An Igala.”
“Now this is getting interesting. And don’t tell me you are my sister, because I need you for something much more than that.” Ocholi confessed.
“Something much more than that? Something like what?” she demanded, her bold eyeballs looking straight into his. She has this charisma of an opened-eyed city lady.
“OK. Alright? Can we start by equalising the game?” He thrust his car key into its hole and started it. He felt her questioning eyes staring unblinkingly back at him.
“May I please know the name of this beauty that my eyes has been longing to see?”
The lady smiled shyly. Ocholi is definitely getting her right buttons.
“You try at flattery by the way.”
Ocholi smiled. He didn’t know if that was supposed to be a compliment or an offence.
“My name is Umali.” She added.
*****
Omachoko was pacing up and down the veranda in front of the house. Iye Ebi has been in there with his mother and Laibe for too long a time that he is beginning to get scared. He was at least wise enough when his mother gave birth to their last born who is now in secondary school. It didn’t take this long time. In fact, him and his father heard the cry of the baby few minutes after Iye Ebi went into the room. Whatever was delaying and prolonging this now was what he could not understand. The bad part is that no one was coming from the room to at least give progress report or anything of such. He has been hearing Laibe’s agonising screams and shouts from the room all along.
Just then, the scream seemed to die down and he moved closer to the door leading into the room where they were. He felt the impulse to push the door open, but that would be very wrong, as men are customarily never allowed to see a woman in labour. What was he supposed to do now?
The door opened and his heart beat increased greatly.
His mother stepped out and did not just close the door firmly behind her, she stood as though she could prevent anyone from entering. She looked as worried as she was when she came to meet him at the parking lot earlier this morning, just that she looked even more helpless. Omachoko wished he could pull out all the words off the old woman’s throat but it’s not possible.
After many minutes of deafening silence that felt like years to Omachoko, his mother finally spoke out.
“I nukpahiu ki a bi no.” she was almost in tears. She said Laibe doesn’t have the power to push. She said it was a bad sign and if care is not taken, they may lose her.
“God forbid!” Omachoko yelled before the last words were off his mother’s lips.
He can’t lose her.
She has to stay alive. She has to say Yes to his pending proposal. They have to get married and raise this baby alongside the others they would have together. He can’t bring himself to love another.
He can’t bear the thoughts of losing Laibe.
Not now. Not ever.
An idea came into his mind. Maybe he should drive Laibe down to the nearest hospital. He hadn’t liked the idea of giving birth in the house. It wasn’t even right to start with. What if complications arose? Where would be the next place to run to? That’s why mother and child mortality rate is on the increase in rural areas.
“Why didn’t I think this earlier? Why didn’t I take her when she was just starting the labour?” He blamed his head for not thinking smartly when needed.
Now it’s too late. It’s damn too risky too.
He turned to his mother, she had tears in her eyes.
Just when he was about to open his mouth, he heard a loud sharp scream from inside the room. The scream came very loud and sharp and died down almost immediately.
His mother returned his questioning gaze with a more confused one. Without wasting any more time, he pushed her away from the door and entered the room.
Damn all restrictions.
To be continued…
.
Last Episode 34
EPILOGUE
“Good evening viewers.
It’s another great time on your best TV show - FROM BROKENNESS.
It is not just a good time for me here but a rare privilege to be sited face to face with this awesome and breath-taking great mind. Someone that has made Nigeria, Kogi state, and Igala land in particular proud. I must not forget to state here that it’s because of the love this awesome personality has for this generation that the opportunity was granted us. So we would be having an interactive tim as usual, and you can send us your questions via mail to the address on your screen and can also call any of the numbers.
So, let’s begin. Good evening Noble one.”
“Good evening…”
Udale lowered the volume of the TV immediately she entered the sitting room. First, she thought Matthew was being unreasonable by not reducing the loud volume from the TV, then she got closer and realised the remote was far from his reach. Even though his wheel chair was just beside the chair he was laying on, he couldn’t possibly lift himself into it without her help.
Matthew smiled as she came back to sit on the stool beside the settee he’s lying on. She handed the remote over to him and readjusted his head onto the pillow.
“Mummy, I want to wear my shades.” The four year old boy ran over to Udale, thrusting the plastic eyeglasses in his hands on her legs. “Please wear it for me! Please wear it for me.”
“No. Ocholi, you cannot wear sunglasses in the night.” Udale protested.
The little boy frowned. “I want to wear it to watch aunt’s show. Wear it for me. Mummy wear it for me…”
The boy’s hesitation was beginning to get on her nerves.
“OK! My cute boy! Do you still wanna play Temple Run?” She needed to distract him.
“Yes Mummy!” He screamed excitedly, obviously forgetting his initial sunglasses mission.
“OK. Take my phone from my room. Take it to yours, stay on your bed and play it.”
Ocholi ran off and up the stairs before Udale could finish her last statement. Little children. She never let him handle her phone, ever since she discovered he would always run down her phone’s battery in a bid to play TEMPLE RUN, but she needed to do this now. She needed to wave off all forms of distractions as it seems Matthew was very interested in the TV show tonight.
Why wouldn’t he be?
God knows Udale wasn’t in support of this ‘on air’ thing.
****
“You really have to make everyone think I’ve snubbed your emails all these while?”
The presenter laughed at this response.
Whether said literally or not, she knows that the guest in front of her has snubbed her mails over and over again. Being a celebrity, it’s permitted to be busy though.
“Many ladies build potentials, in tailoring, in make-up, in event planning. In many other things. When the grand winner for the International Idol Arts festival was announced and Laibe Godwin the winner, I was left to wonder, a woman? Painting? So I would want to ask you ma’am, why Arts? Or better still, why did you chose Fine Arts?”
Laibe smiled shyly as the bright studio light came all over her glowing face. Her natural hair was packed into a ponytail and held to the sides by a glistering red pin to march the white flare gown she had on. Her face was without any artificial touch yet everyone could see beams of beauty radiating from her eyes.
“Uhhhhm! Now, that’s a big question.” She turned to the presenter and they both laughed lightly. “Well, I think the best person to answer that question for me would be Ocholi Onoja. You see, he is not here to defend me now o.” Laibe sounded really jovial as she spoke.
“But on a serious note, Ocholi, much more than being my Uncle’s younger brother, brought out the artist in me. I got to realise that art is life. That one can truly communicate better the state of one’s heart by a simple representation on paper – be it writing, drawing or painting.”
The presenter nodded, all smiles.
“Wow! Art is life! Caught that. Again ma’am, how did you learn about this competition that brought you into limelight?”
“Eerhmmm! This painting that’s bought and priced highly all over the world now was first done over five years ago.”
“Wow!!”
“Yes. I was going through a horrible situation and couldn’t tell anyone so I decided to sketch it. One night Ocholi saw the painting and held onto it. The first time he visited me in the village after he learnt I got pregnant, he brought out the painting with sophisticated tools and demanded we do a better painting of the art concept. This I reluctantly did. He made me do it about two more times after that, alongside others. I didn’t know what he was up to. He was still running a Master degree abroad then.” Laibe narrated, keeping the smile glued to her face like a plaster.
“You mean to tell us Ma’am that Ocholi entered you into the competition?” The presenter cut in.
“I couldn’t have done that all by myself. I was a shadow of myself after I had Ocholi. I didn’t think I could amount to anything again so I gave up all the dreams that I ever had. At some points, I didn’t even know where my phone was, how could I have possibly seen advert to enter into any competition?”
“After you had Ocholi?”
Laibe could feel the confusion clearly in the presenter’s voice.
“I named my son Ocholi, after the big Ocholi, of course. Big Ocholi used to be my crush the first time I came to Ankpa. My little boy is a little over four years now.”
“Wow. Wow. Wow. So, Mrs Laibe Godwin-Ekele, sorry if I didn’t get the pronunciation well…”
Laibe smiled. “It’s fine!”
“We don’t mean to penetrate your private life, but who knows? They may be someone out there that needs hope and needs life. Can you tell us about the part where you were abused as a young girl and became pregnant at 16?”
Laibe took in a deep breath. She had deliberately avoided interviews and TV shows because of moments like this. Apart from the fact that she doesn’t ever want to revisit her past, she feels it would be dragging her uncle’s name in the mud whenever she tells the whole world about it. The amazing thing was that it’s her uncle that insisted she accept this particular interview invitation. Even when Laibe and her aunty protested, uncle Matthew insisted she goes on air and also that she should tell the story when asked. How to go about it now was an uphill task for her.
She cleared her throat.
“No problem if you cannot answer it, Ma’am!” the presenter’s voice came, seeing she was taking so much time.
“It’s fine. My uncle was a paedophile, or so did the doctors say. Did I say ‘was’? Well, I don’t know if there is any graduation from it as it’s a sexual orientation. All I know is that I started being sexually abused right from my first term holiday in JS 1, I was about thirteen years old then. It, however, only got out in my last days at JS3, over two years later. I was so demoralised by my grandfather’s death that I almost lost my mind in the process. It was in combating with that situation, speaking to a psychotherapist and my eventual pregnancy that brought it out.” She wiped a teardrop off her face.
“I can’t say I know how you feel, partly because I haven’t been a victim of abuse before and as well, it’s too close a family member to even imagine.”
“What is the greatest pain you have felt in your lifetime?” Laibe asked the presenter and that almost sent the latter off balance.
“Me? Well, I guess it would be menstrual pain.”
Laibe smiled.
“I don’t know how menstrual pain feels like, but I know labour pains. At a point I thought I would die and I actually almost did. I couldn’t push and was losing blood. Having the baby eventually was a big miracle. That… that labour pain was nothing compared to the pain an abused child feels. It’s a silent killer sort of pain.”
She stole a glance at the presenter who was getting lost in her deep words but continued.
“Well, it’s so painful. Imagine groups of people simultaneously drilling into different parts of your bones and joints with rusty tools, not caring about how painful it is and how deadly the tools could be to your systems? Then your mouth is firmly sealed, so much so that you can only scream within your brain? That’s how the mild pain of abuse is for a child. You feel as though your whole world is crumbling and keeps shattering even as you make efforts to gather them together.”
The presenter took in a very deep breath. She wasn’t sounding as sharp as before again.
“What is your take on laws and orders with respect to child abuse and molestation?”
Laibe smiled, in spite of herself.
“I may not be in the best position to say anything regarding that. Medicine is justifying a lot of actions. I mean, you can’t sentence someone with paraphilia to jail, because everyone believes he abused the child due to his mental case but the sensitization has to take roots from the family before bearing fruits upwards. If you know what I mean. No one should be overlooked when it comes to potentials to abuse. Family members have to care more for one another and be sensitive enough to realise a misnomer, a cold attitude, and any change in the atmosphere as quick as it comes.” Laibe said.
“What makes abused children not able to voice out?”
Laibe shot a look at the presenter and she readjusted immediately. She wanted to continue but Laibe cut her short
“No problem, this would be the last question I would answer regarding abuse.” She says firmly and the presenter nodded.
“Well, I may not know about others but in my own case, I already had issues with acceptance prior to the time. Having my uncle accept me all of a sudden was more than heaven for me. A lot of abused children most times don’t feel accepted by their peers, and even by their own family members, so much so that they welcome love and affection shown them by anybody at all. You would agree with me that everyone wants to feel loved. Whenever, as a victim of molestation, you want to voice out, something makes you afraid of losing the love and affection you have come to enjoy from this particular person, and that keeps everything you have to say back inside.”
“OK! That’s…”
“And…” Laibe cut in again and continued. “…gradually, not being able to voice out moves from fear of losing a ‘seemingly only’ loved one to fear from the diverse threats they would be receiving. But in all, if we pay closer attention to our family, much more than work, career, and the general vigorous pursuits of life, we would be able to tell when things are going wrong or not. It’s that simple. Let us, as parents, hear our little children out. Let’s not be nonchalant, thinking all is well. Let’s try to cut off on some of our busy schedules and create ample time to converse with these children. They probably have so much to say, yet no one to say it to. We all need to stay vigilant to pursue and stop abuse.”
“Thank you very much, Ma’am!”
“Laibe!” She corrected the presenter. “I just turned twenty-one three months ago for Christ sake. Don’t make me feel like a granny yet. My husband won’t hear of it.” Laibe joked and the other lady laughed.
“Now concerning your husband, how were you able to grow past the pain and possibly hatred you must have developed for men over time before meeting him?”
“You are really asking personal questions, yeah?” Laibe smiled. “Anyway, I have always known Omachoko, I guess since I was born. When I was a local girl in the village and could barely speak a correct line in English Language, he was one not to laugh at me but rather encourage me. He has always claimed to be in love with me right from that time, till I went to Ankpa and even after all these incidents saga, he still could propose to me while carrying another man’s baby. What manner of love can be more than that again?”
The presenter smiled as Laibe turned to her, as though demanding an answer.
“You know, I actually had this thick bitterness tied in a nylon of hatred sitting somewhere to the left side of my chest. The bitterness was for men. I remember how Helen Obinna, my closest friend at Aleka Academy, Ankpa then, kept wondering why I easily get disgusted with guys. In fact, I hated anyone with the slightest resemblance to manhood. It was that bad, but Omachoko was different. Omachoko has been the medicine there is to my soul. He made me heal faster than anything else could. When I was done weaning Ocholi, he enrolled me back in a senior secondary school in Abuja here where he now works. Trust me, I was the oldest in the class, but to what do I care. Moreover, my little stature didn’t give away my age that quickly. I just started school of nursing seven weeks ago. It seems everything has fallen in shape for me, after all. I will finally become a nurse… a celebrity nurse now because of this award.”
She winked at the presenter.
“Yes Laibe. You are really a celebrity and I must tell you that a lot of people, young molested and abused ones have drawn so much inspiration from your story. Out of the broken pieces of one’s life, one can still reach the destination he/she desires. Only learn to stretch and allow room for healing.”
Laibe smiled.
“You wanna shout out to your loved ones?” The presenter demanded and Laibe nodded in the affirmative.
“All glory to God who preserved my life in that labour room. It was a miracle, I keep saying that over and over again. I thank God for my husband, Mr Omachoko Ekele, he has been a rock standing solidly beside me through all the hurdles. I appreciate my lifetime friend, Ocholi. I would have still had more crush on him if my childhood wasn’t taken away from me that early.” She smiled and continued immediately. “My cute son, Ocholi – he is my greatest asset ever. I also thank God for my uncle Matthew and aunty Udale. They’ve done a lot for me, even for keeping and taking care of my son right now means a whole lot. For Helen Obinna, she is currently studying Medicine in Ukraine, we both wanted to be doctors together. I appreciate her big for pushing me to study. I appreciate my best friends, Umali and Ebi, crazy girls. We were an unbreakable triad as innocent girls but now the wind of life has blown everyone to different places. I simply thank God for everything, my fans, the media, my art centre and for everyone I’ve met in my little life. I’ve had a lot to learn from each situation and condition.”
“We appreciate you greatly, Ma’am. Sorry, Laibe, pardon me. You are too noble to be addressed by your first name.” Laibe blushed at that statement. “Any last words for friends, family and fans out there?”
“Everyone out there who have heard, read and possibly experienced my story, I want to leave you with these words by one of the notable great men ever. He said,
The one thing you think you can do better than everyone else – go out and do that.
The light shining out of your eyes should blind people.
You should be on fire all the time.
Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.
Stay hopeful. Remember, there is always sunshine after rain.”
****
“Hey Goddess, I could hear this sound from the estate gate.”
“Oh! Eehen! So I shouldn’t watch my sister’s show again because I live in an estate?” Jane retorted, throwing her hands carelessly while she spoke.
“C’mon Goddess. I’m sorry!” Dr Max said, dropping his car keys and squatting to kiss Jane’s protruded stomach. “How is my little princess doing today?” He was addressing the stomach.
“Of all days to come home horribly late, Max? We had an agreement. Look here right, it’s not fair. You didn’t let me work ever since the wedding and this pregnancy just gave you a good point to hold onto. It’s more than three years now that I’m stuck in this room all day like sardine. I’m hell bored. Especially when you come to your house this late.” She rattled on and on.
“I know this is about my missing Laibe’s show, right? You know, I didn’t really miss it. It was playing in the hospital’s common room, only that I was quite busy attending to an emergency patient. That is even why I came this late. I’m sorry, Goddess!” He pulled himself upwards and planted a soft kiss on her left cheek.
Jane smiled. “So, how is the patient now?”
She sounded like she mused those words through her nose instead.
Max felt relieved she finally smiled. “Well, he is there. Should be fine soon. How was your sister’s show?”
“Epic. Thank God we didn’t lose this girl during that scary labour. I blame Omachoko for letting a local midwife attend to Laibe in the first place.”
Max undid his tie and sat on the handle of the chair.
“The only thing I’m grateful for was that Laibe didn’t develop obstetric fistula. I mean, the labour was prolonged and dangerously long enough for that to happen. I guess the young lady is a strong woman in her own right.”
“Yes o. That’s why my daughter has to grow up and marry her son, Ocholi.” Jane said, sounding serious. She flashed a glance at Max’s face and she knew what was up.
“Hey! C’mon, I was only joking.” She tried to tickle him.
Max got up, dropped the nylon he’s been holding on the table.
“That’s the goddess’ appeasement, as usual.” He blurted out and started walking away.
“Max! Stop being unreasonable na. It was merely a joke.” Jane dragged herself up and tried to follow after him.
Max turned to face her with red shot eyes. At times, Jane wonders why those particular words get at him this much. He had warned her not to say that over and over again. Typical Jane! She doesn’t follow simple instructions.
“Nothing is more unreasonable than betrothing my beautiful unborn daughter to a product of an abuse, Jane. Nothing.” He said coldly and entered into the bedroom.
Jane paused involuntarily and her eyeballs widened. So wide, it could rival the size of ShopRite’s doughnut. First was about him calling her ‘Jane’ and then the other part.
“Children born as a result of abuse are children and should be treated as normal as that. No one determines how he or she should be born, we can only determine how we should live.” She called out after Max, forcefully opening the door and storming in to meet him.
*****
Matthew turned off the television as the presenter was wrapping up the show. He tried to stand up but remembered he needed his wife’s help to do virtually everything he needed to do, including taking his bath. Maybe it would have been better if he died than living like a vegetable and a liability on the poor woman like this, after all she has been through.
“I told you not to let her go on air.”
Matthew smiled as his wife’s voice came up. She’s been crying all through the show obviously.
“It’s part of her healing process, Udale. If she could speak about it freely then we are rest assured that she is healing and moving on.” He counted every of the words.
“What about the bad name it’s bringing to you. What about your reputation that’s dragging in the mud?” Udale queried, trying to stable her breaking voice.
“I spoilt my name the very first time I yielded to the temptation of sleeping with my wife’s niece. I dragged my name in the mud with my own hand when I molested her secretly and subjected her young heart to untold hardship and torture in silence. I made a mess of my own self when I made her the wife I never married.”
That confusing phrase again.
Well, now Udale sees how one can be wife without being married.
She quickly grabbed Matthew’s hand and held it tightly to her chest as she cried.
****
“I’m so proud of you, woman!”
Laibe quickly turned around to see Omachoko. He hasn’t stopped calling her ‘woman’, he may never stop even. She hugged the presenter and shook hands with the other technical crew that accompanied her out of the studio, and dismissed them. They had to lead her through the back door because a good number of people, journalists, bloggers and newsmen alike were outside waiting for her to step out before they would launch their questions on her. Laibe had stated clearly that she wouldn’t be talking to any other member of the press again and that was why she waited for her husband to come pick her.
“Guess who I came with?” Omachoko said, immediately they were left alone in the conference room of the Channel’s TV building.
“Who?”
“Tada!!!”
Laibe jerked back as Umali hurriedly opened the door and practically jogged into the room. They ran into each other’s arms and stayed in that hug for quite a while.
“I’m proud of you, Lee!” Umali said, releasing herself from the hug.
“Indeed! We are more proud of you, Umali. Everybody is talking about your textile designs. Just few years at an Arts studio, and you now design fabrics?” Laibe sounded unbelieving.
“What can the righteous do na, babe? Lagos has taught us how to hustle noni.” Umali made them laugh.
“What are you doing in Abuja and where is prince charming?” Laibe relaxed more into Omachoko’s arms as she asked this.
“You are telling them on air that I was your crush, huh? You want Umali to break your little head for you!” Ocholi said, bumping into their discussion from outside.
Everyone laughed.
Ocholi would never stop being funny in his life.
“Break Laibe’s head on top of man? Can you listen to yourself?” Umali retorted.
“Oh! You can break it on top of woman, right? Oga ‘Choko, tell them it’s now sixteen years in prison without bail o.” Ocholi motioned to the Omachoko that couldn’t curtail his laughter.
“Shooo! Better person jare…” Umali dragged Laibe from Omachoko’s hands. “You know Ebi is so good in her tailoring business now, right? After that her abusive husband was put behind bars for three months - the last time he beat her sore, he had to let her live. Ebi now has her tailoring place there in Kaduna, all thanks to alhaja. So I use her as my stylist. I design and make the textiles and she makes them into admirable styles to be worn by my models for adverts.”
“Ebi makes those adorable styles we see on Glamz Magazine? How wonderful. Why didn’t you ladies tell me all these while?” Laibe queried, feigning anger.
“Because you are now a celebrity o. An international one for that matter, don’t relate with all these local champions again o.” Ocholi cut in on them.
Umali ran over to him and reached out her fist for his chest but he held it back.
“Why are you always looking for Umali’s trouble, Ocholi?” Omachoko spoke out of laughter finally.
“Because she is my property and mine alone.”
Umali eyeballed him coldly. “God know say I still de single. I am no one’s property. It’s not by how many years you know somebody that makes you his property na.”
Everyone started laughing again.
“I hope you enjoyed your so-called singleness, cos it’s elapsing tonight. And I didn’t say it includes your role as the sales manager for Wale’s arts studio, what is the name again?” he pointed questioning eyes at Umali but didn’t let her answer before continuing. “ I wasn’t also referring to your position as the CEO of UMALITE TEXTILES. I am only saying your singleness elapses tonight.”
Ocholi stopped as he saw everyone looking at him like he had lost his mind.
“What are you blabbing about, Ocholi?” Laibe called out to him.
“Blabbing? Won’t you commend me for risking my fine life to be with this trouble maker?” Ocholi pecked Umali’s cheek quickly and withdrew like he stole it. The latter slapped him on the shoulder.
“You see what I am saying? She is showing herself already. I was just thinking of asking her to be my wife now o, but I changed my mind.”
They laughed again. He continued,
“I changed my mind because I don’t want you to only be my wife but I need you to be my air, Umali. I love you so much, I can’t live without you.” He drew very close to her and wrapped one hand round her waist while the other went into his pocket.
Laibe and Omachoko’s eyes popped open when Ocholi brought out a ring box from his pocket. It’s about time.
Umali felt like crying as Ocholi’s eyes stared deeply at her.
“Don’t even think I’ll go down on any useless one knee. Better take this ring and wear it on… on which finger again? Just wear it quickly before I change my mind again.”
Laibe and Omachoko kept staring at the strangest form of wedding proposal they’ve ever seen. Umali was smiling broadly through her tears.
“Hey! OK! I’ve changed my mind again. Everyone here now feels I am insane.” Ocholi said, looking at the presenter that just stepped in. The young woman must have come to see what was going on. They’ve probably spent so much time here as it were.
“I have changed my mind. Umali, I don’t just need you to be my air anymore; be my medicine, cure my insanity, give me everything I need.”
Umali covered her mouth with her two hands.
THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED
THE END.
Thank you everyone for following the story to this time. I hope you weren’t disappointed? Not tragedy, right? Thanks to Grace for sharing the story with us..

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