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Thursday, July 25, 2024

MEN WHY WE HATE THEM : Episode 21

I woke up with a backache the next day after spending the night sleeping on the chair beside Mum. Steven and I hurriedly rushed home to prepare for work. But not after ensuring that the hospital assigned one of their staff to stay by Mum’s side to watch over her constantly as we did all night, in case she tried to harm herself again. I called Sandra’s lawyer-in-law as soon as possible to inform him that we would need his services again. Thankfully, he was willing to take up the case, but at a costly charge which I knew, Nonso would have difficulty paying on his own. I had to agree to the price since we were desperate, and he was the only lawyer willing to help so far. Nonso could barely even afford the required initial part payment. I had to dip my hand into my fixed deposit savings to help him out on the promise that he’d pay me back. Another decision I hoped I wouldn’t regret.

Working with Nancy every day after that was hell as expected. It was difficult making much progress when I had to work with my number one enemy. I kept fighting the urge to squeeze her throat each time I saw her walk into our office with a stupid smirk on her face. Every time I caught a glimpse of her, I wondered how she could even sleep at night with all the evil she did during the day. If not for the fact that I adored my job and the project was only temporary, I’d have resigned a long time ago.

A few weeks and a series of therapy sessions later, Mum was much better and was declared mentally stable by the psychiatrist. Steven and I were relieved that we no longer had to watch over her constantly. Our happiness and relief had only been short-lived because exactly two weekends later, Dad married Teni in a lavish ‘empty-your-bank-account-to-make-it-happen’ wedding. The news was all over the media, from TV to newspapers and magazines. But apart from reporting on the extravagant money spent on the wedding, the media buzz was little more than usual because Dad was a gubernatorial elections aspirant. It was almost impossible to turn on the TV or visit any media platform that weekend without seeing Teni’s gold-digging face smiling back at me every time. Looking at her face in the pictures, I could tell she was up to no good. Any fool could see that there was no chemistry between them, but Dad had been blinded.

As far as I was concerned, he was walking eyes wide open into a pit that had been carefully prepared for him. But I didn’t care what happened to him. It was none of my business; I was more worried about Mum hearing the news. I didn’t want her to go into another depressive phase after taking so long to recover from the last one. I tried my best to prevent her from finding out that weekend. I’d decided that Steve and I would look for a more suitable way to tell her at the appropriate time. When she came down to watch TV that morning, I had disconnected the cable TV in the living room and lied to her that it was faulty. I told her we were having a mother-daughter day without disturbances and seized her phone. I was just like a mischievous five-year-old coming up with various silly pranks.

“Stop wasting your time; I know about it already,” Mum suddenly blurted out while I was still trying to hide her laptop from her, “I know about it already. A friend called this morning to tell me,” She said.

I froze behind the couch where I’d been trying to shove her laptop under without her noticing. I felt like a mouse that was caught trying to steal cheese. “What did your friend tell you?” I asked to ensure we were on the same page.” “That your father is getting married today,” she replied.

I slapped myself on the forehead with my palm. I couldn’t believe I’d spent all morning trying to prevent her from finding out what she already knew even before I did. I felt like such a fool on hearing those words. “I’m so sorry,” I said, running to her side to hug her. But, I was still confused. “Why are you so calm?” I asked, “how come you never said anything all this while?”

“I was enjoying watching you make a fool of yourself,” she said, chuckling, “the only reason I had to stop your games was that I didn’t want to miss my favourite TV show in 30 minutes,” she said with a wide grin that made me feel even more stupid. “Why aren’t you angry?” I said, “why do you seem so happy?”

“I almost lost my life around this time a few weeks ago, and if I did, this is what he’d have gone ahead to do…marry his mistress,” she explained. “He never once came to see me when I was down in the hospital, and he wasn’t bothered about me. From that moment, I told myself that he wasn’t worth losing my life or happiness over. I have completely let go of him ever since then. Am I happy about it? Well no! I can’t rejoice that my seemingly once happy home has been torn apart by a stranger young enough to be my daughter. But I’m happy to be alive today. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time taking my own life, only to realise when I got to the other side that my husband wasn’t worth the stress. I have my children who love me, and that’s all that matters to me. Your father is history; he belongs to someone else now.”

I couldn’t believe it was my mum who had just made that speech, the same woman who had been seemingly weak at heart and naïve. “You made the right choice, Mummy. I promise to always be there for you,” I said and hugged her as she squeezed my shoulders tightly in a warm embrace. Steven joined us when he awoke later. I told him everything that happened, and he was thankful for Mum’s new disposition to life. We spent the rest of the weekend watching TV and enjoying each other’s company like a small happy family.

The following day I walked into the office feeling energised and charged for the week. I knew some people would bombard me with questions about my father’s latest marriage to a toddler, but I was prepared to face them all. I had already practised different replies in my head that I would use to shut them up.

I opened the door to my office and was suddenly stopped in my tracks when I saw Nancy sitting behind my desk in my chair.

Here we go again, I thought, rolling my eyes and walking up to her. “What is it this time?” I asked, tapping my fingers on the desk and dropping my bag on the seat beside me.

“Good morning Sonia, please sit. I’d like to have a word with you.”

I was shocked to hear her use the words ‘good morning’ and ‘please’ all in one sentence. She sounded sincere, and she was never usually that polite.”Why are you suddenly acting all polite?” I asked, raising my eyebrows in suspicion, “I’m not here for a fight Sonia,” she began, “I’m here to plead with you—” For a second, I thought I heard things

“Plead with me, for what?”

“Please sit,” she said, pointing to the chair beside me. I thought how ironic it was that she was sitting in my office, on my chair, yet telling me to sit as if I had walked into her office—typical Nancy behaviour. Sandra wasn’t at work yet. It was just Nancy and me in the room. Curiously, I sat and listened to what she had to say.

She remained silent and brought her phone out of her bag, showing me the picture of the cutest little boy I’d seen in a while. He looked only about four or five years old.

“Who’s he?” I asked. “My son,” she replied, staring lovingly at the picture. “His name is Obinna.”

“Wow! I had no idea you had a son,” I exclaimed in shock. “Very few people do,” she explained, “he stays with his grandma in Port Harcourt.” She was scrolling through her phone and showing me another picture, I looked, and I saw a picture of Nonso carrying the little boy and smiling. “Nonso knows you have a son?” I asked, more surprised.

“Of course. It’s his son.”

“What did you just say?” I asked, holding my chest, “Nonso has a son?” “Yes, he does, and he was doing a good job at being the perfect dad until you came along.”

I stared at the picture again; then, I saw the striking resemblance that I’d been too blind to notice. The boy looked all-Nonso, from his eyes down to his lips. No wonder I thought he was cute immediately after I saw him. The only flaw was the big ears he had taken from his mother. “Please, I beg you,” she said, kneeling, “leave Nonso alone for Obinna’s sake. He misses his dad so much.” I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like I was hallucinating.

How could my boyfriend of over two years possibly have a son I knew nothing about until now? Why did he hide it from me, and why was Nancy suddenly confessing after all this time? I couldn’t believe the irony; I had been championing the cause against homewreckers like Teni, and now, I was being labelled as one by my biggest rival.

I stared at the picture of Nonso carrying the boy again. They looked so happy together. Could Nancy be telling the truth? Nonso had a son?

I was blank. I didn’t know what to think anymore.

Find out what happens next in Episode 22

 

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