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Adam’s Apple | Episode 9
Two things were on my mind as I opened my eyes that beautiful Tuesday morning.
The first was work; the deadline I was eager to beat had passed, but my boss called the day before to express his understanding. Luckily for me, he extended the deadline till when I would be fully fit to resume work, but I was eager to get it off my chest. I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. Even though I still had some level of pain around my arm and head, it was not enough to deter me from seeking more rest.
I had been severally accused of being a workaholic by my colleagues, and I was beginning to agree. The motivation for me was not just to work my ass off, the motivation was to reach the peak and achieve feats after feats that would set me apart for excellence. I had a lot of points to prove, to myself, to my friends and colleagues, and most importantly, to my family.
Resuming the next day suddenly became paramount, whatever pains I had left in my body didn’t matter.
I however had a second big thing on my that could potentially stand in the way of resuming the next day – the beautiful damsel sleeping in the other bedroom, Ese.
That girl had been wonderful since our fortunately unfortunate encounter. Her beauty and gentleness had enthralled me in many ways and in all sense of it, she’d proven to be someone I should consider keeping close.
“Maybe that elusive girlfriend has finally come” I thought to myself as I struggled with the pain in my arm to get out of bed.
It felt wrong to pursue a romantic affair with Ese within the circumstance we met. Doing that would make me appear like one taking advantage of the situation. I needed to clear the haze before me to see clearly and make a good decision.
The haze was her parents. From what she told me about them, her father especially, he would be a difficult person to deal with. Ese was already in trouble with them, and keeping her with me for four days and counting is more trouble for her and for me. I could be accused of kidnap if found out, and that would not make any chances of having a relationship with Ese any easier.
I figured that the best way to put things in perspective was to convince her to go back home. Her return home would solve the two big issues I woke up with; I would be able to resume work as she gets things right with her family.
I knew I would miss her, but it was better late than never.
“Everything will be alright” I read the sticker in front of my wardrobe aloud, a ritual I do every morning.
That sticker had been with me since I moved to Asaba. It had been a worthy motivation for me to keep hope and faith alive. I needed it once again, and having spoken those words aloud, it gave me the needed confidence to tell Ese that she had to go back to her family.
My morning devotion was done in Twenty minutes. I took a quick glance at my phone and realized it was Itohan who was calling as I prayed. Her calls had been frequent since she heard about the accident. She offered to visit, but I politely asked her not to worry. I wondered why she called so early, but decided calling her later was best.
I entered my bathroom and was about brushing when the thought of Ese flashed through my mind. Her beauty, her smile, her voice; I wanted all of them suddenly.
Getting to see her became my first duty for the day, and off I went to the room where she slept.
“I will be travelling to Delta State” I announced to my father on phone. Two days after I left my parents’ place.
“What’s happening there?”
“I am going in search of my brother. It’s been four years Daddy. We are not complete without him, no matter how much we try to fake it”
“I know this is your mother’s idea, but I want you to listen to me. Your brother chose his path, and I think he should be left alone. He walked out on all of us, he will find his way home in due time.” Father remained adamant.
“I know Dad. You may not miss your son; your first son. But Mum misses him, I miss my brother.” I broke my voice, hoping that would appeal to the emotional side of him, but it was an epic fail.
“Young man!” Father sounded more serious than ever. “It will be foolish of you to leave your business here in Lagos and go on a fruitless, unguided search in Asaba looking for a prodigal. I won’t let that happen. The earlier you dump this idea, the better for all of us” he was stern.
At that point, I had to wield the only weapon I could think of; what I hoped would finally break him.
“I know you to be a loving father. You love your children. You may be strict in raising us, but I know you have love for us inside of you somewhere. If you can just show it and let it extend to Jojo, regardless of what he may have done in the past.”
I took a short break, for effect.
“Your refusal to help us find Jojo would mean you really do not care, and do not love him or anyone of us. If you do, you will know that finding Jojo makes me and Mother happy…” I continued, but there was total silence on the other side.
“Hello! Hello!” I repeated. The call was still on, but Father was not saying a word.
Whatever emotional blackmail I thought I wielded was not working. I decided to try something else.
“If you refuse to say a word. I guess I will just follow in Jojo’s step. I will find my way too. Bye Daddy!”
I hung up after that and threw myself on the bed, hoping Chief Charles Idonije in all his might would call me back.
I was quick to jump off the bed and straighten my skirt as soon as I heard a knock on the door.
“Please come in” I answered, trying to put myself in quick order before the man behind the door gains entry. But I was late – a quick look at the giant mirror adjacent me showed that my hair was a mess. I was a little embarrassed but tried to cover it up with a faint smile.
“Good morning Ese” – it was Joachim behind the door as I had expected.
“Good morning Sir” I replied instantly. Trying to avoid a direct eye contact with him, I started arranging the bed to form activity, even though there was very little to arrange.
“I trust you slept well” he said. Standing by the door. He was in a pyjamas, holding a toothbrush.
“Yes I did. How’s the pain now? I hope it has greatly reduced…” I was still too shy to stand straight and talk to him. I had moved to the other side of the bed, fidgeting with the neatly arranged books there, hopelessly trying to arrange or rather, rearrange them. I was doing too much, and I could feel it. But I hoped he didn’t see all of that.
“I am fully fit now. I should be resuming work tomorrow” Joachim replied. “I am here to ask when you’d like to go home…”
Finally, the moment had come. I knew he had been trying hard not to ask me for a while, but it eventually happened. I had refused to see my parents at the hospital. I don’t know what the nurse told them, but they left and I refused to pick Papa or Mama’s call ever since. Even my Uncle called and I didn’t answer. I could imagine their worry, but I was too scared of Papa to return home.
Four days had passed since I left home, but it was only at that moment that I realized that I would inevitably have to return.
Joachim continued, “…I appreciate your help since Saturday, but since I will be resuming work tomorrow. I do not think it’s a good idea to continue to avoid your parents.”
“Your father would never mean to kill you. He probably just wanted to make you scared. You know how it is with African fathers. I think you continued absence will only make matters worse. So I advise you go home today and settle things. You can come during the weekend to visit. My door is always open for you”
I turned around to look at this fine man. It was not just that I wanted to avoid my parent, I also wanted to continue to care for him. He had been wonderful since I got to his flat. Even though I was there to care for him, he ended up caring for me more. Being with him and under his roof felt very secure compared to going back to the judgement of my parents. Once again, I regretted the Lagos trip.
It was not easy following Joachim home. His friends had insisted that they would take him home and care for him after he was discharged, but he stood his ground for me when I offered to be his caregiver (even though it was a move to buy myself more time away from my parents)
“Sheila is more than capable of taking good care of me, but she is your wife. Let this beautiful damsel take me home, I will get back on my feet in no time.” he had joked at the hospital. I soon found out more about his rich sense of humour as we spent days together in his apartment.
It was difficult for me to leave him, but I had to find a way to shield myself from the fiery of my parents. Joachim had helped me twice already by the accident and by standing in for me at the hospital, I would be needing him to help me once again.
“I will go home today…” I replied him. His face shone bright. So I quickly added “…but only if you follow me home”
I watched the smile slowly fade.