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Paschal (formerly Uche) was at sea. He didn’t know what next step to take; to follow Ada whom he was beginning to find his long desired connection with or to wait and explain himself to the eager ears of Papa and Mama.
“My son, I’m indeed baffled at this sudden metamorphosis” Papa said with much gusto. “What did you really come here to do?”
“I’ll speak sir. I only hope you will understand why I had to do this…” Paschal took a deep breathe, dropped to his knees and continued, “after I returned from the UK, I had everything going well for me but… my parents…they wanted me to find a wife. They tried to match-make me with different ladies, but I couldn’t just find a connection with any of them, and they were getting increasingly frustrating refusal to heed their request. I had to figure out a way to find my own woman; one who satisfies all I desire in a wife. I knew it would be hard to get a real wife if I go about searching with all my father’s wealth and position. I had to disguise, I had to go simple, and have someone love me as a man, not as a rich man. I had been searching for months, and was almost giving up on my search when I found Mama and Ada rushing you to the hospital. I brought them here, and took care of the bills under the guise that I was just a cab driver working for a philanthropist.” Paschal paused to catch some breath.
Mama’s eyes were already wide-opened, she had a nasty grin in her mouth. And without hiding her excitement, she asked “so you are saying in essence that you did all these just to marry my Adamma?”
“Not exactly Mama. I only wanted to help initially. Along the line, I started liking Ada, but I am yet to find words to express my feelings to her.” Paschal responded swiftly.
Both Mama and Paschal looked towards Papa, expecting him to say something. But the old man wasn’t in a hurry to speak. After a while, he gave a deep sigh and finally spoke, “Paschal, leave me and my wife. Go and speak with Adamma”
The surprised Paschal was reluctant to stand immediately but was urged on by Mama to be quick about. He dusted his knees and zoomed out of the ward before anyone could say jack robinson.
Ada was utterly disappointed at Uche (now Paschal), she had hoped he would offer her some respite after Ben left her. But it seemed all men were the same to her. She sat under an almond tree outside the hospital, feeling so bitter that she had allowed herself believe so much in Paschal. Yes, she admitted she was falling, but she had been fighting against it, telling herself that it was too early to jump into the arms of another man. But the latest revelation about Paschal was making decisions too easy for her.
She silently resolved to forget about him. But she threw her mind back to the day Paschal helped bring the dying Papa to the hospital, and his calmness. He was nothing less than a total angel when he brought the money for Papa’s treatment. He also used comforting words to help her heal quickly when Ben dealt a fatal wound to her heart. All his actions in the past weeks had been nothing short of amazing, and Ada only wondered more why he had to disguise his real identity. She knew there was nothing else to show him but gratitude, nonetheless she was hurt that he had been lying all the while.
“Ada, I’m very sorry” his husky voice called out from behind.
“Forgive me please.” Paschal slowly walked towards her by the left.
“Why did you hide your identity? That’s my question.” Ada maintained her strictness.
Paschal sat gently by her side. “I have explained to Mama and Papa. But I don’t know how to explain to you, all I can say is ‘forgive me’ please”
“What is this thing that only suits my parents understanding and not mine?” Ada pestered.
“Adamma… I certainly meant no harm by disguising. I only needed something, and I was hoping to get it from you.”
“From me? How does all this concern me?”
“You’ll understand in due course. It’s why I ask you to calm down and apply some patience.” Paschal submitted.
“Whatever this mystery of yours might be, just know for sure that I have lost all my respect for you!” Ada shot out.
“Elizabeth.” Papa called on his wife, who replied quickly out of surprise that her real name had been called for the first time in decades.
“What do you think of that boy?”
Mama adjusted herself on the seat, tied her wrapper properly and spoke, “he’s a fine young man. He’s wise and clearly has a sense of direction. I think he will make a good husband for our daughter”
“I haven’t asked you to assess him as a husband. I only asked of your opinion of him” Papa corrected.
“…and I said exactly what I felt the answer to your question should be.” Mama added quickly.
Papa looked hard at Mama, and laughed gently. “I know your problem, and I know where you are headed. Paschal has become a fine young man when you realized he is the son of the Director of a leading multi-national company.” Papa’s look was getting as fierce as his words, “but Benjamin wasn’t good enough because he was a son of a nobody. Isn’t it?”
Mama wanted to respond, but all she could do was murmur.
“Let me tell you what you never knew about my ordeals at Nicks&Hampton” Papa, shifted away from the meal in front of him, and rested his back against the wall, poised for some long talk.
“I was a dutiful servant of Dr. Nicolas Ilegbinjie, the Managing Director of Nicks&Hampton for almost nineteen years. I flourished under him and gained rapid promotion till I became a manager of one of our branches in Somolu, Lagos. Things were going well, until his first daughter who had been studying abroad returned to work in her father’s company. She started as my secretary, and we were cool with it until she suddenly began eyeing my position as the manager. She discussed with her father to move me to another branch while she took over, but her father waved it aside and asked her to wait for her time. But in bizarre fashion, things suddenly went wrong at the office, huge amount of money got missing so regularly, and workers began to act unruly. It was obvious that I could no longer handle the situation at the office, but I didn’t resign when I should have. Mr Nicolas stepped in, and sacked me. His daughter was my immediate replacement and that was the end of my sojourn in that company.” Papa finally submitted. By that time, Mama’s eyes were already laden with soft tears. Papa quickly took advantage of the emotional state of his wife and asked, “now that you know all these, would you let your daughter marry into the family of the man who sacked your husband?”
J-boy stormed out of the inner dark room, smoke puffing out of his mouth and nostrils. “I see no use in this lady you brought here. She has refused to speak and that’s not exactly what I need right now. I want my documents! My money!”
“Please calm down, she’ll come around.” Sunky placated. He was unsure of his punishments too, just trying to do everything to ease the situation and help J-boy recover the documents.
“The plan is to use that girl to force Tunji out of hiding.” Sunky continued, “I have her phone with me. Waiting for him to call her. But strangely, no one has called her yet, not even any of her friends.”
“Spare me the bullshit. Just go inside that room and have her tell me where Tunji is hiding.” J-boy barked out.
Sunky hurriedly made his way to the door, but was called back by J-boy.
“I swear down, I’ll strangle that boy to death, if I eventually catch him.”
Sunky nodded in agreement, and quickly went into the room with Amaka who was tied both hands and feet and lying in a corner. He went to her and raised her head to find that she had been bruised on the left eye.
“Did he do this to you?” Sunky asked but Amaka refused to respond. “Answer me!” he yet got no response.
“Help me to help you. It’s not you we need, it’s lover boy Tunji.”
“What do you want with him?”
“He has our stuff. And the earlier he comes out of hiding, the better for all of us.”
“What possession of yours does he have? If you tell me, I will help you get it?” Amaka was interested in knowing the mess Tunji had gotten himself into. She was mad at him but she needed to know exactly what to do to at least leave the clutches of J-boy and Sunky.
“Let’s just say, he has some papers that’s dear to my friend sitting outside. And if you can help us get it, I’ll personally make sure you don’t get hurt beyond this.”
Amaka looked at Sunky wit scorn. She felt like undoing the ropes on her hand and landing him a crushing slap, but that was beyond her. She however maintained her courage, “you know the gravity of your offence? You abducted me and have also committed assault and battery. Be ready to face the music if I ever leave this place.”
Sunky laughed out loud, calling her bluff. “This is the most hilarious thing I have heard this year. I’ll be willing to go to the police with you to make a report.”
Amaka was more angry at Sunky’s response. She kicked in vain, but remained resolute to keep trying.
Sunky was equally frustrated at Amaka’s stubbornness, and was ready to employ some harsh tactics just in order to do what J-boy wanted done. Amaka’s phone rang in his pocket, and with a wide grin, he looked at Amaka and said, “Finally… Lover boy calls.”
“Deji, we don’t have time” Gbade looked at his wristwatch for the umpteenth time. He was losing his patience. He obviously didn’t want to die, moreso his daughter.
Tunji had also been playing hard tactics with them, refusing to give anything away as far as Amaka was concerned. He didn’t quite know why they wanted her, and why it was so urgent for Gbade. But he knew the more he dallied, the safer Amaka would be wherever she was. What he wasn’t sure about was his own life. Deji had threatened to kill him if Amaka wasn’t found within the next few hours.
“Young man, you have a great future ahead of you” Deji started again with Tunji after a short break from torture. Tunji was tied to a chair in the room. “Don’t waste your life over a wayward worthless girl.”
“Amaka is not wayward, she isn’t worthless!” Tunji responded sharply but received a huge blow on the head by Gbade who couldn’t contain his frustrations any longer.
“Look here young man, I don’t mind killing you now, and I will still go out there and find that stupid girl.” Gbade said every word like he meant it, and Tunji couldn’t believe him more.
“You see, my friend wouldn’t mind wasting your life. Just tell us how to reach her, the number to call and we’ll set you free.” Deji added.
Reluctantly, Tunji called out a number and both Deji and Gbade hurriedly dialled the number, but Deji who was the calmer of the two, was allowed to speak with the receiver.
“Hello” Deji spoke softly.
“Hello…who’s this please?” The female voice from the other end replied.
“Err… I would love to speak with Amaka please”
“Sorry, who are you?”
Deji paused for a moment, unsure of how to answer the question. “I’m her Uncle from Lagos. She asked me to call her through this number.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone by that name”
“Really?” Deji looked in Tunji’s direction with anger. Tunji was facing down and was oblivious of the impending danger. “Okay, I’ll check the number again. Sorry for disturbing” Deji answered and ended the call abruptly.
Gbade immediately ran to Tunji and grabbed him by the neck, attempting to strangle him. Deji was however quick to stop him and releasing Tunji from his tight grip.
“Leave him alone. I’ll handle this” Deji said, as he struggled with Gbade.
“You had better get him to speak soon. I won’t take any more nonsense after now!” Gbade shot out and backed away from Tunji. His phone beeped, and he reached for his pocket to pick it as he walked away from Deji and Tunji.
He was some metres away when he checked his phone. It was a text message from Juliet. It was long, and not exactly what he felt he should pay attention to at that moment. But a sentence caught his attention in the text and after a few minutes, he had devoured the content of the message. He was sweating profusely, and his eyeballs were bloodshot. He looked sharply in Deji’s direction and started moving towards him with violence…
To Be Continued Next Week…….