THIRD PARTY IN MARRIAGE: 18, 19
*”THIRD PARTY IN MARRIAGE”*
Paul: “Ralph, you should go with her. There is no time to waste” he nudged him forward and he followed the nurse.
On getting inside the doctor’s office, he saw Annie sleeping soundly on the only bed inside the office and heaved a sigh of relief.
Ralph: “Good afternoon doctor”
Doctor: “Good noon to you too, please have your seat” he said looking at him from the rim of his glasses.
Ralph: “So what did the test result indicate?”
Doctor: “Nothing serious. It’s just febrile convulsion which happened because of her high fever. Her temperature was 39°C. I will prescribe some drugs for you, make sure you administer them on her till she is stable again” he scribbled something in a jotter and passed it to him.
Ralph: “But hope it’s not epilepsy?”
Doctor: “Not at all. It is a different kind of convulsion and less harmful than epilepsy though it can still give rise to epilepsy if care is not taken. Among the drug I prescribed, there is anti-convulsant among them though it might not be necessary she takes it. Just make sure you get all the drugs and administer them on her like I instructed on the paper. Good luck and for the record, your daughter is a very strong and lovely girl”
Ralph: “Thank you doctor” he said, smiling. He stood up, took the doctor’s outstretched hand in a handshake, went over to Annie and scooped her up from the bed into his arms. Her temperature had gone considerably down but he noticed she was weaker than usual. “Sorry baby!” he whispered into her hears and walked out of the doctor’s office. As soon as his friends saw hi, they both surrounded him asking one question after the other. They touched Annie gently and were relieved to know she was no longer running temperature as much as she was earlier.
Soon enough, Sammy stopped going home from school because he knew she would be waiting for him. He dreaded that moment when she would climb him and do the stuffs she did or the moments she made him do those stuffs he did. He would linger around the school, cook up every possible excuse just to stay longer outside.
On that particular day when he got back from school at past 7pm. He met his dad in the sitting room, angry while his step mum was sitting with him. They were waiting for him.
Richard: “Where are you coming from Mr Man? He queried him as soon as she entered the sitting room.
Sammy: “I am coming from school” he said looking down.
Richard: “You are just coming back from school by this time Sammy? At this age? You are just twelve years for crying out loud and you are already keeping late nights?”
Sammy: “I had extra assignment so I decided to do it in school”
Richard: “So you are always having a surprise outing? I have been getting complaints about you since this started but I thought it will stop with time but you are getting worst by the day. Why are you doing this Sammy? Am I not a good father to you?”
Ophelia: “Honey take it easy with him please. He is still young, he is just showing signs of puberty; you know adolescence is setting in so this is just normal” She looked at Sam who gave her a look of disgust and she winked at him, sticking out her tongue seductively, he looked away as his dad’s gaze was riveted on him.
Richard: “What nonsense adolescence at the age of twelve? He is just being rebellious and nothing more. Why are you trying to kill me? Was I the one who killed your mum?” he regretted that statement as soon as they left his mouth.
Sammy: “Don’t ever talk about my mum again. What do you know? There is nothing you are good at? You are neither good at being a husband nor a father. If you were you wouldn’t have given up so easily on finding Annie. You are a coward da…” before he could finish saying dad, his dad stuck out his hand in a bidding flash of lightening and struck him in the cheek, blood few out from his mouth.
Ophelia: “Richaarrrd! Why did you do that? How could you strike him like that?” she flared up unexpectedly.
Sammy was dazed for a moment, even the tears refused to flow. That was the first time any of his parents will ever raise their hands at him. He looked at his dad who stood in front of him defiantly and just turned back and walked out on him.
Richard: “Come back here right away you insolent fool. You dare call me a coward? The next time you do that, its belt I’d use on you” he raved and slumped down heavily onto the settee behind him. “I can’t believe this is happening” he lamented sadly.
Ophelia: “You shouldn’t have done that honey, now you just made issues worst. How do we go about this now?”
Richard: “Weren’t you there when he was heaping abusive words at me? So you expect me to just keep mute?”
Ophelia: “I am not justifying his actions but you as an adult should know better than hitting a child like that.
Please go and talk to him” she said pleadingly.
Richard: “No way! Just stay out of this okay?” he warned and walked out on her. She couldn’t think of what to do. “Now i know where Sammy got his stubbornness from. they are both the same”she said to herself.
He walked inside his room grief stricken and emotionally bruised. He sat on the bed and looked around, saw the picture of Annie hung on the wall and walked over to it.
Sammy:” “Baby sister, hope you are living a good life? Where are you now? I know you must b looking quite beautiful now. Your birthday is tomorrow and also the day mum died. I feel so alone, my life is ruined. I don’t know what to do anymore” the tears flowed freely now. “I am not even really sure if you are alive and it’s all my fault. I was not a good brother, I did not protect you enough.
I should have ran after those men faster than I did. Mum must really be mad at me now, I am a useless son. Annie and mum, I miss you two so much” he started looking frantically around. “I don’t think it’s okay for me to keep living right? All I have to do is push something sharp inside my stomach and I will be able to see you two again right? What use is living this kind of life? See what that woman has turned me to?” just then he remembered the compass in his bag and went for it. He brought it out, held it tightly in his hands and closed his eyes…
He raised the compass as high as he could but then he heard the shuffling of feet outside his door. He quickly hid the compass under his bed, laid on the bed and pretended to be asleep. The door slide open and Ophelia tiptoed into the room. She sat on the edge of the bed…
Ophelia: “Sammy…”she called his name in a whisper. “Sammy?” she tried again when he did not answer her. He stirred a bit, the right side of his face was swollen and reddish. She had taken with her a bowl of warm water and towel. She dipped the towel into the bowl and squeezed out the water, reached out towards his swollen face with it but he flung her hand away. She tried again and the same thing happened.
Sammy: “Please stay away from me. What exactly do you want from me now?”
Ophelia: “I am just trying to help you”
Sammy: “I don’t need your help. So just leave me alone” he said and turned away from her.
Ophelia: “Hmmmmmm! How can a boy be so stubborn?” she said and sighed again.
Sammy: “You think I don’t know you are the one reporting everything to my dad? You are such a nine tailed fox aunty and I hate you from the bottom of my heart”
Ophelia: “Hate me as much as you want. This is just a tip of the iceberg. Just imagine what his reaction would be when I tell him how you readily gave Annie up?”
Sammy: “I did not readily give her up, she was snatched away from me” he sat up with a scowl on his face.
Ophelia: “Who do you think he will believe? He already knows you as a spoilt little brat. See I will advise you to just thread carefully and start coming home the time you used to before. Don’t even stay ten minutes late otherwise…” she stood up and stepped back from him. Looked at him for a while, shook her head and left leaving the bowl and its contents behind.
Sammy looked at her retreating figure and cursed her in his mind . “Mum even if you are dead, do you have to just stand by and watch our lives ruined by this usurper? I heard the spirit of dead mothers do fight for their progenies but you, why are you sleeping so much? God! I am your child, you did say children are your heritage so why do you watch while I am being tormented?”
Annie, now six years old was just as brilliant and smart as Sammy when he was the same age. Her daddies were so proud of her academic excellence that each time she came first in her class, they got her a mirage of toys and any other things she wanted. She was indeed a princess living a fairy-tale life. Ever since that fever of hers, they took extra care where she was concerned, taking her to the hospital every month for check-up: they did not want a recurring incidence.
It was the end of third term in The Embassy Primary School, her nanny Ewatomi went to pick her up from school. Ewa was a very caring and nice lady of twenty three years. She, like her daddies doted on her and was very attentive to her just like a mother would be. They had to get a nanny for her when she was three years because their jobs became more demanding. At first they were afraid to leave her in the care of an outsider because of all the stories they’d heard and read about evil nannies and maids but Ewa who was Ralph’s friend volunteered to help out since she was not so busy. She wanted to do it free but they insisted on paying her.
When they got home, Ewa was so curious to know what her report card stated…
Ewa: “Now that you have eaten Annie love, please can I see your report card now?” she winked and contorted her face in order for Annie to take pity on her and show her the card but she just laughed.
Annie: “Ahahahahahaha…see your face like rat shit! I will not show you. Never!” she said hiding her card behind her.
Ewa: “Where did you hear rat shit from o. this girl you are getting spoilt fa”
Annie: “My aunty in school do say it to anyone who is crying unnecessarily in class”
Ewa: “Okay o but why? Why won’t you show me? I thought we were friends?” she said pretending to be sad.
Annie: “Yes we are friends but I want to show my daddies first. Even I have not opened it yet. Let’s wait for them you hear? Don’t be sad, I will show you after I show them then I will show myself too” her voice was just like that of Alice in Wonderland.
Ewa: “Awwwww! How can you be so sweet?” she said and gathered her into her arms. “How I wish I gave birth to you, then I wouldn’t ask for anything much in this life again but just a comfortable life for you”
Annie: “That reminds me…Who is my mother?” She disengaged from her embrace to look at her.
Ewa: “Uhmmmm!” she did not see the question coming.
Annie: “Okay don’t answer that. There is no way you’d know anyway” she said and strutted to the front of the TV to watch cartoon on Nickelodeon station. “Can I watch cartoon now please? Since I will not be going to school anytime soon and I have many days to do my assignment?”
Ewa: “Yes baby you can” she replied smiling fondly at her.
The heavy hands of sleep was upon her but she refused to succumb to it, she clutched her report card in her hands waiting for them to return.
Ewa: “Annie, come let me tuck you in now, it’s almost 9 o’clock and you are supposed to be on bed latest 8:30. You will show them tomorrow okay?” she said approaching her.
Annie: “No! I will wait for them” just then she heard their car horn outside. “Tada! They are back” she said excitedly.
As soon as Paul had stepped in, he saw Annie running towards him with an envelope in her hand. He stooped down and threw open his arms as she jumped into it.
Paul: “My ever happy daughter” she gave him a peck on the cheek and went over to the Ralph and Dickson, embraced and pecked them one after the other beaming with smiles. “Why aren’t you asleep yet? It’s way past your bedtime.
Ewa: “She was waiting for you o”
Annie: “See my report card” she extended the envelope to him. He took it and tore open the seal, unfolded it and “wow” escaped his mouth.
Ralph: “Let me see!” he said and snatched it from him. “Wooooow! Our baby is a genius. You got a double promotion to primary three? Come and give me a bear hug jooor…” he said and scooped her into his arms spinning her round and round until she could laugh no more.
Dickson: “But how can a girl be so smart? She got 100% in all of the subjects except Yoruba where she got 95%. Wow! We will go shopping on Saturday. Where would you like to go this time? Shoprite?”
Annie: “No! I don’t want anything this time…” she looked down.
Paul: “Hey! Is anything wrong? How can our Annie not want anything after getting a double promotion?” he said worriedly.
Annie: “I want to know my mum. Everyone in school has a mum and dad but I only have three daddies and no mum. I want a mum too” she said choking on tears.
The four of them exchanged confused looks. That was the first time she ever asked about her mum.
Annie: “Is my mother dead? If she is dead then one of you should get married so I can have a mum. Aunty Ewa is a good person, why can’t one of you marry her?” she said looking from one embarrassed adult to another.
Paul: “Don’t worry, you will know your mum soon okay? I just hope she really is alive and not relenting in her search for her daughter”
*”THIRD PARTY IN MARRIAGE”*
Richard could no longer bear the tension between him and his son. The wound on his face had healed remarkably fast but the one in his heart remained fresh. At night when he thought Ophelia was asleep, he sneaked into Sammie’s room to talk to him.
Richard: “Sammy wake up” he tapped him on the shoulder. Sammy jerked up in his sleep thinking it was his step mum.
Sammy: “What is it this time? Why won’t you let me rest? Would you have turned me to your sex toy if I were to be your son?” he said drowsily looking distraught.
Richard: “Sammy what are you talking about?” he shook him vigorously.
Sammy: “Sir? Sir?” he was jerked awake at last.
Richard: “Who is turning you to sex toy and where did you even hear that word from?”
Sammy: “I read it from a novel. It’s nothing dad” he said and tried to go back to sleep but his dad stopped him.
Richard: “Come on talk to me. You did look terrific while saying that a while ago. What is happening?” he asked persuasively.
Sammy: Daddy, I say never mind. I was day-dreaming
Richard: This is unusual. Where did you hear that from? Something is fishy. Talk to me Sam. I’m your father.
Sammy: “Hmm… It’s…it’s…aunty, your wive….she molests me sexually……..” he started to weep.
Richard: “What are you talking about son? You are saying my wife molests you sexually?”
Sammy: “Yes dad she does and she told me not to tell you otherwise she’d put the blame of Annie’s disappearance on me and make all my friends in school abandon me”
Richard: “Shut up boy!” he roared. “Do you even know what you are talking about?”
Sammy: “But I am really saying the truth dad. She is a monster, she even sleeps with women” as soon as he had said this, his dad stood up and landed him another slap across the face which landed him on his back on the bed.
Ophelia, who had been standing by the door unspotted by the two ran into the room and helped Sammy up.
Sammy: “I said don’t touch me, what part of don’t touch me do you not understand?” he said in between sobs.
Ophelia: “Why did you slap him like that Richie?” she feigned annoyance.
Richard: “If only you heard all the things this stupid boy said about you, you wouldn’t be there by his side”
Ophelia: “Really? What did he say I did?”
Richard: “He said you are a child molester, that you have been having intercourse with him. He also said you are a lesbian. Can you imagine that kind of utterance? I really can’t have him continue disrespecting you like this, I have to discipline him”
Ophelia: “He said all those? Wow!” she used her left hand to cover her mouth and pretended to be really short of words.
Richard: “Yes! Can you see now? This boy has been sent from the pit of hell to torment my life”
Ophelia: “Please calm down okay? The most important thing is you not believing him. Just imagine how it would have been if you did believe him. Let’s forgive him okay? He is just being delusional and naïve. He hates me and he lets that cloud his sense of judgement but its fine. I am not taking any offence. I have gotten used to his taunts and disrespect anyway”
Richard: “Can you hear that dumbass? She is even pleading on your behalf. A woman who has been here to take care of you ever since your mum died. How can you level such grave accusations at her?”
Sammy: “Daddy I cannot believe you can be this easy to play. How did mum ever get to live with you for so many years? You are a coward, I will say it again, you are indeed a weakling” he said and made to walk away but his dad drew him back furiously and started hitting him with his fist. Ophelia tried to stop him but he was unstoppable. “Dad…dad” he kept calling as he kept dealing him blows upon blows.
Richard: “Inshort, this will not do” he said breathlessly. “Now be on your knees, I have to leave scars on your body so next time you think it’s okay to insult me or my wife, the scar will deter you.” Sammy knelt down obediently as the pains from his dad’s blows seeped into his inner being. “Now close your eyes” he ordered as he looked around for something he could use on him. He saw his belt lying on the floor and picked it up. He flogged him mercilessly with the belt not minding the boy’s pleas and the blood that stained his white singlet.
Sammy rolled on the floor as the lashes tore his skin. Ophelia could not hold it anymore, she went and covered Sammy and two lashes landed on her too. Richard threw the belt away and walked briskly out of the room..
Ophelia: “Are you okay Sammy?” she asked trying to get him to stand up.
Sammy: “When you do this, people might actually start thinking you really love me” he said weakly as he staggered to his feet, went over to his wardrobe, pulled out a shirt and put it on.
Ophelia: “Where do you think you are going to by this time? It is 1a.m for Chrissake!” she said when he started walking out.
Sammy: “Don’t even try stopping me, except you want to see me dead” he said and kept walking. Ophelia ran to their room…
Ophelia: “Richie, he is leaving the house” she said but he ignored her. “Richie can’t you hear me? I said Sammy is leaving the house by this time”
Richard: “Let him leave. He has nowhere to go to so he will be back. Don’t disturb me please”
She shook her head and ran back to the sitting room but he was gone. She ran out of the gate but couldn’t sight him still.
Ralph: “Today makes it the third week Annie has been on break and we haven’t really done anything for her. What do you guys suggest we get for her?” he asked looking at his two friends who were busy playing game on their 20”LED TV. Ewa was helping Annie with her assignments in her room.
Paul: “Yes! Yes! Ronaldo run on my nigga. Yes! It’s a gooooal… should we go again” he said looking triumphantly at Dickson.
Dickson: “That was just sheer luck, oya let’s play again, I will make you eat sand this time around”.
Ralph: “I am talking to you guys na. you’ve been playing that game since you woke up and its way past morning already”
Paul: “Ralph this is weekend mehn! Let us play play play and keep playing jare. Very soon it will be Monday. What were you even saying sef?” he finally gave him his attention, pausing the game they just started playing.
Ralph: “I said what should we get for Annie for performing so excellently in her exams? She will be resuming school next week you know?”
Dickson: “Let’s ask her. She must have forgotten about seeing her mum by now?”
Ralph: “Annie love!” he called loudly.
Annie: “Yes 1 st daddy!” she answered and went skipping into the sitting room.
Ralph: “School will be resuming soon. What do you want us to get for you?”
Annie: “I don’t want anything 1 st daddy” she looked down sullenly.
Dickson: “Okay what do you want us to do for you?”
She looked up happily and gave him a thumb up…
Annie: “3 rd daddy is smart. What I want you to do for me is this: take me to Lagos, I want to visit the beach. All my friends in school have been there before, remaining only me”
Paul: “Well that is very simple. Then when do we go guys?” he asked looking away from Annie to study his friends’ expressions.
Ralph: “We can even go today. Lagos is just two hours’ drive away, if we leave now, we can reach there by 3pm, book two rooms in a hotel in Lekki then proceed to the beach. We will be back home tomorrow evening. Is that cool by you?”
Annie: “So we are going today?”
Paul: “Yes baby!”
Annie: “Yeeeeeeeahhhh!” she jumped up and down. “2 nd daddy, you know fashion very well even more than aunty Ewa, please come and dress me up and I want to wear that my round cap the way they use to in the movies when they are at the beach. I will also ride a horse with my daddies. Aunty Ewa will help me hold my shoes” she counted her fingers for each of her plans giggling from ears to ears.
Paul: “Oh God! Our baby is a bundle of joy. I can’t believe we almost handed her over to the orphanage” he muttered to himself. “Okay let’s go and get you ready sweetie” he said and led her away from the rest holding her tiny hand.
It had been two weeks since he left home. He walked as far away from home as his legs could carry him. He looked even lankier than ever since he could not even get himself to beg for food or money from passers-by. Only the very good Samaritans saw him and give him some money, some people gave him food. At some point, whenever he got to a place, someone would look at him and act like they recognized him that was how he got to know his dad must have gone to the media to get their help in locating him. But he didn’t want to be found, anytime anyone recognised him and do as if they wanted to make a call, he would quickly leave that vicinity and run as far as he could. He was nursing a very deep wound in his heart that even time had not been able to heal.
He found himself in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun state. He found some other homeless boys whom he moved with. They slept under the stairs of Sandhurst hotel not far from Olumo rock. In the mornings, they would all go out except Sammy who only roamed around and only got lucky once in a while when people dashed him stuffs and food. Sometimes his friends would refuse to give him what they brought in because he wouldn’t work with them, he slept hungry most nights.
After having fun at the lekki beach the next day, they got ready to go back to Ibadan but it seemed too early.
Paul: “Annie hon, did you enjoy yourself last night?”
Annie: “Yes 2 nd daddy. I wish we didn’t have to leave yet” she said with a sad look. “The water tasted like salt, do they put salt inside it every day?” she asked brightening up all of a sudden while Ewa laughed out loud.
Ralph: “Come this lady, why are you laughing at our baby? You want to be sacked?
Ëwa: “Ah! Sorry o. e ma binu” she said jokingly.
Paul: “That’s the way it tastes my dear. It is called salt water. Infact I could say we get our salts from there. So is there any other place you want to go to?”
Annie: “Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!” she jumped up in Pauls arms..
Annie: “Olumo Rock” she said giggling from ears to ears while they exchanged looks.
Dickson: “You guys are spoiling this girl o. continue”
Paul: “Let us spoil her very well. As long as she is not ill-mannered, then we are good. Ralph how far? Shall we go? Besides I’ve always wanted to see olumo rock”
Ewa: “Please let’s go. I want to see Olumo Rock too” she said clasping her hands together excitedly.
Ralph: “Okay o…what can I do when the ladies have agreed?”
He turned when he heard the cry of thief! Thief!! Thief!!! And realised they were running towards him. They had in their hands sticks of different sizes and shapes. He was confused and turned to run away but someone knocked him down from the back. He fell face down on the floor and before he could open his mouth to say he was not a thief, the mob was already around him, they lifted their sticks up and landed him blows one after the other. He lifted his hands…
Sammy: “What did I do wrong? I am not a thief, it’s not me. I am not the one” he cried as blows landed on his body and he shielded his face with his hands.
As soon as they branched to Ijemo street in Abeokuta, they saw a huge crowd gathered and people shouting on top of their voices.
Annie: “1 st daddy please park your car I want to see what is happening there” she said pleadingly.
Ralph: “No! it is very dangerous, I cannot allow you to go there. I think it is jungle justice o. kai” he said when he viewed what was happening from a better angle.
Paul: “And on a little boy for that matter. Jesus Christ!”
Annie: “Daddy park the carrrrrrrr…” she screamed angrily stomping her feet on the floor of the car. The car went to a screeching halt at the corner of the road and Annie leapt out of the car before anyone could say anything to her (she was by the window side). She ran towards the scene of the mob action without looking back. They all exchanged bewildered looks and ran after her.