Tue. Feb 13th, 2024

 

They all left the sitting room and went to bed. Father never told us what was discussed that night. He didn’t tell mother either. The next morning, Amanze laid on the floor to apologise to mother after prayers. He went to auntie Loveth’s house

 

 

to apologise to her for disrespecting her daughter. Finally, he apologized to Chiamaka again for his actions. He stayed with them for two more weeks and he behaved himself. Mother and Chiamaka told me about the incident when I went to visit.

 

I understood the change he had when he came back to Enugu. I couldn’t believe how he begged his parents for forgiveness. His mother cried when he prostrated to ask for forgiveness. Uncle Emma asked him what he planned to do about Chiamaka and his son.

 

“I don’t want to force her into anything for now. Allow me to graduate and let her experience university. I will wait for her to get married first before I do. I will not be in the picture until she finishes university”

 

“That will be five years from now. What of your son?”

 

“I will be in his life. Once he is a year old, her mother would take him with her to Abuja. When he is three, then I will take him but his mother would have access to him. If you permit me to travel for my Master’s degree, then he stays with you until I come back”

 

“Have you discussed with her?”

 

“No, I discussed with her mother. We both agreed. she can’t make a decision on her own now”

 

“Why are you considering Chiamaka? What changed?” auntie Nneoma asked. She hadn’t said a word since he talked about Chiamaka.

 

“She is a different person. She is very responsible and takes very good care of her son. Uncle Michael asked me to observe her closely and I did. She has changed. She is focused and knows what she wants to achieve. She has her life mapped out mum; she knows where she will be in the next five years. She knows what she wants to graduate with. She sounds so much like Akwaugo. And most of all, she has owned her mistake and moved on. She sees her son as one sent to prepare the path to her greatness and I feel so too. I have been a terrible son to you but

 

 

gradually, I will turn a new leaf. It won’t happen overnight but I will make a conscious effort to change”

 

“Well said,” I thought to myself but I believed it wouldn’t last. Amanze couldn’t stay without a woman. He was carried away by what father said to him at that time but I believed once he got back to school, he would go back. He proved me wrong.

 

Chiamaka called me. She asked if anything happened because Amanze was in Umuoji to visit from school. She also comes back from school at the end of every month to visit Kosi who was now six months old. They met there and he bonded with his son very well. She observed he spent time with father and assisted mother as much as he could.

 

“I hope you are not falling for him again?” I asked.

 

“No o! I am just telling you your cousin seems to have transformed”

 

“Don’t be deceived. Let us see how long it will last”

 

It lasted though. He spoke to me differently and never made those sleazy comments around me.

 

Christmas holiday Uncle Emma came to visit us in the village in the company of his wife and Amanze. He hadn’t seen the baby since he was born and there was a reason for that. As a titled man, his grandson should be brought to him. But, he made an exception. He could see the positive changes in Amanze and he needed to thank father himself.

 

Uncle Emma was a welcome in-law. Father’s cousins came to greet him. He was well respected by many. He hardly came around and therefore was revered. Father told us, if you make yourself scarce, you will be better appreciated than when you are everywhere. This was uncle Emma.

 

Chiamaka presented Kosi to his grandfather. Tears dropped from uncle Emma eyes when he saw him; he was Amanze’s copy. He kissed him and blessed him.

 

 

They wined and dined with us that day. It was a joyous occasion. Amanze confessed it was the slap from mother that reset his brain. My mother is fond of Amanze because he charms her so for her to slap him like that, he knew he had crossed the line. We all laughed about it.

 

On Christmas day, Chiamaka was also visited by her mother and two brothers. She was so happy to see them. Mother made sure they were well entertained. Chiamaka’s mother couldn’t thank my parents enough for all they do for her daughter. She confessed she couldn’t even do half. She brought the usual foodstuff and she bought diapers and milk for the baby with other essentials. Chiamaka cried when they were leaving but she was happy.

 

Later that evening, she brought an envelope to father. she knelt down before him and said, “Father, my birth mother gave me this envelope to give to you. I have deprived mother of doing her business for so long that I feel so guilty. She takes care of Kosi as though she is his birth mother. You have shown me fatherly love that can’t be compared to another. Akwaugo, Obinna and Ikenna are like my siblings. They have never treated me with scorn or disdain. I wish you were my birth parents but unfortunately, we cannot choose where we are to be born. You have rejected all the assistance my mother has tried to render and it shows you are an honourable man but father, take this one. She is giving you from the bottom of her heart. She is paying for the omugwo she couldn’t do for me and you did wholeheartedly. She wants to appreciate you for helping me discover myself. For helping Amanze become responsible. Both of you are good people. Please accept this as a little token of our overwhelming appreciation”

 

We were all quietly waiting for what father would say. He was also quiet but when I looked up, I saw tears in his eyes. I saw the same in my mother’s eyes. Being good came naturally to them so they couldn’t understand all the gratitude being shown to them for doing the right thing. It took a while for them to speak.

 

“Chiamaka, we should be thanking you”

 

“Yes, you are right” mother chipped in.

 

“You listened to all we said and decided to imbibe them. Many girls do not listen and continue their lives. Then, they make the same mistake or commit a more

 

 

grievous offence of murder. You have learnt from your mistake my child and no one can shame you. Tell your mother we do not need financial gratification rather we would prefer you turn out right in the future and also show love to another who needs it. Amanze’s father, my brother-in-law, has provided adequately for us. We are simple people and don’t need much so we have a surplus which if we do not work for one year we can still survive. Why would I collect assistance from two places like a hungry person? If even no one had given me anything to take care of you, I would have. We would have managed with what we have. Give the money back to your mother; we are fine”

 

“Father, mother was paid some sum of money. She wants to give everything to you not because you lack but because she appreciates. I am in school. I sleep peacefully at night because I know my son is safe. When he goes to Abuja, I will have to call often because I know my mother would have to leave him with a nanny, but I agree; she has to play her part. I am not returning this money to her because I know you deserve it. Inside here is N1,000,000.00. Father, you and mother have N600,000. Obinna and Ikenna have N100,000 each. Ikenna, the money is to build the birdcage you talked about. I believe Obinna can help you with it. Obinna, that course you talked about in Port Harcourt, you have money to do it now. Akwaugo does not need any money; we will just shop for her. The remaining N150,000 will be kept for emergencies. Father, we need the money”

 

“What of you?” mother asked her.

 

“Your benefactor is my benefactor. I don’t need anything. I am laying low in school. I flaunt the fact I have a child and I am not easy prey. So far so good”

 

“Give the boys their share and keep the rest”

 

“No father, give us our own and keep the rest”

 

Father collected the envelope. Gave Obinna and Ikenna theirs. Gave mother N50,000 for me and then kept the rest aside. He turned to Chiamaka, “I am proud of you my child. I will speak with your mother this night to appreciate her. We really don’t need this money. I will buy a plot of land from it for Kosi so he would have roots here”.

 

 

Chiamaka became emotional. Father never stopped giving. He wanted Kosi never to forget where it all started. I was very happy at father’s decision and proud too.

 

New Year’s eve, there was a goat tied to our frontage with other items. We didn’t know who our benefactor was but we were very grateful and prayed for the person. We attended midnight mass. I had bought packs of banger from Enugu and shared to friends. After mass, mother carried Kosi home with her and left us to have fun. We threw banger and everyone dispersed. It turned to competition with the next village. It was fun. Chika was with us as we played, so were some of my friends.

 

As we walked home after the entire experience, a car stopped beside us. My brothers were far behind us so couldn’t see what was happening. Two guys came down from the car. One of them called out “Excuse me”

 

We continued walking because we don’t talk to strangers especially not at that time of the night. They walked up to us. We were in a small group so we weren’t scared but we didn’t see why we should talk to them. They persisted until we answered.

 

One of them pointed to me and said

 

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

 

“Me?” I asked quite shocked. Guys don’t normally talk to me.

 

“Yes, please. Just spare me a minute of your time”

 

Chiamaka nudged me to go ahead. I moved to the side but closer to the group in case they were kidnappers or he tried anything funny.

 

“Don’t be scared; I don’t bite. I am also not dangerous. My name is Emeka and I am from Umuejika. I saw you during the mass and you caught my attention. What’s your name?’

 

“Akwaugo” I replied.

 

“I like you Akwaugo and I will like to get to know you better. My cousin is from your village. Can you describe your place so I can visit?

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