Tue. Feb 13th, 2024

PART 34

 

The doctor examined me and requested for a scan. The scan was done and my baby was gone. I knew already. I felt when his soul left. My womb needed to be evacuated. Emeka was distraught. He didn’t know how to act with me. My brothers arrived. They were sad when they heard I lost the baby. I was wheeled to the theatre. Emeka wanted to come with me but the doctors refused.

 

When I woke up, auntie Nneoma was praying. My brothers, Emeka and his parents were in the room. I had rested a long time. I felt better. I requested to be discharged. Emeka couldn’t look at me. My father-in-law spoke to me.

 

“My daughter, I am the one that failed you. I should have put my feet down. I can only beg for your forgiveness. Let us go home. We will resolve everything”

 

“She is not going with you. I will take her home and nurture her to health. She needs to go back to school on Sunday so it is best she comes with me to Enugu” auntie Nneoma insisted.

 

 

Emeka went on his knees and said to her “Auntie, I f**ked up big time. Let me take care of her biko. I beg you in the name of God. I will nurse her to health and take her back to school. I make this promise to you”

 

“What of your sisters? What if they come to attack her again when you are not there?” auntie asked.

 

“They won’t come near her. I assure you, they won’t. There will be someone at her beck and call. Nneoma, allow us to do right by you. Please” Emeka’s mother replied.

 

I wanted to go with auntie Nneoma but she asked me to go with them. We all went to the house. Emeka wanted me back in the room but I refused and stayed where he kept me. Scholastica was to attend to my needs. When she heard I lost the baby, she wept.

 

The baby dying killed something in me. I didn’t care about anything anymore. I just laid there. Life wasn’t important to me anymore. I was numb. I rested and refused to eat. Scholastica cried watching me deteriorate.

 

I didn’t make any move to go back to school on Sunday. I just laid down and watched the ceiling. My brothers came every day to check on me but I said nothing to them. It was a terrible time in my life. I thought of how to end it. I wanted to die. I just didn’t want to exist. I didn’t want to do anything.

 

Amaechi called me. Emeka picked the call and told him I was ill and couldn’t come back. He told him I had to be back by Thursday for our test, he would cover for me. He needed my ID card for someone to pretend to be me otherwise the class won’t hold. Emeka sent it down.

 

Emeka was remorseful. He begged me to forgive him at every opportunity he had. I didn’t answer. I felt I was having an out of body experience. I didn’t say a word to anyone. It was only Scholastica that could make me eat something. She fed me pepper soup to help my womb heal. She then said, “It has to heal fast so you can conceive again before Emeka goes. You will bear him a child whether they like it or not”

 

 

I smiled each time she spoke. I didn’t want to conceive again; I wanted my baby back. We made that baby with so much love. I didn’t want to conceive in this chaos. I was not interested. I laid down all day. His mother told me I was depressed and she felt I needed to see a psychologist. I didn’t look at her. I didn’t answer her.

 

On Wednesday, Emeka wanted to take me back to school but I ignored him. He had to get Scholastica to get me ready. She carried me down the stairs because I hadn’t eaten anything solid for days. He took me to school and intended to stay with me but I refused. I asked him to go. He looked at me and still begged me to forgive him. All I wanted was to be alone. I asked him to go, I wanted to be alone.

 

The next morning, Amaechi called me. The way I was sounded made him realise there was something wrong. “Akwaugo please come for this test. I have your ID card. I am begging you; you can’t not show up for this test. You are putting all of us at risk”

 

It was the boost I needed. I got up and prepared for the test. I met up with my team. I was usually talkative but I was quiet. When the lecturer asked what was wrong, Amaechi told him I had been down. The professor was surprisingly gracious to us during the test. Being in that setting triggered my zeal to achieve. I wrote a test I didn’t prepare very well for. I did practical I didn’t attend the class.

 

After the test, Amaechi took me to lunch. I still couldn’t eat much. He asked me what happened. I told him. I told him like I was telling someone else’s story. There were no emotions or tears; all those had died. Amaechi stopped eating as he listened to me.

 

“They dragged you down the stairs? Did you get them arrested?”

 

“No, I didn’t”

 

“What happened?”

 

“I lost the baby”

 

“You were pregnant?”

 

 

“I was. Ten weeks”

 

“They killed the baby”. I stopped. I never thought about it that way. They did kill my baby. They were murderers.

 

Amaechi wasn’t done, “What did your husband do?” I told him what happened afterwards. “I mean, what did he do to those that killed his baby?”

 

‘Nothing” I replied.

 

“Isn’t that funny? Nothing? You have two more years to finish from here and you need to concentrate. Get them arrested for murder. Let Emeka sort it out. What kind of useless family is that? I blame your husband; doesn’t he know the woman he married? Doesn’t he know what you are capable of? Even if they come with an abundance of evidence, he was away for how many years? Anything can happen when you are apart. What if he was the one, would you do all this drama? I know no man wants another to enjoy what he enjoys with his wife but then you can’t leave a woman for three years and expect a miracle. Likewise, you shouldn’t. This is my understanding. I know you have been faithful but he should have zeroed his mind about what happened when he was not around”

 

Amaechi’s reasoning was very sensible. Emeka knew me well enough to know that I couldn’t so much. Truly, he did nothing to his sisters I know of. I had mourned enough; it was time to act. I left Amaechi and went to see auntie Nneoma. I informed her of my intention to arrest Jacinta and Ugonna for murder.

 

She asked, “Have they apologized for what happened?”

 

“No ma”

 

“Go for it. We are getting them arrested. The hunter will soon become the hunted”

 

She called a DIG she knew who directed her to the CP that would handle the case. A warrant of arrest was issued. My statement was taken. The team went to Umuejika effect the arrest of Jacinta and Ugonna. I was told there was a drama that day. They handcuffed both of them and put them in their police van. Murder is an

 

 

unbailable offence. They spent days in custody while the Police were investigating.

 

That was part of the plan.

 

Uju called me with the lowdown. “I like the way you dealt with them. It was just now I heard you were pregnant and they made you lose the pregnancy. They circulated the supposed chat you had with Maduka but hid their killing of your baby. Their mother was crying while their father said this was just the beginning. Emeka is confused. Adanne has asked him to ensure they are released for the sake of the family’s name. They have bitten more than they can chew. Don’t let them off so easily. Maybe you should hideaway for some time. Emeka fall my hand. Emeka should have stood by you knowing what Jacinta is capable of. I also heard Chisom was her husband’s mistress. She felt threatened and decided to give her to Emeka. The way the girl entered Emeka eh. I was shocked Emeka looked your way and we were all happy when he chose you. If it was Chisom, would they dare drag her as they dragged you? Anyway, dear, deal with them. You have the support of all the cousins. Deal with them very well”

 

I was going to school while they were tackling the issue. I refused to see anyone both in school and at home. Emeka didn’t bother coming. He went to my parents. They were not aware (I didn’t tell them). They were amazed to hear I arrested his sisters for murder. He told them to beg me to come back so we could resolve the issue.

 

I came to the village and explained everything that transpired to my parents. They were very heartbroken. I asked them to schedule a meeting when I am done with all my tests and I have a break.

 

The very day we were supposed to have our Church wedding was the day I chose for us to meet at my parents’ house. Emeka’s entire immediate family was present. The police brought Jacinta and Ugonna to the house. My parents’ house Emeka and his family declined to come to when the issue was still very hot was the same house they gathered in. The tables had turned.

 

“My in-law and my brother. I and my family have offended you. I am ashamed of the way we have behaved. I have been trying to find out where we went wrong with these children. I never believed the allegation against your daughter. I believe her husband should vouch for her integrity. The only problem was finding the

 

 

discussion on her phone. Her husband didn’t know whom to believe. As a sincere man, I called my son and told him even if what your wife is accused of is true, deny it and manage the situation between yourselves but the family members were not in support. I told him; this girl comes home after her tests every week. It shows she still wants to remain married to you, give her the benefit of the doubt but his sisters wouldn’t let him reason like a man. I can’t understand why his sisters will have a say in his marriage. It was during the revelation I discovered he was planting his sisters in her life to monitor her. This issue is between husband and wife. Emeka never told me he was no more interested in the marriage. He allowed her to stay in his house. But he did not tame his sisters. He should have stopped everyone from coming to his house as the issue was still boiling. My daughters made a grave mistake by dragging her. They were not aware she was pregnant but it doesn’t give them a right to go after her the way they did. What if she had hit her head and died? I have come to report us to you. My two daughters have caused the death of our grandchild. What do we do?”

 

“You have spoken well. I asked for your family to officially inform me of the accusation of adultery levelled against my daughter but nobody showed up. I haven’t seen Emeka since all this happened. I want to make it clear to you today, I didn’t collect bride price and I can collect my daughter whenever I want. I can see she is not safe with your family. She was accused, abused, insulted and then battered. Why? What was her crime? She has said it clearly, she didn’t have an affair with Dr Maduka or any other man. I believe her. I trust my child. As it stands, we will take her back while you investigate. That’s what custom demands. She was with child and your daughters decided to abort the pregnancy so she doesn’t have a child for your son”

 

Emeka’s mother cut in, “That’s not what happened, they didn’t know she was pregnant”

 

Father directed his question at Jacinta and Ugonna “Did she say loudly she was pregnant?”

 

Jacinta replied, “I am not sure she did”

 

“But her husband heard her. Her father-in-law heard it clearly but you that was close to her didn’t hear her. It is very sad. Even if the baby survived; no one

 

 

deserves to be treated like that, like a common criminal. Before we get to the murder case, I want Akwaugo to clarify things. We are all adults here and I want her to be specific about each accusation. Akwaugo”

 

I stood up to talk. “I will like to repeat, I did not have an affair with Dr Maduka. My first year at the university was a nightmare. I lived like a refugee because my sister-in-law, Jacinta, hated me. Why she did, she never said. All was fine if I slaved for her but when I couldn’t it became a problem. She locks me out of her house until her husband comes back. Emeka has experienced that with me. It is not everything I will tell Emeka. Emeka knew about Amaechi. Ugonna came to blackmail me using my friendship with Amaechi. When she saw I was not bothered, she backed off. Coming to Enugu, I enjoyed my second year in peace. I lived alone and I was happy. It was my third-year Ugonna came to join me. She came with her friend. I accommodated her. She treated me like I had to provide her with every need. She would wear my clothes and not wash and return them. She would finish the last cereal knowing I couldn’t wait to eat when rushing out in the morning. That was why I asked Emeka for more money. It caused further problems between us.” Then I turned to Emeka, “Why didn’t you say anything when she accused me of having nude pictures on my phone? Who asked for them? Who was I on a video call with when I opened the curtain so you would see me clearly as there was no light? Why did you keep mute? You checked my phone; did you see me chat with anyone apart from the one I can swear I have never seen before? I did all that just to make you happy. I pushed my upbringing aside to give you the pleasures you desired just because you were my husband and I loved you. All these accusations won’t have surfaced if we had waited until after the church wedding to consummate the marriage. If I was still intact then this web of lies wouldn’t have meant anything” I was becoming emotional at this point so I stopped to take control of myself, “Emeka, you stood by me when Jacinta ill-treated me. How come you so easily believed what was said against? How was it easy for you to believe the evidence on my phone? It looked damning but Emeka this is Akwaugo. I have never spoken to you in such language before. I have never allowed another man to see my nakedness; it has never happened. Because of your indecision and distrust, we have lost our baby. Because you allowed your sisters to manipulate you against me, your wife, that is why we are here today. You asked for forgiveness and I forgave you. But did your sisters ask for forgiveness?”

 

 

Emeka stood up and came to where I was standing, he held my hands and said, “I didn’t believe them at first. I was still trying to process it. Not until they showed me a picture of you with Amaechi after you left the house that Sunday. It broke me to pieces seeing you with another man. He was holding you. Why did you run to him? Why go back to the person that was causing so much trouble?”

 

“Amaechi was holding me? I will like to see the picture. Amaechi has never held me before. He respects the fact I am married and would never disrespect me like that”

 

Emeka brought out his phone and showed me the picture. It was taken from my back and I was facing Amaechi. From the angle it was taken, it looked like we were standing very close to each other but in reality, it wasn’t so.

 

I smiled and asked Emeka if this was the only picture that was taken. He said he was only shown one picture. “Then the person who took this picture is being deceptive. He should have taken other pictures with us clearly holding each other”

 

“But why go back to him?”

 

“We are in a group. He saw my eyes red from so much crying and wanted to know why. We are friends. He didn’t hold me, Emeka. I can never allow another man to touch me. You told me you loved me and I believed you. Why can’t you believe me?”

 

“I am sorry Akwaugo, I am to blame for all this. I created this mess. Blame me for the death of our baby. I love you very much and I want to right all the wrongs I have done”

 

“Emeka, I forgive you but you cannot bring my baby back. Your sisters murdered my baby in cold blood and they should suffer for it. Each time I see them, I will remember what they put me through. I will remember the way they dragged me all way to the stairs and then down the stairs. I will remember calling out for you while hit my body on every obstacle on the way. I will remember screaming and begging them to stop, I was pregnant but they didn’t care, they continued to drag me down the stairs like a thief. The only way all this can come to an end is if you can bring my son back”

 

 

“My love, we will get pregnant again. Biko, I beg you, forgive us. They made a mistake they regret. If you pursue this further, it will ruin the family and our reputation. Let us manage this situation. We will have more babies”

 

“What is the guarantee they would not kill my other babies? How can you assure me? Let them face the music. They have made me unhappy in my marriage and you let them. It is ending now. I am not doing this just for myself but for the other wives who they can hurt. Let them admit their guilt and have a plea bargain. Then, they would never repeat this again”

 

“You want my sisters to serve time? Why? Because they acted irresponsibly? I have begged you; can’t you forgive and forget? Please let us not overstretch this matter. They were wrong, admitted but they don’t deserve to serve time, I won’t allow it. Jacinta has lost her home. Ugonna has an automatic extra year. What other punishment do you want to give them?”

 

“They assaulted me Emeka. They killed my baby. Sister Jacinta chose to lose her home over lies. Ugonna is suffering the consequence of her actions. You want to save the family face? Then choose. Choose between our marriage and releasing your sisters. I give you three days to choose. Whichever you choose shall be it”

 

“How can you ask me to choose? Akwaugo what has gotten into you? How can you make me choose? I have apologized. I still love you very much and I want to be with you. My sisters did wrong but you don’t throw away the baby with the bathwater. Please, don’t make this any more difficult”

 

“Whatever you decide, you can communicate the same to me”

 

My father-in-law spoke, “My daughter, you have spoken well. These two girls have done wrong. They have done evil against you. You are right in your decision. But I will say, tamper justice with mercy. Since you came into our home there is a glory that came along with you. I do not want to lose you; remember we still have a project to complete. Your sisters can be punished in other ways than this. The stigma of killing their brother’s first child will always remain with them. Have mercy on me and release these girls”

 

“Papa, I have given Emeka an ultimatum. He will get back to me”

 

Even while I spoke, neither Jacinta nor Ugonna apologized. They seemed confident. Their countenance annoyed me but I knew why they behaved like that. I would be forced to release them. Emeka will choose them over me. The family will pressurize him. I left the meeting with tears in my eyes. I had lost. I couldn’t be in the same environment with the killers of my baby. I could not forgive them. They humiliated me and killed my baby and they would get away with it.

 

Emeka wouldn’t let me be. He followed me all over campus begging me to have a rethink. He even got Amaechi to talk to me. I told him to show Amaechi the picture that caused the problem, he was reluctant. Finally, he did. Amaechi was stunned. He later advised me to release them and keep away from the family because they would come back for me.

 

My father appealed to me to secure their release. He confessed he was worried I might be attacked again and this time I might not make it alive. I was indecisive about leaving Emeka. I felt for him; he had grown lean over the issue. I still loved him but I wasn’t safe with his family. If Adanne could come from Lagos to wedge war against me, then they can decide to kill me and they will all co-operate to save the family name.

 

I made up my mind to move out. I returned the car Emeka gave me to the house and dropped the keys with his father. I packed all that belonged to me in the house. I left everything Emeka bought for me including the new phone. Scholastica wept while helping me pack. I cried too but I knew once these ladies come out, I was no safer. I moved to Enugu. When I was sure I didn’t have anything of Emeka’s, I asked auntie Nneoma to arrange for their release. Emeka was at the station when the signal came for them to be released on bail. He called me but I didn’t pick up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AKWAUGO

 

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