CHAPTER 3

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Epic jamz emerged from the popular  coal city garden,  complimenting the beauteous breeze, scudding eastward from the waterfall, which had crept up and over the Awhum monastery, billowing steadily eastward, and straight past the duplex that Nne Nnemdi, Amy’s relative, lived with her husband and daughter, with the screeching sounds made by the ikwikwi (owl), that greeted the Enugu residents that evening.

Amy, who was cuddled in Ben’s arms mellowed out at the feel of his skin against hers. She moved forward, positioning herself comfortably on the swing chair they both layed on, and stared deeply at his face, trying to figure out what was going through his head, as he babbled even in his sleep. His eyes had grown weary over the past three weeks since their arrival at Enugu. Hollows had appeared under his eyes during those weeks, as if someone had suctioned his flesh, leaving his eyes sunken in.

Her heart ripped in two as she harboured the thought of the pains he might be going through. She remembered that night when he had told mama about their “little secret”, and how mama had reacted to the news. “She just sighed and nodded, she didn’t say a word”, he had said.

Amy wondered why mama was so cruel towards her, and sometimes she felt like they were more reasons to mama’s hostility than she knew, but she feared asking Ben, she didn’t want to bother him with her silly thoughts. 

“A penny for your thought”, Ben smirked, pulling her close to himself, as he yawned widely, “savage”, Amy teased. 

“Hmmm, i spoke with the director today, they will work on my contract as soon as our baby is up and bouncing”, Amy smacked at his hand which was making its way to her belly. 

“Ogini…can’t i even feel my child kpa?”, Ben grumbled, as he tickled her. 

“No touching, not until our names are boldly written on your family’s register, do you understand…”, Amy looked at his face hoping to find him smiling, but saw “worry” written all over. 

She waited for him to say something, but Ben only looked away. Torn between love and guilt, he dreaded telling Amy the truth. One which he had refused to accept ever since he met her, one which will shatter their lives. He gritted his teeth and slowly forced a smile to his lips, he couldn’t tell her, not yet. 

“Is it about mama? Ben, you shouldn’t worry too much, she’s your mother, she will definitely come around”.

Ben shut his eyes as fresh pains lurched through him. How could he had kept such a big secret from her, how could he had fallen in love with her knowing he had a child with another woman. He had been selfish. 

Six years ago, he had ran away from his responsibilities in the pretence of agreeing to marry Chiwendu only when he was fully accomplished as a man, he was a “playboy” and the thought of being tied to one woman for the rest of his life had scared him, and with a complete illiterate at that. 

It was a one night stand as it had been with the other ladies he had slept with in the past, but that twenty minutes of bliss had turned out to be his curse, one which he was going to bear forever. Chiwendu had gotten pregnant, and this time there was no denying it was his, he had met her a virgin. 

Mama had agreed with Chiwendu’s family to get them both married, she would rather die than have the entire Enugu talk about her, “nke ndị m ozu”, she had sworn. He was helpless, as Chiwendu’s brothers had threatened to feed his nwoke (manhood) to the dogs if he objected, a threat which he knew very well would be carried out if he had declined. Sometimes, he wondered what had prompted him to fall prey to a girl like Chiwendu, one just like mama, the exact reason they had bonded easily. No denying, she was beautiful and no guy would had missed the opportunity of having a sneak peak at her “forbidden fruit”, one which she willingly offered to him.

“It’s late already, you should go home now, mama will be worried”, Amy said, although she wished he could stay longer, but she feared mama barging into Nne Nnemdi’s compound, something she knew mama was capable of. 

Ben felt like a bummer, he didn’t deserve Amy, “See you tomorrow”, he pulled her into an embrace, one which he wished could last forever.

“I love you”, he managed to say.

***

Ben thought of what he was going to tell mama, and as he drew near home, he concluded in his mind that he was going to have to make mama listen to him, else, he would leave the house and get married to Amy without her consent. “She won’t be able to handle that”, He smiled to himself. 

Loud chatters emerged from the house making Ben stop in track, he knew that mama wasn’t alone, and wondered who the guest might be, but that voice sounded familiar… Chiwendu! 

He turned to leave but tiny hands stopped him, as they nudged at his shorts, forcing him to look down. Ben broke into a sweat as his exact replica stared back at him, it was just as mama had said,  there was no denying, this was his child. His! 

“Papa”, a chubby ebon-skinned boy with emerald eyes, one just like his, stared back at him. Ben was dumbfounded, and for minutes he just stood there, speechless. 

“Buchi my dear, i see you’ve finally met your father”, Chiwendu was standing at the door, the lace illusion neckline peach dress she wore sank into her flesh, displaying her perfect figure eight shape, her hair neatly styled, her lips as juicy as ever, looking even more beautiful than Ben would have ever thought and as she smiled, he froze. Wait, did she just speak english?!

***


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