“The view from the front porch is amazing. We are lucky that Collins saved this place for us. What do you think?” Olivia asked as she pulled me towards the Porch.
I nodded. “I think it’s good.”
“You can have this place for only 60 million naira. The best you can get.” Collins added as we joined him outside.
If anyone had told me that I would have up to a million naira before my death, I’d argue it with ‘references’
“My name is Omololu Martins.” I introduced.
Mr. Philips stared at me. “Olivia told me you would be coming.”
“I just want you to know that I can do a lot at once.”
He nodded. “Multi tasking. That’s interesting.”
“I have a ship that comes in next week throughApapa, I have some men that help offload the ship. It is long and hard, it takes a minimum of four hours to offload it. You can join them in offloading it. I’ll provide you with accommodation there and feeding too during the time for it.”
I nodded. “Okay, that’s fine.”
“You’ll also get paid, You’ll be paid ten thousand naira.”
My face fell, but it was a start. “Thank you, sir.”
After a tiring first day of offloading a ship, Mr. Philips called me into his car. “Great job!” He said as I took my seat.
“Thank you, sir.” I replied with my head bowed.
He nodded. “I am quite impressed with your work rate here and honestly you won’t get a ten thousand naira daily job. My ship comes in seasons.”
“Are you saying that my work is done here?”
He nodded in agreement. “It is, but, I would love to know what other skills you have, something to put on your CV.”
“I didn’t go to the University.” I replied.
“Have you thought of going?”
I shook my head stubbornly. “I can’t.”
“You can’t or you don’t?” he asked.
I threw my face away. “It’s not worth it.”
“Can I be your friend?”
“My Friend? You?”
He nodded. “I’ll register you at the Nigerian Open University or if you don’t mind a regular school, I can talk to some friends for you.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
“I am Olivia’s brother and her friends are my friends.”
I squeezed Olivia’s hand in mine. “Can we show Tiwa this place before we commit?”
She nodded with a smile. “Of course, my love.” She replied.
I dropped my bag on the chair as I walked into the house. My phone buzzed again and Austin beamed on the Caller ID. “What is it, Austin?” I asked as I climbed up the stairs.
“Mrs. Martins, where are you?”
My leg froze as I heard the Chairman’s voice. “I am at home.”
“We need you here now, we are about to lose our clients.” He said.
I looked up and saw Tiwa standing before me. My Chairman was screaming into my ears. I shut my eyes as I screamed into the phone. “I want to be with my daughter.” I yelled and hung up.
Tiwa stared at me, “What did you do that for? Your Job?”
“You are my daughter, Tiwa. I am sorry. I came back for you.” I said.
She shook her head sadly. “It was a waste, I am not interested in going out anymore.”
My eyes went red and my blood boiled. The grip on my phone become firmer as Tiwa’s words stung my heart.
“You should go to work, there’s more to do there.” She said as she attempted to return to her room but I pulled her back. “Let go!” she screamed.
I wasn’t going to let go. I held her hand tighter. “I just lost 5 million naira and I am not about to go to my room and sleep filled with regrets.” I said as I pulled her downstairs and dragged her into the car amidst her screaming.
“You are holding me against my wish.” She said as I started the engine.
I nodded. “Yes Tiwa, I’ll hold you against your wish and you know why? I am frustrated, I am pissed off! And I am tired of you not understanding me.”
“Me? What have you said to me?” she shouted back.
“I made a mistake. I left! But I am sorry, is it so hard to understand?” I shouted as I blasted the horn.
She stared at me. “Can you slow down? I think we are going too fast.”
“Oh really…we are on 140, that’s nothing, watch me do a 200.” I replied as I pressed on the accelerator.
Mom was mute as we ate lunch. “You can say anything to me, but don’t keep quiet.” I said.
“I have nothing to say.” She replied.
I nodded. “Olivia and I went to check out the house, this place is really small and it makes no sense paying rents when I can buy my house.”
She sipped her water carefully. “When are we returning to Ibadan?” she asked.
I swallowed. “Mom, I am thinking of asking a transfer from Mr. Philips down here, Tiwa is here, Olivia is here and it’s better for us to be here.”
“Ibadan is my home. You can decide where your home is.” She said and left for the kitchen.
I slammed the table. “Stop it, Mom! Is that how much you hate Olivia? She has been nothing but good to me.”
“Don’t drag me into your problems.” She replied and returned into the living room. “Can I at least go and see my granddaughter? I need Ijeoma’s address.”
I took a deep breath and fetched my wallet. “Mom, Olivia is a good woman.” I said as I wrote down the address.
“You would know that. In time, I may realize that, and if I don’t do that at all, too bad.” She replied and collected the paper from me. “Thank you, I’ll be on my way.”
I blinked. “Let me call a cab for you.” I urged.
“I’ll get dressed.” She replied and left for her room.
“She is my mother.”
I didn’t know if I was imagining things but I could hear Tiwa’s voice. I tried to move but I couldn’t. My eyes were heavy and weary as I tried opening them. “Where am I?” I asked. “Where is my daughter?”
“I am here.” The reply came.
“Ijeoma, can you hear me?”
I stared the man above me. “I…I can hear you.”
“You are in the hospital. Be calm.”
I gasped. “Where’s Tiwa? I blacked out.”
“I am here.” Tiwa replied as she stared at me.
Tears rolled down my eyes. “I am sorry.” I said.
“It’s alright.” She replied and stepped back.
My eyes were weak and I closed them.
“We are gonna prepare her for surgery now.”
Tiwa swallowed hard. “Is it so serious?”
“She can’t move.” The Doctor replied. “Can we call your Dad?”
She nodded and dialed on her phone.
“MOM!!!” I shouted.
She rushed out with her earrings. “Omololu, what is it?”
“Ijeoma has been in an accident.” I said as my voice broke.
She stared at me. “How? Where?”
“I…I don’t know. Let’s go.” She said.
“Give me the keys, I’ll drive.”
I shook my head in disagreement. “We won’t get there in time.”
“Or we could be carried in by an ambulance if you drive. Keys!” she ordered.
Austin walked into the hall and Tiwa rushed to him. “My Dad is taking too long, we need to sign for the surgery, they won’t let me do it.”
He nodded. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, she told me to leave the car and then she drove into a tree.”
He shook his head sadly. The Doctor walked out. “Are you her husband?”
“No, but I can sign anything for her.” He replied hastily.
Tiwa nodded. “Yes sir, he can sign it.”
The Doctor stretched the document to him.
I rushed into the hospital with Mom running behind struggling to keep up. Tiwa ran out to meet me with her hand widespread. I took her in my grip. “Where is she?” I asked.
“She is in the theatre.” She replied.
“Surgery? Ijeoma can’t go under the knife. She hates it.” I replied.
Tiwa gasped. “B…but the Doctor said she needed it.”
We turned as I saw Ijeoma’s ‘lover’ approached us calling Tiwa’s name. “Did you authorize my wife’s surgery?” I asked as I approached him.
He nodded. “Ijeoma’s condition is delicate. I had – ”
I sent him crashing into the nearby chair before he could complete his statement and I groaned in pain from hitting him.
“Omololu, what is wrong with you?” Mom shouted as she helped him to his feet.
He wiped some blood from his nose and walked away with Mom to the nearby tap.
Tiwa stared at me with some surprise and she took her seat. I was embarrassed as I tried avoiding her glance. My hand was hurting too, but that was the least of my worries. Ijeoma was in my head.
I watched as Ijeoma’s ‘lover’ walked away with my Mom and I got more irritated. “Damn it!” I said kicking the chair.
I stared at Tiwa and she motioned to me to have a seat. I took my seat beside her. “I…I am sorry. It’s just that Ijeoma hates surgeries. She always said that she would never go under the knife.”
Tiwa stared at me motionless.
I was embarrassed as she stared at me. “Tiwa, I shouldn’t have hit him, I know and I am sorry, but…I am just saying that-”
“You still love her.” She cut in.
“How serious is it?” Margaret Martins asked as she handed Austin a glass of water
Austin drank some water. “Ijeoma hurt her leg in the accident. An immediate surgery is necessary to get her in shape.”
“Would she walk again?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “She is in surgery now, I…I don’t know.”
“Let’s meet my son.”
He scoffed. “I can’t.”
“Omololu is a nice man.”
Austin hissed. “He hit me without even knowing me, what does that speak of him?”
“He is a jealous man. He loves Ijeoma.”
Austin stared at her. “Love? He loves Ijeoma?”
“Tiwa, I am only concerned about her.” I said as I rubbed my palm on my trouser.
She nodded. “That’s a great deal of concern.”
“What did you expect me to say? We have been together for a very long time, even before we got married. I just care, that’s all. I stopped loving her.”
She nodded. “Okay.”
I threw my face away and adjusted in the chair. “I actually wanted to hit him. Right from the first day I saw him with her, I wanted to beat him up.”
“Dad…” she stressed as she chuckled. “You are jealous, aren’t you?”
I scoffed. “Jealous? Tiwa, I am over her and you know it, there is no need to go back to that issue.”
She smiled. “Why don’t we talk about it?” she asked smiling.
“You know I don’t want to talk about it. Don’t make me.”
She nodded with a smile and then tickled me. “Tell me.”
She winked playfully. “Tell me about that day you took her to Grandma.”
“Stop it.” I replied with a smile.
She grinned as she wrapped her hand around me. My memory started to play tricks on me, Tiwa acted exactly like Ijeoma used to. She had Ijeoma’s teenage warm and fuzzy behaviour.
I watched as Mom approached with Ijeoma’s lover. I looked in Ijeoma’s direction. “His name is Mr. Austin.” She said as though she had read my mind. I nodded as I walked up to him.
“I am sorry, Austin. I…I overreacted.”
He nodded. “You sure did.”
I swallowed. “Since when has she been in surgery?”
“The past twenty minutes or so.” He replied.
A Doctor approached us and we all rushed to meet him. “How is she?” I asked.
The Doctor stared at Austin. “He is her husband.” Austin said to the Doctor.
The Doctor walked up to me. “Ijeoma is out of surgery.”
I smiled as I took a deep breath. “Great news, right?”
He nodded. “But, she is unable to move her legs.”
“What?” I shouted as I grabbed the Doctor’s collar
Austin freed the doctor from my grip. “Take it easy.”
“I won’t!” I yelled back
“Sir, we are going to call a physiotherapist and I can assure you that in no time, she will be fine, it is nothing serious.” The Doctor replied.
Austin nodded. “Can we see her now?”
“No you can’t, she is resting, but you may when she wakes up.” He replied and walked away.
I took my seat and watched as my mom discussed with Austin and Tiwa.
The next thing I saw was Austin rushing out of the hospital. I hurried over to my mom. “What’s going on?”
“He had to attend to urgent matters.” She replied.
I scoffed. “I’ll go and see Ijeoma.” I said and walked away.
My eyes popped open. I had been sleeping for too long. I knew I had to get up, but why couldn’t I? Legs are used for movement or was it my hand? Why couldn’t I feel my leg? I screamed out in fear.
The door flew open and Omololu rushed in. “It’s okay….shhh…It’sokay.” He said as he rubbed my forehead
“I can’t feel my legs, Omololu, I can’t feel my legs.” I screamed.
He kissed my forehead. “It’s okay…it’s okay, you are fine.” He said.
For a moment, I forgot about my leg and I enjoyed being close to Omololu again. “Omololu…”
“I am here for you, you will be fine.” He said.
I didn’t know when the worlds spilled out of my mouth. Here for her?What was I thinking? I placed her gently into the Bed.
The door opened and the doctor walked in with some nurses. “I told you not to disturb her.”
Ijeoma stared at the doctor with fear in her eyes. “I can’t feel my legs.”
“It’s fine.” The Doctor replied. “You’ll feel it soon. You just have to work on it.”
She gasped. “What do you mean?” She asked as she gripped the Doctor’s shirt. “No!” She screamed as she tried to throw herself from bed. I held on to her tightly as I feared I was about to see the Ijeoma I saw on the day she lost her parents.
She struggled with me, but I was stronger. She tried to push but her strength failed her and she was eventually sedated to sleep.
I returned to my Mom and Tiwa outside. “She is resting now. Let’s go home.”
I turned as I saw Olivia. “Hey…”
“What are you doing here?” she asked with a smile. “Don’t tell me you followed me here?” she asked smiling. She then smiled in Tiwa’s direction. “Hi darling.”
Tiwa smiled as Olivia hugged her. “How are you?”
My Mom maintained a distance and I watched her walk away. Olivia stared at me. “Does she hate me that much?”
“She doesn’t hate you.” I replied. “What are you doing here?” I asked as I tried to take her mind of thoughts of my mom.
“I was called in here to check a patient when I thought I saw you and I followed you down here.” She said. I nodded. “Well turns out, I was right. And you? What are you doing here?”
I cleared my throat. “I…Ijeoma is here.”
She stared at me and smiled. “What happened to her?”
“She…she was in an accident.”
Olivia gasped. “Sorry about that. Is…Is she better?”
“She is asleep. She would be better.”
She took my hand. “Are you okay?”
“Of course, I am fine.” I replied almost immediately.
She nodded. “I’ll be on my way home, say hi to your mom for me.” She said and walked away.
The Doctor set me on the wheel chair. “This would work for the main time.” He said as he adjusted the wheelchair. “Your daughter is waiting for you in the lobby.”
I pressed the controller and wheeled out of the room into the lobby. Tiwa walked up to me as soon as she saw me approaching. “How are you?” she asked.
“I am okay.” I replied and wheeled out of the hospital. I had requested for a special wheelchair with automatic features to make my movement easy.
Tiwa and I joined the driver in the car and he drove us home. I had a personal driver but I rarely used him as I preferred to move around myself, but now, I couldn’t do that by myself and I was stuck with been driven around.
I noticed renovations in my house as soon as I wheeled in. One of the staircases had been renovated to accommodate a wheel chair. “Who did this?” I shouted as soon I approached it.
“Mr. Austin thought that – ”
I yelled. “Austin has no right! This is my house! I am not finished.”
The door opened and Austin came in. “Heyy…” he said with a smile.
“Why did you touch my staircase?” I shouted.
He smiled. “It is going to be hard for you to move around here with the stairs, so I just thought that it would be nice to change things around here.”
“Thought? You didn’t think, you decided and you changed it without my consent.”
He nodded. “Okay, I get that, but, it is for your good. You need to be able to do things by yourself.”
“And that is why you shouldn’t have touched anything! What else did you change? Do I now sleep on the floor?” I yelled.
He stared at me. “Ijeoma, you are yelling at me.”
“And what do I care? I am the one in the damn wheel chair, not you! I am the one who can’t move, not you! I am the one who is stuck, not you! So don’t tell me that I am yelling at you.” I screamed.
“Please calm down.” Tiwa said as she stood before me.
I scoffed. “Do I look upset? Do I look crazy to you? I can’t walk.” I shouted as I broke down in tears.
Austin walked over to me. “Ijeoma, I need you to fight back.”
“That’s what I am doing. I want to get up from this damn thing.” I shouted as I pushed myself up and crashed into the floor.
“Should I bring her here?”
Mom shook her head in disagreement. “It’s better to just stay there with her, it will save us the stress of bringing her luggage and it would prevent any problem with Olivia.”
I paused. “Olivia?” I then smiled. “You actually care about Olivia’s feelings?”
“I am a woman too.” she replied as she dumped a shirt in my bag. “You should hurry up. If Tiwa called you, it is quite urgent.”
I zipped the bag. “Mom, with what is going on right now with Ijeoma, I…I think I may have to be in Lagos more, can’t you stay too?”
She smiled. “Now you want to use Ijeoma as an excuse so that I won’t return home?”
“I am not making any excuse. I just want to be in Lagos.”
She nodded. “Hurry up; I’ll come over in the evening after I have made her something to eat.”
“Alright, Mom. I rather get going.”
I opened the door and saw Olivia standing before me. “Hi, Olivia.”
She smiled faintly and stared at my bag. “Where are you going to?”
I took a deep breath. “I am going to Ijeoma’s place.”
I sipped my water gently as I watched Austin pace round the room. “I have already told you that I am fine. You may leave.”
“Ijeoma, you just threw yourself off the chair because you were pissed off. How am I going to leave you alone?”
I scoffed as I replaced the glass beside the table. “You are going to walk over to the door, you are going to open I and walk out, start your engine and drive off to your house. That is how you are going to do it.”
“I have to move in here with you.” he replied.
I hissed. “It is bad enough that you think I am useless, but I won’t have you come here and baby me. I am not a woman who would give up so easily.” I shouted. “Any news from the office? We haven’t spoken about the office since the accident.”
Tiwa joined us downstairs. “Do I get you anything to eat?”
“I am not hungry.” I replied and turned in Austin’s direction. “What are you not telling me about the office?”
He walked away from me and took his seat. “Do we have to talk about the office now? We would talk later.”
“I want to know. Did we seal that deal?” I asked. He was silent. “Get me my grey suit, we would meet those men.”
He sighed. “It’s not possible.”
“Nothing is Impossible. I’ll seal that deal.” I replied.
He swallowed. “You have been suspended.”