Ac Bliss 11 months ago

Prodigal

You still smell of him; go wash up..."You still smell of him; go wash again." The voice repeated; it was more audible this time. I turned around to see a set of disturbed faces.

Someone's face seemed more disturbed, but she was silent; it was my mum. They sat like they were holding a family meeting; mum, Aunt Magi, and Pat (elder sister). "How long have they been there?" I wondered. "Ogechi, what happened?" It was her; she was the one that talked me to consciousness earlier. It was Pat. I became angry.

"You smelt me?" I asked.

"uh-huh, you are really dating him, right?" she asked again. I was silent. I looked at myself and the big bedroom. I appeared to be the only miserable thing around. I couldn't remember much, but I guessed I had sneaked into this room the previous night like I usually did, but that wasn't my room; it was my sister's. How? Guess I got drunk again.

"You got drunk again, didn't you?" Aunt Magi asked. "No, she was drugged; I smelt it as I cleaned her up," Pat responded. "He beat you up, right?" I ignored her. I could feel the blood in my mouth, it dawned on me that a lot had happened, but I couldn't remember exactly how they did. I still couldn't afford to make them see how much trouble I was. "You will have to write a police statement today because... ". Mum started, but I snobbishly cut her short. "Idam, why, of all things, you should do, be smelling my body?" I inquired of Pat.

" You have no shame, Oge; you are void of conscience. So finally, you are really dating my ex", Pat replied bitterly. I replied again in anger. "Idam, you have no business with who I smell like right now...Ouch!". I felt a headache then, but I continued. "Anyone else can smell like your ex, right?" "But not in this condition I'm familiar with; it can only be Ebuka that will put you in this condition!". She was shouting in anger now. "Well, believe and do your worst," I replied gently and rested my head on the pillow wishing they could all leave at that moment. 

Fortunately for me, Pat left, banging the door behind her. She came back a few seconds later and announced that we should evacuate her room. "You are too stubborn, Oge," Mum started. "Life would have been better if you listened to your sister and me. Tell me, is it him again?" "Yes, mum, and I love him," I replied********

The next day, I felt like I should apologize to my sister, but my pride wouldn't let me. I was really dating her ex, and I didn't know how she found out about it. Things were still not going to change. I loved Ebuka though he treated me badly. I still can't wrap my head around the happenings of last night. It wasn't the first time he drugged me, but this was worse. It appeared I was raped, my gums bled, and my bones ached. I charged my phone to call him, and my number was blocked.

"Oge, you've messed up big time," I screamed into my big room. I went to his place, and I was told that he had traveled out of town. It was true, he had told me about his new job in Lagos, but we were supposed to go together.*****

"Are the birds singing too loud today, or are they mocking me?" I wondered as I lay on my sheet-less bed, muting the seventh call from my boss in my workplace. The door of my room opened, and my sister Pat came in. She had refused to give me attention for the past few days, and I knew that whatever she was going to say now wasn't going to go well with me. "Gosh, this room stinks," she started. "Were you smoking, Oge?" she started. I ignored it; I picked up my phone and pretended to be busy.

"How many days has that suya stayed there, Oge?" she complained again. The door clicked; I turned, and she wasn't there, and neither was the suya. She had taken them out. She came back again with a broom. I was surprised and ashamed of myself, but my pride wouldn't let me show it. She began complaining as she swept: "Why are your bedsheets on the floor? Mum has been looking for these dishes for the past three days, so you hid them under your bed?" "I didn't hide them," I replied. I immediately regretted talking. I had hurt my own pride. "Okay, they hid," Pat replied. I smiled. I didn't regret it this time. I was just happy my sister started talking to me. ****

A few months later, my sister was a key player in my healing process. She gave me all the strength I needed without considering her own hurt. My boss had sacked me from work after failed attempts at reaching me, and I found a temporary job as a kindergarten teacher. A lot in me had changed: I was willing to right all my wrongs, I began to pay attention to my family and God, the kids at school loved me, and I felt so much at peace. Everything was perfect again until I received a call from Lagos. He was shocked I was working as a kindergarten teacher with my degree.

"That was the only slut remaining, it's a very big school, and their salary is nice," I replied to him over the phone. Ebuka laughed. "You surprise me, Oge baby; how much will a Montessori pay you compared to working in a multinational company in Lagos? ". He retorted. "How?" I asked, though I had already made up my mind not to give in to him. "Come over to Lagos, babe; we will talk about everything,". He said. "Ebuka, is this the explanation and apology you have to give me for what you did to me?" I asked bitterly. "Come over, babe, I said we would talk about it." He said. I angrily ended the call. **********

For the next few weeks after that, Ebuka pestered me until I gave in. I never told anyone, including my sister, Pat. I left for Lagos with little clothes in my bag at night. Halfway into Lagos, I received a text from my sis; it was our usual gossip text, but, no, this one hit differently. It read: "Hi sis, guess who texted me about four days ago? Sorry I didn't tell you earlier; it wasn't that relevant to me, so I didn't remember. It was Ebuka o. He told me that he missed me so much and apologized for everything. He said I should come to Lagos for a multinational job he found me. Hahaha, he thinks I don't know his games. How far? Has he contacted you, you de house? It's funny how..." I couldn't finish reading the long text anymore. It dawned on me that this wasn't right. What games was she talking about? Was Ebuka lying? Why would Ebuka text her after I had agreed to come? Will Idam ever forgive me if she finds out about this? Many questions ravaged my mind until I saw the sign, 'Welcome to Lagos.' 

Ebuka welcomed me with a smile at the park. I couldn't smile back. I needed explanations first. He still had no reasonable explanations for anything. He kept on beating around the bush. Like a bad dream, I realized I loved him again. He treated me so well that I was fooled into thinking he was sorry for everything and was a changed man. He explained to me that the job vacancy was no longer available, but he would find another for me. I agreed. He paid me triple the amount I had ever earned, though he had just worked in a construction company. I enjoyed being his lover, though I had a few concerns about his source of income. I blacklisted the contacts of everyone back home. Right then, I was living my best life.

Soon, the tables began to turn, and I had to work for the money he gave me. I delivered packages to the embassy, and one day, I was arranged to go sleep with a foreign ambassador for a million dollars. I began to see things with Ebuka differently after that. Things were still rosy with us, but I lost count of how many girls he cheated on me with, to the extent I made peace with that. My sole problems were that he beat and also drugged me at parties sometimes. It didn't happen often, and I ignored them as the price to pay for my luxurious life. Soon, I had a car and a house to my name. I stayed in Lagos for a year and five months then. I was tired of most things, especially when I had no freedom. I wished to resign from the dirty business and go home, but I was sure then that everyone back home had disowned me.

*****

One fateful morning, I woke up to the sad news of Ebuka's death. I couldn't shed a tear; I felt indifferent. I knew I was sad, but I didn't feel it. I also felt happiness and anger. I was confused.

"We can't involve the police, but we will find the bastard that shot him." Kunle, Ebuka's best friend, stated. I wasn't sure what to say, but I knew that whoever killed Ebuka would also want me dead. I ignored Kunle and lit a fifth cigarette. I wasn't sure, but I knew that I would feel better if I went home. So, I left everything behind and left Lagos that night the same way I came; the same clothes and bags. I knew I had to clear suspicions, but I needed to see my family again in case I died in the process.

I arrived home before noon the next day, and I was sure nobody was around. I sneaked into my room in my usual manner. I thought they would've changed the keys to stopping me, but they didn't. I had free entrance. My room was neater than when I left it. I was afraid someone else was using it, but who? I checked my wardrobe; nothing was new, and everything was intact but neatly arranged. I rushed into my bathroom and took my bath. As I came out, fear, anger, shame, and anguish engulfed me. I had disappointed everyone who truly loved me. I was again the only miserable thing around. I knelt at my bedside and said a sincere prayer for the first time in months. As evening approached, I was tense. How do I explain myself if someone opens the door? I decided to act indifferently if they did.

Night came. No one came in. I was hungry. I practiced lines of speech and opened the door myself. "Mummy, is that you?" it was Pat's voice. Her room was just opposite mine. How did I forget that? My heart skipped. I gathered courage again, but I lost it when I heard mum's voice and footsteps. "What? I'm bringing your food. Wait a few minutes. I don't know how you will be..." She stopped as she saw me standing at the door to my room. She kept on staring at me like a ghost, and I felt so awkward. I made to go back inside, and Pat opened her door. I burst into tears though I regretted it. She rushed over and held the handle of my door, so I wouldn't go back inside. Mum dropped the food tray and got closer; I thought she would slap me, but no, she hugged me. I cried even more. I struggled with the door with my sister and gave up, too, when she gave up.

I couldn't remember my lines anymore, and the silence between us was awkward. "Oge, we are used to your surprises. I'm just glad you're alive. Come and tell me how it all went". Pat said. She hugged me, then paused, and I could see a question in her eyes and wouldn't let her say it. "Oge..." she started. "Yea, I still smell like him; I'll go wash again." I cut in.

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