Op ed

Excerpt from the novel – Tears on Her Pillow

Everywhere was dark except for the candlelight by the bedside. The night outside was calm, as the moon shone. Voices were heard but quite low. In the room a big sized picture frame hung just opposite the bed-landscape drawing; and it looked lovely. Beside the bed, a neatly arranged red rose stood on the side with a lamp stand. It still smelled fresh as it was well scented. The wardrobe at the far end of the room was neatly arranged with clothes on the hangers and shoes on the floor. On top of the wardrobe was a set of boxes.
Everything seemed to be in order except in her mind. She lay faced up in her cream flowered nightgown. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she remembered the events of the day. She could not believe that such a thing had happen to her. How could Uloaku do this to her? They never had any misunderstanding before. They got along quite well. Why the sudden change in behaviour? She wondered, as she turned to the other side of the bed and the tears turned to sobs.

She felt lonely and cold, and cuddled her big teddy bear so tightly. “Cry no more,” she told herself loudly. She turned restlessly to every direction and to no direction in particular. Sleep wouldn’t come when it was most needed and NEPA had worsened it by keeping everybody in darkness; at least she would have been listening to music till she fell asleep. Such long nights of no light was not even seen in a country like Ghana not to talk of Europe. If only she had a good job and was well paid, she would have saved enough to buy a small generating set for herself. That is Nigeria for you; the only country where things work anti-clockwise. Well, everything that has some bad aspects has its good sides too, she told herself. Nigeria has some good things and so is her relationship with Obinna. Just remembering his name gladdened her heart and puts smiles on her face. The thought of the sweet things they shared together filled her mind as she finally fell asleep.

Bangs on the door sent her flying out of bed. She rushed to the door and dashed to the parlour. She nearly tripped not knowing the side stool blocked her way.

“Ouch!” she exclaimed. ‘I’ll be there in a minute,” she shouted as she fumbled with the keys. Finally she opened the door.

“Still in your nightgown Chika, or are you not for work today?” Stella asked making herself comfortable on the chair.

“I over-slept my dear. Jeez, I never knew the sun was already up,” she said looking at her clock. Turning to Stella she said, “Please wait for me while I hurry in the bathroom.” Rushing to the bathroom, she added, “No breakfast for me so relax. I will be out before you know it.”

“Come on Chika, it’s unlike you to over-sleep. Since when did you start drinking that you now over-sleep?” She asked. Chika kept humming a song known to her alone. She hurried through everything; dressing, make-up, and before Stella could check her wristwatch twice, Chika was ready with her bag. And off they went.

She nearly got me with that question, she thought, but decided she would tell her later in the evening. She knew Stella would be angry that she did not call her as soon as it happened; she uses Kemi’s phone on emergency. She will bite off her head with her scolding. The solution is just to be prepared for whatever she tells her.

“Why the sudden dinner today? We normally have dinner together on Mondays and Fridays,” Stella queried. “Meanwhile I enjoyed this salad without cream,” she said, still scooping the last bits on her plate.

“Well, I want to tell you what happened yesterday.” By this time her face had changed in colour. She would just be plain and tell her all. “I was at Obinna’s house yesterday when Uloaku came around. We greeted but she was cold to me.” She tried to hold back the tears as she recounted how Uloaku insulted her for no just cause, calling her names.

 “You can’t tell me she said all that to you just like that.”

“Believe me, I was surprised,” she said cleaning her eyes.

“And Obinna did nothing.”

“He left shortly after she came.”

“But … did you have an earlier argument or something even before that day?” Stella asked, munching her salad; she ordered for more.

“Not at all. I just asked her about Jude and …

“Hold on. Now who is Jude?” she interrupted.

“Jude is a new guy that is asking her out.” She told her of how the question sparked anger on Uloaku who seemed to be having a personal grudge against her from the time she came in. Uloaku accused her of sleeping around not just with her brother but other men. The last straw that broke the camels back was when she bluntly told her that her dreams of settling with Obinna will never come true as she will make sure her parents don’t give their consent to that.

“This is serious. But did Obinna make any proposal to you?” Stella asked.

“For where. I just love Obinna… yes… but it has never crossed my mind to settle with him. I have so many things occupying my mind now and marriage is the least. We are just good friends and that is it.”

“Then why is she behaving like that? Maybe …” rolling her eyes in surprised gesture, “… somebody said something to her,” she finished, thinking hard. “Well, that’s not our business, since she doesn’t want to come out plain,” she dismissed the thought. “So what’s going to happen between you and Obi?

“I have decided to pretend as if nothing happened till his sister tells him,” she said brightening up.

“That’s my girl,” Stella said and gave her a high five. “Don’t let that spoil our evening. Meanwhile have you heard from home?” Stella asked sipping her wine.

Stella was good at making things less serious than they really are. From her own assertion of the whole thing it was in fact serious, not that her friend sleeps around but that Obinna may not take kindly to what his sister said. She doesn’t expect him to swallow all that Uloaku will tell him. On her part Uloaku will be very stupid to tell her brother such malicious lies. Later she wouldl talk to her friend to be careful about Uloaku. Being close to her brother, he is likely to take sides.

Chika was more scared than she pretended to be before her friend. She had known Obinna for some time now that she was almost certain she knew what he will do if Uloaku told him such lies. But, why was she so worried, she wondered. Nothing has happened and she is this disturbed. What will she do if he decides to believe what his sister will tell him?

 

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