She could hear everything that was happening around her; trickling, tapping, whirring and squashing sounds, after a while she heard shuffling of feet then whispers but this time it was slow and light. She flicked her eyes open slowly and sighed feeling sure she was already in heaven because everything was white, the people standing close by were dressed in white, then the familiar smell of disinfectant overwhelmed her when another person in white opened the door.
She closed her eyes to hold back tears as she heard the familiar voice of Mrs Ikpeba, the matron. What a luck she had, the matron always seemed to be the one on duty whenever she was hospitalised. She was now more frequent to the hospital than a child living beside a candy store. She saw the look on the woman’s face and was submerged in so much shame that she hid her face in her hand and turned her back to her audience, she couldn’t tell if the look she saw was of pity, contempt or disgust.
Then Rogers waltzed in like he owned the place with a large box of chocolate and flowers. “Honey, are you alright?”
“She lost the baby.” One of the nurses muttered even though her friend was nudging and eyeing her.
“Oh my God, Jacinta!” He staggered then turned to the nurses. “Can I have the room, please? I need to speak to my wife alone.”
“They will do no such thing.” She said her voice raising as she trembled. She tried to rouse herself but faltered. He attempted to touch her, but she recoiled as if burnt, she allowed a nurse help her up, muttering. She nodded her thanks and wore a wry smile. “Whatever you want to say can be done now. After all, my linen has already been washed in public.”
Rogers looked at the nurses who were eagerly waiting for him to give an explanation. He twisted in his mouth and turned to his wife. “We will talk when we get home then.” He set the flowers down on the grey bedside cabinet, placed the box of chocolates on her lap which she brushed off immediately. He tried to camouflage his anger and failed as he watched the descent of the box to the ground.
The matron walked towards the door and turned around and signalled the other nurses to join her. The last nurse to leave left the door ajar and came back with two other colleagues to listen in.
Later, Rogers told her was sure that they were waiting for her to die so that they could put an automobile tyre over his head and burn him to death, not for her death but because he has siphoned public funds and worst of all he stole from Lagos state government when he wasn’t even a Lagosian.
The room was quiet, she could feel eyes boring into her. “I’m not going back with you. My mother should be packing my things by now.”
“Your mother? In my house?”
“Our house and yes she’s in the house. Why shouldn’t my mother come to the house when it’s your mother’s second home.” She crossed her arms and glared at him.
“Have you thought about Victor? Have you thought about what this will do to him?”
“He is a strong child. A boy for that matter, he will cope.”
“Jacinta, heal first, then think things through.”
She summoned strength at last and was out of the bed. “Think things through, think things through. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past five years. How many miscarriages? How many pregnancies have I lost to ‘thinking things through’. You want to finally kill me so that you can marry another wife. No, go and marry all of the women you want but leave me alone. I want to live my life in peace and tranquillity, you hear me?”
“Eh, Jacinta, let us talk about it.”
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
He knelt down and hugged her knee.
She made a fist and hit him limply. “Just leave me alone!”
Rogers held her even tighter and began to cry. She felt light and free. Now, he had lost everything. What was the point of the marriage when she hadn’t even saved enough to rescue her daughter from Bootlegger. He had been sacked the week before. It only became public that day. He didn’t have any money saved; his concubines and mistresses had gotten wind of the news before it hit the tabloid; two of whom were vying to be his wife aborted their pregnancies.
She was well aware of that fact that he knew of the savings that she had managed to scrape together over the years and that he probably believed they could survive on that until he got another government employment or worse get a contract. Glad that he hadn’t discovered how much she had syphoned from their joint account before he restricted her use of it. She had rained praises on Elfreda for her advice which led her to stash the money into an account she had opened in Essex when she travelled with him for his younger brother’s graduation.
Although she was glad that her daughter had escaped Bootlegger’s claws but she wished she had been there for her daughter to find solace. She wished she hadn’t wasted time hoping to get enough money. It was all she wanted now. She didn’t need her mother’s help because she had already stashed away everything that was required to get her to England. She was going to spend the night in the hospital and then head to Victor’s school and pick him up from there.
She looked down at him with disgust as he grovelled; she hated nothing more than a man doing just that. She untangled herself from his grip. She still believed in the sanctity of matrimony but she needed him to realise that she needed space. The money she had saved was for one thing only; to find her daughter.
The sound of screeching brakes brought her back to reality as she instinctively slammed on hers too. She straightened her neck to see what could have caused it but there was a long cue of scattered cars and then she gulped; it was an upturned lorry. She did a sign of the cross and hoped people weren’t crushed underneath. She looked at the time on the dashboard before remembering that she hadn’t reset the time and date which still read January instead of July. Speaking of July, tomorrow is Jackie‘s open day at Aston University.
Fortunately, the lane she was on was unaffected and drivers started conforming to a straight line when the neon and foil jacket people appeared. Soon after she passed Junction 13 the traffic hold up became much less and she could now drive at seventy mph.
She sighed as she exited the roundabout onto Melton Road. Her journey from Edrick Road to Glebe Road Carlton wasn’t a total bust. She was going to use the money she had gotten from Ajebó to offset her utility bills then she remembered, they were out of milk. The closest grocery shop will be closed in less than an hour. She swerved the car in a clean U-turn and was impressed with herself. It was the first she had done it like a pro.
She accelerated and almost knocked down a woman in a bright coloured sash around her head like a loosely tied hijab. The shocked stare the sashed woman gave her made her freeze and the woman too. She was too embarrassed to apologize to the woman. The way the woman’s brows were knitted together, Jacinta half expected the woman to cuss but the woman shook her head and walked on briskly. She had seen the woman before she was sure with the way her brows clumped together.
Her hands were shaking so much she killed the engine and clung to the steering wheel. She huffed and puffed loudly until gradually she relaxed. She wanted to recline but didn’t have a chance to as the horn of a commercial truck blared.
She turned on the ignition and drove slowly when he blared his horn the second time she turned toward the kerb to make way for the truck to pass. She saw the driver’s mouth moving but couldn’t hear what he was saying – her mind was back on the woman. She knew that face but where or who didn’t come to mind. Her concern was not recognising where their paths may have crossed but the anger she felt towards the woman when she was the one who nearly ran her over.
……..To be continued