Pastor Ishi’s Redemption List to me.
- Tell the truth.
- Serve God faithfully.
- Regularly come for counseling.
- Leave James alone to live his life with Amaka.
- Stay away from men.
Wait, back up. Is he serious? Leave James to be with Amaka? How? She’s not the mother of his child; I am! Wait, is it wrong to want a man all to myself? Wrong to go after the father of my child so passionately and possessively, that Pastor Ishi will be giving me this type of rubbish bucket list?
“You can come in, Sister Onagite.”
I looked up at the senior pastor’s secretary whose head was poked out of her boss’ office. She was looking at me offensively. Who cares?
I clutched my purse and walked into the office. The moment I entered I sensed trouble. James was there, Pastor Ishi was there and so was Pastor Francis (the senior pastor), and of course, the silly secretary was also present. It was going to be a documented meeting, not one of those behind-closed-doors affairs.
“Sit down, Sister Onagite,” Pastor Francis pointed to a chair beside James’. I sat.
“Do you know why you’re here?” Pastor Francis asked and I shook my head slowly and looked down at my skirt. Thank God I had settled for wearing something long and modest. Putting up appearances was very important.
“Both of you have a child out of wedlock. Am I right?”
“I will just go straight to the point, here. I have other things to do. Both of you will have to face the church leadership to explain yourselves but I want to let you know that it won’t go well. You will be disciplined for your shameless conduct. This church does not condone such nonsense and I don’t care what age we’re in, immorality is immorality. Period!”
“Sir…” I pushed forward in my chair. “May I say something, please?”
“That’s why you’re here. Go ahead.”
“Please, don’t punish James. Punish me.”
James eyed me. “Shut it, Onagite.”
“Let her speak,” Pastor Ishi said.
“It was a moment of weakness and I… I drugged his drink and forced him into sleeping with me. He wasn’t in his right senses that night.”
James sighed. “Oh God. You just can’t shut up.”
“I was desperate. I thought he didn’t love me; I wanted to be sure he did, so I…”
“Brother James, is this true?” Pastor Francis asked but James did not reply.
“Please, sir,” I began to sob. “Please, don’t punish him. It was all my fault.”
“Brother James, I asked you a question,” Pastor Francis held firmly.
“Sir, it was consensual,” James muttered.
“It was not,” I held.
“Brother James, did she drug your drink?”
James bent his head and murmured something we all didn’t hear.
“I didn’t hear you.” Pastor Francis growled.
“Yes, she did.”
“Sir, I take the blame entirely,” I said. “Please, don’t punish him.”
Pastor Francis pushed his chair backwards and rested crossed fingers on his pot belly. “I didn’t see this coming. How do I go about this situation now? Ishi, what do you suggest we do?”
Pastor Ishi took off his glasses, stared into them as if looking for some solution, rubbed his eyes and finally spoke. “Sir, we can’t go in front of the whole church or even the leadership and tell them a grown man like James was drugged into having sex. They’ll laugh. No one will believe us. In short, it will look like we’re trying to hide something. On the other hand we can’t hold James culpable for Onagite’s acts. So…”
“So?” Pastor Francis asked impatiently.
“I suggest we drop the case.”
“And have the church thinking we’re condoning premarital sexual behavior?”
“Not at all, but what would the church be without the occasional clemency?”
“I don’t like the sound of this, Ishi, but you’re right.” Pastor Francis leaned forward. “Brother James, Sister Onagite, you’re forgiven. Three Sundays from now, bring your child for dedication in this office after service. Nothing public for you since you’re not married. We’ll have to tell the church something, though. And in your best interest, I suggest you both get married. Lastly, the children’s church needs a new bus and we’re accepting donations at the moment. Consider it your sin offering. Have a blessed day.”
He walked out with his ugly secretary following him. When the door closed behind them, James sprang up. “Onagite, how could you?!”
“James, I can explain…”
“Your job is to go around emasculating me? Is that what you’re all about? You want to destroy my ego completely? You just couldn’t shut up?!”
“I can’t wait for the day you leave my life entirely!” He turned to Pastor Ishi. “Ishi, thanks man. Later.”
He walked out. I wiped my tears and stood up.
“Thank you, Pastor Ishi. Redemption List really works.” I smiled appreciatively at him but he looked at me like I was crazy. No big deal. My own brother already had me secretly seeing a psychiatrist.
“Onagite, what you did here today was not for you; it was all for James. Now, if I were you, I’d stick to the other things on that list.” He said slowly, letting the words get into me at a gradual pace as if I was some imbecile. “It’s time to end your obsession over James.”
I nodded but didn’t really hear him. As I said, Bucket List.
* * * * * * * *
Someone’s cell phone was ringing somewhere around me. The tune sounded really familiar. Oh! It was my phone. I stretched out my hand from beneath my duvet and fished around for the stupid thing.
“What’s that smell?” I heard myself say before I tumbled off the bed to the floor, my phone going down with me.
My doorbell was dinging, its sound, giving me a terrible migraine.
“Onagite! Open the door or answer your phone! Whichever you feel like!” I heard James say from outside. I struggled up and was about heading out when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I was a mess. I straightened down my hair and wrapped my bathrobe around me.
“Onagite!” James banged on the door.
“I’m coming nau! don’t break my door. Ah!”
I walked to the living room and unlocked the front door. James was standing before me in a black suit, all dressed for work. He was sizzling. I had a strong urge to kiss him. He frowned and looked at me from top to bottom.
“Why do you have a black eye?” he asked. In a different space and time, that would have sounded like a loving question.
I opened my mouth to reply but shut it, remembering how I got the black eye. No need to share last night with him.
“Onagite, why do you have a black eye? Where’s Eric?”
“Eric?” I yawned and scanned around me languidly.
“Oh my God! You’re drunk?”
I shut my eyes and pulled my bathrobe around me tighter. James pushed past me. “Where’s Eric, Onagite?”
“He’s inside,” I replied and he walked straight into my bedroom. He appeared seconds later with Eric in his arms, howling in an irritating tone that was splitting my head.
“What type of a mother are you, Onagite?!” James raged. “There is puke all over the floor and the AC is freezing cold! You want to kill my son?!”
“He’s hungry. There’s breastmilk in the fridge…”
“Breastmilk or alcohol?!”
“don’t shout on me! Gawd!”
He stormed out, handed Eric to Amaka who was waiting for him in his car and stormed back in.
“Are you kidding me?! Why is she with my baby?” I made for the door but he pulled me back and shut us in.
“Where were you last night?” he asked.
“I was home and all I had was a bottle of wine.”
“No, someone told me you were out drinking. What are you hiding beneath your bathrobe?”
“Nothing,” I shrugged but he didn’t believe me. He roughly spread open my bathrobe and exposed bruises all over my body.
“What’s this?” he asked, aghast. “Onagite, you really went out and left my four-month old son here all alone?! You are not a nanny! You are his mother!”
“And you, his father! Yet you go round town with your little g-g-girlfriend enjoying yourself without a care! Why can’t I do the same? Motherhood is not a life sentence o!”
He shook his head and walked to the door. “You know what? Just find a good lawyer because you will never ever set eyes on Eric again!”
I crossed my arms and laughed. “You’re joking and you know it.”
“Am I?” He opened the door. “Try me.”
The look in his eyes said it all and I panicked.
“You can’t do that to me!” I shouted, picked a stuffed animal from my sofa and flung at him. He simply dodged and walked out of the house.
“You’re crazy!” I screamed and slammed the door. “Rubbish!” I threw open the windows, letting fresh air in to calm me but I was still mad at James. He had gone too far, brining Amaka to my house to take my son and having the cheekiness to question me over how I chose to live my life. No, he had to be dealt with. I got my phone and dialed his mother. She answered after six rings.
“Mama, Haliru’s at it again o.”
* * * * * * * *
I unplugged my phone from its charging point in my car, picked my handbag and stepped out. The day was cool, the weather lovely and from where I stood, just across the street, I could see a good number of customers inside my boutique, which meant business was looking up. I walked over, feeling light like a feather; there was a jazzy tune in my head and a flurry of butterflies in my stomach. My doctor was full of crap. I didn’t really need those antidepressant drugs to feel better. In short, I had flung them over Onikan Bridge a week ago. I had all I needed—a son, a mother-in-law who always bent to my wishes just to keep me in her son’s life, and finally, all the money in the world. Not even James with his threats to take Eric away from me could rain on my parade. I had told him he was joking but he didn’t believe me. As usual, Mama Haliru did her magic on him and I got a slap on the wrist. But it was short-lived.
“Gite, thank God you’re here!” I turned around to the annoying voice of my latest best friend cum employee—Moyo. Of course, she wasn’t as sexy as me and she had the H factor here and there but I trusted her. She was the one that truly knew me and my other side—the one nobody ever saw.
“I have been calling you like forever but your phone’s been switched off,” she said.
“My battery’s bad. You should have called my business line.”
“Anyway, I think you should put on your phone…”
“Oh, I forgot it in the car. I unplugged it and… Just go get it, sweetie.”
And off she went like the faithful dog she was.
I breezed through aisles of expensive designer clothes, searching with expert eyes for something out of place, calling the attention of an employee to some oddity and generally, showing off to my customers. I made a mental note to thank James for the wonderful gift of my upscale boutique. The absolute power it gave me was orgasmic.
Moyo returned with my phone. “Put it on!” she said breathlessly.
“Why?” I asked.
“Just h’on it!”
I looked at her; she was behaving weirdly. “What’s going on? Why is my phone your business?”
She looked around like we were being watched and dragged me into my office, pushing us behind closed doors.
“Mo, you’re acting suspicious,” I said.
“There’s a video on the web… It’s gone viral. It’s not about a cat dancing h’or a baby laughing h’or one of those porn things. It’s a video of you! Drunk in a bar and involved in a catfight with one girl. The video is h’everywhere! It is on YouTube…”
I raised my hand, stopping her. “What are you talking about, Moyo? What video?”
She passed her phone to me. “Press play.”
I looked at her hard before I pressed play, and… oh my God!
* * * * * * * *
I sat down behind my desk and pushed Moyo’s phone to her, unmoved by the seven minute bar scuffle I had just watched, starring – me.
“What are you going to tell James?” Moyo asked.
“I’ll simply say it happened two years before I met him.”
And if James believed that, he could believe anything. The girl I fought with was some chick whose boyfriend I slept with a week before. When she saw me at that bar three nights ago, she walked right to my table and confronted me. Things got really dirty and the last I remembered was being shoved into my car in torn clothes. In my defence, I left my opponent completely naked. Some idiots filmed it and put it on YouTube. Big deal. I once was ghetto. I’m cultured now but sometimes, the ghetto just doesn’t want to stay down.
Moyo sat down and widened her eyes. She was about to get serious. “Gite, James will not believe you. Didn’t he see the bruises on your body?”
“Yes. But I said nothing.”
“Why did you sleep with ‘er boyfriend, nau? I thought you said you’ve stopped all those things.”
I smirked and observed my nails.
“Hmmm…Gite, you are a mother o! You can’t be–”
“My friend, shift, lemme hear word jor! Do you see a ring on my finger?”
“Then, I’m single and still sexing! And James can go and die! You think I want to spend my life chasing him? Girlfriend, I’m not that cursed. Even Pastor Ishi told me it’s okay to get a new man. But until that happens, I’ll make James’ life miserable like he did mine.”
“But that video’s bad. Your boobs were hanging out.”
“The damage has already been done; why cry over spilling milk when I can simply put the bottle upright?” I got up and looked at the clock on the wall. “It’s five-thirty. Escort me to James’ house.”
* * * * * * * *
We drove to James’ but parked a few houses away. Fate had it that my 7-Series was also making it home at that same time. I tried my best not to go back to the day James took it from me and shattered my world. I think that was when I lost my mind.
The 7-Series stopped before the gate and to my annoyance, Amaka stepped out of it gallantly like she owned it.
“Is that the Amaka?” Moyo asked.
“So she’s the one that handles all of James’ accounts? She doesn’t look like she has brains o. Was it true that when you and James were together, she was still in charge of his money?”
I turned fully to Moyo with warning eyes.
“It was gist I heard,” she murmured.
“Well, your gist is reminding me how she had him by the balls the whole time. If we’d gotten married, she would’ve been his mistress.”
“Gite, I’m uncomfortable with this. Let’s just go. James is not at home.”
I opened the door. “Change of plans. It’s her I want.”
“Gite, don’t do this…”
I stepped out and shut the door. Amaka had just driven into the house and was now closing the gate. It was a Friday and the gateman’s day off, which was good for me, since James instructed him never to let me in. As I hurried to the house, I prayed the smaller gate was as I remembered it.
It was! I slipped my hand through a space beside it and felt for the bolt, then I slid it open and pushed in.
It felt good to be home again. The house was quiet as I knew it to be. James’ cars, including my 7-series were in the car park but I was not there for them. I wanted Amaka. I went to the front door and turned the door handle. It was locked. Out of nowhere, the guard dogs began to bark and I ran to the side of the house to peep at them. I sighed in relief. Good thing they were under lock and key at the backyard.
I walked back to the front door. “Open up, Amaka!”
I backed up a few inches and gave her some seconds to get over the shock of my sudden appearance after observing me through the eyehole.
“Amaka!” I called again, “open this door and come out here, let’s talk! Woman to woman!”
I moved backwards again, this time stepping away from the verandah to have a good view of the whole house. The flowers I had planted in the flowerbed had now fully blossomed in beautiful colors. James still stuck to the butter color tone I told him to use for the outside painting, and the bulb fittings I bought shortly before I left had not been changed. Nothing had changed. The house wanted me back. I heard it calling me in a voice only I understood. I was home.
“AMAKA!” I pounded the door. “COME OUT NOW!”
I heard a window slide open and I walked to it. Amaka stood inside the house—coward that she was—staring at me in defiance.
“Onagite, please go away. James is not here and Eric’s sleeping. You’ll wake him.”
“don’t use Eric as an excuse! I know he’s not in there!”
“What d’you want?”
“Hah-ahn? Hear question.” I laughed. “I said, come out! If you’re a woman like me, Amaka, step out. Me, I know you set me up with that video! You’re the one behind it! Deny it now and let God punish you! How low can you go to get a man, Amaka? How low can you go? But it won’t work! His mother doesn’t even like you and you’re there trying to use my own son to get into his life, forming loving mother and all but it won’t work, my dear! James will come back to me!”
Amaka hissed and slid the window shut and my level of anger went beyond what I could control. I just wanted to bash the brat’s head in. I marched to the car park where a heap of interlocking bricks were located; I picked one of them and marched back to the window. I took a good aim and flung the brick at the window with full force, shattering the glass. I heard her scream from within and to my shock, the piercing cry of Eric accompanied her voice.
My heart stopped beating.
Eric’s scream penetrated me like a poisoned arrow and I became immobile. My senses began to return and I realized I had just behaved like a rabid dog.
Speaking of rabid dogs…
Three Doberman Pinschers, black and shiny with feet that galloped like dark Arabian horses were flying towards me from the backyard. Their rage was etched in their dark eyes and gnarling teeth with slobbering saliva.
“JESUS!” I spun around in lightning speed and headed towards the gate, screaming wildly but I tripped and fell and the last thing I remembered was the painful sound of my Louboutins being ripped off my feet.
© Sally @moskedapages