When she was through with her packing, she went to Zinny and Marvy’s place to tell them she was leaving. They were both shocked and disappointed but when she told them the reason why she was leaving, they understood. She invited them over to Calabar and they promised to come. She went over to Dave’s house and told him of her intention. He tried to persuade her to change her mind but she was adamant.
“I can’t stand them any longer.” she cried.
“I don’t want to be the one who came between you and your mother.”
She had to laugh at that. “The woman was no longer my mum before now. Even before I left Port Harcourt.” she bitterly told him.
He had to shake his head with sadness at that. “You’re bent on leaving me here all alone? I actually came back here because of you. As you know I still have a lot to sort out over there in Calabar but I came with you to keep you company so you wouldn’t be bored.”
“O Dave! That was so thoughtful of you. I’m sorry but I really have to leave.”
“I understand but please give me tomorrow to round off things here then I promise we’ll go back together next tomorrow.” he pleaded.
“Ooooh Dave! Don’t put me in a tight spot like this na.” She pouted.
“Please.” he begged with both palms together and a smile.
“Alright. Alright. I guess I’ll just have to tolerate them one more day.”
“Thanks a million.” he joyfully said and hugged her. “You know, you can even come and stay here if things get so rough over there.”
She laughed. “In your dreams.”
He shrugged, laughing. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”
Oleng went back home and wondered how she was going to tell the woman she wouldn’t be leaving the following day as earlier planned. She planned to slap the smug look off her mother’s face if she said anything stupid. When she got home, she went straight to her room and not her mother’s room as she intended. When it was evening and dark, she however summoned courage and went to her mum’s room. She was shocked to see Wale coming out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist when she called for her mum.
“Where’s she?” she asked.
“Who?” he foolishly asked.
“You know who I’m referring to. Where’s your lover?”
Wale laughed. “Well, since it’s obvious my lover isn’t here, don’t you think it would be appropriate for me to take another lover since I’m even dressed for the occasion?” he jeered.
Oleng eyed him and hissed. “I believe I’m wasting my time talking to you.” she snapped and turned towards the door.
She was however surprised to see his hands around her when she made for the door. She tried to struggle free but didn’t succeed.
“What’s the meaning of this nonsense? Isn’t my mum enough for you?” she yelled.
“O come on! Don’t tell me you don’t know you’re more beautiful, captivating and sexy?” he huskily told her and forcefully turned her around to face him.
“See, I’m filthy rich. I can take very good care of you. Just say yes to me and you’ll never lack.”
“I’d rather starve to death than agree to your advances.” she fumed, still struggling.
“Don’t be a fool. If it’s any consolation, I’m willing to drop your mum for you. Any day, any time.” he smiled and tried to kiss her but she continuously moved her head from side to side.
“You’re insane. Leave me alone!” She struggled some more.
“Stop pretending. We’re all alone in this house. Linda will never find out. I promise you. She went to Rumuola to get something.” he told her and tried to kiss her again but she refused. When she screamed, he pushed her and she hit her head hard against the wall, making her weak and dizzy.
He carried her to the bed, straddled her and removed her blouse while she was still dazed with pain. As he bent to kiss her, her mother came into the room.
“What’s going on here?” she shouted. She had decided to return home when she saw the dark clouds gathering. It was a terrible thing to be caught in traffic on a raining night in Port Harcourt.
Wale quickly got up from the bed and tied his towel properly, looking guilty as hell.
Oleng slowly got up from the bed holding her head, not minding her state of undress.
“Oleng!” her mother screamed. “So this is what you’ve been doing in Calabar?”
Oleng couldn’t reply her at first. She waited for the three figures of her mum to become one before saying, “Me?” in shock. “It was your lover who tried to force me to have sex with him.”
“Shut your filthy mouth. I know what I saw. He was forcing you yet you were not struggling. Didn’t I warn you that I won’t allow you take him from me? How dare you? How dare you try to sleep with my man? A simple test yet you failed it. I’m disappointed in you.” she hysterically shouted.
“I knew it! I knew you’ve always been a whore but to try to seduce my own man is unforgivable. I can’t believe I gave birth to a whore. I was a virgin when I met your father which resulted in a sordid thing like you but you had sex and even got pregnant at the age of fifteen…you know what, I regret the day I met your father. Because if I hadn’t met your father, I wouldn’t have given birth to a thing like you…Jesus! I can’t believe this. I knew you would be sleeping around in Calabar since you started having sex at such an early age but for you to actually attempt sleeping with your mother’s own man friend is unbelievable.” Mrs. Akpan was almost going crazy. She was pouring all the bottled up bitterness in her heart on her daughter.
“You know what? Don’t bother going tomorrow. Go right now and pack your filthy things and leave my house this instant. I never want to set eyes on you again for as long as I live. Don’t even come to my death bed. Don’t come for my funeral. Don’t even visit my grave or else my spirit will haunt you.” She screamed at her daughter who ran out of the room holding her blouse to her chest.
Mrs. Akpan followed her in a mad haze. She was in shock. Her experiment had gone awry. How could Oleng have contemplated this? To spite her?
“Don’t ever expect a dime or clothes or jewelry from me again…in fact, I’m going to freeze your account. So forget if you ever owned one. Not only that, forget about me also because right now I’m both physically and mentally wiping you off my life. I officially no longer have a daughter. In short, I’m barren.” she fumed at her daughter who was putting finishing touches to her already packed box after putting on her blouse.
“Don’t waste my time. Get out of my house and never come back.” she yelled and forcefully took the box and threw it outside the room. She carried the box further, opened the front door and threw it outside. She grabbed Oleng who was behind her and threw her outside on the floor roughly.
“Segun! Segun!” she screamed for the gateman.
“Madam!” The man ran out of the gate house.
“Throw this idiot out and I never want to see her here again.” she ordered.
“Yes madam.” he quickly said though he looked confused.
Oleng managed to pick herself from the floor before the gate man got to her. She was bleeding at her elbow and knee from the interlocked tiles her mother had pushed her roughly on. Segun carried her box to the gate. She dusted herself and turned back to look at the woman she had thought was her mother but she knew better now.
“For as long as I live, I’ll never forgive you.” she firmly and vehemently told the woman standing at the door with arms akimbo.
“Get out!” she screamed again. “Get out you filthy whore. Go and do your whoring elsewhere. Useless child, I don’t blame you. After all, your father as good as raped me to result to a waste like you. Like father, like daughter who can’t keep their zips up. Don’t ever let me see you here again. Stupid whore!” she hissed in fury and went inside while Oleng walked slowly to the gate.
With one last look at the house she had spent part of her growing years, she went out of the gate and closed it ignoring the gateman’s ‘sorry’. She closed her mother in her heart like that also.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Akpan went to her room, sat on her bed, shook her head as she tried to contain her anger. She was physically shaking. She was so furious. Wale who was already dressed sat beside her on the bed.
“Linda, please let me explain.” he said softly.
She shot up from the bed and pointed to the door. “Get out! Get out of my life and stay out!”
“Linda please.” he pleaded going on his knees.
She gave him a sound slap. “I said get out! Do you want me to call Segun to throw you out? Get out! Go and look for a young person to play with. Isn’t that what you want? Young flesh?”
“It’s not like that, Linda. She came on strong. You know I’m a man. I couldn’t resist her. Please.”
“Didn’t you for once think? Didn’t you realize you wanted to sleep with my own daughter?”
“Please. It was just a moment of weakness.”
“If you could have a moment of weakness with my own daughter then I wonder what you’ll do with young girls I don’t even know.”
“Please don’t talk like that. I promise you it will never happen again. Please.”
“Of course it will never happen again. I won’t allow it.”
“For the last time, get out of my house!” she yelled.
“Okay but I’ll be back.” he said standing up.
“Don’t ever come back.” she firmly told him.
“Please Linda don’t do this to us. Please I love you. I truly love you.” he pleaded passionately.
“O please! Spare me!” she waved her hands in exasperation “For your information, it was just an experiment. I wanted to get my daughter’s reaction at having a man in my life and being a caring mother. Haven’t you been asking me out for almost a year now? I decided to say yes to you the week I knew she would be coming here. I wanted to see how having a man in my life and showing her emotion would affect her. I read it in an article in a foreign magazine.
Now I know what would have happened all those years ago had it been I decided to date men. I thank God I didn’t because you fickle creatures wouldn’t have been able to resist her youth and beauty and she would have slept with them just to spite me. I’ve disowned the ingrate. Let me see how she’ll live without my financial assistance. I’ll stay back and enjoy watching another phase of her life unfold. And of course, I’ll have the last laugh as usual.
As for you, you’re of no use to me anymore. You’ve overstayed your welcome in this house. Get the few belongings you have here and leave. Don’t come here again if you don’t want to be embarrassed by my gateman.”
That said, she laid down on the bed and opened a magazine even though she was still shaking with anger. She placed a hand on her left breast as she felt palpitations. She hoped she wasn’t about to have a heart attack over these useless people.
Wale gathered his things and walked out of the room dejected. He walked to his car shaking his head. He knew he should have confessed to being the one who had tried to force Oleng to have sex with him but he wanted to continue coming back here to beg her. He needed her financially. He was bankrupt and she was filthy rich! He hit the hood of his car. He had made a mess of things. Poor Oleng, he thought.
Poor Oleng indeed, for she was walking down the lonely streets, weeping. It was already dark. She wondered where she would go. Going down to Zinny and Marvy’s side of the estate was quite dangerous. It was quite a distance from there and totally at the other end of the estate which wasn’t quite safe. The closest place was Dave’s but she thought of how it would be going to stay with him because he was alone at home. Since she didn’t have many choices, she decided to go down there. She didn’t care if people talked because she didn’t have a boyfriend or parents to upbraid her.
To confound things, it started raining. She wept anew when she passed Eric’s house. It would have been the best place for her to go had things been different. She was soaking wet by the time she got to Dave’s house. She knocked briskly at the gate. The gateman was surprised to see her in such a state. Unfortunately, Dave was not at home. He had seen some friends off to Abuloma in his dad’s car some minutes before she came. She had to wait in the gateman’s small gate house an hour before he came. She was shivering from the cold and wet dress because she didn’t have a change of clothing since all her clothes were wet in her wet box. Dave jumped out of the car when he saw her from the car’s headlights.
“Jesus Christ! What are you doing here, Oleng?” He knelt beside her when she sat on the steps of the gate house, still shivering.
“My…Mrs. Akpan chased me out of her house.” she shivered.
“What?” he shouted. “Like this? In the dark, in the pouring rain? How could she have been so wicked?” he raged.
Oleng burst into tears for an answer.
“What was I thinking asking you all these questions outside? Please come in.” He helped her up and they walked to the house. He led her to the sitting room and made her sit.
“You need a hot bath and a change of clothes. Hold on. I’ll be right back.” He left her and went upstairs to put on the water heater. He came back and led her to his sister’s room where she had a hot shower. She changed into his sister’s clothes that he had given her.
When she went downstairs, she discovered that he had gone to a fast food joint to get them food and drinks since he couldn’t cook. She was touched but she didn’t feel like eating even though she hadn’t eaten since breakfast. He had to beg her profusely before she decided to eat not to hurt his feelings. After a few spoonsful of fried rice, she couldn’t take it anymore. She burst into tears. How could her own mother have said such things to her?
Dave sat by her and consoled her while she told him everything that happened.
“You mean she actually said all those heart rendering things to you? Her daughter?” he was bamboozled.
Oleng raised her tear stained face. “She’s no longer my mother. I’m an orphan now.”
“O Oleng! I’m so sorry.” He held her again, feeling her misery.
“It’s okay.” She sniffed. “I’ll get over her. I just need to get out of town now. I can’t stand this place anymore.” she lamented.
“It’s alright. We’ll leave first thing tomorrow morning.”
“What about the things you wanted to clear?” she asked concerned.
“Forget about them. I can always do them some other time,” He waved it off nonchalantly. “I’ll take you to Calabar tomorrow.”
“Oh! Thank you so much, Dave. You’re a friend indeed.” She hugged him again as tears dripped from her eyes.
“It’s no big deal. Please stop crying. Things will turn out fine. Okay?”
She nodded her head slowly. “Okay.”
Dave played music and movies to cheer her up. When she got tired, she went to his sister’s room to sleep. She had a restless night. She kept dreaming of her mother insulting her and Wale trying to rape her. She woke up early the following morning. She was appalled to see that her clothes were not dried and she had nothing to put on; her undies were dried though. She sat on the bed in a despondent state and was about crying when she heard a knock on the door. Dave came in with a nylon bag.
“Good morning.” he cheerfully greeted.
“Good morning.” she tried her best to be as cheerful but failed.
“I brought you some clothes. I don’t think your clothes got dried. It rained throughout the night.”
“Thanks but I don’t think I can wear your sister’s clothes home.”
“They’re not hers. I went to a boutique to get them just now.”
“You did?” she was shocked.
Dave looked at the floor. “I knew your clothes wouldn’t be dried and you wouldn’t want to put on my sister’s clothes to Calabar. So I decided to get you these. I know they might not be the sort of clothes you’re used to wearing in terms of quality but it’s just for a few hours. At least until we get to Calabar.” he explained slowly.
Oleng got up from the bed and hugged him. “Thank you very much. I don’t care if they are rags. I really appreciate the gesture. And as for my putting on quality, don’t you think I should start getting used to not putting them on anymore, now that I’m an orphan?” she said on a sad note.
He shook his head sorrowfully. “Get dressed and join me for breakfast before we leave.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to cook.” she teased.
“It’s just bread and tea and fried eggs.” he shrugged.
“Please don’t fry the eggs.” she pleaded, grinning.
“Okay. I’ll boil them then.”
“Don’t do that either because it is going to be either half cooked or over cooked. I don’t want to have runny stomach while traveling.” she teased again.
“Come on, Oleng. I’m not a bad cook.” he protested.
“Really?” she said with doubt.
“Really. I’ve an boiled egg before.” He defended.
“First was half-cooked. Second was over-cooked. Third was perfect.”
“We’re about to find out.”
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
“Please do because I don’t want eating my food to be a harrowing experience for you.” he jeered
She laughed heartily. He was pleased to hear the musical sound. “God help me.” she said before he left.
She looked at the clothes and discovered it was a beautiful dress top and jean trousers. After taking her bath, she tried them on and was surprised to see they fit snugly on her. She was proud of Dave for being accurate at guessing her size. She put her wet clothes along with others in the box and rolled it down the stairs. She was glad his family was not around because she wouldn’t have been this free.
“You look good.” Dave complimented when he saw her.
“Thanks to you.” she replied.
“Breakfast is ready.” he declared smiling.
“Help me, Lord.” Oleng prayed jocularly, following him to the dining room and they both laughed.
Fortunately the eggs were properly boiled and she praised him. He smiled happily. After breakfast, he brought down his bag and they left in one of his father’s cars. His whole family was in Abuja where they went for the wedding of one of their relatives. He had been lucky to meet them at home because he arrived a day before they all left. He left the house key with their trusted gateman who was more like a part of the family than a worker; having worked for them for so many years. Oleng tried desperately not to look at her house when Dave drove past it. Tears welled up in her eyes. She shook her head. It wasn’t her house anymore. Dave drove at a sedate pace to Calabar.
It was early evening when they got there. He drove straight to her aunt’s place. Her aunt was surprised to see them but thanked him profusely for bringing her niece home. Dave left after promising to visit the following day.
When Aunt Vien asked her why she had returned so early, with tears Oleng told her everything that transpired between her, her ex-mother and her lover. Aunt Vien actually wept when she heard what her sister did. Oleng then asked her about her father. Aunt Vien told her everything. How her mum and dad had had a drunken one night stand which had resulted in her, how her mum had lost her fiancé and how she refused to marry her dad at first, how she had finally persuaded her to marry him, how her dad had died, how she, Vien had breast fed her and taken care of her till she was two years old. Oleng wept bitterly when she finished.
“So she hated me even from the womb. But tell me, was it my fault? Is it my fault? I didn’t ask to be given birth to. I didn’t!” she yelled still crying.
Her aunt held her and wept with her. It took a while before Oleng finally stopped weeping. She was moody for a whole week. Not even Dave could cheer her up. She continued weeping. She wept for her mother, she wept for the love she never had from her and mostly she wept for her late dad who she felt would have loved her immensely.
When her aunt couldn’t take her moody nature anymore, she traveled to Port Harcourt to speak sternly with her sister.
“How could you?” she didn’t even waste time with pleasantries when her sister led her into her luxuriously furnished living room.
“How could I what?” Linda asked nonchalantly and sat down while Vien remained standing.
“How could you throw your only child out in the dark and rain like that because of a man?” she raged.
“Oh!” Linda chuckled. “Was that what she told you? Did she tell you what she did with the man?” she enquired sweetly.
“She didn’t do anything with him. He was the one who couldn’t keep his zip up.”
“Was that what she told you? I know what I saw.”
“You don’t know anything. You don’t know anything about your daughter so you were wrong to jump into conclusions like that.”
Linda got up in anger then. “What did you expect me to think about a girl who not only had sex at the young age of fifteen but got pregnant also?”
“You know that was a mistake she regretted bitterly. She changed after that. I should know because I have lived with her for over six years now. She has not had a single boyfriend since then. Her friends even complained to me to talk to her to have one or go to a convent.”
“Oh! That was just pretense. Did you follow her every movement? Do you know what she did when she was not with her so-called friends?”
Vien looked at her in disbelief. “Why are you so bent on thinking the worst of your own daughter? You’ve never for once showed her love!”
“I buy her clothes and jewelries. I stuff her account with money.”
“Do you think money is everything?”
“O please! As if you all haven’t been living off my money. Aren’t you paid peanuts at your job?”
Her sister was flustered for a moment then she asked, “Have you ever hugged your daughter? Have you ever told her you love her? Have you ever sat down with her to discuss things?”
“And you’ve done that, Saint Vien?”
“Yes, I’ve done all that and more.”
“Yet your own daughter still got herself pregnant out of wedlock.” she harshly told her sister.
Vien was floored for a moment at her sister’s wickedness. “Yes, she got pregnant because she wasn’t with me. She was with her dad when she got pregnant.”
“Pity then. Please Vivien, I don’t want to quarrel with you over an unworthy child. Just let me be.” she sat down in exasperation.
Vien was quiet for a long time. “I’ll let you be alright. This is the last time you’ll see me. If you could do all that to your own child whom you carried for nine months, then you can do worse to me who is just your sister. All Oleng ever wanted from you was love even if it was just the size of a mustard seed. She’s in Calabar weeping for the loss of her dad who we both know would have treated her like a princess. She calls herself an orphan. You’re a big disgrace to motherhood. I regret having you for a sister.” she yelled.
“Go ahead. Blame me like everyone does. I’ve been lonely for years but no one ever took notice. I would have been married to my first and only love but for her and her father.” she recalled bitterly.
“Must you blame her for the rest of her life and yours? She’s just a victim of circumstance. She came into this world innocently. Blame fate, not her.”
“She’s a big disappointment to me. She’s still gullible to men.”
“You’re one bitter cynical old woman.”
“Thank you very much for the compliment. Now leave my house. Like you said, I don’t want to see you again also. I’m sick and tired of you all.” she pointed at the door.
“You’re sending me out of your house?” Vien was stunned.
“Yes and never come back. So she has poisoned your mind against me, ehn? Your one and only sister.”
“Is she not your one and only child also?” Vien lashed out.
“Not anymore. I‘ve disowned her.”
“You’re so foolish.”
“Thank you but leave and never come back and quit behaving like a saint. You have your own dark secret.”
Linda smiled. “You haven’t told her your little secret, have you?”
Vien shook her head slowly in sorrow.
“You can’t tell her, can you? You can’t face the risk of her hating you, can you? You know she’s very passionate. She does things to the extreme. She loves passionately and hates passionately. Are you willing to risk her finding out your dirty little secret, Saint Vivien?” she jeered.
Tears rolled down her sister’s eyes. “One day, I’ll summon courage to tell her and I pray she forgives me.”
“Very unlikely.” Linda laughed. “Now leave my house.”
Vien cleaned her tears. “I’ll leave but know that you will regret this as long as you live. You’ve just disowned your only family, your daughter and I because of a stranger. Well, good luck but don’t expect to hear from me again.” she firmly told her sister and left the room abruptly.