Chioma woke up from her dream. She looked to her side and saw her baby girl, sleeping on the cot beside her. She was dismayed.
Moments ago, in her sleep, she had been so happy. She’d thought the woman who had been in labour last night had given her a baby boy but as it was, the woman hadn’t even come back to the room after being wheeled out into the theatre, hours ago. She looked at the small cupboard beside her bed and sighed. Her husband hadn’t even brought anything for her to eat. She tried to sit up when the door opened and a nurse walked in.
“Good morning madam.” The nurse greeted.
Chioma nodded, she wasn’t happy.
“I can see that our baby girl is so healthy. Look at her, she’s sleeping like an angel. Thank God for safe delivery.”
Chioma looked away, she didn’t want to see the baby, talk more of hold her.
“You and the doctor outdid yourselves last night. You both were the only ones on duty and you delivered my baby and I’m guessing that you delivered the other woman of her baby as well.” Chioma asked.
“Hmmm….some women are so lucky while others aren’t. You are one of the lucky ones.” The nurse gossiped.
“Really? Tell me, what happened?” Chioma’s interest was quipped.
“Well, she was in labour all through the night but when we wheeled her into the theatre, we found that the baby wasn’t positioned right. We had to perform an emergency caesarean section.” The nurse said. “I was so tired because I was the only nurse on duty last night and I had to be by the doctor’s side and also check up on you and your baby as well. You were lucky to have put to bed soon after you came but the other woman had her baby, five hours later.”
“Are you serious? The poor woman!” Chioma exclaimed.
“She’s been sedated. I hope that she stops having kids after this one. She can’t die in childbirth.”
“What if the baby is her first?” Chioma asked.
“No, he’s not. This is her third child.”
“Hmmm… she might still try again if she’s looking for a particular sex.” Chioma said.
“Well, maybe she’ll try again because I heard from my fellow nurse who was here when she was admitted that she has two boys already and this child is a boy.”
“Really?” Chioma asked. “I bet her husband was with her all through the delivery. He’s such a caring man.” Chioma commented.
“Her husband was called to his office last night. There was an emergency. The poor woman was alone.” The nurse said.
Chioma looked at the nurse and her mind started working magic.
“So, does it mean that the woman doesn’t know that she’s even delivered a baby?” Chioma asked.
“She’s asleep like a log of wood. We sedated her na, didn’t I tell you?” The nurse said to her.
Chioma’s eyes sparkled.
“Errm….errm…” She started. “Did you say that none of her family members are around?”
“No.” The nurse said. “The poor woman is in a private room and her baby is there with her. I was with them before coming to check up on you and your baby.”
Chioma’s heart quickened.
“Is any other nurse on duty? It’s still very early in the morning.” Chioma said.
“Yes, the care giver is around but she’s not the nurse. She helped me bath the baby but she’ll leave soon so I have to go and stay with the baby.”
Chioma looked at the nurse.
“Errm…nurse, I need you to do something for me. Please, I need to know that you can do it.”
“A favour? What is it?” The nurse asked.
“I will pay you handsomely for it.” Chioma continued.
The nurse looked at her, she was confused.
“What do you want me to do?” The nurse asked.
Chioma beckoned that she comes close so that she could whisper into her ear, the nurse bent low so, Chioma could speak to her. Chioma whispered in her ears and her eyes widened.
“Exchange the babies? Madam, what sort of request is that?” The nurse said, alarmed.
“Shhh…keep your voice down. You know you are the only one that can help me with this besides, my baby is healthy.”
“That’s illegal. I could end up in jail…”
“I will transfer to your account, the sum of one hundred thousand naira, this instant. I will use my bank app.”
The nurse’s eyes widened, one hundred thousand naira was a lot of money in the recession. She looked at Chioma and looked at the baby.
“I have all female children and that woman has all male children. There’s nothing wrong if I decide to bless her with a girl-child. I am sure she would want a female child.”
“Madam…I can’t possibly do that…”
“You are the only one who knows the sex of the child that the woman bore. You and the doctor.” Chioma pressed. “Please you need to do this fast before her husband or any of her family members come.”
“What of the doctor? He will suspect…”
“You are smart and I can tell that you need money for a lot of things.” Chioma pressed.
The nurse looked at Chioma and she began to think of things that she could do with one hundred thousand naira.
Bisola sat behind the steering of her car and stalked Bruce’s wife. She stared jealously at her rival from head to toe and hissed.
“He claims he’s not spending on her but why is a fifty-five year old woman wearing the latest Gucci sandals to the salon? I hate it when he lies to me. What does he take me for? I swear, I’ll make sure I demand that he gives me more money.” She spat as she stared at the sophisticated woman, who was walking into the posh salon in Ikoyi with her assistant.
“I want an assistant too. I want someone to follow me around and do my bidding.” She said.
She was still watching the woman go into the salon that she didn’t notice someone rap at her window.
“I bet he’s planning to give her a expensive trip for her birthday.” She hissed. “You’re a fool Bisola! A big fool! Why didn’t you ask for more? Why didn’t you ask that he marries you? You deserve an engagement ring like other ladies your age. You deserve to be a Mrs somebody.”
The rap came louder now and she heard it. She turned to look at the direction of the tap and saw that it was coming from the front window of the passenger seat of her Lexus car. She wound down the window to see a young man staring at her curiously.
“Hello…you’re blocking the entrance.” He said politely.
“You are blocking…” He started.
“I know that! I am not blind. You should have shown me a place to park instead of telling me trash about blocking the entrance.” She spat.
The man looked at her and smiled.
“Please park at the corner there.” He said showing her a space to park beside the salon.
“Don’t bother, I’m not interested in parking anymore.” Bisola spat as she started her car and drove off.
She was very upset as she made her way to her son’s music school to pick him up. She stopped her car at the entrance to the school and horned loudly. The gateman opened the gate and stepped out with her son, Zed.
Soon, he was seated at the back of her car.
“How was school today?”
“Fun…” He simply said, opening his bag. “See mum, I can play the flute.” He said bringing out his flute from his bag.
“That’s wonderful honey.” She said with a smile.
Zed means the world to her and she’s loved him from the very first moment she’d laid eyes on him. He was the splitting image of her father, a man whom she’d loved very much and who had died a long time ago, leaving her alone with her mother and siblings.
Zed would turn five in a few weeks and she mused at how time had flown since she gave birth to him. She couldn’t believe that she had been Bruce’s mistress for seven years. Her son began playing his flute, jolting her out of her thoughts.
“Let’s go to the mall. Do you want some ice cream?” She asked sweetly.
“Yes mummy.” He answered.
“I have to do some shopping…” She started. “We don’t have any foodstuff at home.”
She drove the car to the nearest mall and when they got there, they alighted and they both made their way into the mall. Bisola got her son a large ice cream cone and they both walked into the mall to shop. They had filled their shopping cart with all the necessary foodstuff walked to the queue up to pay. Bisola’s son ran back to the shelves to pick a toy soldier and brought it to her.
“Mummy…I want the soldier.” He said.
“C’mon darling, you already have so many toy soldiers at home and besides, your daddy gets you so many toys whenever he travels abroad.” She said.
“The boy deserves a toy soldier.” A male voice said from behind her.
Bisola turned to regard the person with the voice and was surprised, his face looked familiar.
“Aren’t you the guy from the salon?” She asked, taking in his appearance.
“Yes, I am.” He said with a smile.
“You clean up well for a security man.” She said.
He flashed her a smile and said nothing. He had a shopping cart in front of him loaded with different types of drinks.
“Is he your son?” He asked.
“Yes.” She replied.
“Hmmm…he’s cute. I’m sure your husband adores him like you do.”
The man was sexy for a security guard, so she let her guard down.
“I’m a single mother, but my child’s father is present in his life.” She said.
“Nice…” He said with a smile.
Bisiola took in the young man’s appearance, he shouldn’t be more than thirty-two. He was dressed in simple slacks and a Polo shirt, but something caught her eyes and it was his wrist watch. It was an expensive brand.
“Are you really a security man?” She asked.
“You just assumed especially after I told you to park your car properly.” He said, sounding amused.
“Well…” She shrugged.
“My name is Fred….” He said stretching out his hand to give her a handshake.
“Bisola.” She said with a smile. “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding…”
“It’s okay…I can be anything as long as I’m noticed by a very pretty woman.”
Bisola blushed, Fred was quite handsome and he had a good build too.
“Stop the flattery, I really don’t want your girlfriend to be jealous.” She said.
“Girlfriend? I just got back from the United States last week so, it’s safe to say that I have no girlfriends, at least for now.”
“Hmmm….” She shrugged and turning around, she pushed her cart till she was at the front of the line with the sales attendant.
The sales attendant quickly calculated the sum of all she’d bought and carefully arranged them in bags.
“Your money is fifteen thousand, seven hundred naira ma.” The sales attendant said.
Bisola brought out her card but a hand stopped her.
“I’ve got this.” Fred said from behind her.
Bisola smiled, she was impressed.
Ochuko’s heart beat fast, it was as though she was about to be placed at a warfront when in actual fact, she was going on a date with her boyfriend.
“You look gorgeous.” Princess, her little sister said.
They were in her bedroom, her younger sisters were seated on her bed and admiring her outfit.
“I wish a man like Vuoke will ask me out. I’ll be the happiest girl on earth.” Her twenty-two year old sister, Amanda sighed.
“You’ll have someone better than Vuoke.” She said.
“No! I don’t want to ask for too much. I just want someone like Vuoke. Have you see the way he spends on you? All these clothes of yours were bought by him and the shoes? Wow! I envy you sis.”
“Ahem!” Ochuko cleared her throat. “Mummy will be back soon, you guys just have to make sure that the house is still neat by the time she gets home or she’ll skin you guys alive.” She said sternly.
“Abeg jor…I can’t wait for you to get married so that I can become a permanent tenant in your home. I’ll be the coolest aunt to your kids.” Amanda said.
“Yes ooo.” Princess chirped. “With the way you look, I can bet that you’ll come home with an engagement ring. There’s no way Vuoke is letting you leave dinner a single woman.”
Ochuko stared at her seventeen year old sister whose words sometimes scared her and her breath caught in her throat.
“I need to get going…I…”
The doorbell rang and her sisters jumped off her bed and rushed out of the room.
“It’s Vuoke!” They screamed in glee.
Ochuko stood before the mirror and looked at her face. She had used heavy make-up to cover the bruises and reminder of last night’s beating. She spoke to herself.
“You can do this Ochuks! You can do this!” She said as she picked up her purse and left the room.
One hour later, Ochuko and Vuoke were seated in a fancy restaurant, eating the delicious meal that tasted like saw-dust in Ochuko’s mouth.
“Darling, what do you want for desert?” Vuoke asked.
“I’m full…can we skip desert?” She asked.
“Of course not.” He said and signalled to the waiter. “Can we have desert please? The restaurant’s special.” He said to the waiter.
“Yes sir.” The waiter said and left.
Ochuko silently ate her meal, trying so hard not to look at her boyfriend. She was still eating when she heard music coming from behind her. She turned around and was surprised. Two ladies playing the violin stood behind her and they were playing a nice song, she turned to look at Vuoke in confusion.
“Why are they playing the violin?” She asked, wondering whether this was her boyfriend’s new way of asking for forgiveness or whether the violinists were confused as to whom they were to perform for.
The waiter walked up to them and took out her plate from the table, she wanted to protest but he placed a medium sized cake before her. She stared at the cake. On the cake were the words,
‘Will You Marry Me?’
Ochuko turned to look at Vuoke, only to see him bent on one knee and with a ring in his hand.
“Darling, please do me the honour of being my wife. I love you Ochuko and I want to spend the rest of my life at your side. Will you marry me?” Vuoke said.
All the saliva in Ochuko’s mouth dried up, she was lost for words.
To be continued…..