“It’s an epic disaster!” Bisiola screamed. “This is not what I planned from the very beginning. I wanted everything to be perfect but you ruined it. You ruined a completely perfect evening!”
“I am sorry ma…I am very sorry…” The waiter apologized with tears streaming down his face.
“Look at what you’ve done at my restaurant opening? You must pay for this…I will make sure you pay.” She yelled.
The waiter fell on his knees in tears. He looked at the young lady who also happened to be his boss and who probably would be his age mate or a year younger than he was and shook his head at poverty. If life hadn’t been so unfair to him that even after losing his parents at a young age, his maternal aunt who stood as a mother had also been cruelly snatched from the world, he wouldn’t have had to work so hard to survive.
“Madam…I don’t have the money, if you throw me out, I might commit suicide. Life hasn’t been fair to me. Please, ma, let me work for you for free for a few months. You can deduct the money for damages from my salary.” He cried.
“Look at you! Stupid fool! I made a mistake to have hired you in the first place. Taking your salary won’t be enough for me. I want you arrested and locked in jail.” She screamed.
”Haaaa….madam…ejo…madam…” He cried.
The other waiters and waitresses knelt before Bisola, pleading on the waiter’s behalf. She turned away from them and bringing out her phone, she dialled a number but a hand stopped her.
“Bisi, let’s not ruin a perfect night.” A man said in a calm voice.
She turned to look at the man who was old enough to be her father and burst into tears. She placed her head against his shoulder and cried like a baby.
“To think that…that today is my launch day….and all this happened…all the guests….the dignitaries, your friends…” She wept. “Everything was ruined….everything…”
“No one saw anything. The waiter just crashed the tray of empty glasses on the ground when guests had already left. I’m sure that only a handful of people witnessed the incident besides, what’s a tray of empty champagne glasses? It shouldn’t cost much.” He consoled.
“I’m not speaking about the cost but the humiliation he caused me. How could he let the tray of drinks slip and fall from his hands before everyone?” She sobbed.
“But I told you that guests had left before the incident happened.” He said.
“What of the press? The magazine representatives were here, and also representatives from television stations…I feel so sad…” She cried.
“Just accept his apology…okay. C’mon, let’s go home, Zed is sleeping in the car…let’s go to him.” He said.
She looked up at him and managed a smile.
“This is the reason I love you, Bruce, you are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
He took her hand in his and they both walked to the door but on reaching there, she said to him.
“Why don’t you go to the car? I forgot to leave instructions with the staff. You know we just had the launch of the restaurant this night and work starts fully tomorrow. I won’t be long.” She said.
He nodded and walked out of the restaurant. Bisiola stormed back into the restaurant like an enraged vampire, she held up the edge of her long gown and took quick steps towards the waiters. She stopped before the scared looking staff and spat.
“If this ever happens again….if this ever happens again…” She warned, and then looking at the young waiter who was shaking like a leaf and still on his knees, she said. “I can never forgive what you did and because of that, you are fired. You should consider yourself lucky that I didn’t call the police or sue you for damages.” She spat and turning on her heels, she made her way out of the restaurant.
The waiters watched her leave wondering if they had made a good decision of working for a woman who was as wicked as the devil himself.
Chioma watched her husband drop the baby bag disinterestedly on the ground and fumbled for his phone. The doctor was talking to him but it was obvious that everything he said was flying into one ear and coming out of the next.
“There’s nothing new to tell me, doctor, I have gone through this three times already, and hopefully, this will be my last.” Nnamdi said.
The doctor looked at him and shrugged, then turning to Chioma, he said.
“We will check you from time to time but hopefully, you should put to bed tonight or latest before dawn.”
“Thank you, doctor.” She said in gratitude.
The doctor nodded and left the room. As soon as he left, Chioma seized the opportunity to make small talk. Even with the sharp pains shooting down her back, she made a huge effort to communicate with her husband.
“Nna, there’s a spare bed by my side…why don’t you sit on it?”She asked.
“What for? Am I sick?” He spat not taking his eyes away from his phone.
“I didn’t mean that sweetheart, I meant that you shouldn’t stand…”She said and winced hard as another contraction hit her.
“Look, I am going to branch at the bar opposite the hospital and drink for about an hour then I’ll go home. Call me when you give birth to my son.” He said and turned to leave.
Her voice stopped him.
“Nna, please when you get home, could you try to make Amaka drink her medicine? I am not sure that my cousin will be able to give it to her since she’s very stubborn.”
“Mtchewww…that’s all I’ve gotten from you after eight years of marriage. Three stubborn girls. If this child in your womb is a girl, please don’t bother calling me to come here.” He hissed and left the hospital room and slammed the door.
Chioma tried not to cry but tears fell from her lids. She was wiping the tears with the back of her palms when the door to the hospital room opened and the nurse helped a pregnant lady into the room. The lady sluggishly made her way to the next bed and lay on it, groaning at her every move. Suddenly a man burst into the room with concern in his gaze.
“Are you okay darling?” He asked. Then he said to the nurse. “Please check her and see if it’s time. The contractions are too much.” He said in worry.
“Don’t worry sir…her time is not here yet…” The nurse said.
Chioma watched the man sit beside his wife on the bed and placed his arm comfortingly on hers and the tears flowed again.
“Did you fall again this time?” The lady at the pharmacy asked as she swiped the cotton wool with mentholated spirit on her wound.
Ochuko looked at the ground and said nothing. She did a mental run of some pharmacies she knew and made a note to visit another, the next time this happened.
The next time, she cringed. It was something that happened over and over again and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
“You will need to have an x-ray done on your wrist, it seems fractured.” The lady at the pharmacy said.
“Okay, I will but could you quickly help me bandage my wrist so that I can go home?” She said.
“Yes, of course, I will.” The lady at the pharmacy said, looking at her with concern.
“I think I’ll errr…ask that the staircase to my house is fixed properly…I keep falling all the time.”
The lady didn’t say anything, she just took a bandage and wrapped it around her wrist.
“You don’t live in the area…right?” She asked.
Ochuko shook her head.
“I’d have errrm…requested that you come in tomorrow for a look at your bruises.” The lady said.
“My boyfriend lives in the area…” Ochuko whispered.
“You should see a doctor. It’s not enough to come here to clean and bandage your wounds, the best thing for you is to visit a clinic.”
“Yes, I will.” Ochuko said.
The lady looked at her and continued tending to her wounds.
An hour later, Ochuko was home, she stepped out of the taxicab and made her way into the bungalow she shared with her family. She knocked at the door and her mother, clad in her nightwear and with a towel wrapped around her head, opened the door and let her in.
“Good evening mummy.” Ochuko greeted.
“My darling, how are you? You’re back late.” Her mother said then looking worriedly at the bandage on her daughter’s wrist, she said.
“Did Vuoke’s dog do this to you again?”
“Yes mum, I swear that dog has no chill. Anytime he sees me, he is determined to chase me around the compound as though I’m some sort of fugitive.” Ochuko said.
“Look at you…look at the bruises on your body ehn. Why are you wearing dark shades at night?”
“I hit a pole as I ran from the dog.” She said.
“Vuoke needs to kill that dog because it’s acting like a beast.”
“He loves the dog, it’s his father’s dog and you know how sentimental Vuoke can be.” Ochuko continued.
“Well, I hope he sees your sacrifice and decides to wife you soon. All your mates are married, Ochuko. In three weeks you will be thirty-one. Thirty-one!” She raised her fingers in the air. “My good Lord! I never thought my daughter would stay this long till she got married. I married at twenty and back then, I was considered to have married very late.”
Ochuko sighed, she was tired of her mother’s talk.
“I received an award for excellence at work today. My boss commended me and said that I am the most hardworking staff.” Ochuko said, trying to change the topic.
“What has that got to do with the fact that your ovaries are drying up? You need to set a good example for your younger sisters. They are beginning to think that it’s cool to remain single till one is in her thirties.” Her mother pressed.
“I am not the one to propose mum, if Vuoke wants to marry me, he will.” Ochuko said as she made her way towards her bedroom.
“Tell him that he has to get a leash for that dog of his.” Her mother called out after her. “And please remove those shades, it doesn’t suit you.”
Ochuko walked into her room and slammed the door behind her, she leaned against the door and removed the dark shades covering her eyes and tossed it on her bed. She walked to her mirror and stared at her face in horror. No wonder the lady at the pharmacy had reacted the way she did when she saw her. She looked hideous. Her left eye was swollen and black and blue. Her phone rang and she opened her bag and pulled it out. It was a call from her friend Zainab.
“Hey…” She greeted.
“How far, I received your text message. I’m sorry that I didn’t respond on time.” Zainab said.
“I…don’t know if I can…take this anymore…Zainab…” Ochuko started and began to cry. “Why does this have to happen to me?”
“Shhh….calm down dear…”
“Calm down? He almost killed me. I got to his house on time, washed his clothes in the washing machine and cooked his dinner. The only mistake I made was that the chicken got a bit burnt in the oven. You should have seen the way he beat me…I thought I would die…” She sobbed.
There was a long sigh at the end of the line.
“Vuoke loves you very much…”
“I know he does but this love of his will kill me one day.”
“Don’t say that…love is blind.”
“The lady at the pharmacy on the street close to his has started getting suspicious. She asked me questions when I went to her pharmacy.”
“What’s that one’s business sef? I don’t know why people don’t mind their business.” Zainab spat.
“You should see me, Zainab. I am not sure that I would go to work, I’ll have to call in sick because if my colleagues see me, they’ll know that I was battered.”
“Sometimes, we women are the cause of our misfortunes. For instance, if you didn’t burn the food, he would never have had the cause to hit you.” Zainab stressed.
“I am not a machine, I was doing several things at the same time.” Ochuko cried.
“I am sure he will change…”
Ochuko cringed at her best friend’s words.
“When? I am tired and I want to give up and…” Ochuko started but heard her phone beep indicating an incoming call. She looked at the phone screen and said. “Let me call you back, it’s Vuoke.”
“Okay and please don’t be rude to him. Just be quiet and as docile as a lamb. It’s really hard to get a good-looking, successful and decent man in this day and age especially now that girls in their early twenties aren’t dulling. You need to get that ring and get it fast. He will change, just be patient.”
Ochuko quickly ended her friend’s call and answered her boyfriend.
“Hello, love…” He greeted.
“I am about to sleep, I just got home.” She said.
“Baby, I’m sorry…you know I am.”
“Vuoke, when will the beating stop? I…I…” She burst into tears.
“Darling, I swear that this is the last time…” He swore.
“You even squeezed my neck…you almost killed me…” She cried.
“How can I? I would never kill you, my love, you are my heartbeat, my darling…my love…my everything.” He said. “Do you know what? Why don’t we have dinner tomorrow night? It’s a Friday and I’m sure that you don’t have any plans or do you?”
“No, I don’t…” She said calmly. Ever since she started dating Vuoke, he always made sure that he took care of her schedule outside of work.
“Let’s have fine dining tomorrow night…okay…”
“Okay…I’ll see you tomorrow then.” She said resignedly.
“Wear something sexy and red, look glam enough for a photo shoot.” He said and hung up.
Ochuko looked at her bandaged wrist and caught her reflection in the mirror again. How could she look glam enough for a photoshoot when she looked very beaten and bruised?
To be continued…..