Madu stared at the clock on his sitting room
wall and hissed, it was eleven twenty-five pm and he hadn’t had dinner. He sat
on the floor of his sitting room and yawned, as his stomach growled in hunger.
Soon, he heard the horn of a vehicle and he rushed to the window. He couldn’t make the faces of the people in the car at first but when she
alighted and waved, he heaved a heavy sigh of relief. He
scratched his head and walked to open the door to his two bedroom house, he
heard the sound of the vehicle pull away from the front of the house and he
unlocked the door.

The house was a small cluster of mini apartments downstairs
and two large flats upstairs. Four years ago, when he moved in, one of the flats upstairs
was vacant but he didn’t have the money to rent it. Two hundred and fifty
thousand naira a year was the rent for the spacious flat upstairs, back then
and now, it stood at three hundred and fifty thousand naira. He didn’t have the
money back then and now, it was worse as his two bed-roomed house went for one
hundred and seventy thousand naira per year and he had to be insulted by his
landlord whenever the rent expired before he produced the money. 
Maduka had big dreams for
himself right from his childhood years and coupled with his intelligence, his
parents had made sure he received the best education available but when he was
ten, they had both died in a tragic accident, leaving him all alone as he was
their only child and heir. His father’s family had wasted no time seizing his
father’s property and even as he managed a small two bedroom house, one of his
uncles’s family and lived in his father’s house in Festac town. He had no
claims to his father’s property and it had been so long since he stopped living in
the luxury of his parents fortune to suddenly go back. His maternal aunt, who
raised him herself after his mother died always made sure to remind him;
“You
are the only surviving child of Angela and James, your father had so many lands
and properties but they were taken away by his greedy brothers. I have done my
best to give you education, to help you finish up what your parents started off
for you but if you feel you want to go back and confront your father’s family,
remember that you are just one against many of them. You are an only child and
a son for that matter who is a threat to them and their lifestyle. You will
only get yourself killed as they would make sure they eliminate you.”
She had
always reminded him.
Aunty Scholastica was a retired nurse who lost her husband
and love of her life, two years after her wedding. She had no children and Madu
was the child she called her own. She was presently in his mother’s village,
living the rest of her years there as she couldn’t afford the steady rising
rent of Lagos houses and neither could he. Mad wished he
could help her out with rent but situation tied his hands so tight that he
could hardly afford three square meals for himself talk-more of paying the rent
for his aunt.
Madu stood at a towering six feet, two inches, he had a very
beautiful stature, and he turned heads wherever he went. Even when he took
public transport which he normally did as he had no vehicle to call his own,
people stared at him as though he was out of place. His rich ebony skin glowed
even though he spent half the day under the sun and didn’t use any good cream to
help its shine. He kept a full beard, just as his dad did and he knew he was a
replica of his father, who had been his hero and great mentor.
The door opened and Stella walked in looking upset, she shut
the door behind her and headed towards the couch as she sat and began removing
her shoes.
“Baby, I have been waiting for your return…” Madu said.
“What is it? Can’t someone have peace in her life? I am
stressed, Madu. I have been on my feet all day biko…don’t stress me.” She
flung at him.
“It’s almost midnight Stella, this night habits of yours
have become rampant.” He started.
“Night habits you say? I go out to work my ass off for food,
I strive each day to make sure that we don’t starve and here you are singing to
me about night habits! I put in extra hours to feed my hunk of a husband and
what thanks do I get? Mtcheww…” She hissed.
“I know you work so hard but your boss should know that you
have a husband and…”
“And what?” She hissed. “A husband whose take home package
is forty thousand naira per month and who sometimes is owed salaries for
months. Face it Madu, if it’s not for my job as a senior 
executive at my
company, we would starve, our daughter would not even see the walls of a decent
school.” She said.
“I try so hard, I work so hard…I slave myself each day but
it’s unfortunate that I do not get anything.” He started.
“Where is Kamsi?” She spat.
“She is asleep, she tried waiting up for you but she was so
tired, today was cultural day at her school and she was the Efik queen.” He
said.
“Don’t tell me as if I don’t know what’s going on in my
daughter’s life because I do. I bought her the costume for the cultural day, I
pay her school fees, I pay her school bus fees.” She spat.
“I am sorry that you have to bear such a heavy burden.” He
said as he stomach growled.
Her phone rang and she quickly answered the call.
“Hey…” She said with a soft voice. “Yes, I’m in the
house now…thank you so much. See you tomorrow…” She hung up the call and
picked up her shoes so she stood on bare feet.
“I haven’t eaten dinner and…” Madu started.
“Will you getout of my way? So all these complaints of
mine sound like rubbish talk to you abi? Abeg I need to have a bath and get
some sleep, I have to leave before seven am tomorrow or I won’t get a free ride
to work.” She said and stormed off to the bedroom.
Madu stared at her retreating back, he wanted to say
something, he wanted to demand that she cooked dinner as her daughter had ate
nothing but noodles since she returned from school that evening and when he had
wanted to give her more noodles for dinner, she had declined and went to bed on
empty stomach as what she said she wanted was rice for dinner.
Madu turned off the recharge lantern in the small sitting
room and headed into the room they shared with their four year old daughter.
His wife was stripping her clothes and complaining about the light situation.
“Mtcheww….we are the poorest in this compound ehn…see as
everyone has their generators but we have nothing…no generator and no light.
I hate it…I hate all this!” She hissed. “I leave an air-conditioned office to
return to this boring house of no electricity, and no air conditioning! Haba!”
She hissed.
Madu didn’t say a word, he quietly lay on the bed he shared
with his wife and closed his eyes, waiting eagerly for morning when he had to
walk the short distance to Iya Segun’s food kiosk for his everyday routine
breakfast of bread and beans.
************
Cherry sat across her boyfriend at the posh restaurant on
Victoria Island, their table faced the sea and she loved the feel of the breeze on her face and hair. She had been expecting a proposal from Sean from the first day she met him and she knew that now was the time. She smiled when
he called her name.
“Cherry…”
“Yes darling…” She smiled.
“It’s been six months….”
“It’s been six months, seven days and three hours.” She
supplied.
“You have always been good with the calculations….” He
smiled.
“You were saying?” She prompted.
“I was saying…that it’s been six months, seven days and
three hours and although it seems like we’ve known each other all our lives, I
want us to spend the rest of our lives together.”
Cherry beamed in smiles, this was what she had been
expecting all year, in fact, she’s been expecting this two years ago but her
then boyfriend hadn’t been man enough to propose. He had been so focused on building his career and instead of preparing for marriage, he left the country to pursue his masters abroad.
“That’s my dream too…” She started.
Sean searched his pocket and withdrew a box and her heart
missed a beat, he stood up from his chair and walked up to her, falling on his
knee before her, he said.
“Cherry Mabel Babah…will you do me the honour of being my
wife? My life….my everything?” He said.
Cherry stared at the ring, she had to be sure that the
diamond was big and she was impressed by what she saw, the ring was well
sculpted, beautifully adorned with little diamonds and a huge one.
“Yes! Yes! Oh my God! Yes!” She screamed, alerting the
attention of those at the restaurant and soon, there was a round of applause as
people shared in her excitement.
She watched him slip the ring on her finger and she hugged
him tight, repeating the words; “I love you…I love you…I love you…” Into
his ears.
Soon, they were done at the restaurant and he drove her
home, she alighted from the car and blew him a kiss, hurrying inside the house
to share the news with her family. She pushed open the gate and rushed into the
compound, she took the stairs two at a time and soon, was at the door of the
house. She knocked and heard no one approach the door so she pressed the bell.
She heard it chime the first time but she was so impatient that she pressed it
a second time.
“I’m coming! Do you want to wake up the neighbourhood?” Her
sister screamed from inside the house as she unlocked the door and glared at
Cherry in anger.
“Open the door, Diamond, open up!” Cherry giggled.
Diamond stared at her in frustration and began to open the padlock for the burglary
proof.
Cherry and Diamond were twin sisters although fraternal.
They didn’t look alike at all, as while Diamond was tall, Cherry stood at an
average height. They had different complexions, as while Diamond was dark
skinned, Cherry was light skinned and while Diamond rocked a natural short
hair, Cherry’s hair was relaxed, long and straight.
Cherry burst into the house with the excitement of a five
year old and started screaming.
“Wake up everyone! Wake up!” She shouted. “Wake up sleepy
heads!”
“Shh…what’s wrong with you? It’s almost midnight! Mom
returned late from work and she’s so tired.” Diamond whispered.
Their mother walked out of her room, rubbing her eyes with
the back of her palms and their brother, Jerry, followed suit.
‘What’s the noise for?” Their mother asked.
“Mom, it’s Cherry…she just came back home from her date
and has been making so much noise!” Diamond said.
“What’s up Cher?” Her mother asked.
Cherry flashed her ring at everyone and her family members
gasped in surprise.
“Freaking cool huh? I’m getting married!” She screamed.
“What?” Jerry asked in complete shock.
“To who?” Diamond asked.
“Are you mad? I have a boyfriend na…” Cherry said, still
flashing her ring.
“Sean?” Her mother asked.
“Yes…he proposed today! Isn’t that epic?”
“But you’ve only known him for months…” Her brother said.
“What do you know about relationships? Abeg go and sit down
jare…” Cherry said.
Jerry shrugged and sat down on the large sofa, he was eighteen
years old and as long as his sisters were concerned, his opinion never counts.
“Diamond, c’mon, this is where you scream down the house with me.” Cherry said with a twinkle in her eyes.
Diamond looked at her sister and looked away.
“What is wrong with you people? Can’t you be happy for me?”
Cherry asked.
“How can we be happy for you? How could you throw your love
with Mitch to the dirt? He loves you.” Diamond said.
“What’s this one saying?” Cherry scoffed.
“Your sister has a point, Cherry, you’ve been dating Mitch
for the past five years…and everyone thinks you guys are meant to be together.” Her mother started.
“Can you guys wake up and smell the coffee? Mitch is not in
Nigeria, he left two years ago and he’s not ever coming back! He has a white
girlfriend and they are together.”
“No he’s not! He loves you and he’s coming back!” Diamond
shouted.
“Oh please…shut up! What do you know about love or
relationships? You clock twenty-six in a few months and you have no proper
boyfriend.” Cherry spat.
“How dare you?” Diamond screamed at her.
“Listen to me Cherry, I support you one hundred and fifty
percent if you are sure that this is what you want for yourself. You hardly
know this Sean guy…” Her mother started.
“Don’t mind Cherry, she’s all for the money. It’s because
Sean rides big cars and is a customer at her bank where he deposits large sums,
that’s why she feels he’s the best thing that has ever happened to her!”
Diamond said.
“Are you jealous that he’s rich?” Cherry spat.
“Uncle Mitch is rich too..” Jerry started.
“Oh please…he got a scholarship to study a stupid course
in Scotland, is that the so-called riches?” Cherry said.
“This will break his heart Cherry, and you know it. He loves
you so much and you know he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. You
guys have been dating since Uni…” Diamond said in a pleading voice.
“I’m marrying Sean guys…take it or leave it!” Cherry said
and stormed off into her room.
“Your sister…” Their mother started.
“I really can’t believe it. When she started seeing that
Sean guy, I thought she was just doing it to pass time but this has become a
serious relationship.” Diamond said.
“When does Mitch return to Nigeria?”
“His course ends this year and he’ll be back sooner than she
expects. The awful thing about all this is that they talk every other day and
they Skype a lot too. This feels as though she’s stabbed him in the back.”
“Well, I guess she’s made up her mind and you know your
sister, she can be very stubborn. I guess, I have to
inform your father of his daughter’s marriage.” Her mother said as she stood up
from the sofa and headed towards the room.
Cherry’s father had separated from their mother when she was
twelve years old. Her dad, who had claimed he’d found love in the arms of
another woman, had left his family and moved in with his lover. Thankfully,
their mother was a hard worker and she single-handedly provided for them since
then.
Diamond sighed heavily and turned off the lights as she
headed to her room, she wasn’t going to let her sister’s stupid engagement
spoil her mood.

To be continued tomorrow….. 

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