Stella watched the driver stop at the entrance to her house,
Duncan was seated beside her and it some minutes past eleven pm.
“I can’t really believe that a beautiful lady as yourself
comes out of this place.” Duncan said in a snobbish tone.
Stella didn’t respond, her mind was far away.
“Stella!” Duncan called.
“Oh yes…did you call me?” Stella asked.
“Yes I was actually talking to you, where is your mind?”
“I’m sorry, I have a lot of things in my head right now but
don’t worry, I’m fine.” She flashed a smile at him.
“I don’t want you to ever worry your sweet head okay, ever!”
Duncan said. “Whatever you want, just know that you can count on me.”
“Thanks Duncan, I have to go in now.”
“Not without giving me a kiss first…” Duncan said touching
his lips with his index finger.

Stella leaned into kiss him but a sharp rap at the car
window caught them off guard. The car was tinted so the person who rapped at
their window couldn’t see those within.
“Who’s that?” Duncan spat.
Stella turned to look out the window and saw Madu with torchlight.
“It’s…it’s my husband…” She said in a panic.
“Relax…” Duncan said, then to the driver, he said. “Wind
down the window, let’s know what the man wants.”
The driver wound down the window and Madu bent at the waist
to see the occupants of the car.
“Stella…” He called out.
“Madu, you didn’t need to come looking for me.” She said
nervously as she picked up her bag and opened the car door.
Madu stared at Duncan at the back seat of the car who was
also alighting from the other side.
“Meet my boss, his…his name is Duncan.” Stella said when
Duncan alighted.
“Good evening, it’s a pleasure finally meeting you.” Duncan
said staring at Madu from the other side of the car.
Madu stared at Duncan silently and said.
“Good evening.” Turning to his wife, he said. “Do you know
what time it is?”
“Madu don’t start with me.” She flung at him.
“I thought we spoke about your late nights…I told you I
won’t tolerate it any longer.” He said.
Stella ignored him and turned to Duncan.
“Good night boss, thank you for the free ride. I am so
grateful.” She said.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Duncan but I think my wife won’t
need you to be dropping her off anymore.” Madu said stiffly.
“What? Madu are you crazy?” Stella spat.
Duncan smiled and got into his car.
As soon as the car drove off, Stella screamed at her
husband.
“Are you mad? How dare you talk to that man that way? Do you
know who he is? He has pedigree and is not like you at all. He has a PHD
and…”
“And he’s a man like me who has blood flowing through his
veins.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean that I am your husband and I have the right to say
that I do not want you to be that man’s charity case anymore. Who knows what
he’ll start demanding from you soonest?”
“You’re mad Madu! You are raving mad!” Stella said as she
stormed off towards the house.
“Isn’t he married? What is he doing out late with a married
woman? Think Stella! That man is fishy!” Madu said following her into the
house.
They entered the house three minutes later and Madu slammed
the door shut.
“You are my wife and you will listen to what I say!” Madu
said.
“I’m tired of your rubbish Madu, grow up!” Stella screamed
back.
Their daughter walked into the sitting room, holding her
father’s phone in her hands.
“Daddy, auntie Anita is on the line.” Kamsi said rubbing her
eyes with her left hand.
Stella looked as her husband took the phone from Kamsi and
quickly walked out of the house to speak to Anita. As soon as the door was shut
behind him, Kamsi walked up to her mother.
“What’s going on mom? Are you arguing with daddy again?” She
asked.
“Your daddy makes things so difficult for me…” Stella
said, then changed the topic. “Who’s auntie Anita and how do you know her?”
“She’s daddy’s boss and she’s really nice to me, she buys me
cakes, ice cream and some times, she gets me goodies to take to school.” Kamsi
supplied.
“Hmmm…she sounds nice.” Stella said suspiciously.
“Yes she is, she told me that she and daddy come a long way
since their university years and that she was supposed to marry daddy but daddy’s
auntie didn’t like her.”
“What?” Stella gawked.
Madu chose that moment to walk into the house and Stella
walked up to him and gave him a resounding slap on his cheek.
“Anita? You are involved with that woman who’s obsessed with
you and you had the right to cause a scene over an innocent drop-off by my
boss?” Stella screamed.
“You slapped me? Stella, you dare to slap me?” Madu raved,
rubbing his cheek.
“Yes I did. Bring down the roof if that’ll make you feel
better but I have one word for you. Remove the plank in your eye before looking
for the speck in mine. Who knows if the two of you have been sleeping with each
other this whole time. What did it take you to get the job with her? Did you
have to have sex with her?”
“Stella, you slapped me and you expect me to answer your
questions.”
“You’re cheating on me Madu and you’re so shameless about
it.”
“Cheating on you? Don’t be silly. Anita gave me a job and I
haven’t had the chance to tell you because you never have the time to listen to
me.”
“That’s a lie! That’s a big lie!” Stella screamed like a mad
woman. “I don’t want you working for her…you have to resign.”
“You’re stupid if you think I’d let go of such opportunity
to earn a living!” Madu shouted.
“Really? Then for as long as you still work there I’ll make
this house so miserable for you. I’ll come home every night at midnight and I’ll
leave as early as four pm, sometimes I won’t even come home at all.” Stella flung
and stormed into their room.
“What is wrong with women? What do you want? I get a job
that pays little money and you insult me and remind me of how useless I am and
finally I get a better one but with a woman I’ve had a history with and you
want me to leave the job. I’m not leaving my job to satisfy your ego, do you
hear me? I will not!” Madu screamed as he followed his wife into the bedroom.
Kamsi stared at her quarrelling parents and wondered if
there was a world where mummies and daddies didn’t quarrel so much.
************
Mitch was having dinner and giving his family the silent
treatment as usual. His sister, Angel walked into the dining and sat down to
have her meal, soon her mother joined in. Mitch kept on eating as though they
weren’t there.
“Mitch, you can’t keep this up, we are your family…” His
mother reminded.
“Mom, can you please leave the guy alone? If he wants to
live in this house without talking to us, then let him be. When he finally ends
up with a heart break he’ll have only his mattress and pillows to comfort him.”
Angel said.
“Will you shut up? How dare you speak about me in such
manner?” Mitch spat.
“I can speak anyhow I please…this is my father’s house and
there’s freedom of speech here.” Angel said.
“It seems that eating at the dining won’t give me the peace
I crave so, I’m off to my room.” Mitch said standing up.
“Mitch, please sit down…we aren’t at war, we are family.”
His mother said in a pleading voice.
“I wonder when he’ll realise that Cherry is actually getting
married to a rich dude.” Angel said.
“Do you know what? I’ve kept silent for too long and I won’t
keep silent again. Get this into your head, Cherry is going through a rough
patch with her family as she has to sacrifice love for her father over her love
for me. I think we should all stand with her at this time instead of hurl
insults at her and abuse her for being a good daughter.” Mitch said.
“What is this one talking about?” Angel asked amused.
“What are you saying?” His mother asked.
Mitch quickly filled his mother and sister with the story
Cherry had told him at her office and as soon as he was done, Angel threw back
her head and laughed so hard.
“Mum, how in the world did this kind of daft man get into
your womb? My God! The story is so funny and as fake as hell…hahahahahaha…”
Angel laughed.
“Angel! I am warning you, don’t let me lose my calm!” Mitch
screamed at her.
“Cherry has not been in contact with her dad since secondary
school, the man left her mother and siblings and moved in with another woman in
another state. I don’t believe that he would come back within the time you left
for your masters and would have won her back during that time. Check the time
frame, son, you left the country for a few years and before you went away, her
father hadn’t contacted her, how could he come within the time you were away
and she accepted him back like that even to the extent of dating his client.
The story doesn’t add up.” His mother said.
“Wise men of old say that trust is key in every relationship
and I trust her mom. I really do.” Mitch said.
“Hahahahahaha…” Angel laughed hysterically.
“If you love as much as you claim and trust her too, then I
do as well.” His mother said. “And I sincerely apologise for causing a scene at
her house with your sister.”
“What? Mom!” Angel asked in surprise over her mother’s
sudden change.
“Really? You do? Thank you mum, you don’t know how much this
means to me.” Mitch said.
“Yes, I support you one hundred percent and that’s why our
family is officially going to set a date for the introduction with your
bride-to-be.”
“But mom, finances aren’t really strong yet…and…” Mitch
started.
“Don’t worry dear, your dad and I will help out the best way
we can.” His mother said with a smile.
Mitch hurried to hug his mother and quickly hurried off to
call Cherry and tell her the good news, as soon as he was gone, Angel turned to
her mother.
“Mom, you can’t be serious.”
“My father used to tell me, ‘when dancing with a snake, it’s
wise to dance close to a very big cage’. Angel, we will choke Cherry with so much
love, we will work hard at making sure her wedding to Mitch is planned and
finalised before the end of the year.”
“To what end mom?”
“Don’t you get it? If she’s really lying to him and has a fiancé
waiting at a corner, she’ll be so stuck that she’ll have no choice but to tell
Mitch the truth. If we rush a wedding for the two of them and also insist on
seeing her father to finalise a wedding date…”
“Wait mom, you’re a genius! We can only get the truth by
staying close to her and her family rather than straying far.” Angel said and
smiled.
Her mother smiled back at her.
In his room, Mitch dialled Cherry’s number but it was out of
network because somewhere within the same city, Cherry was doing a striptease
for her fiancé, Sean, and whenever she was making him happy, her phones had to
be switched off.
**********
Madu couldn’t sleep, he watched his wife snore gently and
wanted to shake her awake to ask why they were always fighting. He recalled his
phone conversation with Anita that evening, she had called to apologise for her
attitude to him that morning at work and he’d told her that it was fine.  How could she have asked him to come and live
in her house? Was she okay in the head? He recalled his wife’s threats of
coming home late and leaving home early if he doesn’t quit his job and he knew
that his aunt would support her in that regard but he couldn’t take commands
from her. Wasn’t he supposed to be the head of the family? He thought. Weren’t
they supposed to make decisions as a family? Weren’t they supposed to
understand each other and love each other? Where had he gone wrong in his role
as a husband? Was he being too authoritative? All these thoughts went through
his mind.
He felt that he lost his hold on his family when his wife
started earning more than he did and began controlling the affairs of the house.
If he left his job, he was only giving her the chance to once again, wield her
money power over him and he refused to let that happen. He closed his eyes to
sleep when a phone beeped. It wasn’t his but it didn’t sound like his wife’s
either. He stood up from the bed and walked over to where his wife kept her bag
and opened it. He quietly took the bag out of the room to the sitting room and
turned on the lights, the contents of his wife bag looked alien to him. She had
an expensive perfume in her bag and also the Rolex watch she had told him
belonged to her friend. Was she lying to him? He probed further into the bag
and brought out a very powerful and expensive phone. The phone lights came on
and his wife’s smiling face was the phone screensaver. When did she buy the
phone and how come he knew nothing about it? He saw the text message that had
been sent to her and he clicked on it to open it. It was from Rhoda.
‘Hey
babe, I know it’s late to send this but better late than never. I spoke to my cousin
who knows the best clinic for D &C in town. The name of the clinic is
EarnigKaay Medical Center and it’s located just at the back of the bridge. You
can quickly flush out the pregnancy during lunch hours and return to work as
though nothing happened. You need to do this as quickly as possible before Madu
finds out that you’re carrying a second baby. Good night dear.’

The phone fell from Madu’s hand in a dull thud.

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