I stared down my window, it was a pain in my chest to see Esther finally leave. I remembered when everything began. It all started with a simple massage, a massage that turned into an everyday ritual. My dad always had one body pain or the other, he kept on demanding for Esther to massage his aching back. It became too frequent that I became suspicious, and after confronting Esther, I discovered l my dad’s agenda.
Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. I remembered how he deceived my mum, just so he could have his way with Esther. He utilized his manipulative skills, and almost did the despicable but Esther escaped by a hair breadth. But the most appalling thing was that Esther was at the receiving end. Although she also played a part in her predicament, I felt it was unfair for her to face such repercussions.
I watched as she placed her bags in the car, I felt so down hearted that I preferred to look from afar. She was about entering into mum’s car, but she paused and looked up towards my window. I smiled; to hide the sadness and I bade her farewell.
I boarded a taxi back home. I greeted everyone including the driver. My joy was just so lucid that even the passengers could feel it. I didn’t stop humming and whistling on my way, I was as happy as the first day my wife put to birth. Looking bright and blissful, I put on a glowing, contagious smile that could lighten up the universe.
From the alpha to the omega of all humans, I was inarguably the happiest on Earth. I alighted the taxi with smiles on my face, I got some chips and drinks from the supermarket because I wanted to celebrate with my wife.
I got to my compound and was about knocking on the gate when Musa pushed it wide open. My wife was about driving out, and I noticed Esther seated with her at the front seat.
Just as we were about leaving, my uncle- Femi came back. My eyes filled up with rage at the sight of him. He was the last person I wanted to see at moment. In fact, I never even wanted to set my eyes on him again. He stared at us, carefully moving his eyes around the car. His eyes asking lots of questions.
“Jenny?” He called out to his wife.
“Where are you guys going to?”
“I’m taking her back?”
“Who? Esther?” He asked.
“Back… back to where?”
“I’m taking her back to the village”
“Weren’t you the one that insisted I send her back to her family” my aunt shouted.
“Even though, you should have informed me nau. why would you just take a decision like that? Ehnn?…
Jennifer you didn’t even tell me anything”
“But Femi, you’ve been on my neck. What is there to tell you?”
“It’s okay, we shouldn’t be discussing this here. Come down, let’s go inside and talk better”
My aunt reversed the car and parked back inside, she alighted and so did I. I was beginning to feel a new surge of hope, who knows; maybe Femi who I didn’t want to see would be the one to restore parity to the situation.
I turned away from the window, and went back to the video game I was playing just to cheer myself up. Esther was gone and there was nothing anyone could do about it, I pushed hard against the buttons on the game pad. Hoping I would feel better if I dissipate my emotions on it.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of a car drive into our compound. At first, I thought my ears were playing tricks on me but when I started hearing voices, I had to find out what was going on.
Surprisingly, I saw my mum and my dad walking back inside the house. My mum was no more in her car nor was Esther. Her and my dad seemed to be having a conversation. And after paying close attention; I had gotten a little idea of what they were conversing about. My dad wasn’t happy that he wasn’t informed about Esther’s return, and it looked like he was in disapproval of it.
I never expected my husband to return by that time, I was just an inch away from leaving the house. He wanted us to go inside and discuss properly concerning Esther’s fate, to me I felt it was just a waste of time, because over the last few days we had had several discussions on that same issue. I tried convincing him that I can send her to her family but I still wanted to train her. Femi never agreed, he stood his ground no matter how I pleaded. He maintained that Esther had disrespected him and spoken rudely to him.
I remember vividly; a day when I spoke to Femi on the same issue. That was when he was still recovering, that day I prepared for him; his favourite meal; Egusi soup and Amala. Just like they say “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. I packaged everything and went to see him at the hospital.
I didn’t leave until he was done with his meal. After eating, he licked his hands, that was how he usually acted whenever he enjoyed his meal. When he was done, he washed his hands in the small bowl which I used to get water for him. He kept on raining praises on me, and how good a chef I am.
He really enjoyed it because I took a lot of time making sure it was perfect. Femi was delighted, infact I felt I had made his day. It was the perfect weather for me to ask for anything. So I went ahead; I spoke to him about Esther. I was very optimistic that the discussion would come out positive but reverse was the case.
Femi’s mood changed immediately. He expended the little energy he had gotten by ranting and listing out the reasons why he couldn’t agree to me taking responsibility for Esther’s education. They weren’t valid reasons but he had a way of making them sound reasonable.
I recall reminding him that I was the one to take full responsibility and not him, still Femi objected. He told me that if I go ahead to do against what we had discussed then I would be scattering the dirts that have already settled in the water.
So after all these things, what was the need of informing him? Or having another discussion with him when I knew that it would be unfruitful. The only way I could help Esther was by sending money to their family whenever I could, just to assist them.
My husband kept muttering to himself as we walked inside. I didn’t see any reason why he should be angry when I was only fulfilling his wish.
“Even if I said so, shouldn’t you have at least informed me; before sending her back?”
I didn’t reply to anything he said, I let him talk to himself.
I finally opened my mouth when we had gotten to the bedroom.
“Femi, I don’t know why you are delaying us. Do you want her to get there late?”
“Jennifer, I have changed my mind. Let us not ruin her hopes of a brighter future. Don’t forget; it’s not only her future that is at stake. There are other people whose hope are on her”
Words could not describe how stunned I was to hear Femi speak that way.
“Isn’t that what I have been trying to tell you for a long time now?”
“Jennifer, I was blinded! But now my eyesight has being restored. Jennifer I’m changed; I’m no more the Femi you used to know. Take a look at me nau” he chuckled.
What happened to this man? Was he for real? I asked myself
“How do I know that you are not just pretending?”
“Jennifer, you may not see the changes on the outside but trust me you’ll see the inner changes. I’ve learnt from my mistakes”
“Hmm” I sighed, I never knew that the devil could repent.
“So what do you want us to do now?” I asked him.
“It’s like you didn’t hear me, I have changed my mind; Esther can now live with us” he announced joyously.
“No o, if it’s for her to continue living with us then I totally disagree”
“Why do you disagree??” Femi asked very surprised.
“I can’t! Femi I can’t. I don’t want history to repeat itself”
“You don’t want history to repeat itself, as in?”
“Femi I don’t want a situation where you’ll begin to have lust towards her again. I can’t take that risk.”
“So what then do you want us to do? Remember Esther’s family are depending on you, what reason do you even plan on giving to them as to why you’re sending her back?”
“Femi I never said we should send her back, instead of that I can rent an apartment for her, I’ll cater for her basic needs; her feeding, clothing and all that. She can even continue with the tailoring she was learning. The only problem is that she has to be under someone’s supervision, to prevent any troubles”
“The apartment has to be close by so that I can be checking on her from time to time.”
“That’s brilliant” Femi said smiling. I still found it hard to believe that he was the one worried about Esther’s future. But it was what he said next that swept me off my feet.
“If that’s the case, I’ll take full responsibility for everything. I’ll take care of all the bills till she graduates from the University.”