Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 16

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This entry is part 17 of 24 in the series Dawn to Dusk

When his arranged marriage went haywire, James has to juggle from being a father to his eleven months old son, keeping his job, finding love in the strangest place, maintaining a balance and peace between his family and that of his in-laws, who are lost in the battle of power and authority.

EPISODE XVI

Smith instantly dashed out to the street. He scanned left and right; there was no trace of his sister. He rushed back and met the security man who told him that Queen rushed out the same way she came in, devastated. He sashayed inside, colliding with his father who was coming out of the house.

“If anything happens to her Dad, the blame will be on you,” he said, brushing past him into the house.

Nnadi was annoyed and bewildered. Queen got no right whatsoever to walk out of the house. All that happened to her was entirely her fault; so instead of running away from her fears, she should rather face and overcome them. He glanced back into the house, wondering why Smith was even shouting at him, acting all concerned over a sister whom he never aligned with in anything. He sighed, his day started off badly anyway, it was his fault not preparing for the worst.

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Smith hastened out, moved towards the car park and zoomed off in a Toyota Camry that was parked by the left wing of the carport. Nnadi waved at him, trying to get his attention but he declined, posing deaf to his call. He stood still, like a child whose mother left for market, watching him whiz off the compound. He sighed and counted his feet inside while dialling Queen’s number. His worry peaked when she did not answer. It was true that Queen messed up, yet he still partly blamed himself for pampering her beyond normal, and for not teaching her what she was supposed to know as a child. The belief that she was his grandmother’s incarnate made him to approach all issues concerning her as effete, creating a keen rivalry between her siblings and her; the same rivalry which he supposed got Smith and Ugonne detached from him. He couldn’t shake off the hurting and regretful thoughts about how he failed in his responsibilities towards his first and most beloved daughter; the one he thought he was protecting, the one he wanted the best for. His heart was heavy as he mused on how one could easily destroy the object of his love with the same love, being unaware. He groaned heavily, feeling as though his heart would fail. But despite everything, his mistakes and Queen’s flaws, she was still his daughter. So he must do everything to protect her, correct the mistakes he made in her life and restore her back to sanity. He rumbled the breast pocket of his native chieftain dress and found his car keys. He hurried to the Lexus SUV he hastily parked just at the entrance of the carport and drove out.

 

*****

Queen had hurriedly left the house dejected and devastated; ignoring the day that was getting ready to sleep. She walked the streets in shambles, with no idea where she was going. As she watched her father and brother argue about their own personal lives, neglecting her most pressing issue, the air in the room felt hot and fouled, and her only thought was walking out for some fresh and pristine air; one not contaminated by the man who fathered yet marred her life.

She walked slowly and absentmindedly along the street, rummaging her mind for where she went wrong; her mistakes of commission or omission, for she always tried her best; at least to the best of her knowledge and by the standards set for her by her father. Every decision she ever took was the wisest and most well calculated in her opinion. And with the backing of her father who loved her unconditionally, she felt she was no doubt on the right track. How then did this ugly situation befall her?

So many questions erupted on her mind. James was quick to fall lustfully into the arms of another woman cheaply; a nanny, someone who in her opinion was not qualified to fit into the luxury of such a marriage. Her mother-in-law, who always supported her, after seeing her worst, has instantly turned against her. Her father-in-law has not called since morning to assure her of James’ apology which he made him hope for. She felt so lonely. Her life was shattering before her very own eyes and there was nothing she could do to stop it, let alone patch it.

 

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She remembered her mother: a cultured woman and an extreme disciplinarian, who wanted her children to follow her footsteps; but she hated her. She hated her because she corrected her more than she appreciated her. She would never let her wrong pass, even the slightest ones, without laying cautiously and admonishingly a correction and a strong warning against its repetition. Her cracked bond with her mother was what got her stuck in her father’s arms. Even when her mother died several years ago after giving birth to Smith, she was happier for her new found freedom than sad about the loss. She was only six and couldn’t fully come to terms with what death really meant. The only thing she knew was the departure of her enemy, and since her father was still by her side, with a little boy to play with, there was no reason to panic. Several years after the burial, her father married another woman, Iruka, a young beautiful lady. She remembered how happy she was about the new development, about a friend who would tolerate her excesses and pet her the way her mother never did. But she was disappointed when things started changing in the house immediately Iruka got pregnant. She prayed things would normalise, but she was thrown from frying pan into an angrily blazing fire when Iruka delivered a bouncing baby boy. She complained to her father who was not oblivious to the terrible changes. He promised to make things right but the woman seemed to have control over him.

She would cry day and night with her siblings, wishing at some point for her mother to come back. Her wish was granted and her mother did come back, but in the form of her paternal grandmother, who visited. Within weeks she discovered Iruka’s rude and callous conduct towards her grandchildren. Having a strong bond with her son, she insisted that Iruka be sent back to her father’s house. Her father, having always wanted that, willingly concurred to the decision, and the marriage was annulled. Iruka however insisted on leaving with her son, and her grandmother told them not to worry, as the boy would gladly locate his father when he grew up. So Iruka left, with her little boy, Ikenna, and her father was never keen on another marriage ever since.

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She remembered being happy about it, with no idea such happiness would be her future doom. Her grandmother returned to the village an accomplished warrior, while she returned to her father’s arms which she had missed for years, a happy child. She continued with her indulgent behaviour which her father was ever willing to condone.

 

She hissed as she snapped out of the reverie. She pondered on how to correct the mistakes of her past, but as the saying goes, one doesn’t become left-handed at old age. Her hands ran through her head, feeling the expensive weave-on she was wearing; it was priceless and the texture reminded her of her proud and expensive lifestyle. She dragged the weaves, angrily, trying to pull it off. Death was the only solution her distressed and disoriented mind could come up with, but she shook off the idea. She was not going to commit suicide. She was too young to die and she has got many dreams to achieve. Even if her marriage crashed, she believed she could still make a life out of the pieces she was left with. After all, relationships were never hospitable to her; she just did not know why this one was worse than the rest, maybe because she has a son.

She sighed, drawing her wandering mind to the world around her. People moved at a fast pace. Something between running and walking, as though they were after something or something was after them. They were solely and mindfully after their own businesses. She wondered how they could all be so occupied as not to even notice her turmoil. But then, she doubted if she wanted to be noticed in her mentally crippled state. She couldn’t see her face, but deep within she knew her devastation was registered on it. She paused, now conscious not to run into someone she knew. She bent her head and slowly squinted at the careless passersby around her; startled that they were all starring at her, or at least so her eyes which were blurred from crying revealed. She quickly faced down, and when she squinted again, she saw nothing: no human, no car. She got really scared, feeling like something was wrong. She glanced across the road; people walked in same pace as she was. She sighed, relived, figuring that was the right place to walk. Then she made to cross the road, but halfway to the other side, she froze, glued on the tarred road of the ever busy expressway of Lagos at the honking of a car horn.

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Series Navigation<< Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 15Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 17 >>

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E.C Micheals

E.C Michael, a graduate of Theater Arts, is a passionate writer who believes that stories should blend with education so as to help correct social vices in the world. His watchword is edutainment. He writes screenplays, novels, short stories and essays. When not writing, he is blogging or watching Game of Thrones and Designated Survivor.

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