Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 18

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This entry is part 19 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 XVIII

Before Catherine got to their four bedroom bungalow residence after lashing on Nnadi publicly at his office, it was late. The blue colour electric bulb hanging on the ceiling with the flat screen television glued on the wall illuminated the living room, revealing her husband, Osakwe who sat on one of the cream leather couches, holding a glass of wine which he unconsciously stretched into the air. An empty bottle of wine from which Osakwe poured from, to calm his nerves since he returned, sat on the tempered glass centre table. Catherine stood at the door, and through the dim yet illuminated light, scorned at her husband’s relaxed mood, who obviously did not notice her presence. If he was that relaxed over a bottle of wine while their son battled for the life of their grandson at the hospital, then it sadly means he never loved their son; an act she couldn’t fathom.

“I never knew you were this heartless,” she spat as she slammed the door.

Osakwe jolted as the glass of wine slipped from his hand and shattered on the floor.

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“You scared me!” he muttered, amidst a heavy sigh.

“You should be scared. You are making merry over a bottle of red wine while your grandson is dying at the hospital,” she made for the inner room.

“Why did you visit Nnadi at his office?” he asked, as his courage instantly located him, ignoring what she said, “Do you know the implication of what you have done?” he raised his voice.

Catherine halted, abruptly. She dropped her bag with a heavy thud on the tiled floor, stared to her husband for some time, wondering when he would realise that their situation has taken the dangerous bend. With a stomp, she reached for the switch and turned the lights on; the brightness blinded Osakwe. He shielded his eyes with his right hand and by the time he released the hand and opened his eyes, Catherine was standing right in front of him.

“We made a mistake, thereby ruining our son’s life. We did what parents shouldn’t do. We traded our son’s happiness for our business and now he lives in agony and in the shadows of what we did to him. But I am out to correct our wrongs my dear. I will fix his life in the little way I could – God save anyone who stands in my way,” she paused. “Even you,” she added, bouncing like a ball thrown on the field.

Osakwe, a domineering man in his late sixties, gawked at his wife. Since the sudden setback he experienced in business and after the suffering he endured before Nnadi came to his rescue, he developed a chronic child-like fear for any issue that threatened his business. He was loyal to Nnadi, and even feared that he has the power to bring him down and send him back to where he was when he approached him for help five years ago. His semi-aged hands shook as he stared at his wife, with the conclusion that she was not thinking rightly. Slowly he stood up, minding the shattered glasses on the floor.

“Nnadi called me,” he said in a low tone, expressing his distress and fear. “He threatened to withdraw his shares and partnership from the company, and also demanded a refund of his money if I don’t call you and James to order. And if that happens, we might just be on the track back to our former status. And I don’t want that to happen.”

“So what did you tell him?” Catherine queried indifferently, as she made to pick her bag from the floor.

“What do you mean?” he retorted, confused and worried at his wife’s sudden change of course.

“I hope you told him that you are tired of his huge and selfish requests?” She picked her back and grinned at him. “You have made enough money to start another business on your own. So let him do what he pleases.”

“We both know why that can’t happen,” he said, eyes red. “It’s true I have enough to start another business and grow it on my own, but I am scared of Nnadi. If this partnership ends, he would oppose whatever I venture into. You know how powerful and dangerous he is in the division. He is feared by all. He has the power to send us back to the beginning, even now that his position in the market is at risk. Please my wife; let us just hang on till the branch in Port Harcourt is fully established, please.”

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“We can cope with it,” she dropped her bag with a thud on the couch and reached to him. “No matter how dangerous Nnadi is, he can’t completely shut a business that has run for years, leaving us with nothing. Give him back the five million naira and break every tie with him. After all, our contract sealed with marriage has ended.”

“You really do not understand,” he shivered. “Nnadi is a major stakeholder in my company, if he withdraws, other partners would sense fear and withdraw too. This is not about the five million naira or James’ marriage to his daughter. It’s about business, about our own survival, if anything happens to the business…”

“Whatever happens, nothing is happening to us. My supermarket is doing very well, and it can cater for our needs,” she held his hand. “We can no longer continue to live in fear of what Nnadi would do to us. I am not going to sit idly again and watch my son’s life continue to be destroyed just because you value your business over your family. My son is not collateral, if you want to be perpetually grateful to Nnadi, give him your blood, not my son’s,” she grinned, let go of his hand and, again, picked up her bag.

Osakwe was filled with agony as his wife poured out her inner thoughts and grievances. He could feel her pains, which were probably equal to, or more than, what he felt when he called James on the phone earlier that day.

“James hung up on me,” he trembled.

“I saw worse,” Catherine added, and for the first time, sat down, narrating how James ordered her out of the house and even his son’s ward. She did not forget the tale of the love she thought their son found in the hands of the woman whose job was to babysit their grandson. “I think he is happy. And please,” she wiggled herself to the edge of the couch, “do not ruin it this time, because if you do, you will be added to my list of enemies which Nnadi is already topping.” She jerked up, satisfied that she has made her stand known to the two men who wholeheartedly ruined her son’s life without her consultation, and wobbled inside the room, giving Osakwe no room for further explanation.

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Osakwe was lost with no idea on how to deal with the issue at hand: he would not want his business to deteriorate because he disobeyed Nnadi. He has tasted poverty and would not want to return to anything less than what he was presently having, and neither would he want to make an enemy of his wife by supporting Nnadi. He loved his wife, and family peace mattered a lot to him. He sighed with a heavy heart, pacing around the free floor in devastation. His phone rang and he hurried to the centre table where he kept it. He looked at it; it was Nnadi, and his heart skipped a beat. He picked the call and slowly placed the phone on his ear.

“Osakwe!” Nnadi’s voice roared over the phone. “My daughter has run out of the house, devastated, courtesy of your wife and your son, and now she is not answering her phone. If anything happens to her, be sure you and your family are going down with her.”

Before Osakwe could summon the courage to reply, Nnadi hung up. His fear grew, making the saliva in his mouth taste like blood. He felt sweat drip down his body, his heartbeat accelerated as his temperature rose. Initially it was more of an advice, but now, a threat.

“Who was that?” Catherine asked as she returned to the sitting room, changed.

“That was Nnadi! Queen ran out of the house.”

“Oh!” Catherine said lackadaisically. She was in no way perturbed by the news. To her, the baby just messed her diaper up again. “That is no news. She is very good at that,” she intoned.

In eagerness to get away from his wife, who seemed not to be helping matters, Osakwe picked up his car keys and made for the door in confusion.

“Is that how cowardly you have become?” Catherine asked. “I am very much disappointed in you, Osakwe. I told you that your grandson was badly injured and is on admission, but you never moved, claiming you were busy. Now Queen, the same girl who got us all in this mess, has done what she knows how to do best, and you are running out of the house dressed in boxers,” she said, raged and bewildered.

Osakwe looked at himself. He was wearing only boxer shorts and a singlet. He sighed in gratitude to his wife for giving him some sanity, yet remained mute to her complains. He disappeared inside and re-emerged properly dressed.

“I will be back in a moment” he said, and left the house.

Catherine locked the door after him in anger. “Two of ‘this’ in a house, and the rats will take over,” she growled and wiggled back inside.

Read Dawn to Dusk every Tuesdays on Memorila.com!

Series Navigation<< Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 17Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 19 >>

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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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