Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 26
When James’ arranged marriage went haywire, he has to juggle from looking after his 11-month-old son, keeping job and finding love in the strangest place
As Osakwe dragged James out, James halted, breaking free from his grip.
“What do you think you are doing, Father? If this is one of your dubious means of getting me to do another of your biddings, I am sorry, it won’t work this time,” he intoned categorically.
“My biddings?” Osakwe asked, rhetorically. “Look James, I risked everything I laboured for out there just for you to know how sorry I am for what I put you through. I talked with your mother and she made me understand that it was a terrible mistake agreeing to that union, but I want to make it right.”
“Why now? Why not in years past when I complained bitterly to you? Why the sudden change of mind?” James queried.
“There is always a time in a man’s life when he has to stand up for himself and his family. I think that time is now,” he replied.
James felt like he was dreaming, yet it was so real. His father’s hands were on his shoulder, and his words were considerate and thoughtful for the first time in many years. If he was being truthful, then that was the sign he was looking for to confirm Helen his wife.
“Just give me a chance and I will fix everything,” Osakwe added.
“Thank you, Father.” James said, and Osakwe smiled. “You don’t know how I feel right now; it has been two years of agony and trauma, with no single shoulder to cry on. I really appreciate you for standing up for me now, though it’s kind of late.”
“I was wrong. I was wrong to have forced you to marry a woman you do not love, I was only selfish and I thought you would come to love her, but now I know that one cannot be forced to love. It’s either you want it or you don’t. So I am here to support every decision you make.”
“Talking about decision, I want a divorce, Father,” James said, starring at his father in skepticism.
“A divorce?” Osakwe said, with less surprise. “Why did it take you so long to decide?” he teased him.
“It didn’t! I have always wanted out even before I get in. I was just scared of you.”
“You need not fear me; not anymore.” Osakwe said and hugged him.
“Thank you so much, Father.” James said, while breaking the hug. “Now let’s go see your grandson, I am sure he won’t recognise you anymore.”
Osakwe smiled as both walked gaily down the hallway.
Nnadi walked down the hallway enraged, with a heavy heart. He followed the direction the nurse pointed at and met Smith sitting on the floor with his head buried in his raised knees, lost in thought. He approached him and kicked him with his foot. Smith jolted, looked up and saw his father.
“Dad!” he called.
“What are you doing here? Where is your sister and why are not with her?” Nnadi asked, helping him up.
Smith looked at him and saw an expression of displeasure and sullenness. “Are you ok, Dad? You look furious,” he asked.
“Where is your sister?” Nnadi asked, avoiding the question.
Smith pointed at the door opposite them. He dashed inside and Smith followed him slowly. They were welcomed by the deafening and constant beeping of the ECG machine. Nnadi rushed to Queen’s bedside and felt her body.
“Her body is cold. Since when did you leave her?” he asked looking at the horizontal line drawn in front of the machine.
“About thirty minutes ago. The nurse said to let her rest, so I went to the cafeteria. I just returned not quite long before you walked in,” Smith explained as fast as he could. “That machine is not supposed to be beeping like that,” he added, staring at the line on the screen of the ECG machine. He knew there was trouble.
“Get the doctor now, Smith now!” Nnadi bellowed.
Smith ran out of the ward in confusion, praying for the machine to rather have malfunctioned than for his thought to be true.
“Nnedimma!” Nnadi called. “Nnedimma! Nnedimma!” he called, shaking her cold body. “Do not do this, Queen, I promise I will do whatever you want. I will send you to Germany, Paris, anywhere, just do not die, please. Queen!” he screamed.
The door opened and Charles rushed in with a nurse. He looked at the machine, shook his head and sighed in shock. His face became gloomy as he approached the bed.
“What is happening, Daddy?” Smith trembled. He tried going close to the bed but the nurse asked him to stay back. He stretched his neck from his position to see what was happening. His heartbeat increased, his feet shivered and his hands trembled. He tried shaking the death thought off his mind to no avail. He walked to his father, whose sight was blurred by the ocean of tears rolling down his cheeks. “What is going on, Dad?” he queried.
Nnadi looked at him in pity and pulled him closer. With his right hand, he hugged him. Smith knew at that instant that his sister was gone; just as he feared. Freely, without any notice, tears started rolling down his cheeks.
Charles looked at the nurse and muttered a question which the nurse answered. He shouted at her and the nurse quickly explained apologetically. He was terrified, his hands shaking in fear. And as he made to face Nnadi, his stethoscope fell. He bent down to pick it and the intravenous drip that was connected to Queen’s hand caught his attention: it was hastily disconnected; leaving the intravenous solution dripping on the floor. He became more shocked.
“Doctor what is happening?!” Nnadi yelled jolting him up.
“I am sorry sir. She is gone!” he stuttered.
“What?” Smith screamed. “She was breathing well. She was fine when she,” pointing at the nurse, “asked us to leave her to rest. What happened to her?” he asked rushing to his sister’s cold lifeless body.
“The intravenous drip connected to her body was disconnected, she got dehydrated and then…” Charles paused. “Do you have any idea if she suffered any form of depression?” he asked after some seconds.
“You do not suggest my daughter committed suicide, do you?” Nnadi managed to ask, choking in tears and grief. He was staring at his daughter’s lifeless body, yet seeing her alive right before him. If anyone prophesized to him that his favourite daughter’s life would end that way, he would have locked that person up. But there he was, gazing at her cold body and he couldn’t do anything.
“That is the only explanation as to why she would pull off the drip from her body,” Charles tried to explain. “The nurse was not supposed to leave her alone and…”
“She didn’t do it,” Nnadi cut him. His emotion switched from grief to anger. “My daughter can be everything but suicidal. Someone did this,” he grieved. “Someone killed my daughter!”
“It must be James, dad. He did this,” Smith said, igniting his anger. “I saw the way he was sneering at her earlier, he wanted her dead.”
“I am sorry sir, but James wanted her recovery more than you can even imagine,” Charles defended. “He couldn’t have done this.”
“What do you know about James? Nothing!” Smith snickered. “He did it, Dad. He did it. He had to kill her to get her out of the way for his new-found love.”
“New found love?” Nnadi asked. He was shocked to hear that what Queen said earlier was actually true.
“Look sir, we are not certain yet on how this happened,” Charles interjected. “But our surveillance cameras will take care of it. So I will advice before we make any hasty conclusion, that we visit the control room and see what really happened.”
Nnadi nodded anxiously. Since there was an option to finding out what really happened to his daughter, he was ready to exploit it, get revenge, and prove to his daughter’s spirit that he was sorry it ended tragically. The nurse covered the body and left to inform the coroner, while Charles led them out of the ward.
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