Ice for heart (7c contd)

The Journey down to the East was smooth, save for the bumps and jumps that came from the pothole ridden road, the never-ending spray of dust and the disturbing smell of fumes, basically that was enough to make any normal person scream ‘discomfort’ but for Ezinne it was alright, so long as there wasn’t any accident she was fine. Mercifully, the driver instructed that they all closed their windows and he turned on the Air-conditioner.
“Love!” Ezinne screamed in her head, there was no saying the extent of her relief by his kindness. The difference between the open windows and closed windows only became evident by the closing of the window, now there was no noise and she could concentrate on the thoughts in her head. Chizaram was sleeping soundly on her mother’s laps unperturbed by the issues that bothered her mother or by the chaos in the world. Ezinne envied her, long gone was a time when she had no worries, when all she knew was that her father and mother would take care of everything. Now there was no mother to carry her and her father was probably still too angry with her to be bothered. For the first time since she ran away from her dying husband, she wondered what home would look like and how she would be received. It had been a while since she spoke to her father and her sibling, well she had been too occupied with her own problems coupled with the fact that she was avoiding confiding in them her tale of woes. Hadn’t they warned her sternly about being married to Chukwuma? Yet against their warning and against good judgment she had chosen the man over them, so it was her cross to bear. But for the journey and the fact that she had just burnt the bridge behind she would have gone back, stayed away from her family longer. She had been giving them some space and some time to come in terms with her decision and it seemed now like the space had turned into a gulf that separated them. How were they going to see her? She thought over the excuse or lie she was going to tell when she got home. Shame filled her heart and covered her face.

Chizaram adjusted herself against her mother’s laps and Ezinne lifted her from the seat and placed her to sit on her laps with her head resting properly in-between her bosom and her arms. The girl opened her eyes for a few seconds at the disturbance before settling comfortably to resume her sleep so Ezinne gave her a reassuring smile before the little girl closed her eyes, and within a second she was asleep again.

She wondered where she would start from or how. She had no university degree and except she would get one there was no hope of working in any office anytime soon except if she wanted to be a cleaner. No, she shook her head in disagreement with her thoughts. In truth she was a nobody but that didn’t mean she had to remain at her low estate. She hadn’t deferred her admission and was sure that UNIZIK was not taking her back, besides what would she do with Chizaram if she decided to go back to school? And who would pay her tuition? Besides she still had to consider earning money to send Chizaram to school too. She waved off the thought of going back to school, it wasn’t in her destiny, or perhaps it was but maybe in the future. She thought of painting, her love for drawing and painting had not died with her enthusiasm for being alive. She sighed in despair, how many people loved art works these days? Not even an artwork from a top artiste but one unknown and uncultured woman desperate for her means of livelihood. Even as she tried to describe herself, the definition visualising her as a desperate woman seemed to take the top shelf. How else would anyone define her? Returning to Lagos was a long time dream perhaps a long time future one as she was sure that if Chukwuma survived the stab wounds just as Titi had predicted, he would be seeking vengeance for his injuries and for the bills he would pay at the hospital. She knew him, he would be seeking for his pound of flesh, and that she was sure she couldn’t give.

The bus stopped at Benin to allow passengers stretch their legs and get some food if they desired. It had been five hours since they left Lagos and it was nearing dusk. She watched people alight from the bus but didn’t move until the driver informed her that everyone had to come down so she gently woke Chizaram and got down with the rest of the passengers.

After about fifteen minutes which seemed to pass like an hour the passengers were back in the bus and on their way again. She got talking with one of the passengers, a young man who had been asleep for the better part of the journey. He had started by asking her if she was alright when he couldn’t help but notice that she was lost in thought. In honesty she was going to respond that she was running but somehow she heard herself say she was fine.

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