“I am certainly losing it,” she mumbled to herself.
“Pardon?” Chuka asked her, turning to peer into her eyes.
She smiled, “Nothing, I was checking on Chizaram”
“So, why are you running away from Lagos?”
Chuka asked suddenly, she could see now that all the time he had been silent he had been weighing the question in his mind probably wondering the best way to ask her without losing her. The question shocked her, because she couldn’t have imagined that he saw her with the blood on her face, especially because all the while, throughout the day, he never said a word about it until now. She shrugged not ready to answer the question, she was not ready to trust her life on anyone anymore. She was her own woman now, besides she wasn’t sure she could trust him with such information. It was definitely too private, too intimate, sharing with him would mean opening up her vulnerability to him and that was the first sign of weakness. She couldn’t share anyway; Chizaram might be awake and listening.
“I just want to see my father, it’s been a while and my daughter doesn’t know her grandfather” she shrugged again, at least that much was true. She mentally gave herself a high five; she was getting better at being diplomatic. He observed her and nodded, knowing that she was telling him lies but not wanting to push it, he let it be.
“So what will you be doing while you are in the village” he asked again, of course he was still fishing to confirm his suspicion but he was being more indirect, more subtle.
She breathed in hard and expelled the air slowly from her lungs “I don’t really know, I am still thinking of what to do pending when I am chanced to return to Lagos” she choked on the last words upon realization that she had just been tricked into admitting that she was leaving Lagos for a while. She turned her face to the road, with hopes that he wasn’t smart enough to pick the answer from her words.
He took her phone from the car seat between them and dialed his number on it, the conspicuously statement as to borrowing airtime however it went through. Well he didn’t need to buy airtime; he only needed to get her number.
In the darkness, her village didn’t look any different than it had been 5 years ago, the houses were pretty much the same, with some little improvements here and there. One or two new houses and oh well, there was a gigantic church standing conspicuously between her village and his village which was just next to hers. She could see it because it had a dim bulb illuminating it. Also there were some bulbs on the street just in front of the church with the massive cross that left no doubt that it had regular worshippers. She was certain it was a Catholic Church and if it was not Catholic then it had to be an Anglican church then. If it was Anglican then she was sure her father would have had a hand in it’s being built, after all he had a son in ‘obodo oyibo’ she smiled. Thankfully she was the only disappointment her father had had to suffer after her mother’s death, and she was a woman, what benefit would she bring him anyway, other than the bride price which he had already collected. She thought, a part of her chided her for thinking that all she was worth to her father was the bride price her husband paid on her head, but the other part reminded her that he hadn’t called her in years so her thinking was right.
It was almost 3am by the time Chuka’s driver dropped her in front of her father’s compound and by then Chizaram was up and chatting, asking all the questions she could think of and giving answers to her questions before the older ones could answer, infact she had transferred herself to Chuka’s arms before the journey was over.
She didn’t look back when she alighted from the cab, saying goodbye was difficult for her and she hadn’t had the courage to ask for his number not wanting him to think she was one desperate single mother looking for the next hook up once out of her husband’s sight. She lifted Chizaram off the ground despite her protest to be allowed to walk on her own.
“Stay quiet Chi! Do you want to wake the entire neighborhood?”
“But I have my own legs, why wont I walk on my own” protested the little child.
“When we get into the house you walk by yourself but for now, I need you to cooperate with me. Deal?”
“Fine” Chizaram replied angrily, Ezinne looked at her daughter in amusement. She was pouting. She couldn’t exactly say where the girl got her stubbornness from but she sure did know how to throw tantrums.
The small gate to the house was open when she pushed it, she had feared that her father had overcome his habit of leaving doors open, thankfully he hadn’t. She let herself into the twin duplex that had once been the space housing her father’s little house. Once she dropped her bag and let Chizaram off her shoulder she went back to lock the gate, her life in the city had taught her to always lock the doors unlike here in the village where her father despite all the evils that were happening in the village still left his door unlocked even when going to bed.