“Wrong marital decision? That is a new one.” Titi’s brow rose along with her neck, a puff of air escaped through her nose “well not entirely new, Abigail had to leave Nabal to marry David” she chuckled at the thought, glad that she had remembered it almost as immediately as she had contemplated it. The question was whether Nabal was really a wrong choice or God just provided a substitute for Abigail? She seriously wanted to believe that it was God making a way for Abigail as against her predicament. God sure did wonders, working in mysterious ways and beyond our thoughts.
“Ok I am not here to preach” Titi quickly said, laughing at her own self, the blank expression on Ezinne’s face made it difficult to figure out what she was thinking. Titi feared that Ezinne’s involvement with the entertainment industry might have contaminated the little progress she had made with her a few months back. Truthfully she had wanted to meet her in a neutral place but she reasoned that being within a church might just rekindle some desire for God in the other woman without necessarily preaching the regular message to her. There certainly had to be other ways to reach her without forcing it on her.
“It’s fine ma, I understand. Besides God knows I needed the preaching anyway”
“So how is Chizaram?”
“Oh she is fine, my friend had to take her home. She was already asleep.” She replied, grateful that she asked.
“Yes, I stay with my childhood friend on the Island”
“Oh wow! That’s good. Is she also a Christian?”
Ezinne hesitated; well Akunna wasn’t a Muslim so she definitely was a Christian, although she didn’t go to church. They had been together for more than 3 months and Ezinne had never mentioned, how much more gone to church within those three months.
“Yes” she replied silently, taking her eyes off Titi for a moment to study the walls of the church, in that moment wandering how the wall would look like if it had her drawings adorning it.
“Ma, I am thinking of drawing again, maybe I could get the church to give me a contract to draw on the walls or draw the portrait of church members”
“That is a beautiful idea my dear. You could start with my husband and I”
Ezinne was beside herself with joy, she knew it was a great idea but getting people to buy into her dream was a different ball game. Now she had to worry about doing a perfect job, excitement built up in her.
“Thank you so much ma, I will not disappoint you”
Titi held her in a warm embrace “I see greatness in you. The devil saw it too and tried to destroy it but God fought for you”
They were leaving the church premises when the sight of a familiar figure stopped Ezinne in her track, Titi followed her line of vision when she noticed the ghostly stare on Ezinne’s face, who was also frozen and shaking all over.
Titi saw who Ezinne saw, it was Chukwuma and it was too late to turn back, he had already seen them and had a murderous look on his face. He still looked pallid but she was sure the devil working in him was as strong as an iron door. He had been discharged from the hospital about a week ago, at least he had had the decency to come to her home to say thank you. She pulled Ezinne behind her, the stunned woman followed her without protest dreading an encounter with Chukwuma.
Chukwuma lightened when he saw Titi, his hand came down to his sides revealing a frail body underneath the once body hugging T-shirt he used to love. Ezinne looked as beautiful as she used to be when he first laid his eyes on her, the shadows that were under her eyes were gone. Despite the ashen look on her face, she looked rested and well. Anger built in him again, how could she be so refreshed when he looked impoverished? She was the reason he had been in the hospital yet she was having a great time of her life? A voice in his head reminded him that he was the reason he had been in the hospital and the reason why Ezinne had been looking haggard for the 5 years they lived together. He pushed aside the voice and maintained that she caused it all when she killed his mother and grandmother.
They were coming closer, he watched Ezinne and saw her take a deep breath, then saw her release it and lift her chin in a stubborn stance he had never seen.
“Mr. Chukwuma, good afternoon”
“Good afternoon” his response was calculated, his eyes fixed on Ezinne.
She didn’t greet him, didn’t even look at him, she had her eyes somewhere beyond him.
“Can I speak with you for a moment? In private” he emphasized the privacy for the benefit of Titi.
Ezinne started to walk away acting as though she hadn’t heard him speak.
“Ezinne?” he made to grab her hand
“Don’t you dare…” she started to say, her eyes blazing in an anger she never imagined she had in her.
“Ezinne” Titi called in a soothing voice, hurrying to stand between them and using her right hand to rub Ezinne’s back. She didn’t need them causing a scene in front of the church and with the anger she saw in Ezinne’s eyes, she knew that if care was not taken it could burn a forest. “Please, just hear him out, Yes?”
No, Ezinne wanted to scream but it was Mrs. Titi who was standing in her view. It was the woman who prevented her from being a murderer who was making the plea. Her lips suddenly felt too heavy to move and her eyes were about to start raining torrents but she wasn’t going to let it. She had shed enough tears because of this man and now she was done, she was done being afraid of him, she was done letting him have the final say.
She allowed Mrs. Titi turn her to face him, she lifted her chin and looked him in the eye for the first time since the first year of their marriage. In his eyes she saw the battle of emotions, pain, anger, and somewhere she could see admiration but there was no remorse in his eyes. She waited, cautioning herself never to fall for his charm again, she sighed there wasn’t any charm left in him anyway. Her dream was now bigger than the entirety of him. Titi whispered in her ear that she would be at the car park in front of Tantalizers waiting for her before leaving them.
Once the woman was out of her view, she turned her face to Chukwuma, hatred and anger registered all over.
“Where is my child?”
“Your child?” of course she hadn’t expected him to be concerned about her welfare but to ask for Chizaram after asking to speak with her privately was infuriating. He could have just asked that while Mrs. Titi was present. “You didn’t have to ask for privacy if Chizaram is the reason you came here. It’s a pretty long way to come, don’t you think?”
“Woman do not give me that smart ass mouth when I am talking to you! I asked you a question”
“If not what?” she let a smile tug at the corner of her lips. She was feeling intrepid and brave after all hadn’t she hurt him too? Well maybe not as much as he had hurt her because as far as she was concerned he had hurt her to the point of her wishing him dead, at least she brought him close to her wish.
“Ezinne, I don’t want to fight with you. I just want to know where my daughter is” he softened.
“As you can see, she isn’t here. I am. So what did you want to say to me that you had to pull me off an important discussion” she body was moving in tune with her words, almost dancing as she spoke.
“I will deal with you, believe me”
She laughed, throwing her head backward as she did “What are you going to do exactly? Follow me around? Or what?”
“I have your naked pictures, I will disgrace you”
The laughter disappeared from her face as she looked at him like he had just gone mad “What did you just say?”
“Oh did you think those pictures I took of you were to pleasure myself when I was alone? No baby, they were for such a time as this” he had a boyish grin plastered on his face.
She didn’t respond to him, instead she walked away, leaving him laughing and calling after her.