It should make her happy that Chiedu was not willing to let Dinma go in spite of what she’d told him, so why was she trembling with fear?
It was the irresolute determination in his eyes that scared her. He didn’t just want to keep Dinma with him, he wanted too to keep her away from her.
“Chiedu, I… I swear to you that she’s not yours. I’m terribly ashamed to say it, but it’s the truth.” She took a step forward and then backed up again. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I let something like this happen to us. I’m sorry I have to take Dinma away.”
“It appears you have a hard time understanding what I said. Chidinma is not going anywhere with you. And you know why?” She could only shake her head at the question. “She’s not going anywhere, and certainly not to your ‘ex-boyfriend’ because she is my daughter. She is my daughter, Isioma. You understand that now?”
Oh, how her heart would soar with joy if not for fear. And shame.
“True, she’s your daughter, Chiedu. In every way that counts, she’s yours. You are her father, you are her hero, you are her confidante and her number one cheerleader. You are everything to her that a father should be.” She didn’t bother to wipe off the tears that blurred her vision. “But he… that is, Awele knows about the result of the test and he insists he wants to meet her. I… maybe it was a mistake telling him before I told you but I…”
“You are telling stories I’m not interested in hearing.” He interrupted. “I don’t care what your ex-boyfriend, lover–whatever he is to you–wants. You and he don’t matter here. The only person that matters is my daughter and I’m not letting you, or anybody else, confuse or hurt her. You chose to pack up and leave, that’s fine. But she’s not going with you. She’s my daughter and she stays with me.”
“Chiedu.” The non-negotiable look in his eyes doubled her fear. “You don’t mean to keep her away from me, do you?”
“If that is the only way I can protect her from your lies and madness, I will do it.” He turned away from her. “Go. Please, go.”
“I can’t go. I don’t want to go without her. Actually, I don’t want to go without my children. Chiedu, please listen to me.” Desperate, she touched his arm but he jerked her hand off. “I know you’re angry, and hurt, and disappointed, and you have every right to be. But I’m their mother and they are just six and three, too young to be without their mother.”
She swept around him and fell on her knees. “Okay, okay, I promise I won’t take her to him; to Awele. I won’t take her to him. He won’t see her, I will make sure of that. They will only stay with me and I will take good care of them. I promise.”
He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to her feet. “This drama is unnecessary. I don’t want your promises; they mean nothing when they are lies. You conducted a DNA test on my daughter, shared the result with your so-called ex-boyfriend and started packing up your bags with the intention to leave with my daughter in my absence. You weren’t thinking of Chikanso when you made those plans and you definitely weren’t thinking of how Chidinma would feel. So, this tearful drama about you being their mother is a hoax I’m not going to fall for. Understand?”
“It’s not a tearful drama, Chiedu. I swear to you, I am not play-acting. I can’t leave my children behind. You want me to go…”
“Hold it, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not the one who asked you to go. You started packing your bags to leave.”
“Fine then, I’m not leaving anymore.”
“Uh-uh, too late. You’re all packed up, so you are leaving. Besides, how do you expect me to let you stay after all you have done?”
“It only happened once, Chiedu. Just one mistake, Chiedu.”
“No, that is where you are wrong.” He snarled, his eyes suddenly flashing. “It wasn’t just one mistake. It was a series of mistakes. First, you cheated on me with another man. And next, you started off our life together with a lie and continued to lie to me until now. Then you met up with your ex, took my daughter for a paternity test and planned to leave me without waiting to hear from me.”
“No, no, Chiedu, I didn’t…” She realised that her insistent attempts to justify her actions only made them worse. “You are right, I am guilty of these things. I cheated on you, lied to you throughout our marriage by keeping that truth from you, took our daughter for a paternity test and planned to leave without your knowledge. Yes, I am guilty, the only one to blame here. And although, I know you hate me now but I want you to know that I am truly and very sorry for everything. I am sorry.”
“I know you are, Isioma. And frankly, so am I. But you are leaving, and you are leaving alone.”
The finality in his tone shattered whatever hope she had left.
If their parents were still alive she would have gone back to them. If their only brother was in Nigeria, she probably would have begged him to help her fight her battle.
But there was no one else except Uche, nowhere else she could go to, but to her. And sitting across of her, she looked as shell-shocked as Isioma still felt.
“I don’t know what we are going to Isioma.” She murmured. “The only thing I can think of is that we beg him for forgiveness.”
Would that make a difference?, Isioma wondered.
“But would he listen to us, to me?” Uche made a weepy noise. “Oh Chi’m! We’re finished, Isioma. We’re finished.”
“No, Uche. It is I who is finished. Only I. You’re here, still in your husband’s home, still with your children and still with your world intact.”
“You think my world is intact when my only sister has been turned out of her home and without her children? You think all is well with me when you are in so much pain?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t look at it like that. I guess I’m too broken to think of anyone else but myself, and my children.” Tears welled up afresh in her eyes. “I had to lie to them that Mummy was only travelling for a few days and will be back soon. But will I go back? Will Chiedu let me come back?”
“I hope he will. I pray he will. If I go see him, and beg him, maybe he will let you come back. He’s a good man, Isioma. Where other men would have thrown you out with the child that is not theirs, he kept Dinma with him. He still considers her his daughter.”
“Yes, he’s a good man and has a good heart, but I doubt he will forgive me. If it’s you, will you forgive someone who betrayed you this way?” She let out a tearful laugh. “Frankly, I wouldn’t forgive me. I can’t forgive myself. Do you know he’s never cheated on me? I know it. I know it, Uche, and that’s the kind of man I’ve lost.”
“Don’t talk in that despondent manner. We shouldn’t lose hope. He can learn to forgive you. It’s possible. We will pray for that miracle.”
They will pray, but wasn’t it said that God never answered the prayer of the sinner?
“I know you’re thinking that even God cannot forgive you. But he has.” Uche said softly. “God knows you’re sorry about this and he’s already forgiven you.”
“Maybe he has, and maybe one day, Chiedu will. But what about Dinma? How about when she goes up and understands what her mother did, will she too forgive me?”
“Of course, she will, because you will explain it to her. You will make her understand that it was a mistake.”
“A mistake. But what kind of stupid mistake did I make, Uche? What was I thinking to let Awele touch me, and two days before my wedding?”
“I thought you said you were not thinking.”
Isioma snorted a dry laugh. “Yeah, I definitely wasn’t thinking. I was stupid and I’ve been acting stupid the last seven years.”
“But it’s all out now and it’s time to make amends for your mistakes.”
And will she able to make amends? Will she be given the chance to do so?
Her phone started ringing. Desperate for it to be Chiedu, she picked it.
“It’s Awele.” With a hiss, she dumped the phone.
When it started ringing again, she snatched it up.
“Don’t cut the call.” Uche stopped her. “Talk to him. If you don’t, he might carry out his threat and find a way to meet Chiedu, and that will surely make matters worse at the moment.”
With a sigh, she raised the phone to her ear. “Hello.”
“Hello, Isioma. How are you?”
“I have too many troubles for casual greetings, Awele. My husband now knows the truth and I’m no longer at home with him and our children.”
“He sent you away?”
“And what would you have him do?” She asked cynically. “I cheated on him, foisted another man’s child on him and wanted to run like a coward in his absence.” She let out another sigh. “What do you want, Awele?”
“I’m sorry about this, Isioma. I know I’m partly to blame.”
“No, the blame is all on me. I should have had the good sense and self-respect to say no to you that day.”
“And I should have had the good sense to stay away.”
Isioma repeated her earlier question. “What do you want, Awele?”
“Same thing I wanted before, to meet my daughter.”
“I don’t know if Chiedu will permit that. He doesn’t want us doing anything that might hurt Dinma. He’s very protective of her.”
“I understand. I do now. But I’m not looking to hurt Dinma. I just want to meet her, to know her. I need to do this, Isioma, and I beg you to make the arrangements.”
“I can’t now. I told you, I’m no longer in the house. Be patient. Give this time for the shock to wear off.” She hoped it will; someday soon.
“The problem is that I don’t have time. I’m due to return home in five days time and I don’t know want to wait another year before meeting her. Isioma, this is my chance and I want to seize it.”
“Awele, I’m telling you this is not the right time.”
“But it is, Isioma. I can’t waste another year after all the time I’ve lost. Please, don’t force me into doing this the hard way.”
“Fine. I will see what I can do.”
But what can she do?
How was all this going to end?
Hello, folks. I posted the publishing of my new book and no one bothered to say congratulations. I’ve not published a new book under TM David-West for more than two years, so it was actually a big deal for me.
It’s not all about free reads. That’s what drains a writer. Every relationship is give and take. I choose to say this because I am hurt.