Love gone sour.. Things are not pleasant in paradise. Enjoy this episode.
Deborah folded the last of the clothes she had washed that morning. It was a good thing all the clothes had dried before the rain came down. The cloudy sky mirrored her feelings. The gloom she felt enveloped like wet clothes on a rainy day. She could no longer deny Preye’s negative change in attitude. From the moment baby Rejoice was born, he had withdrawn from her and their baby girl. In the seven months of her existence, he had only been around a couple of months. In fact, that day made it the third month since she last saw him. His calls were also infrequent; neither did he answer her calls. Even his generosity had taken a nosedive. She had to manage the little she got from her small scale business. How else would she had survived one month to the other without financial support from Preye?
She shook her head sadly. His change of attitude was worrisome. He wasn’t even talking about their marriage rites anymore. Each time she brought it up, he had a thousand and one reasons why they should put it on hold. How long would she wait for him to do the right thing? How long would she prove to her parents that she knew what she was doing?
She sighed. She took the folded clothes and placed them in Rejoice’s drawer, then she checked on the sleeping baby. She stood for a while watching her beautiful daughter. The rush of love she felt when she first held her baby in her arms softened her heart towards her parents. Right there at the hospital she understood her parents’ position. They only wanted what was best for her. That understanding came from the strong feeling she had to protect her own child from harm and give her the best of everything. She was certain no true parent would want his or her child to fall into trouble. This realization led her to her parents’ house three days after the birth of Rejoice. She couldn’t name her child without her parents’ blessings. The urge to make amends was strong. Nyenbi, her ever dependable friend, had gone with her to beg for her parents’ forgiveness. Preye had opted out of the arrangement with a business meeting in Benin as an excuse.
She could still see the sorrow in her parents’ eyes. They hadn’t condemned her. They welcomed her like the prodigal she was, and rejoiced at the safe arrival of their first grandchild. They were however saddened by all that had led to that moment. Her father had immediately named the baby Rejoice. They ended the emotional reunion with a strong advice to her: Preye must do the right thing. She left the house with so much hope. Her mother had even come to spend a few weeks with her. All the while Preye was absent. He didn’t even bother to call on the day of his baby’s christening. Her mother’s suspicions had grown with each passing day but she never voiced her observation. She accepted Debbie’s excuses without questions. It was obvious to both of them that something was really wrong with Preye.
Months after, she was still trying to find out what led to Preye’s sudden change. How could he not be overwhelmed with love and care for his first child?
She sat on the bed and picked up her phone; with a click she dialed his number. It rang severally and went unanswered. She tried again but was told the number was switched off.
“Preye! Preye! This was not the way we planned it from the start. Why are you treating your child and me like this? If I had done something wrong, at least you will tell me so I can apologize. Don’t turn me into a laughing stock. Oh God, help me!” She wept softly. “Where do I go to from here? Who will help me after all these?”
Her shoulders hunched low, she wept into her palms. Her heart burned with a deep hurt. Just yesterday, her father had asked her about the plans for her marriage rites. She promised to get back to him within the week. What would she tell him now that Preye was totally incommunicado? She needed someone to share her burdens with, and the closest person was her friend Nyenbi. She quickly dialed her number. She answered on the second ring.
“What’s up, Debbie?” She called pleasantly.
“Nyenbi, how far? Are you still at the market or at home?” Debbie asked.
“At home, why?”
“I need to talk to you.” Debbie told her, trying not to sound desperate.
“Okay. Let me just finish cooking, I’ll come over to your place.” She replied.
“No. No.” Debbie interjected quickly. “I’ll come over. I need to leave the house.”
Nyenbi didn’t sound enthusiastic about that. “What about Rejoice?” She asked.
“She’s sleeping. I’ll be with you soon.’’
“Alright then. See you.”
Debbie ended the call and quickly dressed up. She carefully carried Rejoice without disturbing her sleep and gently placed her on her back. She threw a few things into her bag and then she left the house. She stopped a bike and directed the rider to Nyenbi’s house.
Nyenbi had just dropped her pot of rice from the cooker when Debbie arrived. She hugged her.
“Debbie, welcome. Come and sit down.”
Debbie took one of the two chairs in Nyenbi’s sparsely furnished but neat living room. She arranged a sleeping place for Rejoice in Nyenbi’s room. Baby Rejoice squirmed as she placed her on the bed. She cooed her until she was asleep again. She went to the living room. Nyenbi disappeared into the kitchen and reappeared with a big plate of rice and two spoons.
“I’m really hungry, Debbie. Come to the dining let’s eat.” She invited.
“No thanks.” Debbie declined. “I’m not hungry.” She looked away from the plate of rice on the table to the TV.
“Debbie, please let’s eat. We’ll have energy to discuss with food in our tummies.”
After much plea, Debbie joined her on the table. Nyenbi made small talks while they ate. Debbie responded in monosyllables. She just moved her spoon around the plate.
“Fegor is getting serious with me and I’m excited about it. I’m just still praying about everything. I hope it ends well.” Nyenbi had a happy gleam in her eyes as she talked about the guy who had become friends with her.
“I know you’re taking it one step at a time.” Debbie said, trying to sound excited for her friend.
“Oh yes, I am, my dear friend.” She assured her.
When the meal ended, Debbie was glad. She waited until Nyenbi cleared the table, then she unburdened her heart to her friend.
“Nyenbi,” she began in a tone heavy with sadness “I think I made a mistake.” She admitted. Tears spilled down her cheeks.
Nyenbi didn’t look surprised. Far from it. It was obvious she knew what Debbie was just realizing. Debbie talked about all that was wrong in her relationship with Preye while Nyenbi listened attentively. Each revelation drew a sad look from Nyenbi.
“What do I do, Nyenbi? People will laugh at me if Preye walks out of my life. I’ll become ‘after one’. Who will want me again?” She lamented.
Nyenbi sighed, calculating her words before dishing them out. “We can’t cry over spilt milk, Debbie; neither can we force a horse to drink from the river just because we succeeded in forcing him to the river. Yes, people will whisper, they’ll talk. They’ll even fabricate stories. They’ll look down on you and laugh but it won’t be forever. They’ll get tired and look for other juicy stories. What do you do with all what they’ll throw at you? You fight back, fight to stand on your feet again. Refuse to be torn down by your mistake. It’s not the end of the world. Make a fresh start with God.”
Nyenbi’s words comforted her. Though she cried for her mistake, her heart was lighter than it had been in months. Nyenbi closed her hands around hers.
“If Preye comes back, don’t run about to dance to his every tune. Discuss his plans for both of you. Debbie, never be disappointed if it doesn’t end the way you want it to. You have Rejoice. She is a wonderful gift from God.”
Debbie swiped the tears off her face. “Thank you, Nyenbi. You’re a friend indeed. I pray everything works out between you and Fegor.”
Nyenbi hugged her. “Amen. All is well Debbie.”
A new hope ignited in Debbie’s heart. She will stand again despite all. When she left Nyenbi’s house that night, it was with a certainty that something was about to change in her life.