On December 23rd , just three days to the day I planned travelling home for Christmas; I was in my shop going through my accounts when my phone rang, displaying an unsaved number on its screen. I quickly answered the phone-call thinking it was a business call but to my surprise the caller introduced himself as Cassandra’s father. I instantly became alert and excited, thinking he was calling to make peace with me, but the next words he said clearly left me stunned and speechless.
Cassandra’s Dad: ‘’Mr. Dave, please are you with Cassandra?’’ he asked immediately after introducing himself. I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t believe he asked the question and I only answered after he repeated the question one more time.
David: ‘’Cassandra?, no I haven’t seen her in a week’’ I stammered, wondering the reason for such unexpected question. The old man kept quiet for some seconds, probably pondering over the next words to say.
Cassandra’s Dad: ‘’you mean you are not with my daughter?” he asked once again, leaving me very curious and suspicious over the direction his questions were heading.
David: ‘’no I’m not with your daughter but what made you think that she’s with me after all I complained to you about her?. Have you forgotten what she did to me?” I quickly asked.
Cassandra’s Dad: ‘’I haven’t forgotten my friend, but you see on that very day you came to my house, I was told that she rushed over to see you immediately after I called her to confirm your allegations and according to her friends she hasn’t called nor returned to her lodge till this moment. Knowing how you threatened to deal with her, I’m very much inclined to think that you are probably holding her against her wish in your house’’ he said pointedly, leaving me totally perplexed.
David: ‘’whatttttt!’’ I exclaimed.
Cassandra’s Dad: ‘’please I beg of you, if that’s the case, do release my daughter. I believe we can work something out to settle what she owes you’’ he pushed on as if he was very sure that Cassandra was with me.
David: ‘’please sir, just like I told you the previous week, your daughter derives joy in hanging out with different men. Yes she came to see me that very day. She showed up at my house very late in the evening, we argued and she ran out. I believe she is somewhere having a good time with another man. Don’t get yourself worked up, she will return home or to her school whenever she feels like doing so’’ I assured the old man seriously.
Cassandra’s Dad: ‘’very well then, do have a good day Mr. David’’ he breathed and hung up, but something in his tone made me believe he doubted me and I couldn’t just understand why he was suddenly so worried about his daughter’s safety. Nevertheless I muttered a quick prayer on Cassandra’s behalf, because I knew I could be in danger if something bad happens to her. I equally had no choice than to tell Chinedu about the strange phone call from Cassandra’s father.
Chinedu: ‘’you shouldn’t be worried; the girl probably is staying with her doctor friend or with some other guy and switched off her phones to avoid speaking with her parents. I believe she is hiding from her parents out of shame’’ Chinedu assured me, settling my mind.
I soon forget about the strange phone call.
I travelled home on 26th December like an empty man. Yes I returned home like a man who failed to achieve anything all through the year. I failed marrying my Cassandra and yes it really dealt a devastating blow to me and my pride. I returned home to face my family who were clearly overjoyed over what happened to me even though they never openly showed it. I equally was left with no choice than to make a lot of unnecessary explanations as if they cared to know..
Nora on the other hand visited my family on 31st December to spend the last day of the year with us and as you can imagine, I hid away from her because I couldn’t face the shame of standing before her.
The New Year soon arrived with great speed and with it came new resolutions and plans. Somehow I was scared of my future. I was scared and clueless on how to start a new relationship. I really needed the love and attention of a woman but I just didn’t know to how to go about it anymore. I equally was doubtful if I could ever love again.
January 2nd 2015 , Cassandra’s father called once again, this time around threatening to arrest me for kidnapping his daughter, according to him, Cassandra was yet to return home nor contact anyone. I couldn’t believe my ears.
Cassandra’s Dad: ‘’I hope you haven’t killed my daughter?, I’m going to hunt you down where ever you hide. I can’t believe you had the mind to carry out your threats. ’’ The old man barked over the phone, leaving me with the first shock of the New Year.
I returned to the city the very next day with great fear in my heart. I couldn’t imagine what awaited me. I couldn’t help but think of what Cassandra’s father could be planning for me. I kind of felt that Cassandra’s purported disappearance was nothing but a giant conspiracy to get back at me for my actions the previous year, perhaps orchestrated by the silly girl without the knowledge or with the knowledge of her parents. I just couldn’t believe that a girl like her could suddenly disappear without a trace.
All these were in my mind as I made my way to the residence of Cassandra’s new boyfriend immediately I got to the city. It really was with a strong mind that I made my way to the young doctor’s house. Yes I had no choice than to take it upon myself to search for the missing girl. I couldn’t just sit idle without doing a thing, not with her father on my neck.
I had the feeling that Cassandra could probably still be with the doctor, even though it kind of looked strange that a girl like her would simply decide to stay away from her family all through the duration of Christmas and New Year celebrations just because of the visit i paid her parents the previous year. No matter the direction I headed with my thinking, I couldn’t come up with any theory to solve the mystery.
On getting to the doctor’s residence, I met a woman selling bean cakes in front of the compound and on asking about the doctor, she told me that the young man travelled out of the country on 24th December of the previous year, which made me rule out all possibility of Cassandra being with him.
‘’where then could Cassandra be?’’ I wondered over and over as I dialed her number one more time and like in previous occasions, her lines were switched off. I dialed Chinedu’s phone numbers but none of his lines were reachable because he was still in his village, enjoying the New Year.
Tears slowly appeared in my eyes as I headed back to my car. I couldn’t help but wonder all over again if Cassandra and her parents were trying to set me up. I never for a moment believed that Cassandra could either be dead or kidnapped. I strongly believed that somehow she was trying to get back at me with her parents support but then her parents looked quite refined and polished for such deed which really left me clueless on what to think or believe.
I couldn’t imagine myself going to the police to answer for a crime I never committed. I regretted ever threatening the girl, I regretted ever trying to fight her doctor friend, I regretted ever threatening her parents. I definitely knew my actions were enough to pin me down as the main suspect if actually she was indeed missing.
I switched on my car engine without any direction in mind, but somehow my spirit led me to Nora’s house.
I ended up in Nora’s apartment without knowing how I got there. Perhaps it was because I needed someone to talk to, someone to pour my heart to; someone that would understand.
I found myself in Nora’s apartment, looking so miserable and scared. Luckily she didn’t embarrass nor send me away, instead welcomed me a bit warmly.
Nora: ‘’I could have asked what you are doing here but I sense you are not fine. You look so bad. What happened?’’ she quickly asked. I quietly settled down and told her all that happened between Cassandra and I towards the end of the previous year. I equally told her all the untold stories between Cassandra and I plus how I threatened her parents only for the girl to end up missing.
David: ‘’if something happens to Cassandra, I could be locked up in jail for a long time and you know I can’t last a week in such a place. You and my son are now what I have left in my life. I’m so scared’’ I cried miserably. For the first time after her childbirth, Nora drew closer to me affectionately and rested her hand on my shoulder.
Nora: ‘’you shouldn’t be worked up or scared. Yes I know if Cassandra is actually missing, you could be in danger of getting locked up but don’t give up, the truth always comes out in the end’’ she tried to assure me. I looked up at her, shook my head and swallowed hard.
David: ‘’yes in movies the truth always comes out in the end, but this is real life. Do you know how many people that are in prison currently awaiting trial over what they didn’t do?, it’s about happening to me. You know our justice system is very poor and the police don’t joke around with anyone accused of kidnapping or something similar’’ I pushed on with a deep sob. Tears slowly fell from her eyes as she pondered over the gravity of what I just told her.
Nora: ‘’things really do happen fast. I can’t believe Cassandra is really missing. Can her parents be lying?, have you checked her school?’’ she asked with tears in her eyes.
David: ‘’I don’t know what to think anymore, but seriously I don’t think Cassandra’s father is lying to me. His threat and emotions were very real when he spoke to me. I sensed it in his voice and I equally don’t think a girl like Cassandra will hold on from contacting her parents throughout Christmas. It just crossed my mind that something could have happened to her after she ran out of my apartment that fateful night we argued’’ I muttered quickly.
Nora: ‘’ how about Edwin; (her school boyfriend)?, he shouldn’t be ruled out in this. You just told me the guy is very dangerous and then her doctor friend, who hurriedly left the country before Christmas, which was equally the timeframe of Cassandra’s disappearance. What if he did something to her and then left town?”’ Nora added intelligently.
David: ‘’yes you are right; moreover she could equally have other guys she deceived in the past who no one knows’’ I breathed with resignation.
Nora: “I will have to call up my cousin, the lawyer you met sometime back to help you, in case Cassandra’s father comes to town to make trouble’’ she quickly offered, surprising me.
I stared into her eyes with disbelief. It was just as if for the first time, my eyes cleared before her. I saw real love, genuine care and a wonderful heart before me.
Nora: ‘’no matter how much I presently hate you, I won’t let anything bad to happen to you for the sake of my son’’ she breathed, wiped tears from her eyes, grabbed her phone and dialed her cousin’s number.
…. Stay tuned to Last Episode (Episode 42)