Adaku turned and saw Chioma behind her. She quickly dabbed at her eyes and stood up to face Chioma. They stared at each other for a long time, none saying anything, but each having a stream of thoughts in their head, as they looked at each other.
Chioma was thinking; she must hate me now, I caused the death of Chike’s father, now Chike is nowhere to be found. I better just leave before she insults me, she is powerful now and can make bad things happen to me if she wants.
While Adaku was thinking; Does she still hate me after all this time, I hope not .I really hope we could be friends because whether I like it or not, she is my stepdaughter. She chuckled at the thought of Chioma being her stepdaughter, then she burst into giggles, and she couldn’t control them.
Chioma: “Are you laughing at me?” she blurted out.
Adaku: “Oh no no, I am just pondering something and it was funny. Come on, how have you been? I am sorry about your father” she replied.
Chioma: “You don’t have to be sorry, it is all my fault. I am the one who is sorry for everything I did to you, I saw you as an enemy because of Chike” she said soberly. Adaku pulled her into a hug.
Adaku: “It is all right, we have all learnt how not to live. Coming to your house was in God’s design, and everything I faced pushed me to seek out more.” She replied and embraced her again.
They say charity begins at home, so Adaku went from Ogwashi-Uku to Igbundu. When the chopper landed in Igbundu, her heart broke into several pieces. What she saw was not the Igbundu she left, years ago. Igbundu was a shadow of herself. They were welcomed by the new British official, a fish white man, with many red blotches on his skin.
Adaku: “Please sir, what happened here?” she asked like she was about to cry. The land of her fathers was in shambles, and she couldn’t understand why. They told her that here had been a revolution, and her uncle Azagba was dead. They didn’t know where his wives and sons had gone to. The British was also taking the government of Igbundu into their hand, there would be no more kings or queens. There really weren’t left to govern even, because most of the indigenes had fled.
But they gladdened her heart when they told her of the plan they have for the sons of the soil. They knew the country would so be independent, and they couldn’t remain in Igbundu forever, they needed people who could secure the development of Igbundu. So, they had selected boys from the age of eighteen to go to London and develop themselves.
Adaku: “Thank you, despite the death of your national, you still have goodwill for the people of Igbundu” she said with gratitude. The WHO officials who were with her, explained to the British officials that she was a WHO ambassador, and was also from Igbundu. They were taken with her when they heard her story.
Fortunately, the boys who were chosen to go abroad for studies were from the ones arrested. The criterion was they would have a previous standard education like primary school. Chike made the selection because he had a few years of primary school up to standard three, before dropping out, so he could read, write and speak. He also knew basic arithmetic and Integrated Science. So he was to travel to London with about nine other boys. He was mistaken for a son of Igbundu that was also the reason he was chosen.
From Igbundu, the chopper took Adaku and her entourage to Asaba, because, Adaku had requested to visit Ejike in prison. She wanted to tell him know she had forgiven him. When the chopper touched down at the prison yard, people was wondering who was the young girl that looked so important. Ejike was preaching to some inmates outside the cells, it was their one hour in the sun, when he saw Adaku. He couldn’t believe his eyes, he dismissed her, thinking she was someone that looked like Adaku, and went back to preaching to his fellow inmate.
Adaku and her entourage were escorted to the prisons guest room. Then Adaku was called to use the chief warder’s office. When she opened the door, her eyes met with Ejike’s and she remembered all the nights that he came to her room to rape, and fear came upon her. She began to shiver and then she broke down in tears.
Ejike: “Adaku, is that you?” he asked, he couldn’t believe that she was the girl he saw outside. How did it happen? he wondered.
Adaku kept on crying, making guttural sounds, like her heart was threatening to burst out of her chest. She held her chest before she was really feeling pain in her heart and it was threatening to tear her apart. She wondered if she was capable of forgiving this man who had destroyed her. She remembered what Kamla told her, after she had recuperated. She was never going to give birth again; her birth canal had been traumatized beyond repair. She, who loved children, would not be able to have a child of her own.
The words of her psychiatrist flowed into her head; it gave her peace and calmed her troubled waters. Her psychiatrist told her that, forgiving was the first step towards healing. She wouldn’t really heal until she forgave the man who raped her.
Ejike couldn’t talk, he just watched her cry, something told him that, he had to wait for her to sort herself, because it was a pivotal moment and she had to agree on her own to forgive him. He didn’t have to blackmail her into forgiving him, it had to come from her. So, he stood by the side with his face turned away; the sound of her cries tortured his heart and it was like he would go mad, but it was a small price to pay for what he did to her.
Adaku: “I forgive you. I heard you are a changed man, and look at you and think that perhaps it is true. I forgive you not for your sake, but for my sake. I wish you well” she said.
Ejike: ‘Thank you. I dissolve my marriage with you, it was never really formal, and it was never recognized by God”
Adaku: “Thank you, although, I am not sure I will ever want to marry. May God be with you” she said and left the office.
By the next day, Adaku was on the flight to London, coincidentally, Chike was also on another flight from Asaba to Lagos, where he would board a flight to London with the other boys.
A year after Adaku left for London, she had gotten her A levels, and got an admission into Cambridge University to study Medicine and surgery. She continued championing women agitation for equal rights and the fight against violent crimes against women. Her words “I am Dry” became a mantra and women who have been cured of VVF adopted it. It became associated with her cause.
One day, Adaku had just finished a class in the Cambridge University and was hurrying to her flat in Cambridgeshire, when she got a call from her manager that she had a meeting with Vogue, a fashion house, they wanted to adopt her words “I am Dry” and some other of her quotes about rape and abuse against women, on their t-shirts. Since coming to London, her fashion sense had changed, and she was happy that she could wear brands that were WOKE.
She hurried into her flat and had a quick shower, with her favorite camo jumpsuit and white tee shirt; she hopped into the car that was sent for her and was driven to Vogue building. When she got into the building, she was approached by reporters who had gotten wind of the partnership. They asked her many questions about her cause, and then one reporter asked her a question that changed everything.
Reporter: “Do you know about a medical doctor by name Chike Nworisa, he is also championing gender equality and the story he tells of a girl he loved sounds awfully similar to yours” the reporter said, Adaku shook her head because she was at a lost. She didn’t think Chike would be in London, or even be a medical doctor, besides she didn’t know his surname.
After signing the deal with Vogue, she went back home, but her heart wouldn’t rest, she kept thinking of the question the reporter had asked her. So, she booted her laptop and searched for the name ‘Chike Nworisa’. Many pictures came out and she couldn’t believe her eyes. Chike, her Chike stared back at her.
Coincidentally, Chike, due to the story that Adaku told him about her struggles and her travails, even her bed wetting condition, also studied medicine and particularly Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was also agitating for the rights of a woman. He had been invited many times to the British Parliament to speak on gender equality, and he always started his speech wherever he went with;
Chike: “The fight I fight today is a personal one. Gender inequality has affected me directly. I once loved a girl, who was seen as less important because she was a girl; her mother lost her life because her father was obsessed with having a son. She was married off at a tender age because her role was to produce male children. She was raped many times by an older man, who was forced on her as a husband, and she had VVF, but no one thought she was suffering. Adaku, wherever you may be, I hope you can hear me because I fight this fight, so that no girl born will ever go through what you went through. You believed in yourself even when everyone told you that, you were good for nothing. I hope you achieved your dreams as I will fight for every girl child to achieve her dreams” And the audience would applaud, not minding whatever he had to say again. He always talked about Adaku and people were curious to know what became of her, but he didn’t know either.
Until one day…
Adaku was still searching for Chike’s work on gender equality, and then she found his TedEx speech and clicked it. She listened to Chike tell the story of her travails as a girl child, her early marriage, being raped incessantly and having VVF. She was crying by the time she was done watching. She picked up the phone and called her manager.
Adaku: “I want to meet with Chike Nworisa, make it happen” she said into the phone.
Chike was at the VVF clinic where he treated women with the disease when he got a call, the caller told him he had to come to Cambridgeshire because there was someone he had to meet, about his cause. Since it was about his activism, he took the train to Cambridgeshire to meet with this person.
He became anxious when he was invited to the WHO building, he thought perhaps the WHO wanted to partner with him, it means he was getting heard. But when he was led into the office, he staggered backward. Never in his wildest dream did he think he would meet Adaku again, and in London too.
Chike: “Adaku, is that you?”
Adaku: “Chike, it is really you, oh my God” she rushed at him, and Chike enveloped her in his embrace.
Chike: “Adaku, oh my God, I want to hear everything. Tell me everything” he said. Everyone left them to talk, and they talked for hours. They kept hugging each other;
It was just too unbelievable, because they had given up on meeting each other ever again.
Two years after Adaku and Chike left the shores of Nigeria, Nigeria gained her Independence. This was significant for Ejike because many convicts were pardoned by the new Nigerian government. He was able to go home and see his family. The child that was born to him, while he was in jail was a boy and his mother named him Okpalugo. The senior wife had a big shop in the village where people came to buy things she shipped from Lagos. Chioma had just gained admission to study in University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Ejike came home and established a church in Ogwashi-Uku where e always told everyone the story of his salvation. His mantra was “From Prison to His Presence”.
Adaku and Chike on the other hand remained friends, championing the cause for women, together they would birth an organization called ‘SheLeads’ which would fight for the cause of women all over the world. They would preach against rape and abuse of women, child marriages and VVF.
One evening after a conference in London, they were enjoying a quiet dinner together when Adaku choked on something in her food. Chike was starring at her with wide eyes. He had instructed the chef to put the ring in her ice cream because Adaku always had ice cream, but when she had changed her order today, the chef had to put the ring in her salad. She was so hungry and was wolfing down fork after fork of salad, that she didn’t notice the ring until it was in her mouth.
She brought it out, and stared at it, and then she looked and saw Chike on his knees.
Chike: “Will you marry me?” he asked. Adaku stared at the beautiful dainty ring, till tears flowed down her eyes.
Adaku: “Am sorry Chike, I cannot marry you. I love you but I cannot give you a child, my womb is damaged.”
Chike: “I don’t mind, I love you and want you to be my life partner”
Adaku: “I have decided not to get married. I want to dedicate my life to the cause. I appreciate your loving me all these years” she said and took his hand. He placed the ring in his palm and closed his fingers over it, and kissed his closed fist.
Chike: “I will always love you, my Adaku” he said and kissed her hand too.
Stay tuned for another Interesting STORY from ADELOVE.COM … Naija Inspirational Blog
EXCLUSIVELY FROM ADELOVE.COM
All Rights Reserved