Mathias stood transfixed, looking at the television. On the television screen, was an enlarged picture of Annabel Ngegwu, the commentator was talking about her many achievements in the oil and Gas industry. Then the picture went away to be replaced by the burial ceremony.
Mathias: “That woman, it is her” he said incoherently, and pointing at the television.
“My sins seem to be staring at me today” he thought as he watched Yvonne cry on her mother’s casket. There was something about her swollen face that made him remember she was the same girl who was accused of murdering twenty people at her birthday.
Mathias: “It cannot be” he shouted, but it came out as a whisper. His face had a faraway look about it; he was thinking of the past. His only sin was not forcing Laila to have an abortion, even when his girlfriend had died on the operating table, while they were operating on her to bring out the child, Mathias still went ahead and gave out the child.
He remembered it all like it happened yesterday.
That fateful day full of woes that his girlfriend had died trying to bring his daughter to the world, he had sat in the nursery thinking of how he would take care of a baby alone. He had many dreams and ambition, and a child whose mother was dead would definitely stop him. He was thinking that perhaps he should run away after all, he had no money to pay the hospital bills which the doctor had billed at 500, 000 naira. He stood up to leave but was stopped by the baby who began to whimper. He stopped and looked at the baby girl, who was as pretty as his girlfriend, Laila. He looked at her red pouty lips and black downy hair and concluded that his daughter would break hearts when she grew up. Her eyes captivated and held him, he kept staring into them even though he knew she could not see him.
He was still staring at the beautiful baby when the door opened and the doctor entered the room. He looked at father and daughter and shook his head.
Doctor: “I am so sorry about your loss. If only you have brought her earlier she would have been saved. Be strong because now you have to think about the future of this child” he said to him, watching him intently.
Mathias: “Ok” he said simply. It sounded off to his ears but that was the only reply he could manage. After all, was he going to tell the doctor that he was about to run away and leave the child?
Doctor: “Even though you are not saying anything, I know you are confused. It is written all over your face. I can help” he ventured, still watching Mathias.
Mathias: “How can you help?” he asked
Doctor: “I can help you give this child a better life. A woman just lost her baby, and she wants a baby to show to her husband, or else she would lose her marriage. You will be giving this child a good home because the couple is rich and renowned people in the society. You will also be helping a couple stay together. Think about it, you could become rich from this” the doctor implored.
Mathias: “Yes” he said without thinking, “But on one condition”
Doctor: “What condition?” he asked.
Mathias: “That I see who I am giving my child to” he said and watched emotions play on the doctor’s face. The doctor was contemplating whether it was alright to let the young man see Annabel Ngegwu, but he decided there was no harm in that, as the young man didn’t even look like someone who wanted a child to burden him.
Doctor: “Alright follow me” he said and carried the new born baby.
That was how Mathias had given away his newborn daughter for five million naira. With the money he went abroad to further his education, but the face of the woman was etched on his memory. He even remembered her face more than he remembered Laila’s face. When he came back from overseas, he was already a successful lawyer, but he never had peace in his life, enough to settle down with any woman. He never married.
Mathias gazed at the television, they were now showing Yvonne, he couldn’t see her eyes because they were covered by sunshades. He told himself that if he could look into her eyes, he would know if she was his daughter. He picked up his phone and called his private investigator. The private investigator helped him with all his cases, and he was extremely good.
Mathias: “I want everything on Yvonne Ngegwu” he said into the phone and hung up abruptly. He went closer to the television and traced his fingers on it.
“Whether you are my daughter or not, I will help you any way I can” he thought as he watched the sad woman on television.
Long after Annabel had been lowered into the freshly dug grave, and the grave had been covered, Yvonne laid on the cold tombstone, amidst the flowers that people had brought. She didn’t feel like living anymore, all she wanted to do was to be swallowed into her mother’s grave. She fell asleep crying, with everyone gone, even Prince Ngegwu. The prison guard assigned to take her to the burial and bring her back to the prison, could not find the heart to tell her that time was up. He told himself that she might as well stay longer, as she might never be free again. He knew what happened to political prisoners, their case never got to court but they languished in jail. She was still sleeping, while the guard stood watch, when Femi came.
Prison guard: “Who are you and what do you want?” the guard questioned as Femi drew closer.
Femi: “I mean no mischief, I just want to see her” he replied and went over to where Yvonne laid on the tombstone.
Femi: “Yvonne, why are you here, come on let’s go” he said rousing her from sleep
Yvonne: “Femi, why didn’t you come, neither you nor Mira. I needed you both” she said, her voice breaking with anguish.
But when she raised her head, the sunshades had fallen off and her swollen eyes were revealed to his view. He stared unbelievably at the purple patches surrounding her eyes.
Femi: “Who did this to you?” he asked aghast. He turned to the guard who shifted uncomfortably.
Yvonne: “They want me to confess to something I didn’t do. I did not poison that cake, you believe me right?”
Femi: “Yes, I believe you sweetheart. Do not lose faith, we will get to the bottom of this” he said and embraced her.
The guard was comfortable when she was the only one, but now that Femi was here, he didn’t want to risk an attack and Yvonne escaping so he told them time was up.
Femi: “Keep faith Yvonne, help will come, your father has not given up on you, neither have i” he said.
Yvonne: “He is not my father” she announced, and then told Femi about the events that led to her mother tumbling down the staircase.
Femi: “Oh no” he said and hugged her tightly. He loved her even more, because now they shared the same fate; they both didn’t know their biological parents. But at the back of his mind was the nagging fear that Yvonne wouldn’t want anything to do with him, if she saw that video.
“I have to look for those reporters and bribe them into selling the videos to me. But where do I find them?”he thought as he rocked Yvonne.
Before Femi could do anything about the videos, they had one viral. Yvonne had been given a reprieve since her mother’s burial not because they cared that she was hurting, but because there was a public outcry from human rights organization demanding that Yvonne be treated fairly during her incarceration, and that her case be charged to court.
However, while the NSS agents gave her a reprieve, Mutu-mutu was back on her case. She taunted Yvonne day and night, and it was she who showed Yvonne the video of Femi and Mira.
Mutu-mutu: “You think say him go wait for killer K like you?” she asked and burst into a mocking laugh, as she played the video for her. When Femi came to see her at the prison, Yvonne requested that she be taken back because she didn’t want anything to do with him.
Femi: “Just listen to me, hear me out Yvonne” he pleaded, as his heart beat faster, afraid to lose Yvonne. He had been called by Mira, who was crying on phone, Femi had felt that they both needed to comfort each other in this trying time, and he had gone to hang out with her in a bar. They drank to stupor and all he could remember was driving crazily, trying not to get them killed, on the deserted road at 2am, as they made for home. But he had woken up naked beside Mira, he didn’t know what happened, but it looked obvious that he had slept with her.
Yvonne: “What do you want me to hear, that I don’t mind that you were frolicking with Mira while I was burying my mother in the ground?” she yelled as tears began to drop from her eyes, “You were the only bright thing left in my life. Even if I died here in prison, I would have been comforted with the fact that you loved me” she said. Her eyes were full of sadness and they haunted Femi.
His anger was kindled against Mira, so much that if he had seen her at that moment, he would have strangled life out of her. Yet it was unbelievable how Mira was able to convince him to marry her.
Question: How would Mira convince Femi to marry her? Also, could Yvonne be Mathias’ daughter?
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