‘’How was your day sweetie?”
Chimezie asked his wife Ugonwa as he shut the door behind him.
‘’My day was lovely dear, you’re home earlier than usual today though, hope work went well?’’
She flipped her wrist to check the time on her wristwatch which said 6:15 pm. She then headed to the dining area to get water from the dispenser. He usually returned from work at about 9:15pm. Although, in cases where there’s city traffic, he would return at about a few minutes past the hour of 10pm. Work however demanded him to leave home before the break of dawn so as to resume before 8am and leave quite late in order to cover up loose ends.
“Work went pretty well babe, I just needed time off to clear my head a bit.’’
‘’Yea, I can relate to how it can be at times. Sometimes you need to take time off so you don’t get all worked up and cranky.’’
‘’You’re right Ugo. Sometimes it feels like everything is happening so fast, and the next thing you need to do is get away from all of it just to have your sanity. To be honest, it can be cra…”
Came the chants from Emeka and Adanna. Emeka was nine, while Adanna was seven. He was in primary four, while she was in primary two. They were both tops in their respective classes. Chimezie worked as an accountant for an accounting firm known as Akintola Williams & co, which happens to be one of the top notch accounting firms existing in the country located in the urban area of Ikoyi. Ugonwa on the other hand, had worked as a sales personnel for an insurance company known as Wapic insurance. Along the line, when she had Emeka, she had to quit work in order to look after him as the company didn’t offer much as regards maternity leave, because they just commenced business. Hence, they needed to grow their client base, which will require extra work that with minimal benefits as regards annual leave. She catered for him as much as she could, especially for a fact that hiring a nanny that proved trustworthy was more like a herculean task.
Even the ones that were hired, either ditched her by stealing from her jewelry box, or came up with some sort of excuse as to why they have to quit. She resorted to becoming a full time house wife which persisted even when Adanna was born, as she was saddled with the responsibility of looking after two children and ensuring that Chimezie is served breakfast, has lunch packed for the day, and is served dinner while it’s sizzling. The same treatment was given to Emeka and Adanna every day they had to be at school. Apart from fixing them with delicacies from her recipe, she dropped them at school in a beat up Nissan Primera that was once the cruise for her husband, until he got a Toyota Highlander. He however had something folded up his sleeves, which was to surprise her with the keys to a Toyota Matrix, while the Primera will be sold at some sort of giveaway price.
‘’Daddy you came home early today,”
Emeka said with so much exhilaration.
‘’Yes my boy, I had to come spend the time with you two musketeers.”
‘’Daddy I can now make a house with a garden that has two people sitting together.”
Adanna ran to the room to get one out of the several picture puzzles she fiddled with from time to time while at home trying to keep busy.
“Daddy I finally rescued the princess in Rayman Legends. I killed all the bad guys in order to save her.”
Emeka in his thrilled state goes to turn on the television and connect the playstation 4 game console. Adanna returns from the room with the picture puzzle to entertain her dad who now takes a seat on one of the settees in the living room. Ugonwa on the other hand, goes into the kitchen to fix dinner for everyone. She begins to put pieces of the puzzle together while her father watched with so much keen and fascination. In no time she’s done with what comprises a beautiful garden with two people sitting in front of a house that looks like a story building.
‘’Wow, this is so amazing, you created a house surrounded by a beautiful garden with two people sitting in front of it?’’
Chimezie is all smiles.
“Wow!!!!!! That’s my little angel, you never cease to amaze me.” “Come over to daddy.”
He stretches out his arms in an embrace while still seated on the settee. She walks into his arms as though they will shield her from harm.
“Daddy the game is about to start, I’m about to whoop their asses once more.’’
Emeka is all excited as he fiddles with the pad while selecting the menu to commence game play.
‘’I trust you won’t spare those fellas son, that’s why you’re my super hero.’’
Chimezie has some sort of affirmation in his voice. He and Adanna watch Emeka take on the villains in order to rescue the princess.
‘’Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saved the princess, I saved the princess, I saved the princess, I saved the princess” Emeka went jubilating as he danced around the living room. ‘’That’s my soldier, give me a high five” Chimezie taps the little boys palm with his making the sound of a clap. ‘’Dinner is ready” Ugonwa’s voice reverberates through the walls of the living room all the way from the kitchen. ‘’Alright mom’’ Emeka reechoed. “We’ll be right there” Adanna added. They both made their way to the kitchen with their dad following behind like a guardian angel of some sort.
‘’Wow, what have we got here?”
Chimezie opens a pot of simmering sauce with pieces of chicken. The aroma was so tantalizing that once perceived by anyone, the walls of the stomach will start to ache such that the throat will suddenly go dry.
‘’Spaghetti and chicken sauce dear, just the way you’ll love it. “Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Chimezie and Adanna say it in unison after they both inhaled the aroma as though they expected to get their stomachs filled with it.
‘’You two should help yourselves with a dish from the rack”
She said, gesturing towards a rack stacked with several dishes of different colours. Emeka and Adanna came holding their dishes to their chest which made them almost look like roadside beggars that waste no time in approaching cars when they are being halted in traffic. She dished some spoons of steaming spaghetti in Adanna’s dish, then bathed it with the sizzling sauce and a piece of chicken. The same ritual took place for Emeka. They both helped themselves with a fork and knife then headed out to the dining area.
She goes to the rack to get a dish so as to start dishing that of her husband. Suddenly, she feels something grab and rest on her from behind. It grips and rocks her slowly from side to side. She quickly dropped the dish on the slab placing the serving spoon on it to avoid it from breaking. She makes a sharp turn and gives him a light kiss on the lips. He kisses her on the forehead and says
“I love you sweetie.”
“I love you too my dear.”
She breaks free from his grip and goes on to dish his food. After dishing several spoons of spaghetti, she asks:
“Will this be enough for you?”
The dish is filled with spaghetti to the extent that it will be hard to see its edge when looked at from the top.
‘’Yes sweetie, that will do.”
She bathes the spaghetti on the dish with the still sizzling sauce and several pieces of chicken. She sets the dish aside then is about to get another dish for herself from the rack but before she can, he quickly grabs a dish and hands it to her like he was flash in justice league. She looks at him with a slight spec of seduction and says:
“Thank you darling.” “You’re welcome love”
He says returning her show of gratitude. She takes the dish from him and dishes her food. Hers is not as much as his as you will even see way beyond the edge of the dish without looking from the top. They both head for the dining area with their food.
“Mommy, please can we have some more spaghetti?”
Emeka and Adanna ask in unison. Their plates are sparkling clean like they had just been washed with the best dish-washing liquid one can think of.
“Okay, I’ll dish a little more for you both. Just give me a minute.”
She drops her dish with food in front of a free chair on the dining table then grabs the dishes of Emeka and Adanna to get them more food. In less than a minute, she returns with their dishes with a little extra of the sumptuous meal they requested for. Emeka wastes no time in devouring his meal, while Adanna takes her time to nibble on hers.
Chimezie on the other hand devours the meal like it was his first in days. Ugonwa however nibbles on her meal while they have chit chats together as to how the day was for each of them. Soon, everyone is done eating. They all look like they ate to their fill, just like the five thousand men that were fed by Jesus. Emeka an Adanna start to clear the dining table of the dishes, cutleries and cups used. Ugonwa stretches her legs while she and Chimezie converse about different things.
‘’How’s the audit of NNPC’s account coming along?” She asks.
Emeka and Adanna are in the kitchen busying themselves with washing the dishes when a loud noise comes from the kitchen.
“What is that?”
Ugonwa springs up from the chair to make her way to see the impending damage.
“It’s noting mom, the dish just fell out the rack and hit the sink” Emeka retorted.
‘’Let me go see what they are up to dear,” she leaves Chimezie in the dining room and storms into the kitchen to find a dish in the sink that is chipped off at the edge.
“Oh my! I hope none of you got hurt?”
She examines their hands to see if there are cuts.
“We are fine mom, Emeka stopped the dish from reaching the floor.” Adanna had a reassuring tone in her voice.
“Thank God, how far did you guys go with the dishes?” “There are two dishes remaining” Emeka replied. “You two have tried, I will take up whatever is left. Thank you so much. Both of you can go to bed. You know you have to be up early for school tomorrow.”
“Good night mom”
They somehow manage to say together.
“Good night my angels.”
She replies them and takes on the dishes.
‘’Good night dad,” he tells his dad.
“Good night dad,” she follows suit.
Chimezie had already drifted into some kind of sleep as he can be heard snoring a little loud. They both head to their room which they share with bunk beds. While Emeka sleeps on the top bunk, Adanna sleeps on the one below. She has always had a phobia for heights and hence, reclined to be on the lower bunk. They take turns in having their bath and changing into their sleeping garment, then hit their beds and sleep comes knocking in no time with the time being 9:15pm.
Ugonwa rounds up with tidying the kitchen and is ready to retire to the room.
“Sweetheart” she taps Chimezie who is starting to advance in sleeping gears. “Sweetheart, let’s go to the room.”
He turns his head from side to side trying hard to keep his reddened eyes to focus.
‘’What time is it dear?” He manages to say with a croaky voice “its half past nine.” “Oh dear, I didn’t even know when sleep came calling.” “You must have been rather exhausted. Come let’s go the room.”
She pulls him up by the arm from the dining chair. He manages to stand and begins to follow her lead. She holds his hand while he follows like he were visually impaired and was being aided by a Good Samaritan.
When they get to the room, he’s more awake than he was a few minutes ago in the living room. He realizes that he still has his work clothes on as he was in the living room all through the time he came home from work. He takes off his clothes and heads to the bathroom in an attempt to have a shower. The baptism from the shower lasts about two minutes after which he gets his mouth cleaned with a tooth brush. He’s done and makes his way back to the room. He goes to the wardrobe and picks up a piece of clothing that is like a jalabiya which serves as a sleeping overall. He puts his hands through the sleeves, then his head and makes the final adjustment as it rests on his frame. Ugonwa makes her way to the bathroom to also have the same share of baptism while he gets himself ready to be tucked under the bed covers. She comes out to find him laying still. She assumes he’s fast asleep once again and begins to get into her nighties. As soon as she gets under the covers, he advances towards her and envelopes his arms around her waist.
“I thought you were already asleep dear.”
“Not yet babe, was waiting for you to come join me so we’ll finish our conversation from where we left off.’’
“Oh okay, about the audit on the account of NNPC yea? How’s it coming along?”
She turns around such that they are now facing each other on the mattress.
“It’s going pretty well, we’ve had to refer to so many of our books when we saw their statement of account. It was mind blowing. What’s even more overwhelming is their balance sheet. We still have so much work to do as regards how they treat the depreciation of their fixed assets and all of that.”
“Sweetie you know I’m in another world entirely when it comes to all these accounting terms that have to do with depreciation, fixed assets and whatsoever. But anyways, I know you’re doing great at work and I’m proud of you. Keep up with the good work my dear, the sky is never the limit, but the beginning.”
“I wonder what will have become of me if I didn’t marry you, you’re such a wonderful gift to me. I promise to not fall back on the vows we made to each other ten years ago. I will be right by your side through all of it by the grace of the Almighty.”
He declared with some level of affirmation in his tone.
“I trust you dear, I’m glad I married you. You’re my heartbeat. My handsome bobo with class, the one that makes me feel like a model doing the cat walk. I will always love you.”
“I’m always going to love you sweetheart, you have a heart that’s more beautiful than roses, your smile shines bright like the radiant sun, and your virtues are way more precious than diamonds.”
“Sweetie don’t let me blush like how I used to back when we just started off dating” She chuckles.
“That’s exactly how you are my love, words fail me most times. I love you so much dear.”
He kisses her on the forehead and embraces her in a cuddle.
“I love you more darling,” she replies.
They fall asleep in each other’s arms.
The next morning, as early as 5 o’ clock, Ugonwa is in the kitchen fixing breakfast for everyone. She also prepares lunch that the kids will take to school and for Chimezie to take to work as well. While sandwich is to serve as breakfast, jollof rice with garnished chicken will serve as lunch. Chimezie on the other hand makes his way to the bathroom where he starts to prep up by clearing the three day old stubble from his cheeks with a clipper leaving his chin and upper lip to form a beard that looks like that of Van Dyke. He trims it a little so that it looks well groomed. Afterwards, he gets rid of the strands of shaven hair by splashing water all around his face. He concludes that and grabs a toothbrush with a tube of toothpaste from which he squeezes onto the brush, then he starts to rub against his tongue and teeth. After a feeling of satisfaction from the massage, he spits out the paste and washes it down the drain. He puts some water in his mouth and gaggles several times till there’s nothing left from the paste. Then he goes to have his bath.
He’s done in no time and heads back to the bedroom to start dressing for work. Emeka and Adanna are woken by the sound of the alarm clock that’s on the stool beside the bedside lamp. Once again, they take turns to have their bath and brush their teeth. Soon they’re done and begin to get dressed in their school uniform. Ugonwa starts packaging their breakfast and lunch as she rounds up from all of the preparation. She works assiduously while moving all around the kitchen. Chimezie comes out from the room all cladded in a suit with a tie to augment it.
“Good morning babe,”
He kisses her on the cheek.
“Good morning dear, I hope you were able to catch some good sleep last night?”
She puts sandwich in a ziploc and gets a food flask with already dished food.
“Yes babe, I was able to somehow someway.”
He goes to the fridge to get an already opened cranberry juice.
“I know the night seemed quite short but that notwithstanding, Saturday is just two days away. And I’m sure you’ll be able to get a restful time that day.”
She puts the food flask and ziploc in a carrier bag.
“I really can’t wait for that. Most importantly, I look forward to the end of the month when I will be on leave for a month. By then, we will be able to spend ample time together as I will be due to resume the following month.”
He made his proclamation to her.
“I know dear, we have one more week to go this July, then August will be for just the two of us as well as the kids, since they’ll also be on summer holiday. We could even travel briefly to Obudu cattle ranch in Cross River state. You know the kids will also love that?”
“I know babe, I will put it at the top of my bucket list. Trust me to do just that.”
“I trust you dear, here’s your meal for the day. I’m sure this will sustain you till you return later today.”
She hands him the carrier bag.
“Thank you so much boo, it definitely will. I’ve got to run along now dear, do have a lovely day.”
He kisses her on the forehead and makes his way out through the front door.
“And you too love, bye.”
Her voice reverberates through the walls of the kitchen to the entrance.
“Bye dear,” he retorts.
The time is 6:15am. He dashes into his sparkling highlander, starts the engine, then goes to help himself with the gate. After making a few sharp turns, the car is on the street. Joel Ogunnaike estate has a rather quiet ambience. Even in broad day light where there’s usually a buzz of activities, it maintains its tranquility. He shuts the gate then gets into his car once again to begin the journey to Ikoyi. He drives all the way up to the gate that borders the estate to join the highway of Chief Awolowo road. Barely fifteen seconds after he makes the turn, a Honda accord commonly referred to as baby boy comes alive. It trails after him while he drives on the Eko Bridge. Just before he approaches the gate that will lead him into the parking lot of his office, the driver in the Honda veers in front of him. The fright that engulfs Chimezie makes him step on the brakes forcing him to stop about a hairs breadth from it. He contemplates on whether to confront the reckless driver or let it go when four men armed with guns storm out. His eyes widen with fear he has never known. He blinks intermittently in less than two seconds. It all looks like a nightmare he can’t wake from.
“Oga come down!!!!!” one of the armed men yells as advances towards his side of the car and tries to open the door.
Chimezie opens the door in a frenzy state.
‘’Please, if its money you want, I will give you, anything you want, I will give…”
“Shut up your mouth my friend”
Another bandit yells slapping him across the face.
“Yeye man, you think say na only you sabi chop abi? You dey there dey flex, while we neva see wetin to chop for three days. Where’s your car key”?
Another of the four men demanded.
Chimezie who was too terrified to speak, pointed to the car while he held his face. Tears began to roll down his cheeks.
“Oga you no sabi talk? If you no take time, we go just waste you.”
The first bandit that tried to force his in said. Two of the men make their way into his car. They shut the door and begin to drive off. The last one who had not spoken during the ordeal raises his AK 47 aiming it at him. On seeing this Chimezie is about to go down on his knees to beg for his life. But this doesn’t happen as several bullets rip into his chest. He falls to the ground while the other two bandits drive off in the Honda leaving him with blood seeping from his body.
To be continued…