James heard the scream and dashed into the house. With the scary look on Helen’s and Catherine’s face, he knew something bad has happened. He made for where they were standing and when he saw Junior, he went furiously mute. He glanced at them, anger took over him. He clearly remembered that stool and how it got cracked at the first place. He just could not understand what Helen was thinking leaving Junior close to it. He was nevertheless not in the mood for any blame game, so he quickly lifted Junior, whose moaning was getting fainty and looked at Helen, she rushed to the dinning and brought the car keys. He quickly walked to his car carrying Junior; Queen was still lying down unconsciously on the back seat just as he had laid her. As he lowered the front seat and laid Junior, he wondered if Queen has passed on as mere fainting couldn’t have kept her unconscious for that long. He shrugged, closed the door, and drove off. Helen and Catherine stood by the door watching him.
Catherine broke down in tears as James zoomed off the compound. Helen pitifully looked at her and walked into the house. She went into the kitchen and returned with a mop and a bucket; she began mopping the floor, carefully minding the broken glass. She mindlessly noticed as Catherine’s sobbing increased and when she looked, she was sitting devastated on the couch.
“Everything will be fine.” She told her.
Catherine looked at her through her tears clouded eyes and felt disappointed, she did not deserve her consolation, for she had just mocked and even tried to push her out of the house few minutes ago. She felt like apologizing to her, but that she thought would degrade her status, so she maintained her stand and claimed the sympathy all for herself.
“Are you not surprised my daughter?” She opened up, after minutes of mind battle.
Helen paused her mopping for seconds and glanced at her. She talked to her because she wanted her to feel better, despite her rudeness towards her, and after minutes of no response, what she could come up with was questing for her surprise. She shook her head, sighed and continued mopping.
“Are you not shocked at what humans can really turn out to be?” Catherine continued her query.
Helen was confused at the questions, why they were being asked and even more by who was asking them. She did not see how the questions conform to the situation at hand. What was going on in that house at that moment was more tragic than human actions; an innocent boy was on the verge of dying for what was never his fault.
“I don’t understand. The situation at hand is very tragic. It’s not something surprising, it’s shocking.” Helen replied.
“Shocking! Shocking! That is the word.” Catherine emphasised. “To think I get my only son involved in this shocking situation breaks my heart. What really happened to girls of now?”
Helen dropped the mop, she has figured where the question was spurring from.
“What can I say? I am part of the ‘now’ girls, so I can’t really say much.” She told her. “But do not blame yourself. You only wanted the best for your son. There was no way you could have known what she was made of.”
“Yes, but I should have listened to my son when he said he does not love her.” Catherine said with a cracked voice.
“Well, that part was your fault. Match-making? Who does that these days?” Helen scornfully asked.
Catherine looked into her eyes and saw exactly what was going on in her mind. She knew she was wrong but for Helen to rub her fault to her face was to her a disrespectful act, she would have shunned her but since they were trying to establish a cordial relationship, she decided to confide in her and relief herself of the guilt that had burdened her since James’ marriage started collapsing.
It started six years ago, when Osakwe’s company witnessed a chronic and rapid set back. Osakwe, James’ father had a shipping company, which after a ban was placed on the importations of rice and some food stuff; his specialization, started to crumble. He approached a friend; Queen’s father Nnadi a year later and explained everything, and also begging for some cash to return to business, as most of his goods were confiscated by Nigerian Custom Authority. Nnadi brought an idea that Osakwe should change his line of business, an idea Osakwe knew was his only option, but he needed capital for any form of business venture. Luckily for him, his friend had a well stipulated plan for him. He gave him five million naira to start another business. Osakwe ventured into interior decoration, specialising in home and office furniture. His new business grew into a household name, but courtesy of Nnadi’s influence.
Two years later, James notified his parents of his intention to settle down. His father had seen his fiancée and had approved of their union, only to return after a meeting with Nnadi ordering that James’ to disengage his fiancée as he has found a suitable wife for him; Nnadi’s first daughter, Queen.
“You both forced him!” Helen angrily interjected. “You forced him into marrying a lady he didn’t love. You caused his pains.” She bluntly affirmed.
…the story continues..