I froze. Like a mannequin I stood before him, lost, confused and shocked. My tongue got dried and glued to the roof of my agape mouth. I stared at him, yet I saw nothing. My life; past, present and future was crashing before me and my legs were too heavy for me to lift, let alone run to save it. It was obvious he heard everything. Lying was out of options for me yet truth was not ready to come. I was practically standing between the devil and the deep blue sea. When did guys start being nosy, eavesdropping to their roommates’ conversation? That act was to me girls’ specialty. What was Ken thinking? I told him everything just few minutes ago. I sounded convincing enough, at least so I thought. Why didn’t he believe me? More disturbing, why didn’t he tell me he didn’t believe me? I was lost in my scary and shocking thoughts, trying to make sense of Ken’s acts and what he heard and did not hear. Hot sweats snaked down my spine, giving me a trickling that warmed my aching back bone.
“Thony!” he called, jolting me back to from my reverie with that fatherly tone that I hate. “Who is Ahmed?” he asked, sieving the two questions to find the most important one.
“A friend,” I stuttered. “And why were you eavesdropping?”
“What kind of friend?” he asked; pushing my question aside like it didn’t matter.
“Hey!” My shaken and lost strength suddenly remerged. The halted blood flow started, and with full force reddened my veins and arteries, sending courage to my heart and clarity to my brain. No matter what, Ken has no reason poke nosing into my affairs and like I told him before, he was just my roommate. He has not business whatsoever with how I live my life. And since he didn’t want to take it calmly, I have to use all forms of harshness, if that would send him off for good.
“You should watch it.” I locked the door and stepped out. “Stop poke nosing into my life. You are not my father.”
“Don’t say that,” he said, staring at my wide opened eyes. “I might not be your father, but I am your roommate and I should know when the house I am living in has become a meeting place for criminals.”
“That was wrong of you to say,” I replied. “But I am going to let it go.” I said and headed to the kitchen.
I was dishing food from the pot when I heard him talking into his phone. Physically I cared less of who he was talking to, but emotionally, I was so desperate to know who it was. I wanted to know if he was hiding anything from me, if Frank told him the real reason why he moved out of the room. But since I asked him to steer clear of my affairs, I should also endeavour to do same about his.
I finished my meal, took my bath and like a husband provoked by his wife, I left the house, oblivious of where I was going to. I just knew I needed to get out of that house, take a walk, clear my head and have a sane thought about how best to deal with my degenerating life.
I went on the street, strolling along the pedestrian walk with my thoughts scattered. My phone rang. I pulled it out from the pocket of my fitted shorts. I was going to switch it off. What I needed was a lone time with brain and heart detached from every distraction and confusion. But the name on the screen caused my repentance of the intended action.
“Hello Hope,” I quickly answered, and like a flipped switch, my moody state changed into an excitement. “How are you doing? What!” I screamed the same time. “I will be there right away,” I added and hung up.
Fury kidnapped my heart. Anger clouded my brain. My heart pounded in ferocity and my lips shuddered in resentment. It must be that ugly hunk, I thought to myself. He has no right laying even a broom stick on her, let alone his damaged and shapeless fist. I flagged down a taxi and told the driver my destination. He nodded and I entered the car with ruffled thoughts of what I was going to do to him. For hurting a woman, a woman I love, for hurting Hope. As I thought of fighting him, his huge and egg-shaped biceps hanging on his arm like a ripe mango ready to fall scared the thought out of my head. I inhaled, trying to compose myself. Hope did not say it was him. So I have got no reason to boil in anger for him yet. But if my instincts were right as usual, then I must confront him. I must tell him how irresponsible and less a man he was for laying his strong and jagged hands on a woman, any woman at all let alone the one I love.
The taxi man, like he read the urgency of my expression, sped as fast as his green golf could go. In a jiffy, he screeched his break in front of the university. I alighted the same way, paid him and made to leave. He called me back for my balance which I hurriedly collected and whooshed into the school.
My right leg was on the first raisers leading to the school clinic when I remember where I had come: my enemy’s den, the abode of my past. I halted abruptly. Disbelieving the fact that it never occurred to me where I was going. All my head brewed was to see the hurt and bruised girl whom I totally reserved the eternal human love in me. I inhaled and exhaled deeply, confused on what to do. I couldn’t come that far only to cower back. I have already told Hope that I was coming and with the trust which she made the call, she must be expecting me, a trustworthy company. I inhaled again, summoning as much courage as I could before lifting my other leg and footed into the clinic.
A brief and quick chat with the receptionist made it easier for me to locate her ward. When I stepped in, she was lying on the bed, hung on that thin line between consciousness and unconsciousness. I stood by the door, furious and piteous as I watched the nurse struggle with connecting the IV line to her hand. Her face was battered, covered with bandages. Her right hand was broken, bandaged and suspended into the air. I forced in a large amount of air down my elapsing lung.
“Idima is a monster,” I slurred to myself, unable to think who else could have done such to her. I inhaled deeply, calmed my nerves to suppress the tear docked in my eyes ready fall. Then I stepped inside.
“Hope,” I called; voice melodious and compassionate. “What happened?”
She turned at me and grinned. I could feel her desire to talk to me, to tell me what really happened and who put her in that condition. But she was weak.
I rushed to her side, held her hands. “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine,” I told her.
Her lips coiled in a weak smile and I reciprocated in same manner.
“What is her condition?” I asked the nurse who was about leaving the room.
“She is stable now. All she needs is to rest and everything will be fine,” she replied and ambled out of the room.
I pulled a chair by the side, sat down and with my hands clenched to hers, I watched her as she dozed off.
Slowly, I pulled my hands from hers and stood up. I needed to find out more about what happened to her. Who brought her in and what the report was? And the only person who could help with such information was the receptionist. So I adjusted my shirt and made for the door. Few steps close to the door, I saw the door knob turn and the door jerked open.
…the story continues…