It was untill the warder pushed Akpan into jail and locked him in that he realized it wasn’t a joke. At first, he thought he was dreaming. He thought it was a prank as Lucy, (small madam, as he would always call her) pulls on him from time to time. The manner with which he was manhandled and the brutal force with which he was pushed into jail took the scales off his eyes.
He could still remember how it all started. Everything happened in a flash, like a trans. He could see the police speaking in low tones as though deciding his fate. With what he already experienced, he was certain that even if he had anyone to bail him out, the police would refuse it. Small madam had instructed them to lock him up without bail and he was certain that the so called police officers would take the law into their hands, as long as the stipends she gives them keep coming.
Worse was the fact that he had no Attorney. If this case ever saw the glimpse of a judge, he was certain he would be left in the fate of a shyster. The more he thought about it, the more difficult it seemed to wriggle his way out of the impediment.
The lousy cry of the long chain at the locks woke Akpan up from sleep. He had drifted into a deep sleep from his thought. Thoughts he still wasn’t sure if he had any control over. The other inmates, two guys, who smelt like trouble simultaneously cast a warning glance at Akpan. They had previously collected the only money he was able to hide from the prying eyes of the police with a threat to slay him, had any word, even a tiny shrimp of their downgrading escapes got out.
The warder finally unlocked the gauge after struggling with it for some minutes.
“Akpan Odochie, someone is here for you”. Without a slight waste of time, he gathered the locks, ready to get to work. Akpan immediately rushed out before he got locked in again. Though its been just 24 hours, the breath of fresh air as he stepped out of the tepered cubicle felt like a luxury he wasn’t sure he could afford. He tiredly strolled into the waiting room, not sure what to expect. He knew he had no one. Who would come here to see him? Whoever it was, he cared less. The few minutes break from his devourers of a roommate was what mattered to him.
He paused a bit, the moment he saw his boss alongside another young man. A smartly dressed young man. The classic tuxedo and designers shoes he had on was enough insight. He didn’t just pass for a lawyer but a very rich one at that. As Akpan made for his seat, he did the quick maths. If this Lawyer is as rich as he looks, it only meant one thing: he was good at what he did! The entire incidents since the past 24 hours have done nothing but nail him as the culprit.
He could still recall the look on the police men’s face when they saw him. It was the same look they give condemned criminals before taking them from the court in a black Maria. They had handcuffed him immediately, no iota of doubt that he was guilty shown by either of them. “What have I done wrong” he asked himself. “I only did what my fellow guys do: gym for 6pacs and get tattoos for aesthetics.” The harsh voice of his boss jerked the thoughts out of his mind.
“What were you thinking commiting a crime in my house and trying to frame my daughter for it” the old man lashed. He went on and on about how he had trusted him with his keys to not only keep his gate but also drive his daughter to wherever she went.
At the time he finally calmed down, Akpan wanted to talk but couldn’t find his voice. Everything in him screamed for defence but where would he begin? After a few seconds of solitude, the words where finally able to form.
“Sir, this young man that was murdered in your house is your daughter’s boyfriend and samples of the drug slipped into his drink were found in your living room. He had come earlier that afternoon to meet with your daughter as usual. Why don’t you ask small madam, she should know what happened to him, I wasn’t in the living room with them. I’m innocent, I swear it…
“Will you shut your dirty mouth! I’m here to make complaints about what you have done and here you are pouring petrol into the fire. My lawyer here, Barr. Emechebe will draft the necessary documents and see to it that you remain locked up for the rest of your days on earth. That way, I keep you far away from my daughter. Trecherous young men like you cause the downfall of opulent men in a twinkle of an eye.” He yelled and stormed out of the room.
Akpan’s chin remained lowered, aiding his widely open mouth. He had heard that some rich men go to any length to protect their interest but he never thought he would fall prey to any of such people. He could still remember the day he met lucy. He had saved her from a young man whom he then, regarded a bandit. The young man had descended on her like his equal, ready to get his pound of flesh. Lucy had taken him home and managed to convince her dad to let him drive her around and at the same time be her body guard.
Akpan was positive that his boss knew the type of lifestyle his daughter, his only child endulged in but is hell bent on playing clueless all the same, to protect her. Now he knew better. The supposed bandit he had saved Lucy from might probably had had his own share of “the Lucy’s ill treatment”. How was he ever going to get himself out of this mess?
Dreams or Reality?
It was another bubbling morning in Nsukka, a town in Enugu state, Nigeria. I had just woken up and was all about the place, getting my things in order and fixing myself some breakfast before rushing off to work when my phone rang.
I rushed over to the other side of the sink where I had kept it, almost tripping on the chair I had used to support my weight while grabbing a parcel from my topmost cupboard. I was late for work and I knew it would be a disaster should my boss call and I don’t pick his call as well.
I finally got to the phone and behold, it was a number I didn’t save on my phone. “Well, maybe he is just calling with another number.”
I picked up the call without much thoughts. “Hello”, I said and a male voice which I could swear didn’t belong to my boss greeted my ears. Though it sounded overtly familiar, I couldn’t pin point whom it belonged to.
“Who am I speaking with please?” I said as politely as I could.
“Wow! You don’t remember my voice?” He came again.
“Uhmmm, I’m sorry but I don’t.” I said, trying to hold unto my patience a little longer.
“Wow!” My eyes widened in surprise. “Jerry, how have you been? It’s been a long time. How is everything?” I said at once.
“Fine” he muttered. “Well, I’m in Nsukka.”
My eyes widened even further. Lots of thoughts creeped into my head. Jerry has been a long time love interest. One of those few who believe in persisting till they got what they wanted. I remember when he newly reached out to me. He had been friendly, nice and direct. He had made his intention known almost immediately.
Unfortunately, I was at the time already neck deep into a relationship I cherished and still cherish more than anything you can ever think of in this Earth. And of course, I didn’t hesitate to make that known to him.
For some reason, I think he mistook my words as playing hard to get. He had subsequently and continuously gone ahead to coerce me into giving into his demand. It was more like a cycle with none of us ready to give up their stand. I loved and still love my relationship too much to give it up and Jerry on the other hand, didn’t want to give in to the fact that I wasn’t his.
After one year had passed and I, still on my lane, the point I was trying to make finally began to sink into Jerry’s head, though he still ceased every little opportunity he’d got to coerce me. I offered to find him someone else but he wouldn’t listen. He wouldn’t even hear of it.
Our communication frequency reduced drastically – I think majorly ‘cos I had nothing to say and he was probably not sure what to say to me either. I was weary of creating false impressions so, I didn’t ask too much questions. From the little I knew about him, he gave me the good guy vibe so I hoped we could maintain some sort of friendship but it didn’t look like that would work out either. The more I tried to tilt towards friendship, the more he spoke about something more. As a matter of fact, he was willing to come all the way to Nsukka from the U.S, just to have a face to face talk and most likely get me to change my mind.
About a month after, we spoke and in the course of the discussion, he said, in a form of larment, that it was until our last discussion that he knew I was really serious about not giving him a chance. I felt surprised and happy at the same time. Surprised because I had always made my stand clear right from the outset. So, I didn’t expect that it would take a whole year for him to get the point. And happy, ‘cos, him acknowledging the state of things meant him buying into the notion of finding someone else – though I wasn’t certain of it since he didn’t say anything about it, I still couldn’t rule out the possibility.
Fast forward to one month later and here Jerry was, calling me with a Nigerian number, saying he was in Nsukka. My thoughts suddenly flew to one of the discussions we had had, where he had insisted on flying to Nigeria to talk.
“You didn’t fly home because of me, did you?” I couldn’t help asking.
“Sure. We’re heading for your parents in two days.”
“What? You and who?” I screamed, while deep down, hoping that it was just a joke.
“You in Nsukka?” He asked instead.
“I called for something else actually. Wanted to invite you to my wedding. It’s tomorrow.”
I was still for like one second but soon found my voice. Though shocked by the news, I was genuinely happy for him. I knew how much he had wanted to get married, I knew how hard he had been trying – I knew how much work he put into trying to make me his. I screamed lots of congratulations! I am happy for you!! and asked for the invite to be forwarded to me on social media so I could get a clearer grasp of the direction to the venue.
The moment the line went dead, I dialed my boyfriend. I was and still am in a habit of keeping him abreast with things that go on in my life. Turns out he was happy for Jerry as well. He even permitted me to attend the wedding.
I did go for the wedding but not alone. I dragged one of my girlfriend’s along so I could at least have someone to talk to while at the event. We clapped, cheered and watched with so much happiness, but even in the midst of all that, I couldn’t get over the feeling like I was in a movie or a dream or something of its sort. Stories like this, as far as I knew, only happened in movies and fictions. I felt like a typical movie was playing out in my life.
Though I wasn’t in love with Jerry, I still couldn’t understand how a person who had been on my neck barely 2 months back would be getting wedded today. The mixed feeling and shock is still yet to clear out. Those not withstanding, I hope that friendship I had wanted to build before will work out this time, more with Jerry’s wife even.
Fictions are fictions but some fictions do play out in real life. Point is: try to pick one or two lessons from the books you read, be it fictional or non-fictional.
Bridge water Candle Christmas Bliss
Bridgewater Candle Christmas Bliss was always it for Nora. Andrew, her boyfriend had always made it even more remarkable for her by always making sure he made these candles available for her each Christmas. Her love for bridge water candles has made her undoubtedly in love with both Christmas eves and the eves of Christmas days. As she lit the bridge water candles, she couldn’t help smiling. For one, it was evening and again, the time Andrew had promised to visit had reached. She wanted everything to be perfect – a perfect Christmas for the both of them.
Bridge water Candle Christmas Bliss goes way down to her grandmother. It was the first gift she had given her for her birthday. She could still remember the old woman’s voice: “it’s a magic candle that makes your Christmases magical. Always light them during your Christmas celebrations and all your wishes will come true.” Even though Nora was now all grown, she still subtle believed in her grandmother’s words. And so far, it has favoured her.
“Bridgewater Candle Christmas Bliss” she smiled. The name always made her so happy. She got the food together, placed everything on the table – well arranged and sat just at one side of the table. She constantly looked at her watch and then at the door, waiting for Andrew to walk in any minute but that didn’t happen. Her surging adrenaline wouldn’t let her wait anyone so she grabbed her phone and dialed his number. When a female voice came from the other end of the line, she paused, took the phone out and looked at the number to be sure she wasn’t calling the wrong person. Certain that it was her boyfriend, she put the phone back to her ear. But this time, it wasn’t only a female voice in the background but Andrews. The duo were arguing over the reason another female had called Andrew’s phone. Apparently, Andrew was dating some other lady as well. The phone gradually slipped off her hand and went for the floor. The cracking sound of the screen filled the air but Nora wasn’t bothered. She felt the entire joy she had felt moments ago turn into penury. She sank to the floor, a rain of tears cascading down her chest.
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The Bridgewater Candle Christmas Bliss turned into a bridge water candle for festival of tears. The tears wouldn’t just stop flowing. She kept crying and wailing – worst part was, she was home alone – no one to console her. A knock came to the door and she thought to ignore it but it persisted. She sluggish got to her feet, wiped as much of the tears as she could and walked to the door. A young man, black, handsome looking and seemingly cheerful stood at the other side of the door with a gift box in his hand. “Yes, how may I help you?” She married – a signal to show the young man that she was in no mood for merriment. “Delivery for you.” He said and flashed her another smile, displaying his perfect set of white teeth. “From who?” Nora furrowed her eye brows. The young man shrugged. “It doesn’t say. Anyways, you will have to sign for me.” He fumbled through the short diary in his hands until he opened to a particular page. “Here,” he said, looking at Nora. “Are you alright ma’am?” He asked as though noticing the marks of dry tears all over her cheeks. Nora simply nodded and without saying another word, grabbed the diary. Halfway into the signing, she paused. “You know what, you should come in. I really do need company. I’m all alone for the first time on Christmas day.”
“Bridgewater candle Christmas Bliss hum” the guy said the moment he sighted the candles. Nora smiled. “Old family tradition – my way of keeping my grandmother close.” She unwrapped the gift and was surprised to see the bottle of wine inside. She turned to the guy. “Why don’t you uncork it – a great part of the meriment.” “My name is Tom.” The guy said and extended his hand for a handshake. Nora smiled. “Nora.” Sue said and shook his hands. “Now that we are acquainted, I can uncork the drink.” He said and Nora burst out laughing.
He soon uncorked the wine and poured it out for them both. “Cheers to more acquaintances, friendships, and many more joy-filled Christmases!” Tom said and they raised their glasses. Nora was the first to take a mouthful of the food and then signaled Tom to join suit. “So, why the tears, or you just like to cry while you celebrate?” He asked as he reached for his own round of the food. Nora shook her head and paused for a while before she continued. “My boyfriend is cheating on me. Just got to know about it today.” Tom’s eyes widened in surprise. “I’m so sorry honey.” He muttered in between a mouth full of food. “It’s fine. I’m kind of glad that I found out. I can’t even begin to imagine what would have happened had I not found out. I will be fine.”
“Bridgewater Candle Christmas Bliss.. What might I do to replenish the idea of a perfect Christmas?” Nora burst into another episode of laughter. “Trust me, by agreeing to spend Christmas with me, you’re already doing more than enough.”
Finding Christmas Bliss
Finding Christmas bliss is always the heart of the holiday season. A typical young girl’s perfect Christmas was always that spent side by side her man. Kelly Armstrong was no different except in her case, she wasn’t only young but a mother. Being a single mother, though bothersome at first has now become the most interesting aspect of her life. She has come to love and cherish her little girl, Olive to the extent that no single decision of hers was concluded without putting her daughter as top priority.
Finding a Christmas bliss was one area she hadn’t thought about for a while now. Maybe for years even. “Pass me the flour,” she said to Olive who gladly did. Olive was just four and her expertise in the kitchen was already overwhelming. Scary even. Her mum has always been careful enough not to leave anything at her reach – a lesson she had learnt the hard way. She could still remember the fateful day she had walked into Olive trying to make an omelet. If she had been a few minutes late, they probably would not only been homeless by now but she might have lost her dearest daughter. She let out a sigh and looked at Olive – a fresh load of thankfulness filled her heart.
Finding a Christmas bliss for her at this point was spending more time with this huge blessing the Lord had given her. Sometimes she felt she didn’t deserve it. “Mummy, someone is at the door.” Olive’s voice distracted her from her thoughts. “Is that so honey? Why don’t you go get it?”. Olive scurried off immediately. ” Mummy, it’s a man. Should I let him in?” Her voice revibrated through the entire house. Hold on honey, will be right there.” Kelly dried her hands in the napkin and hurried off.
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“Finding Christmas bliss,” she thought in her mind the moment she sighted the stranger leaning on her door. “This man is fineeee” she said in her girlie tune before asking the man who he was. He flashed her a smile that swept her off her feet. She found herself feeling exactly as she had felt five years ago when she met Olive’s dad. Though it didn’t work out between them, it had been love at first sight.
The whole idea of finding Christmas bliss awakened in her. She kept starting even as the man spoke. “Hue. Who did you say you are again?” She said when she finally realized herself? “Mummy he is new in the neighborhood. He is kind of lost.” Olive’s sharp reply came, causing kelly to almost bite her tongue. Kelly managed a smile. “So, how may we help you ehmm..” “Charles. My name is Charles.” The man said and extended his hand for a handshake. After a few seconds of procession, Kelly took the hand. “I’m Kelly and this is my daughter, Olivia.” She smiled again.
“I’m on a mission of finding the perfect Christmas bliss and I have reasons to think that the lord might have just led me to the perfect place. I’m here to see my cousin Scotch but it seems he is running late. He says I can wait for him here. ” Scotch our neighbor?” Olive asked and Charles nodded. “Right. Come in. Just a minute, I have something on fire.” Kelly said and rushed to the kitchen. It was until she got back to the kitchen that she let out a deep breath. She got back to the dough she was mixing and tried to focus. The sound of approaching footsteps soon filled the hallway and Kelly was forced to look up. She was shocked to see Charles approaching with Olive on his hips like they had known each other for years.
I believe in finding Christmas bliss – it’s why I got you this. He handed her a piece of flower. “Would have given it to My cousin’s wife but since they aren’t here, I thought I should give it to the woman who took me in. This is me saying thanks for letting me stay. Also, I’m a good baker. Can I help?” Kelly’s eyes widened but soon realized themselves and got back to shape. “Sure. I was having trouble with the dough already. I guess I missed a step again – it’s too sticky” she said as she stepped aside. Olive laughed and Charles joined suit.
“Finding a Christmas bliss! Which could be more perfect than this?” He muttered as he folded his sleeves and got to work. “Come on, let’s make some pie!” He said and Olive jumped up. He gave her a high five and they began. Olive ran the little errands while he did the mixing himself. When he was done, he let her stir the dough a bit, her mum’s contra expression not withstanding. Kelly only watched from the sidelines. In a matter of minutes, the pie was in the oven and baking. “Anything else?” He looked at Kelly who shook her head.
The idea of finding a Christmas bliss continued even outside the kitchen. Charles carried Olive above his capable shoulders. His muscular nature, Kelly could guess, would take her weight twice and not crack. He played with Olive around the Christmas tree, both laughing hysterically. Kelly followed with a tray of food at first, and then a letter with pie and other baked goods. She saw herself fantasizing about this handsome, well-built man once again. His deep brown eyes were so perfect and welcoming that it was as though she belonged there. The three sat together at the dining table, chatting as they are – the first time Kelly had felt that free with anyone in a long time.
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