EVEN IF I DON’T FIND PEACE – Edwin Lamptey. Episode 11

EPISODE ELEVEN

 

“What did you just say?”, Maxwell’s mother asked again as if she did not her Alberta loud and clear the first time. “Mummy, please, I said Maxwell has impregnated me”, Alberta rephrased her statement. “This cannot be possible”, Maxwell’s mother refuted Alberta’s claim. “I know my son and I know he will never do a thing like that”, Maxwell’s mother defended her son. “I see”, Alberta responded sarcastically. “Why don’t you find out by asking your son whom you seem to trust so much”, Alberta added and hang up the line. At this point, Maxwell knew there was no way he could escape from what was about to happen. He looked at his mother and said, “Don’t say what you are about to say”. “I don’t know what happened but I think Alberta is pregnant and I am responsible”, Maxwell said to the hearing of both his mother and sister. “Oh Maxwell, I am highly disappointed in you”, Maxwell’s mother said as she put her hand on her chest and tears began to flow down her cheeks. “I had great hope in you and I knew you were going to make me proud but look at the mess you have gotten yourself into?”, Maxwell’s mother said, wiping her tears away with her cover cloth. “Are you ready to become a father?”, Maxwell’s mother asked angry and charged like a raging bull towards Maxwell who was sitting in the sofa with his head bowed. “You might as well go to the kitchen, get a kitchen knife and stab me to death”, Maxwell’s mother said. “It would be equivalent to what you have done”, Maxwell’s mother continued. “Mummy, don’t say that”, Maxwell and his sister said in unison. “What do you want me to say?”, Maxwell’s mother asked the two of them rhetorically. “I know what to do”, Maxwell’s mother said and stepped outside. When she got outside, she called Alberta back. “Now you listen to me”, she started. “Even if it is true that you are really pregnant, that child does not and will never belong to my Maxwell”, Maxwell’s mother said with venom. “You better look for who is responsible for your pregnancy and don’t you dare call my son again”, Maxwell’s mother added.  “Better still, you can have an abortion to kill that thing growing in your womb because my son is not ready to become a father at this age”, Maxwell’s mother added. “I thought we were going to handle this like adults but it seems you are not ready for that”, Alberta started. When your son was on top of me every night, where were you?”, Alberta asked. “How dare you talk to me like that?”, Maxwell’s mother fired back. Maxwell’s mother took the phone off her ear and yelled out Maxwell’s name summoning Maxwell to the place where she stood. “You see what your action has caused?”. Maxwell stood there confused yet he feared to utter a word knowing full well what the wrong words could bring. “I am talking to you”, Maxwell’s mother said. “You silly girlfriend has the effrontery to talk back at me because you could not protect yourself by wearing a condom”, Maxwell’s mother added as she handed over the phone to him. “Speak some sense into her head before I go there and teach her a lesson”, Maxwell’s mother said. Maxwell took the phone and started, “Hello, Alberta, this is Maxwell”. “Take it easy please”, Maxwell said as he walked away from where his mother stood to prevent her from hearing what the two of them were saying. “My mother is very angry and upset right now so please watch what you say to her or how you respond to whatever question she asks”, Maxwell pleaded. “I know her well enough and I can assure you that it won’t be long, she would forget all of this and we would find a solution to this problem”, Maxwell assured Alberta. “But why should she talk to me like that out of anger?”, Alberta asked. “I don’t know, but I am sure you would be pretty much upset if your son came home to tell you that he has impregnated someone after his first year in the university”, Maxwell explained. “I want you to do your best possible not to respond to anything she says even if they are intimidating”, Maxwell pleaded. “Why should I do that?”,Alberta asked. “I just can’t have your mother insult me for getting pregnant for you”, Alberta said. “I understand but please do this for me”, Maxwell pleaded. Alberta hang up the phone and Maxwell returned to where his mother stood and handed her mobile phone back to her. Maxwell went back into the house and straight into his room. His mother went about the house ranting and accusing Maxwell for being such a fool and allowing the devil to make him his tool. Maxwell quietly took his shower and decided to step out of the house. As he planned sneaking out of the house, he met his mother standing behind the gate. “Where do you think you are going?”, Maxwell’s mother asked angrily. “Haven’t you caused enough trouble already?”, she asked. Maxwell looked at her and decided to speak, “Mummy, I am really sorry for what has happened”, he started. “Do you think saying sorry will miraculously cause the baby to vanish from her womb?”, Maxwell’s mother cut in. You should be ashamed of yourself for setting such a bad example for your siblings. As Maxwell received the bashing from his mother, her phone beeped and she paused to check it. “What?”, Maxwell’s mother exclaimed in anger. “Have you seen what you have caused?”. “This girl is really trying my patience”, Maxwell’s mother said as he handed the phone over to Maxwell to read a text message she had just received from Alberta. Maxwell took the phone and the message read, “When you got pregnant with Maxwell, did his father ask you to have an abortion? So why do you want me to have one? I thought you were a Christian.” Maxwell looked at the message but could not believe what he was seeing. He quickly beat a retreat into the house, picked up his phone and called Alberta. “I thought we agreed on keeping silent”, Maxwell said angrily. “What was that message for?” “You just don’t get it do you?”, Maxwell added. “My mum was just cooling off now your text has brought all of us back to square one”, Maxwell continued. “Just listen to me for once and do what I tell you to do”, Maxwell added and dropped the call. That afternoon, Maxwell’s mother cooled down and even asked Maxwell to run a number of errands for her. Before long, they were back to being one big happy family again and Maxwell revelled in that moment. His mother sent him on an errand and he figured he could use that time to pass by Alberta’s place to check up on her and run the errand before going back home. When Maxwell got to Alberta’s house, she was sitting in front of her gate. “What do you want?”,Alberta asked Maxwell when she lifted her head and saw him coming from a distance. Maxwell got close to her and said, “Albie, I told you to stay put didn’t I?” “Exchanging words with my mum would make things not only difficult but bad for us as well”. “Maxwell, let me ask you one question”, Alberta started. “Have you ever gotten pregnant before?” “No”, Maxwell responded almost laughing out loud. “Good!”,Alberta said. “So don’t come up in here to tell me what I can and cannot do”, Alberta said. With that, Alberta got up and started to walk away from her house. “Where are you going?”, Maxwell yelled out after her. “It is none of your business!”, Alberta yelled back. Maxwell shook his head in disappointment and walked back to his house thinking why Alberta was behaving the way she was. When he arrived home, his mother summoned him to her room. “Maxwell, why did you go to see that girl?” Maxwell was stunned by his mother’s query. “How did she know I was there?”, Maxwell thought to himself. “I…I…I…”, Maxwell tried to explain but could not find the words. “This girl is so disrespectful so I wonder why among all your university female friends, you could not find anyone but rather you went in for her”, Maxwell’s mother started. “Do you know she just sent me another text message?”, Maxwell’s mother asked, looking intently into Maxwell’s eyes as she sat on her bed. This time, Maxwell’s mother did not hand him the phone to read but rather read out the message to his hearing and it read, “Please teach your son some manners”. Maxwell was shocked to the bone when he heard the message Alberta just sent to his mother. Maxwell could not understand why his mother appeared calm and collected over the issue. He wished he could see what was going on in her head. He shifted aside slowly from his position on the bed. His mother ordered him out of her room after she had told him how disappointed she was in him and how he could allow his lustful desire to make a woman drag her name and reputation through the gutter.

 

 

 

 

 The next day, Maxwell’s mother woke up early and left the house. She headed for Alberta’s house. Maxwell knew something bad was definitely going to happen. His mother did not know Alberta’s house so she asked Maxwell’s sister for directions which she gladly gave out. After an hour, Maxwell’s mother returned. Maxwell quickly ran out to meet her. “I thought your girlfriend was going to be as brave in person like she was on the phone”, Maxwell’s mother started. “I knocked on her door severally and I knew she was inside the room but the good thing she did was that she did not come out”. “I would have given her the lesson of her life and taught her a few manners too”, Maxwell’s mother said. “If I hear that you have gone back to her house again, I am going to eat you up alive, do you understand?”, Maxwell’s mother warned. Maxwell dared not go against his mother’s warning so he stayed at home till his school reopened. Maxwell went back to school without seeing Alberta. When he got to school, he received a message from Alberta that she was told by a doctor that she had complications with her pregnancy and that she had to abort it. Maxwell called her immediately and asked her if she was sure of what she was saying. She confirmed her claims but had her own reservations. “Even though I have received this news, I am still going to give birth to prove to your mum that this baby is yours”, Alberta said as he spoke to Maxwell over the phone. “That is totally ridiculous!”, Maxwell said, after Alberta had made her intentions known to him. “There is absolutely nothing to prove here”. “You having to risk your life to prove a point to my mother would actually prove nothing”, Maxwell added. “Please listen to the doctor and do what is right”, Maxwell pleaded. Maxwell did not hear from Alberta again till after a week. Alberta called Maxwell and informed him that she had successfully gone through a ‘D and C’ to rid her of her pregnancy. Maxwell vowed to steer clear of Alberta but his conscience weighed heavily upon him like an albatross. “How can I abandon her like that after going through all of this for me?”, Maxwell asked himself as he lay in his bed one evening. He knew deep down inside of him that he owed her a favour and had to find a way of repaying it and then finally cut ties with her for good. He stayed in contact with her and always tried to be there for her when she needed a listening ear. One afternoon, Maxwell closed from lecture and received a call from Nancy, Alberta’s friend. “Hello Nancy”, Maxwell said when he answered the phone. “How are you, Max?”,Nancy asked. Nancy said she had called to check up on him after the incident that happened with Alberta the previous semester. Maxwell and Nancy kept calling each other and none of them told Alberta about it. Alberta also called Maxwell as and when she needed to talk to him but it seemed to her that Maxwell was drifting away from her. They spent less and less time on the phone. Maxwell had developed a liking for Nancy and vice versa. On one of their nightly chats, Nancy asked Maxwell if he had a wish. Maxwell replied that if he had a wish, it would be that the night never ended. Nancy sounded a bit disappointed over Maxwell’s response. “I thought you were going to wish for something like my heart because I am going to gladly give it to you”, Nancy said. “Okay then”, Maxwell said. “Give me your heart”. The next day, Maxwell called Nancy to check up on her. “What happened last night?”, Nancy asked when she answered Maxwell’s call. “I think we started a relationship”, Maxwell responded. Maxwell and Nancy laughed over the comment. Maxwell and Nancy kept their relationship from Alberta. Alberta noticed that Maxwell had changed towards her. Maxwell appeared cold and always was in a hurry to hang up the phone whenever they were talking. “Max, you have changed”, Alberta complained one day when he called in to check up on Maxwell. “You no longer have time for me like you used to and even when I get to talk to you, you are in a hurry to hang up”, Alberta added. “Alberta, it is not like that”, Maxwell started. “There is a lot of pressure with my academics nowadays so it makes it difficult for me to get enough time to chat”, Maxwell said in his defence. “I have not been to the university yet so I would take your word for it. Maxwell did not know how to let go of Alberta and also did not want to lose Nancy because he felt more comfortable around her. He knew it was going to be disastrous if he kept both of them company. Moreover, Alberta and Nancy were classmates so he knew it was a classic recipe for disaster if any of them, especially Alberta got to know that he was so much as seeing both of them. He knew Alberta was going to kill him if she got to know that she was going out with none other but her friend, Nancy. One early Saturday morning, Maxwell was laying his bed and received a call from Nancy. “Hey you”, Maxwell said when he answered the call. “Hey sleeping handsome”. “Wake up already, I miss you”, Nancy added. “I am up now, thanks to you”, Maxwell responded as he yawned. “What’s up for today?”, Nancy asked. “Today is Saturday so I would wash, do some cooking then I would watch football because my favourite team is playing today”, Maxwell responded. “That’s nice”, Nancy said. “And what will you be doing today?”,Maxwell also asked. “I am a young woman so I will wash, do some chores and above all, I would cook some sumptuous meals”, Nancy said. “I wish I was there to judge for myself how sumptuous the meals you are going to prepare will be”, Maxwell said. “Don’t worry, when I see you, I will prepare your favourite dish for you”, Nancy said. “So tell me, what do you remember about me from the last time you saw me?” Maxwell was about to answer Nancy’s question when he heard a knock on the door. Maxwell thought he was not hearing properly. He waited silently and heard the knock again. He tried waking Ben up by calling his name but he was lost in his sleep. Maxwell managed to wrap his blanket all around him and dragged his feet all the way to the door with the phone pressed against his ear as he updated Nancy on what was going on. *Clock* *Clock*, Maxwell unlocked the door and opened it widely. The next words that came out of his mouth were, “Let me call you back, okay?”. He was lost for words and did not know whether to shut the door or ask the guest to come in. “Surprise!”, Alberta said softly and let herself into Maxwell’s room. Maxwell could still not believe who he was seeing. He stood at the door in shock and had been instantly rendered dumb. “Why are acting as if you have seen a ghost”, Alberta asked because she was surprised that Maxwell was behaving the way he was. Maxwell’s phone rang and he looked at the person calling and it was Nancy. He exchanged glances with Alberta and put the phone on silent. Alberta looked at him suspiciously but preferred not to say anything about what he just did. “Anyway, I was on my way to my uncle’s and I figured I could pass through to see you”, Alberta started, although speaking very softly so as not to wake Maxwell’s roommates. I was considering what you said about being under pressure and all with school stuff so I actually came by to take your dirty laundry and wash them for you so that on my return, I would bring the cleaned clothes back to you”, Alberta added. Maxwell was sceptical about Alberta’s offer but he wanted her to just leave. Maxwell went into his wardrobe and packed his dirty clothes into a jute bag and handed it over to Alberta. Alberta left after she asked Maxwell to extend her greetings to his roommates when they woke up. After noon that day, Alberta called Maxwell and informed him that she could not come back the same day with the clothes and if it happened that she had to leave the next day; her uncle was going to drop her off. She pleaded with Maxwell to come and get the clothes from where she was. Maxwell took his bath and dressed up to leave but before leaving, he called Nancy and informed her that he was going to watch a football match. Nancy apologized for not calling him earlier owing to the fact that she was busy preparing some food. Maxwell boarded a car and arrived at the bus terminal where Alberta was waiting for him to take him to her uncle’s house. When he got there, his clothes were on the drying line but Alberta had prepared some food and had dished out Maxwell’s portion and had laid a table for him. She went out to get some soft drinks from the supermarket and returned with some of Maxwell’s dried clothes and asked him to take off the clothes he had on so she could wash those too. Maxwell quickly took off the clothes, wore the clean ones and continued enjoying the meal. After about ten minutes, Maxwell was looking for his phone and realized that it was still in the pocket of the jeans which he just gave to Alberta to wash. He quickly rushed out to stop Alberta from putting the jeans in the water she was washing with but when he got there, Alberta was already going through his phone. He did not know what to do. He walked up to her and quickly snatched the phone from her hands, “What are you doing?”, Maxwell asked. “Maxwell, I can’t believe that you would go out with my friend behind me!”, Alberta started. “As for Nancy, she doesn’t know what is coming”, Alberta added…. THE BATTLE STILL RAGES ON…THIS TIME IT’S GOING TO BE BETWEEN TWO YOUNG WOMEN…

 

EVEN IF I DON’T FIND PEACE – Edwin Lamptey. Episode 10

EPISODE TEN

Maxwell was instantly hit by a thunderbolt when Alberta told her she was pregnant. “You are pregnant?“.“For who?“, Maxwell asked looking completely confused. “I am pregnant for you, Max”, Alberta said and started crying all over again. “And you beat me up even in my condition, Max, how could you be so heartless?“, Alberta added amidst sobs. Maxwell was completely confused at this stage and he wondered in his mind about who beat who that night. Maxwell sat on the edge of the bed totally shattered and dumbfounded. He rested his head against the wall while he tried to console Alberta…. Before long, Ben aggressively woke him up. “Maxwell, Maxwell, I thought you said your paper was at 8:30 am”, Ben started. “It is already five minutes past 7 am”, Ben added as he pointed to the wall clock in their room. Maxwell hurriedly jumped onto his feet and started preparing to leave the hostel to the examination hall. He had dozed off while sitting on the edge of the bed. Soon, he was ready and took off without checking to see if Alberta was up from bed or not. Maxwell was an intelligent student and did not have to study hard like average students so he took his examinations and general school work a lot easier than most of his colleagues but when he was handed the exam question paper, it was as if he had been robbed of all his intelligence. He looked at the exam paper in disbelief. He wanted to turn in the paper after the required thirty minute sit-in period and walk out of the exam hall but when he looked around him and saw everyone busily ‘battling’ with their paper, he took a deep breath and quietly said, “My name is Maxwell and I am not going to embarrass myself like this”. That being said, he chose the questions he believed he had fair ideas about and attempted to answer them to the best of his ability. As he scribbled freely, he paused intermittently and the thought of what ensued the previous night coupled with Alberta’s present condition flashed through his thoughts and distorted his attention from giving his best answers to the already difficult questions. After two and a half long hours, the invigilator yelled, “Stop work!“. Maxwell dropped his pen and had an unsatisfactory smile on his face as he looked around and saw people smiling genuinely at him knowing full well that he was one of the good students in the entire hall. Deep down Maxwell’s thoughts, he knew his answers to the questions left much to be desired and he knew his professor was going to be highly disappointed with his submission. Maxwell quickly walked out of the examination hall past a gathering of students who were busily engaged in a banter as to what answers best suited the questions asked. Maxwell did not want to suffer a heart attack so he plugged his earphones in his ears and quickly rushed to the shuttle terminal to hop onto the bus heading towards his hostel’s direction. When he got there, Alberta was all alone in the room and she was looking more beautiful than ever. She had held her hair back revealing a shiny forehead and she wore Maxwell’s favourite T-shirt.  Maxwell’s roommates had gone to write their afternoon paper. “How did the paper go?“, Alberta asked Maxwell immediately he entered the room. Maxwell looked at her in anger but kept his cool and responded, “Oh, it went well”. “I prepared some rice, would you want me to serve you with some of it?”, Alberta asked, walking up to Maxwell who was standing in front of his wardrobe trying to place his shirt on a hanger. “I am not hungry”, Maxwell responded coldly. “You have not eaten all day and I know you are hungry so please eat something for my sake”, Alberta pleaded. “Okay, just give me two spoons of the rice with a little stew on the side”, Maxwell ordered. Alberta quickly rushed to the balcony to get Maxwell’s food. Maxwell ate in silence and Alberta knew why he was that moody. “Max, from the depths of my heart, I want to apologize for what happened yesterday”, Alberta started. “I didn’t mean for all those things to happen”. “I was really upset that was why I did what I did”, Alberta added. Maxwell continued eating in silence while Alberta spoke. “Say something, Max”, Alberta said and placed her hand on his shoulder. “We cannot undo what has already been done, can we?“, Maxwell said, chewing his meat with his mouth full. “The harm has already been done so we just have to move on and act mature about it”, Maxwell added after swallowing the meat in his mouth. Alberta felt bad about her actions and on a daily basis, asked for Maxwell’s forgiveness. Alberta stayed on with Maxwell on his campus till he finished all his papers and they both left his campus and went home for the vacation.

 

 During the vacation, Maxwell was always in his room or sitting alone in the hall watching TV. He seldom spoke to anyone and always all the time; he went about his chores absentminded. His mother noticed that Maxwell’s behavioural pattern had changed. One afternoon, while Maxwell sat in the hall alone watching a TV program, his mother sneaked up on him and stood behind him for minutes. “Maxwell, is everything alright?“, Maxwell’s mother asked. “Mum, you startled me”, Maxwell responded as he jumped out of the couch and quickly turned to see who the voice belonged to. “Maxwell are you okay?“, Maxwell’s mother asked who was herself surprised by Maxwell’s reaction. “I am fine”, Maxwell said. “I don’t believe you”, Maxwell’s mother started. “I have been watching you quietly ever since you got back from school and it appears you are always indoors which is very unusual of you”, Maxwell’s mother added. Maxwell knew that his mother was going to engage him in a boring lecture if he continued to be moody so he had to think up something to take his mother’s mind off the accurate suspicion she had about him. “If I have a problem, you would be the first person to hear about it, mum”, Maxwell said, trying to give his mother some assurance. “I would go out with my friends tonight if that would make you happy”, Maxwell added while trying to smile. That night, Maxwell went out alone and pondered over the situation he and Alberta had created. He knew that all hell was going to break loose if his parents found out that Alberta was pregnant so he resolved to keep it a secret from them. As he walked along the road alone, he recalled a phone call he received from his mother during his first few days in the university. “Maxwell, you are now a full grown young man so if you have unprotected sex, chances are you going to impregnate someone’s daughter”, Maxwell recalled his mother saying. “I know you know what a condom is so if it happens that you are going to have sex, please use a condom”. Maxwell recalled being embarrassed when his mother gave him that lecture and vowed he was never going to have unprotected sex. Now, he had done the very same thing his mother warned him against. “I am such a big disappointment”, Maxwell thought to himself as he entered his house. Maxwell was in constant contact with Alberta. He told her to stay put while he figured out how they were going to get out of the mess they had created. He sternly warned Alberta not to mention that she was pregnant to anyone. “Maxwell, I am scared”, Alberta confessed one night when Maxwell went to visit her. “I am almost a month pregnant and you still haven’t said anything concerning the pregnancy”, Alberta added. “I believe that the people in my house are beginning to suspect that I am pregnant owing to the constant change my body is undergoing”. “I don’t want any trouble so please act fast before you put me into trouble”, Alberta said. There was never a day that went by in which Maxwell did not try to figure out plausible ways of solving the mess he had created. One night, Maxwell was with Alberta when Maxwell’s mother called him and asked that he come home to help her out. Apparently, Maxwell had only been at Alberta’s place for only thirty minutes and he knew that Alberta was going to flare up if he told her that he had to leave. “Albie dear, something has come up and I have to go home and do something for mummy”. The moment Maxwell finished his speech, Alberta blasted off, “I knew you were going to come up with some flimsy excuse the minute you answered that phone call”. “Max, do you even care about me?”, Alberta asked. “Do you know it is your baby that is growing inside of me?”, Alberta queried with tears starting to roll down her cheeks. “It is not what you think”, Maxwell started feeling bad about the comments Alberta passed. “I know you are taking in a lot by just being pregnant and I really appreciate what you are doing now”, Maxwell said as he tried to console Alberta. Soon, he managed to convince Alberta and she allowed him to take his leave. When Maxwell stepped out of Alberta’s room, he looked at his phone and he realized that he had missed three calls from his mother. He hurriedly dashed home and met his mother in the living room. “Where were you?”, Maxwell’s mother queried when he barged in on her in the hall. “I know you went to see that girl”, Maxwell’s mother said. Maxwell’s heart missed several beats as he anxiously waited to hear the next comment that was going to come from his mother. “How is she, by the way?”, his mother asked. Maxwell struggled but managed to let out the words, “She is fine”. “But why do you ask?”, Maxwell  curiously added to get further clarification. “I am just asking”, Maxwell’s mother said. Maxwell heaved a sigh of relief and quickly assisted his mother with fixing dinner.

 

Two weeks passed and still, Maxwell had not given Alberta any feedback as to what he intended doing about the situation. One late afternoon, while still at home, Alberta called Maxwell and sounded very lively. Maxwell was surprised about Alberta’s behaviour. “You sound very lively today”, Maxwell said as he adjusted himself in the seat. “Is there any reason?”. “Don’t you know?”, Alberta queried. I want you to take a guess and call me back”, Alberta said and hang up the phone. Maxwell called his sister, who was out of the house and asked what was so special about that day. “Today is Alberta’s birthday”. Maxwell’s sister revealed. “I hope you didn’t forget”, Maxwell’s sister enquired. “The last time I forgot her birthday, she didn’t speak to me for a whole week”, Maxwell’s sister added. Maxwell knew he was in trouble. He quickly jumped out of his seat, went into his room and started searching his jeans pockets for money he kept and any loose change which he could salvage. He looked at the money he was able to gather and he knew it was woefully inadequate to buy a birthday present that could appease Alberta. He was turning in circles in his room when his mother knocked on his door. She let herself in without prior permission. “What is wrong with you?”, she queried. Maxwell stood still and responded, “Today is Alberta’s birthday and I don’t have any present for her”, Maxwell said. “Is that why you are walking in circles like a prayer warrior?”,Maxwell’s mother asked sarcastically. “Yes”, Maxwell replied. “I have three bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling wine in the kitchen cabinet”. “Bring them so we select one for her”, Maxwell’s mother added. Maxwell quickly rushed to the kitchen and in a flash; he was back in his room with the bottles of wine. “I think she will like the apple-flavoured one”, Maxwell’s mother said. She took the other two bottles and left Maxwell’s room. Instantly, Maxwell dressed up and started for Alberta’s house. When he got there, he cleared his throat instantly Alberta ushered him into her room and began singing his own cover of the ’happy birthday chorus’. Half way through his performance, his phone rang and he paused to answer it. After answering the call, he continued his performance and ended it on a very pitchy note which made Alberta cover her ears. “How did you know it was my birthday?”, Alberta asked, trying to find out who told him. “I just know things”, Maxwell said boastfully. “Albie, I know this is a very special day for you but I am needed at home and I have to rush back home”, Maxwell said as he handed over the bottle of Sparkling wine to Alberta. “If there is still time, I would come so we celebrate the birthday in grand style”, Maxwell added. Alberta did not utter a word and watched Maxwell leave her apartment. Maxwell rushed home and assisted his mother with supper. He could not thank his mother enough for ‘saving’ him. It took longer than usual for supper to be ready. When the food was finally ready, Maxwell quickly changed his clothes and rushed out of his room. When he opened the gate to step out, Alberta was also about to enter his house. “I don’t need your wine if I can’t feel your presence when I need it the most”, Alberta said and placed the bottle at Maxwell’s feet and turned to leave. “Alberta, come on”, Maxwell started. “Don’t do this now”. “As you can see, I was on my way to your house”, Maxwell said. “I am sorry, Maxwell but it is too late”, Alberta said and started walking away. “Don’t you dare follow me, Max!”, Alberta yelled. Maxwell recalled the incident that occurred on his campus and quietly picked up the bottle of wine and went back into the house. Maxwell placed the bottle of wine in the hall under one of the seats to prevent his mother from setting her eyes on it and enquiring why it was not sent. Maxwell sat in one of the seats and before long, he dozed off. He woke up the next morning to find his mother standing over him with the same wine bottle in her hand. “I thought you sent this bottle of wine to Alberta yesterday”, Maxwell’s mother started. Maxwell began to fumble and immediately, his mother knew something was not right. She called Maxwell’s sister and asked her to give her Alberta’s phone number and she dialled the number. “Hello, Alberta, this is Maxwell’s mother”, Maxwell’s mother said. “Didn’t you like the bottle of wine Maxwell gave to you?”, Maxwell’s mother enquired. “I did receive it but I gladly returned it”, Alberta responded. “Why did you do that?”, Maxwell’s mother asked. “I think you should ask your son because he knows why I did that”, Alberta answered. “I am talking to you and I know I could have asked my son but out of curiosity, I wanted to hear from you personally”, Maxwell’s mother said. “So tell me, is anything the matter?”. Alberta took a deep breath and said, “Mummy, I am pregnant and Maxwell is responsible”….. THE HEAVILY GUARDED SECRET HAS BEEN LET OUT OF THE BAG. HOW WOULD ALL THE PARTIES INVOLVED REACT TO THIS SHATTERING NEWS?

EVEN IF I DON’T FIND PEACE – Edwin Lamptey. Episode 9

EPISODE NINE

 

Maxwell stared at Alberta as she stood at the door leading to the balcony with the knife in her hand and tears in her eyes. They stared at each other like the two sworn enemies they used to be way back in high school. “Are you kidding me, Alberta?“, Maxwell exclaimed in shock. “Are you thinking of stabbing me with that knife in your hand?“, Maxwell asked as he held on even more tightly to the handle of the door leading outside the room. Maxwell shook his head in disappointment. “Are you going to do to me the very thing I prevented you from doing to Calvin?“, Maxwell enquired. All this while, Alberta  stood like a statue not even budging at Maxwell’s enquires. All of Maxwell’s roommates were out of the room because Maxwell had early on begged them to excuse him so he could have some ‘alone’ time with Alberta. “Drop that knife this very minute!“, Maxwell yelled. He was beginning to get infuriated by Alberta’s violentbehavior. “So does it mean that anytime we have an argument, you would pull out a weapon?“, Maxwell asked as he began to walk towards Alberta although carefully and alert so as not to cause her do any harm to him or herself. “Baby, just give me the knife and let us talk this over”, Maxwell tried to persuade her as he stretched out his hand to take the knife from Alberta. “I hate you, Max”, Alberta said, with tears rolling uncontrollably down her cheeks. “What have I ever done to your mum for her to hate me that much?“,Alberta asked Maxwell as he inched closer to the place she stood. “Don’t you dare come any closer Max, I am warning you”, Alberta added. “I don’t want to hurt you”, Alberta said as she wiped her tears away from her cheeks with her free hand. Maxwell defied Alberta’s warning and kept moving slowly towards her but constantly  kept his eyes fixated on the movement of the knife in Alberta’s hand. Maxwell was now just inches away from Alberta and her weapon and courageously made an attempt to disarm Alberta. Before he could lay his hand on the knife, Alberta panicked and hit his hand with the knife. Luckily for Maxwell, the tip of the knife hit his wrist bone. He only missed been cut by the knife by inches. Maxwell finally got a firm grip of the knife and aggressively pulled it out of Alberta’s hand. “What has come over you?“,Maxwell asked sternly now that he had successfully disarmed Alberta. “Maxwell, I love you so much don’t you get it?“, Alberta started. Before she could continue, Maxwell cut in, “I am confused”. “If you claim to love me, why would you pull a weapon with the intention of hurting me?“. “I am so sorry”, Alberta started her defense. “I don’t know what came over me, Max”. Maxwell held Alberta’s hand and helped her to sit on his bed. She placed her head on Maxwell’s shoulder and made a confession she had promised herself several times not to tell Maxwell. “All my life, I have loved people with all my heart and they end up disappointing me or hurting me or sometimes do both”, Alberta said. “Even my family members  havehurt me several times and have treated me badly”, Alberta continued. “Before I met you, I went out with a guy I met through a classmate of mine”. “I really loved that guy with all my mind, body and soul”. “One day, a cousin of mine visited me and we both visited my boyfriend in his school”, Alberta continued, wiping her wet eyes with her palm. “The next thing I heard was that my cousin had visited my boyfriend and spent two nights with him on his campus”. “What?“, Maxwell exclaimed. “So how did you hear about it”, Maxwell probed further. “His roommate who was concerned and had apparently seen I and my cousin the day we visited called me and informed me about it”. “I confronted both of them and they confirmed it”. “As for my cousin, she was so blunt in her response so I vowed not to talk to her ever again”, Alberta added, looking into Maxwell’s eyes. “Then you came into my life again”. “Despite my hotheadedness, you still show me so much love, care and attention”, Alberta confessed. “No one has ever done that for me and that includes my parents but you are so gentle and kind and patient and truth be told, it has made me fall madly in love with you”, Alberta said and paused to catch her breath. “That is why when anyone tries to come between us, I go crazy and don’t know what to do because I don’t want to ever lose you to anyone in this world”, Alberta added. After this revelation and more, Maxwell and Alberta had their dinner and Maxwell called his roommates to come and have their supper too. That night, Maxwell and Alberta took a stroll on his campus and chatted in the open night’s sky. When they got back to the room, his roommates where asleep so Maxwell used his copy of the room’s key to let himself and Alberta into the room. On the dawn of the next day, Maxwell took Alberta to the bus terminal where she boarded the first bus going back into town. Before she eventually boarded the bus, she turned and said, “It seems you are forgetting something”. “Oh sorry”, Maxwell said and dipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out some notes and handed them over to Alberta. “Alberta stretched out her right hand and took the money from Maxwell. “I didn’t mean that, Max”, Alberta said as she stashed the money into her hand bag. “You forgot to give me a goodbye kiss”, Alberta said as she blushed. Maxwell then leaned in from where he stood and locked lips with Alberta who was halfway into the bus. After the kiss, the driver started his engine ready to drive off as if he was waiting on the two of them to kiss before leaving the bus terminal. As the bus exited the terminal, Maxwell waved one last time and found his way to the taxi station where he was to join a commercial taxi which was going to his campus.

The pressure of the semester was on. It was three weeks to examinations and Maxwell and almost all the other students were preparing for the end of semester exam with fear and trembling. Maxwell’s courses for that semester were quite tricky so he had to put in extra effort to pass the papers. He received a call from Alberta one dawn when he had gone to the library to study. “Albie, is everything alright?“, Maxwell asked as he looked at the time Alberta was calling. “Everything is not alright, Max”, Alberta started. “I miss you so much and I want to see you”, Alberta said. “Alberta, you know my exams are coming up and I need to study for them right?“, Maxwell asked. “Yeah, I know but I miss you and I just can’t help it”, Alberta fought back. “Just let me see you for one day, that is all I ask”, Alberta pleaded. “Okay”, Maxwell agreed. “You can come over on Thursday and leave on Saturday”. “Wow!“, Alberta exclaimed. “I just can’t wait to see you”, Alberta added. Early on Thursday morning, Alberta was already on Maxwell’s campus and was knocking at his door. When she was ushered in, she had with her, assorted stews and a little bag of uncooked rice with a loaf of bread and two 2 litre bottles of Coca-Cola. When she finally settled down, she asked Maxwell to turn on their TV so she could watch a soap opera. Maxwell informed her that their TV set had developed a fault and so it was not working. Alberta begged Maxwell to find an alternative for her. Maxwell went from room to room on his floor and asked for permission to allow Alberta use their TV set for an hour. Kennedy was in Room 4 and Maxwell was in Room 10. Kennedy agreed for Alberta to watch her soap opera in his room. Maxwell sat with Alberta throughout the whole programme even though he had very little knowledge as to what the programme was about. After the programme, Maxwell introduced Alberta to Kennedy as his girlfriend and the two of them left the room after thanking Kennedy for his hospitality. The soap opera was airing the next day but this time, Maxwell asked to be excused to be able to catch up on some group discussion for one of his difficult courses. Alberta knocked on Kennedy’s door and Kennedy politely ushered her in and offered her a seat. After the TV programme, Alberta stayed on a while and tried to acquaint herself with Kennedy. Both of them chatted for a long time and soon, they had become friends. Alberta postponed leaving on Saturday and begged Maxwell to allow her stay on yet a while. Maxwell reluctantly agreed after Alberta promised that she was not going to be a distraction for him in the build-up to his examinations. Alberta had managed to stay on Maxwell’s campus even after his exams had commenced. Maxwell was supposed to write eight papers that semester. Unfortunately for Maxwell, the exam timetable had been structured in such a way that Maxwell had to sit for three papers in three continuous days so Maxwell had to learn more in order to pull off that feat. Maxwell’s roommates had been nicknamed ‘the miners’, reason being that, they were always found at odd times in the library constantly  studying so Maxwell used that time to also study in his room while Alberta slept. One morning when Maxwell’s roommates had gone to ‘mine’, Alberta requested to go and see Kennedy but Maxwell vehemently refused. “You are just jealous”, Alberta said when Maxwell turned down her request. “I am not jealous in any way whatsoever”. “I am only being cautious”, Maxwell added. Alberta who tried to make inferences from Maxwell’s remark felt offended and said, “Is that what you think of me?”, Alberta asked. “You think I go about sleeping with people?“, Alberta enquired. “I haven’t said that”, Maxwell fired back. “I think it is just wise for me to throw caution to the wind because if anything happens to you throughout your stay here on this campus, I would be the one held responsible”, Maxwell explained. That morning Maxwell refused to let Alberta see Kennedy. The whole of that day, Alberta refused to eat anything Maxwell offered her. She even moved from his bed and settled on Ben’s bed because she was angry with Maxwell. Maxwell had just returned from the first day of his three-day marathon examination week. Alberta was still on Ben’s bed but Maxwell’s roommates had not returned. “Are you still angry with me?“, Maxwell asked trying to be nice to Alberta. Alberta refused to speak to Maxwell or answer any of his questions. After talking without receiving any response,Maxwell sat behind the little study desk they had in their room and started flipping through his notes for the paper he had to write the next day. As he did that in silence, Alberta finally spoke, “I want to go out”. Maxwell turned and asked,  “What are you going to do outside?” “That is none of your business”, Alberta responded in a cheeky tone. “So far as you are here with me, everything you do around here is my business”, Maxwell fired back sternly.  Alberta got up and started for the door. Maxwell quickly rushed behind her in pursuit and in the attempt to hold her back, he held her dress and pulled it and it tore. He tried to hold another part of her dress but mistakenly held onto her hair and ended up with a few strands of hair in his hand. Instantly, Alberta turned and slapped him twice. “How dare you lay your hands on me?“, Alberta asked angrily when she had successfully landed her second slap. “It was not intentional”, Maxwell tried to explain while he used his hand to rub his bruised cheek. Before he could find words to add to his apology, Alberta started for his other cheek and he quickly stopped her hand in mid-air and hugged her tightly. “Get a hold of yourself“, Maxwell pleaded. Alberta tried to wriggle herself free from Maxwell’s firm grip and in so doing, more of her clothes got torn. She began to scream on top of her voice and the screams attracted other people from other rooms who had already gathered in front of Maxwell’s room trying to find out what the fuss was all about. Maxwell had locked the door  so Alberta banged on the door from the inside and forced Maxwell to open the door. Immediately he unlocked the door, Alberta flung the door open and marched out of the room with her tattered clothes. The people who had gathered in front of the room could not believe that Maxwell could even hurt a fly let alone beat up a full grown young lady. Maxwell’s hostel mates rushed into the room to assess the situation. Maxwell joined them and saw that Alberta had left her phone on Ben’s bed so he took it and pocketed it. Soon, Alberta came rushing into the room with a white uncooked egg in her hand and crying uncontrollably. She flung the egg at Maxwell which fell on top of his left foot and Alberta uttered some words. All Maxwell could make out of what Alberta said was, “No girl will ever…“. Instantly, Maxwell’s temper lost its hold and Maxwell, knowing full well of what Alberta’s action implied, angrily started making his way to where Alberta stood. “I have had enough of your stupidity!“, Maxwell exclaimed and held Alberta’s throat with both of his hands. As he began squeezing, his roommates appeared at the scene and together with some of the boys gathered, they managed to separate the two of them. Alberta marched into the room and packed her bags. It was almost 10 PM. Maxwell had not studied for his paper which he had to write the following day. Alberta came out abruptly and angrily asked Maxwell, “Where is my phone?“. Maxwell told her he had it but would not give it to her if she didn’t calm down. Alberta did not say a word and went back into the room. On her return, she had a kitchen knife in her hand. When his roommates and almost all the people gathered saw the weapon in her hand, they gave her room to pass for fear of being hurt. Alberta marched straight to Maxwell and desperately tried to stab him in the chest but Maxwell dodged the attempt. He quickly handed over the phone to Alberta and she packed her bags out of the room and headed for the taxi terminal in front of Maxwell’s hostel. When she got there, all the taxis had left. Maxwell begged her not to leave but she refused and insisted on leaving. Maxwell then called Nancy and told her all that had happened and asked her to tell Alberta not to leave but wait till it was morning. All pleas fell on deaf ears since Alberta insisted she was not going to spend another minute with Maxwell. It was almost midnight and even though there was no taxi in sight, Alberta still insisted on leaving. When Maxwell and all the people gathered started to give up and one by one return to the hostel, one of Maxwell’s course mates came by and finally convinced Alberta to stay the night and leave the following morning. Soon, they were all back in Maxwell’s room and the ‘Gossips’ had finally all left. Alberta lay on Maxwell’s bed and suddenly began to weep, Maxwell who was trying hard to study for his paper that morning walked to her side and asked, “What is wrong with you?“. “I am sorry, Maxwell”, Alberta started. “I am pregnant”…… THINGS ARE ABOUT TO MOVE FROM BAD TO WORSE… HOLD ON TIGHT…