Everyone seemed to have had a very long day because everyone got home late. I had prepared white rice and beans before they arrived. I saw meat and fish in the fridge and I used it to prepare stew with the already defrozen pepper. Prisca arrived first and then mum followed by dad later and they were all happy that I had made dinner and they told me that. Everyone felt tired one way or another and I did not have the heart to bring my own problems to bug them again, besides, they had already done enough for me and I did not want to overstep my bounds.
“Belina”, Mr Jegas called
I turned round, “sir?” I answered.
“you have been quiet for quite a while now, is anything the problem?” he asked looking worried. Mum was busy in the room and Prisca had gone to take her bath, if my guess is right, she would be busy chatting with Tony now on phone so there had been nobody to keep my mouth running.
“No sir, I… I am fyn” I answered.
He stared at me for some seconds and finally said, “I don’t buy that, come”
I stood reluctantly, went to meet him and sat beside him on the couch.
“Now tell me, did anything happen at work? Talk to me”, he said giving me audience.
I sighed remembering my day at work but said, “nothing bad happened at work sir”.
“so what is the problem?” he asked.
“it is my… my dad. He has been released and –”
“Released?” he said and stared at the TV probably wondering why he had not listened to today’s news, I had wondered the same earlier. “how come?”
“He was actually innocent sir, the real murderer was caught” His eye brows raised in surprise. “but that is not the problem. He called me just as I got home seeking forgiveness and wanting to know where I am”, I said.
“He what? Haaa, people have no shame. So what did you tell him? That you would be going back there?” he asked not even giving me the chance to answer it one at a time.
“No sir, how could i? I told him never to call me again”, I said.
“I wish I could strangle him for what he did to you”, he said as he jumped up angrily.
“Strangle who?” this came from Prisca’s mother and she had a worried look on her face. Before I knew it, Prisca was already in the sitting room looking puzzled and I knew I was the topic once again and sighed internally.
“Can you imagine? Belina’s father is already out of prison because they found out that he really did not commit the murder and he had the guts to call Belina asking for forgiveness”, Mr. Jegas said looking like he was about to search my father out and beat the living daylight out of him.
They were both quiet but their facial expressions were not palatable. I quickly lightened up the situation. “It is not really a big deal, I told him that I don’t want to see him again and I meant it”, I said.
Prisca looked white suddenly, “hey, someone called me today and asked of Belina and I said you were at work, before I could ask who it was, he had hung up. What if that was your father. He could trace you here”, she said and while we were still processing that, we heard a knock at the door. We were all puzzled cos no one should have been able to get to the door without us opening the gate. We were so scared and so we all went to the door even though dad told us to stay behind. We opened the door and speaking of the devil, we all stared at the plastered face of my dad.
Richard turned around on the bed thinking about the one person that had stuck to his head like a virus. Try as he may, he hadn’t been able to purge her out of his brain. He thought about what she had been through and found it hard to believe that someone could go through all that and still be able to carry herself with dignity like nothing had happened. He admired her courage and determination to bring the best out of her life and still found it amusing that she could look exceptionally pretty even when she was going through hell. He had felt at ease with her so much that he felt a part of her instantly.
He started comparing her with Tonia, and mentally kicked himself out of it. He wondered just how she had been able to spot that he had a foreign blood in his veins and praised her the more. Just then, he heard a knock and he was still wondering who could be visiting at 10pm when he opened the door.
A scream from him followed, “No you are dead”, he yelled trying to close the door.
Tonia opened the door back, “I am not dead, Richard”, she said.
“No… you, you are. You are dead. Oh my God, I am going crazy”, he yelled holding his head.
“No Richard, touch my hand and see that I am real”, Tonia said stretching forth her hand.
“no, you died three years ago, pls go, go, go…” he said and forcefully closed the door and locked it instantly. He immediately ran into the bedroom shaking all over.
“What the hell do you think you are doing in my house?” Mr jegas yelled at my father immediately he set his eyes on him. “Sorry for bothering you sir, I just must see Belina today”, my dad said without jittering. “Well you would be sorry if you don’t leave now. How did you get past my gate by the way? Did you jump it?” “Of course not, I met it open so I just entered”, he replied stiffly. Prisca’s dad laughed slightly, “mr man, you better get the hell out of my house before I call the cops to arrest you for trespassing”, he said glaring at him. “Darling, wait”, prisca’s mum was saying putting her hands on her husband’s shoulders. “Stay out of this Lizzy”, he shot back at her. Prisca and I who had been standing silently were both taken aback when we heard him call his wife by her first name and by that we knew that his temper had risen to a dangerous degree.
Mrs jegas was not put back, she went to stand between the two men at war facing her husband. He stared at her angrily for some seconds and just like magic, he started relaxing then she said, “come on, he is her father. Allow him”.
He glared at my father then allowed him in. I kept my face carefully blank showing neither happiness nor anger at the sight of him and said, “what do you want sir?”
“I need you to listen to me and when I am done, you can decide whether you would forgive me or not”, he said pleading with his eyes.
Prisca held my hand tenderly and nodded. I led him to the couch and even though he did not like the public discussion, that was what I offered him.
“Belina”, he began, “I know that you are angry and you have the right to be. I am very sorry for everything I have done to you and for making your life miserable but life hasn’t been fair to me either and I thought about taking it out on you and your mother. My mother did not have time for me when I was young cos she always traveled from one place to the other. You are aware that I was from a very rich family so she had more than enough money to spend on trips and shopping all over the world. My dad though very busy, still spent time with me and gave me one of his companies to manage after my university education but the day that changed the course of my life was the day I lost my dad. We were in the car together including the driver when we got involved in a car accident and he died including the driver. I survived but I was later told by the doctor after some years that due to the car accident, I would not be able to have children with any woman again”. He paused
I had kept my face carefully straight but internally I felt for him. I knew what it was like to lose a loved one and when I lost my mum, I almost felt like dying but when he mentioned the part of not being able to give birth, my head jerked up.
“But you had me right?” I asked becoming more alarmed by the second.
“No, I am not your father”, he dropped.
“What? Everybody exclaimed excluding me who was practically in a trance. I could not begin to process the fact that I had spent my entirely life in a lie. My face fell and all the blood in my body virtually drained away as I sat there frozen like a statue.
He explained how he had met my mum on the staircase after she had left the room of the guy who impregnated her. “she had been an orphan and had been very determined not to have anything to do with a poor guy so that her children would not suffer the same way she did. The rich man had promised to take care of her but when she became pregnant and refused to abort it, he had sent her out telling her that he had a wife he loves very much. I took her home and after explaining my predicament, I promised to take care of her if her child bears my surname. I also made her promise not to tell her child what had transpired between us but after you were born, the fact that you were not my biological child never eluded my mind and I started maltreating you. When things became sour and bitter after some years and we had to move to the mainland, I blamed you and your mother for my misfortune. I am sorry”, he ended.
My eyes could not see properly again because of the tears it held, prisca held me comfortingly and all the tears came down like a mighty river. I placed my head between my hands and wept then after what seemed like forever, I looked at my dad or actually Ex-dad and said, “I have only one question for you sir. Do you know who my father is?”
His facial expression was grim and I felt sorry for him but I was past caring about all that, my heart was shattered. “I don’t know him physically but I know his name. Your mum told me when I wanted to look for him and deal with him but I never saw him. His name is Mr Francis Jegas”, he dropped and everyone in the room yelled one thing or the other as we all turned to the only person with that name.
Richard sat on the floor still shivering vehemently. He still heard the persistent knock on the door and he used his hands to block his ears. After about ten minutes, he did not hear the knock but he left his hands where they were. He started counting backwards from 100 to 1 and he did that five times but was not able to calm down. He prayed for what seemed like hours but it was actually minutes and he was able to calm down a bit. He stood up on shaky legs, picked up his phone and dialed tony.
On the other side, tony was exceedingly worried. He had dialed Prisca’s number times without number and she had not picked. He dialed Belina’s number also and met the same result but when he saw Richard’s call, he knew something must definitely be wrong with this night.
“Hello Richard, is everything alright?” he asked immediately. “No, nothing is alright tony, I am going crazy”, Richard responded. “What do you mean by that?” he asked “Tony, I just saw Tonia. I saw her. She knocked the door, and I opened and saw her. I was not sleeping Tony”, he said becoming angry again. “Ehn, I am coming now, just be calm ok?” he said and without waiting for reply, he hung up.
Approximately thirty minutes after Richard called Tony, Richard heard a knock on his door and his heart started racing. “Tony, is that you?” he asked “Yes, open up man”, Tony responded and the door was pened immediately. Unconsciously, Richard scanned the entrance to be sure no one was lurking around and seeing no ghost, he shut the door and faced Tony.
“What is going on?” Tony asked. “I don’t know. I feel sick. I need a psychiatrist cos I think I am going crazy”, Richard responded sitting down forcefully. Tony sighed, “I think Tonia is taking too much space in your head Richy. You need to get over this guilt you feel, I have no doubt that is why you have been dreaming about her. You need to see Belina, she should be able to help you”, he said seriously. “Oh, don’t mention Belina again. She has been taking too much of my thoughts, maybe that is why Tonia came in person today to remind me that I made a promise to her to always think about her”. Tony looked sharply, “when was that?” “On her death bed Tony, maybe she knew that she would die so she asked me to always think about her when she is gone. I did and also said that no one would take her place in my heart. I only wish I saw her when she died”. Richard said trying to ward off the pain he felt at that remembrance”. “I see, so someone else has taken her place, right?” Tony asked
Richard looked at Tony for some seconds and later said, “I think about her everyday, I mean Belina. She is constantly in my head. The problem is that I never felt that way with Tonia. I loved her but it does not compare at all to what I now feel for Belina”.
“Well then, you better look for a way to drive this problem away because if you let this damsel slip off your fingers, I would agree that you are truly crazy”, Tony said with a smile.
Richard sighed and relaxed fully on the chair. Tony looked at him with concern, he hadn’t seen his friend this way before. Something flashed through his mind which he quickly dismissed, “What if he was not hallucinating and Tonia is not actually dead?”
Everything was silent and i am sure that even a pin would make the loudest noice if it mistakingly slipped from its place but even the furnitures were holding their breath as we all stared at Prisca’s father. After what seemed like eternity, i heard a strangled voice which brought me out of the cocoon which i found myself. “Explain what I am hearing Francis. What is this man talking about?” she asked silently. He did not seem to hear at first and he looked far worse than an over-cooked vegetable. “I… I don’t know what he is saying. What is the woman’s name?” he asked facing my dad, i mean Ex-dad. I did not even give him the chance to answer. “Linda Terresa. Her name was Linda Terresa when she was young, she told me. You don’t know her right?” I said already on my feet and i did not know when i stood up. My legs threatened to give way beneath me when i saw his face turn white like someone who was face to face with the firing squad.
Prisca’s mum flew up as if she was stung and yelled, “Francis… aaaahhhh….. what is this? You better opened that mouth of yours and start explaining ooo. So, you have been sleeping with women right under my nose ehn? Aaaaahh, God would judge you” she said, weeping profusely now.
I did not have any strength left in me and Prisca just stood also gawping like someone from another planet. Mr Badmus opened his mouth and said, “i am sor-” He did not get to finish his statement before his wife pounced on him like a dog would attack a bone after ten days of hunger.
I did not even move an inch, i just stared blankly and was only there bodily, i was actually in another realm. My life was just like a broken plate and the more i put the pieces together, the more stupid it becomes.
The tears just flowed without hinderance and i felt so useless. i heard the words of Prisca’s mum who was in tears, behaving like a crazy person as if from a far distance.
We all stared at Prisca’s father who was seated with his mouth agape, gawping at my Ex-dad. I looked at him and he gradually grew from a friend and a friend’s father to a monster. Everyone’s eyes were on him and finally after more than 15 mins of silence and tension, i heard Prisca’s mum talk. “What is going on here Francis?” she asked her husband. “I d… dont know”, he said frozen to the spot then turned to my ex-dad, “what is her name?” he asked. I did not give him a chance to reply when i said, “Linda, her name was Linda Terresa then”. He gasped and looked like he would faint soon and i got my answer. I stood up slowly because my legs could not just carry me but i ensured that i was on my feet because the seat could no longer contain me; my tears were coming in torrents. “So you are my f… father” i said shaking terribly. The entire room was in chaos and virtually everyone was standing except Mr Jegas. “You did not answer my question Francis… I said, do you have anything to do with all these?” she asked charging forward towards her husband. He opened his mouth to say, ‘i am sorry’ but did not get to complete the statement because she got to him and started pummeling him and my former dad’s efforts to seperate them was almost futile.
I stood like a stick as i looked on as events unfolded before me. Everything was blurry because of my drenched eyes and i was shaking like a leaf on water. I felt prisca’s presence behind me and noticed that she hadn’t spoken at all throughout the drama but i couldn’t care less. Prisca’s mum was shouting because she was deeply hurt and her dear husband did not have the audacity to tell her to calm down.
“Aaahhh Francis, after all i have been through with you, you did this to me…Oh God… So you can keep this kind of secret of maybe 25 years from me. So because i gave birth to four boys, you outside to look for a girl thinking i would not have one right? You are heartless. How many more are out there ehn? How many?” She continued ranting and Prisca for the first time moved from her position and went to hold her mother tenderly and that was when i noticed that she was in tears. They cried together and i later found my voice.
“So you are my dad. You have been criticizing my dad saying he hired people to kidnap his own daughter not knowing that you are far worse. You are a murderer, you never wanted me and you made my mum suffer. Thank God my dad picked her up if not, i don’t know what would have become of us. I would never forgive you. Never” i said and gathered the strenght i could and walked into Prisca’s room but not before i saw the tears in Prisca’s father’s eyes.
i entered Prisca’s bedroom and knelt by the bed with my head on the bed crying profusely. I was shaking all over and felt it within me that i would fall sick soon. The thoughts of what my mother had gone through in life and how my father had wanted me dead bugged me and i cried until i had no strength in me.
I wanted to leave the house but my legs refused to give my legs the priviledge of rest so i forcefully pushed one leg up, i fell down and hit my head on something very sharply. The next thing that i encountered was darkness and time was forgotten as i entered into a state of unconsciousness.
Richard turned and tossed on the bed but could not sleep, Tony also could not sleep because he had been dialing Prisca’s phone and she hadn’t picked.
Richard left the bed and moved to the sitting room to join Tony. He had also become worried because he knew that they always chat at night endlessly and for Belina not to pick her call also means that something was wrong somewhere. Tony had wanted to go over to their house to be sure that there was noting wrong but Richard had held him back because of the time. It was already 1pm and sleep seemed to have departed the world.
Richard was worried that the problem might be with Belina because he remembered the events of the previous day and was worried that guy might go after her later.
He did not want to review the pain he had felt when he saw her tears the previous day, he had wanted to squeeze the life out of that guy for making her feel that way.
He sat down beside Tony and the atmosphere was very silent and his hand frantically pressed his phone. Richard offered words to calm him down but the words did not calm he himself much less Tony’s phone started ringing and he picked immediately.
“Oh baby, thank God. I have almost died her”, we was saying already on his feet hearing a sigh of relief “Please Tony, we need your help, get Richard. Belina is terribly hurt and we are taking her to the her to the hospital now”. Prisca said over the receiver. “what?, we are coming, please be careful honey”, he said and hung up. “What is going on?” Richard asked even before Tony hung up. His worry had now reached its peak.
“It is Belina, she… i don’t know what is wrong. She has been taken to the hospital”, he said grabbing his coat and shoes. “Jesus…” Richard said and ran into the room to pick his car keys even though Tony’s car was available.