All that Glitters  Episode 1

45minutes later.

He stumbled out of the house in shock. He could

barely see where he was going. He just

wanted to

get out from the house far away from her….

From

her dead body.

You could almost hear his heart beating from down

the street. He wasn’t scarred, no, he was just tired

and short of breath. He needed to breath clean

fresh air.

So he staggered down the street like a drunk,

ignorant of his environment and the vehicles that

went out of their way to avoid him.

Suddenly he fell on his face, unconscious. The sun

and the sky playing a game of hide and seek on the

back of his unconscious body.

45minutes earlier

Richard hummed under his breath to the music

playing on the radio as he drove through the neatly

tarred streets of Enugu, His fingers taping gently

on the steering wheel. Occasionally, a presenter

interrupted the music to make an announcement.

Annoyed by the interruptions, Richard changed to

another station.

“Better” he said to himself after changing to a

different station, “this is more like it.”

He had just dropped his four year old daughter,

Nnenna, at his sister’s place. She needed the

change and so did he. Coming to Enugu was

probably the best thing he had done in recent

times. He felt lighter and somewhat relived, even

happy. He anticipated an evening of silent

relaxation. No friends. No family. And certainly, no

child. Richard felt a little guilty for thinking of

Nnenna as a burden. He loved his daughter dearly,

almost to the point of stupidity, but a man needed

a break once in a while.

“Caring for a child is not a man’s job,” his mother

had told him countless times.

“Marry another woman, who can take care of you

and my grandchild. Or better still, come down to

Enugu. We can get you a good job here. That noisy

Lagos, that is full of thieves and low life, is not a

place to raise a child. Inugo (have you heard)?”

Richard heard but he didn’t really listen. The truth

was that he didn’t want to listen and agree with

what everyone was telling him.

“You must go on living. Life must go on.” One

person will say.

“It has happened and there is nothing you can do.

Thank God that you’ve collected back her bride

price” another person will say,

“There are many fishes in the ocean. If you catch

one and it is not good enough, throw it back into

the ocean. You will definitely catch a better fish

before sun down.”

He took all the advices with a ready smile and a

heart burning with anger and frustration. They

spoke as if they understood or even cared -even

though it was obvious that they didn’t. A deep

urge ran through him to punch the twinkling stars

out of whoever was giving the advice. But he held

himself. Over time, the smile became a permanent

part of his countenance, using it in place of words

to the numerous unsolicited advice and sympathy.

It soon began to hurt and feel like a huge burden.

So he started avoiding people and places he knew.

Thankfully, Lagos is a big place.

[]But his boss, at the telecommunication company

he worked at, had had enough of his fake smile,

sullen face and dispirited attitude towards his

work.

“Go home. Take a vacation. Find a wife. Visit

family. And come back when you have lost that

nasty smile and don’t forget to retrieve your voice

wherever you kept it,” his boss had told him, his

burly stomach shaking as he spoke.

That was three days ago.

Bored with life, irritated by the blue painting of the

walls in his flat, hurt by the way Nnenna looked at

him –as if she was scared of him- he had called

his eldest sister, Margret. He was duly informed, by

a visibly angry elder sister, that their parents were

not in the country.

“Were did they go?” Richard asked

“America.”

“Why? What happened?” he pressed on, ignoring

her contemptuous voice.

“Nkeiru have given birth. A baby boy and she

stupidly named the poor child Richard, of all names

on earth,”

“She had a child? How come nobody told me?”

“Yes she had a child three months ago,” Margret

replied, her voice richly spiced with sarcasm. “While

you hid yourself and avoided everybody. Are you

happy? You almost made mama to have a heart

attack….”

Richard patiently held the phone as his sister

shouted. Margret continued shouting into the

phone for a minute or two.

“How are you?” Margret asked in cool voice after

she was done chastising her younger brother.

“Come to Enugu and spend some time with us. Or

send Nnenna over. She can go to school with her

cousins”

“Ok sister. We’re coming. Tomorrow.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. Nnenna can stay in your house, I’ll stay in

Dad’s house. You’re with the house key?” Richard

asked

The feeling was mutual, between Nnenna and her

father. She quickly settled down with her cousins,

laughing and playing like a normal kid. It broke

Richard’s heart that his daughter appeared to be

happy with his sister’s family than with him. But

he understood. His pains were infectious and his

morose life was unsuitable for a child as

rumbustious as his daughter.

“She loves you. But she really needed a change of

environment, with the divorce and all the drama.

Glad you came,” Margret had told him as she saw

him off to the car she had loaned him.

Honestly, Richard was glad he had left Lagos and

his flat with its annoying blue paint. The air was

clean here and life was evenly paced. He could

hear himself think and pick out the lines of his

thought. He felt alive, relaxed and young. And for

the first time in almost six months, he was singing

and happy. Yes that’s what he was feeling, happy.

It’s a good feeling, a refreshing feeling that he had

almost forgotten.

[]As he waited for the traffic light to change to

green, the radio changed to an upbeat afro beat.

He clapped his hands and sang along. Despite the

fact that he was singing off tune but it felt good to

sing. He hadn’t sang like this since… since Ifeoma

left.

Ifeoma. That’s her name. A very beautiful name

that rolls over the tongue effortlessly, as if it was

dipped in a bowl of red oil. She was even more

beautiful than her name suggested. Tall with skin

the color of ripe pawpaw, eyes a light gray shade –

almost cat like, and elegant with a well-structured

teeth –which she always put on full display. She

had this way of speaking that was so engaging,

almost mesmerizing, and she gave off a slight lisp

that sounded unintentional but in actual truth, it

was intentional. She was ambitious and strong will,

little wonder she was rising quickly through the

ranks of the bank she was working with.

Everyone, including Richard, had thought that it

was a union made in heaven. Ifeoma dazzled

everyone with her wit and infectious laughter. She

seem to exude a sort of sexual magnetism without

actually being flirtatious or seductive. Even

Richards’ mother, who had an uncommon intuition

and a hugely conservative African woman, fell for

Ifeoma. Thus, six months into their courtship,

Richard proposed. Ifeoma accepted.

Denying the fact that he sometimes felt stifled by

Ifeoma would make Richard a bare faced liar. She

had a way of controlling him without, him, actually

knowing that he was being manipulated. She

accentuated her every request with a kiss or a

touch, on certain sensitive body parts. Being a

hopeless romantic and a true believer in the

Shakespearean tales of romance, which he now

considers idiotic, Richard did all he could to make

her happy.

Their wedding was a big affair. And if weddings

were parameters to decide how successful a

marriage will be, then Richard and Ifeoma will be

married till thy kingdom come. But it wasn’t and it

would never be. Slowly the threads of whatever

that held them together began to fall off and with

it came the wool that had covered Richard’s eyes

for so long. He began to notice changes in his

wife’s behavior. She became more controlling and

aggressive. Countless times, Ifeoma accused her

husband of keeping a mistress. Richard denied. But

she wouldn’t believe him.

“Am pregnant,” Ifeoma announced one evening a

few months after the wedding.

Pregnant have never sounded so good nor looked

so beautiful. It was as if her energy and beauty

was multiplied. She glided through the nine months

effortlessly. And in that nine months marriage

tasted like honey to Richard.

The first year of Nnenna’s birth, were the best in

Richard life. He felt young and loved. Nnenna, like

her mother, was a beauty. Her eyes were gray and

engaging. Ifeoma was totally enwrapped with her

child, so much so, that Richard was relegated to

the back. But he didn’t mind. He was proud of his

small family and all he wanted was to see them

happy even if it means being relegated –once in a

while.

……. ……. ……..

“Who is she?” an angry Ifeoma asked Richard one

evening.

“Who?” Richard asked, the smile on his face

frozen. The question was thrown at him

immediately he stepped into the apartment. Ifeoma

had yet to greet or welcome him before confronting

him. Her face was wild. You could almost see the

blood taste in her gray eyes. It scared Richard.

Never had he seen his wife like this.

“Who is she?” Ifeoma screamed, pulling at her hair.

“I don’t know what you are….” Before he could

finish, Ifeoma lunged at him, grabbed him by the tie

in an attempt to strangle him. Richard was

shocked at first, but he quickly recovered and he

seized her hands. Placing his left leg between her

own legs, he tackled her to the ground.

“What is it?” Richard inquired in a soft voice. He

pulled her up and gathered her into his arms.

“I don’t know. I saw you leave her car, she dropped

you… the car…“ Ifeoma said in between tears.

“Now? That was Charlie’s wife. You know Charlie

my good friend at the office. His car was broken,

so he called his wife to come pick him. I decided

to hitch a ride with them instead of taking a taxi.

Didn’t you see Charlie in the paasenger seat?”

“Am sorry,” Ifeoma whispered. “Am tired of staying

at home. I need to start working. Nnenna… she’s

tiring me out and… and staying with her all day

long, is a torture. Am tired of her. Am tired of this

house…”

“But I thought you quit your job so you could stay

at home till baby begins school?”

“I said am tired,” Ifeoma snapped, pushing herself

off Richard’s body. “Or didn’t you hear what I just

said? If I stay with her alone in this house for one

more hour, I’ll kill myself. Why are you so selfish?

And her name is Nnenna not BABY.”

In other to keep peace, Richard agreed. They got a

house help to look after Nnenna whilst Ifeoma

went back to her old job. But the job didn’t solve

the problem. She became more cantankerous and

authoritative. Numerously neighbor had come to

quell the fight between the young couple.

Afraid of being seen as a failure by his family,

especially his father, Richard kept his problem to

himself. He tried as much as he could to avoid his

wife and keep her happy. But Ifeoma was

unpleasable.

On a Friday, Two weeks after Nnenna’s third

birthday, Ifeoma stormed into Richard’s work

place. Richard was telling a joke to a circle of

friends. He looked relaxed in his brown Ankara

traditional attire. Ifeoma rushed at him, without a

word, she seized his trouser at the waist.

“That your witch girlfriend, where is she? Show me

the useless Charlie that works in your office? Liar!

Show me the useless man that allows you to frolic

with his wife?” Ifeoma screamed into Richard’s

face.

“Are you mad?” Richard asked in a voice that was

little more than a whisper. He was confused on

what to do. Attack her verbally or physically, and

the whole world would call him a wife beater.

Ignore her, and he would seem spineless.

“Me, mad?” Ifeoma inquired. Richard saw it. The

madness and the hate in her gray eyes.

“Am Charlie” someone was saying from behind, but

Ifeoma wasn’t listening. In what seem like a film

trick, at least to Richard, she tore through the light

fabric of Richard’s attire and attacked his penis.

She squeezed his penis and scrotum together

shouting like a woman at the onset of madness.

**********

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