Errrmmm…Humbledbygrace…Bukky is a female o…errm…
Tony knotted his tie whilst sipping some coffee. The night had been terrible, different night mares taunting him, he was awake 75 percent of the night.
He ignited his car, and Lara crossed his mind. Her beautiful eyes that widens when she’s scared was all he could see. He’s been just wicked to her, only God knows the story she’s telling his father now about him.
He changed his gear and sped on the highway.
He knew his father won’t spare him, he would take the company off his hand, collect all he has and worst of all disown him.
“Oh Sh*t!” he rubbed his eyes.
He opened them lazily at first, then they popped out.
A madman was standing on the road before him, just a few yards away. He couldn’t stop the car cos he was moving at a high speed.
He expertly turned the steering wheel moving the car off the road.
The car swerved beyond control, he muttered some quick prayers, he was sure he would die.
The car somersaulted throwing him out through the window…
Lara giggled as she bit into her roasted chicken, she was having lunch with her in-laws. She felt joy surge through her veins, what more could she ask for? She felt loved by them. They were doting on her, most-especially her father in-law Chief Ifiora.
“I taught your mother in-law how to cook o.” Ifiora chuckled at her.
“well I taught him how to eat!” Amara said and they all burst out laughing.
Lara watched them as they laughed, they looked so much alike; happy couples she thought as she smiled.
“When I was a boy, I helped my mother in the kitchen.” Ifiora said with pride.
“well that’s cos you liked it.” Amara replied.
“Not at all! I was an only child that’s why!” he defended himself.
“Hmm…Tony Is an only child too, but can’t make himself a mug of coffee.” Amara chirped cleaning her mouth with a napkin.
Lara felt shivers run down her spine at the mention fo ‘Tony’, she saw her father-in-law cringe too.
“Talking about Tony…” Ifiora’s voice became coarse.
“He couldn’t even call or do something…he’s expecting me to call him right?” he shook his head.
“I guess so!” Amara made a face.
“Hmm, I’m going to teach him a lesson he’ll never forget!” he basked like a lizard in the sun.
“Lesson? That boy is soooooo stubborn!” Amara said with disgust.
Chief Ifiora’s phone rang loudly.
“A strange number…” Amara said giving the phone to him.
“Hello?” he listened for a while.
“Yes you’re speaking with Chief Ifiora…”
he listened again.
“What?!” he rose to his feet.
Lara stopped eating, she wanted to know what was happening.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming right away!” He ended the call.
“Darling get me my Jacket!” he told Amara.
“What happened?” Lara asked quitely.
“Oh, nothing really, just eat your food.” he forced a smile.
“Ogini? What going on?” Amara appeared holding his jacket.
He whispered something to her in Igbo, for once Lara wished she understood Igbo.
“We need to go now! Lara take care!” Amara said throwing a scarf round her head.
“Can I come with you?” Lara rose to her feet.
“No..you just take care, okay? We’ll be back soon.” Amara said as she and her husband left through the exit.
Lara sighed deeply as she heard them drive out of the compound.
Definitely something is wrong some where….she fidgeted nervously.
Lara folded her arms round her chest as she watched her mother in-law pack some fruits into a basket.
“You’re going out” she said rather than asked.
“Yes, but I’ll be back soon.” Amara replied covering the basket with a table cloth.
“I’m coming with you…” Lara began to say.
“I’m coming with you!” she said firmly.
“Lara, you can’t come with me, okay?” Amara tried to soothe her.
“Is there anything wrong? You’ve been going out now for the past one week, and…and… Or is there anything you’re hiding from me?” Lara said with a frown.
“Now, Lara relax your nerves, okay. Stay back, I’l buy you something when I’m coming back.” Amara patted her.
“Okay then…I’l be going back to my place.” Lara pouted.
“Lara! You can’t…”
“I can’t stay here all alone!” Lara began to cry.
Amara sighed, she knew her game is up. She need to tell Lara the truth. But how would she start? Tony would be discharged that night.
“Errm..Lara, Tony had an accident, he’ll be discharged today.” she said slowly.
“Accident? Tony?” Lara held her chest firmly.
“Yes, he’l be discharged today.” Amara sighed again.
“I’m coming with you to see him!” Lara said huskily.
“No…I’l drop you at your place instead, you’l see him later in the day, when he’s been discharged.” Amara told her.
Lara felt her knee go weak, she prayed the accident isn’t that bad.
Lara toyed with her cornrows out of boredom, her mother-in-law had called to tell her they were on their way.
She tried to imagine what Tony would look like, maybe he would wear a scowl, or perhaps bark at her.
She heard the front door open, she stood up sharply, expectantly.
“Welco…” what she saw made her Tongue stick to the roof of her mouth…
Tony sat in a wheel chair, he looked so pale. Chief Ifiora pushed the wheel chair into the room.
Lara looked on, she tried to speak, but couldn’t. Tony looked up at her, he held her gaze, his eyes full of regrets, sorrow and pains.
Lara looked away, tears stung her eyelids, was it real? She asked herself.
“Don’t cry.” Amara hugged her.
Lara wept on her shoulder, she watched her father-in-law push Tony in his wheel chair towards his room.
Tears blurred her vision. Was this the same Tony she saw few days ago? Now he is in a wheel-chair?
She hugged her mother-inlaw and they both wept holding each other tightly.
“Breakfast is ready…” Lara cooed as she helped Tony sit-up on his bed.
He was watching her closely, she’s been supportive ever since he came back from the hospital.
He had always imagined her paying him back his evils now that he’s defenceless, but she proved his imaginations wrong.
He wondered if she had forgiven him, cos he’s not even asked for her forgiveness yet.
“Hope you don’t mind me putting too much milk in your tea…the doctor said you should drink alot of milk o.” Lara smiled as she offered him a cup of tea in a saucer.
“Thank you.” he said almost in a whisper.
“Your toast is here, your boiled eggs, your potato chips, your fried plantains, your ….” Lara listed as she pushed a tray full of food towards him.
“for only me?” Tony’s eyes widened.
“Yes o! The doctor said you need a balanced diet!” Lara said
Tony laughed, he never knew she had a sense of humour.
“Eat up, while I get your bath water ready…” she quipped.
“Errrm..Lara?” he searched her eyes.
“yes?” she turned to look at him.
“I…errm…I…just…wanted to say I’m sorry..for..for..all I did to you…I’m…” he stammered.
“Oh please, don’t start! Stop those I’m sorry stuff!” Lara frowned.
“I don’t..know….Its..just that…just that…I feel I’m not worth your kindness….” he continued.
“Now, don’t talk like that, I hold no grudges against you..okay? Now eat up and take your bathe, you know your father would be here soon…remember you’re seeing the doctor today…huh?” she said sweetly.
Tony held her gaze for a while before she looked away. She walked gently towards his bathroom.
“Good morning sir!” Lara greeted her father in-law as she wheeled Tony towards the waiting car.
“Hope you slept well?” Ifiora said as he helped Tony into the car.
“Fine sir.” Lara smiled.
“Errm…I’l be going to see my mother, she asked me to come over.” Lara told Tony.
“Okay, then, see ya later.” he waved at her.
She waved and watch them drive away. She suddenly wished Tony won’t ever get on his feet, atleast, so that he would continue to be nice.
“Mum you asked to see me.” Lara said with a frown, she was getting irritated by her mother’s silence.
“Yes Lara, my daughter. Hmm.” funke said with a sigh.
“So?” Lara’s frown grew deeper.
“hmm, Lara omo mi, you know I love you, you are my only child…” Funke began meditatively.
Lara laughed quitely, this woman didn’t call her over to tell her that.
“Meanwhile, how’s Tony’s health?” Funke didn’t look happy.
“They just left for the hospital this morning, he’ll be better soon, he’l be flown to Cairo next three months.” Lara explained.
“Shey you know, his spinal cord was affected during the accident?”
Funke said in a faint voice.
“yes I know, that’s why he’s on a wheel chair, and he’ll be better soon..” Lara said impatience creeping into her voice.
“Let me talk Lara and stop trying to defend Tony’s illness!” her mother shot at her.
Lara fell silent, was she defending Tony..
“Lara you have to end this marriage.” Funke said carelessly.
“Which marriage?” Lara’s eyebrow creased
“Tony is not worth you! You shold file a divorce, you can’t hook yourself with a disabled for life…” Funke explained.
Lara rolled her eyes.
“Mummy what did you drink this morning?” she laughed.
“Are trying to insult me?” Funke’s voice rose.
“Noo…just that, Tony used to be your favourite.” Lara explained still laughing.
“What I’m saying is that you must divorce Tony, you can’t saddle yourself with such a burden, this was a man who was maltreating you…”
“ehen! Mum you are so incredible!” Lara interrupted her.
“Where were you when he maltreated me? What did you do when he turned me into a punching bag? Aren’t the same person who rocked the boat of the marriage cos of money? You made me go through hell!” Lara said anger creeping into her voice.
“Hold on! And let me talk!” Lara rose up when her mother tried to speak up.
“Do I look like some commodity you can use to trade? Now that Tony is ill, you feel he can no longer fulfill your selfish needs, you want me to divorce him right? Perhaps you want to marry me off to someone else again abi?”
“No Lara! I’m only concerned about you and myself! You must divorce Tony. I need a grandchild!” funke shot at her.
“What has a grandchild got to do with Tony’s illness?” Lara fired back.
“Tony isn’t only crippled, he’s impotent! The accident rendered him impotent!” Funke screamed.
Lara stoped momentarily, what’s her mother trying to say.
“I beg your pardon…what did you just say?” her voice was low.
“oh yes! The affected spinal cord did not only affect his legs, it affected his manhood! Your husband can’t perform anymore!” Funke shrilled.
“Perform as in how?” Lara couldn’t help asking.
“He can’t make love to you! Can you go on like this? No se-x, no child bearing…no…..no…. Lara, try to understand me!” Funke explained.
“Mum…you mean..you mean…” her voice trailed off.
She felt sweat trickling down her face.
“You see, my daughter, you can’t go on like that. Even if he gets on his feet again, there’s no possibility that he would be able to perform anymore.” Funke said triumphantly.
Lara thought for a while, she began pacing up and down the room sweating profusely. She stoped abruptly facing her mother.
“Well, Tony had never made love to me, so even this isn’t a new development..” she began to say.
“Haaa! Lara please don’t do this o! I need a grandchild! You want your father’s name to be wiped off the earth?” Funke held her daughter.
Lara smiled mischievously, she had wanted an opportunity to get back at her mother, this was a chance.
“Well, mum, I don’t think you need a grandchild, if you did, you wouldn’t have made me suffer all I suffered. This is what you want, you must live with it. Continue to enjoy more money!” Lara sneered.
“I need to leave now!” Lara picked her bag.
“Lara please..” funke tried to hold her.
“Take you hands off me!” Lara pushed her away.
“I hate you!” Lara told her tears streaming down her cheeks.
“You hear me? I said I hate you! I would never forgive you! You ruined my life…” Lara sniffed, before storming out of the house.
Tony watched Lara as she tucked him bed. She’ve not been herself ever since she went to see her mother two weeks ago. No more TV cheerful-smiling Lara, the old Lara seem to be creeping back in place.
“Good night.” she whispered turning to leave.
“Lara?” he called out, just as she held the door knob.
“Yes?” she didn’t look back.
“Can we talk?” his voice was low.
“Can’t wait till morning?” she asked irritated.
“Please…” he sounded desperate.
With a sigh, lara turned and walked up to him.
“so?” she said crawling up the bed beside him.
“Lara…” he began, taking her hands.
She pulled away, he expected that too.
“Errm, I just wanna ask if you’re alright? Ever since you came from your mother’s place You’ve been moody….errrmm, is anything wrong?” he said in a cool voice.
Lara looked away. Why’s he asking her that? He cares?
“I’m fine.” she sighed.
“I know you are, but deep within you are troubled, talk to me Lara…” He said soothingly.
She looked at him briefly, he doesn’t sound like Tony at all, did the illness change him?
“Is there anything the doctor said about your health apart from your legs?” she asked.
Tony felt his heart beat increase.
“Your mother told you right?” his voice was faint.
“she did, and I wonder why you never told me that…” she replied getting off the bed.
“Lara…I just felt you shouldn’t know, I know it’l hurt you..”
“It hurts more that I heard it from someone else…” her voice was rising.
“I’m sorry, its just that….errmm…Lara please, understand me….” he looked confused.
“Understand you? Of course you know Lara is daft! An Illiterate can never understand!” her voice became harsh.
“No Lara…what I mean is that, I would be treated, and everything would become fine…” he tried to explain.
Lara shook her head slowly.
“Your legs will be treated not your ….your…your…Impotency!” she replied angrily.
Tony’s eyes narrowed, he looked hurt. He wore a painful look that made Lara regret her words.
“That’s not true Lara..its just that…that…some things got complicated…once my spinal cord gets back in place, I’ll normal again…” his voice was shaky.
“Normal again? Were you normal before?” Lara made a face.
“When you were busy sleeping around Sophia…have…have …you ever thought if…if…if…I’m human with needs?” tears filled her eyes.
“This marriage is almost two years now..and…and…” sobs choked her.
“Lara please, I know I’ve wronged you…but please…” he was crying too.
“I guess you want me stay right? But how am I sure you aint trying to be nice just because you’re ill! I’m sure when you get back on your feet again; you’l become the real Tony, and I’ll no longer be Lara but a daft-illiterate girl!” Lara said angrily, before turning to leave the room.
“Lara please wait” he called after her.
But she left banging the door behind her.
Tony stared at the door in horror. He knew he was doomed, should Lara decide to end the marriage.
He was at her mercy.
“God help me!” he clasped his palms in prayer.
Maybe she was right, that if he gets on his feet, he might not regain his manhood! Perhaps the doctor lied to him? The doctor told him, all would be well…
“Tony you are in deep mess:” he muttered fighting back tears.
If Lara should leave him, he won’t survive it. He might lose his life, cos he was madly in love with her.
Tony winced a little, he felt like easing himself, he had pressed the beeper for more than twenty times now but Lara is yet to show up.
He wondered if she was trying to punish him, because on a normal day, she’d have cleaned him up and served him his food..
He pressed the beeper five more times but she didn’t come.
He decided to help himself into the wheel-chair standing by his bed side. He pushed himself towards the bed’s edge, he took hold of the wheel chair and attempted to hop in. He lost his balance and almost toppled over…
“Hey! What are doing?”
It was Lara, he didn’t look back, he wasn’t sure if the scowl he saw yesterday was still there.
“Errrm…” he tried to speak as she balanced him on the wheel.
“Morning to you Tony…” she wheeeled him towards the Loo.
“I was answering a call when I heard the beeper…”
“Here…steady…sorry…easy…” were her words a she helped him into the the bath tub.
“I’l be back in a jiffy” Lara said looking away, she could bear to see him unclad.
Tony smiled, she’s too shy he thought.
“I want you to stay…” he smiled revealing his teeth.
“No thank you.” lara left the bathroom.
“hmn Deji na wa for you ooo, that’s how you are ehn? You can’t