As she walked out of the hospital ward where her paralysed husband lay, Nyen-ime knew that was the last time she would ever set her eyes on him again dead or half alive as his case maybe.
As she walked past the reception toward the exit, the nurse stationed there asked “when do we expect to see you again ma?”
Nyen-ime paused and turned to the nurse, “Why do you ask?”
“Sorry ma, it’s just that nobody has come visiting him since he was admitted”
“You mean nobody at all?” Nyen-ime asked as if surprised.
“Well, his mother comes when she’s able to, but she’s old you know.”
Nyen-ime smiled at the nurse “Don’t worry my dear sister. At least he has his mother and she, a son.”
She saw the confusion on the nurse’s face “My son once had a mother and I once had a son…I don’t want to be the one to cause their separation. The love for my son turned out to be a case of ‘till death do us part’. Let that be the case between him and his mother.” In those words, Nyen-ime hurried out of the hospital with hot burning tears welled up in her eyes.
Four Years Ago- At the alter
“I now pronounce you Husband and wife.” Those words from the lips of the officiating minister brought so much joy to Nyen-ime’s heart. At last she was now a married woman-married to the man of her dreams. Henry meant the world to her and she never in her wildest imagination, pictured what would put asunder to this marriage except death.
“You may now kiss the bride” said the minister and Henry unveiling her, planted the most passionate kiss on his new bride’s lips. To Henry, Nyen-ime was everything he wanted in a woman; beautiful, humble, respectful, simple and most of all faithful. Nothing in the world would cause her to leave him, except of course death. Both of them were right on that-only death could separate this union. But whose death it would be, time would tell.
Three Years Ago-In the hospital
This was the third miscarriage in one year. The first miscarriage was spontaneous and Nyen-ime’s mother-in-law did not take it too well. This time around, mama started saying some unbelievable things to her.
Why the sudden change in behaviour toward her? She wanted this baby the same way, if not more. If not for any reason, just to keep her step-mother’s wagging tongue mute. But every time she tried, and it looked like it had come to stay, the 9th week would mercilessly murder her unborn child.
This third miscarriage was the worst so far. The day she spotted the blood and she raised the alarm, Henry’s face changed and he walked out on her. She had to drive herself to the hospital. When Henry came to meet her there, it was not to empathise with or encourage her- he came to collect the car keys and left without a word.
Today she would be discharged and she had no means of transporting herself home. When she called Henry the first time to ask him to come and pick her, he cut the line. At first she thought it was a network problem with the mobile phone. She tried 4 times and the line kept ringing without an answer. The fifth time, it was switched off.
She decided to call Mama and thank fully she answered her call.
“Mama, it’s me Nyen-ime”
“I know, what do you want?”
“I have been discharged from the hospital and I don’t have any means of transportation to get home”
“So what do you want me to do? I should come and carry you on my back?”
“Ah, Mama, that’s not what I am saying. I need you to please send Koko to ask Henry to come and pick me. I have called his phone but it’s switched off.”
“Ehn…look here Nyen-ime, I didn’t bring Koko from the village to serve two mistresses. If your husband doesn’t want to answer your call, or pick you, do you blame him? What right thinking man would want to take a witch back into his house? Ku nkod aba, ame kob? Ifot ata eyen ke idib”(Don’t call me again, have you heard? Foetus eating witch) and the line went dead.
When Nyen-ime finally got home, through the help of a friend she called, she could not get into the house. For hours she knocked and nobody answered. The car was parked in the compound. She touched it and the bonnet was quite warm, meaning Henry must have just parked the car. She went round the back to where their bedroom window was and called out his name but still no answer. She was getting tired and weak and needed to lie down. She went outside the compound, called a carpenter who had a workshop adjacent to their house. She appealed to him to help her break the lock of the kitchen door at the back. At first the man refused but she lied to him that she lost her keys and she needed to enter her house as she was just returning from the hospital. The man broke the lock and she went inside.
She dropped her bag on the chair and picked up a tumbler to drink some water. As she was fetching the water from the refrigerator, she heard footsteps coming down the stairs.
“Henry is that you?” she called out
“How did you get into the house?” he asked quietly but with venom in his voice.
“I have been calling you all day so you could open the door for me but…”
“That is not the question” he cut in, “I asked…