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“What is going on here”, he asked and that voice registered but I was past caring about that.
“Please… tell this man to leave” I hadn’t noticed that I was crying until then and I wiped my face dry and glared at the bastard in front of me.
“Hello man, please leave now”, the guy said looking as if he would plough him to death if he refused to obey.
“No, please forgive-” “Leave now”, he said and without waiting for him to stand up, he pulled him up with a hand and pulled him until he was out of the door. He shot the door behind him and I was inside with my secretary. She wanted to say something but I waved her away and I was alone within seconds. I did not know why I cried but the tears just came flowing down unhindered. I did not love him again but the memory of the humiliation of that day brought more tears to my eyes. I did not know when that guy came in but the next thing I knew was that he was there and I cleaned my eyes with my hand in a hurry.
“You don’t have to hide your tears from me”, he said very quietly. I don’t know if his words made me cry the more or not but I just could not keep the tears from flowing.
“Please leave me alone sir, please” I said turning my back against him. I hate having people pity me or try to console me and I also don’t like people seeing my tears and having this guy see me like that was the worst thing I could imagine. I heard his footsteps but instead of it going farther, it was coming closer. I turned back to re-emphasize my words but was shocked to find him right in front of me. I found his closeness very disturbing and I moved some steps backwards. He seemed to be made with magnet and I felt very tense.
“Pls leave sir, I… I need some privacy”, I said quickly but not with as much force as I should. He moved closer and my breath was stolen away but I refused to step back again. I stood there and faced him squarely as I continuously robbed at my dripping eyes.
He took out his hankie and tried my tears before he silently said, “My name is Richard, Miss Belina, I would check on you in an hours time. Take care”. Before I could protest, he was gone leaving the hankie on my table which I picked.
I forced the tears back forcefully, went to the toilet to wash my face and I went back to my seat to calm down abit. I stared at my desktop and saw the note I had been reading earlier. I was making a little research in order to keep myself updated when that demented goat came in. I willed myself to put what just happened behind me and behind me it went, to be fallen back on later.
Thirty minutes after the incident, I was already my normal self but I cancelled the research I was carrying out and started doing music related researches in order to remain calm. Just for the notice, try out music whenever you are angry or tense, believe me, you would practically see the anger seeping out of you. I checked out the latest songs from CeCe Winans, J. Moss and Kim Burrell who were my inspiration musically and noted them down to be scored during my spare time. Just when everything became perfect like I hadn’t been crying minutes ago, my intercom rang out. “Miss Belina, Mr Richard is here to see you”, my secretary said. My heart skipped several beats, “send him in please”, I said and unconsciously checked my eyes to be sure I was not showing any sign of weakness.
Within a flash, I heard a knock and I said ‘come in’ just like had done when Kelvin came earlier. He entered and the atmosphere in the office changed, I could almost swear that even the air I breathed changed instantly. He had a presence that could make you feel testy. I turned on my professional side and smiled confidently. Whether he was surprised to see me stable and back to normal, I did not know because, if there is someone that I knew I would find difficulty reading, it would be the guy before me.
He stood before me standing straight with male arrogance and said, “You are ok”, he said as a statement but it still sounded as a question so I answered, “Yes I am. Thanks for everything sir, I am grateful, especially for taking that guy out of here”. I remembered that he had given me his hankie and I started searching for it but I was so surprised when I found myself holding it so tight with my left hand and I was alarmed when I noticed that I had not dropped it since I picked it up about an hour ago. I hid my embarrassment but he seemed to notice everything because those blue piercing eyes could almost see into a man’s soul.
I offered him his hankie, “Thank you for this sir and sorry for the state you saw me then, it was just a moment of weakness”. I said. He smiled but did not take the hankie, infact, he had been smiling all along.
“I told you before, my name is Richard and I would like you to call me by my name, miss”, he said finally.
“If you would call me Belina”, I said
He smiled, “Yes, I definitely would. Now, can you tell me what that was all about?” he asked referring to the past hour. I had been hoping he would not refer to it but he did anyway,
“It is nothing, I prefer not to talk about it”, I said feigning a look of nonchalance. He smiled widely this time and my beating heart started running beyond measure, “when you know me very well, you would know that it is not that easy to make me quit. I know you present a strong woman on the outside with people present but I know that there is a tender and flower like woman on the inside that hurts deeply”.
I felt very uncomfortable but I presented a front that said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’.
I knew from his stance that he would pursue it so I changed the subject by attacking him with my own curiosity. “You have foreign blood in you right?” I asked without warning. He was shocked at first but he later asked, “What do you mean, I am not a half-cast”.
I smiled victoriously and said, “I know but you still have foreign blood in you. It is either your mum is a half-cast or your dad is. I don’t see you having this colour of eyes without a foreign blood”, I said knowing from his reaction that my judgement was right.
He looked amazed as he said, “Well, my biological mother is a half-cast”. I wanted to follow that statement but I knew that it is best to know little of him for my own good. “Don’t think I did not observe your subject swap, and you are good at it”, he said and laughed slightly, “Christ, you are damn observant and thoughtful”.
I gave myself a pat on the back and smiled back feeling at ease with him, then I remembered that I was at work. “Ok, I guess you came to see me the other time for something important but you were unfortunate enough to come at the wrong time”, I said
“Oh, it is nothing serious, I just wanted to pay you a surprise visit”, he said smiling. I wondered how he knew my office but did not ask him and I made a mental note to ask my secretary later.
“Alright, I would be back and be sure I won’t accept the excuse you gave me earlier”, he said and left. I breathed a free air immediately he left but I also missed him instantly.
The police men arrived at Tolu’s house in a casual car but with uniformed police men in it. Inspector Sule and the guy with the evidence finally got out of the car. The guy took out his phone and dialed a number. “Ore, bawo ni nowww?” silence, then, “I dey your house house o, I just wan follow some people groove go one joint but I tell them say make them stop for your house. We dey your house now, you go follow?” silence followed, then he smiled, “I trust you my guy, you now dey dull my spirit, I swear, we dey wait o”, he said and hung up. The inspector had got the hint so he told his men to stay hidden around the gate of the building and the car they brought. The tattered looking guy sat down on the bonnet of the car with inspector sule who was busy taking note of every move. He had learned to trust no one so he was monitoring the guy beside him also.
Within minutes, Tolu was out of the gate and upon sighting his friend on the car’s bonnet, he walked towards him. One over-eager police man forgot their initial plan and walked behind Tolu, gun in hand. The ever alert Tolu noticed the silent steps of someone and within the twinkle of an eye, removed the pocket knife that was always with him, stopped immediately and threw his hand backwards, and sliced the stomach of his assailant like someone who was ready to do operation. The police man fell immediately clutching his stomach and wailing. Tolu did not see the other police men so before he knew what was happening, he had been rounded up with close to five guns aimed at his skull. His hands were forced behind him and they were roughly handcuffed and he was pushed into the car like a cow ready to be slaughtered. The terribly injured police officer was also put in the car and they zoomed off without delay.
I attended to only one patient and next thing I knew, it was time to go home. As I was about leaving, I remembered that I had planned to ask my secretary something about Richard and I wanted to call her via the intercom but decided otherwise. I cleared my table and made sure that my table was well taken care of. I rent into my toilet, released some excess liquid in my bladder into the water closet and flushed immediately. I had made it a custom to always release any urine in my bladder before I hit the road since the day I almost peed on my panties in the bus when I got hooked up in unexpected traffic. I washed my face again and took out my face towel to mop my face. I checked to be sure that everything was inside my bag and I found Richard’s hankie. It had a lingering smell of him which made it look as if he was there personally. I dropped the hankie in my bag, cleared my things, said a little prayer of thanks to God for the day and left my office.
I closed my door and noticed Joke also preparing to leave so I told her I was leaving. I would have liked to walk to the bus stop with her but our routes are too different and apart from going through the hospital gate together, she would take left while I take right.
“Hey Joke”, I said
“Miss Belina, you are already leaving abi”, she asked
“uhn, I have told you that after working hours, I am Belina, for God’s sake, we are almost the same age”, I said already hating all the ‘miss’ bullshit.
She smiled and said, “sorry for letting that guy into your office, I did not know he would upset you”.
“oh, forget that. I want to ask you something. How did Mr Richard know my office? Is he a regular face?” I asked.
Her eyes widened for some seconds, she quickly covered it and my professional instinct told me that a lie would follow.
“I… I don’t know but he is a regular face here”.
I wanted to just just smile but I laughed my heart out and Joke knew that I caught her lie for what it is.
“C’mon now Joke, you can’t fool me. Tell me the truth and I won’t tell him or get angry”, I said truthfully.
She sighed and lowered her voice in conspiracy, “I am not surprised that you don’t know him for who he really is because I also did not know for like a month since I came here but listen, that man is Mr Richard Branson, the owner of Best Results Hospital”
I blanched and almost passed out at the revelation.
Mr. Badmus looked like he had been starved for the past one month. He still could not believe that he had been set free to go. He was brought out of prison and was given a good meal of fried rice and chicken which he ate like a mad man. He had been beside himself with fright thinking of the trial which was Wednesday and how he had no hope of escaping undeserved punishments which was certain to be either death by hanging or firing squad. He looked at the inspector who had so badly disgraced him a week ago and wanted to put a gun to his heart and pull the trigger. He devoured his food and when he was through, he looked at the inspector and said, “Now, my name is shattered, what are you going to do about it? I could sue you, you know?”
The inspector laughed at the threat, “You want to sue me? Do you think I don’t know about how you sent people to kidnap your daughter for your selfish interests? You could spend years in prison for doing that, the murderer told us everything in confession”, he said.
The blood drained from Mr Badmus’ eyes and he looked older than his actual age. He started pleading with inspector sule who said that he would behave as if he did not hear anything if he left that place in peace. Mr. Badmus left the police station with just one purpose, to finish Belina. He had been given one thousand Naira by the inspector in order for him to get around, after taking the keys of his apartment he set out. He got to his street in no time and everyone’s eyes were on him. He quickened his steps but even children were whispering then all of a sudden, he heard a road prophet call him, “young man”. He quickened his steps but the voice came harder and frightening, “Don’t you dare walk out on a prophet young man, it is dangerous”. He had heard of the power behind prophets and was scared of them actually. He stopped for his dear life and faced the prophet. He was an old man and was having problem standing upright.
“Yes, baba”, he said
“Hmmm, listen to the voice of God my son so that you would not regret your actions. You have it in mind to do something evil and God has asked me to warn you against it. Things would still go well for you and your former glory would be restored, if you obey my words. That child you blame for your misfortunes is not to blame but you are to blame. You maltreated that child when she was young not knowing that little children have guardian angels who are just there to fight on their behalf. It is what you sow that you reap my son. If you try to carry out what is in your heart, you would not succeed and might not live to tell the tale. Obey God and you would be honored”, the old man said in a shaky voice and was gone immediately leaving Mr Badmus dumbstruck.
Mr Badmus stood poised and too stunned to move a muscle. He could not fathom how that old man had been able to read his mind. He would have thought that the old man was hired if he had told a single soul about his escapade but no, he hadn’t even said it aloud with his mouth and here was a prophet telling him everything to his face.
He was finally able to leave that spot five minutes after the prophet’s departure and before he knew it, he was face to face with his entrance door. He battled with the door for some seconds and when he finally opened the door, a very big rat ran out of the door. He jumped out of the way, his heart palpitating wildly. He stayed there for some seconds to recover himself and after that, he went in, and just as he was about to sit down tiredly on his couch, he sited a dead cockroach right on the chair and he flew away again.
He left the cockroach on the chair cos he was too tired and went to seat on another couch. Every little thing just seemed to frighten him and he felt that the words of the prophet were taking toll. He looked back at his life again, how he had been a ladies man, and how he had lost his dad and his ability to reproduce to a car crash. He thought about how he met his late wife Linda and how she had given birth to Belina and became more beautiful afterwards. He thought about how Belina had been exceedingly beautiful that even the nurses could not take their eyes off her then they had praised him for being the father. He remembered his maltreatments then which grew worse immediately the finances dropped. He had to admit that the downturn in his finances started immediately he started maltreating Belina.
He negotiated his options; if he decides to forgo the words of the prophet by going after Belina’s life, he might be caught by the police and be hanged but if he would not be caught, he would have to go out of Lagos or even out of Nigeria. Following the prophet’s warnings to him would be the best thing, he thought finally because there was still a guarantee of having cash again and no matter what had happened, he was not tired of life yet.
He sighed repentantly and went to his bedroom mirror and saw a sight that looked so unlike him and he decided to go to the chemist nearby for medical care before he set out to look for Belina.
I walked home looking so stunned. I had been admiring my employer for the past one week even though it was done secretly. No matter how hard I tried to last week, his profile kept appearing in my subconscious and now I had seen him today and had found it terribly disturbing. Now, even though I had been trying hard to dislike him, I found him more likeable and fascinating and just when I was hoping I would keep his friendship but leave things as friends, I discover that he is my boss. My boss! How possible is that? Thinking about it, I had been secretly searching for the owner of the hospital and I had imagined him to be an elderly man of lets say fourty or fifty but I never imagined someone as young as Richard. Everyone in the hospital was young and I liked that but having that young handsome guy as my boss is something I never imagined.
I finally got home and did not meet anyone at home. Mum was obviously having a filled day cos she always arrived before me. Thank God I had a spare key which prisca had given me in case of something like this. After changing my clothes and having a little shower, I went into the kitchen to cook some noodles cos I was famished and could not wait for anyother thing. I heated up the frozen blended pepper in the freezer so that we would use it for dinner and went to eat the noodles. Unlike me, I had a great urge to listen to the news; I don’t know if it is because of my dad’s trial which was in two days time but I switched on the TV nonetheless.
Immediately I turned on the TV, I took it to the normal Tv stations and the first thing I heard was, “Mr uche Badmus has just been released from police custody. The real murderer of Olatunji James have been found and identified as Tolu Adeniji”
“What?” I said shocked. The picture of the real murderer was displayed on tv but I was not interested. I could not imagine how that could happen. Nigerian police always makes silly mistakes. How could they convict a man who was not proven guilty, I thought. I wondered about what my dad was going through and even though I had convinced myself that I did not care if he hanged, I still could not erase the fact that he is my father.
My phone rang out just then and I noticed that it was an unknown number. “Hello…”, I said into the mouthpiece of my phone. “Hello Belina”, came the voice I knew very well.
“Dad? Is that you”, I asked already standing.
“yes, it is me, belina”, he replied faintly.
“What do you want from me? I heard you were set free, good for you but what do you want from me ehn? Oh… you have another guy you would like to sell me to since the former buyer is dead uhn?” I said, pacing with one hand on my waist.
“No, it is not that. I… I am sorry for all I did to you, pls, I only want your forgiveness”, he said.
I laughed, “oh, what a nice ploy. So you think you would say sorry, I would come home and you would carry out your plans abi?” I asked amazed.
“No, it is not that. I realized that I have been unfair to you and I am so sorry”, he said and sounded like he had been crying.
“Sorry? Sorry for what? For everything you have been doing to me ever since I was a little girl? Sorry for the way you maltreated my mother? Sorry for the slut you brought home just days after her death? Sorry for what?"
“Please, I can explain everything, I have reasons but it is not a good one. Please, I need to see you”, he said.
“well, I don’t want to see you and I never want to see you for the rest of my life” I said and hung up. I felt like smashing the phone on the floor but I did not, but it slipped out of my grasp anyway. I fell to a heap on the floor and cried my eyes out. Richard had been right; I could present a bold and strong front in the presence of people in order to keep them encouraged but deep down, I wanted someone to love me and love me deeply. I wanted the love of a father and a mother. Prisca’s parents had given me that and my days with them had been the best part of my life. After crying for some time, I felt better and started thinking straight again but I knew that I needed something to lift my spirit so I picked up my phone, scrolled through my music album looking for that one song I knew always did the trick and found that song. I started relaxing as I listened to ‘Everywhere you go’ by Kim Burrell.