* When fear strikes us, we tend to loose sight of what fear really means. .. “”
The gate kept banging as the person behind it was furious to get in. Who the hell could that be? The sound woke me up from my afternoon sleep. I went out towards the balcony to take a look at the intruder.
” Umaru ” I called out to my gate man.
He rushed out from the back yard and stood beneath the balcony. His singlet sagged and his trousers were soaked with sweat. I wondered why he chose to be stupid. I paid him good money, but he never took care of himself.
” What have you been doing ?
” Madam…” he began ” you dae do am for jugging”
He must be mad or something. I couldn’t believe my ears. He was jugging, and left the gate post unattended. Umaru had been my gate man for years and I let him stay even when he annoyed me most times . He was a married man and had a wife and numerous kids to feed.
” You are mad’” I said ” Umaru you hear me ? You are insane. Who did you leave the gate for? Can’t you hear that bang on the gate. Who is there?
He turned and looked at the gate . He behaved as if he couldn’t hear a single sound. He turned back to me and said. ” Madam ,,, Nobody I dae knock for gate nah”
He went to the gate and put his ear to hear the sound. I watched as he bent his neck to listen. I was hearing the bang , it was loud and driving me crazy.
” What do you mean? Open the gate and check”
When he unbolted the lock . He went outside. He came back , looked left and right but no one was in sight. I must have been dreaming, I pinched my left arm to be sure… No I was awake.
” I no see anybody o” He blurted out.
” Are you sure?.. OK lock the gate”
Immediately he locked it. The bang came again, this time even louder. I covered my ears and ran into the sitting room. I couldn’t take it anymore.
” Bisiola….”. Bisiola …” I cried out.
She came from running from the kitchen and I saw how calm she was. I was confused , am I the only one hearing the disturbing and ear piercing bang?
” Bisi ? Bisi What ….What— what is that noise? I fretted and shivered as fear gripped me and sweat breaking from every part of my body.
” What sound? She asked
” You can’t hear it?
” No ma,.– I can’t hear anything.”
I rushed outside to check for myself. I was afraid to unbolt the gate. I reluctantly peeked through the pigeon hole on the gate. I saw no one. Only the empty street. I walked back into the house. Somehow, the sound had stopped.
That night , it came again..
This time ,times ten of the initial one in the afternoon. I covered my ears with the pillows and screamed out loudly……..
” Who the hell is Elisha? ” I asked Mimi.
I forgot entirely about his identity ,but I knew he was someone to reckon with, someone we had known in the past .
” Oh Geez… Our friend Elisha ” She looked surprised ”
You can’t remember ? Elisha , the guy whom you thought wanted to date you…. He was always writing you short notes back then in high school.. He always acted like a girl, eventually you found out that he was gay and only wanted to be friends with you.”
I shook my head like a lizard waiting for an illumination from the sun. I remembered Elisha , who always wore a pink dress and had funny eye glasses with his hair always conditioned . I had wondered if he was given birth to, like that. If his parents cared or was he just another version of Boborisky and co?
I enjoyed Mimi’s and Elisha ‘s company back then. But I had to cut short of most friends when I got pregnant and dropped out of school. Only Mimi remained dear to my heart: A sister I never had.
” We’ll go to his hair saloon today” Mimi continued” Rumour has it that his , is one of the biggest in PH (Port Harcourt ).
” Trust me babes, Elisha’s the new thing in hair dressing and beauty treatment”
Mimi smiled and gulped down her entire juice, while I managed to sip mine.
We left her house and visited Eli’s spar. It was huge and expensively designed . Inside, we reminisced and talked about a lot of things. It felt good meeting old friends again and I enjoyed the moment.
Days passed and time flied , I started noticing that Gabriel became conceited and he would stay out all night. He would return home dead drunk and some times slept on the pavement outside the door. It broke my heart to see him behave in a manner that was appalling .
He was never a drinker , at least for six years we had been married. That changed and succeeding nights he came home , he would open the fridge and say crazy things like
” Who left the headlamp of my car on?..
” Kate ,why is this toilet so cold?”
” Why is this thing always on silent mode… It doesn’t talk. Kate I think we need to re-brand and re-new this machine”
His voice was always tipsy and annoying.
I cried bitterly in my heart and prayed dearly: something I never did before .
” Gabriel , why have you turned yourself into a mere drunkard? ” I asked him one night he came back with his shirts hung over his neck and his belt half buckled.
” Well … My dear wife” he began” My love for you is driving me crazy. . I can’t help it every time I think about you and everyone else , who wants to leave me.. I left Dami…. Sorry I left my previous work to be with my family…..”
He shook his head and fell deep into the cushion before he belched and continued .
” My family was more important to me. Now see me, see me Katherine. Katherine , I’m useless. I’ve fallen deep into temptations , So deep that I regret what I have done . My dad left me and my sister when I was still twelve . Mama cried her eyes out for months, I became her comforter, husband and son. It hurt so badly that I couldn’t do anything to ease her pain.”
” Gaby..My–my love” I began passionately
” No listen to me , I never told you this before , because I hated him so much.. I did . Yvonne was still five then the night he left. Katey , He left– He left us for his other family and never came back. He never ca–came back” .. His voice croaked and tears clouded in his eyes.
” Soon you too will be leaving me for that rich guy- Yes that rich guy. I know you haven’t made up your mind yet, but not for very long.. Not for very long..”
His last sentence caught deep into my heart. I pitied the man he had become. He was now a shadow of his self. I knelt down and wiped away the tears in his eyes. I was not happy, not at all. His sudden behaviour was not attractive and disgusted the hell out of me.
” Why would you think of me that way ? I said ” I love you .. I love you with all my heart and wealth is secondary. Our family comes first”
I left Andy out of my speech because that would add more salt to Gabriel’s injury. I was not that type of lady.
I grasped the bottle of beer from his hand ,placed it on the table and stroked his face gently.He was a bit drunk but was not in stupor.
I guided him gently , raised his arms and beckoned on him to come along. He followed me religiously and we shut the door behind us . His arms pressed my butt softly and he pushed me so hard onto the bed that I hit my head on the wooden frame.