Click Here to read the Previous Chapter: Walls Of Pain – Chapter One
Four slow and agonizing days had dragged by for the Odimba family, and Princess sudden and tragic demise still hung fresh in the air. And to make matters worse, today was Princess’ funeral. Amaka tearfully clung to her ever supportive husband as they quietly walked out the front door of the brown duplex which had housed the family for over a decade. A number of sympathizers somberly watched as the couple approached the awaiting SUV which was to take them to the church for the pending funeral service.
Ejike, the last born of the home, waited for everyone to exit the house before shutting and locking the door, and then he hurried to the vehicle where his father had just assisted his mother into the passenger seat.
“Where is that Michael of a boy?” Patrick suddenly demanded but Ejike’s facial disposition already gave him away – he had no idea where his elder brother had absconded to.
“I’ve been calling his number,” he managed to utter. “He’s not picking,”
“Then keep trying till he does!” Patrick demanded. He too was having a bad morning and the last thing he needed was someone complicating matters further. “This is very irresponsible of him. This is Princess’ funer…”
“Patrick..” Amaka weakly called up to him from the vehicle as she took hold of his hand. “Leave him, please,”
“He will turn up,” Amaka continued now wiping her face with her rumpled handkerchief. “He’s suffering too, Patrick. Please, try and understand.” Not intent on furthering any arguments with his wife, Patrick surrendered with a sigh as he shut the passenger door while Ejike opened the back door and hopped in.
“You keep calling your brother, Ejike!” Patrick called to his teenage son as he got in and fastened his seat belt. “The service starts soon and I intend to see him there. This is a family thing.” Then he started the vehicle.
The last place Mike wanted to be was seated in the midst of mournful faces, and there was the painful horror of staring at his step-sister’s casket. It was just too much to bear. The next round of tears resumed their race down his cheeks as he gazed out to the open sea before him. He had absconded from the house to the beach earlier without his family’s knowledge and he knew they would be ballistic over his whereabouts at the moment, but Mike was way too grieved to care! Then his phone began vibrating for the umpteenth time to his chagrin making him pull it out from his pocket and toss it on the sandy beach not too far off. His parents could spew brimstone and fire all they wanted to later but now, all Mike wanted was to be alone at the moment.
“Princess…” He broke down again burying his face into his knees as his body jerked with sobs. There was so much feeling going on with him, Mike wondered if he could ever live with himself after this.
Stepping out from the Faculty building, Seki’s eyes instantly lit up on seeing Usman walking towards her direction on the campus grounds. Then she hissed to herself, throwing her nose into the air.
This one actually thinks I’ll say hi first to him this time. She pondered to herself before hastening her steps, just as Usman got close. But Usman could not bother himself with even as much as a glance at at her direction.
“Usman!” Seki called suddenly throwing both hands to catch his attention. He turned.
“Seki?” He called back with a straight face. “Hey.” Then he walked on.
“Haba! Usman, wait now!” Seki called, making a face as she hurried to him. “Why are you acting like we have beef?”
“Look, Seki,” Usman turned. “I’m in a hurry, and I’m not in the mood for your…”
“Haba! Are you still angry with me?” She acted surprised raising a hand. “See, I really like… oh, sorry! I mean, I really liked Princess. She was one of our regular customers at the shop and…”
“Seki!” Usman called. “I need to submit my project and go for the service, okay? I’m already late.” Then he walked off shaking his head.
“Ooh!” Seki exclaimed hurrying after him again with her eyes on his clothes. “That explains why you’re wearing all-black.” They approached the faculty building and then Usman spun with a piercing glare.
“Seki, what do you want?” He demanded and then she sighed and held her chest.
“I just want to apologize for the other day,” she replied looking all somber. “I know I was a bit too forward,”
“Yes, you were,” Usman retorted and then sighed. “You know what? Just forget it.” Then he turned to walk.
“But who can blame me?” Seki suddenly spoke up again, adjusting her green veil across her shoulder. “I was so shocked after that accident, and if you’d seen how Princess was running and shouting like a mad woman before that taxi came and finished her.” Usman then paused in surprise now.
“Shouting?” He muttered. “You didn’t tell me this before,”
“Hmm,” Seki grinned, glad she had his attention now. “I saw Mike chasing her from upstairs while she kept calling her mother, saying she wanted to die with her. Hmm! Usman, my dear, I was so scared!” Usman was puzzled as he tried processing this sudden tale while Seki clutched her bag and adjusted her veil again.
“Anyway, it’s all past now, but God knows I can never forget Monday morning for the rest of my life because that day was also my birthday – can you imagine? I’ll always have another reason to remember April first every year.” Then she turned to walk away. “Anyways, see you later,”
“Wait!” Usman called suddenly grabbing hold of her wrist to her astonishment. “What did you just say? When was your birthday again?” His eyes were wide open and peering into Seki’s puzzled ones, and then she swallowed hard wondering what she had said.
Sobbing into the crumpled tissue, Ify held on to the young Ejike’s hand as they followed the brown casket being hoisted from the church amongst the numerous mourners mostly clad in black. The funeral service had lasted forty-five minutes and the next procession was to a nearby cemetery. Amaka’s wailing could be heard as she made several utterances in the Ibo dialect while her patient husband tried his best to pacify her. The choir still chorused to ‘Amazing Grace’ as they stepped into the sunlight, and then Ify looked at Ejike as he stared at the casket; there were no tears but she saw such pain in his eyes that she felt like breaking down again. Ejike had adored his sister almost more than anything else. Ify gently squeezed his hand just as Amaka’s wail sounded off again.
“Go to her, Ejike,” she gently whispered into his ear amidst the ongoing commotion around them. “Your mum needs you now.” Turning to her, the fifteen year-old nodded and stepped forward while she dabbed her eyes again, watching him in admiration for his inner strength. Then she glanced around the crowd only to pause, and then her eyes flew open in astonishment. “Mike!” She called out, the majority of the crowd to turn at the sound of her voice.
Racing through the people, Ify threw her arms around the one guy she had truly cared deeply for since their mid-teens. “Where were you? Everyone was worried. I was worried!” She asked gazing up into his moist eyes, and all Mike could do was give her a soft smile.
“I’m here now,” he softly replied holding her.
“Michael?” They both turned at the sound of Patrick’s voice, and Mike immediately walked up to his family and embraced Amaka. They could see from his heavy eyes that he was having his very own share of mourning wherever he had been.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered into Amaka’s ear and she held the cheeks of the young man she had mothered since he was six.
“I’m just glad you’re here, my dear,” she gently said. “
“We should get going,” Patrick came in, holding her shoulder and looking at his first son.” You’ll be driving, Michael.” Mike nodded in reply taking the key from his father, and then Ify approached him and gently squeezed her tender hand into his.
“Let’s go,” he said to her and began leading the way to the vehicle.
Loud gasps escaped the lips of many as everyone turned, but Mike was the most shocked of everyone.
“Usman?” He called shaking his head in surprise. “What are…”
“This is all your fault!” A glaring Usman then pointed at him now. “You killed Princess!”
TO BE CONTINUED……