"No, you can't stay out all night, Chukwuma, no you can't" said Chidinma.
Chukwuma who has been standing by the doorway frowned. "Mom I can do anything I want to do, I am 18" he replied.
"For all I care, you can be a million years old, you cannot stay out all night" Chidinma replied angrily. Chukwuma shook his head, lately his mother had been very difficult. "Well then Mom I'm going to my room don't talk to me" he retorted and stomped up the stairs angrily. How on earth could somebody want to stay out late every night. What was he doing outside that he could not do at home? Chidinma wondered. It was becoming more and more difficult to deal with Chukwuma. These days he quarrelled with his father daily. She could ... the sound of the dog barking interrupted Chidinma's reverie. Wondering who it could be, Chidinma went to the front window to see who it was. It was the mailman, Pedro could never seem to leave the mailman alone. He never attacked anybody but the mailman and that was very funny.
"Hi, Mrs Anyaoku" said the mailman seeing Chidinma at the window.
"Hi, yourself. How are you doing?" Chidinma responded
"Fine Ma'am and you? said the mailman
"I'm doing good" Chidinma said giggling as Pedro started to grab his bag.
"Bad dog, bad dog" said the mailman as he swung his bag out of Pedro's reach and hurriedly made for the gates.
"Heel, boy! Heel!" said Chidinma as the dog started to run after the mailman. Pedro quietened down and Chidinma went out to retrieve the letters the mailman brought.
"Oh good" exclaimed Chidinma as she saw she got a letter from Abuchi. Holding the letter, she sighed and sank into the couch. Abuchi was the only member of the family that kept in contact with her. Despite all the times she had begged her father for forgiveness, he refused to forgive her insisting that she had disgraced the entire family. She started reading the letter. Chidinma was so deeply engrossed that she did not see Chukwuma come downstairs and stand behind her. "Ha, Abuchi, you are really a rich man now ,travelling up and down the world" said Chidinma aloud to herself. "Mom, why are you talking to yourself?" asked Chukwuma
"Because I want to and why are up creeping up behind your mother?" she asked
"To see her talk to herself" replied Chukwuma laughing "who's now a rich man?
"Your uncle Abuchi" Chidinma replied
"Why do you say that?" he asked
"He says he's coming next month" said Chidinma happily "and he wants to stay with us"
"No, man I don't want all those crazy Nigerian people here" he said quickly.
Chidinma turned around slowly to face him "First of all, my people are not crazy and secondly, you do not pay the rent here so you cannot choose who stays or leaves here" she said coldly
"Alright, alright, don't turn all Norman Bates on me, Mom"
"That is not a nice thing to say to your mother, Chukwuma" she replied, angry now "and if you say one more word, believe me, you'll see Norman Bates"
"Uh, I'm scared" Chukwuma said running out of the room. Chidinma shook her head, Norman Bates indeed. Imagine comparing your mother to a psycho who went around killing people. Oh, the nerve of him! Chidinma sighed and went upstairs to her room where she returned to reading Abuchi's letter.

"So if the political situation in Nigeria is not remedied fast, we will all be in trouble" boomed Abuchi at the dinner table across from Nnamdi.
"I don't know if we are not in trouble already" replied Nnamdi quietly.
"Oh, we are, I know that but what I mean is even more trouble than we are in already" said Abuchi "but we are going to have to hit rock bottom before there can be a total revolution in our country"
"Haven't we?" inserted Chidinma
"Well evidently, it is not enough to change our people's minds to insist a new way of government" Abuchi replied confidently
"And let me guess, you will be one of the new stars of tomorrow" asked Nnamdi
"Not exactly a star Dr. but I intend to be at the forefront in directing our people to a new day" replied Abuchi
"There you go talking like a politician again" pointed out Nnamdi laughingly
"I guess you can say its in my blood" said Abuchi shrugging "I love an audience"
"Well" said Chidinma rising from the table "goodluck then. As for me, I'm off to bed"
"Alright Chi, see ya in the morning" replied Abuchi as he himself rose from the dining table and went into the living room. Nnamdi followed quickly on his heels as he wanted to continue their conversation on the state of Nigerian politics. At times, he found Abuchi a big bore but other times such as this, he enjoyed talking to him. The effrontery of it all. Here goes Abuchi who up until five years ago was a total nobody talking about running for governor. Only in Nigeria could that happen because if it was here in America, he would have to account for the source of his income firstly and his bogus degree in political science would be discovered immediately. But in Nigeria, he could go around posing with the degree because it did not really matter to the people. How could somebody talk about a new revolution when he clearly was still operating with the old? Nnamdi shook his head. Only in Nigeria.

It was about three a.m when Chidinma woke up. She had heard noises. She turned to the other side only to discover that Nnamdi hadn't come to bed. She wondered if he was watching T.V in the basement like he always liked to do. On her way back from the bathroom, she decided to check up on him. As she descended down the stairs, the noises got a little louder. Wondering what was going on, Chidinma walked briskly down to the basement where she found Nnamdi, Abuchi and Chukwuma talking excitedly and laughing.
"Do you guys realise its 3 in the morning?" she asked
"We're just having some beers and talking, don't worry about it" replied Nnamdi
"Don't you have someplace to be tomorrow, Chukwuma?" asked Chidinma
"C'mon mom, don't start nagging me now" responded Chukwuma grumpily
"What do you ..."
"He'll be fine, Chi. We're just having a little nice thing here" said Nnamdi cutting Chidinma off.
"Well, then I'm off to bed. Goodnight or goodmorning" said Chidinma as she headed off to her bedroom again.

Abuchi was staring at his half-sister thoughtfully as she went back upstairs and as he was looking at her, he thought to himself she is so good, if only ... and he stopped. He did not like it when his thoughts started towards that path instead he wondered what his wife Olachi would be doing at home now. Olachi was becoming worse by the day. Ever since it dawned on her that she would never be able to have kids, she had become a total breakdown accusing him at every turn of cheating on her and exchanging her fertility for riches and he wondered how could that be possible. It broke his heart that his beloved wife could say such things to him but he had no choice but to bear with her. In his own way, he was to blame for her childlessness. If only, if only ..., once again, he forcifully removed that thought from his mind. What had happened had happened and there was no point in rehashing all the bad things especially now when every thing was ok.
"Whats wrong?" asked Nnamdi "you are looking pale"
"I'm fine" replied Abuchi and with that he rejoined the conversation and they all continued to watch TV.

"Where's Abuchi?" asked Chidinma during breakfast
"Probably still sleeping off the beer" replied Nnamdi
"Well I think he should be up by now"
"I'll go check in on him as I'm done eating"
"Ok" said Chidinma as she stood up to go to work "I'll be back by 6"
"OK" replied Nnamdi. When by 4pm, Abuchi did not still come down, Nnamdi began to worry. He decided to check in on him. "Abuchi" Nnamdi called out knocking on his door "Abuchi, are you still sleeping?" When he did not get a reply, Nnamdi decided to go in. Abuchi was still lying in bed but when Nnamdi got closer, he realized that Abuchi was unconscious. "Oh, God" Nnamdi quickly picked up the phone and dialed 911 and then left the room to go and bring his black bag. He had already started CPR when the ambulance came. They took Abuchi to Everest Hospital where Nnamdi worked.

"Hey Nnamdi" said Dr FitzPatrick the doctor that was attending to Abuchi "I have both good and bad news"
"Start with the bad" said Nnamdi rising from the chair he was sitting on
"Well, I prefer to start with the good. The good news is that he is doing alright now and the bad news is that he has kidney failure and both kidneys are severely damaged"
"Yeah, he needs a transplant and while we have put him on the waiting list, we are going to have to also need a volunteer because the waiting list for kindeys right now is about 800 people long"
"Oh my God!"
"Right now, he has been moved to the intensive care unit and I've placed him on dialysis treatment 3 times a week. We have to move fast"
"Well, I'll go see him and then call my wife"
"Alright then, Nnamdi I'll see ya in a few" and with that Dr FitzPatrick started walking down the hall.

"Oh, my God, oh my God" screamed Chidinma running around the living room
"Chidinma, stop that immediately, you need to calm down so that we can discuss this and know what to do" said Nnamdi sharply, annoyed with Chidinma. As a doctor, it was easy for him to restrain himself so he could not feel Chidinma's pain.
"Sit down so we can talk about what we are going to do" he spoke again, this time in a milder voice. "First we have to call his wife, let her know what is going on. Then we all go to the hospital to see if any of us will match his blood. Where's Chukwuma?"
"He went to Mark's house" Chidinma replied sniffing through her tears
"I'll call him" he said picking up the phone to call him. Later as the three of them sat down outside the lab, there was a huge silence as everybody was lost in thought. Nnamdi, being a heart specialist was happy to leave Abuchi in the care of Dr. FitzPatrick who was renowned. Chukwuma who had gone unwillingly hoped that the results of the test would brook no bad tidings for him because he was in the prime of his youth and had being having sexual relations with a lot of different girls and as for Chidinma her thoughts were all over the place. She thought about Olachi, Abuchi's wife, her step mother,herfather had died two years previously and she thought about what would happen to Abuchi if none of them was able to match and be a donor for him, she thought about almost ...
"Dr., we have some good news for all of you" said Dr. Taylor who had done the blood tests "your son, Chukwuma will make a perfect match for Mr Abuchi and we are about to set the operation in motion fast, Chuk, you will have to go for counselling and then sign the release forms, Nnamdi, you and your wife can go see Mr Abuchi while we take care of business at this end.
"All right, Dr, we'll dance to your tune although its beating a bit too fast for me" Nnamdi responded jokingly as they all trooped to Abuchi's room.

The operation had been successful and Abuchi was sleeping lightly.
"Abuchi, can you hear us us?" asked Chidinma
"Ugh" Abuchi groaned "yes"
"Okay, Dr. FitzPatrick said that you will be awake around now". Abuchi opened his eyes slowly and as soon as he saw Chukwuma, a wave of diferrent emotions rushed through him bringing pain such as he had never felt before. All his life, he had believed that the good people eventually got their rewards and the bad people were punished but here he was, it was certainly like a reward to be able to live again and all because he had been bad. It had been wrong of him to do what he did and somehow he wished he could undo what he had done but he could not and then again if he could undo it, then he would not be in this position he was right now. What was he going to do? Certainly, the truth would come out eventually and waiting for it to explode was just too much too much for him to do and on the other hand, he did not know how to broach the subject. He sighed, life could be too complex at times. He closed his eyes again, he did not want to face reality at least not yet. Seeing him close his eyes, Nnamdi asked "Are you in pain, Abuchi, should we call the doctor?"
"No, I'm fine" Abuchi replied slowly "when can I go home?"
"Probably in two weeks" replied Nnamdi. After adjusting his pillows a bit, Chidinma sat down and then they all started talking and not before long, Nnamdi and Abuchi were back to Nigerian politics.
Two week later, Abuchi was deemed healthy enough to go home so Chidinma and Chukwuma went to pick him.
"Hey Mr. Abuchi, we are going to miss you" said the nurse as she helped pack up his things."Ha, ha thank you very much for the compliment, nurse"
"You are very welcome, take good care of yourself"
"And you" said the nurse pointing at Chukwuma "you are a good boy for helping your father out"
"He's not my ..."
Chukwuma and Chidinma responded at once
"He is your father right?" asked the nurse a little puzzled
"What are you talking about?" asked Chidinma slowly
"W-w-well" she stammered and she backed up towards the door "we have a new lab technician and she also did a DNA and it is 99.9% accurate that Mr Abuchi was Chuk's father".The room spun slowly for Chidinma and like somebody in a trance,she walked towards the bed where Abuchi was lying, chalkfaced.
"What is she talking about?" she asked. There was no response from Abuchi. What could he say? It was finally out in the open. Now, nothing could hold back the storm about to erupt and nothing could save him from his private hell. The hell that had tormented him ever since Chidinma got pregnant years ago.

The scene in the doctor's office was the worst imaginable. Chidinma threw herself on the floor when the doctor confirmed that indeed Abuchi was Chukwuma's father according to the DNA test.
"'Yeah, but my wife was a virgin even when she got pregnant"
"Well, Mr Abuchi confessed to me that he used to masturbate all over her genitals while she was sleeping."
"Nature is very funny, Mr Anyaoku. This situation has been heard of before. Extremely virile semen and though her hymen was intact, the process of menstruation still takes place through the vagina so some things can get in too. The chances can be one in a billion but yes, there is a chance of the sperm getting in and she was ovulating so it happened. Nature is freaky, Nnamdi you know that."
"I can't believe Abuchi could do this to me" said Chidinma sobbing on the floor "we were so close"
"I guess he felt emotions for you, that you did not feel for him"
"He was my half-brother" Chidnma responded still crying
"Honey, its ok" said Nnamdi cradling her in his arms "everything is going to be alright now"
"What will people say?"
"People? What people? We don't care what people are going to say honey, they said it all when you were pregnant"
"And I thought he loved me. He was the only person that kept in contact and I thought it was because he loved me"
"Ssh, its okay now"
"What will I do?"
"Just keep holding on, honey keep holding on"
"What is all this?"
"Its going to be okay."
Meanwhile Chukwuma was at home tearing his hair out. No way he can be my father, no way he thought. I do not wish him to be my father and I wish he had never fucking come this way and he banged his fist on the dining table so hard that he let out a scream "oh my hand". The pain going through him made it impossible for him to think. Of course he knew that Nnamdi was not his real father but he had never suspected that it was his uncle Abuchi because his mom was always so tightlipped on the subject and to make her happy, he kept well away from it. And as for Abuchi, he was still in the hospital because now he had nowhere to go but he had been making a lot of calls to see if he could stay with any of the people he knew living around.

For the next couple of days, everything seemed ok. Chidinma was back to her usual lively self and Chukwuma was becoming more serious, staying at home instead of going out everyday so it was really the biggest shock when Nnamdi came back one night to find Chidinma lying in the bathtub with her wrist slashed. Already, she had lost a lot of blood and as Nnamdi was dialing 911, he was hysterical and the paramedics had to restrain him forcibly.Chidinma was ruched to Everest hospital and it was a miracle she survived. When Nnamdi came into the room she was staying in, Chidinma started crying
"I don't want to live any more"
"Why, Chidinma? You know I love you, why would you do this to me?"
"I just want to know, what did I do to deserve all this?
"Honey, nobody knows the will of God"
"But why me?"
"Nobody knows honey but listen to me, yesterday is gone and I promise, tomorrow we'll both face together"
"I don't know honey, it hurts so much"
"It will hurt less honey"
"First my mom dies, I get this wicked stepmom, then her son makes me pregnant and turns me into the laughingstock of the whole town and I'm only just finding out"
"Honey, its okay"
'I don't know what to do"
"Honey, you do not have to do anything" and with that, Nnamdi cradled her in his arms while she wept
"I'm sorry, Nnamdi"
"Its okay, honey"
"When can I come home?"
"Doctor says tomrrow"
"Okay". Nnamdi stayed until 11pm before he went home to sleep because he had to be at work by 4am the next day. That same night around 12:30pm, Abuchi passed away. As if he knew he was dying, he had left a note for Chidinma and Nnamdi begging their forgiveness.

Arrangements for Abuchi's body to be flown to Nigeria was made and a wake was held for him at The Anyaoku's residence but details of all that had happened was never released. For Chidinma, this was a new lease on life. She finally got to understand her experience and the love her husband had for her.

Back to the Short Stories Collection

Back to my Homepage