The Northern Prince Part 6 can be found below HERE
Nabila Mujahid was scared to tell her husband the truth. He was the father of a baby he had no recollection of creating. Secretly she had hoped he would figure it out and confront her; that way she could play the defensive. Annoyingly he did the exact opposite and blindingly ignored the obvious. Jamal patted her back when she vomited, remarked on her heaped plate at breakfast, shook his head when she cried at the end of Fear Factor and just lacked the follow through to string it all together. At this point Nabila was sure the cook knew, the florist at botanical gardens knew, Yemi her beautician knew...everybody else bloody knew.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. When Nabila first hatched the plan to conceive she looked forward to rubbing his nose in it. Screaming at him “you thought I was good for nothing? Well I am pregnant.” Rehearsed her glare in a mirror even, she wanted it to be delivered perfectly. That would teach the asshole to make her life miserable.
Once the child was delivered he would take one look at it and love her again. All would be forgiven. They would be a family. The problem now, was that Jamal was no longer an asshole. Granted he was far removed from the man she married but he was also no longer the tyrant from the past 12 months. He stopped hurting her. Just like that. Gone were the late nights, the put downs, the look of utter despair, when she spoke he seemed to listen and he openly complimented her garden. They were acquaintances of sort, and this baby news would shatter any hope of one day getting back ‘there’. It would surely send her husband back into the night and away from her. So here Nabila was, pregnant, and afraid to execute the very scene she had been looking forward to.
“Have some toast with your butter” Jamal said
Nabila looked down at the thick layer of butter she had spread on her toast; it resembled a slab of yellow brick. She put it down, she couldn’t eat again
“What are your plans today?” she asked instead
“Work. Squash. Home. Ke fa- You?”
“Need to go to the garden centre. Buy some herbs” she answered distractedly, the toast was very appetising now. Lifting it gingerly she ate the whole thing in eight seconds smacking her lips. As she licked melted butter off her fingers, she noticed Jamal staring at her, “Okay” he nodded in surprise.
She began to lay knobs of creamy butter on another slice, when she felt her tummy heave. The morning sickness was due any moment soon, hurriedly pushing her chair back Nabila ran into the downstairs toilet just in time. Up and out came the toast and tea she just had. She could no longer pretend.
“Jamal” she called. He was already behind her
She looked up at him “I am pregnant”
“Jamal” she called again. He just stood at the door jamb frozen like he was in another time zone. Like the information was taking longer to reach him.
“Ka na jin na kuwa- Are you listening to me at all?” She asked his statue
But Nabila saw it. The joining of the dots in his head, she even knew the exact point he replayed the doctor visit. “Don’t worry its good news” the man said smiling. “Take good care of her” he advised on their way out.
Jamal levelled his gaze with hers. His knuckles pushed through the fist his hands formed.
“It’s not possible” he whispered
“Yes it is”
“Why...how...how long...since wh-?
“One month” Nabila answered. She could not believe she was doing this crouched over the toilet, in the middle of morning sickness
“No...no...there’s no way”
Nabila didn’t have time for this; another wave of nausea was on its way
“You didn’t know what was happening. I made you unconscious. I gave you an erection...”
“It didn’t happen! Stop saying it did”
“Remember the headache. Remember saying Be-” Nabila dunked her head in the toilet and threw up, twice. When she looked up Jamal was gone.
Rabi Bello rushed to the waiting area in the hospital, the PA system said it was urgent that she report there at once. Knowing she would only get called out of rounds for an emergency; she proceeded to jog from one ward to the other till she got to the central building. She arrived panting, to see Jamal tapping his foot and running his hands repeatedly through his hair. He wanted to fool around now? Really? It was 8.00am.
“Jamal not a good time” Rabi said annoyed she got called away for this. She kept her voice low so the matron wouldn’t hear. Jamal stood up trembling
“I...didn’t know...I swear...thought...dreaming”
“Tricked me. I should have known...headaches”
“You have a headache? Ya Allah your hands are shaking”
“What? What has happened to her?” Rabi shook him “Say something”
“Pregnant” her hands dropped from his shoulders
“But you two don’t...have not for a lon-...You said you weren’t...”
“We are not, but”
“But what? It was an immaculate conception?”
“Ina barshi- I was sleeping. I thought it was you. Wait, I beg you, please wait, and let’s try to figure this...”
“We’re done.” She said firmly
“Congratulations” Rabi walked away
Nabila waited in the dark for her husband to return. Every time a car drove by her heart skipped a beat. The wait was killing her. She would subject herself to any paternity test he wanted, take a polygraph. He knew and she knew that it was for no other. She glanced at his briefcase, and the papers he left at the dining table. For the first time in her marriage, Nabila was scared Jamal would throw her out. The reality of living without him fostered fresh fear. Nabila could not survive without Jamal, even at their worst, her sheets still smelt of him and that was enough.
“I want you to leave” Jamal had come in. Nabila stood up on shaky legs, with cotton in her mouth. Her world had just collapsed
“Get out. “Ki koma gidan babanki- back to your parent’s house”
“What will you say I did?” He would have to drag her out by her hair
Jamal kept quiet. He hadn’t thought of that.
“When Baba asks you my crime, what will be your query? That I had the guts to carry your child?”
“Are you defending what you did?”
“I begged you Jamal. Asked time and time again, that we at least discuss the possibility”
“And I said no because I knew it was wrong to bring a child into the home we had”
“That would have been fine if we were working towards fixing it. But you weren’t...you hoped I would get frustrated and just leave so you made me unhappy”
“Making you happy is a full time job Nabila.”
“You married me”
“Because I hoped you would change”
“And I assumed you wouldn’t”
They were quiet. Their marriage lay before them illuminated in the darkened room, flaws and all. It was now or never, the fight or flight sequence
“I want us to work. I want to be married to you”
“No you don’t” he shook his head softly “You have what you wanted out of this marriage”
“Jamal I love you” Nabila exclaimed. It was clear for all to see her life was him. “You know this. You to give me meaning”
“I used to need to hear that. It made me feel safe, massaged my ego. Not anymore, because my feelings aren’t the same. I don’t love you Nabila, I never really did.”
Nabila slid to the sofa; hand over her mouth, trembling with truth serum
“I can’t divorce you now, not while you’re pregnant with a child that’s my responsibility”
Amaka Nwafor reviewed the application of the Igweze’s. They hoped to enrol their grandson, Nnamdi in September. Amaka flipped to the charity section of the file and hissed in annoyance at the unsubtle display of a newspaper clipping featuring her parents. They posed beside one another at a breast cancer awareness luncheon, Amaka rolled her eyes. If this couple thought her parents were a form of bribe they were sadly mistaken. A soft knock caught her attention and Ikenna strolled in holding a red heart and a white envelope to his chest. He placed them gently on her table and pulled out a chair
“I didn’t ask you to sit” Amaka said ignoring the box of chocolates
“I came to apologise”
Ikenna remained on his feet and read out from the card himself, it was large and white with ‘Forgive Me’ written in swooping cursive against a bouquet of red roses. It was too over the top for her. You would have thought he ran over her dog. When he was done Amaka had already gone back to work
“I am trying to say sorry. You could at least hear me out”
“Yes why. Why should I listen to anything you have to say?”
“Amaka I did not know it was you. All I thought was here’s another one Mama has given my phone number to. If you said your name...”
“Oh that’s right. It’s my fault.”
Ikenna rubbed his head, it had been a while since he had to apologise to a woman. He was sure chocolates and grovelling were a failsafe formula to get the ball rolling. Amaka had barely glanced at them, she resumed her work. Wow, she was going to be tough. He excused himself and drove back to Central Bank; he stayed in his office till midnight. Who does she think she is anyway? Na woman he never knack before? Abeg jare; khaki no be leather. Still after a cold shower he lay in bed and thought about the outline of her breasts against her shirt and tiny braids falling inches above where her nipple should be. Braids and boobs. With sad eyes, strong shoulders and a giggle like a teenager. He already knew he was going back to her office tomorrow.
He missed her this time, that happens when you don’t call ahead. He dropped off his offering. A red card with ‘I’m Sorry’ in a large font and white chocolate with coconut fillings. She didn’t call to say she received it and he didn’t call to ask if she did. The next two days he was busy so when he did grab some free time, Ikenna drove up to the botanical gardens to buy flowers. Maybe they were the missing component.
“What do I buy so a woman will like me?”
The florist looked at him and smiled “she is a lucky woman” she said
Ikenna couldn’t be bothered to flirt “which one?” he asked staring at the array of colours and petals and stalks
“What could anyone be angry with you about?” florist lady batted her lashes
“You should get sunflowers” Nabila chipped in
Ikenna turned and gave her a brief hug “Ah my guardian angel”
As he paid for the dozen stems, Nabila shooed away the sullen florist and calmly settled herself behind the work station. It was obvious she came here often
“So what else have you tried?” she trimmed the ends and began to arrange the bouquet in a glass vase. Ikenna told her and Nabila visibly cringed
“Haba Ikenna. That is so sickly sweet”
“Isn’t the whole point to try harder?”
“No, it’s to try better. White chocolate and large cards are way too fancy for Amaka’s taste”
“I’m sort of getting to my last hurrah Nabsy”
Nabila completed her presentation with a few springs of green between petals, and looked at his lost expression.
“Amaka loves dark chocolate. The Ghanaian 75% cocoa, just one bar fa, something she can enjoy guilt free.” Nabila then proceeded to tell him what to write as a personal message on the card
“That’s what I meant” Ikenna said exasperated
“Then say it” Nabila handed him a pen
Amaka returned to her office from walking the kids to after school activities, she took off her peep toes replacing them with golf balls, rolling her feet along for a self-massage. There had been no more packages left on her desk, which was a shame seeing as she was becoming popular amongst her colleagues for having a full candy bowl. They ravaged it all- guests, clients, the twins, headmistress. All except her; it was a matter of principle, plus she hated those fancy, centre filled sugar cubes. Chocolate was most delicious in its purest form. Amaka startled when she heard the knock, Ikenna walked in and placed a chocolate bar on her desk gently. It was her favourite; this had Nabsy written all over it. She and Ikenna stared briefly
“I wouldn’t think less of you if you ate it” he said with those naughty eyes. Like he meant something different, something cheeky
Amaka tore open the wrapper and bit off a square, oh this was good. It hit the spot. Ikenna got up then and disappeared behind the door returning with a vase of sunflowers. They were beautiful and the vase wore a fluffy white ribbon like fancy neck tie. Amaka played with it while she chewed on the sweet and bitter creamy goodness
“The flowers were my idea” he said with a grin. Amaka read the card: ‘I was rude. I never meant to hurt you. I’m sorry. Please hear me out’.”
“Why didn’t you just say that?”
“I tried to” Ikenna rubbed his head, women!
Nabila made him promise to leave if everything was going well, which seemed to be the case, so with great difficulty, he got up
“Well I’ll leave you to it”
He made it out the door before she called him back “Do you want a Ribena?”
“I love Ribena” he rushed back in. Amaka raised an eyebrow
“I mean I like Ribena. I think about it a lot, usually at the office but mostly before I go to sleep at night. I would love to get to know Ribena better. It seems very straightforward and honest and kind. It’s also very pretty and looks good in red, I wonder if its lips taste like strawberry or red currant”
Amaka averted her gaze for a second “Ribena is made with blackcurrants”
“Ah that’s right” Ikenna sat back down pulling his chair up to Amaka’s desk.
Rabi Bello placed her pillow over her head and turned her phone face down, it was silent but the flashing light from Jamal’s call was pissing her off. She was pissed off a lot lately, at everything, everyone. She cancelled on Nabila; the thought of sitting next to her, knowing Jamal’s child was sleeping in her tummy was too much to bear. Why was she angry? How long could she and Jamal last anyway? Something had to give, someone had to walk away, and someone had to get hurt. The conversation they had been dreading was just resolved for them. She had an 8 week niece/nephew and Rabi hated feeling that she would never love it. Jamal as usual thought they could sort it out with magic fairy dust or something.
He now assaulted her at work of all places, saying nonsense. When she asked him, what else he proposed they do, he would only blink those eyes and say he needed her. Well she needed her sanity and right now even her lust could not justify her continued association with him. ‘Go home to your pregnant wife’ she said at the end, he would not. Rabi tried to explain to him, that he thought he loved her now, but once he held his child, it would be dwarfed in comparison, she was a doctor, she saw it all the time, men fell in love at the very end, in the delivery room. Rabi was not going to wait to be dumped and pitied, so she took the bold step and ended it first. Her extension rang
“Me ne ne- what is it?”
“Baba na neman ki- Baba is looking for you”
Rabi wasn’t aware her parents had returned from Dubai. She pulled an oversized t-shirt over her head and walked to the garden. She met Jamal waiting in the bushes and stared at the gardener as he pocketed the wad of naira notes before promptly walking away. He walked out the gates and bolted them behind him.
“Jamal ba ka jin magana- you don’t hear word”
“Rabi Dan Allah”
“What? What are you begging me for? What do you want me---what else is there to do?”
“Just wait till after she puts to bed. Then I’ll leave her”
“After you’ve held your baby, you’ll walk away”
“Wallahi” he swore
Rabi shook her head, no father was able to and she was not willing to wait 7 months while Jamal realised that.
“The marriage is dead, you know this” Jamal rubbed his sleep deprived eyes
“Marriages all over Abuja run on a lot less than mutual love for the children”
“I love you Rabi”
“No Jamal you love sex. That is the high you are used to, now you are going to have to find it elsewhere...”
“Rabi I LOVE YOU”
“Because” she continued “even I can’t sink so low as to sleep with you while Nabila is pregnant”
“Rabi please...” Jamal saw the finality in her eyes
“May Allah forgive me for what I’ve done”
Rabi turned and walked away, in her room she blocked Jamal’s number and cried till she heard the call to morning prayers the following day.
Nabila Mujahid knocked heavily on the door, she banged with her fist till Amaka answered. Nabsy fell on her best friend and sobbed, she cried and cried and cried and could not be comforted. Somewhere in her ripped-to-shreds state she felt different hands on her shoulders, felt the lure of a pillow, the cold glass on her chapped lips. She resisted all, hanging on to Amaka for dear life and crying herself into a frenzy. Eventually she slept, with fingers tight on her friend’s satin blouse. When Nabila woke up, she had a pounding headache, the whisperings of voices. Shouldn’t the twins be sleeping? She thought; the tenor caught her attention. It was male, but it wasn’t Jamal. Nabila blinked through her migraine in time to see and hear Ikenna say “She’s waking up. Get the Panadol”
She tried to sit up; the splitting headache was too painful even with Ikenna assisting. Why did Amaka call him? This was so embarrassing.
Amaka came into her blurry view and fed her a glass of water, cooing and rubbing her back. Nabila painfully swallowed the tablets, only because she was too tired to protest. With great difficulty, she forced her eyes as wide as they would go, to take in the complete view of Amaka and Ikenna sitting side by side on the coffee table and staring at her like a pair of worried parents at a wayward teenager. They looked nice, Nabila thought. Too nice in fact. Ikenna was wearing a suit with the now loosened tie and Amaka a red satin blouse and black pencil skirt. Ya Allah. She had interrupted a date.
“I am so sorry”
“No” they both chorused
“I didn’t know”
“Don’t even say that” they hushed her every time
“Do you want to talk about it?” Amaka asked. Nabila nodded and by the time she sat upright, Ikenna had left the room.
“Jamal has been giving me a hard time since I told him about the baby. After telling me he never loved me, he promised to be around for the child but he hasn’t. I take care of all doctors’ appointments and go to them alone. He’s moved out to the guest room and I –I -I”
“It’s okay. Take your time”
“I just realised the toxic environment I’m would be bringing my child up in.
“I know sweetie” Amaka patted her knee, urging her to continue
“I’m three months today and I felt the baby kick for the first time. He wasn’t interested. I planned to tell my parents today as well, naively I thought by now Jamal would have come round to the idea, we could pretend to be civil but he told me to go find the baby’s real father to drag along for my circus act. He said I ruined his life. That I was an evil witch and my baby a spawn” Nabila began to cry again, she didn’t want to go back home. Not tonight.
“Stay here tonight” Amaka said hugging her “We’ll talk more”
“Thank you. Ikenna fa?”
“Don’t worry about him. He wasn’t getting any anyway”
Her phone vibrated causing her to break from Amaka’s soothing hug and back rub; it was the landline at her parents. She pressed ignore, only to see a previous 10 missed calls. She called back right away, mama answered
“Ba ki dokan waya kowa- you don’t answer anyone’s phone calls?”
“Mama I’m sor-”
“Mama I already sai-”
“Rabi has formally accepted Alhaji Tukur’s proposal. She ‘s getting married”