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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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THE PATH THE LITTLE ONES LED (Part 1) – A Children’s Day Special

“Do you want to hear a story?” the man asked the well-groomed couple seated before him.

The woman quirked a penciled brow that betrayed her interest in the narrative this stranger intended with his enigmatic opener. She exchanged a quick look with her husband before saying, “Sure, Mister…er, what did you say your name was again?”

“Othukei,” he replied. “Solomon Othukei is my name. And I hope my story can make a difference.”

***

“I’m sorry but I cannot help you, Mr. Othukei,” the woman said firmly, standing from her seat as she spoke. She was tall and thickset, and her black hair was pulled severely back from her face in a coiffure that emphasized her broad forehead and high cheekbones. Stolid dark eyes stared out from above her short, thick nose.

The man they were staring at however remained seated. His weathered face looked up at her, his eyes were imploring. “Mrs. Salman, please, I need this. I need to know –”

“That may be so,” the woman cut in, “but I still cannot help you. Margaret signed a confidentiality agreement –”

“Damn the confidentiality agreement,” Solomon Othukei interrupted in turn. “She’s dying. Don’t you get it? We need this –”

“I get it –”

“Do you?” Neither person, it seemed, wanted the other to finish his words. Solomon had gotten to his feet, shooting up from his seat with a force that sent the chair toppling over backward. The move saw him towering over the woman and his big frame was tightly drawn with the hostility he felt. His jaw jutted angrily at her as he spat, “Do you, Mrs. Salman? Do you really?”

Funsho Salman wasn’t cowed by his sudden burst of ire. In her line of work, she had dealt with lots of clients whose temperaments ranged from muted insolence to bald-faced aggression. Each incident helped her hone her unflappability, and now, she said steadily to the man before her, “Please, calm down, Mr. Othukei. I understand your plight, but as much as I sympathize with you, as much as I would like to help you, my hands are tied. I do have the Igbokwes to think about, and in this case, my obligation to them is a priority.”

Solomon stared down at his clenched fists for a long moment, then his fists turned into hands. He drew in a long, deep breath and, with an effort, he swallowed the desire to crash one of his big hands against the woman’s cheek. Her detachment galled him and he was angry enough, bitter enough, to want to cause her bodily harm. He wasn’t a violent man; he didn’t even have a hot temper. Margaret had frequently called him a big softie. She’d often said that he couldn’t hurt a fly. But then, Mrs. Salman was hardly a fly. She was a cow. A mean, old cow who now stood in the way of him and his happiness.

“You know, it is people like you” – he looked up at Mrs. Salman, his eyes brimming with acrimony – “wicked people like you who turn their fellow men into the ways of wickedness, right along with them.”

Funsho began crisply, “Mr. Othukei, I take exception –”

“I am a good person, Mrs. Salman!” he roared, stabbing at his chest with a stubby finger. “And so is Margaret! And she’s dying – she’s dying…” His voice broke as misery crashed down on him, heightening the turbulence of the emotions he felt. “She’s dying…” It came out as a whisper. “And you can do something to help her. Yet you won’t. If she dies, it will be on you.” The finger turned to her, accusing her, judging her, sentencing her. “If she dies, it will be on you because you refused to do what you can to help her. And it will be on me too, because I didn’t do everything in my power to help her.”

“I love my wife. And I will do everything – anything – to get her back. Are you hearing me, Mrs. Salman? I said Anything!”

And without another word, he turned and stomped out of the office, leaving Funsho slightly shaken by the brunt of his utterances.

When Solomon got outside, he paused on the pavement of the building to take in a huge breath. The outdoor temperature was warm but not hot. The anemic morning sun leaked its warmth from the sky that was still a watery blue colour from the pre-dawn rain. The lackluster climate matched the way he felt; thinking about his wife, Margaret, recalling how she looked on the hospital bed, and having that image juxtapose itself with memories of what a vibrant, beautiful woman she used to be, always caused the welling of a gamut of emotions inside him. Rage, bitterness, helplessness, and a strong yearning for time to do an about-turn, back to the recent past when everything was right between them. When her smile had the ability to light up his soul. When her body moved with a sinuous grace that could turn him on even before her touch or kiss. When her beautiful dark hair hung down in a rich, lustrous shower that he liked to bury his face in whenever he hugged her.

He remembered all these about the woman he loved and was losing, and the grief roared back at him in high, crippling waves. It had always been like this, ever since the leukemia knocked Margaret down. Whenever he stopped moving, whenever he paused to take a break from the grind he’d learned to bury himself and his emotions in, the grief hit him hard and deep. It wore him down. It robbed him of his own life, whittling away at his core, one layer at a time.

He had to do something. Anything, he’d said earlier.

He turned to look back at the modest one-storey building he’d just vacated. He was too emotional to care if it had any architectural characteristics beyond a front door and the pavement. But he took in the small yard, the line of clothes flapping gently in the morning breeze, and the not-so distant din of children and their minders resonating from somewhere in the building. In the yard, three vehicles were packed with no more than a few feet in between; the small, blue Honda looked like something Funsho Salman would own. He looked around at the wall that fenced in the compound, which had a ring of razor wire attached to the top. His eyes skimmed over the expanse, dismissed it and came down, settling on the lone security man stationed beside the gate. The security man was looked back at him; he was as heftily-built as Solomon, with small gimlet eyes and a dark complexion that told a story of an occupation spent under the sun. Solomon studied him briefly, aware that the man’s gaze on him was turning distrustful. Then he started for the gate.

“Good afternoon,” he greeted as he walked past the security man.

The man grunted in response.

Solomon could feel his eyes on his back as he walked to where he parked his car. He didn’t mind. He didn’t care. His mind was gradually getting made up on the issue. He had to do something – anything – to save Margaret.   kids

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Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. excellency

     /  May 26, 2013

    Okay now, you gat my attention! Good!
    Check this: “The security man was looked back at him”

    Reply
  2. chika udeh

     /  May 26, 2013

    i dont understand how this is a children’s day special. You r writing abt a dying woman n a depressed man!!!! Me no understand o

    Reply
  3. storm

     /  May 29, 2013

    Hehehehehe awesomeness is happening…Hehehehehe awesomeness is happening…Hehehehehe awesomeness is happening…Hehehehehe awesomeness is happening….can’t wait!

    Reply

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