The pain Udokobong felt at this point could only be compared to labor pains. She could barely lie on her back because of the multiple injuries there. Her sides were also badly bruised. When the hospital had managed to stabilize her, they asked to make a call to any family member. She gave them Olufemi’s number.
As expected, Olufemi arrived in minutes. He was visibly infuriated by the condition Phoenix had brought upon her but Udokobong was more concerned about her children.
“My kids… help me get my babies back please.” she cried out.
“We will settle that matter but first, let’s get you to another hospital.” He left to facilitate her transfer to one of the best hospitals in Victoria Island.
Not long after she was admitted at the new hospital, Chidimma and Arinze rushed into her ward. Chidimma looked afraid and shaking.
“What happened? Olufemi called me some hours ago and said you have been hospitalized.”
“Hmmm…Phoenix o. He almost killed me last night. I went home and saw him with another girl -my neighbor’s younger sister. I became angry and wanted to know why the girl was in my house, only for him to do this to me.” She cried out.
“What is wrong with this man!” Arinze exclaimed.
“The hospital called me and I decided to come to see her,” Olufemi said.
“This is crazy!” Arinze exclaimed. “He should be arrested for this nonsense!”
“Please, I need my children; help me get my babies. I don’t want them to be raised by another woman.”
“You have to calm down and recover first. Let’s get to the root of this and settle amicably.” Chidimma said soothingly.
“No please, there is absolutely nothing to settle there anymore. It’s over. I can’t cope any longer with that bastard. I will sue him and get my kids!”
“You have to calm down Uby, calm down. Just recover first. Look at your body.” Arinze said, looking irritated by the bruises on Ubokobong’s head.
They stayed with her for hours; watching as she was given several injections and put to sleep.
As they drove home that morning, Arinze asked Chidimma how Olufemi got to know her friend. It had just come to Chidimma’s realization that she once introduced them to each other a few months ago. How did they become so close that Olufemi had to be the first to be called to the hospital?
A few days after Ubokobong recovered,
Olufemi drove her to his house at Badore.
“You go all the way from here to work every morning?” Ubokobong asked as she settled on the soft brown leather couch.
“Yes. Every morning.” Olufemi replied as he took off his suit.
Ubokobong stared around the house, it was a big duplex with unique interiors that made the house classy.
“You live in this big house alone?” She asked.
“Yeah.” He replied quite coldly.
“And your daughter visits you?”
“No. Not yet.” He took off his wristwatch and placed it on the glass Centre table.
“You don’t seem happy.”
“I am okay.” He shrugged.
“Tell me what’s wrong? If my staying here is going to be inconveniencing, I can leave to Chidimma’s place.”
“No no. That’s not why I am swinging moods. I am sad because you were unfortunate to meet that bastard who made you spend days in the hospital. I don’t wanna ask you if you are really sure you wanna divorce him and take custody of your kids, because I know you are.”
“when I divorce Phoenix, will you marry me?” She asked, looking straight into his eyes.
He took his eyes away and stood up, looking at her again, he took his eyes away, this time to a painted image of him framed on the wall.
“I am not fascinated by marriage. It’s not my thing. I do not place values in marriage for many personal reasons that you may never understand. And that’s why you see me at my age, I am only proud to be a true lover to you and an amazing dad to my daughter Oyobami. I will not wish for my only daughter to be tied down in bondage called marriage, just as I won’t want the same for myself.” He said and sat back, turning to face her, “I have known you for a few months now, and I love you. I love your personality. You make me think of you when I am alone and it’s an amazing thing. If you wanna divorce Phoenix because you think I will marry you, I think you should stick to him. So one of these days I will be called to come to carry your corpse.”
“God will forbid it when you make a move. Tomorrow I will meet a judge on your behalf. A letter will be sent to your husband for a divorce preparation, and you can try so hard to get your kids. Cheers.” He paused and looked deep into her eyes, “I cherish our friendship. You can stay here as long as you want until you heal both in your heart and body.”
Shudders ripped through her body as she watched Olufemi carry his suit and wristwatch. “When you’re married to someone in this country, you can hardly walk away because it is said that marriage is a costly institution, I don’t believe in that crap. I give people the freedom to make their life choices because they are humans.” He walked away.
Ubokobong sat there, thinking about her kids and how she was going to cope.
“I can’t just give you twenty million naira to start a business, Uby. It’s inconveniencing for me.”
They were in her sitting room, sipping wine, and watching TV when Ubokobong brought up the loan idea again.
“But you promised me before now,” Ubokobong said insistently.
“Yes, I did. But you have to write down an agreement, a lawyer has to be involved, especially my lawyer. And there must be an agreement.”
“Nawa o Chi, all these for twenty million that your husband can just dash you for shopping,” Ubokobong said as she drank wine.
“See, Uby, Arinze has lost so much money to so-called friends in the name of the loan, they think that because he is named one of the richest men in Nigeria and that he owns oil blocks that he doesn’t have a need for money. I won’t mix business with pleasure. Because this money you are asking me to give you is all I have in my savings. He promised to give me money for my business, that’s why I am even considering giving you, if not, shishi you for no see.”
Ubokobong rolled her eyes, “so your only terms and condition now are that we have to sign papers and involve a lawyer Abi? “
“Yes. And when I need my money on the due date, you will give me without stories.”
“Okay. No problem. I will call Barrister Olufemi…”
“No please. Olufemi is a criminal lawyer. Does he have any business in this?”
“Of course! A lawyer is a lawyer, Chi.”
“Hmm. This one that I heard Olufemi is dating you, is it true?” Chidimma asked with a controlled smile.
“Hmm. News can fly sha o.” Ubokobong clapped her hands.
“We are in a small world, my dear.”
“Why can’t you talk since I mentioned that you are dating Olufemi, if it’s because of him that you are leaving Phoenix, you better not.”
“Abeg, leave that side, please. I have already dragged that idiot Phoenix to court. I am divorcing Him straight up!”
“Aside from the fact that Phoenix beat you up so bad, and he cheated, what other bad thing did he do?”
“Em, Chi, please en, it’s like you are not understanding my problems. When should I come with the lawyer for the money?”
“Anytime you are ready call me. But get another lawyer and not Olufemi. And before I forget, I will add an extra 2million naira for you to get a house.” Ubokobong flew at her and gave her a hug, “O chi,” tears clouded her eyes, “I bless the day I met you at CCC in Uyo. You have been my blessing ever since then. Look at what you just said to me, from paying my rent several times to even raising my kids a roof, ah, Chi! Let me pray for you please,” there were tears in their eyes as she began to pray loudly, “this year will not pass you, you will get pregnant and conceive. You will not do IVF o, no surrogate, you will conceive in the name of Jesus!” She shouted.
“Amen,” Chidimma replied softly.