I tighten my grip on the steering wheel to no avail. The tears keep coming – a waterfall. My wedding band glints in the sunlight. I try to focus on the traffic ahead of me in spite of the blinding tears. Everything is blurry. That’s how living has been lately. My emotions are like sinking sand. The harder I fight, the deeper I sink. Unbidden, the memories come.
*** *** *** ***
I had never seen her like this. Her eyes were wild. She was begging on her knees. Her hair was all over the place. The veins on her neck bulged and catarrh gathered just outside her nostrils and over her upper lip. She was weeping. Her soft voice was broken by her sorrow. I had never seen her like this. She was always calm, sophisticated and in control. Intermittently, her limbs contorted like she was having a convulsion. I looked on in undisguised disbelief.
‘Edward. Please. I know you didn’t do it. Please. Don’t marry her. I accept the baby.’
I sighed in exasperation.
‘Ashabi, you are asking for the impossible. Her parents and my parents have been friends since their childhood days. Besides, it is clearly an insult to ask for a DNA test. My parents would not hear of it, and they approve of her. I have to live with my mistake. This is not a decision I made lightly.’
‘Edward. I love you. Please. Just let’s try to sort this out. Edward. Please…’, her sobs swallowed the rest of her statement. I pulled her up and wrap my arms around her. ‘I love you too, Ashabi. This one is beyond me.’ She pulled back and looked into my eyes. ‘How dare you say that to me? How dare you?!’ She shoved me away from her. ‘This wouldn’t have happened if you had listened to me in the first place. You were quick to say, ‘Jadesola is my childhood friend. She is harmless’. And now, even my trust means nothing to you! You have made up your mind. You think your hands are tied? If you are half the man you should be, you wouldn’t even be considering wedding that snake.’
I moved towards her. ‘Ashabi…’ She put her hand out as if to stop me. ‘Please. Edward. Don’t come any closer. You are killing me!’ Her shoulders began to shake and she dropped onto the floor. I gathered her up in my arms as I joined her on the floor…
*** *** *** ***
I get out of the car. I have come here every Saturday for the past ten years looking for a miracle, but God seems to have a different idea. I twist my wedding band. Ten years of lies. I wish I had listened then. My desire to be a man of honour led me to my slaughter. I clear my throat. Crying comes too easily these days. Men do not cry. I stopped being one when I turned my back on Ashabi. I come to see Ashabi but Ashabi is not here – just a young woman who used to be her. The doctors say she can’t remember anything – a defense mechanism. They also say she is very depressed. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of her. Other times, I just stay and watch her in her wheel chair with her head hanging from her neck. When I think no one is looking, I gently squeeze her hands when I walk past her chair.
Today, I am getting a miracle. Ashabi is not in a wheel chair. She is sitting at a table playing cards with two other patients – one of whom has gotten used to seeing me. He beckons at me to join them. I do. I observe them play. My attention is on Ashabi. I desperately want her to say something. God hears my prayer. She turns to look at me.
‘You are staring.’ She says the words slowly as if testing them. I am afraid I will burst out in tears if I try to talk so I shake my head.
‘You are mute? Who are you? My husband?’ She points at my wedding band. I shake my head. She tilts her head to one side. ‘Let me try again. You can’t be family. You wouldn’t have come alone.’ I clear my throat and say, ‘friend’. Her face lights up at this. ‘I didn’t think I had friends. I can’t seem to remember anyone. Except those I have met here. We must have been very close.’ She keeps quiet and bites her lip. ‘So what’s your name?’ I put out my hand and say, ‘My name is Edward.’ She laughs while shaking me. ‘I am reading a book. The main character’s love interest is a vampire. His name is Edward’. I smile at her. ‘The Twilight series.’ She nods. Her voice becomes very small. ‘I can’t remember what I used to be called before I came here. But I go by Jadesola.’ The smile dies on my face. This cannot be happening to me. I need to leave. I get up from my chair. She – I don’t know what to call her – puts her hand on my hand. ‘Will you come again? It is nice to know I have a friend.’ I give her my best smile. ‘Of course, I doubt you will be able to get rid of me.’