Emeka liked to think that very few things could shock him. Like when the realization sunk in at Chika’s frantic cries that he really was a father. Or like now, when Bankole revealed that it was Bankole’s inheritance that saved his wife and daughter. He knew how much the inheritance meant to Bankole, not just its monetary value, because it wasn’t very substantial for a will. But it was the lone profession of his father-in-law’s affection for Bankole. Which Bankole had given up willingly.
He had always thought it was a bank loan, because Bankole had managed to evade the question of the source of the money since Chika’s delivery. Emeka and his wife couldn’t press him too much either because they didn’t even have the money to repay him at the time, source known or not. Which they’d explained to him and he’d told them not to worry about it. Emeka hated to be in anyone’s debt, especially that of his brother-in-law. He felt he should be the one taking care of the young man and he hadn’t been able to do so as he would have liked.
Bankole’s school fees was a prime example. He had only been able to contribute a small percentage to his brother-in-law’s fees since his finances took a downward turn. His investments had not yielded the expected gains and his debts had grown as a result. All that was water under the bridge now. His relative abroad sent him some money and his business was finally beginning to pick up.
He was eternally grateful for Bankole’s sacrifice, and even better, he could pay back now that two doors had miraculously opened. Looking into Bankole’s face, he knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The lad could be bull-headed when he wanted to. It wasn’t like Bankole had any choice though. There was the matter of school resumption that Bankole had said earlier and Emeka planned to shoulder it.
“I really don’t know how to thank you for the help you rendered. It was very selfless of you. Thank you”, Emeka told his brother-in-law.
He looked at his wife who smiled tremulously with tears pooling in her eyes as she thanked her brother.
“Ose aburo. Ose gan.”
He knew the only thing keeping her in her seat was the fact that Bankole wasn’t too comfortable with embraces, though she managed to squeeze one of her brother’s hands in both of hers, in gratitude. Bankole gently extricated his hands from her death grip and patted hers gently.
Emeka thanked Bankole again and promptly told him he was going to return the money. He raised his hand to still Bankole’s protest and Chika suddenly let out a wail from the next room where she’d been left sleeping.
“Please understand. You wouldn’t have had to bail us out in the first place if everything was the way it ought to be…”
Emeka’s words trailed off in midsentence and he turned worried eyes upon his wife. He saw from his line of vision that Bankole did too. What was his wife doing? The baby was crying!
Bodunde seemed to realize that their attention was on her and she snapped out of her daze quickly. It then dawned on her that Chika was wailing and she shot out of the room like her tail was on fire. Emeka exchanged glances with his brother-in-law. His wife must be very troubled about something to not have heard Chika’s deafening cry. And the ‘something’ was definitely beyond returning Bankole’s money. He was sure of it.
Bodunde slid down the wall she rested on to the floor and let the tears fall down her face as she wept silently. She was thankful the drops fell on her dress and not on Chika. She couldn’t bear to hear her daughter cry right then else she’d be tempted to bawl alongside.
What have I done? Oh, what have I done?
Dissembling her family history over the years had become a habit and somehow, it had muddled her subconscious into accepting it as the truth. Only now, the constant mention of inheritance had jabbed her memory so sharply, separating fact from fiction. Facts in all its sordid glory.
She didn’t like that she’d played a role in all of this. She was only following orders then and it had stuck over time. Now she was torn. If she let the falsehood continue, it would swamp her with guilt, but if she came clean, it would be her end if Bankole left. Pain was inevitable either ways…
A sob threatened to choke her but she swallowed it. She couldn’t have either men coming in to ask why. She wasn’t ready to tell. Wiping her face with her free hand, she pushed up from the floor and made her decision. She would tell Bankole the truth. Later. Whenever that was. Whenever was appropriate.
It niggled in the back of her mind that time undecided equals never, but she pushed it away as she pasted a smile on her face and stepped out to meet the men. Her eyes strayed rebelliously to Bankole despite her efforts to avoid his gaze, and her heart broke again in anguish.
However did one tell one’s brother he wasn’t one’s brother?
Phew. I didn’t see it coming too, I promise. How was that ride? Let me know what you think about Bankole’s unveiled ancestry. I feel sad about it though. How do you think he’s going to handle the truth?
Thank you for reading through. Please comment, like and share.
You can read chapters one and two here: https://tell.africa/user/zoe_inspired/ , in case you missed it.