They say that when trouble comes, it rains. Shade felt like she was in the middle of a storm and the rain of trouble was falling on her.
The strong smell of coffee filled the hotel room. A breakfast tray lay on the small dining table and the rays of the morning sun danced on the silver set like a group of acrobats. For the second time in twenty four hours, the two friends sat down to breakfast. Shade buttered a piece of toast and took a tiny bite. She reached for the cup of black coffee and took a sip. Ngozi sat beside her at the table, eating slowly.
Many thoughts ran through Shade’s mind. She just discovered that she was pregnant for a stranger whom she met on a business trip. How could it have happened? She didn’t know what evil spirit possessed her to do what she did. But here she was carrying the child of an Italian who will probably never see her again. Why did she allow herself to let go so easily? ‘What is wrong with me?’ Shade asked herself. This was her second pregnancy and it was for a man who wasn’t her husband. Her first pregnancy was for a man who refused to marry her after discovering her pregnancy. He swore that he was not responsible for it. Shade had no choice but to carry the pregnancy until full term and she delivered Tola, her beautiful daughter. That happened eight years ago. Now this has happened. Was she under a curse? She was convinced that she was. Why else would she allow this shameful thing to happen to her? How was she going to explain this to her husband ?
Shade lifted the mug of coffee and poured herself another cup.
“I have dishonoured Gbenga and our marriage. I have to let him know.” Shade said.
“Why would you want to do that?” Ngozi asked.
“I have wronged him.” Shade insisted.
Ngozi didn’t know what to tell Shade to do. This miraculous pregnancy was a curse which could totally ruin her plans for Gbenga. Shade wasn’t supposed to get pregnant. Fate seemed to have dealt Ngozi a vicious blow.
“I am going to ask for his forgiveness.” Shade said.
“But that will not change the fact that he slept with the maid and got her pregnant.”
Shade hung her head in shame. “This was all my fault. If I hadn’t wandered away from God, if I hadn’t wandered away from my marriage, if I hadn’t allowed my career to become an obsession, if I hadn’t allowed money to become a controlling force in my life, this wouldn’t have happened.” She ran her hands through her hair. “God is punishing me for my sins,” she concluded.
Ngozi changed her position and knelt in front of Shade. “Listen to me. God is not punishing you for anything. You made a serious error in judgement and now you have to bear the consequences. If you tell Gbenga now, he will never forgive you. It is best that you walk away with this pregnancy and forget about Gbenga.”
Shade was quiet for a few minutes, staring mindlessly at the Nollywood movie showing on a large television set mounted on the wall. She stood up, brought out her valise from the wardrobe and started folding her things into the case.
“What are you doing?” Ngozi asked.
She turned to Ngozi. “You are right Ngozi. What was I thinking?I have been going about this the wrong way. I shouldn’t tell Gbenga any of this. I could cause irreparable damage to my marriage.” She kept arranging her effects in the case. “I am going to make a full confession to my Pastor. I will leave nothing out. I am going to tell him everything I did and ask him to pray for me, that God should grant me forgiveness.”
Ngozi couldn’t have come up with a better plan. It seemed like fate was back on her side. Shade was going to ruin her life with her own hands and Ngozi was going to help her accomplish it. She stood up to help her confused friend finish packing.
“You must see your pastor as soon as possible. When would you want to see him? Ngozi pushed for a decision.
“Immediately after service today,” Shade said.
“It is well,” Ngozi muttered knowing that with Shade’s special talent to make stupid decisions, it wasn’t well with her friend at all.
Yemi took her time to clear the table, making sure that her legs brushed against Segun twice. She could feel his eyes on her like sharp knives as she returned to the kitchen. The men returned to the living room and sat in silence.
Gbenga broke the silence. “Ngozi told me that the maid is carrying my child.”
“That is good for you, isn’t it?” Segun said. “You have waited for a child from Shade and it hasn’t been forthcoming. You shouldn’t allow anything happen to the maid’s pregnancy,” Segun adviced.
“You don’t understand what you are talking about. What will happen to my wife?”
“You are a Yoruba prince. You are entitled to as many wives as you wish. The maid will be one one of your wives,” Segun said.
“God forbid!” Gbenga stood up forcefully hitting the stool to the floor. “I won’t take another wife! I am a well respected member of the Falomo Baptist Church. If such news got out, I could be excommunicated from the Church and it could also destroy my business.”
Segun regarded his friend for a moment. ” What then will happen to this woman and her pregnancy which you are responsible for? Do you plan to do away with her baby and pretend that it never happened?” Segun asked.
Gbenga’s brow was wrinkled with confusion. Sweat crystallised on his face. He sat down at the dinning table looking like a cornered animal. In his eyes you could see that he had no answers to the question his friend asked him. “I don’t know,” he wiped his mouth with his right hand.
Segun joined him at the table. “You shouldn’t make things worse by trying to get rid of this pregnancy. Who knows if you will ever have another baby?”
Anger flashed in his eyes. “Are you insinuating that I cannot impregnate a woman?” Gbenga asked.
Segun brought his hands together on the table and looked at his friend in the eye.”It is not what I insinuate. It is the fact on the ground. You and your wife have long waited for a child, now you are blessed with one. You should be careful what you do with it.”
Gbenga got up from the dining table, stood beside the window and looked into the garden. The morning sun reflected on the water running from the fountain in the centre of the garden. Sadique the gateman played a game of catch with the German shepherd, a gift from Ngozi. Gbenga shook his head with sadness. He wanted a child, but not like this. Not in such a situation.
He turned to his friend. “Is this a blessing? You call the child that girl is carrying in her womb a blessing?” He shook his head. “No! It isn’t a blessing. It is a curse. I won’t have this hanging over my head for the rest of my life. That pregnancy has to go.”
Segun looked at the embattled man. “You are ashamed, aren’t you? Ashamed of what people would say when they find out that you fathered a child with your maid?”
Gbenga’s eyes flashed with desperation. “Of course I am. Shouldn’t I be?” He sat down opposite his friend. “I impregnated my maid. It is a very shameful thing to happen to a man of my standing in society. What will my friends say?”
“Your friends will mind their own business,” Segun said.
“What about my church, my pastor? What about my family, what will they think of me? I am telling you that this shameful pregnancy has to go.”
Segun stood up. “I have to be in church this morning. Let’s continue this discussion after service. Are you coming to Church?”he asked at the door.
Gbenga walked him to his car. “I need to sort out something this morning. I will catch up with you in church.” Segun drove out of the compound.
As Gbenga walked up the stairs back to his room, thoughts ran amock in his mind like rats under attack from a vicious cat. He had to find his wife and bring her back home. Then he would get rid of the maid and her cursed pregnancy. He opened the door to his bedroom and jumped back as if he had just seen a rattle snake.
Standing by his matrimonial bed, drinking a cup of coffee was the maid. She had changed into a white dress and she looked stunning. Gbenga swallowed hard but did not enter the room.
The maid put the cup down on the bedside table. “Mr Philips, do come in. I am not going to bite.” she smiled. “It’s time you and I had a talk, don’t you think?”
Gbenga looked around to make sure that no one else was there, then he entered the room and shut the door.
“Somebody shout hallelujah!” It was Shade’s ringtone. The sound broke the morbid silence in the hotel room. Shade stopped packing her valise and answered the phone.
“Hello?” as she listened, blood slowly drained from her face as if she had just seen a ghost.
Ngozi had never seen Shade looking so pale. What problem had come up in her friend’s life again, Ngozi wondered. “Is everything okay?” she asked, mocking her friend.
To be continued.