Effe sits on her bed.
She is fully-dressed in a most fetching cream skirt suit with short sleeves. Her make-up is minimal, and her jewellery consist of matching chain, earrings and bracelet. She looks very lovely indeed.
There is a knock on the door, and she looks up, startled for a moment, and then she hears her mother’s voice.
Afi, dearest, are you okay? We’re running late.
Effe gets up and surveys herself in the full-length mirror.
The door opens and her mother enters. She comes and stands besides Effe. Effe looks at her mother and smiles sadly.
I’m ready, Mama.
Her mother looks at her with a face full of love, compassion and helplessness.
Are you sure about this, baby girl? You can choose to stay and not attend this ceremony, dear. If you want, I’ll stay here with you!
Effe turns and hugs her mother, and then she steps back.
I’ve always wanted a home for the poor autistic children that pass through Eden Hospital, Mama. I fought for it, laid petition after petition before the Eden Board of Directors. It took years before they decided to put up the Eden Autistic Center. It’s Grand Opening today. I’ll be there, Mama, for those poor children! And you know father has petitioned the Eden Capitals for more loans, and he has been turned down. Maybe the Chairman of the Board would be there, and I’ll get a chance to speak to him and put father’s case across.
Madam Ivy takes Effe’s hand.
Isn’t it amazing? Jon, our own son-in-law, is the Second Vice President of the Eden Board, and yet he stands in the way of your father, keeping all of us on a leash. He threatens to call in all the overdue loans, and if he does we’re going to lose the Company, and I know that will break your father’s heart.
And that’s the more reason why I must be at the launch, and try and speak to the President himself.
I know, baby. You have a heart of gold. You always have. But you know Steve will be there. And you know Elaine would take this opportunity to be there, to be seen, to be in the spotlight. It can bring you more pain, dear.
Effe shakes her head.
We’ve already been over this, Mama. I’m okay. I can’t possibly be hurt more than seeing my husband marrying my sister. I slept last night, mother, so soundly that I woke up late. Believe me, I’ll live through this.
There are tears in the woman’s eyes as she hugs her daughter.
Tears of anguish, of love, of pain because she sees her daughter’s pain and can’t do anything to stop it.
She touches her daughter’s cheek and traces a loving finger down it.
One day, Afi, just one day, you’re going to find that one man, that particular man, who will love you through it all. A real man who’ll love you till death.
Effe smiles at that, and it is such a beautiful smile that her mother raises her eyebrows in surprise. Effe walks to the bed and picks up her handbag.
Let’s go, Mama. We’re gonna be late.
Her father is driving them in his sleek black Toyota V8.
Effe sits in the back. Her parents are conversing but she barely hears them.
She puts her phone to her ears. It is ringing at the other end.
His voice comes through, slow and close, and she wonders why it sounds so near, so comforting.
She takes the phone from her ears and looks at it, shakes her head with a bemused look on her face, and puts it back to her ear.
And what did you say?
I didn’t say anything. I just called you Precious.
Effe is silent for a moment. She tries to speak, but there is a mischievous look on her face. She does not want him to hear the pleased tone in her voice.
I’m going to the hospital for a programme. I’ll then go to the Ameyaw-Eden Clinic. Could you pick me up from the hospital in say, a couple of hours?
Her parents look at each other with curiosity.
Alright, Precious. I’ll be there.
So. That’s what you’ve decided to call me now?
Yeah. But not only that. I got a whole lot of names for you.
She laughs then, and leans further into the seat.
Really? Okay. Let me hear another one.
She laughs again, and then sees her father watching her with surprise in the driving-mirror, and she bites her lower lip self-consciously.
I’ll see you then, Chris.
She cuts the call. She looks up, and her father is still looking up at her. She looks out the window. Her father turns.
Well, normally I don’t poke my old nose into the affairs of beautiful doctors, but-
(cutting in gently and with a smile)
But you will look straight ahead and drive and not poke your old nose into the affairs of beautiful doctors!
They all laugh.
THE EDEN HOSPITAL
It had been a very colourful ceremony.
The Vice President of Ghana had been present, together with the Ministers of Health and other powerful personalities.
Unfortunately the President of the Eden Board had not been able to make it, and in his stead the First Vice President, Mr. Frank Stiles and the Second Vice President, Mr. Jonathan Afful, had been present.
Effe had sat on the podium with Steve and the other doctors. Elaine had been present and had sat with the guests.
The launch had been very successful.
They had toured the beautiful Autistic Center, and marvelled at the ultra-modern equipment that had been brought in.
The press had been present, and they covered the event splendidly.
Now it is over.
The Vice President of Ghana is gone, and so has the First Vice President of the Eden Board who had been in a rush and so promised Effe that he would give her a call later to address her issues.
They are now eating and having fun. It has taken almost three hours and Effe still has not seen Chris.
Effe is sitting in a group that includes Doctor Anaman, Doctor Rupert Henderson and his wife, Barbara. Also in the group are Eyram and her parents.
Effe excuses herself and goes to the Ladies to freshen up. She is standing in front of the huge mirror applying light lipstick when the door opens and three giggling women come in.
It is Elaine and two of her friends. Effe knows them. They used to come to the house when Elaine was staying with her and Steve.
One, called Sheena, is very bad-mannered, always being nasty about people. Effe had warned her not to come to her home again.
The other one, called Rebecca, is a little better-behaved around Effe.
Sheena pauses now and looks at Effe with a dirty look. She makes a huge bubble with her gum and pops it.
Well, well, well! Look at who we have here! Ladies, may I present to you the FORMER Mrs. Hollison, the woman who thought her shit was perfumed?
Elaine, pregnant belly bulging, laughs and stands besides Effe.
Their eyes meet in the mirror, and Elaine slowly holds up a hand and shows the diamond-encrusted wedding ring she is wearing.
Hello, Effe. How have you been?
Effe is trembling as she carefully puts her lipstick back in its case and slowly puts it back in her bag.
(with a mocking laugh)
Mrs. Effe Hollison! I heard you’re barren, and so you lost your dear husband!
(looking very uncomfortable)
Jeez, Sheena, would you just stop it and leave her alone?
Oh, but Sheena is right, Becky! My sister couldn’t get pregnant, and lost her husband. Surely there’s nothing wrong with speaking the truth, is there?
I don’t think it was just about not getting pregnant. Effe thinks she’s better than everybody! Always filled with pride, because she’s a doctor, a famous surgeon! But obviously she’s like a dead fish in bed, aren’t you, Effe? Just lying there like a piece of wood whilst her husband-
Excuse me, her FORMER husband!
Oh forgive me, Mrs Elaine Hollison! I forget you not only gave your man multiple orgasms, but you’re going to give him a son as well! Poor, poor Effe! You lost your man to your little sister! Oh, don’t cry! How does it feel like, Doctor?
(her voice plaintive)
Oh Lord! Let her be, girls!
Effe smiles bravely through her pain. She looks at Elaine who slowly holds out her hand and shows her ring to Effe.
What do you think, Effe? Beautiful ring, isn’t it?
Effe nods as she looks at the ring.
Hm, quite beautiful, I must say. Quite prettier than mine. Well done, you deserve it!
The smile drops from Elaine’s face, and she looks quickly at Sheena, who forces out a laugh and glares at Effe.
So what are you going to do now, Doctor with no husband? Are you going to become a nun?
Effe smiles. She slings her handbag across her shoulder and steps past Elaine.
Don’t worry, sister! I’ll name one of my children after you!
You kidding me, Elly? Name your child after that witch?
Elaine laughs raucously.
Hell, no! Let her get her own babies!
As barren as a racoon! Hey, Effe, barren racoon! Did you hear that? Don’t you think it rhymes?
Effe steps out quickly. Their taunting is hurting her beyond comprehension. For a moment she is tempted to go back and rip out Elaine’s eyes, but she forces herself to breathe.
She is glad that her tears do not flow. She makes her way towards her group, and suddenly Steve appears besides her.
Effe, Effe, please hold on a moment! I want to talk to you!
She looks at him blankly, and then she tries to step past him.
(in a very small voice)
Please, Steve. There’s nothing to talk about anymore.
Steve reaches out to hold her arm. People are suddenly watching them.
Damn it, baby! Honey! We can be civil to each other at least, can’t we? Oh, please, PLEASE! I know I hurt you. Look, I’m just bringing you a cheque, your portion of our joint savings!
Effe snatches her arm from his grasp, and looks at him with bitter eyes.
I don’t need it, Steve. Use it as my wedding donation to you and your wife! I don’t need anything from you!
Stop this, Honey! Do you hate me that much? You can’t even stay with me for a few seconds just to converse?
Effe starts to reply, but just then the door to the Ladies’ Room opens, and Elaine and her friends step out.
Elaine quickly snatches Steve’s arm and rests her head on his shoulder.
Handsome, your son is restless today. He’s moving so furiously! I think within a couple of days he will drop into your arms! Here, my Lord, a bulge! Feel it, Sweetheart!
Elaine reaches out and takes Steve’s hand and puts it on her belly.
Oh, yipee! That’s a grand feeling, isn’t it? A feeling some women would NEVER EVER be able to feel, right, Effe?
Rebecca and Steve speak at the same time.
Just shut up, Sheena! What’s wrong with you?
Stop it, Sheenie! Oh my God, who is THAT?
Rebecca is pointing to a man who is walking slowly towards them.
He is dressed in an impeccable black suit and he’s wearing sunglasses.
Wow! Damn, that is the best-looking hunk I’ve ever seen! Damn, no ring on his finger! Could be my Prince Charming at last!
Effe laughs quietly, and winks at Sheena.
I doubt it, lady. But keep on dreaming!
Sheena looks at her, perplexed, until the man reaches them. He takes off his sunglasses and looks at Effe with eyes so filled with adoration that it makes Steve’s jaw tighten as he drops his hand from Elaine’s stomach.
You are so beautiful.
Sheena gasps, and Elaine’s eyes fill up with hate as she sees the way Steve is looking at Effe and that nasty man who had almost hit her the last time she saw him.
Effe stares at him. For a moment, they forget where they are, and just look at each other. It is as if they are alone in the world.
You’re late, you know?
Nah. I was waiting outside. I hate crowds. You’ve been here for too long, so I came looking for you. Ready?
Oh, yeah. But come. I want to introduce you to my family first.
Chris falls into step besides Effe as they walk away.
She, so absolutely beautiful in cream, he, so absolutely handsome in black, and they look such an incredible pair that people gawk at them.
Wow. They look smashing together!
Steve, Elaine and Sheena speak in unison.
Shut up, Becky!
Get a life, G!
Would you shut the hell up?
Elaine turns to Steve with a face that is suddenly filled with fury.
What was that, Stevie?
He glares at her, and she sees the simmering look of sudden dislike in the depths of his eyes, and it shocks her.
There, in your voice! Don’t tell me you’re jealous? He’s just a damn taxi driver!
I’ll take him over any millionaire any day! Just-
Elaine and Steve shout at her at the same time.
Steve begins to walk away. Elaine tries to hold his arm but he shrugs her off.
Stevie? Where’re you going to? Steve? Steve!!
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He turns away and begins to walk fast. There are sudden tears in Effe’s eyes as she looks at her fuming mother in incomprehension.
Wait, Chris, please wait!
Eyram, speaking to her husband, sees and feels Effe’s distress just like some twins do, and she is alarmed. She turns and begins to move towards her sister. Jonathan Afful grabs Eyram’s arm, angry immediately.
Damn it, woman, I was talking to you. Get the baby and let’s get out of here. I’ve golf this afternoon with the boys.
Eyram drags her arm from her husband’s grip.
Jon! Just a second. I have to know what happened. Seems Effe is very upset.
Don’t make me angry! Get the baby and let’s go!
Good Lord, Jon! You can leave. I’ll come later! My sister needs me!
Jonathan is so furious that he hits Eyram hard in the face with his fist.
Don’t you dare raise your voice to me, woman!
Eyram falls to the ground with a cry of pain. Afful’s blow has split her upper lip, and she is bleeding badly.
Ken Kedem and Rupert approach Afful angrily.
What’s the matter with you? How could you hit your wife like that?
Afful looks at Rupert angrily, and he balls up his fists.
You want some, white man? Come and get it!
Ken Kedem reaches down to help the weeping Eyram to her feet.
You’re barbaric, Jonathan Afful! Are you out of your mind?
You stay out of this, Ken. This is between me and my wife!
And she’s my daughter, damn you! Is this how you’ve been treating her?
Effe and her mother has reached the scene.
How could you, Jonathan?
That’s what he’s been doing! He’s been beating her and hurting her! She’s been silent because Dad wants more capital from Eden, and Jonathan threatens her that if she talks he would call up all the conditions on the first loan Dad took, and make Dad lose his Company!
And nobody has told me this?
You’re sick, Jonathan! You damn coward! If you dare touch my sister again, I swear-
What? You swear what? What the hell you gonna do? You better keep your damn mouth shut or I’ll shut it for you, you disrespectful little witch!
He is so furious that he is walking towards Effe threateningly.
He looks up suddenly and sees Chris behind Effe. Afful sees the anger in Chris’ eyes, and he smiles evilly.
This is a chance to beat up the taxi driver who is messing up with Steve.
He raises his hand to strike Effe.
Don’t you dare!
His voice is filled with such venom that Afful pauses and looks up, and he sees the huge fist travelling towards his face.
Chris hits Afful so hard that it throws him to the floor. Afful, through his pain, knows that he has finally bitten off more than he can chew.
He feels a rattling in his mouth and knows that one of his front teeth is out.
Blood pours from his nose and split mouth.
With a roar of shame he struggles to his feet and rushes at Chris.
He is short but has a very powerful body, and it is his plan to grab the taxi driver and smash him to the ground.
He crashes into Chris, and he feels the hardness of the man.
He tries to lift Chris, but the taxi driver is like a piece of rock. He grips Afful around the waist, lifts him up, and slams him to the ground again.
The pain is so bad that Afful screams and lies on the floor with fear. He is scared his spine is damaged because he cannot move for a moment. Tears of anguish fall from his face.
Steve is suddenly by his side. He sees the blood pouring from Afful’s mouth and the tears in the man’s eyes, and Steve looks up at Chris, swallowing the words that have sprung to his mouth.
Steve sees the satisfied gloating look on Effe’s face as she looks down at Afful, and the same look is on the faces of all the people present.
Steve helps Afful to his feet.
Afful looks at Eyram with pain as Steve cleans the blood from Afful’s face.
You see what you have done, Eyram? You’re dead! Your father is dead! He’s losing his Company for sure!
He’s losing nothing! You’re rather losing your job!
Afful looks at Chris with a mixture of fear and contempt.
Losing my job? Who’s making me lose my job, you illiterate taxi driver?
Chris takes out his phone. He looks at Afful with so much fury that for a moment Effe fears he will strike the man again, and she puts a hand on Chris’ arm.
You know a man named Mr. Albert Ntim?
The anger slowly ebbs from Afful’s face at the mention of the name of the President of the Eden Board. Suddenly there is unease on his face.
Ken Kedem looks from Chris to Afful. There is a sudden hush.
Albert Ntim? The President of Eden Inc? You know him, Chris?
Not personally. But the car I drive, the taxi, is for his sister-in-law, Mrs. Akua Ayeh, who is very, very close to her sister and her husband. What I’m going to do is call Mrs. Ayeh, and tell her about this stupid little wife-beater called Jonathan Afful. Believe me, Mr. Ntim hates violence against women. By this time tomorrow this wife-beater will be sacked from Eden.
Everybody sees the sudden fear on Afful’s face now. He tries to smile, to be brave, but suddenly he feels a stony weight in the pit of his stomach.
Effe is looking up at Chris with very bright eyes.
(with a final bravado)
You’re a filthy liar, you filthy bastard!
Chris dials and puts the phone on loudspeaker. They all hear the phone ringing. After a while it is picked up.
(in an excited voice)
Ei, Chris? So I told you to come to my sister’s birthday and you didn’t come? What do you want now? We’re at her residence. Are you coming?
(with a short laugh)
Sorry, Mrs Ayeh. I told you Effe needed me.
Ah, your mysterious girlfriend, eh? When are you bringing her over?
Ah, very soon, Missus. I wanted a favour from you, please. You see, Effe’s father wanted some help from your brother-in-law’s Company. I was wondering if maybe you could let your sister talk to her husband about it. Please?
Ei, Chris! Now you want to score points, right?
You see that thing? I want her father to be on my side abi?
They both laugh.
You see, you didn’t come for the party, and now you want her help. Hold on a bit!
There are some noises, some laughter, and then a deep voice came on the line.
Hello? This is Mr. Albert Ntim. Chris, right? My sister-in-law says you need help.
Yes, sir, boss. But not me. My friend’s father. He’s Mr. Ken Kedem. It seems-
Ken Kedem? Of Kedem Imports and Exports?
Chris looks blank and quickly he hands the phone to Ken Kedem, who looks at Chris with great wonder on his face. He is absolutely dumb-founded.
Hello. Hello, Mr. Ntim? This is Ken Kedem, yes, of Kedem Imports and Exports. You have my application. I’ve been trying to meet you for a discussion on it.
Are you not Jonathan Afful’s father-in-law?
Yes, yes. But-
We approved your loan two or three months ago. I thought that was done? Listen, I’m a bit busy right now. I’ll deal with Jonathan on Monday. I didn’t know that your application is still hanging. I saw prospects in your Company. Please call me on Monday.
Ken Kedem is shocked. They all look at a shamefaced Afful who is suddenly looking so lost.
Thank you, Mr. Ntim. Much appreciated.
Ken Kedem hands the phone to Chris. The woman’s voice comes on again.
Chris, bad boy, are you there?
I’m here, Missus.
When are you bringing my money?
Over the weekend, Missus.
You better. Say hi to Effe for me. Bye.
Chris looks at Afful.
(in a very cold voice)
You touch just one hair on Eyram’s head, just one hair, and you’ll find yourself out of a job and in police custody, in that order.
Afful cannot speak.
Chris turns and walks away. Effe, smiling broadly, looks at Afful with scorn.
Who’s smiling now, Jonathan? You know something? I’m going to befriend this Mrs. Ayeh, through my taxi driver, and I’m going to befriend her sister, and I’m going to befriend Mr. Ntim, and you know why? I’m going to make damn sure you lose your job for all the pains you’ve given my sister!
And with that she swirls and runs after Chris.
Steve watches her, and he feels sick to his stomach.
His jealousy is so full he finds it hard breathing. Imagining Effe with that man, his hands over hers, his lips on hers, is so painful that he feels it like daggers cutting through his heart.
Eyram approaches Afful. She sees the fear on his face, the sudden apprehension.
Suddenly she is revolted by the sight of him. Years of having to swallow his abuse and beatings spill to the fore, and when she speaks it is with bitterness and wrath.
You heard your boss, Jon? He approved my father’s application! And you have been sitting on it? You bastard!
She suddenly kicks Afful in the balls! Afful screams with pain and collapses to the ground, holding his balls in great agony.
Steve screams with shock. Ken Kedem and the others laugh.
Yo!! That’s my girl!
Eyram points a finger at the agony-stricken Afful.
It is over, Jon. I’m not coming to you again. You will hear from my lawyer, you despicable bastard!
She takes off her wedding ring and hurls it at Afful’s head, and then she turns and walks to her mother.
She takes her crying son from her mother, and walks away.
Ken Kedem throws his arms into the air and laughs.
What a day! What a lovely, lovely day!
To be continued
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