MOMENTS OF TRUTH
His hands knocked lightly on the iron door again for the fourth time. He had listened earlier and heard, however faint, movements from within. He was quite certain she was inside and was determined to keep knocking till someone responds to him. She sluggishly dragged herself off her bed and trudged towards the door still wearing her long purple night dress and also had her hairnet on. It was past ten in the morning, no going out plans for this particular Sunday, not even to church. She just planned to enjoy her countless rounds of sleep and maybe read something later on until these ‘annoying’ persistent knocks forced her up. She opened the door and was startled by who stood in front of her so much so that she stood mute staring vacantly at him for few minutes.
“Aren’t you going to let me in too?” He asked after few minutes of deafening silence amidst them. Although, he was courteous not to sound anyway near arrogant.
Lara removed her hand from where it was resting on the door and walked back into her room without saying anything, but left the door open. The room was quite spacious for just one person but Lara loved it like that. She wanted something like, if not exactly as, her room back home. Everything was painted white from the walls to the ceiling except the door to the closet that was painted bright-lavender. Deep brown pair of long curtains hung down the wide window. The average height bed lay beside the window to the left side of the square-shaped neatly arranged room. Her different collections of handbags also were tidily left hanging at the right corner of the room just above the Bulgarian-rose shoe rack holding different pairs, colours and types of shoes.
Jerry quickly removed his shoes and walked in, taking his seat beside her on the bed. He clamped his hands together as his mind searched for the best way to start his mission. Lara lay back against the wall holding her pink teddy-bear firmly to her chest.
Jerry sat quietly for a little while, adjusted the collar of his shirt and then decided to start. He gently removed the teddy from her chest and threw it to the other end of the tiled floor.
“Babe! Am sorry nau! Do you have to make me voice it out before you know I came here to make peace with my friend?” Jerry said with the little boldness he could gather. He didn’t know why he felt uneasy doing this today. What sort of unnecessary manly ego could that be around his dear friend?
Lara sat up, crossing her legs into each other in the yoga posture on the bed. She concentrated her gaze on Jerry who deliberately refused eye contact with her. That attitude of his always made her smile,
“Jerry, don’t tell me this is how apology has become so hard for you to tender”
“Well, you know I need you to stay by me especially at this time. Why have you chosen to forsake me? It’s been two days now! I had to go for only first service in church today even, just so I can run here and make peace with you. You didn’t even come.” Jerry said, mimicking a pathetic tone
Lara leaned forward and punched him on the back, ” Forsaken? Did you just ask me that question? Jerry, you ordered me out of your room, and you are saying… ”
Jerry quickly drew closer to her and held her mouth before she could finish.
“Am sorry about that, Lara. I shouldn’t have done that to you no matter what!” He apologized sincerely.
Lara took a deep breath as Jerry removed his hand from her mouth
“And… I am sorry too Jerry, I shouldn’t have toyed with your heifer like that”
Jerry stood up and went to pick up the teddy from the floor. He threw it playfully towards her face but Lara caught it before it could hit her and threw it back at him. It felt like those childhood days all over again. Just then her leg hit a paper bag beneath the pillow beside where Jerry sat. She leaned a bit closer to take it. Just then Jerry caught her hand and held it so firmly that she couldn’t open the bag. She tried to wriggle her hand off his firm grip but he wouldn’t let go
“OK! I give up, what is in here?! I know it’s for me, so why won’t you just let me see it” Lara asked panting heavily
“On one condition!” Jerry retorted with a smirk
“Which is?” Lara asked pressing her lips together and raising her eyebrow. Her wrist was already hurting from the grip
“That you accompany me to my faculty’s final year dinner party this Thursday” Jerry said
“Are you kidding me, Jerry? You obviously aren’t giving me this kind of short notice to be at your dinner this very Thursday. Does it matter to you if I had a dinner gown or not? Gosh! I don’t even know the colour code for your dinner.” She lamented
Jerry laughed out so loud that he unconsciously released her hands.
“Abeg! How many days notice should we give ladies to accompany us to dinner or formal gatherings o??” He questioned sarcastically, Lara eyeballed him but he ignored her and continued,
“I know the kind of sophisticated friend I have jor, Lara. You never disappoint, right from back in the days. You have virtually all colours and shades of expensive, beautiful and classy gowns. Moreover, the colour code is just ‘touch of red’ which people don’t follow a lot of the times we say it. I know you won’t say No.” He said in patronising manner while playfully touching her cheek as he spoke.
“Now you are extremely unserious, guy!? You know I won’t say No abi? ” Lara asked with her face stoned.
“Please nau! Lara, it would not just be awful but extremely shameful for the whole chief judge of Kogi state university to come for his graduation party without his woman. You know how many enemies are waiting to mock me already? Save a dear friend” He said gesticulating alongside.
Lara burst out into uncontrollable laughter at Jerry’s displays
“So this is about your friends not mocking you right? This is about your chief judge prestige? At times I wonder how you even won that position.” She jeered amidst her laughs, “OK! Alright! Deal! I’ll act as your woman for the dinner, just the dinner. Can I at least see what is in the paper bag now?”
Jerry nodded excitedly and gave it to her without hesitation
“I thought I should buy you shoes for the dinner” He added
Lara collected the paper bag smiling sheepishly but her smiles soon faded immediately she tore the paper box open and saw what was in it.
“Jerry!” Lara exclaimed, pulling out the silver slippers, “Is it slippers people wear to a dinner party in your village? Instead of admitting you brought this to bribe me” Lara jeered and Jerry laughed shyly,
“This is beautiful. Thanks Jerry!” she commended, checking it out
Jerry smiled with some pride in response. His face immediately turned serious as Lara was trying her legs in the shoe. It fitted her perfectly and he was glad she liked it especially that he hadn’t forgotten her size.
He cleared his throat so loudly that Lara’s attention immediately came back to him
“You know something, Babe?! I have been thinking through the state of my heart lately. I really don’t know where this strong emotions arose from for Tonia, I don’t know why it seems it’s only her that appeals to me and I am still unable to explain it… but frankly I have been too hard on myself all the while” He said.
Lara slipped the shoes under her reading table beside the bed and turned to face Jerry
“No Jerry, Love is a mysterious thing! We can’t fathom where the wave tosses us. A lot of the times the one in love is always the last to know but then we just close our eyes and enjoy the tide” Lara admonished
Jerry vigorously rubbed off all the dirt off his broken nose.
“It’s not that easy”
“I know Jerry. No good thing in life is ever easy. And the creator has refused us the power to decide when Love will happen to us.” She said with her eyes firmly shut. She could see in the imaginary world all her dreams and fantasies right from child hood. Love too has happened to her in her heart. And perhaps one day… maybe just one day, they’ll come to pass. She doubts! Not with all the circumstances surrounding it. She will just swallow the hurts and swim on.
Jerry held her hands, bringing her back from her thoughts.
“Lara, I don’t know how this may sound… or how it will appeal to …you… coming from me. I also don’t know if I can… but I sincerely wanna try. Perhaps I can get that vacuum filled up perfectly… once again. I wanna try working my heart out to someone… someone other than Tonia”
Lara’s heart started beating more heavily and her lips began perspiring as Jerry’s deep-set chocolate brown eyes looked fixed at her like a puppy dog. She was apprehensive, Jerry was talking too slow. She didn’t know what to expect this time. She just returned a blank look to him.
“I don’t know… if am being too forward Lara…but l want to try… I wanna try working my heart out with… and to… you… Lara…” Jerry at last completed his slow speech
“…As we graduate and go out there as legal practitioners, lets never forget the words of our great father John Adams, who said and I quote…” it is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection’, and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever. “It was Williams Penn who also wrote “people are more afraid of the laws of man than of God, because their punishment seems to be nearest.” However, I’ll want to end my speech and my tenure, as the case may be, with the deep words of Edmund Burkre in the speech on impeachment of Warren Hastings, May 28, 1794. He said… “There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity– the law of nature and of nations.” May we always bear all these in mind as we climb up to success. So my learned colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, let’s have all the fun we can have tonight because last moments are the most cherished memories and I won’t want anyone leaving here unsatisfied. I also heard a lot of my students wondering if I was finally leaving this school empty-handed…”
He paused and smiled amidst clatters as the students among the large audience roared in thunderous laughter. He did well to calm them down a bit before continuing,
“Well, you are wrong! I want you all to meet my woman over there, Pretty Miss Omolara Akintola…” Jerry said proudly pointing towards the glowing Lara as the bright camera lights fell on her. She looked so adorable, beaming with smiles from the high table where she sat, just opposite Jerry’s seat on the table of eight. He allowed the noise to mellow down again before concluding
“And as we always say ignorantia juris non excusat- Ignorance of the law does not excuse… Thank you!”
Everyone cheered and clapped excitedly even more as Jerry handed over the microphone to the MC (master of ceremony)
“Can all the students here tonight humbly give a standing ovation to the chief judge of our esteemed school, the chief judge of Kogi State University Anyigba, as he walks back to his seat. Our very own Justice Jeremiah Onuh… Keep clapping o… He will become the chief justice of the federation in few years time o… You’ll thank me later then…” The M.C rattled on and on as the cheers and shouts also increased simultaneously.
Jerry walked majestically as though his movement was propelled by the intensity of the claps which didn’t stop till he got to his seat and sat down. Everyone else also did.
“You remember, I said earlier that they are just two Faculties in Kogi state university, Anyigba -The faculty of Law… and the rest of them” The M.C jeered and the audience reacted with loud murmurings. Some just laughed the statement off, others complained bitterly, while the others also threw him an open rebuke from their seats and the MC laughed at their reactions
“It’s quite unfortunate that am the only one on the microphone, so what I say is what is right… at least all through tonight… Although ehn… apologies to our guest from other profound faculties here, especially to our SUG executives present here tonight,” He said, mimicking a humble tone.
“Can we appreciate them once again? The number one student of this noble school, Our very own, no-nonsense, President of the students’ republic of KSU, Comrade Benedict Audu…” He screamed out and the loud applause seems to double.
Tonight is one of those rare nights people anticipate in earnest from the beginning of second semester. Send forth dinner party in the faculty of law, as it has been, is always super glamorous and often graced by great men of timber and calibre in the society. This year’s is even more, as the honourable wife of the governor of Kogi state who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) herself was in attendance. Alongside other notable members of the Nigerian Jury including the chief judge of the state, the Vice chancellor himself as well as other senior principal officers of the university community are all in attendance.
“Ben, I actually expected Tonia to accompany you to this dinner tonight! Why isn’t she here?” Jerry who sat just next to Ben whispered to him amidst the noisy charters as the M.C proceeded with the next agenda on the programme.
Ben just smiled without looking at him,
“Bro, Tonia is an old issue.” He said simply and like he had a rethink turned quickly to face Jerry,
“And your babe is really adorable…” He added, winking at Lara who sat a bit distant from him. He then faced his front appearing to be waving off all forms of distraction.
Jerry looked on at him with enormous disdain for a long while but cautioned himself to concentrate on the ongoing program also.
“What?!!! This can’t happen again and you know it! I mean, it is only a coward that fall victim of the same thing over and over and I didn’t raise cowards in you people. Or you don’t know simple once beaten twice shy?” Dr Bukky yelled angrily as she dropped the pot of egusi soup she just made and kept a pot filled with water on the cooker.
“Don’t you mum me, my friend! Am very disappointed in you too Toyosi, to think that you were in the picture all the while?” She barked at Toyosi shutting her up. Toyosi humbly complied and continued with the dishes she was doing in the sink knowing very much her mum could be erratic; she got to thread with caution.
“Tosin, had better get back here on time. Christ! You children want to kill me before my time and I won’t sit and watch it happen. If your father can tolerate all these stupid behaviours from the both of you, you know I can never” Dr Bukky continued nagging with so much provocation.
Her naturally calm and pleasant demeanour slowly changed and her face contorted in all- consuming anger; her nostrils flaring, her eyes flashing and closing into slits, her mouth quivering and drooling as angry words came spewing into space like a volcano releasing its pent up emotions into the darkness.
A little over sixty, Dr Bukky Adewale still maintained her very beautiful stature, it’s big, bold and beautiful in her case. She and Dr Wale, her husband used to live together back then in the United states where she had her two sons. Dr Wale however decided to come back home and serve his father’s land and that got her shuffling between the two countries both for work and vacations. Her last child, Toyosi unlike her two elder brothers grew up with her dad and he is extremely fond of her. Dr Bukky is the disciplinarian of the house, her children know this and don’t take it for granted because inasmuch as she can be very playful, whatever matter she puts a ‘No’ tag on remains so.
“Prepare the brown rice meal for me Toyosi, I need to talk to your brother” She said as she dried her hand with the towel and moved out immediately she heard the car zooming into the compound.
Toyosi regretted ever bringing up this conversation with her mum. She didn’t know it would irritate her much, she only innocently meant to do a little mother-daughter gossip. At least, she hadn’t gotten the opportunity to cook with her mum together in a long while but it seems to have backfired and she knew her elder brother was in for a big time of trouble this night. Biting her mouth regretfully and shrugging, she turned the brown rice into the boiling water on the electric cooker.
“Hi mum…” Tosin said excitedly pecking his mother on the cheek immediately he got to the entrance. He was quite surprised his mum opened the door for him tonight and yet didn’t even embrace him as she would have normally done
“Is anything the matter Mum?” He asked looking perplexed
“Tosin, you want to kill me and I won’t let you.”
“What are you talking about ‘killing’ Mum? I don’t understand. What is going on?”
She stood still, leaning against the door and blocking its entrance, “Tosin, you must severe all forms of relationship with that patient. I don’t want to know her name or anything more about her. I can’t watch you fall in same pit two times in a row. If you can’t prevent ill-fate, I’ll gladly do it for you. That’s why I am your mother. Have I made myself clear enough?” She said sternly, holding her ear while she spoke
“Relationship? Which patient? What are you talking about mum?” Tosin asked still unable to decipher the point his mother was making.
“I won’t revisit this issue again, Boy!” She said firmly and walked back into the kitchen.
Tosin leaned against the door feeling extremely disturbed. He thought around so many things. The thoughts didn’t comfort him. He felt like all the liquid in his body had been drained away and he was slowly collapsing on himself, folding up like a leaf on the fire. He could only imagine the mess he was in with all this. He tiredly grabbed the hand of the cushion and fell helplessly into it like a sack of potatoes.
To be continued…
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