Jonathan stood at the witness box looking pathetic, he was close to shedding tears, he had a tissue handy should he eventually shed them. He was seething mad and full of vengeance, his blood was boiling and his saliva could serve as venom, but he kept his cool, he had to humiliate her the way she did to him years ago, he would prove her to be an unfit parent and take away the boy from her, a picture of a shattered and crying Emily begging on her knees popped into his head and his act resumed.
He sniffed and looked around the courtroom, he saw Emily staring at him intensely probably scared of what he would say, the doctor clasping her fingers tightly for reassurances, he saw Chioma staring at him with saddened eyes, begging him to leave that place and do good, for a brief moment he felt a wave of emotion, like he should be a better person but he pushed it aside as it came and began his testimony.
‘I didn’t even know I had a son, but when I saw him for the first time.’ He paused, sniffed and smile emotionally. ‘I knew he was a part of me, my own image, I was overwhelmed, I was happy, I didn’t want to spoil his happiness by telling him who I am.’
‘Why? his lawyer barrister Kaddi asked.
‘I figured I’d be destroying his happy family, I knew my entrance into the scene will cause him emotional turmoil at such a tender age and how can a father do that to his own son, so I decided to leave and return when he was old enough to handle the truth, but I was wrong.’
‘How? Barrister Kaddi asked again.
‘It’s normal for me to ask around even though I was not planning to stay, I needed to know he was in safe hands, I had already booked my flight back to New York, then my sources tell me the boy had no father or mother, I know his grandmother loves him but every child deserves parental love, Emily was not there as a mother and I couldn’t be a father because I didn’t know he existed. But now I can be, I vowed to give him all the love he missed.’ He said, finally the tears rolled down, the tissue served it’s purpose.
‘I feel for you Dr Ekwueme, every parent’s happiness lies in that of their children, you were willing to leave, but when you heard your son was living like an orphan you had to take the necessary steps.’
‘My lord, we have witnesses that can testify that Emily did not even breast feed that child, he’s grandma stands in for his parents when they’re still alive, I can’t imagine how the boy would feel should he be asked by his friends about his parents.’ Barr. Kaddi said addressing the judge.
‘It wasn’t good today, everything Jonathan said was true.’ Mrs Webster said when they got back home.
‘Yes Mom, but he’s putting up an act, he told me to my face that he wanted to punish and humiliate me.’ Emily said.
‘And why does he want to punish you, Emily you never disclosed what happened to me, I know after your dad passed and I moved back home, I became reclusive, but now you can talk to me, it’s about Daniel’s life, I can talk to Jonathan.’
‘No mom, that Jonathan you saw today in court is different from the one you know.’
‘I don’t understand, he was always so polite.’
‘All that was a facade, he’s a drug addict and a womanizer.’
‘You knew all that and you were still going to marry him.’
‘I thought my love will change him, I perceived love was to cover your partner’s shortcomings and help him reform, when I got pregnant I thought it will eventually change everything.’
‘But he didn’t?’
‘I’m the cause of all this, if I had been there for you or listened to you perhaps this would not have happened.’
‘Mom, it’s not because of you that this happened, it’s all Jonathan’s fault.’
‘What did he do?’
‘I can’t tell you.’ Emily said and left, they had the conversation like that four years ago when she came bearing a child in her arms and later left leaving the child behind, an infant.
The courtroom was quite as everyone was awaiting Emily’s testimony.
‘I want my client to speak for herself.’ Her lawyer Barr. Shomoka said.
Silence had a sound as everyone anticipated what she would say,especially Jonathan, he knew he hadn’t lied either.
‘Everything Jonathan had said about me is true, I am not fit to be a parent, that is why I left my child, because he deserves better than me.’ She said slowly but with a straight face.
Jonathan was surprised, he wanted her to fight and loose not give up, if he knew she was going to give up, he would’ve used another way to humiliate her, he was getting pissed.
‘But Jonathan is not fit to raise a child either.’ She said, a smile appeared on Jonathan’s face, fight and loose he said to himself.
‘Many years ago I met Jonathan and We fell in love.’
‘Objection my lord, no one is asking for love stories, just state why you think Dr Ekwueme is not fit to have custody.’ Barrister Kaddi lashed out, he could sense danger, he had earlier interpreted her calmness as that before a rough storm.
‘Objection my lord, Barrister Kaddi and his client had their say, we didn’t object, please let my client speak.’ Barrister Shomoka intercepted.
‘Objection overruled, Miss Webster may continue.’ The judge said coolly.
‘I loved Jonathan sincerely, I wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t either, he had a weak point for drugs and women which I tolerated, he has been to a rehabilitation clinic 3 times, yet I know he hasn’t fully recovered.’
‘Bitch you did drugs with me, in fact you were the reason I ended up in Rehab the last time.’ Jonathan shouted from his chair.
‘Order order, control yourself.’ The judge said, his lawyer cornered him and told him something
‘Can you prove this? Miss Webster.’
Her lawyer came forward bearing exhibit. ‘This shows that Dr Ekwueme was admitted thrice, and his medical license had been suspended for a while for that issue.’
‘Jonathan also has a long craving for women, if I could stay away from my son for his good, I can’t sit back and watch him go to a place where women would be changed like outfits.’
Jonathan was boiling what nerve he thought.
‘You’ve got some nerve to accuse me of promiscuity, what you have been doing in Abuja is no secret.’ He said out loud again.
‘If you have some thing to say come to the witness box please.’ The judge stated strictly.
After a few minutes of arguing with his lawyer he got to the witness box and swore.
‘Everything she is saying is to defame me, she married me yet she’s living the life of a spinster, you should see such clothes she wears and she even got engaged.’
The judge was perplexed. ‘She’s married to you? She asked.
‘I did get marry to him, but traditionally, according to customary laws am his wife until I return the dowry and wine he gave on my head.’ Emily explained.
‘This is not a customary Court Dr Ekwueme, you can resolve that with your elders.’
‘You’re accusing me of promiscuity, have you ever had respect for anyone’s feelings, you deal with men like cards and I can prove it, the whole world is my witness that you left me standing at the alter, waiting to marry you.’ Jonathan was shouting at the top of his voice.
The judge sighed, both lawyers were at lost as both clients conveniently hid that info from them.
‘I never played with your feelings Jonathan, it was you who betrayed me, you’re complaining I left you at the alter, you’re lucky I didn’t shoot you, you slept with my best friend a day to our wedding, I saw both of you with my eyes in the hotel room, you could’ve at least locked the door and saved me that horrible sight.’ Emily said, this time real tears poured.
Emily had only one best friend that the world knew about, everyone’s eyes turned to where Chioma was sitting but she was gone.