Cornerstone Estate, Ikeja, Lagos.
Simeon heard the buzz of his mobile phone on its first ring. He stirred, thinking it was the wake-up call of his alarm. He felt unusually tired and wondered how short the night had been. The continued ringing—and tone—of his phone made him realise it was not his alarm ringing, but an incoming call. Simeon reached for the switch of the bedside lamp; he narrowed his gaze to the clock on the wall as light filled the room. The clock lent its support to his thoughts—it was not yet dawn.
Simeon would have ignored the call if it was someone else.
“Hello, Nkeiru.” his voice sounded throaty and weak. “Nkeiru,” Simeon called again as there was no response from the other end. Simeon could hear sounds, though indistinct. “It’s rather too early—”
“Happy new month.”
“Happy new month?” Simeon asked, sitting up. And his temper was about to hit the roof. In your bid to crown yourself ‘the perfect wife’, you more often—than just sometimes—fail to appreciate the clearly defined boundary between caring and insensitivity; Simeon thought.
“Its the first day of the month, if I’m not mistaken. Like—3.59am, Nigerian time; December 1, 2013.”
“You could have waited till morning.” Simeon said, while his thoughts strayed to the meeting he had with Kathryn nine days ago: you’ve kept it low these years; I’m sure it can wait a little longer.
“Anyways, I thought differently.”
“I’m pregnant.” Nkeiru said, her voice willingly revealing her joy.
“How?” she feigned surprise.
“I mean, how did it happen?”
“Sex. Like—you and me.” Nkeiru laughed briefly, halted by a light cough. “I—” she made to resume, but her voice sounded rasp. She cleared her throat, then continued, “I understand you, dear. It was confirmed few minutes before I called you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. A doctor just confirmed that your baby is growing within me.” Nkeiru said. “Actually Martha, bless her, soon insisted I use a simple pregnancy test kit after I repeatedly complained of nausea, fatigue and sore breasts. I wanted to call immediately after using the kit, but I desired a doctor’s confirmation first. I’m sorry.”
“No—no.” Simeon responded. “Is Martha there with you?” Simeon inquired after Nkeiru’s cousin, the one who had dragged his wife to Paris for a shopping spree. Simeon had not liked the idea, but Nkeiru had insisted on travelling.
“She’s here with me. She almost made this call herself when she felt I was taking too much time.” Nkeiru laughed like one being tickled. Certainly Martha is there with her, Simeon reasoned. “Do you wish to speak with her?”
“No. Get some rest. I’ll call you later.”
“Get some rest, please.”
Simeon collapsed on the bed, and pulled the blanket up to his neck. He didn’t know how to react. He had impressed on himself the belief that he would go ecstatic when, God willing, he received news that he was going to be a father. Right now, ecstatic was far from an appropriate word for him. To be fair on himself, Simeon felt Kathryn and her son had denied him the privilege of a fantasy fulfilled.
The doorbell rang and David hurried to open it. He threw the locks back and turned the knob.
“Susan.” David said, his face clearly marked with surprise. “You didn’t call me that you were coming.”
“I didn’t. Can I come in now?” she said to David who still looked surprised. Susan gently brushed past him before he could respond, an indication that her question really didn’t require an answer. It served to bring to David’s consciousness that he had been standing in her way.
“My mum’s not at home.” David announced, his hands still holding the knob. “Let’s go downstairs.”
Susan stopped in her tracks. And she remained silent too, though she knew that David wanted a response from her. Preferably, a quick turn and even quicker steps down the stairs.
“My mum’s not at home, and—”
“I heard you the first time.” Susan interrupted.
“My mum will get here soon. And you know she won’t be pleased to find us alone.”
“You’ll let her know that I just arrived. And you were telling me about going downstairs.”
“Let’s go downstairs, please.”
“We were alone yesterday at my house.”
David swallowed; slowly he shook his head, right to left. Yes, they had been alone. But no, he did not want to bring to mind the event of the previous evening—maybe make it seem like it never happened.
“We need to talk about what happened yesterday.”
“Why?” David questioned. “There’s nothing to talk about. I suggest you leave now.” David said, pulling the knob and the door wide open.
A familiar perfume hit his nostrils as the door stood ajar. David turned to see his mother standing there.
Simeon parked his car at the garage of his house. He had made himself go to church that morning, though he had made no plans for it before he retired to bed the previous night. Nkeiru’s early morning call had been the game-changer. It had lefthim a bit unsettled.
Simeon opened the car and reached for his phone and Bible—the traditional hardcopy. Simeon’s phone vibrated as he walked into the house. The number was not saved in his contact list.
“Good afternoon, sir. My name is Miss Chinonye Ibeh, founder of Women Advocacy Group, Lagos. Am I speaking with Mr. Simeon Poweide?”
“Yes, how may I help you?”
Simeon sounded a little irritated. He guessed it would be one of those NGO’s soliciting for funds. He knew this lady was daring enough to call him personally.
“Sorry to disturb your Sunday afternoon, sir.”
Simeon did not like the sound of her voice. She does not sound soft or pleading, like they normally do; he was convinced. But sounds more like a woman who wields authority. “Go ahead.”
“Thank you. I’m sure you do know Miss Kathryn Brown.”
The mention of Kathryn made him uneasy. “I know Kathryn.”
“Sir, there are issues that require urgent deliberations, and actions; issues that cannot be left to chance or fate, hence the need to resolve them quickly.”
Issues, Simeon pondered. Kathryn had only mentioned the paternity test. He wondered what other issues were involved.
“And I doubt a phone conversation would be appropriate.” Miss Ibeh continued. “Will Tuesday be a good time for a meeting?”
“Meeting—Tuesday. What time?” Simeon decided to take things easy with her. She did not only sound like one in authority, she also sounded experienced, smart and adventurous. That combination meant one thing: trouble.
“Four pm will be appropriate. You may come with a lawyer if you choose.” she said. Simeon wished he had not asked for the time. Show some indifference, man; he admonished himself. He wished even more that he had mentioned bringing a lawyer before she made the proposition. He hoped he had not made himself seem easily gullible.
“Ok” Simeon managed to say.
“Thank you. Tuesday evening. Four pm. Bye.”
Simeon held the phone to his ear much longer after the call ended. Slowly, he brought the phone before his eyes and proceeded to search through his contact list. As much as Simeon would prefer keeping the recent turn of events personal, he still dialed Moshood’s number.
He disconnected the call before Moshood could answer; Simeon had decided to go to the meeting alone.
Simeon switched his phone off as he walked to his room. He concluded that the calls he had received so far were enough for the day.
To read the previous episode, follow this link: www.naijastories.com/2015/03/illusion-episode-4/