The curtains drifted apart and the sun rays crept into Chidi’s bedroom. He lay carelessly on the bed and his overgrown beard made him look a bit older than 36.
The stranger stood there by his bedside waiting. His face was expressionless as he transferred his briefcase to his left and brought out a paper from it.
He tapped Chidi again and moved swiftly to the other rooms and looked around.
Chidi heard unusual footsteps moving towards him and it seemed like another of his usual apparition had come. Ever since the disappearance of Amara and the kids, he had been seeing things. Images and sounds that came and went, like flashes of light. The illusion would soon disappear like the others – but he spoke.
“Get up. I need you to sign this.” he extended the paper to him.
Chidi’s eyes shut open and the first thing he saw was the white paper.
“What document?” Chidi asked nonchalantly before waking up to reality.
He jumped to the other side of the bed and backed away towards the closet but the stranger followed calmly with the document.
“I’m not holding any weapon, Chidi!” The stranger said to amuse himself.
“Who are you? How did you enter my house?” Chidi asked frantically.
“What does it matter? Chidi, I don’t have much time to spare. I need to return to my boss on time.”
“Who are you? Who sent you? I don’t have any agreement with anybody concerning signing any document.” Chidi almost shouted.
“Sign the paper and stop asking questions,” he said firmly and began to walk away.
“I heard you lost your family.” He said as he reached the living room door. Chidi was hypnotised by the sentence. He followed him.
“Yes? My wife and kids have been missing for five days now.” Chidi stopped as the man entered the living room. He picked up his phone for a quick call. To inform his friend Kc about the trouble in his house.
“What are you doing?” He peeped through the door. “Drop the phone. Not until I’m gone.” Chidi stopped dialling.
“What if I told you that someone I know knows where your family is?” He said and Chidi dropped the phone and moved closer to him.
“My family? You know where my family is?” Chidi asked in his softest voice, looking at him without blinking
Chidi sat slowly on the sofa, bent his head, and wrapped his occiput with his entwined fingers. He brainstormed for a while before smiling as though he had solved his hassle.
He took the document, it’s the same one he had refused to sign for a year now.
“My wife is your boss?”
“No, her fiance is.”
Chidi laughed. Something had gone wrong with the world. How could someone married with kids run away to her lover? Married woman in her late 30s – blessed with 2 kids. Something is wrong with the world Chid lived in.
“Amara! Amara!” Chidi said calmly and bent his head.
She had told him about Ralph. She was only being stupid. Even though he was the man she had always wanted to marry, he had left her and never called because her parents said he would not marry their daughter.
He was from another tribe. She had talked about how deeply she loved him. When he left and travelled back to the US where he lived and never spoke to her, she had cried on Chidi’s shoulder who had loved her all along even when he knew he loved another man that deep.
When he didn’t come for her, she accepted to marry him. Four years into their marriage, he showed up. And she started seeing him behind his back. The day she brought the divorce paper for him to sign, he couldn’t believe she could be that stupid. He had refused to sign. Not with kids involved.
“Don’t tell me you’re leaving me and the kids for this home breaker who left you for because of a little conflict! how are you sure he isn’t married with kids?” he had been very mad at her but she never uttered a word. He talked to her at length and she had agreed to never see Ralph again.
Six months after a lovely and peaceful relationship during which Ralph was never mentioned, she disappeared with the kids. He was sure Ralph had gone back to the US but he could have come back for her.
“Where are my children?”
“Sign the damn paper, your kids are waiting to join you.”
Of what use would it be for him to fight for his right when she’s made up her mind to leave?
“You know when you love someone and she loves someone else? That feels terrible. She only married me because he left her and never spoke with her. He left her because he couldn’t fight for her. You see, he’s not the right man for her. I am. But, unfortunately, she can’t see that.” The man stood up and extended his hand to take the paper from him as if what he was saying was falling on deaf ears.
“Her parents died two years ago in a car accident. He didn’t call her. Now he’s back as if she’s still single and I, an intruder.” He said amidst tears.
“Too bad man… Sorry. But you know, I’m only here to do my job. Emotion is not tolerable during work” He took the papers from him and made a call.
Few minutes passed and Amara came in with two new black trolley boxes.
She had returned the kids to him and apologize to him.
“Chidi I’m sorry it has to end this way. Please take care of them.” Silence ensued as Chidi bonded with the kids.
“Please know that Ralph is innocent, I’m the sole offender in this case. Please don’t go after him because nothing will bring me back,”
“Oh Yeah! I can see the glory around his crown for taking another man’s wife. No problem. Just go,”
“If you ever need my help, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.” Chidi took the kids and wrapped his arms around them again.
Chidi glanced at the door while the kids went to the balcony to watch her. “Mommy! Mommy!” Her seven-year-old called but got no answer, Raph drove her away.
Within two weeks, she announced to him over an e-mail and to the kids that she had moved to the US with Ralph.
She kept sending him emails to ask about the kids and had been sending money into his account for the kids, but all those gestures were annoying. He never touched her money and never told the kids about her emails.
Three months later, she sent him an e-mail.
She’s stranded in the US. Ralph had been married to an American lady and had introduced her to his wife as his sister. She was devastated and couldn’t stand America. She was coming back to Nigeria. She was sorry but wasn’t expecting him to take her back.
Chidi didn’t reply to any of her emails.