*CAN’T HOLD MY TEARS*
I strolled on the street of my new residential environment, feeling exhaustion. Kelvin brought me to this apartment about a month ago just as he promised and I have been here ever since. The house was of moderate size and there was a woman who was in charge of maintaining the house. Apparently, Kelvin inherited the building from his grandfather but he hadn’t lived there. He had instead hired Mrs. Kalu – a widowed caretaker – to keep the building in shape. The building was very fashionable but with an ancient look to it, showing that it had been built a long time ago; although, one could easily see the exquisite taste of the builder in the structure and design of the building.
But after spending a month there, I was bored half to death. I was about eight months gone and my tummy protruded like a car’s bonnet but I feared the silence of the building was making me feel as ancient as the building itself. Mrs. Kalu was as mute as a fish, going about the house soundlessly like a ghost. Although I wished she would talk more so I don’t feel so bored, my efforts were useless. She is the perfect definition of an Introvert with a capital ‘I’. Trying to get her to talk even worsened my state of boredom until I gave up hope. I always looked forward to Kelvin’s visits which were not so often. I always found myself missing him immediately he stood up to leave. I never mentioned my boredom to him because I would not want him to think I am not grateful for his help. Quite the opposite, if not for Kelvin, I have no idea where I would be now. Probably dumped in one of the worst graves in town, I presume. Kelvin is a funny and interesting company and I found myself drawing closer to him with each passing day. He visits once or twice a week, depending on his work schedule.
I sighted a church as I strolled – the only church on the street – and for the first time, I stopped. I always passed by the church without a glance but now, I stopped to gaze at the building. I raised my eyes to the signboard and read. ‘God’s Love’. I shook my head again. The name of the church seemed unusual. I had always heard of God’s immense love for humanity which made him sacrifice his only child; but thinking about it, I don’t think I deserve that love. I have made mistakes; the worst kind of mistakes. I don’t think God can love the likes of me. I blinked and turned away from the church.
I walked back to the house and sat in the sitting room. I seemed to have a fixed routine: eat, watch TV, stroll, watch TV, eat, watch TV, sleep. The number of times I watched TV was staggering and tiring. I really wished I had books to read but there was none and I definitely could not imagine myself asking Kelvin for it; he has done more than enough. Although, I tried to while away time by cooking and doing the laundry, Mrs. Kalu would have none of it, stating that she had been given express orders to make sure I did nothing stressful. It was irritating because the woman, though mute, was firm and unshakeable; even Kelvin would not listen to reason. Little did they know that my idle state was posing more stress than any physical activity could. Reluctantly, I accepted my state of joblessness, hoping that I don’t die of boredom.
I sensed a movement close to me and raised my eyes to see Mrs. Kalu approaching me with her face as straight as an arrow. “Lunch is served” she stated.
I don’t think I have ever heard the woman utter a statement above ten words; it was like she was economizing her words. “Thank you ma” I said, smiling gratefully. It was such a burden to have this elderly woman attending to my needs. I missed my mother – or fake mother, as the case might be.
“You are welcome” she said and turned back, retreating to her room, where she almost always stayed.
I went to the dinning and started eating. The good side of her is that her meals are always perfect. I never could refuse any of her meals. As I started eating, I heard the familiar sound of Kelvin’s car and frowned. Kelvin had never visited on a Thursday and having him around now was as relieving as it was worrisome.
I left my half-finished food and walked hastily to the door. As much as I was happy that I would have a great company to drive away the boredom I was feeling, I was slightly worried, just thinking of why he was coming on a Thursday when he clearly stated once that Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays were his busiest days. Was he coming to tell me that he no longer wanted to help me or what? I would not be surprised. I am too much baggage to take on.
I opened the door and truly, Kelvin was walking towards the entrance, looking more handsome than before. It was like he grew more handsome with each passing day. He was carrying a bag and I wanted to collect it from him but I could not do anything but stare at him.
“Hey beautiful” he called. “You still find me handsome?” he asked with a grin.
I shook my head. “You are still too full of yourself?” I returned with a smile. “Can I help you?” I asked referring to the bag he was carrying.
His smile widened. “If only I can help you with the one you are carrying” he said.
I shook my head and hid a smile, giving him a straight look that did not last long. He was always teasing me about my pregnancy, never for once mentioning the paternity of the child and I was grateful for that. I only wish it could be easily forgotten, because for as long as I live and see the child, I would always remember what he stands for. “Well, you arrive just in time to join me for lunch. Eating alone can be so tedious” I said as we entered.
I heard him make a sound and I knew he was at it again. “Is it eating with company that you really enjoy or eating with ‘my’ company?”
I shook my head, grateful that he was behind me; he would not be able to see my ridiculous grin. “You are impossible.”
He laughed heartily. “You look spectacular when you grin”
I totally ignored him and my face which flamed at his compliment and sat down at the dinning with Kelvin pulling out the chair like a real gentleman instead of the ladies’ man that he was. I stopped him from serving himself and insisted on serving him. “If having a wife feels like this, I might as well get married as soon as possible” he said and I laughed, placing the food before him.
“It is a wonder you are still single, getting ladies should be as easy as the road to hell” I said.
Kelvin laughed. “Oh, I see. My charm is working on you now, isn’t it?” he raised a brow.
“You wish” I returned. He shook his head with a knowing smile on his face and I wanted to slap that smug look out of his face. Oh men! Too full of themselves!
We ate in companionable silence but I noticed the seemingly innocent glances he shot my way; probably because I was glancing at him also. I noticed a little tension in him. Despite his carefree flirtatious attitude, I still sensed a little tension in him; especially when we ate in silence.
Mrs. Kalu miraculously surfaced as we finished our meal and her surprise was evident when she saw Kelvin but it only lasted a few seconds after which her face rearranged into its usual straight form. “Never knew you were here sir” she said with a faded smile on her face. “You are welcome” she said as she cleared the table.
“Thank you Mrs. K” Kelvin said.
“Thank you ma, the meal was delicious as always” I said and she smiled. I have noticed that the only time she really smiled was when someone praised her cooking skills.
“I almost bit my tongue” Kelvin emphasized with a boyish smile.
“Thanks” she said smiling and quickly retreated to the kitchen.
Kelvin and I sat on the couch in the sitting room, staring at the television without actually seeing it. I had the vague impression that he was hiding something from me and my instincts always prove right; when I follow it, that is. “Spit it out Kel, what are you hiding?”
He smiled. “I love it when you call me that”
I frowned. “I am not smiling now Kelvin, what do you want to tell me? I know there is something” I demanded.
He sighed. “Ok. Someone came to see me in my office some days back” he began and his face took on a serious look, shedding the playboy look he always had on.
“And?” I asked nervously.
“He is a police officer – Detective Sinja. Following what you told me, I guess that is the man who secured Lisa’s arrest” he said. “Well, he came asking to see you. I wondered how he discovered that I had any dealings with you but he is a police officer and they have their means of getting information.”
I breathed. “What does he want?” I asked nervously. The last thing I wanted was to face anyone from my past. Kelvin had convinced me to forget about all that happened and try to build new memories, seeing ghosts from the past might be a good step in the wrong direction.
“He wants to meet you” he said with a concerned look. “He said you both have unfinished business. I guess he is referring to Lisa’s case” he said.
I nodded. “I have not visited the station once ever since she was arrested” I said.
“What are we going to do?” he asked.
I looked at him. He always used that word – ‘we’. He always saw my problems as his own responsibility too and I wondered how I could ever repay him for willingly carrying my cross. “I want to see him and be done with it. I am withdrawing my charges against Lisa. If she had gone through with her plan, as evil as it was, I would have been saved from a great level of pain” I said, internally apologizing to my child.
“Are you sure honey? You shouldn’t go through any form of stress in your condition”
I smiled. “I am not made of glass Kel, I am sure”
Kelvin and I decided that it was best to meet Detective Sinja at an eatery, we did not want a situation where other people like Alex would suddenly show up at the door and that could definitely happen if someone knew where I live. I walked into the restaurant and soon sighted Detective Sinja sitting at a corner of the eatery. Kelvin sat a couple of table away from him and I walked up to the detective. Mr. Sinja stood up as I drew closer. “Good evening sir, it has been a while” I greeted with a tight smile.
Mr. Sinja smiled and for some seconds, I stared at him. Mr. Sinja was definitely not a young man, even though his muscles and body build made him look much more fit than all the young men floating around. He had an athlete’s build and one could not easily predict his age from his appearance. He must definitely be the toast of ladies with his great looks; that is if his domineering and arrogantly indifferent look did not ward ladies off him. If I could guess, I would assume that he would be in his forties, but his eyes – those dark eyes which gazed piercingly through me now – made it seem as though Mr. Sinja had seen far too many things in life.
“How are you Mrs. Bello?” he asked.
I frowned. Oh no! The last thing I needed was for someone to call me Mrs. Bello; that brought only one person to mind – and that is the last person I want to think about right now. “Amara is fine” I said quickly and sat down before my legs unbuckled beneath me. The evening was already looking bad. I caught Kelvin’s concerned look from across the large room and I swallowed.
“Amara it is then” the detective said and sat down. “Do I order something for you?” he asked.
I shook my head quickly. “I am fine. I want to get this over with as fast as possible” I said.
He smiled. “Of course. Actually, I thought you would take out time to visit the station but you never did. I am sure you are aware that Lisa was granted bail?” he asked and I nodded. “Well, Lisa’s family has been in and out of the station, pleading with us to drop charges against her. We should have charged her to court but we are waiting for your word. Are you ready to pursue the case or not?” He asked.
“I am dropping my charges against Lisa. I don’t…”
“Habeeb” someone gasped and our heads automatically turned. I blanched and nearly fainted when I saw who was standing, gaping at us. Why did the devil have to materialize? Mrs. Bello stood a few tables away from us gaping mostly at Mr. Sinja. Who would have thought that this woman would show up here? I had always known that meeting the detective was a bad decision but I never knew it would be this terrible. She turned her gaze to me in horror and she seemed to turn paler. The last time I saw Mrs. Bello came slapping back at me and I grabbed the table tighter. Kelvin approached the table with his concerned look trained on me. He looked from one person to the other and for the first time, I glanced at the detective. He had also gone white.
“Do you know her?” I managed to ask, puzzled.
He did not seem to hear me. “Are you Ok Ara?” Kelvin asked when he got to our table. “I think it is better we leave now” he murmured.
“Habeeb?” Mrs. Bello gasped again.
Detective Sinja swallowed. “Kate” he responded and my curiosity became pricked. He must know her on a personal level to be able to call her by her first name.
“Let’s go” Kelvin said again with more force.
“No, wait” Mrs. Bello said, rushing towards us.
I could almost feel the tension radiating through Mr. Sinja. He looked completely different. He stood up. “I think I need to leave also” he said.
“No!” Mrs. Bello yelled forcefully, causing some other people at the eatery to turn in our direction. “You can’t go. You know Amara? Oh God! My life is ruined” she lamented, looking scared.
“What about Amara?” he asked with a tight look. “It doesn’t even matter” he dismissed. “It was nice seeing you again Kate, I need to catch up with an appointment” he said and quickly made for the door.
“There is something I need to tell you” Mrs. Bello yelled, stopping him in his tracks.
He turned to face her with his face carefully blank. “And what is that?” he asked.
She looked around at the people gazing at us. “Why don’t we discuss this somewhere else?” she said and looked questioningly at me.
“Amara” Kelvin called softly.
“I have nothing to discuss with you Kate” Detective Sinja said and made to leave.
“You have a daughter.”
The detective froze, along with me and everyone in the eatery. Everyone had their eyes fixed on us. “You are right Kelvin, let us leave this place” I said, already tired of the melodrama. I stood up and made for the door where Mr. Sinja stood, rooted to the ground, looking at Mrs. Bello like she had just lost her mind; I also wondered if she had. I walked hastily out of the eatery with Kelvin holding onto me firmly.
“Amara! Wait!” Mrs. Bello yelled, running after us.
“D--n it! I never should have allowed you come here.” Kelvin said angrily as we walked on.
Mr. Sinja followed Mrs Bello closely and dragged her forcefully, turning her to face him. “What the hell are you talking about? Which daughter” he growled.
“Amara” she called shakily and I stopped. How can she even have the nerve to call my name? I turned to glare at her. “Please listen to me. I am sorry my dear, I am sorry for all I did to you. I would forever regret my actions. I am not proud of what I did” she said as her eyes watered.
I glared at her. “Whether or not you regret your actions does not change anything now, does it? We are creating an unnecessary scene. Please leave me in peace ok?”
“You can’t go” she said shakily.
“Oh? And why not?” I shot back at her.
“Because… erm…” she glanced from my face to Mr. Sinja’s and back. Mr. Sinja turned to look at me, then glared at her.
“What daughter are you referring to?” he asked, shaking her like a piece of doll.
“Our relationship years back produced a child Habeeb” she said shakily. She turned to look at me. “She… Amara… she is that child” she swallowed. “Amara is your daughter.
I blinked. Oh! My ear drums echoed for a while. This had to be a big joke, I thought, staring at them like they were speaking Latin. I grabbed Kelvin’s hand tighter. “D--n it Amara! I am getting you out of here” he said forcefully.
“You don’t mean it right?” I yelled, snatching my hand from Kelvin’s, looking at the two people before me like they had grown horns. Mr. Sinja was frozen to the spot with his mouth agape, looking at me like I was an alien. “How can you say such ridiculous nonsense uhn?” I yelled angrily and felt a dull pain in my stomach. “You have lost your mind, you don’t know what you are saying… you don’t know…” I bent over as the pain in my tummy grew.
“Ara” kelvin exclaimed, grabbing me. “What is wrong? Are you ok?”
“Amara” Mrs. Bello yelled running over.
I tried to stand up but the pain that overtook me almost knocked the wind out of me. “Aaaaarrrrhhhh” I yelped in pain. “My tummy” I cried out. “Kelvin…… my tummy…” I cried out as the pain became increasingly unbearable. “Aaaaaarrrrrhhhhh”
“Get the car” I vaguely heard Mr. Sinja bark as he whisked me into his arms effortlessly. The pain took over my senses and raked through every fiber of my being. My baby… Please be fine… Please be fine… I took my numb hand to my tummy but all I felt was this immeasurable pain that took over my brain, making me yelp and gasp in pain.
Kelvin paced the waiting room of Corina Hospital in agitation. “How can you two be so insensitive?” he barked at Mrs. Bello and Mr. Sinja. “How couldn’t you bring up such a topic before her, in her condition?” he asked, glaring at Mrs. Bello. “I knew it! I never should have allowed her out of the house. I am so stupid. If anything happens to her, I don’t think I would forgive myself” he said, pacing. Immediately Mr. Sinja had showed up at Kelvin’s office, Kelvin had had the vague feeling that he was related to Amara somehow. The resemblance was obvious, but Kelvin had shrugged it off, telling himself that so many people looked alike without necessarily being related. How wrong that was! If only he had known, he would have protected Amara and prevented her from finding out the horrific way she did. He honestly did not know what he would do if anything happened to Amara. He turned to stare at the detective.
The elderly man looked like he had been struck by lightning as he clenched his fists painfully beside him. Kelvin felt for the man, wondering what was going through the mind of the man who seemed to have gone through equal bouts of deceit and pain.
Kelvin sighted a doctor coming out of the department Amara was rushed into and moved hurriedly towards him, along with Mr. Sinja and Mrs. Bello. “Doctor” he called hurriedly. “How is she? How is Amara? She was rushed in now” he ranted.
“We are her parents, please tell us” Mrs. Bello said and Mr. Sinja glared at her.
The doctor looked at them in concern. “Her situation is very delicate. I fear she has fallen into labor” he said.
“What? But she is not due till next month” Kelvin said in agitation.
“Yes, but if she doesn’t deliver that child now, her life might be at stake; she is in enough danger as it is. She is in great pain; I guess it is due to physical or emotional stress. I hope the situation does not get worse because if it does, we may have to resort to CS. Please take it easy, we are on top of the situation; excuse me” he said and left hurriedly. Kelvin stared after the doctor, white-faced.