PENDULUM will be ending soon, this is probably going to be the penultimate instalment. I have enjoyed this journey with this series and all your feedback and encouragement has left me overjoyed. Thank you so much.
I see that the names of the characters have drawn significant attention, I’m really happy about that. Ironically, this series came about because of This post by Emeka and my Chinanuekpere post. I wanted to write a series showcasing names from my own roots and this turned out better than I imagined.
Every Igbo name in this series is borne by a member of my extended family, with the exceptions of Maduforo (who is my late grandmother’s younger brother) and Egomdinanwa which is an extension of my late grandmother’s name, all the other names are from my maternal side with Isiguzo being my great grandfather and Nwigwe was his younger brother. All other names are the names of my mother’s siblings… Yes I have an Uncle Chibu’tutu and Uncle Nnamdi (who’s late) and Aunties Nwaodaku (my favourite aunt) and Aunt Chinwe who died before I was born.
The blonde and slender woman who opened the door was carrying a blonde, handsome toddler on her hip, her eyes were as blue as the sky and her lips were painted a vibrant hue of red.
“I’m looking for Nnamdi” Chinwe croaked. She cleared her throat and started again “My name is Chinwe Ogunna and I’m looking for Nnamdi Äsoluka, he gave me this address”.
“My name is Jane Baker and this ball of fire here is Andrew”, she looked at Chinwe with unabashed curiousity and Chinwe felt stirrings of irritation. “Why are you looking for my landlord” she continued.
“O Bollocks! I am not supposed to say he’s the landlord, he hates it when people give him undue attention and deference”. Her son was struggling in her arms and she shifted his weight to one arm and lightly tapped his bottom with the other.
His wails filled the air and Chinwe felt like giving the boy and his mother a good spanking but she temped down her anger, kept a smile on her face and patted her afro bun to keep her hands busy.
“Nnamdi’s at the cottage at the back, that’s where he lives because he says this house is too big for him. That’s why we’re renting it, my husband and I that is. My husband is Arthur and he’s an architect and painter. We met Nnamdi at one of the Nigerian Independence protests, Arthur is a bit of a bleeding heart for any cause”.
“Please show me the way to the cottage” Chinwe cut in before Jane told her their entire life history.
“Oh! I’ll show you myself, I wouldn’t want you to get lost. The grounds are quite extensive.”
Jane chattered nonstop as they walked to the cottage, Andrew had stopped crying and he had stretched his hands to her signalling that he wanted her to carry him. Jane excitedly handed him over and he immediately stretched his hand to bury his fingers into her hair
“He likes to do that with Nnamdi” she told Chinwe
“Hmmmm” was her response.
She was talking about the weather and Indian summers when she suddenly stopped and looked at Chinwe intently.
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m looking at you like that?”
“No I am not, when you are ready to talk, you will definitely explain”. Chinwe replied.
“I’m trying to find the resemblance between you and Nnamdi”.
“Have you found it yet?”
“No I haven’t and I guess there’s no point in asking you if you’re his sister, is there?” She said with a tad of annoyance colouring her voice.
“There isn’t” Chinwe replied firmly
Just as they got to the door, Jane stopped, groaned loudly and began to tap her forehead with her right hand repeatedly. Chinwe looked at her with alarm and even Andrew began to whimper.
“You must be his lady friend who will be a doctor soon, you have to be because you’re the first woman to visit him”.
“He told you about me?” the words tumbled out of Chinwe’s mouth.
“No he didn’t, he doesn’t tell me anything. No one does actually because they all think I’m a parrot or chatterbox. I hope you don’t think I’m a one too”.
“Definitely not” She replied solemnly.
Nnamdi was wearing a white T-shirt and a pair of shorts when he opened the door, his eyes widened a little at the sight of Chinwe and he quickly dismissed Jane and Andrew, ignoring her disappointed face as he shut the door.
“Your house is very beautiful, Nnamdi” Chinwe said through gritted teeth.
“Nne I know you are angry and I deserve your anger, I even deserve your wrath but I would like you to listen to my explanation without flaring up.”
What was the game? Toy with my emotions until it was time for you to marry someone who fits into your social strata”
“Social strata gini? We come from similar backgrouds!”
“That’s true but I meant your own snobbish group of rich men.” She shouted
“I am not that rich, Chinwe” he shouted. “Hell! I’m not even rich! One of my clients left this property for me in her will, in fact she left everything she had to me”
“Very convenient answer, what else could I expect from a lawyer?” She spat
“Chinwe I was waiting for the right time to tell you all these things” he continued. “I was going to tell you before we got married.”
“You’re assuming a lot Mr Lawyer, you haven’t even asked me” She said coolly
“Do I need to carry flowers and ask you? What the hell have we been doing? Intellectual romance or what. I am marrying you Chinwe whether you like it or not. In fact I have already told my father to start proceedings on your head, your father has even accepted.”
“And all these things without telling me, right?” She countered.
“No my darling, I thought that you and I were on the same page on this. I was merely being proactive, I can never sideline you or take you for granted my love” he tried to touch her but she rebuffed his advances.
“Chinwe Nkem, I wanted you to concentrate on your exams. The plan was that when your results come out, I’d tell you everything”
“Oh well, its perfect timing then because my results came out and I did very well.”
“Congratulations my love, I’m sorry I hurt you.”
“You know, I had always been afraid that you’d leave me but I never thought that you were a liar too.”
“Chinwe!” he gasped.
“I have to go now, extend my regards to your tenants.” She picked up her bag and walked to the door
“When should I come and see you” He called out just as she was turning the doorknob.
“I need time and space to think” She walked out of the cottage and was glad to see that Jane was not outside when she walked to the gate and let herself out.
When she got to her hostel, Mr Smith the head porter was waiting for her and he told her to wait while he fetched her letter from Nigeria. They had both become firm friends over evenings of sharing stories after her afternoon classes. He’d tell her about the wars he’d fought in and she told him stories about her village and her mother who wrote her letters seemingly every day.
“Here’s your letter love, this one has an unfamiliar postmark.” He said crinkling his eyes in the bid to understand the postmark.
The writing on the envelope was as familiar to her as hers was and it took all her willpower not to burst into tears at the sight of it.
She looked at it again as she climbed the stairs to her room, her body suddenly felt very heavy, too heavy for her legs to carry but she managed to get to her room without incident. After placing the unread envelope on her reading table, she walked to her bed, fell on it and burst into tears.
Two hours later and after she had woken up from a deep sleep that she hadn’t even known she had fallen into, she decided to read Madu’s letter. She smiled and inhaled forcefully as she read his letter, she tried very hard to hold back her tears. By the time she had finished reading it, she was smiling because she knew exactly what to do.
She was still smiling when she tore a page from her notepad, got a pen from her bag and sat down to write.
‘My dearest Maduforo’ she began…
PS: I have joined the soundcloud bandwagon, my first PODCAST was not quite what I expected. I sounded really gentle and quite unlike my ghetto fabulous self. Check it out if you can and please don’t laugh too much.