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Water dripped from Morenike’s hair and ran in a snaky line down the side of her face. Nurse Ada had doused her with a jugful to revive her after she fainted on seeing her father walk through the hospital gates as Femi reversed his car towards them. Rose repeatedly dabbed at the moisture with her pink handkerchief, murmuring soothing words.
They were back in the ward and Morenike was back in bed, staring at the white ceiling with unseeing eyes as she lay surrounded by the trio of Rose, Femi and Ma Adejare the matron. Her father sat just beside her on the bed, wearing his favorite hat and gently holding her hand as he addressed the occupants of the room. His shiny silver watch reflected the light and contrasted with his dark sleeves.
“….I was just about to get on third mainland bridge from the Osborne entrance when a blue Honda blocked my car and forced me to the side. Before I knew what was happening, two young men emerged with drawn pistols and ordered me out of my vehicle. One frisked me all over, taking all the cash, jewelry and other sundry items on my person while the other one covered us with his weapon. When he was done, the second guy told him to collect my jacket too. Then he jumped into my car and drove it off, followed by the second one who was still waving his gun at me as he too sped off in their ride. It all happened so fast. The funniest part of the story was that cars were zooming past us while the drama played out and none of them stopped to help, or even afterwards, when I was trying to get a ride away from the spot. It was terrible. I had to cross over to the other side and start trekking towards Obalende in the darkness, praying that I don’t get knocked down or attacked by hoodlums who are known to use that area as their hideout. Fortunately for me, I saw a police patrol car after walking for close to fifteen minutes. I narrated what just happened and they told me that although it wasn’t in their beat to pursue car snatchers, I could stay there with them until someone came to pick me up or wait till they got relieved by another patrol so they could drop me off at home. I had no choice but to stay with them since I didn’t have a dime on me and your Glo number which was the only one I had memorized was switched off when one of them used his phone to call it. That was how I sat there with them till midnight when they got relieved. They dropped me in front of my place at some minutes before 1 a.m. and I had to wait till this morning to come here and see my girl.”
Femi spoke up when he stopped.
“So the guy we rushed into surgery was probably one of your assailants?”
“I’m fairly certain he was. You found my phone on him right?”
“Good riddance to bad rubbish. I guess karma works like lighting sometimes. The thieving bastard deserved exactly what he got.”
“Very convenient and cute for you to say that. Let’s hope that some people get her quick judgment too” muttered Rose, although everybody in the room heard her quite clearly.
Morenike’s father looked at her, surprise on his face, but he didn’t react to her comment. The room went into an awkward silence for a while.
“Can you guys please give us a minute, I need to talk to my daughter now, alone, if you don’t mind.”
Femi had been looking for an excuse to defuse the gathering tension and he jumped at the opening so fortuitously provided.
“Most certainly sir. Ma Adejare, please come with me. Rose, you too, we can go to my office downstairs and wait till they finish.”
He was already halfway to the door, followed by the two others when Morenike’s first words since she got revived from her faint stopped him in his tracks.
“I want Femi and Rose to stay, since they already know everything. I won’t talk to you without them.”
“I’m sorry. It was stupid of me and I should have known better, but I was in a really bad and lonely place then and my judgment and control was terrible.”
Rose jumped up from the chair she’d been occupying with fire in her eyes.
“Such easy words to say, and such a handy excuse to use too. I’m sure if even the devil got to trial he would have a reason for his actions. You were alone, and in a bad place, and the only antidote to that was to defile your own daughter? Haba, cut the crap sir. I’m surprised Morenike is not even saying anything. I would have given you an earful if I was in her shoes…”
Femi broke in.
“Rose! That’s enough, before you say something we all would regret. I’m sure he knows he did wrong and highly regrets the consequences of his actions right now. Let’s not open new wounds while trying to heal those of the past.”
Morenike’s father just smiled at her outburst.
“Let her vent Doctor. It’s admirable that she’s standing up for her friend this much, but there are certain things she doesn’t know, and I think it’s time to clarify one or two.”
He readjusted himself on his seat.
“Rose, do you remember what you told me that night at Hotel Diganga?”
Morenike sparked into life.
“What? Diganga? Did I hear you properly dad? You two? What were you doing there?”
Her father didn’t even lose his smile.
“See my dear, you’re not the only one who has been keeping secrets. Then he turned to Rose who had a sick look on her face. Do you want me to tell her or will you?”
Tears jumped into Rose’s eyes as she ran over to her friend’s bedside and knelt by it.
“I’m sorry Mo’, sincerely, I am.”
“I don’t understand, what did you do?”
Rose didn’t answer; she just kept crying and begging.
“She slept with me.”
“She did what?”
“I’m sorry Mo’, I’m so so sorry.”
Unspoken disappointment filled Morenike’s eyes at her father’s revelation and she sank back into bed shaking her head.
“Don’t lose sleep my dear daughter, that’s water under the bridge now. You see, I had a weakness for young female flesh and after the debacle that my marriage was I swore never to be emotionally involved with anybody again. It was as if love had a vendetta against me. That night in bed with Rose at the Hotel Diganga, when she mentioned that you were alienating yourself from all forms of emotional attachment, I knew without a doubt that I was the cause and I felt bad. Her words made me realize the damage I was doing to you. That was the night I made a promise to myself that I would love again, and stop all unholy alliances. If you remember correctly, I never had intimate contact with you again after your third year in the University. I also put an immediate stop to the affair with Rose, although I guess she still hasn’t forgiven me for that.”
Morenike had nothing else to say, but Femi had a question.
“I quite appreciate the candor with which you’ve spoken sir, and I hope Morenike can understand what it takes to admit your guilt this openly. One thing I can’t wrap my head around till now is why it had to be your daughter, your own flesh and blood. Couldn’t you have found any other person?”
Morenike’s father looked pensive for a minute or two before he volunteered an answer.
“My good doctor, the only sin I was guilty of was pedophilia, and that itself is a crushing burden. Incest? God forbid.”
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