Episode 20.

©Miriam Edem(Miriam Eyen Efik)
Luke dragged me inside and I was able to tell them everything. My mother stood up shouting with her hands on the head cursing all her enemies and even the devil,

"Mama will you stop this! What did the devil do here? Why apportioning blames to him when this is all your fault! Luke shouted on her. 
'Whose fault? Was it me who dragged him from wherever he came from to the village? Was I not on my own when he came? She asked.
"I refuse to keep quiet anymore, I may be sick then but I was not deaf nor blind. I heard how you lured and sold Betty to him. Why were you showering praises on her even when Betty was not there? Didn't you want him for a son inlaw and attacked Maxwell who you felt will ruin your plans? Luke asked. 

"Luke you are very ungrateful. So if I see someone who will help us out of poverty and make us have a future its a crime right? You are here sharpening your mouth forgetting that the accident you had would have made us more poor than we have ever been when the bills in the hospital took away all we had. So now am a bad mother because I didn't want Beatrice to suffer the way I did ba? All i wanted was my daughter to be different and have a good life. When did living good even for a short while become a taboo after suffering all my life? My mother asked touching her chest crying.

"I am not disputing the fact that we didn't have anything, you may have good intentions for Betty but it almost cost her life and you should not blame anyone but yourself. You were too desperate and that was where you killed your daughter. Sorry mama I've always been quiet to all the things you always do, Betty has been the one coming out bold to say her mind while I act like a good son because I have never opposed you before. You are wrong, very wrong and this is the truth! Which is more precious to you? Money or your daughter life? Luke dropped and my mother just broke down crying while I just sat where I was shaking my legs. 

"I'm sorry Betty, when you told me to help you when you newly got married I was confused. I didn't know what to do. I'm so sorry, Luke said hugging me.................

That night I was in my room cuddled in my bed when the door opened and my mother slowly walked in. I didn't bother to get up and she touched my back and breathed out,

"When I was still in primary school, there was this rich man that came then to marry me. He was like 35 years older than I was with about two wives already. I rejected and my family also did same. We were poor, very poor and I was the last to always pay my fees in school. When people heard that I rejected that man, they abused and insulted us and it was not long, my mother fell sick. 

We could not afford to take her to the hospital, and the village medicine man we rushed her to, we could not pay him either, She said and sniffed cleaning her tears.

"Then I thought of the rich man and wished I had married him, of course he would have given my mother the best medical attention but it was too late, he got married already and I hated myself that I was foolish. We struggled so much and eventually we brought her home from the medicine man since we could not afford to pay him, and after a month she died. I blamed myself for her death, the villagers blamed me also because I was stupid, and then your father came some few months after her death. 

He was a headmaster then and had a bike. That was a great achievement at that time, despite he was a bit older than I was also I didn't waste time to accept his proposal. At least I could see food on the table three times a day to eat and still had some left for my father. 
Life was averagely good that he was able to put up this structure we are under now, but two months after we marked your two years birthday he fell sick, she said and paused nodding her head painfully while tears rolled down my eyes as I still laid in bed quiet.

"There I began to began to struggle with taking Care of you and Luke and your sick father. Every money we saved was gone, and before I knew it, the man I married was paralyzed and blind in the house if you can still remember him. He stayed that way for good five years until he finally left us empty and I have been the one carrying the cross of this family just to ensure that we can eat for a day. I choose not to get married again to take care of Yuh and your brother Betty because I love you two so much. I accept I may not be that perfect mother but believe me when I say I had one fear and that is you ending up like me. I didn't want you to suffer the way I did, I wanted life easy for you. I have this mentality that money is everything and the only thing that can make one happy and comfortable. 

To me it answereth all things and I wanted that life for you. When I saw Godswill I saw a redeemer and the answer to our prayers. It was you who carried every naira and kobo that was left in the house to the hospital, I slept that night calculating how we will survive and then he came and I could not help it. I'm so sorry Betty I accept its my fault, I pushed you to the wrong choice, I made you suffer and I am such a bad and greedy mother please forgive me, my mother said with her head bowed and I stood up and hugged her as well cried together.
She may have her flaws but one thing am sure of is that she loves her children. For someone who has gone through the humiliation of poverty and couldn't help herself but got carried away with the influence of wealth, she was only human. 
"Its okay mama, its okay, I said cleaning her tears.
"I know I once told you never to leave your marriage, but am proud you fought for your life. I underestimated your fighting spirit and I wouldn't have forgive myself if anything bad had happened to you, she said and I gave a weak smile. 

'Im fine now, its all over, let's just pray that Godswill gets punished for all the crimes he committed, I said and placed my head on her shoulder..............

I stayed in the village hidden until Nkese called to tell me that Godswill will be going to court since he's getting better. I knew my time in the village was up though I felt bad that I could not visit anyone even my pastor because I didn't know how to start narrating my long story. Getting to the city Nkese was so happy to see I was fine,
"Looks like the village turned out to be good on you, she said. 
"Yuh have no idea, I guess that's what you get when your heart is at peace, I replied laughing.

From one court hearing to the other and my ears heard things in the process. The guards made things so easy for us knowing they are in deep shit, they had no choice but to confess and tell all they know about Godswill with every havoc he made them do. 
It was a very long and interesting case and I was most commend Godswill lawyer, he tried making the pit shallow for Godswill but his best was not enough.
After three months and some few weeks of the case in court, Godswill was finally sentenced to death for attempted murder and other piles of charges. The doctors who were involved in selling out their patients were also dragged down.

I closed my eyes when I heard that and his mother screamed out,
'Take me instead, she said.

"I was about coming to you........ "It doesn't matter but let me take his place. I caused it, I influenced him please its not his fault, she cuts in. 
'That's very sad but you can't change the fact that he has killed and he has to bear the consequences. When you influenced him in this path didn't you know a day will come like this? Our lawyer asked.
"So you all are fighting for justice now huh? What is wrong and what is right? The society does not know that when they burnt my first son to ashes and nothing was done about it. Where was Justice! She screamed out and I breathed out as everyone looked at her.

 Her countenance changed with her eyes red as if she wanted going mad, 
"They accused my son wrongly and because he was the son of a poor widow and in order for them to get away with their crimes they put it on my boy. In my presence I saw him set ablaze! With this hands I tried quenching the fire screaming for help but all everyone did was watch, where was justice! What is right and what is wrong? I wanted to end our suffering, I wanted to give the people the taste of what it feels like to lost somebody, she continued breathing like a wolf.
'And you put it on my Amanda? Was she there when your son was burnt? What was the wrong of my innocent daughter? Amanda father shouted getting up. 

'What was the wrong of my innocent Moses? We all are innocent, but someone has to pay the price, she replied.

"Enough! You're not even sorry for the wrongs you've done and the lives you've taken. My condolence to your son who died, but is this the best way to handle such a situation? The judge shouted. 
"I apologize and I accept whatever was said of me is true. I did all of that and more, I did it out of bitterness with the thought that the society doesn't care and no one matters. All I wanted was to get out of the misery I found myself and then I met friends who offered to show me the way. They told me the sacrifices I will do and I confided in my mother who wholly accepted and convinced me to. To be honest at a point I became tired, I became tired sleeping with my mother after she committed me in a blood covenant with her when I was 18. I accept the sentence and I want to apologize to everyone I've hurt, Betty forgive me, Godswill spoke up and I gasped.

"Godswill, his mother whispered.
"I'm tired mama, let me go, he said and I saw myself standing speechless with tears streaming down my face and Nkese held my hands tight.
Three months after Godswill death I could not get him out of my head. I didn't know if I should feel like a widow, and his properties, I was not interested in something soiled in blood. His eyes in court was what i kept seeing, too sad there are circumstances where second chances is just too late. I got myself more busy in Nkese salon to clear my head and eventually I was becoming the Betty I used to be not until one afternoon I returned from the market to the shop. 

I drop the nylon at the side and looked around but saw someone on a face cap With his head bored. Ahhhh I quickly went to Nkese and whispered in her ear,
"Who is that? I hope we are safe? I asked her.

"Go and ask the person na I'm busy, Nkese replied and I left to find out first because I am very security conscious. 
"Sorry are Yuh waiting for someone? I asked tapping the person hand and he raised his head.
I went backwards and almost fell when I hit a dryer,
"What are you doing here? I asked finding my voice when he held the dryer for me. 

"I came to see you, can we talk? Maxwell asked.
"Yes, Nkese replied for me and I swallowed. 
"Okay, I replied and I slowly left the salon looking at Nkese who winked at me.
I could not even look at Maxwell, he was not looking bad either but then should I say its guilty conscience that is disturbing me when its more than a year I've seen him. 
"How did you find me? I asked. 

"In the barbing salon, I was there when you came months ago to barb your hair. I could not go to you but I had to follow you, he replied and I just breathed out.
"I heard what happened, my condolences, he said. 
"It is well, was all I could say but he was just looking at me.
"Don't hold it back. You want to mock me go ahead I won't stop you, I deserve every scold you will say and I accept it, I said when he was not saying anything. 

"Betty what are you saying? He asked.
"But that's what you want to say na, I know you'll be thinking that I deserve all that happened to me, I said.
"Is that how you see me? Not even once that I wished you bad or prayed such a thing should happen to you, I'm not evil, he said and I just bowed my head.
"Whatever that happened Betty it's now in the past, I hold nothing against you and I am happy you came out strong from it, he continued and I nodded. 
"Thank you, I said and he began to laugh.
"What? I asked confused. 
"Nothing, I just remembered the shape of your head when you barbed it, you were looking funny, he replied and I laughed covering my face.
That was how the conversation was opened and we talked like old days.

Our friendship grew there, and I was happy for Maxwell, despite he wasn't there yet but life was far better than when he was in the village. According to him the bank where he was as a security, he was sent to the city to work in the branch there which had a better pay.He had other opportunities opened for him where he could earn from, and he also involved himself in the barbing salon, he does that whenever he's off duty and God is helping him.

He never came close to being intimate or brought up the intention he once told me about. To me I thought revelation has changed and I never saw myself worthy for him, I felt he deserves better. 
One day he told me he'll be going to the village to see his mother and he asked if I'll be going with him. I accepted so that I can use the opportunity to see my mother now that Luke was lucky to travel out to Lagos, his hard work blew him and I was so happy for him. I knew my mother will be so lonely in the village so I Didn't waste time to go with him.
My mother used that opportunity to apologize to Maxwell for all the bad mouth she poured out,
"Don't mind this my razor mouth, God will help me, My mother said and Maxwell smiled. 
'Its okay mama, though I was angry but I can't get angry with my mother for so long, Maxwell said.
"Ahh thank you, thank you so much, my mother said. 

"Its okay mama, Betty will you escort me home? He asked.
"Ahh yes let me greet your mother, it's been long, I replied him and I dropped my bag at home and left with Maxwell. There Maxwell mother held me and had a mother and daughter conversation with me,
"Maxwell told me his intention about you then, and when we heard that you are getting married I didn't worry. You know one thing I believe is that, what is yours will always come to you no matter how long it takes, his mother said when Maxwell was not around and I bowed my head.
"Mama I don't even want to think about that, Maxwell and I are just friends, after all with what that has happened between us can anything work? I asked. 

'That's what you think but Maxwell didn't make the choice and you're lucky his revelations has not changed either. Rather he used that waiting time of his to do something better for himself so you won't meet him in the same level you knew him. I know he does not have that wealth....... "After what I've been through mama I am not thinking about that anymore, I cut in and she smiled.
"I'm glad you know that, she said and I cleaned my face..........
When I left her place I decided to tell my mother our discussion,
"And how do you see Maxwell? I mean has he made any moves? She asked. 
"No, we are like brothers and sisters, I replied.
"Hmm Betty with all that happened abeg pray again o, if it's Maxwell then trust me you have my blessings, my mother said and I playfully hit her laughing.

The next day we returned back to the village. I had to acknowledge God this time around because I didn't want to lean on my own understanding or guessing work, I wanted God to equally reveal it to me. 
After about a week I saw the same dream I Had before I got married to Godswill. The two open doors were there again and suddenly one got shut with a heavy force. With that fear i ran into the one open and I walked into the field of Roses and saw Maxwell smiling at me.
"Wake up there is news! Nkese shouted hitting me because I was in the shop.
"What? I asked cleaning my face very happy with what I saw.
"Why are Yuh smiling sef? She asked. 
"Tell me the news first joor, i replied.

"Okay o, Godswill mother has committed suicide in prison o, she could not wait to serve her life imprisonment, she replied.
"My God! I exclaimed and Godswill walked in. 
"Please I want to make my hair, he jokily said.
"Commot here joor, Nkese playfully said hitting him. 
"Let's go buy ice cream, Godswill said taking my hand.
"Me na? Nkese asked. 
"Comot here mbok, Godswill replied laughing as he ran out with me.
It was at the ice cream shop I was just smiling and thanking Jesus inside of me for finally revealing what I wanted from him. 
'Marry me please, I heard and when I raised my head Maxwell was showing me a ring.............
3 months later we got married just as God planned it to be. I have never been so happy and fulfilled spending my life with someone who loves God and adores me as if I was so perfect. 

We grew together happy with every little thing that came our way and celebrated every success we achieved. I was no longer with a beast, but an angel who showed me what love is all about and we lived happily ever after with the fruits of marriage God blessed us with. 
Indeed the ways of God is perfect if you just trust and obey him.
This is my story.

Did you learn something? I want to read from you, Please bless me also🥰🥰
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