“No! No, Rain, I’m not staying one minute longer discussing anything with you if you don’t acknowledge the effort the man has put in coming all the way here to see you face-to-face and apologise.”
“He didn’t apologise, mother. How could he have apologised when he didn’t even own up to what he did?”
“Look here, Rain, your father and I are ready to go. We would be leaving for Port Harcourt after we see your uncle Kalku and his children. I am done trying to broker peace between you and your father. There’s no need staying here any longer and have you insult us like we are small children begging you for sweet.”
“Mother, you mean you’re not coming with me to see Mr. Wakama’s family?”
“No, I’m not.”
“And you don’t want me to show you a clearer picture of him?”
“No, Rain, I don’t. I don’t want to meet his wife and children or see a clearer picture of him. As far as I am concerned that chapter of my life is closed forever. I moved on and somewhere along the way I found happiness. That man sitting in that car accepted you and me. And then God blessed us. Jehovah kept elevating him in his place of work and He even gave us your brother, Moroyei.”
“Mother – ”
“Rain, I am still talking,” Mrs Tamuno interrupted her. “I could have been on the streets, but he accepted me. I can never turn my back on him. I couldn’t have done it then and I won’t do it now. There’s no looking back at all for me. What has happened has happened and nothing can change that. It won’t do me any good at this point in my life digging up buried bones.”
“What about me, Mother? Don’t I deserve to be happy?”
“So, happiness is knowing that some dead man that wasn’t even a part of your life or growing up is your father? If you ask me Rain, I would say you are blessed. Just look around you Rain – you have got a good job in this very big company, you have a nice boyfriend that has asked you to marry him. You have rich and powerful people as friends now and you have money. What more do you want? How long will you continue to see yourself as downtrodden and victimised?”
“Mother, my only quest is for the truth. Is that asking for too much?”
“What is ahead of you is so much greater than the things we chose to forget in the past. As your mother, I am advising you to leave them there and embrace the future with gratitude and enthusiasm.”
“But what if Mr. Wakama was my father?”
Rain and her mother were in the parking lot of Edozie Express. Mr. Tamuno was already in the back seat of the black Nissan Murano that brought them to Yenagoa. He didn’t understand why his wife still stood there beside Rain’s car, talking to her rather reverently when they should have been on their way half an hour ago.
It was clear to him that Rain was determined to make things difficult for them. He noticed that the moment she opened her mouth to speak to him in her office. What he didn’t understand was why his wife couldn’t talk sense into her daughter for being unnecessarily mean and vindictive after so many years.
Three times he had asked the driver to go and tell his wife to end the conversation so they could be on their way, but each time his wife asked for one more minute to wrap up her discussion with Rain. One minute quickly became ten, and mother and daughter became even more engrossed in whatever it was they were talking about. This time, instead of asking the driver to go over and speak to his wife, he leaned across the front of the car and pressed the horn himself.
The sudden blare of the horn startled Mrs. Tamuno and provided her with the perfect excuse to dodge Rain’s intense questioning.
“Your father wants me now. I can see he has lost his patience and I can’t keep him waiting in the car any longer.”
“Mother, you don’t want to answer my question. What if Mr. Wakama was my father?” Rain asked again.
“Then it simply means that the man you want so desperately to be your father is dead and gone for good. That is the more reason why you should let the past remain in the past.”
“If we both go to his house, we might meet someone in his family that can confirm to us whether or not he spent a holiday in the neighbourhood you lived when you became pregnant with me.”
“And what if he did? Do you expect me to show up in the house of a grieving widow and announce to her that her husband raped me when I was a teenager and he was in his early twenties? Do you expect me, a grownup married woman to show up in the house of another married woman with the evidence of that rape because my daughter thinks it is expedient for me to do so? No, Rain. I won’t do it.”
“But his family deserves to know the truth about him, and about me too.”
“Sometimes, the truth hurts. It destroys everyone and everything in its path and is better left unsaid. The man is dead. The family is mourning him right now. In a few days or maybe weeks ,depending on culture and other things, he will be buried and all that his family would have left of him would be the memories he created with them. Rain, let us not go and ruin even that for them.”
“I don’t want to go there and ruin anything for his wife and kids, I just want them to know that we exist. I want them to know that I exist and that he could be my father too.”
“So they will include your name as one of his children when they are sharing his property?” Her mother asked in a rather sarcastic manner. “Rain, please, let us forget about this thing. You have a father that loves you very much and he is right there in the car waiting for you to tell him that things can go back to how they used to be.”
“Mother, why have you stayed on his side all these years?” Rain asked, sounding just as dejected as she looked in that moment. “Even now, you refuse to accompany me to confront a truth about the man that could be my biological father.”
“Rain, there can be no silver lining in this fiasco.”
“Why do you hate me so much, Mother? Why do you feel I don’t deserve closure?”
“I don’t hate you. I love you and your brother very much and you know it. But the life of a woman is tough and sometimes we have to make tough choices. Someday, when you become a wife and mother, maybe you will understand.”
“There’s no justification for rape and its cover-up, Mother. You can go back to Port Harcourt if you want. God will help me do what is right, and I will be fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“You are a grown woman now and I can’t fault your stance on this issue. It is your opinion and you are entitled to it. This Mr. Wakama person, may his soul rest in peace. That is all I can say for now. Bye, Rain.”
Annabel knew she should have carried out her threat the second David turned his back on her, but a sudden blitz of compunction held her back and she realised that some plans were better imagined than executed. Afterwards, every time she wanted to make the post, she was haunted by the same sense of guilt. It tugged at her heart and made her hesitant. The unexpected rush of emotion and panic attacks made her re-evaluate her decision to strike back hard at D3 because something didn’t feel right and vengeance unexpectedly lost its allure.
She wanted desperately to get back at David for his deception and exploitation of the situation with Rain, but she just couldn’t figure out how best to go about it.
Her inability to go through with her plan of getting back at David by embarrassing her best friend infuriated her because it just wasn’t like her to prevaricate with men.
Annabel was disturbed that D3 would get away with murder and take advantage of her indecisiveness after treating her like an expendable piece of clothing. She didn’t believe for a second when he told her that he would leave Rain for her once he achieved his goal of opening a restaurant.
Rain was his meal ticket and Annabel didn’t see David giving away such a lucrative possession when there was even bigger bounty ahead if he stayed married to her. She saw through David’s lies and wanted to punish him so badly until he begged her for mercy. His decision to break up with her had placed her on the back foot and that wasn’t a position she was accustomed to. Annabel was used to being the player and not the played, however for the first time in many years, she found herself on the unfortunate side of the divide where she was the needy one and D3 had all the aces.
Even though she was mad at David for flipping their well-crafted script against her, she was aware that posting about the rape would make her a horrible person and end her friendship with Rain forever.
In her search for false equivalence, Annabel justified sleeping with David as the private morality of two consenting adults who chose passion over loyalty and friendship. Leaking Rain’s darkest secret on Facebook however was announcing it to the world and putting it out there for people who didn’t know her the way she did, to like, comment and judge. The moment she hit send, it would be reposted and shared through every medium imaginable and there was no taking it back even if she wanted to.
Annabel acknowledged that the scandal would put an end to any talk of marriage between Rain and David, and that was what she wanted. The pre-leakers remorse she felt however was because, in putting an end to the planned marriage, she would be doing irreversible damage to a friend who had done her no wrong.
Rain may have shown strength in other aspects of her life, but it wasn’t everyday people read online that a woman of her standing in society was raped by the man she thought was her father when she was a teenager. It would break her and leave scars that might never heal. Perhaps in some other part of the world a story like that wouldn’t cause a stir, but in Nigeria it would break the Internet. The tabloids would go crazy embellishing and sensationalising it, and poor Rain might have to quit her nice job and flee Nigeria for Ghana or Cameroon to find refuge.
Long after David left her that day, Annabel kept thinking to herself and wondering if he was worth it.
The stomach cramps started that evening but she didn’t visit the hospital until the following week because the pain still wouldn’t let off. The doctor’s prognosis caught her off-guard and explained why her hormones had been all over the place. It explained her uncharacteristic prevarication about David’s betrayal. The outcome of the test the doctor made her do the unexpected; Annabel had no choice but to call David.
“David, we need to meet.”
“Annie, I’ve told you I don’t have anything to discuss with you.”
“Please, D3, I’m begging you. We need to see today. If it isn’t important, I won’t be calling you like this.”
“I don’t know about this meeting you want us to have, but if you insist, I’ll be there.”
“The only problem is that we would have to make it much, much later in the night because I’m having dinner with my future in-laws this evening. But I’ll let you know when I am on my way.”
“Sounds good. I’ll be expecting your call.”