Ohita let go of her husband’s hand so she could drop her offering and building fund donations into the special basket brought to those of them in the front row. It was the area of the church reserved for the officiating pastor and his wife, dignitaries, immediate family members of the deceased and some Nollywood faces. She pretended not to notice that the pretty female usher with very long legs lingered a fraction of a second than was necessary in front of her husband. Ohita was used to women strutting their stuff before him so she invented some unique ways of dealing with them. However, it was a solemn occasion and she didn’t want to create a scene or dishonour the dead so she chose to remain calm. Besides, she noticed that the girl’s hair was cheap and she had on costume jewellery so she thought it best to reserve the hot slap her irritating display of desperation deserved for a more serious threat.
When the lady eventually sashayed away to test her popularity with the other male dignitaries, Ohita reached for Chief Edozie’s hand again. Because she didn’t want the people around them picking up on their conversation, she leaned on his shoulder and whispered her encouragement. It was meant for his ears alone and it brightened up his face.
“Darling, I’m with you every step of the way,” Ohita offered her assurances. “I know we’ll get through this together – you, me and the children, because we are the Edozies and we are overcomers.”
“Thank you dear,” Chief Edozie whispered back. “Thank you.”
“We shall defeat our enemies and all your village people put together.”
“We shall come out victorious.”
“You will live to see your children’s children.”
Ohita said those words to her confused husband because she knew in that moment, it was what he needed to hear. She knew it was important to keep his spirit lifted and his hope alive.
In that crowded hall, it was hard for anyone to miss his smile because of who he was in society but she was his wife and he couldn’t fool her with his act. He may have been smiling, shaking hands with those around them and calling out names, but she could see the fright in his eyes and more than anything else she knew he was sad and struggling with depression.
She knew he was grieving, but his grief wasn’t because he lost an employee or because he was burying a friend. It was the grief of a drowning man whose cry for help was muffled by the confusing cacophony of adoring sounds constantly around him. His grief stemmed from him letting the entirety of the burial ceremony get to him because it reminded him that his own funeral might be next. Seeing all the staff of his company in their asoebi terrified him. Chief Edozie could already picture them gathered to bid him farewell to the great beyond any day now and he wasn’t ready for that journey just yet.
Ohita saw it in his eyes and in the enervated way he walked back to his seat after delivering his emotionally charged eulogy. Knowing all that must be going through his head with the curse and time ticking away fast, she saw him changing and diminishing before her very eyes with each step he took back to his seat but the others didn’t notice anything because they didn’t know what she knew. Even the anointed man of God and his virtuous wife weren’t in the spirit so they joined the chorus of praise singers happy to have such a wealthy man and a celebrated philanthropist in their church.
But being his wife, she knew that he had many things tormenting his spirit and soul and those things weighed him down both psychologically and physically. Donald Wakama’s betrayal was one of them.
Strangely though, in spite of his other concerns, this particular one was high up on his list and she couldn’t understand why. She couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t let go of the millions of naira Wakama stole from his company, despite her numerous entreaties that he put it behind him and instead focus on elongating his life.
The first time he came to her with everything Rain uncovered about his late CFO, she almost peed in her pants. Ohita was sure he was going to conclude by confronting her with her own complicity but he didn’t. Obviously, he didn’t know. The relief she felt when no one pointed fingers at her was indescribable.
Realizing that she was temporarily off the hook, Ohita knew that she had to act fast because she didn’t know how long her luck would hold.
The only solution she could think of was getting her husband to immediately step down as CEO of Edozie Express. Once the rein of the company was out of his hands; she figured, she could then begin to manipulate him to focus his attention on more important things – like overcoming the curse and staying alive.
It wasn’t easy getting Baba Iperu’s number from her husband. After days of heated arguments however, her persistence paid off and she prevailed. Ohita was able to convince Chief Edozie that it was in his best interest that she had a contact number for his native doctor in the event of an emergency and there was nothing any of the pastors in their payroll could do.
The first time they spoke, she was surprised how willing Baba Iperu was to carry out her suggestion. He didn’t have any problem playing along and helping her with her plan, so long as she did something for him in return. The old man didn’t ask for much. The only thing he wanted was a little donation for his son’s education fund. Although he asked for twenty thousand dollars, she gave him twenty-five.
When she expressed her surprise at his willingness to cooperate with her and help facilitate the actualisation of the plan she concocted to force her husband into early retirement, his response was simple.
“This plan will not kill Chief, shebi?”
“Then we both want the same thing.”
With that settled, she reached out to Ambassador Nebu Anele next. Her husband had mentioned him quite often since the night of the party so she knew he was someone Chief Edozie respected and would listen to. Clearly, if his old friend spoke to Chief on her behalf, he wouldn’t just brush it aside as meaningless talk. He would give it serious consideration and that was enough for Ohita. But the crafty Ambassador was a hard nut to crack.
“And why should I speak to your husband on your behalf?”
“Because my husband is a very sick man and he needs to take things slow in order to regain his health.”
“Is it cancer?”
“I’m afraid I can’t disclose the nature of his illness to anyone. Chief will kill me if he finds out that we’re even having this conversation. But take it from me, it is serious and he needs to take it easy. All this running around he’s doing for EE isn’t helping.”
“Convincing him to take things easy is one thing, suggesting to him that you take over as CEO is another. I don’t know if I wield that kind of influence over your husband anymore.”
“Just do this for me please. Ambassador, I’m begging you.”
“Does he have anyone else in mind for the position if he steps down?”
“You, Ambassador. You’re number one on his list. And then there’s his sister.”
“Why would he even consider me?”
“Guilt? He told me how he pushed you out.”
“That was many years ago. Trust me, I’m over it. Look at me and the things I’ve accomplished for myself over the years. I’m happy where I am and there’s no way, I’d accept to run Edozie Express when I should be thinking of retiring from active service and going on retirement cruises with my wife.”
“There’s still his sister.”
“Why would he want his sister taking over from him instead of you?”
“Blood is thicker than marriage, maybe. But to be fair to her, she has a law degree and she and her husband have been successful in business. I may not have shown much interest in EE in the past, but I’m his wife and the mother of his children. Beyond that, I know I’d do well as CEO. If nothing else, I’ll slave to keep everything together for the sake of our children because I wouldn’t want them to suffer if anything bad were to happen to my Chief.”
“You make a fair point.”
“Will you talk to him, Ambassador?”
“You still won’t tell me about his illness, would you?”
“I’m afraid I can’t.”
“That’s fine. You don’t have to tell me anything. I’ve lost a couple of friends to cancer already so I understand the need for secrecy at a time like this.”
“So, how am I supposed to bring this up with Rowland when he hasn’t mentioned anything to me?”
“Let me handle that. You just know what to say to him when he calls you.”
In the end, Ohita got her wish. She wanted to be CEO and she was made CEO. She wanted to be the CEO so she could appoint the CFO that would oversee the audit of the finances of her husband’s company. That was the grand plan.
That part of the plan however was torpedoed by another schemer with a plan of his own.
Ohita didn’t know that in making Ambassador Nebu Anele instrumental to her appointment as CEO, he would plant his son as CFO.
Shata was a blindside, but Ohita was confident she could handle him. She wasn’t nicknamed “Ohita the hit girl” for nothing when she was young, wild and unmarried.
The service lasted for another one hour and Ohita was sweaty, thirsty and impatient to leave. When the pastor announced the recessional hymn, she was the first to get up on her feet. She couldn’t wait for the service to be over. It was hard being in any funeral at all, but it was even harder being in the funeral of the man she killed.