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Dying Young

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Adewale came home from work a happy man; not because his boss made him work overtime with no payment or because the okada man that brought him home made him pay 20 naira extra under the guise of ‘no change’, it was certainly not because his landlady hissed in reply when he greeted her cos he was 3 months late on rent but because his new bride of 5 months told him she had an exciting news for him when he came back.

He knocked but there was no answer so he used his keys to get in, he found his wife in the kitchen dishing his food & humming to herself. He hugged her from behind & she smiled at him; ‘welcome home, okomi’.

They had a sumptuous meal; his favorite, pounded yam & efo riro & Adewale was feeling on top of the world. She gave him a piece of paper smiling from ear to ear & he opened it with anticipation; it was a doctor’s report confirming Nwakaego, his wife, pregnant.

He hugged & kissed her as he screamed for joy; just then, there was a knock on the door & Nwakaego excused herself to the restroom; ‘pregnancy bladder, right?’.

He smiled in understanding & proceeded to answer the door, he saw two policemen & they had somber faces; ‘good evening, officers. How can I help you?’. They introduced themselves & asked to come in, he ushered them in with a feeling of apprehension cos no one liked ‘police wahala’ & he didn’t want to upset his pregnant wife.

He smiled at the thought of Nwakaego’s pregnancy, he already had names picked out, he wondered how soon they would know the sex of the baby & smiled even wider.

The officers sat down & one of them; the taller one, cleared his throat. ‘Mr Adeniyi, I’m afraid we have some bad news’. Adewale’s palm started sweating from nowhere & his mind was racing; bad news? Was it his landlady? Has her patience run out & was she throwing him out? He immediately remembered his pregnant wife, this time it didn’t bring a smile to his face cos he was wondering how they were going to raise a child in his brother’s one bedroom apartment cos that was his only other option.

He looked around & remembered Nwakaego in the bathroom; good, he didn’t want her here for this, he would break the news to her by himself.

The shorter policeman was speaking & Adewale zoned back in to catch the tail end of his sentence; ‘… hit & run, we are doing everything we can to find him. I’m very sorry for your loss, Mr Adeniyi’.

He started at that; ‘loss? What loss? I don’t understand’… The taller one sat forward; ‘Mr Adeniyi, we were telling you how your wife was killed by a hit & run driver some hours ago. Her body is in the morgue, we found an identification on her & it led us straight here. Are you not the husband of Mrs Nwakaego F. Adeniyi?’

If you are, we need you to come with us so you can identify the body’. Adewale smiled; ‘Officers, you’re mistaken. My wife & I just had dinner & she had to use the restroom. You see, she just gave me the doctor’s report confirming her pregnant so we’re in a celebratory mood, he said.

He stood up & started walking towards the bathroom; ‘Baby, are you done? Some officers are here, they seem to be confused’. The shorter one placed a hand on his arm; ‘Mr Adeniyi, I understand you must be in shock but we need you to come with us’.

He brushed him off & opened the bathroom, it was empty. He ran to the bedroom, the kitchen; ‘Baby, my love, Nwakego!, Officer, she was just here’. The taller one looked at him for a second & asked; ‘Is there a back door?’ Maybe she went out or something’…’No’, Adewale said forcefully, ‘No’, more quietly this time. The room was spinning, Nwakaego was just here, his mind was racing; where could she have gone?

They had no back door, what were these officers saying? He was going to be a father, he just had his favorite meal. Maybe it was the stress, he must be hearing & seeing things. The shorter one was speaking again;’…so you can identify the body’…’The body; Nwakaego, his beautiful, pregnant wife…’the body’; she put him through school selling okrika at the market, she loved him despite all her friends & family’s objections, saying he was a loser…’the body’… The room spun once more & everything went black.

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