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[STORY] MY CHILD (Episode 02)




Episode 02.

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While Uche sat in his seat thinking about what the woman said to him, a strange kind of weakness enveloped him. He imagined what the effects would be if there was truth in the woman’s claims. “That means the family I’ve known all my life would have been a lie”, he reasoned. After thinking about these haunting claims for a while, he decided to spare himself the misery and get the truth from his father right away. He took his car keys and zoomed out of his office, leaving no instructions for his staff.

He drove for two hours before he got to his father’s house. Immediately his father saw him driving in, he knew all was not well. It was unlike Uche to come unannounced and that late in the night. “Is everything alright, my son?”, his father asked immediately he (Uche) alighted from his vehicle. “No father, I’m troubled”, Uche replied his father who had become his closest confidant since the demise of his mother. His father held him by the hand and led him into the sitting room where they’d discuss that which troubled his (Uche’s father’s) blessing in disguise. Not quite long after they’d sat down, Uche relayed his encounter with the strange woman to his father. As Uche narrated his encounter, his father bent his head as though he was lost in thoughts.

After he had finished narrating his experience, his father raised his head and spoke. “Since the day I started being your father, since the day I accepted you as my son, I have been praying for this day never to come. I have prayed for anything that would make you less my son not to happen. But since this day has come, it is my duty as your father to tell you the whole truth about you and your life” his father said before telling his story.
Mr Nweke was a retired public servant. He worked in a production firm that retired its staff after twenty five years in service. Having started working in the firm at twenty four, Mr Nweke retired at a young age of forty nine. After his retirement, he sought for a personal business to go into since he was still very fit. He consulted some business experts and eventually ventured into grain business. He would source for his grains from the northern part of the country and sell them in the eastern part. It was indeed a good business and Mr Nweke prospered in it. In the section of the market where people who did the same business as Mr Nweke stayed, he was known for his joviality kind-heartedness. His customers liked him because of his flexibility in doing business with them. They always referred to him as ‘the unique market man’.

Mr Nweke had a regular customer; a girl in her early twenties who served one of the rich families in the town as a cook and housekeeper. Their (Mr Nweke and the girl) relationship grew from business affairs into a ‘father and daughter’ affair. He would always advise her whenever there was need to and she also used Mr Nweke’s shop as the assembling point for all the things she bought whenever she came to the market. She took Mr Nweke as a father. Suddenly, she stopped coming. Weeks grew into months and there was no sign of her. Mr Nweke was worried about her sudden disappearance but there was nothing he could do about it. Since there was no means of communicating with her, he only prayed and hoped that all was well with her.

Then one day, two years later, the girl resurfaced. She came carrying a sleeping child that was slightly over one year old. She looked tattered and unkempt. She was visibly malnourished and her hairs seemed to be falling off due to lack of nutrients. Her cheek and collar bones were showing very visibly under her skin. She and her child were practically dressed in rags. When Mr Nweke saw her, he couldn’t recognize her. It took her calling him ‘nna anyi’ as she fondly did for him to recognize her. Even in her tattered state, Mr Nweke gave her a hug before ushering her into a seat. “What happened to you, Chinaza?”, Mr Nweke asked her immediately they were seated. “Nna anyi, a lot has happened to me but but thank God for today. Please let me lay my sleeping child here so I can quickly buy some things inside the market”, she replied. Mr Nweke agreed and hastily made some space where the child was laid. He was full of compassion for his young friend who seemed to be at the receiving end of life’s unfair blows.

As she was leaving to buy the supposed things, she said “I believe you can take care of him”, Mr Nweke thought she meant taking care of the child until she comes back but he was wrong. She meant taking care of him for life. The mid morning turned into afternoon and the afternoon into evening and there was no sign of the girl. The baby had woken and was crying. It was then he realized what was happening and the meaning of the last words she said to him.
“My son, I reported the incident to the authorities and you were taken to a motherless babies home. But my spirit couldn’t rest because I believed God placed you in my care so I’d take care of you as I would mine. I convinced your mother for us to adopt you as our son and when she agreed, we started the process of your adoption. The birth date you use now is the day you were brought to me”, Mr Nweke concluded his story. While he was narrating, Uche just sat and listened with no emotions visible in his countenance.

Mr Nweke stood and was retiring to bed for the night. He stopped and added “Uche my son, she may be your biological mother but know that no matter what happens henceforth, you will forever be my son and I your father”. Uche quickly rose from where he sat and rushed to his father, giving him the type of warm hug only a son could give to his father.

To Be Continued…. . . .

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