Ike’s aunt spoke to the wife’s fighters association before they left, not without throwing accusing glares at him. Runo didn’t notice any of it, not because of his aching bruised body, but because of his remorse.
Mrs. Okoro couldn’t help but feel helpless, and crying wouldn’t change anything. Her son’s home fell apart and she couldn’t save it, her husband was livid after a very long time.
She followed after her when she gestured the nurses to pack up their things.
“Wait” Mrs. Okoro called after her, halting her steps. “What did they tell you?”
“Vwede is not coming back,” Ike’s aunt said with a smile.
“Why are you happy about it? My son’s marriage fell-”
Mrs. Okoro was cut off. “You didn’t see Vwede before she left, if you had, you wouldn’t stop her from leaving. The elders say you can sit still while your son’s house is on fire right?” She questioned.
Receiving no answer from her, she turned around and walked away but first, throwing words over her shoulder. “You should ask your son what he did”
Mrs. Okoro went back into the house, her husband was nowhere in sight. Maybe she was too occupied thinking about the emergency when she arrived, she didn’t really look at the house.
Right now, standing in the middle of the living room, she felt a little bit uncomfortable. Maybe its what she just heard or maybe she wasn’t used to visiting without Vwede being around.
What exactly did you do?
Runo’s mother was desperate to ask him but she wasn’t sure she would get an answer. She heaved a sigh and went in search of her husband.
Ike massaged his temple, trying to keep a terrible headache at bay. Running around town searching for his friend was exhausting him mentally. His aunt’s words echoed in his head, seemingly unbelievable to him.
He had frequented Runo’s house since they got married, though he wasn’t always home due to work, he didn’t see any off vibe between them, or a sign he was mistreating his wife.
His thoughts were interrupted by a guilt-ridden Coco, who was in tears.
“I didn’t think that there was any problem between them when she made up excuses for him while she was hospitalized and those times he didn’t show up whenever we had hangouts”
Ike was shocked. “Vwede was hospitalized?”
Coco nodded. “Twice”
“When? How? Where?”
“The first time, I showed up unexpectedly at her house” Coco started. “She was a mess, I asked her what had happened, she said she just wanted to sleep. She hadn’t been able to close her eyes for weeks and it was affecting her.” She turned to face him. “I believed her, allowing her to sleep until I noticed the pills on the floor of her bathroom while I was cleaning up”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ike yelled at her. “Why didn’t you tell Runo? You should have told somebody”
“I…I didn’t know” She stuttered, her head bowed in guilt. “She made me promise not to tell both of you” her voice lower than normal.
Ike clasped his head, closing his eyes. Anger brewing inside him. Angry at Runo for hurting his friend, but also at himself for not noticing the little signs.
“I think she tried to kill herself that day”
“Or she just really wanted to sleep and forget what Runo did” Coco swiped her tears. “Let’s check other places”
“Did you hear any of their words?” Ike questioned. “Vwede was a regular but hadn’t been to any of her spots for ice cream or junk food-”
Coco cut him off. “I won’t stop searching for her,” she said firmly.
“I didn’t say….” Ike trailed off, turning on the ignition of the car.
Coco leaned on the window, staring out. She was scared to think of the worst-case scenario.
Runo didn’t need to be told where the route was leading because he knew and wasn’t ready. She left not quite long ago, accepting him back would be a difficult task especially after his negligence and deaf ears to her words.
How did I not really listen to my wife? It’s simply insane.
But if there’s one place to find Vwede, it would be her parents’ house. Vwede had always been a family person, putting family first.
If you know her, you would know she’s crazy about family, gushing about them none stop.
Did I get tired of her rambling? Did I get tired of her?
He wasn’t able to answer his questions because his father turned off the ignition in Vwede’s home.
Runo gulped nervously.
Is she ready to see me?
Her words echoed in his head – I was in pain, I lost our babies, I pushed myself too far the darkness rejected me, I was never enough, I couldn’t satisfy you.
“Get your ass out of my car” Mr. Okoro yelled at him.
“Let him take his time”
“This isn’t his house to behave anyhow he pleases.” He chided his wife, turning to Runo who was seated in the back seat, still wearing his clothes from earlier, having no time to change.
“You better pray for your sake she’s in there if you don’t want me to lash out on you again”
“What if Runo didn’t hurt her?” Runo’s mother questioned. “Vwede’s hurt doesn’t mean he is responsible”
“I believe you, Runo didn’t hurt her, he did nothing wrong. How do you explain the bruises, her shoulder, scars, torn clothes, bleeding and struggles in their kitchen?”
Mrs. Okoro opened her mouth to answer but shut it.
“If my daughter lost her mind and did all that to herself, then he is responsible for it,” her husband said firmly before walking towards the house.
Runo heard their small talks and he agreed with his father. He was responsible for everything and he couldn’t help but wonder if his marriage has a shot at redemption.
Silence, raw silence that is pulling me to the other side, a side I will never recover from. The silence is getting louder each minute. No words from him.
Maybe he frowned, scrunched up his face or did some sort of expression but I can’t dare to look him in the eye.
That’s not the only thing to worry about. They had asked if they were here to plan another surprise for Vwede, which I totally didn’t know because I wasn’t by present. Runo thought to himself.
It is funny how work took lots of my time or rather, I gave Susie too much of my time and it affected my marriage.
Then he heard Vwede’s father speak.
“Vwede my daughter left your house and her marriage,” Mr. Eddy said, though it sounded more like a question, after a very long time.
“You all thought she was here?” Mrs. Eddy asked.
Mr. Okoro nodded. “Yes”
“She isn’t here,” Vwede’s father said truthfully.
“Are you happy now?” Runo’s father lashed out at his son. “Two years of marriage and your wife left you to God knows where. If anything happens to her, you will have me to deal with.”
He stood up and pulled his wife up. “He’s all yours,” he told Vwede’s parents before leaving.
The room was plunged into silence again, leaving Runo to think behind the meaning of his father’s words.
If he knew where his wife was, he wouldn’t sit still right?
Perhaps, he knew where she was, but his guilt was stopping him.
Some things are unforgettable, this was one of such. Forgiveness for it also far fetched. Time will heal but the scar left or the painful memory attached to it can’t be erased by time.
At this point, Runo expected the worst from his inlaws but surprisingly after a week of feigning ignorance of his presence in their home, he was asked to go home.
Runo couldn’t exactly ask why he was allowed to go or why they didn’t ask him anything despite finding out the terrible condition their daughter was in when she left.
Runo had no choice but to leave. If they were ready to ask him anything, they knew where to find him.
It had been a month and the silence had completely drained out all the murmurs, talks and backlash from people who found out his wife left him due to irreconcilable differences.
Its been a month and he hadn’t seen or heard from his family or close friends – Ike and Coco, could he blame them?
Vwede’s parents hadn’t contacted him either to ask any questions and it was getting to him. Going to work was killing his conscience every day because he couldn’t stay alone with Vwede’s memory but he couldn’t stand Susie anymore, his reminder he failed as a husband and murderer of his children.
The pains he felt were his punishment he reminded himself every day. Vwede deserved better but he couldn’t fill the order.
Some days, he asked himself why he couldn’t see behind her sudden withdrawal or listen to her. When did it go wrong without his notice?
Runo was lost in thoughts when a knock on his office door drew his attention.
“Come in,” he said, leaning back in his seat.
“He will see you now,” the company’s clerk told him, standing by the door.
Runo walked out of his office and bumped into Susie who seemed to be heading towards his office.
“Hi” Susie’s voice rang out, attracting unwanted attention to him.
Runo looked at her, very intensely, wanting to figure out how she wasn’t up to Vwede Eddy in any way yet neglect his wife and hanged around her. Susie is nothing compared to Vwede.
I definitely hit my head hard to place her above everything else. Runo said inwardly.
“Are you okay?” Susie asked, noticing his intense gaze on her.
Runo ignored her question and headed for the chairman’s office. He knocked on the door before asked to come in.
“Mr. Okoro, sit.” The chairman of his company went straight to business. “You wanted to see me’
“I have a request”
The chairman, clad in a gray color suit, black shirt, sharp eyes, gave him a thorough look before bursting out in a fit of laughter.
“I know your leave is overdue, no need being formal about it”
“It is not that,” Runo said in a quiet voice.
“Do you want to finally clear the rumors?”
Runo’s face scrunched up. “What rumors?” He questioned.
“I’m the head the company doesn’t mean I don’t see or hear about your office romance the Susan,” he said with a stern voice. “Susie as swooned guys call her”
Yes, he messed up big time.
If the office could carry the rumors, it only meant one thing, the rumors were everywhere and he was just too damned engrossed to know he’s the hot topic of discussion.
“Are you here to deny it?”
“I want to resign” Runo lifted up his face and told him, his voice laced with determination.
If there was any hope of reconciliation with his wife, he had to stay away from the other woman.
He bowed his head. He never thought he would ever use the words the other woman while referring to himself.
“Young men like you walk into my office asking for a raise or vacation or transfer in the name of their family, and its the first time a man walked into my office asking to leave my company because he couldn’t handle an attractive woman in his department.”
He was right, he should be asking for leave to spend time with Vwede and he would do that after he found her and ask for forgiveness.
“It is not your fault you called her beautiful the first time you saw her but it was your fault to stare and call her beautiful again and again too when you had the total package at home and a wedding band in your finger to remind you each minute. I am truly disappointed” his chairman said.
Runo kept quiet.
“You know the drill of resigning, anything else?”
“No” Runo forced a small smile and stood up.
“I hope you have the time you need to reconcile your home because I know your marriage is rocky right now with the way you galavant with Susie as if she could measure up to your wife in any way. You may leave”
Apparently, everyone saw Vwede’s struggles expect me. Everyone saw my foolish expect me. Everyone knew my marriage would hit rocks bottom but what they don’t know is that it already did.
Runo stepped out of the office, suddenly conscious of every pair of eyes on him, every and every gesture.
Why didn’t he notice any of it?
Runo locked himself in his office till he got bored and left.
“Runo” Susie called again, running after him. “Hold up”
Runo wasn’t sure if it was his tiredness or his anger at himself speaking. “Miss Raymond, what is it? Don’t you have other things to do besides following me around?”
“Mr. Okoro” Runo corrected her.
Susie gasped. They had long passed formal basis.
“If you have nothing to say, bye” Runo walking away, leaving a stunned Susan Raymond behind.
“Is your husband here too?” Runo asked his mother, helping her carry get the luggage out of the car.
Runo thought today would be another day to drown himself in his self guilt but his mother’s arrival disrupted his plans.
“He’s your father” Mrs. Okoro chided him.
Walking into the house, he reminded her of his words. “No son of mine could do to a woman what you did, lacking respect for her us akin to hurting your own mother and it is unforgivable”
“He’s angry, so is everyone. You literally took us by surprise with this, and it will take a while to get over it before forgiving you”
Runo dropped her suitcase on the bed in the guestroom of his house. “Why are you here then?”
“If a child does something wrong and is truly sorry, he should be forgiven”
“You just said what I did is unforgivable, so why are you really here?”
His mother sat on the bed and sighed. “Vwede sent a message and I couldn’t tell you on the phone, no one wants to see you right now and telling you over the phone….”
“What did she say?” Runo immediately became anxious.
“You should sit for this one son” His mother advised.