Seated on the balcony, Leticia sat in her usual chair, clad in black, her facial expression void of any emotion. Looking at the flowers being blown by the breeze, she took a deep sigh as she continued to wait patiently.
She was expecting certain visitors. Thomas’ father and uncle.
Was she looking forward to their arrival? Not in the slightest. She had a lot of respect for them, but she really did not want these kind of visits right now. In any case, she had a particularly sneaky feeling they were going to try and defend the honour of their late son.
Mrs. Adjei stepped out of the house and watched her daughter sitting there with that bland disposition. She shook her head and looked to the skies.
Leticia saw her mother’s reaction and smirked. She had the same feeling, and had not hidden it. “Mama, don’t worry yourself, I beg you. I know you’ve already charged up, but there’s no need. I’m sure the meeting will be smooth. Relax, I’ll handle it.”
Mrs. Adjei looked at her, an unsure “Hm” emanating from her before she shrugged and stepped back into the house.
Just as she did, there was a knock on the gate. Leticia rose and walked to the gate to open it up.
As expected, the father and uncle of her late husband were at the gate, also clad in black mourning attire. They followed her to the porch and took their seats as she went in to get them some water to drink.
Once they were served, she took her seat and waited for them to finish drinking before they began to speak.
“Hmm, my dear, to say that these are easy times would be a lie,” Thomas’ father began. “What has happened is just horrible, and as a father, my heart couldn’t be heavier. The way I expected Thomas and the rest of his siblings to be the ones to bury me, and this has happened! Leticia, I’m devastated. Extremely devastated.”
Leticia’s heart ached at those words. He’s right. It’s children supposed to bury their parents. Not the other way round.
“As far as the funeral arrangements are concerned, we will have to get to work on that soon enough. But, ummm… that’s not the reason why we came. That will be done in due time. We wanted to talk you about, uh… the state of affairs between you two before all this came to pass.”
The look on Leticia’s face turned from showing hints of sympathy to a blank canvas. Huh, just as I thought! I wonder what they have to say to me…
“Yes, we decided that coming over immediately would be in bad taste, given how very fresh the wounds were,” the uncle chipped in. “Of course, we were also in a state of shock as well. And obviously, it’s not like you’re totally over it; I know it’s going to take you a long time to fully recover. But at least, a few days have passed, so there’s some discussion we can have.”
Yeah, it’s gonna take me a really long time to recover. Why not, when my husband had fallen out of love with me and was finding his way into our housekeeper’s panties!
“Yes, indeed, so umm, this is just a harmless question, but, were things between you and Thomas okay before he left for Kumasi?”
Leticia sighed and shook her head. She knew they meant well, but this question almost made it feel as if she had driven him into the arms of another woman with some insane conduct.
“Yes, everything was fine. As far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t even supposed to go to Kumasi,” she started gently. “My brother suffered a stroke, and I had to rush for Sunyani. We communicated the whole time. No fights, no nothing. If anything at all, just those normal squabbles every couple has.”
The two elderly men sat back.
“But apparently, after one really nasty fight,” she continued, “he started to dislike me. Even though he denied holding anything against me. After I apologized numerous times.”
She took her time in laying those sentences out.
“Hmmmm. My daughter, can I be honest? I know the boy did the wrong thing, but personally, I think you ought to take the blame for all this as well,” the uncle stated bluntly.
Leticia sat up in her chair, a stunned expression on her face. “What?” she gasped.
“I mean, if not for that fight, who knows, maybe he never would have been motivated to go after the househelp. I’m not excusing his actions ooo, that’s not what I’m trying to do. But in my opinion…”
“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!”
An irritated snap came from the front door. They all turned to see Leticia’s mother step out, with a very irritated look.
“Mr. Man, you can’t come here and be throwing useless allegations at my daughter for wrongs she never did! It’s her fault for the where? Nonsense! Or you don’t know that she apologized? Ah! Why is it not the fault of that son of yours who couldn’t honour his wedding vows?”
Leticia shut her eyes. Oh no.
Her mother had been listening to the brief conversation, despite her earlier pleas that she be allowed to deal with these in-laws alone. Now that she had heard this uncle blatantly and ridiculously accuse Leticia of being complicit in Thomas’ passing, it was about to get ugly. Especially considering how livid the elderly lady was with Thomas’ ways, and fully blamed him for leading himself to an early grave.
“Isn’t marriage about forgiveness and compromise? Yet that gentleman you call a son decided to hold on to a stupid grudge and disgraced himself by going for that silly small girl. How is this Leticia’s fault? Don’t be silly over there!”
The men bristled at this attack. “Look here, woman,” Thomas’ uncle started, rising to his feet, “we did not come here to be insulted by you. We came for a simple, logical discussion…”
“Logical my foot! Where is the logic? They fought. She said sorry. He said he accepts, when he was lying. He went to cheat. Now he’s dead. How is she responsible? Logical discussion indeed. Listen, you can’t come here and shift any blame on my daughter when you didn’t teach your son not to be chasing any aimless fool in a skirt!”
“Hey, don’t you insult my son like that!” Thomas’ father snapped, also on his feet. “You better watch your mouth over there!”
“Or what? Is he a saint? If he had sense, wouldn’t he still be here? Nobody asked him to take some small girl to Kumasi just for sex!”
Things had officially become ugly.
For the next few minutes, Leticia stared on, mortified as her mother engaged these two visitors in a verbal war. A relentless, ferocious exchange of words. Exactly what she had been hoping would not happen.
But then, this uncle, who seemed a little too trigger happy with his words, started it, didn’t he? Where from the blame shifting?
“… and I am saying that he is a stupid man regardless! Instead of forgiving, you are holding grudges and chasing after girls that aren’t as educated and respectable as the woman you are married to. Isn’t he a pitiful excuse of a man?”
“He is still a man! And the fact remains that we men don’t like having our pride toyed with. If our wives fail to see that, then they only have themselves to blame when we get upset and hold on to certain things.”
“Hahahaha! Do you know how soaked in stupidity this statement is? So he has a right to not forgive? She must be perfect? Herh, you are even stupider than I thought. Idiot man!”
“You too, you are a foolish woman!”
Now the insults were being tossed back and forth in table tennis fashion, with Leticia’s mother and Thomas’ uncle trying to outdo each other with the most offensive description they could conjure. It was beginning to get embarrassing, with Thomas’ father looking humiliated at his brother’s passionate attacks.
“Please, everybody, please!” Leticia pleaded loudly, now fully upset. “Please, this isn’t going to help anyone. We’re all affected in one way or another, and all this won’t solve anything. Please!”
The uncle shot her a dirty look, still incensed. He had been set off, and it hardly looked like this appeal for calm had touched his heart in any way. “I don’t blame him. I don’t blame him at all,” he barked. “With a terrible woman like this for a mother, I’m very sure this is what you were doing to Thomas. No wonder he hated you so much!”
As Thomas’ father rebuked him, Leticia narrowed her eyes. Just as she was trying to calm things down, this uncle just wanted to carry on with his ludicrous fault-finding propaganda. His earlier suggestion had touched a raw nerve, and he clearly wasn’t ready to let it go.
“Daddy,” she said to Thomas’ father, “respectfully, I think we’ll have to have this discussion another time. Because I’m not ready to sit here and be made to feel lower than I already am. Please.”
Thomas’ father sighed. He had not anticipated his brother taking this route. Now the plans for a fruitful talk had been flushed down the drain. He glared at him as he nodded. “You’re right. This wasn’t the right time, after all.”
“My friend, it’s the perfect time! Isn’t it obvious what this boy was going through? Only God knows the kind of abusive behaviour poor Thomas suffered at the hands of this woman,” the uncle butted in, unwilling to give up.
“Herh, so you won’t leave? Wait for me, I’m coming!”
Anyone used to Nigerian movies would know that statement from Mrs. Adjei was a dangerous one, as she rushed back into the house. The senior Mr. Dawson saw this, and started to move, unsuccessfully trying to pull his brother away. He told Leticia he would call her as he walked away.
His brother, unperturbed, continued to stand before Leticia, pointing his finger at her. “You better understand this: you are not the innocent little widow you claim to be. Our son didn’t deserve to have his life tormented, however it was done, and I won’t lie, I’m more convinced than ever that whatever you did to him…”
The front door flung open, and there stood Mrs. Adjei, with a butcher’s knife in her hand. “You are still standing here, abi?”
That was his cue to flee.
It was embarrassing, yet slightly comical, how Mrs. Adjei chased him from the compound to the gate, waving the knife wildly as he fled for dear life. As he sped out of the gate, she stood at the entrance, spitting out the last bits of venom she could find beneath her tongue.
“Fool! Useless toke! Go on, run away! After your foolish son has destroyed my daughter’s life, you are coming to make things worse for her! Step here again, and I swear, I’ll use this to chop your tongue off! Try me and see!”
“Mummy, I miss Daddy. When is he coming back? And Sister Glori too.”
Days had passed since the fatal accident, and the children were yet to find out the truth. Another major headache for Leticia.
Having to tell Denise that her beloved daddy was never going to come back was a task too heart-rending for Leticia to carry out at that moment. She just couldn’t do it.
So she blinked back the tears as she lied, claiming that Thomas had been caught up in some big work and would be staying longer than usual.
As she kissed her daughter good night and left the room, she sighed, shaking her head.
An absolutely draining day.
So much anger and grief within her. And the events of the afternoon had not helped, either. She had had a bit of an exchange with her mother afterwards, registering her displeasure at the interruption and subsequent insults.
Taking a seat in the living room, she looked all around her, as she had done consistently for the past two weeks. Observing the empty seat where Thomas once occupied, then the numerous pictures around.
Then she sat back, allowing the tears to run down her cheeks as she sobbed and wondered whether it was grief of his death or grief at his now-revealed contempt of her that was the cause of her breakdown.
As she wiped her left eye, mind barely focused on the blaring television, her phone rang.
Picking it up, she expected it was the senior Mr. Dawson. But it was an unfamiliar number.
Waiting for Truecaller to reveal the person’s identity, her lips turned up in disgust as it did. The name of the caller was Francis Vanderpuye.
She immediately pressed the reject button, a loud ‘mtcheww’ from her lips as she tossed it aside.
The phone rang again, and she decided to ignore it. In all truthfulness, the last thing she wanted was to deal with the family of that girl.
“Rubbish,” she muttered. “After all I was ready to do for you, you jumped into bed with my husband. Ungrateful little bitch. They had better leave me alone. I don’t want anything to do with her. They can toss her body into the sea for all I care. I don’t give a damn.”
A lot of ugliness ongoing in the light of these passings. Hmmmm, this would be a very unpleasant place to find yourself. It really would…