Eloho chose to sit on a separate couch when she joined her in laws and her mother, in the lavishly furnished sitting room some minutes later.
She wanted to see the eyes of the traitors, the liars and the backstabbers.
Once upon a time, she had been fooled into believing her mother in law cared about her.
“She’s like a mother to me” she had said to her younger Sister and even Tade on days they spoke about how badly Mahmood was treating her and how much she wanted to tell his mom.
“Don’t make Mahmood look bad when you tell her anything sha” Tade would say, anytime she decided it was time she let her mother in law know how badly her son behaved at home.
“Of course not. But I intend to tell her things have gone bad. She will understand, Tade. Don’t worry”
Now, as she sat opposite the 70 year old woman visibly mourning her son, her legs crossed on the maroon colored Couch, she wordlessly called herself a fool for thinking the woman loved her.
“Eloho, did you have any fight with your husband before he died?” her mother in law asked, but she knew she was asking something else. Something heavier, something she strongly suspected Eloho had done.
Something like; Did you kill your husband?
“No” Eloho replied firmly, her gaze set on her mother in law’s face. She too, like the elderly woman before her was answering a question deeper than the one being asked.
But the woman did not believe her and her face was an obvious proof of that. She shook her head slowly and sniffed, an indication that she’d shed a lot of tears since she learnt of her favorite child’s death.
Willing to lose the gloomy vision clad in Ankara Iro and Buba in front of her, Eloho’s eyes fell on the glass coffee table with gold legs that sat a few spaces away from her in the center of the sitting room.
Mahmood’s touch was everywhere in the House; his favorite color, Maroon was the color of the Sofa, he’d given the person who made the glass specific details on how to make the Coffee table. He had designed the dining table himself, chosen the colors on every single wall in the house, even the Kitchen.
He’d decided what shape her walk-in closet was going to take, the color of the drapes, the material of the drapes.
He’d put his signature on every single thing, even the clothes she wore. And somehow, before, when their love was stronger than Fuel and burnt brightly like wildfire, she had thought that was cute.
I think it’s beautiful
She had told Tade so many times. Tade, a man who had gradually become her best friend during her third year of marriage when things went bad, when her husband flung her across the wall with the words he spoke to her, when he took her heart and broke it into pieces like his coffee cup the day he died.
She still didn’t feel any form of remorse. Mahmood was supposed to die and he died.
“I think what mummy is trying to ask is why you killed him” it was Mutiat, Mahmood’s kid sister fearlessly hurling the words at her. Sitting near her eldest brother and his pregnant wife, Muti was wearing what seemed the Aso Ebi of mourning by the Garuba family; a lackluster Ankara material. It was what her eldest brother wore. It was what his pregnant wife wore.
Once upon a time, Eloho was stupid to believe Muti cared about her.
Initially, she’d hated her or as her elder brother had said, “She’s finding it hard warming up to the idea”
Mutiat’s best friend, Khadijat was Mahmood’s ex. Khadijat and Mahmood had dated on and off for four years and when the last breakup happened, Mutiat had been certain Mahmood would come around and had told Khadijat so.
However, Mahmood had shocked them all when he proposed to a woman they all said he barely knew.
And so Mutiat antagonized her. Eloho thought there was something she could do about it, so she lavished her with expensive gifts, took her out to fancy Restaurants, went to the movies with her more than she did with Mahmood, hoped she’d see it was all love from her end.
But like the first visit of harmattan in early December, she’d remained unapologetically harsh.
However, when on her wedding eve, Mutiat had asked for forgiveness and pledged her loyalty, Eloho had been fooled into believing Mutiat had come around.
Except she hadn’t; she was only giving a well-rehearsed speech courtesy of Mahmood.
“Did you not hear when the Doctor said it was cardiac arrest?” Eloho asked, her heart was beating fast; that happened to her whenever she was angry and she knew it was hard to keep a lid on her anger. It was the sign her body gave, to warn her of an impending outburst. Outbursts she couldn’t control when they came through.
Muti scoffed “Cardiac Arrest indeed” she waved her phone in Eloho’s face. “Google says poison can kill and make it seem like cardiac arrest and my brother drank coffee before he slumped that morning”
Mahmood’s mother sighed dramatically, Eloho watched her from the corner of her eyes. She was fishing for a white handkerchief from her bag, tears running uncontrollably down her elderly face.
Eloho knew she should feel something but again, for the thousandth time since she lost her husband, she felt numb.
“Did Google also tell you how badly behaved people are punished?”
Muti, utterly shocked, gaped at her sister in law. “Excuse me?” she asked when she finally found her voice. “Who are you talking to?” her voice thundered through the filled but quiet sitting room
“Clearly, your ears are not working as well as your fingers”
Muti charged towards her, barely inches away from her before being held firmly by Tade’s hands. Other family members stood – holding Muti – telling her to take things easy as Tade’s firm hands held her back to her seat.
Mahmood’s elder brother and his wife tried to calm her with words they spoke softly, words Muti either heard or chose to ignore. “Eloho, by the time I am done with you, they will cry for you in your Family”
“I reject that in Jesus name” Eloho’s mother said categorically where she sat. Until then, she had been a passive member of the ongoing situation in the sitting room.
“Mutiat, please take it easy” Mahmood’s elder brother Moshood said before leading his pregnant wife back to their seat.
“I didn’t kill your brother, you don’t have to believe it but I won’t be subjected to this bullshit interrogation when I should be mourning in peace” Eloho stood, “Excuse me”
“But you swore to kill him”
Adanna was standing at the entrance now, her swollen eyes fixated on Eloho’s slightly shorter frame. Adanna’s obvious reaction to Mahmood’s death bore a striking contrast to Eloho’s.
She’d chosen a bland grey Boubou which did nothing for her curvy features and her hair was tucked beneath a black head wrap. No jewelry of any sort adorned her face or neck but the bright diamond ring sitting on her fourth finger was too evident to ignore.
Pain cracked through Eloho’s heart like an earthquake in an unsuspecting City, when she realized Mahmood had proposed to her before he died.
Ignoring the unwanted visitor, she made for the door to the room she once shared with her unfeeling late husband. Mahmood had behaved to her like she were a stranger, like the love they once shared was nothing more than a chapter in a romance novel, like he never once treated her like the Queen of the most important kingdom the Earth had ever seen.
“I still have the recording, you know?” Adanna’s voice stopped her just as her hands found the doorknob. “The one you asked me to delete” her hands became shaky now as she realized what Adanna was about to do. “That dark night when you paid me a visit in my flat and tried to bribe me” she sniffed, “I have a recording of that too, you know?”
Eloho’s voice caused her to shut her eyes tightly, her hand holding the wall for support, she was about to be exposed; tables were about to be turned and she was not ready for it.
Mahmood, I will kill you! I will waste your blood like you’re not the father of my Son. Your family will mourn you in your young age… Mahmood Garuba, you will die!
She heard her mother in law gasp.
“And this one…”
Adanna, I know you already have him but please do something for me… actually, two things; delete that recording and please tell me how much you need, to go away. Why do I want to have the recording deleted? I don’t want anything to come and bite me in the ass.
Muti’s hands tugged at her maxi dress, ripping it into two before making for her virgin human hair. Muti had dealt her several blows, leaving her dazed before Tade, again, came to her rescue.
“I told you people, this Bitch killed Mahmood. She did it” Muti yelled, struggling to go free from the grips of her brother and his wife. “Let me kill her! Useless woman!”
“Let the Law handle her” Moshood said calmly. After he took his little sister to her seat, he turned to face Eloho, a distressed look on his face. “Eloho, I’m sorry but we might have to involve the Police”
Finally, my latest Ebook, a Novella (which means it is a short story and less than a 100 pages) drops tomorrow morning by God’s grace.
I had fun writing this book and I know you guys would probably think, ‘doesn’t she have fun writing every story?’ Not really. LOL. This is a story that takes on cheating, love and what happens after the heartbreak. It also deals with life after death in the most lighthearted way possible.
While doing all these, With Love, From The Grave poses different questions – Is it okay to leave your marriage when you’re not happy anymore and honestly cannot make it work? What matters more in marriage; Sticking to commitment or happiness? Is it really worth it knowing the things that happen behind our backs?
I look forward to discussing the themes this book tackles after y’all read. Thankfully, it’s quite short and we can have the discussion as early as next week.
So please guys, support your girl and credit your Okada Books account already. Don’t miss out on the story you helped find a name for. And a story that reminds you life is more than black and white.
PS: As of now, Okada Books is still not on iOS even though there are plans for that underway. So PLEASE, if you don’t use a phone with the Android operating system or the BB10 operating system or cannot do this via your Laptop. Then abeg, don’t try. I’d hate to see your account get debited without getting the services you so desire.
With Love, From The Grave is just for N500. Bless you as you support.
– Tomilola Coco Adeyemo