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A Thorn in the Flesh by Excel Olunusi

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It was time for their case to be called, but she was nowhere to be found. The lawyer’s eyes darted around the courtroom. It seemed she had suddenly vanished from the vision range. To the lawyer’s dismay, the magistrate had to adjourn the case since the plaintiff (his client) was absent from the court hearing. The magistrate had also stated that his client would automatically lose the case if she didn’t show up at the following court hearing. As soon as the magistrate fixed a final date for the judgment, the lawyer’s phone rang – it was his client. She nonchalantly told him that she went to a nearby restaurant to eat and she heard when the registrar called the case but the food she was eating was too important to her to leave it. He angrily ended the call, it was not the first time that he was defending a client and protecting their lands from being taken from them forcefully or unlawfully but it was the first time he was dealing with a case in which the party concerned behaved so relaxed and indifferent. He would have doubted her ownership of the land but for the fact that all legal documents proved that she was the owner of the land. He remembered her coming to his office a few weeks ago to complain that some unknown persons had hijacked her land and had started constructing a building on the land. He hadn’t been shocked as it wasn’t the first time he had heard of such he had a reputation of always helping the rightful owners and winning such cases in court. Within a year, he had won over twenty similar cases and his fame had spread like a wildfire. He was willing to help his client but she was not forthcoming, nevertheless, he continued pushing the case, there was no way he could ever let such a case go without justice. The appointed day for the final hearing came and to his greatest relief, his client was present. He walked majestically into the courtroom as he took his seat confident that he had won the case. It was when the registrar called the case, that he discovered that his client was nowhere to be found. His head hung in shame as he heard the magistrate declare the defendant as the rightful owner of the one-acre. With tears in his eyes, he left the courtroom, it was the first time he lost a case concerning a dispute on land matters and it didn’t help that news reporters surrounded him like ants surrounding sugar waiting for him to comment on how he felt.

 

She paced up and down the corridor of the hospital with fear and anger written visibly over her. She hated the fact that the hospital had become her second home because of the carelessness of her son-in-law. Tears streamed down her face as she remembered the accident scene as it occurred. She and her husband had gone to visit their daughter who had recently given birth to a male child. They had been very excited because it was the first time they’ll have a male grandchild. They squealed in delight as they boarded the bus that would convey them from the village to the nearest bus stop. They had packed luggage enough for a week. To their utmost dismay, when they got to the gate of their daughter’s house, it was locked with a padlock and she was no longer picking up her calls. They tried calling her husband but his number was also not available. They were devastated and couldn’t think of any possible reason why no one was around, including the housemaid. They were left with no choice but to wait for their arrival since they did not have extra money for transport with them which made her agitate while her husband tried to calm her down. They resolved to sit by the gate and await the arrival of their daughter and son-in-law. As they sat down, she felt flushed, her jaws were clenched and her mouth looked dry as it was not the first time, they were sitting outside the gate waiting for their arrival. The honk of a vehicle soon jerked her back to reality as she jumped up in fright. She watched in horror as the vehicle hit her husband who had fallen asleep. He fell to the ground with a great thud that sent cold shivers down her spine. She was sure he was already lifeless as she observed that he was not moving. The driver of the vehicle hurriedly came down but it was too late, her husband had died. She fixed her gaze on the driver thinking of ways to avenge her husband’s death. As the driver lifted his head she realized that he was her son-in-law. She suddenly heard a scream from within the vehicle and she rushed only to find her daughter struggling to breathe. She instructed her son-in-law to drive them to the nearest hospital immediately. She stared expressionlessly as her daughter was rushed to the emergency ward while her husband’s corpse was taken to the mortuary. It was indeed a tragic moment for her.

 

His wife stared at him as he paced to and fro looking irritated like an open wound. His lips were curled and his face contorted with rage as he seemed lost, in a faraway land. His behavior was strange and it was the first time she was seeing him in such a mood; he had always been a sweet and calm man. He refused to eat the food his youngest daughter served him which made everyone’s jaws drop since she was his favorite child. He kept yelling at anyone who tried coming near him till he stumped into his room which left his wife with no other choice but to go to his room. On her way she heard unusual sounds and rushed to open the door only to find her husband throwing everything he could lay his hands on on the floor ranging from the clothes in the wardrobe to the books on the bookshelf as well as other items. She was short of words as it seemed as if the room had somehow transformed into a dunghill that had been abandoned for centuries. Different thoughts of why her husband was behaving in such a manner clouded her mind but none seemed reasonable or realistic. Her heart broke when she noticed that his eyes were misty and tears were threatening to fall. She unconsciously ran to hug him as a tear slid down his left eye. He kept on crying like a newborn baby and couldn’t utter a word when he tried to talk. Amidst the incessant tears, he dropped the news like a bombshell – he had been sacked because of a nosy female co-worker. She had implicated him by going to meet the managing director to ask for an upgrade of their monthly salary though everyone knew that the company was on the verge of collapsing. The most irritating thing was that she had spoken on his behalf too without informing him. The managing director had angrily asked them to leave the premises and he had even threatened to file a case if they came near the company or its environment. His wife patted the back of his head soothingly and he found comfort in her bosom. His co-worker had been insensitive and it was natural that the managing director reacted that way she explained as she rubbed his back. His work was his life and he was very angry that his co-worker had made him lose his job. He vowed to deal with her the next time he sets his eyes on her.

 

He restrained himself from slapping his wife with all his strength as she ranted and nagged about unimportant issues like how he only flushed the closet after urinating instead of washing it with detergent, harpic toilet wash, hypo, and other disinfectants. He regretted getting married to her. Ever since they married, she had always looked for one fault or the other; faults that were not even qualified to be called faults. She had once starved him because he pressed the tube of toothpaste in the middle rather than at the bottom. On another occasion, she accused him of not loving her because he forgot to turn off the light in the room before sleeping. She was always finding means to blackmail him emotionally. She had on one occasion called her parents to tell them that he didn’t care for her at all because he had forgotten to buy only one cloth out of the numerous lists of clothes she asked him to buy. He was getting fed up with her and each time he tried to talk to her about it, she accused him of being domineering. He sought counsel from his friends who advised him to divorce her but he couldn’t bring himself to be separated from the love of his life. He had a firm belief that she would change for the better but it seemed as if she got worse as the days went by. He had returned home one fateful day to meet the whole house littered and dirty, scared that something had happened to his darling wife, he shouted her name in fear as he ran towards their bedroom only to meet his wife devouring a plate of rice, plantains, and fried chicken as well as chilled orange juice. She didn’t even react to his shouts of her name and pretended as if she didn’t know he was back. He slumped on the bed exhausted as he inhaled deeply. He tiredly asked for his meal to which she nonchalantly replied that she didn’t prepare any food for him. His fists formed a bump and his body shook with anger and he wept bitterly as he lamented. He had had a bad day at work and had expected at least food in his house. He angrily stood up and picked up his keys intending to drive to the nearest restaurant but on second thought he headed towards his lawyer’s office to file for a divorce. “Enough is enough” he reasoned as he ignited the car and the engine roared to life. He was done living such a life. He needed peace of mind and sanity.

 

He wished he could do something, or anything, as he watched the little girl struggle for survival but there was little or nothing he could do at that point. In his numerous years of working as a medical practitioner, he had never experienced a situation as awkward as that. The first time he had seen her was when she was rushed on a stretcher into the emergency room. He had been the one on duty that fateful day and he had been shocked to see a little girl so pale and unhealthy. He had wondered how her parents had watched her health deteriorate to that extent. She had been operated upon and her health had been improving gradually until the day her mother came and requested that she be discharged. She had claimed that the blood of Jesus was enough to make her daughter whole which had made him baffled since he was a pastor in a renowned church and understood that miracles happen when the sickness defy medical treatment or when there was no means to take care of the sick person. As the concerned and compassionate man that he was, he had explained to her that her daughter needed to spend more time in the hospital so that her health could be monitored but she bluntly refused. He tried speaking to her husband but it seemed as if she was the one controlling him and he had no say of his own. After dragging the issue back and forth, he had no choice but to discharge the little girl especially after the mother threatened to sue him for abduction. He had instructed her to sign an undertaken that if anything happened to the little girl, it would be her fault and she signed it indifferently. With pity and compassion, he released the little girl after her mother rejected his offer to treat the girl for free against her husband’s will. It was not up to three months before she was brought back to the hospital in a state worse than she was when she was brought in the previous time. Her father had rushed her in against her mother’s will but it was too late, her health had deteriorated, her white cells had decreased and her immunity had worsened. Tears welled up in his eyes. She was too young for the pain she was passing through and it had all been her insensitive mother’s fault. He was not shocked when he was informed the following day that the little girl had kicked the bucket. It was indeed a painful experience.

 

She sat down on the floor in her room and stared at the ceiling. Her heart sank as tears slid down her cheeks freely. She didn’t make any attempt to clean the stray tears that slid into her mouth as she wailed. If anyone needed to describe the word “disaster” pointing at her would suffice. Her life had been a total disaster and she had been a thorn in the flesh of many people. Her carelessness had cost her father’s life; if she hadn’t nagged the day her husband was driving her home, he would probably have seen her father and his death would have been averted and her mother wouldn’t have started avoiding her completely. Her nonchalance made her lose her daughter even when the doctor was willing to treat her without collecting a penny. Her insensitivity made the managing director of her workplace lay her off, as well as her co-worker, though it was entirely her fault. Her indifference made a famous lawyer lose the case in the court thereby spoiling the records he had been building for years. Her husband, who stood by her even after the house help ran away claiming she could not cope, already filed for a divorce because of her overbearing attitude. She didn’t know what to do as she felt helpless and alone. She was lost in her world as she reminisced about her past errors. Her husband had told her that the best he could do for her was to put her in a home for mentally deranged persons after divorcing her legally but she didn’t like the idea. She felt as if her world was crumbling and didn’t see the need to live. The thought of committing suicide flashed through her mind but she couldn’t bring herself to stab herself with a knife nor hang herself to the ceiling with a rope. After much deliberation, she went to a pharmaceutical store with the little ounce of energy in her and bought a pesticide. The chemist must have noticed that she was distraught and inevitably figured out what she was about to do as she noticed a crowd of people including the chemist following her closely. She ran to her house and quickly closed the gate shutting all of them out. With the pesticide clutched in her hand, she trudged towards her bedroom leaving all the doors wide open. By the crowd succeeded in breaking down the gate it was too late; she had already crossed to the world beyond.

 

 

About the Writer

Excel Olunusi

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