“I think they want me to get one as a precaution,” Ike was saying. “They’re still investigating but it looks bad.”
“Ike-”, I said unable to voice out the question in my head.
“I didn’t do this honey,” he said reading my thoughts. “But whoever did seems determined to implicate me.” He got up and gave the baby to me and out a hand on my shoulder.
“’I’ll make some calls. Find out where I can get a good lawyer. We’ll get through this.”
I desperately wanted to believe him but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Suddenly, whatever I wanted to tell him about Titi seemed unimportant.
I went about the rest of the day in a daze and spent most of the night figuring out the worst possible scenario. Ike could get arrested. We may have to sell everything. We may lose this house. I might have a nervous breakdown. They may take my baby Anna from me for being an unfit mother. I tried to stem the flow of my active imagination. Of course, things couldn’t get as bad as that. I remember what my friend and pastor told me when I was undecided about whether to marry Ike or not.
“Only God knows the future Chinelo. No matter how much we speculate and try to figure out what may happen, He’s the One holding all the cards and He knows how to deal them. Instead of giving ourselves headaches and developing ulcers, we need to trust Him to be in charge and know that His plans towards us are for good and not evil.”
After hours of tossing and turning, I finally told God how I felt. I asked him to glorify himself in our situation and that Ike be proven innocent. All thoughts of Titi had vanished from my mind.
The next day I was casually looking online for job ads when my phone rang. It was Titi.
“I’m sorry to bother you Chinelo but I didn’t know who else to call. My husband is out of town.”
It turned out that she was in the neighborhood hospital. She had fallen down a flight of stairs and had to have her face stitched. She had managed to drive herself to the hospital but now she was a little dizzy whether from the anesthesia or the fall she didn’t know but she couldn’t drive herself back home.
I didn’t like the sound of this. Didn’t like it all. Why would she be falling down the stairs? Or did someone push her?
“I’m on my way,” I said. I left Anna with Christy and told her I needed to run a quick errand.
When I saw her, I almost wept. She looked pretty banged up. Although her injuries were not severe enough to warrant an admission except for observation which she vehemently refused, she still looked like a truck had run over her.
“Chinelo, thank you so much for coming,” she said gratefully. She put her hand in mine and I could trace her veins. She seemed so delicate and fragile. I looked at her face. The bruises were big and ugly and her face was swollen. Was this really a flight of stairs injury?
“Titi, something has been going on in your house.” I said directly as soon as we got into the car. “I’d like to know what it is. I want to help you.”
She shook her head. “It’s nothing Chinelo.”
“Don’t lie to me Titi. Someone has been acting really violent in your house. First the incident in your house the other day when I heard glass being shattered and now this. Is it your husband? Has he been beating you? You can tell me.”
She broke down in tears and my heart bled for her. “I can’t tell anyone Chinelo. He’ll kill me.”
I was shocked. That bad? “How long has this been going on?” I demanded to know.
She suddenly clammed up and wiped her tears. “Please Chinelo, I can’t talk about it any longer. Please. And you can’t breathe a word of it to anyone please. My husband is a wonderful man. I love him and he loves me,” she said in a flat voice.
“But-” I began
“No buts,” she interjected. “If you’re my friend like you say you are you would let this issue rest. And just take me home. And please not a word to anyone. I only fell down a flight of stairs.”
I was stunned by her denial. Titi was in some deep trouble here. Why would she want to pretend she was not? I said nothing but turned my attention to the road. In minutes we were in her house. “It must have been really difficult,” I said. “Finding your way to the hospital all by yourself.”
“I had no choice,” she said ruefully. Her two sons had gone off to spend the weekend at a family friends’ house. And the cut she had sustained wouldn’t stop bleeding.
I followed her into the house and tried to make sure she was comfortable. She looked really shaken up and was shivering. After some directions, I made her a cup of tea. Perhaps what she needed most was a friend at this moment. I would let the matter of her husband rest for now. But I couldn’t ignore it forever like she was doing. What if he got more and more violent? Who knew the horrors she had been through?
“Thank you so much Chinelo. My son told me that you had come to check on me the day before. You’re really a wonderful neighbor, going to all that trouble for someone you barely know. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to see you when you came.”
I debated again whether to tell her who I really was. But she looked so emotional and fragile I didn’t want to add another burden on her. The burden of guilt for something she had done so many years ago. I would tell her when she was stable.
“It’s no bother Titi,” I said and put on the television for her. She told me a bit about herself. How she had run a successful business in the fashion industry before moving to this estate.
“But my husband wants me now to focus on our children. They are growing into their teen years and you know how headstrong these boys can be.”
I didn’t know but I nodded sagely. I hoped somehow that I would be able to steer the topic back to her husband again but it didn’t happen for the hour and a half I sat with her
When I was leaving, I admonished her to call me if she needed anything. She told me she would be fine. That the maid would arrive in a couple of hours but yes, she promised to call me.
I went home with a heavy heart, my mind filled with different thoughts none of which was pleasant.