Doreen and Samuel were delightful that the long spell of poverty was finally over. They had lived from hand to mouth for far too long but finally the long hand of divine fortune had finally knocked on their door.
The two had experienced quite a good share of food dearth, house evictions and mockery for their penury . An unwanted pregnancy fanned the already huge flames. But the poor week old infant could not last the insufficient breast milk that the mother was producing. Doreen had nothing to feed to increase her milk flow.
Samuel and Doreen had met in a bus heading to the capital city. He had been job hunting while Doreen had come to live with her aunty to have a break from the village life. The two got on like a house on fire. Samuel took her number as they parted ways and that was the start of a great relationship. Days later, Doreen complained of mistreatment from her aunt and her husband. Sam could not stand the thought of having her back home. He impulsively invited her to stay with him and together they struggled with Doreen managing to feed them from doing laundry for the upper bourgeoisie at a fee.
So three years later, Samuel passed an interview in a huge company that was nice enough to give him an allowance to settle down fast in order to fully focus on his work. Samuel and his girlfriend were over the moon!
Samuel did as instructed by his company boss. They shifted to a better house and happily settled. Doreen played her part in ensuring he had neat formal clothes everyday. She was determined to make her man look so good that no one would in the workplace would know the problems they had encountered. It had been a bad past for them that was now over.
Samuel loved Doreen. She was very beautiful and fully supportive. He even wanted to make an honest woman out of her in the recent future when he had earned enough. With Doreen by his side, he had closed the dating and searching door in his life.
Nevertheless, Olive, the cute HR specialist at Sam’s workplace did not care about any closed doors especially when it came to the new dashing young guy who had joined the company. Olive was smitten by Samuel’s affable personality. He also dressed immaculately and his dexterity too intrigued her. There was a rumour that he was seeing someone. But as long as she did not see any ring on his finger, he was hers.
She used all her seductive skills to nab Samuel. She schemed bumping into him or brushing her body next to his or sometimes requesting for his assistance on a piece of her work. Soon everyone in the workplace knew that Olive had eyes for Samuel.
Samuel, although he had no plans to give in to Olive’s woos, enjoyed the attention. Olive was a knockout. She could want any man but she had set eyes on him. His male colleagues had even proclaimed their envy at him.
However, what occupied his mind was arranging a formal union with Doreen. This meant he had to see her parents officially, pay dowry and then finalise with visiting the AG’s office. He was glad Doreen was not the type to demand for an ostentatious wedding.
“Sweetheart, there is a end of year couple’s party at the office. Will you come over?” He asked Doreen.
“Are you even asking? Of course!” She answered elatedly.
When the day finally arrived, Sam and his colleagues rushed home to spruce up and pick their spouses. He and his soon to be wife were the last to arrive. They laughed at how much they had lollygagged at the house causing them to be late. Then they bumped into Olive and her partner. There was an awkward silence until Samuel spoke.
“Madam Olive, meet my girlfriend Doreen. Sweetheart, meet my colleague Olive and her…?” Samuel said, not sure how to introduce the man next to her because he looked much younger.
“Brother, I could not miss this party for the world just because I have no spouse. I brought along my brother.” She said, shaking their hands and at the same time sizing Doreen up.
“Preasure,to meet you Orif, I am Doleen.” Doreen said confidently. Olive’s brother giggled, Olive made a controlled chuckle. Samuel was surprised at their rudeness. He held his wife’s hand and went away.
“Oh My God, did you hear?Orif? Doleen?” Olive and her brother were left laughing at Doreen’s strong accent. But they would not be the only people to laugh albeit most of them did behind Doreen’s back until one of the young colleagues who seemed to have taken far too many glasses of alcohol was brave enough.
“Sam…from which village did you pluck this one? No one would have thought you have such a shady girlfriend. I hear she has letters r and l all confused up! Dude! Your girl is so…!” And he was down on the floor before he could finish his sentence. Sam had given him a thunderous blow on his face. Everything went quiet. Sam looked around and angrily urged his wife to follow him out.
“I am solly to emballass you rike that!” She said.
“No,don’t apologize for who you are, ok. Those guys were just petty. Let’s sleep and forget about all that.” He said as they retired to bed. Doreen smiled contentedly, feeling lucky to have Samuel.
On the other hand, Samuel, even though he had belittled the whole issue with Doreen, found himself thinking about the party issue that weekend. He had noticed that his colleagues’ wives and girlfriends fitted so well in the clique. Doreen had found a hard time understanding their conversations. Compared to the chic women he had seen there, Doreen would need a million buck’s polishing to get to their rank.
That Monday morning, he woke up feeling groggy.
“Babe, waky waky. I have evelything plepared for you to go and work.” She said nudging him lightly as he slept under the blankets. She called him again.
“Alright I heard you the first time!” He shouted, surprising Doreen. She wondered what had irritated him that early. He dressed up silently amidst making angry mutters to himself. Any comment Doreen made was met by a frown or a shrug from Samuel. He took a small bite of the two slices of bread Doreen had prepared and went to work unceremoniously.
Upon arrival at work, he skipped the usual greetings he often started with and went to his desk rebuffing any colleague who tried having a conversation with him. However, he listened to Olive.
“Sam, you seem to be so tensed. You know I can make all the tension go away.” She said.
“How?” He asked curiously.
She went behind him and started to knead his shoulder blades. He sighed with pleasure and even closed his eyes as he enjoyed Olive’s hands on him. Then she stopped abruptly.
“I can do much more later in the evening. I will send you the directions to my place.” She whispered to him and left him wanting more.
Samuel’s two inner voices argued the whole day until the evil one won over the good one that kept pestering him to think of Doreen. Olive kneaded and pleased every part of Samuel’s body causing a ripply satisfaction that made him slide into a heavenly slumberland. Early morning the next day, he woke up and looked around then jumped off the bed quickly when he realized what he had done but he gave in again to Olive’s cooing and persuasion to come back to bed to her .
Suffice to say, Olive had Sam where she wanted. She convinced him to chase Doreen back to the rurals. He was besotted enough not to see the pain in Doreen’s eyes as she begged him to reconsider his decision. Her delay irked him so much that he threw her belongings out.
“Quick, you are wasting my time!” He bellowed.
She finally did leave, sad that he would not let her tell him the good news. It would not be good news to him anyway. She wondered how her mother would react. Doreen knew she would only be adding more problems especially after the demise of their father. But she had no where else to go.
Bu her mother welcomed her with open arms.”Doreen, don’t worry. They always come back. When they realise that they have lost treasure while chasing trash, they come back to their senses. Your father chased after every skirt he could but he always came back.” She said.
Doreen knew that Sam would not change his mind. He had made it clear that he was disgusted by Doreen’s lack of class. She would take care of her baby all by herself.
The baby was a stunning replica of his father. The village never lacked food so this baby grew healthy and quickly. Her elder brother had also helped her enroll in a local college for a hairdressing course. She learnt the skills fast and perfectly and this worked to her advantage. Customers flocked at her home everyday and when they looked at the mirror after she was done with them, they were not disappointed.
Soon, Doreen saved enough to start her own salon. She enrolled her son to playgroup. She was grateful that he had a happy environment around him. The father figure gap was filled by her two brothers. He was a happy child.
“So are excited that it’s new year now?” She asked Sam Jnr as she prepared him for his first day in school in the new year in after a long holiday. He nodded excitedly.
“Mum, is Tr Jane still going to be our teacher?” He asked but her mother calling her interrupted them.
“Yes mum!” Doreen answered back.
“There’s someone here to see you!” Doreen wondered why a client would come so early. She almost fell to a stupor when she saw her father’s child standing outside her mother’s house.
“What are you doing here, aren’t you hoing to dirty yourself from the village dirt?” She asked controlling the hot anger boiling deep inside her. He beseeched her that she listens to him. She was in a hurry, she said, so he better sum it all up quickly.
He aplogized for how he had mistreated her. He was wrong and stupid to lose her for that puppeteer, Olive. He wondered whether Doreen would be forgiving enough to take him back.
Doreen listened as he begged her for another chance.
“What happened with her?” She asked.
“I was foolish to listen to her. She knew I had access to the company’s finances so she convinced me to steal from the company. Then she disappeared one day with all the money. I have had the worst days of my life the past few months. ”
“Mum, why is the stranger crying?” Sam Jnr caught them off guard. Samuel stared at the young lad in shock. He knew the young boy was his son. He wanted to embrace him but the young man clung to his mother’s skirt frighteningly. Samuel kept asking Doreen why she did not tell him all this time. She knew he had the answer.
“He needs to go to school now.” Doreen said. When she came back, he was still in her mother’s compound. She had thought about his request on her way back.
“Sam, I will never change who I am. I will always be the girl with the village in her. You, you showed your true colours once. Now you want me because you think I will stand by you in your difficult times. But how about when you get back on your feet again? Will not be ashamed of my rural-ness?”
“No, I have learnt my lesson.” Samuel said desperately.
“So have I, once bitten, twice shy.” She said with finality. Like a dying donkey, he threw his last kick. “What about our son, doesnt he need a father?”
She told him he was welcome to see him anytime. He would need to really work on that because the boy had not lacked any fatherly love. Seeing there was nothing left more for him, he walked away drooping his shoulders.
“If only I was as wise as you years ago.” Her mother standing behind her daughter said solemnly. “Some mistakes should not be given second chances, or else they will cost one greatly.”
Doreen studied her mother who looked too old for her age. There was a lot of sadness behind the strong facade she put on . For the first time, her mother showed regret in staying with an adulterous man. She often talked as if it was ok to endure a bad marriage.
“I would not think of leaving my husband in my times. Any single woman was considered a husband snatcher. I cried everyday at my husband’s philandering yet when death finally stopped him, I was too old to have a second chance in life.”
Doreen needed no more assurance that she had done the right thing. She went to open her salon, often adjusting her earphones as she jovially sang along to Mariah’s Carey song, Hero.
There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away………