The death of Richard’s wife had hit him so hard. He blamed himself for everything that had happened, everywhere he went, and the people he saw reminded him of her. Opha however stuck to him despite him being unresponsive to her. She knew he blamed the two of them for her death but she just wasn’t going to let him go. He was the only one who could save her from the disgrace which was looming ahead for her. That afternoon, she took lunch to him in his office since he had decided to go on hunger strike. She took it upon herself to take lunch to him every day which he hardly even touched.
Richard: “Oh you are here? I told you to stop doing this, I don’t think its even helping issues at all” he said matter of fact.
Opha: “But I want to keep doing it anyway and I doubt you can stop me. At least until I am rest assured that you are taking proper care of yourself. How is Annie and Sammy? Hope the nanny is taking good care of them?” she asked as she unpacked the lunch box, serving him coconut rice with enough plantain and fried
chicken. He just looked at the food and shook his head.
“What is it now?” her patience was already on the low level.
Richard: “I am not hungry” he looked away from her.
Opha: ‘For how long do you want to keep this up? Tell me. Haven’t you punished yourself enough? Its been three months for Christ sake” she snapped at him.
Richard: “She died because I neglected her. my wife, the mother of my children died because I could not see how much she was suffering, because of my callousness. What will I tell my kids when they ask of her later on? I
am really a terrible man” Ophelia could see he was trying so hard not to cry. She felt anger towards the dead for making the living suffer so much.
Opha: “Look here…”she moved closer, facing him “Your wife’s death was not your fault. She died because it was her time to die. What exactly would you have done if she had eventually succeeded in telling you? Are
you God? Can you give and take life? Answer me can you?”
He looked at her and shook his head slowly.
Richard: “but at least I would have shown her all the love I have. I wouldn’t have allowed her to go through it all alone. I even denied her pregnancy. Imagine how heartless I was? She must have cried so much. She must have longed for me all those cold nights and now
she is rotting in the lonely grave” the tears started flowing freely.
Opha: “It’s okay? It’s going to be fine. I am here for you. I have even resigned at my place of work so I can fully dedicate my time to taking care of you, Sammy and Annie. I don’t trust all those nannies so I will be going to your house as soon as I leave this place?”
Richard: “You really resigned? Hmmmm! Are you sure that is a good move? You will not regret it later?”
Opha: “My regretting it or not depends on you. Now start eating while I watch you, your lunch break will soon be over and you will have to resume work” she watched with satisfaction as he devoured the food with fervour. She smiled at how vulnerable he was at that moment like a bulldog who had strayed from home and
was lost from home.
Opha and her dad, Prof. Harrison were in their sitting room engaged in a heated argument
Prof. Harry: “I said no! You cannot marry a widower. That will sincerely be over my dead body. What kind of disgrace are you trying to put me through? Are you crazy?”
Opha: “I am crazy and that is why I am even thinking of getting married at all. Had I been in my right senses, I would not have been having this talk with you sir!” she shot back at him with vigour matching his.
Prof. Harry: “Woman what have you been feeding this daughter of yours while I am away? Haven’t you been teaching her anything at all? What is wrong with the two of you?” he said facing his wife with eyes spitting fire and brimstone.
Maggy: “Opha calm down! Don’t make me into a bad mother and just listen to us. How can you decide it’s a widower with two young children you want to marry despite your level of education? You have so many suitors, just pick one of them ehn?”
Opha: “No! he is my choice and if you refuse to
accept my choice, then be ready to lose me” she said and stormed out of the house.
Maggy went to her husband and knelt down in front of him.
Prof. Harry: “What’s this? Please stand up already”
Maggy: “Please allow her to marry whoever she wants, I beg you. Don’t forget it’s her life and she has the right of choice. We can only guide her but if she refuses to listen to us, let’s let her be. I don’t want to lose my only child”
Prof. Harry: “So you are asking me to allow her marry a man whose wife died? Do you know what killed her?”
Maggy: “Well I know that she wil be fine. Don’t forget she has never talked about any man before. This one is the first, there must be something that made her go for this one. So let’s give them a chance”
He thought for a while…
Prof. Harry: “Okay then but I wouldn’t want to hear it if things start going wrong. You two will bear it all alone” he said and walked out on her while she was still on her knees.
She took lunch to him in the office as usual and begged him to walk with her briefly. As they sat on the fence around the fountain in front of the office, she thought of how to ask him over and over again.
Richard; “Is there something you want to tell me dear?”
Opha: “Yeah there is and please you must not panic. I gave this a lot of thought before making this decision and I think it’s the right thing to do”
Richard: “What is it dear? Don’t worry I will not panic, just bring it on already”
She brought out a small box tied with a light blue ribbon, she opened it and two sparkling diamond rings kissed the sunlight. She knelt down in front of him.
Opha: “Will you marry me Richie?”
To be continued....
How should Richie answer this powerful QUESTION???