Kene signed the delivery papers and mumbled some greetings in French as he handed them back to the freckle-faced delivery guy. He didn’t respond, the freckle-faced delivery guy; he only collected the papers, nodded, hopped into his delivery Van and zoomed off. Kene wasn’t surprised nor upset, like he used to be when he just moved to Paris. Twelve years of living with them had taught him that the French were one of those people that almost always seemed to be in a hurry – so much that they sometimes couldn’t respond to greetings.
He stood hands akimbo and trailed the yellow Van with his eyes until it disappeared around the turn then, he reached for the last of the things he had to his name in France – a camouflage backpack and a black suitcase; both holding all he thought he had to go with – walked down the driveway and away from the condo he had called ‘home’  for four years and flagged down the first taxi he saw by the roadside.
His flight at Roissy Airport was for 2300 hours. He had three hours to boarding.
I have been here for twenty-three nights. Well, it’s the twenty-third night tonight and I’m hoping it’d be my last. I want to go home. When, about two years ago, I had to come in the first time, I was twenty-one and had spent thirty-two nights and all of dad’s savings. I was later released to go home after a ton of tests and investigations, score dozen of blood and water transfusions, and no precise conclusions reached. Mum and dad were not satisfied with the doctors’ reports but I’d improved and I was most happy to be going back home.
I was soon back there, only six weeks later, in the same ward but a different bed. This one was at least, a little more comfortable. I didn’t have to toss and turn a gazillion times before finding a suitable spot to sleep off in. That I had a comfortable bed did not mean I loved being back; I don’t know anyone who loves dwelling in pains.
The pains are everywhere. They had started in my back and have now spread to my entire body; my back still hurts the most though – my lower back, and mum’s heart. Dad’s pocket also hurts badly. His heart must be hurting too but, dad doesn’t exactly express his emotions so, no one really knows how he feels; well, except mum and of course, God.
There were twelve nights the second time. Twelve nights of worse pains, more expensive tests, lots of needles and blades mutilating my flesh, machines and test results that had names I could not pronounce and Multiple Myeloma.
Kene had flown so much so that flying made no difference to him anymore. This one turned out different – restless nerves, palpitating heart, belaboured breathing. As the craft taxied on the runway and finally took off, he almost had his heart jump out of his mouth.
“Calm down Kene” He whispered to himself. “For the love of God, calm down!”
The last time he could remember himself being this nervous was twelve years ago. Twelve years ago, he had left Chidiebere, the child in her womb and everything else for Paris with one backpack, one hundred dollars and a phone number. Twelve years ago, Kene chose what he thought mattered most in his life – singing.
He had the voice of an angel, he knew it and he had heard it from tons of people more times than he could count. He had sung from cradle – with his mother, with his sisters, with Chidiebere and, when Chidiebere became pregnant, he had hoped she’d have a girl that could sing like he could.
“You have a daughter” Chidiebere had written in the mail she sent him two days after she had their child, “She’s pretty and I hope her voice is too”.
The picture of their two-day old daughter she had attached at the end of the mail – a tiny pink bundle with the cutest smile.
“Kenechukwu, she can sing, and beautifully too! ” That was Chidiebere’s mail when their daughter, Somtochi, turned three.
” Kenechukwu, when are you coming home? I miss you dearly and Somtochi needs her father”. That was another mail.
He never replied any of the mails; and Chidiebere sent one every month – for twelve years.
Jacques had told him that he needed to focus, dwelling on all he left back home would distract him from attaining his goal – a world renowned and celebrated music artiste. Jacques told him many things, he promised him many things, and a lot of those things came to pass. His career as the guitar-wielding songster became nationally and even internationally celebrated. He was booked for a gig every other day and he had even performed at the inaugural ball of the president in 2012.
The accolades rolled in so fast he became too popular for Jacques to control. The money came in too, so did the girls and cars. He ditched Jacques for another manager and got better deals.
He had it all, but it didn’t make sense without Chidiebere – and Somtochi. His success without them had no meaning.
Eight days ago, like the prodigal son, Kene jumped out of bed earlier than he normally would, picked up his phone and dialled the travelling agency. He then replied the mail Chidiebere had sent two days before – her eighth in the year and the first he’d replied in twelve years.
“Chid’eb, I’m coming home. My flight is for Thursday. I’ll land at MMA for 5am Friday morning”
Concluding part next week!