Comfort had been with the research institute for more than ten years, and thought she could at least buy some rights from her years of service
Through the window, she saw her colleagues go about their business. She had been haunted by a restless spirit for some weeks, now. She knew she had gotten over the loss of Edmund –time and work healed her. She got up from the file that was before her, and walked closer to the window, it was of no use, she could not get herself to pen her signature, but her HOD’s haunting words sneered her in the face:
“We are all together in this, Comfort. You either sign or .....”
He allowed the sharp silence to bring cold shivers down her spine. He had never been this stern with her, even after the death of her husband, he had ploughed the fallow land, diligently and in the most discrete manner. The breeze from outside made her shiver; it brought back the ill feelings, once more. Comfort turned and walked straight to her desk, picked up her bag, and locked the door behind her. There was a panel waiting for her.
There was so much murmur in the room, but at the pronouncement of the Chairman, the room grew powerlessly cold, and quiet, that one could hear a pin drop at that very moment; it was a moment of trial for her who stood dumbfounded at their verdict. She could not believe the lies in their eyes, or why they went as far as setting her up just to purge her from the system.
Comfort had been with the research institute for more than ten years, and thought she could at least buy some rights from her years of service, but it was obviously a gang up. Her HOD could not bring up his face to look at her; he had only used her for his pleasures. Instead, she picked up her file, turned her back to them and walked away without a fight.
People swarm about like flies at the train station: hawkers waved their leather wallets, shoes, boiled groundnuts, tiger nuts and whatever they thought the travellers would need for the long journey ahead. They wouldn’t be allowed into the train, but they made efforts to press hard on the glass, and one could not help but look at them. Comfort had her head to the glass, but she could not see them. Her stomach was certainly hungry for a bite, but her lips had been pressed against each other since she left her home.
Her credibility had been questioned, and she was advised to resign, because she could not take the sabotage no more. She had nowhere to go, and certainly wouldn’t want to go back to Nsukka, no. Nsukka had tore her apart, and left her in the open. It was Daura that gave her refuge, at the time nobody wanted to look at her CV. It was painful to graduate with a first class, but money bought over her slot as a graduate assistant. They made her wait, only to feed her hot coals. She sighed.
She thought about her quiet office that overlooked the sandy planes of Daura. She wondered who would take her place in the office as the new research assistant, how he might be forced to give in to signing projects that never took place or attesting to members of staff that really never existed. She thought about the green house at the back of her house, the plants she left in the laboratory and Edmund’s grave. When they met, he never wanted to go back to Scotland, that was why she had him buried in Daura. She had sat with him for the very last time, before she made her way to the train station.
Some one gently tapped her shoulders, she had slipped into a deep sleep while she waited for people to board, it would be a long ride to Enugu, but she had the least idea of what waited for her return. Comfort flipped her tired eyes open, and looked up. The train was taking its first leap, while it’s loud horn blasted off people from the rail tracks. The image before her swayed.
“May I sit?”
She noticed a bag on the space beside her. Comfort gradually removed her bag, dropped it at her feet and dropped her mind back to the glass. She heard him wince, and she turned to him. He was hurt and had one arm hanging on a bandage that crossed around his neck. Comfort jumped up, helped him with his bag and he settled down, comfortably beside her.
“Thank you. I am Clement.”
Comfort looked at a shinny set of teeth in-between that sat on a chocolate face, and then threw her face to the other side, without another word, she fell back to sleep.
It was not too long before they were befallen by a storm. The crack of the lightning and thunder roused Comfort from a deep sleep, and she jumped to her feet. People around looked at her as though she was sick. The man sitting beside her watched her closely. The lightning and thunder took her back to the night she lost Edmund. She had begged him to leave the car outside, but he insisted to take it into the parking lot. She watched from the glass door while Edmund was consumed by lightning. She could not help him.
Comfort felt a hand reach for her palm. She flinched, but it was the man in military uniform. He had a concerned look in his eyes, and without saying anything, he struggled to his feet and moved over to her seat. Comfort settled back on his seat, amidst murmurs from other passengers. In order to calm her down a bit, he reached into his pocket with his good hand and brought out a paper, and then passed it to her.
“I have been posted there, but I certainly don’t know my way. Where are you going?”
Comfort looked at the paper, and her mouth went dry. She actually had no idea, but when he saw she didn’t respond, he came again:
“Actually, I need to get to Nsukka.”
He finished this up with a charming helpless smile, hanging on the edge of his slim muscular jaw. Comfort fought back the demons that possessed her, let loose her lips and said:
“I am from Nsukka”
As the words dropped from her lips, the train blared it’s horn to announce a stop.
Written by Oluoma Udemezue.
Udemezue, Oluoma loves to read and write; she also enjoys movies and meeting new people. Oluoma believes that life is nothing without a little touch of romance, thriller and reality. Catch her on: firstname.lastname@example.org, Udemezue, Oluoma Judith on Facebook, Instag- oluomaudemezue, and Twit- @Udemezueoluoma.