They sat down and stared at each other for two full minutes. Ikem couldn’t talk, he was incapable of any action. He just sat there staring. Fredrick watched him as he stared, giving him time to absorb the bombshell he just dropped. After all, he had been aware of the situation of things for a while now. He also wanted to take his time too as he had been looking forward to this very moment for a long time.
Ikem finally found his voice. “What the hell did you mean by what you just said? I don’t have a twin. I’ve never had a twin.”
Fredrick nodded. “Calm down, will you? Let me start from the beginning.”
“I’m listening and I assure you heads will roll if this turns out to be an epic waste of my time.”
“I’m sure we can rule that out. After all, you can see for yourself.” Fredrick replied, indicating his face.
Ikem finally relaxed a bit. He called for a waiter and ordered a bottle of beer. Fredrick was surprised but he hid it well. He ordered for a bottle of soft drink instead; he needed a clear head to do what he was about to do.
Their drinks arrived and Ikem took a sip of his before he signaled Fredrick to go ahead. He was acting cocky and very rude. Fredrick was not impressed.
“I got to know about this a few months ago.” Fredrick began. “I was as surprised as you are now to say the least. I couldn’t fathom the idea that I wasn’t born of my parents and they hid it so well. Let me start from the beginning.
“I got sick a few months ago. I was diagnosed with kidney disease and I needed a transplant urgently. Suffice to say none of my so-called relatives could help out. It was then the truth came out. When I got stronger, I demanded the full story from my parents and they told me an elaborate story I wouldn’t have believed if it was not coming directly from the source.
“My mum told me the story of how they had been childless for many years. They had tried all they could to no avail. After speaking with their family doctor, a plan was set in motion to steal the baby of another couple who frequented the clinic they used. They had promised the doctor a huge amount of money to get it done.
“Your mother had twins and they told her the other baby didn’t survive. She never knew what happened. I am the other baby.”
“This tells a lot like a Nollywood story. Why didn’t they just adopt?”
“I assure you, it’s not. Things like this happened all the time many years ago. You can’t be that naïve. And you know the adoption culture in Africa is very poor. Nobody wants to be seen as barren and people would rather know the source of their children. That is why such situation as ours was unfairly common.”
“My mother never told me I was a twin.”
“She probably was not willing to resurrect all the painful memories. You can ask her now if you are in doubt.”
“Of course I’m in doubt. This is such a super story.”
“Then, can you explain the resemblance? You look like the exact replica of me.”
Ikem waved it away. “Things like that happen. We can look alike and not be related at all.”
“Not as much as this, I’m afraid. Look, why don’t you ask your mum? What could it hurt? And why will I be here if it wasn’t true? Believe me, I did my research very well. I searched for the doctor who committed the atrocity all those years ago and threatened to report him to the police if he does not tell me the identity of my real parents. He coughed it up very fast.”
Ikem ignored all those facts and just held on to a point. “Oh, I can think of a reason you would concoct this ostentatious story. How about to hide the fact that Ugochi had been cheating on me with you and you both needed a cover story to make me take her back.”
Fredrick looked at him, aghast. “Seriously? And why would she want you back? After the way you treated her, disrespected her?”
Ikem just grinned stupidly. His cavalier attitude infuriated Fredrick.
“You have such an inflated ego. You believe I would go to such lengths to get your woman? Come off it, man. Ugochi came into the equation because I needed an in. I didn’t want to come in your face all of a sudden and since she was your woman, I felt you’ll be more inclined to listen to her. She was never meant to be hurt in the process but of course you bungled it all with your insecurities.”
Ikem froze. He slowly lowered the bottle of beer in his hand. “What did you say to me?”
“Did you have to hit her? It’s only an imbecile who hits a woman and I really do not think much of you after the way you treated that poor lady.”
“What did you say to me?” Ikem repeated. He was furious.
Fredrick didn’t care. He had been looking for an opportunity to put the smug idiot in his place. “I said you are an imbecile for treating Ugochi that way. You had no right to hit her.”
Ikem slowly stood up. He wanted to hit Fredrick so badly but he refrained because of where they were. “Stay away from me.” He pointed before storming out.
Fredrick watched him go with a little bit of regret. I finally bungled that up, he thought.
They took up the challenge and immediately began following Ikem. It wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be though. They didn’t put into consideration other things that might put a demand on their time, and they didn’t figure they’ll have to follow him every day and all the time so as to get the exact time he goes to visit his parents. By the time, they had followed him around Ibadan city for a whole day, amidst traffic and all, they were tired of running after him.
Ugochi finally came up with a plan. She suggested Fredrick follows for a part of the day while she does other things and she would take over at a particular time. Of course, she was able to do this at all because she took time off work after the altercation she had with Ikem and Fredrick also had time because he took a leave of absence from work to find out his ancestry. The second plan worked out beautifully.
It was Ugochi’s turn to follow Ikem when they finally had a break. She had followed him all afternoon, went with him to a barber to have a haircut, followed him to lunch, and followed him to what looked suspiciously like a booty call. She didn’t want to believe he had started seeing someone else already, but that was definitely what it looked like. That finally put a death to whatever leftover feelings she had been harboring for him.
At about 6pm, when she was ready to quit and call it a day, he finally visited a venue that looked very promising. She remembered Ikem speaking to her about his parents one day and he had mentioned they lived at Ikolaba in Ibadan. His next stop was a gated house at Ikolaba and something told Ugochi they finally hit the jackpot. She quickly put a call to Fredrick.
“Hello, Fredrick. I think I’ve got the place. He’s at a house in Ikolaba and he once told me his parents have a house there. Can you come quickly?”
“I’m on my way. Where exactly are you?”
“It’s a street called Romeo Avenue. I’m parked directly across the street from the house he entered. It’s the third house on your right with a red gate.” After giving him directions, she hung up, praying he would get there in time.
She had been there for about thirty minutes when Ikem suddenly stormed out, slamming the passenger gate and stalking to his car. Before long, an older woman came out and ran towards him, pulling his arm. She was talking, but Ugochi couldn’t make out her words. Ikem’s face was turned away and he finally jerked his arm free and got into his car. He started the engine and drove away, leaving her by the road looking after him.
For a split second the woman turned her face towards Ugochi and Ugochi was stunned by the resemblance between her and the twin men. She finally wiped tears from her face, turned and walked forlornly inside her house. Ugochi knew she had just seen Fredrick and Ikem’s mother.
She dialed Fredrick’s number again. “Where are you?” she asked
“I’m almost there. I encountered a bit of traffic at Ring Road. What’s up?”
“Ikem just left now and I think I just saw your mother.”
“What? What happened?”
She gave him a brief description of what she just witnessed. “He obviously went away angry.” She concluded.
“Okay, I’m like two minutes away. You’ll see me soon.”
Ugochi kept watching the house nervously, crouched in her seat. She felt so conspicuous sitting there, furtively looking out her window. She hoped nobody would challenge her. Before long, she saw Fredrick’s car in her rearview mirror and got out of hers to wait for him by the side of the road.
“What’s happening now?” he asked as soon as he got out of his car. He looked anxious.
“Nothing since I spoke with you last. What do you want to do?”
“Go in there and introduce myself, of course.”
“What? Just like that?”
“Yes, Ugochi. That is what this is all about. Besides, I think my credential will speak for itself.” He indicated his face.
“Okay. What’s the plan, then?”
“No plan. I knock on the door, ask to see the people living in the house and go from there.”
“No. I don’t think I should come with you. You should do this on your own.”
“Yes. I’ll wait here for you.”
“Okay.” He gave her a quick hug and kiss. “Which house?”
She pointed it out and he walked quickly to the gate and knocked. Ugochi watched as someone opened the gate, and after a while Fredrick walked in. He didn’t look back.