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Burnt – Episode 10

Writing Burnt has been painful. And as the weeks have gone by and the emails and feedback have poured in, I realize that the issue is of a far greater magnitude than I imagined. Reading it has also caused people to relive memories that hurt deeply while helping many others to heal from deep-seated hurt. Hence, I took the decision 3weeks ago to make it the shortest series I’ve written. Today is the finale.

I’ll be taking a 2week break before we start the next series called A Little Bird Said. You can look forward to that.

During the break, I’ll be working on a few things.

  • First, I’ll finish  the alternate history/fantasy book I’ve been working on, Guardians of the Seals and get it to the editor and the illustrator. It’s due next year and I’ll be posting another excerpt from it next week.
  • Second, we’re preparing for the next Write Right. The announcement should be on Monday 2nd of December. It promises to be bigger and more exciting than the first. Read about the first Write Right here http://tlsplace.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/write-right/ and see the Prize Giving pictures here http://tlsplace.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/write-right-the-pictures/ 
  • Finally, there’s something special coming to you from Baba Risi this Christmas with Ekene Ngige who won the Baba Risi Illustration Competition.

Keep your fingers crossed and your eyes locked on tlsplace. Enjoy the finale of Burnt. Follow on twitter @tundeleye for all the updates

TL

BURNT WITH WORDS 3

As if on cue, there was a strong knock on the door and a thickly accented Igbo voice said “Open, it is the police!” They just had to be dramatic, this Nigerian police. The front door was open so they let themselves in.

“Oh my God, what are we going to do? The robbery story can’t hold up now, with Brian like this.” Adaku said in panic, wailing.

Conrad just kept holding his head, as he heard the shout of the policemen from the living room. They had seen the househelp’s body. He heard them undoing the safety latches of their guns – idiots, didn’t they see that was not a fresh body.

“Who is there?” he heard the Igbo man shout.

“In here, and will you stop wailing!” he growled at his wife, wondering how the policemen didn’t simply follow the sound of her crying to find them.

Three rifle totting policemen came in one after the other into the room. The one who had been speaking, whose name tag said his name was Livinus Mbojikwe, spoke first.

“This is fresh oga, the blood is still fresh, not caked like the one of the lady in the living room. They didn’t die at the same time.” He said, addressing Conrad. Then his eyes followed Brian’s body and he saw him still gripping the gun he had shot himself with.

“Oga, the boy shot himself.” Livinus stated flatly.

“Yes,” Conrad answered. That much was obvious.

“Did he shoot the woman outside?” Livinus asked further.

“Yes,” Conrad simply answered.

“Do you have any idea why he did this?”

“She was his nanny and they were alone in the house a lot. She molested him and when pushed to the wall, he reacted.” Conrad responded.

“The gun?” Livinus asked.

“It’s mine. I had no idea he had access to it.” Conrad responded.

“You will need to come to the station to give a statement sir,” Livinus said. It was a straightforward case, but he could smell good money was going to go down here so he wanted to make sure he was in possession of the statement. since the oga was being so free with information, better to get him to commit it to paper now, before the shock wore off and he began to censor what he said.

Conrad left the room with the policemen and finally, Adaku and Jason were alone. Fuming, Adaku finally vented on Jason

“You think I didn’t hear what Brian said you were doing to Clara behind our backs? And isn’t that why she did those terrible things to him? You killed your brother, you hear. Let that live with your forever, and know that I will never forgive you.”

With that pronouncement, she left him in the room. Jason looked at the gun in Brian’s hand. They still hadn’t taken it away – his dad, his mum and even the police. A thought of following Brian’s example skipped into his mind, but he killed it as soon as it rose. The police ambulance arrived soon after that.

*****************++++++++++++++++

Idris knew of a discreet testing center not too far from their house. What was more, it was free and you got the results immediately. He kept trying to tell himself that it was impossible, that Aisha was just being vindictive. He had dialed her number all the way to the clinic, but it was an attempt in futility – she didn’t take any of his calls. This girl was trying to drive him mad, he thought.

He arrived at the clinic and quickly made some inquiries. The nurse courteously directed him to an office where he was met by a smiling woman in the ubiquitous doctors’ garb – the lab coat and stethoscope. “My name is Ola Eke and I’m the counselor. It’s my job to go over a few things with you before we proceed to test. This step is important to prepare your mind for whatever may come after,” she began.

Idris had heard about the pre-testing counseling bit of the HIV testing but he couldn’t do this now. “Can we just get on with it?” he asked impatiently. Very calmly, she answered him “I understand you anxiety and how you feel. But this is a step we simply can’t skip Mr. Idris.”

Idris saw that it was futile to protest. He resigned himself to listening to Dr. Ola drone. She asked questions at intervals and he mechanically supplied the answers while doing everything in his power from keeping himself from screaming at her to get on with it. It took all of twenty minutes for her to be satisfied that he now understood the import of this HIV test and then she moved him along to another smiling young man. Did they all have training to paste these plastic smiles on their faces in this place? They took the samples and led him into a waiting area while they got his results. That wait was the longest of his life.

****************++++++++++++++++++++++

Donald got back a very quiet house. He assumed that Hajara and Laraba had taken the twins along with them when they went to the planner’s place. That would at least allow him get some good sleep before they all returned. He needed it. The past previous days had been so hectic, but the deal was finally sealed over breakfast with the NCC Executive Vice Chairman and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on communications. Now, he just wanted to rest.

He got to their room and found the door ajar. He shouldered it open and dropped his jacket and laptop bag on the couch. As he did, he felt someone stir underneath them and he jumped back. Then, when the stirring had stopped and he had gathered himself together, he lifted his jacket up.

“It’s just Oyiza,” he said to himself as he saw his daughter curled up on the couch. But he wondered why she had chosen to come and sleep here. There must have been some drama and she must have decided she didn’t want to go out with the rest. He sighed – sensitive, sensitive Oyiza. He picked her up gently to carry her to the bed where she would be more comfortable. He immediately saw the diary underneath her which she seemed to have fallen asleep writing. He dropped her on the bed and began undressing. He was about to lie down and sleep when he realized he had left his phone in his laptop bag. He went over to go and get it and then it caught his eye again. He had almost forgotten about it but now that he saw it, the curiosity got the better of him and he picked the diary up. He felt like a child stealing candy, wondering what he’d say if Oyiza woke up and caught him peeping into her diary. He shrugged and opened it. It fell to the page she had been writing on last. Within seconds, he read his worst nightmare from the pages of Oyiza’s diary.

****************++++++++++++++++

It took the direct intervention of the commissioner before the police let Conrad go. While in the police station, making frantic calls to secure his release as well as make sure the story didn’t leak to the press, he had taken time to reflect. It cost him an arm and a leg to make it all go away, in spite of being legally innocent. He cursed all those who had told him there was easy money to make in Nigerian politics if only he relocated back to Nigeria and play the game. There was no easy money, and one would end up selling one’s soul and losing the things that truly mattered in the process. On the drive home when it was all over, he made some decisions “I’m going away from all this madness with the family,” he said to himself. And for the first time that day, he processed what Brian had said. He realized his family needed help.

*****************+++++++++++++++++++

Donald held his head in his hands, lost in thought. They had been watching the door all this while, when the crime was being committed in the house they were guarding. And what was worse, their daughter was more comfortable talking to a bloody diary than any of them. They had failed.

Just then, he felt a touch on his shoulder. “Don, are you okay darling?”

He had not heard Hajara walk in. He simply pointed at the diary.

“What is that? Why is Oyiza here? What’s going on Donald, talk to me please” she said, her confusion growing.

“Read the damned diary!” Donald shouted.

Hajara was taken aback. In their decade long marriage, she could not remember hearing Donald swear at anyone, least of all her. She picked up the diary gingerly. It was opened to a page close to the center. She couldn’t believe what she was reading. In an eight year old child’s English Oyiza painted a picture. As she read the lurid details of how her brother abused her daughters and manipulated she began to mumble repeatedly “oh no, oh no, oh no,” until she suddenly shouted it out aloud, startling Donald and waking Oyiza up.

She went over to Oyiza with tears in her eyes “Oyiza why didn’t you talk to me, why didn’t you tell me?” she said to the barely awake child.

“Where is Inya? And where is Idris?” Donald snarled. He meant that to come out tender and soothing to his little girl, but he was beside himself with rage.

“What is it mummy? Why are you and daddy shouting?” Oyiza asked, trying to comprehend what was going on through her still foggy state of mind.

“The things you wrote in your diary, are they true?” Donald asked, his voice better controlled this time than the last.

“What? How did you know about my diary? Where is it?” Oyiza said, springing up from the bed and looking around frenetically. She saw it open on the floor where Hajara had dropped it and raced to pick it up. She held it protectively to her chest, as if doing so would remove the contents from her parents’ mind. Laraba had heard the commotion and now stood in the doorway. Donald didn’t acknowledge her as she greeted. She looked at Hajara and saw the tears and little Oyiza in the middle of the room. She heard Oyiza protesting to her parents

“the diary is mine and nobody should have read it.” Her little voice quivered as she spoke.

“Oyiza!” Donald said firmly and the little girl stiffened. Daddy only used that voice when he was upset about something she had done. Of course, she thought. He had seen how she triggered Inya’s attack with the insecticide.

“I didn’t mean to do it. But she was so mean to me, she learnt naughty things from Uncle Idris and used it to steal my only friend in school. And she taunted me about it and she…”

“So it is true then? The things you wrote that Idris did to you and Inya? And Inya did them to someone in school?”

Oyiza looked down at her feet. “Oh my God! how did we not…” Laraba exclaimed before she caught the cold look Hajara shot her and stopped herself from saying what didn’t need to be said.

“What?” Donald asked with eyebrows raised. “did we not do what?”

“Did we not see this Donald. Did we trust Idris like this. I thought I was careful, I thought I was protecting my children whereas I was handing them over to the devil under my roof daily and feeding plus clothing that demon.”

“Where is Inya?” Oyiza asked and they all suddenly realized that no one had seen her since they came back. As if everyone thought the same thing simultaneously, they all headed for the door of the room.

Laraba had been the one at the door and she was first to reach the girls’ room.

Inya lay on the bed, he little body still naked. She just stared at the ceiling blankly, barely acknowledging their presence. Hajara rushed to cover her daughter up and rock her while Oyiza clung to her father. All the joy of sealing the deal had evaporated from Donald’s heart, his once perfect family shattered within minutes.

“Where is Idris?” Laraba asked as she bent in front of Inya.

“He rushed out after he got a text from Aunty Aisha. He was very upset and kept saying she had given him HIV” she responded mechanically.

Hajara let out a heartrending scream. Donald lurched forward, nearly forgetting Oyiza that was holding on to his leg. Laraba fell back on the floor in shock. Her teeth were chattering when she recovered enough to ask Inya “are you sure you heard him speak those words? Those exact words?”

“Yes aunty, that was what he said,” Inya responded.

“I’m finished!” Hajara shouted hysterically, her whole body shaking. Donald just held his head in his hands, and Laraba broke into tears. Oyiza knew all this was bad, but she couldn’t understand how what Inya had said made them all react like this. What was in what Aunty Aisha had said to Uncle Idris?

*************++++++++++++++++++

Idris arrived to meet the house very quiet. Everything else, even what had been happening in the house before he received Aisha’s text had paled in significance. When the lady at the testing center had returned, her plastic smile was gone, and it was replaced with another well practiced grim expression. They had taken him through another post test counseling that took half an hour, before finally telling him that he was HIV positive. His world was shattered. But he had made up his mind that he would keep it to himself. No one in the house or school needed to know. He knew Aisha would not share her status with anyone so his secret would be safe.

Suddenly, he heard a shout coming from the direction of the twins’ room and it was his sister’s voice. On impulse, he ran in the direction, to find out what it was. When he entered the room and saw everyone in the house there in the state that they were, he immediately sensed that something was wrong. What was wrong became immediately clear to him when Donald punched him square in the face and sent him reeling backwards. Oyiza had spilled the beans. The HIV issue had pushed that to the back of his mind, but now it made his situation even worse. He was HIV positive and he was about to be thrown out of where he had hoped to get the money to buy his drugs and all from.

“Idris how could you do this to me? I housed you, loved you, fed you, clothed you, did everything for you, treated you like a son and yet you chose to repay me by molesting and abusing my daughters and giving them AIDS!” Hajara shouted, dropping Inya on the table and standing over Idris, kicking and scratching at him.

Donald went into the gym area to make a phone call.

“Aunty, please can we handle this in the family? Please help me talk to Uncle Donald, please.” Idris appealed to Hajara, afraid to follow Donald, yet afraid to wait doing nothing. He maneuvered himself until he was behind Hajara. He had to put her between himself and the door just in case Donald returned with a machete or rifle.

“Handle what in the family way? You ruined two little lives we trusted you with daily and you talk about family way? Family way my feet” Hajara hollered.

Idris looked to Laraba who was still on the floor for help “when I was the victim, it was convenient to treat it in the family way. Now that the tables are turned…”

“Oh shut up! Our parents chose to treat your case in the family way, not me. And does the fact that something bad happened to you which you claim scarred you to date when you were small mean that you have to do even worse to not just one but two children of the only person who  actually took you in? I am the mother of these children, and there is no family nothing going on here,” Hajara retorted.

“So this runs in your family? You knew Idris had this history and you allowed him stay with the girls?” It was Donald that spoke from behind Hajara. She froze.

“That was in the very distant past, and he didn’t give us any reason to know those demons lurked inside him. I didn’t suspect it, oh God I was a fool, a damn stupid fool, being busy with my beauty shop when my life was becoming so ugly.”

“Hajara, quit the self pity! It’s not me or yourself that we, and I mean you and I, need to apologize to. We have failed these girls. And it is to them we need to apologize.”

The sound of police sirens filled the room and Idris burst into tears. “Uncle Donald, please, I’m begging you. Please! Aunty, help me beg uncle. Big sis, please help me beg him.”

“If I left you anywhere that isn’t behind bars, Idris, I will eventually be overcome with the temptation to kill you. Only the bars I’m making sure you are going to be behind will keep you alive. It’s the best I can do and its simply because you are family.”

With that, he left to get the policemen. In seconds, they were back and they dragged a kicking, screaming Idris away.

**************+++++++++++++++++

  • The twins were tested for HIV. To everyone’s relief, they were both negative
  • They have been put in separate schools, so that each grew on their own. They are also both in therapy now, to help them get over their demons.
  • Inya was Laraba’s little bride and Oyiza got to play her song
  • Donald and Hajara also went through therapy to heal their relationship
  • The Okwurahs went back to America with their boys. They are trying hard to sweep the whole Nigerian experience behind them.
  • The story did leak that a boy from the school killed himself and a girl from the school was being molested. Parents quietly withdrew their kids from the school.
  • One of the worst things in life is to be an inmate in a Nigerian prison. One of the few things worse than this is to be an HIV positive prison inmate. The only thing worse than the last is to be an HIV positive inmate known by all to have been a pedophile towards your own blood. This is the current fate of Idris.
  • Oyiza wrote a novel about child sexual abuse two years later when she became ten. It was a best seller.

FF on twitter @tundeleye to know what’s going on.

Burnt – Episode 9

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TL

BURNT WITH WORDS

The driver swung into the front of the fenceless Okwurah house and with a hitman’s agility he jumped down to open the door for his boss. Usually, Conrad would wait for the driver to get down and open the door, but today, the car had hardly stopped moving before he shot out of it. His wife was right at his heels and the driver was right behind them. Then a thought occurred to him and he paused and ordered his driver.

“Okon, take the jeep to the mechanic and call me when you get there.”

Okon looked like a premiership fan who had been looking forward to a star match who had now been told he couldn’t watch the match. He knew there was nothing wrong with the car and that oga was just trying to deny him seeing what was inside the house.

“But oga,” he responded “I just carry am go last week for servicing and nothing do am.”

“Will you do as you are told and stop arguing, you imbecile!” Conrad bellowed. He wasn’t sure what was waiting for him inside but if what Jason said was true, then he didn’t want Okon seeing it. These boys got greedy once they felt they had a hold on someone and he didn’t want to give Okon anything that might tempt him to be greedy.

Okon reluctantly turned around and went to the car. Conrad stayed to watch him drive off. As he got to the door of the house, he heard Adaku’s scream. He nearly kicked the door down as he fumbled to open it quickly and made a mess of it in his anxiety.

As soon as he got in, he could smell it. No Ibo young man who had lived through and fought in the civil war could mistake it. It was the smell of death, and it hung heavy in the air of his living room even before he saw the body. Adaku was wailing at the couch and when he got there, he saw the stiffened body of Clara on there. Rigor mortis had already begun to set in with the blood on the couch caked already. She had been dead for some time.

“Have you seen any of the children?” he asked brusquely. Adaku shook her head and Conrad turned and began to call out for both Jason and Brian at the top of his voice. The reality of the seriousness of Jason now dawned on him. In the US, this would have been handled properly and sympathetically by the police and maybe even spun by PR people to boost his career. But here in Nigeria, if it got out that his eight year old had murdered his househelp, his political career was over before it even began. But why the hell did Jason murder the girl. When no one answered his call, he went to Brian’s room. The door was open and he could see Jason’s back now.

“Jason, why aren’t you answering? Didn’t you hear me call your name?” He said angrily.

Jason simply stepped aside to let him in. Brian had heard his father’s voice and he sat up immediately, now alert, with his gun in hand. Adaku entered after her husband. They both got the shock of their lives when their eight year old pointed a gun at them. Jason was at last relieved that he was no longer the one facing the barrel of the gun. It was amazing how a gun changed the balance of power in human relations. Here they were, three adults, held hostage because of a gun by a boy they would otherwise have easily overpowered.

“I had warned about this gun but you would not listen,” Adaku said under her breath to Conrad. He simply grunted his disagreement at her and then faced Brian squarely. With as much authority as he could muster, he bellowed

“What the hell are you doing with that gun? Did I not tell you it is bad to enter our room? And what got into your head that made you point a gun at your brother, and now at your mother and I. Are you mad?”

Brian withered away before the imposing presence of his dad, in spite of being the one holding his gun. He had been hoping he would finally be able to tell his dad how alone he always felt and how Aunty Clara had hurt him repeatedly. But now, he was not so sure anymore, his dad was so angry, and not with Aunty Clara, but with him.

“Daddy, I wanted you to come back home, Aunty Clara was doing things…” Brian managed to mutter before Conrad shut him up angrily “Shut Up! Do you know what you have done? The kind of trouble you have caused for everybody? Why didn’t you use the mobile phone with Clara to call me if you wanted to tell me something? So you think that shooting people and killing them is how to get attention? It makes you feel bigger than this? Jason!”

“Yes sir!” Jason answered. He would normally not add the sir, but he was so shaken right now.

“Get the gun from Brian now! I need to call the commissioner. I have an idea as to how to make this go away but it’s still going to cost me tons of money, but I don’t have a choice. Adaku, I don’t know what you are doing with this children,” Conrad said.

“Please don’t dump it on me! Is it not you that says your wife must be on the campaign trail with you? Do I share myself into two? Or do I wait for you to accuse me of being an unsupportive wife so that you can marry another wife on top of my head as your people have always wanted you to?” Adaku shot back.

Conrad wanted to respond but didn’t have a comeback. Angrily he turned to Jason “didn’t you hear what I said? Nonsense.”

He stormed towards Brian. Brian’s finger pressed the trigger as panic rose in his heart as his dad got closer. But he just couldn’t bring himself to apply enough pressure to fire a shot.

Conrad took the gun out of Brian’s hands and it was only then that Jason relaxed.

“Maybe I should even hand you over to the police to see what they do to killers in Nigeria. But I have to think about how to kill this because it will affect the family.”

“But Aunty Clara was always hurting me, always touching me here and making me touch her there,” he touched his genitals and chest to explain and then continued “and she said it’s because Jason and Stanley do the same to her that she does it to me. She cut me here,” he said indignantly, touching his face.

When he looked up to see if his dad was listening, he realized that he had been talking to himself. Dad was already on the phone, talking to some policeman.

“Yes, there was a robbery in my house overnight.” Conrad was saying. “Unfortunately, it was only the maid and our eight year old boy that were at home. They shot the maid, made away with my wife’s jewelry and even hurt my boy with a knife.”

He listened in briefly and then replied “yes o. I hope it was an ordinary robbery and not a calculated plan by my political opponents. Maybe they thought I was at home and wanted to get me. But God pass them. Don’t worry, I will make sure your logistics are taken care of. Just keep it quiet and no press. Elections will soon be here.”

Brian got off the bed. His dad didn’t even notice he had left. His mum was already in the living room with Jason. they were both on the phone when he got there. No one would still listen to him. Nothing had changed, really. They all still acted like he wasn’t there. He quietly went back to the room.

Adaku was rounding her call off. She had started calling the busybodies amongst her friends to spread the robbery gist as soon as she heard her husband’s line of conversation with the police commissioner. They would spread the word faster than any press could, and it would be more believable. Then she heard the explosive sound. She raced from the living room to Brian’s room where it had come from.

She saw Conrad looking at the shelf where he had kept the gun and then looking to the bed. Brian, or what was left of him lay on the bed. He had blown off his own head.

***************++++++++++++++++

“So you went to tell on Uncle Idris to Aunty Aisha, en? You have been a very bad girl,” Idris said as he lifted Inya off the bed and made her stand in front of him.

“I didn’t mean to Uncle. I just wanted to know and you told me she knew things, so I thought to ask her,” Inya said defensively.

“Then why did you have to sneak behind my back to go and ask her then? For you to have been sneaking around, you meant to cause trouble,” Idris pressed.

“No. I just wanted to know what more was after what you showed me.” Inya insisted.

“Well, why didn’t you ask me then? I would have gladly showed you,” Idris said lasciviously.

“Uncle, I wanted her to just tell me. When you show me, I don’t like it. It leaves me tired and makes me feel dirty. You sneak around to show me, and like you said, if you have to sneak around, then it’s bad, isn’t it.” Inya said.

Idris was angry. “Have you been talking to Oyiza? Has she been putting smarty pants ideas into your head, because you are sounding like her. Come here and learn what you were asking!” he commanded.

“Do I have to? I just want to sleep,” she said.

Idris assumed a threatening stance. “Do you want your mummy to find out what you have been doing with Brian in school?”

Inya sighed deeply, resigning herself to her fate. Idris read her body language and sensed his victory. He began to undress her.

***************+++++++++++

Oyiza pounded away at the keyboard furiously, taking out her frustration with the situation with Uncle Idris on it. Frustration they say is good, and in the twenty minutes she had spent punishing the keyboard, she could hear the song come out more fluidly with each run. But something niggled her mind. Uncle Idris. Inya. This insecticide mess. The way he hung it over her. Idris. Inya. She kept going over it repeatedly, running it through the mill of her young mind, until suddenly it struck her. Idris had seemed interested in knowing where Inya was. He had been interested in making sure no one else was in the house and that Inya was alone. She sprang up from the keyboard and raced towards their room. The door was not shut. She pushed it open and held her breath. Uncle Idris was butt naked with her sister on top of him. Her eyes locked with his for a moment and she froze. Then she grabbed her diary and ran.

Idris knew he was in trouble. He shoved Inya off him and grabbed his shorts, hurrying into it. Quickly he ran after Oyiza. First he checked the piano area but she wasn’t there. He searched everywhere he could think of in the house but didn’t find her.

**************++++++++++++++

Oyiza hid in her parents’, scribbling furiously into her diary. She didn’t think Uncle Idris would look for her here. She would wait until her mum or Aunty Laraba came before going out.

**************++++++++++++++++

Idris was frustrated. He went back to the girls’ room and met Inya there.

“Where is your sister?” he asked angrily.

“I don’t know. I have not left the room since she ran away.” He hissed and began to get dressed. “You are foolish Inya. You are protecting her. Do you know she was the one that sprayed an insecticide on you and caused your last asthma attack? She wanted to kill you, the witch, the jealous little witch. Keep on protecting her there.” Inya shook her head vigorously “you are lying Uncle Idris. I don’t believe you, Oyiza would never do that!” “Dey there!” he said to her pointing derisively. Then he said out aloud, hoping that Oyiza would hear him “Wherever you are, I will find you and get you!

His phone beeped and he realized he hadn’t taken it out of his pocket. He brought it out. It was a message from Aisha. He selected “delete” from the options. He didn’t want to read her begging, the hoe. The phone asked him if he was sure he wanted to delete. He looked at it and decided he would read it before deleting it. This is what the message said;

“Dear ex-boyfriend, I realize I didn’t get to tell you what I came to say before I found out about your filth. I got tested yesterday and discovered I was positive. HIV positive. Go and get tested. And get that little girl tested too. Don’t drink Harpic o.”

Idris fell heavily on the bed. “she must be lying, she must be effing lying. She’s just trying to get to me, trying to screw with my mind. I cannot have AIDS, this Aisha cannot have given me AIDs.”

“What is it, Uncle?” Inya asked.

“Shut up! Your Aunty Aisha has gone to get herself HIV and is trying to screw with my mind that I have it too. But she won’t succeed, that hoe!” he spoke forcefully, trying to convince himself that it couldn’t be true.

But try as he may, the fear gripped his mind. He had been having unprotected sex with Aisha steady and if she was positive, there were many occasions he could have contracted it. Every other thing that had been happening paled in significance. He forgot about Oyiza, about Inya and everything else. He had to go and get tested. He left the room hastily.

ff on twitter @tundeleye

Burnt – Episode 8

Here’s an annoucement that you MUST read before going on. If you’ve been following, Finding Hubby is read on Inspiration FM 92.3 every Friday between 11:35am and 12noon by T.I.T.I and as expected, we’ve got the whole of Lagos talking. So here’s the deal, we’d like sponsors for that 20minute slot when 20million people are listening. Call 08038205282 or email ajileyeb@gmail.com for more details. I’m counting on you guys to make this happen. Enjoy this week’s episode of Burnt.

TL

BURNT WITH WORDS 3

Jason was sweating profusely inside the air-conditioned room. His mouth was dry and he didn’t know what to say. The tension was heightened because Brian did not say anything beyond that chilling welcome for minutes. He just kept the gun trained on Jason and looked at him through glazed eyes that said nothing of whatever emotions were raging underneath them.

Then without warning he simply dropped the gun and ran up to Jason, and hugged him tightly. He began to cry, the dammed emotions finally breaking free. He only reached Jason’s waist and he looked up through the tear stricken eyes.

“I didn’t know it was going to be so gory and bloody and messy. Did I really kill her? Is she really dead?” the questions tumbled out of the little boy as he tried to say so many things at once.

Jason fell on one knee, visibly relieved that his little brother hadn’t shot him. “But what happened? Why?” he asked, still confused.

“She beat me. She made me touch her. She touched me. She did nasty things to me. Everyday. She threw a knife at me and it cut me here,” he touched his face where the knife had cut him and Jason saw it for the first time.

“What! When did she do this? For how long? That bitch! I will deal with her…”then he remembered that he had just left her corpse in the living room and the reality sank in. There would be no dealing with her.

He was lost in thought so he didn’t realize when Brian suddenly bolted away from him and raced towards the bed. It took some moments for him to recover from the push and a split second after that to realize where his little brother was heading. He tried to catch up with Brian but he had taken too much time to recover and move. Brian reached the gun before him and grabbed it too suddenly. His hands squeezed the trigger and a shot rang out, lodging itself into the opposite wall. Jason jumped back at the sound of the shot and Brian turned around, trembling with the gun in his hand again trained on his elder brother.

“Stay away from me!” he screamed.

Jason was puzzled and convinced that a screw had definitely gone lose in his brother’s head and left him unhinged. “What is the matter Brian? Why do you want me to stay away and point a gun at me, your brother?” Jason asked, trying to appeal to Brian’s sensibilities.

Brian shook his head vigorously “no! You are the reason all this happened to me. It was you that did all the bad things to Aunty Clara that she now came to do to me. It was you, you, you!” he shook in anger as he said this and Jason was truly afraid. He tried to placate his brother “but Brian, I’m your brother. You can’t shoot me now? Think of mummy and daddy; what will you say to them when they find out you shot me?”

“They don’t care too! If they did, they won’t leave me alone with Aunty Clara every time so she can do bad things to me.” Brian shouted

“Brian, this is Nigeria. The police here are not like the American cops, they are very mean to children. If you kill me, they’re gonna torture you and kill you.” Jason said. He had to do some quick thinking. Fear crept into Brian’s eyes.

“What am I gonna do?” Brian said, bursting into tears. “I’ve killed one person, so they’re gonna get me right?”

“I can help you, but you have to put the gun away first,” Jason said.

“No!” Brian said emphatically. “If I do, you’re just gonna beat the hell out of me and then call the Nigerian cops to come and get me. I want you to call mum and dad. They should come back now!”

Jason was perplexed. “But Brian, they’re out of town. We don’t know how long it will take them to get here or if they can come and…”

“I DON’T CARE!” Brian shouted, raising the gun. Jason realized he didn’t really have a choice. He called his dad. It rang out and he told Brian so. “He never picks up anyway. Try mum, she’ll pick up,” Brian said, much calmer than before now that Jason was doing what he wanted.

Jason dialed his mum’s number from memory and she picked up before the caller tune got to the noisy part. “Hello Jason, how are you?” He held his breath.

*************+++++++++++

“Aunty, I want to know how to touch boys so that they like me and only me,” Inya asked.

Aisha was sure now that she had heard correctly. Her mind had deciphered what the little girl was really asking, but the rational part of her refused to believe it.

“Inya, when you say touch, what do you mean,” Aisha asked, still smiling so that she could coax the clarification out of the girl.

“Well, I know if I touch a boy on his peepee and I do this,” she ran her right hand repeatedly over her right middle finger mimicking a movement. Aisha recognized it instantly and she winced unconsciously, dumbfounded.

Inya continued “the boy will shake after a while and if he is big boy, gooey stuff comes out as he shakes, but nothing does if he is small. But I know that’s not the real thing so I want to know what the real thing is and if you will tell me how to do it.”

Aisha’s jaw was nearly on the table. “Who taught you all this and what makes you think I’m the one that can teach you anything? How did you even know this?” she wondered if the little girl had ever seen her and Idris having sex in the house unnoticed.

Inya would have recognized the look in Aisha’s eyes if she was older but she plodded on “I have a boyfriend too, and my uncle taught me how to make him shake the way you make my uncle shake too.”

Aisha’s eyes narrowed. She had been thinking something totally different about how Inya had learnt these things before the last statement. Now it hit her flat in the face like a sledgehammer. “How exactly did Idris teach you?” Aisha asked.

“Teach her what?” Idris asked from behind Aisha. He had come through the back but hadn’t heard what they had been talking about.

Aisha was startled; she hadn’t known when Idris got there. She searched his face to see if he had heard beyond the last statement but there was no indication there. She looked to the living area and saw Hajara and Laraba laughing away, chatting, while Oyiza curled up in between them, reading a book. Had he been teaching Oyiza too?

“None of you is going to answer?” Idris asked, then shrugged and said “anyway, let’s go Aisha”.

Aisha wrestled with the urge to go and break the news of what she had just discovered to the girls’ mum right now. But she knew that would be difficult, she wasn’t even a member of the family. Things like that typically got handled in family ways, and that would be it. She decided against speaking with Hajara right away. “Inya, we’ll talk later,” she said, dismissing the little girl and then turned to Idris and spoke more coldly than she meant to “let’s go.” It was then she realized that he disgusted her.

****************++++++++++++++

The Okwurahs were on their way to Ibadan when Jason’s call came in. They had flown into Abuja from Egypt the previous day to attend a function and then into Lagos this morning to connect Ibadan to attend another function. Conrad had been asleep when his phone rang out. When her own phone rang right after that, Adaku knew it had to be one of her sons. She took the call, ready to scold him for using a phone in school when the rules said he couldn’t but he cut her short and relayed an unbelievable story. Adaku Okwurah shook her husband awake and put her son on speaker.

“Adaku, what is it now, can’t a man sleep again?” Conrad said with irritation

“Your house is on fire and you are sleeping?” Adaku asked, annoyed.

“Fire? Where?” Conrad asked, not yet fully awake.

“Daddy, it’s me, Jason.” Jason’s voice came over the phone’s speaker.

“Jason, you set the house on fire? What are you people saying?” Conrad was annoyed that his sleep had been disturbed. He was so tired but breaking into Nigeria’s political circles after being away for so long was a lot of hard, tiring work and these functions were part of it.

“Daddy, Brian is about to shoot me if you don’t come home now,” Jason said in response.

“What? What pranks are you people playing?” Conrad asked gruffly. “If this is a joke, you will know that we are not in America where I cannot deal with you again,”

“Daddy, he isn’t joking. He has shot the maid dead and I don’t think he won’t do the same to me if you don’t come back. Please where are you?”

“Very close, very close,” Conrad responded, now fully awake.

On the other end, it was news to Jason that his parents were close by. He thought they were out of the country. Those two just did as they liked these days.

“Okay, daddy, how long do you think it will take for you to get home?” he asked.

“I’ll be with you within the hour,” Conrad said. He hung up and shouted “turn around and head straight to the house, you!” The driver did not need to be told a second time. He quickly looked for a spot where they could make a u-turn and they were speeding towards Lagos within minutes.

Back in the room, Brian was getting tired. As time passed, the gun was getting heavier. “How long?” he asked simply. “One hour,” Jason responded. They were both tired but couldn’t back out of the drama any longer, at least not until their parents came. So they waited.

**************+++++++++++++

When they were in the car and near the taxi park, Aisha suddenly asked Idris to park the car.

“What’s this drama now, why should I park the car?” Idris asked. Aisha had been acting funny. Yes, they had quarreled and were trying to make up, but this was a different kind of funny.

“I want to talk to you.” She said.

“Aisha, what is this now? What’s so urgent that you didn’t talk about it in the house and cannot wait for us to get to where we are going that it has to be here on the road?”

“Park the damned car you fucking pedophile!” Aisha burst out.

Idris slammed the brakes and swerved so suddenly he nearly hit a bike. “What the hell are you talking about Aisha? Are you mad?”

“You call me mad? You really have the mouth to call me mad? You are so pathetic Idris. I was going to ask, but I’m sure now. I don’t need to ask anything, you are really doing it. You are sick! Lord!”

“Is that what you were discussing with Inya?” She saw the fear creep into his eyes.

“Yes! She was asking if I could give her further lessons from where you stopped. You are a disgor! Now I regret not confronting you there so that Aunty Hajara can find out how you have been repaying her for all she has done for you.”

“Get out of my car, you idiot. You call someone disgor, yet you think I don’t know about your ‘uncles’ that you routinely service abi?” Idris tried to shoot back.

“You are comparing shagging old men for money to molesting little girls? I didn’t hide that I do runs from you so shut the bloody hell up. I’m going to tell Aunty Hajara.”

“You will do no such thing, Aisha.” Idris said assuredly.

“And what will you do to stop me? Rape and molest me? I’m not eight and even if I can’t come to the house, I know Aunty Hajara’s makeup place. I will meet her there. Arrghh! How did I end up dating a sicko like you?” Aisha responded angrily.

“Of course I know you can. But you will not. You have forgotten the videos we made at home yeah? I still have them on my laptop and you better be a good girl and go home, otherwise those videos and all your nudies will make their way to the web and of course it’s all my plenty twitter followers that will see it first. I’ll be nice enough to make sure someone shares the link with your brothers until your parents see them. That is if you squeal. Actually, I was going to break up with you, so I don’t want to ever see you again.”

Aisha seethed in anger. Before Idris, she had been wise enough to avoid nudies or making sextapes. But he had convinced her and she had been carried away. “Idris, I will leave you and your wretched family. If they don’t find out through me, they will still find out. But if any of those videos get out, I will have nothing to lose. And if that ever happens, you do recall that the police commissioner is one of those my ‘uncles’? Borrow yourself brain.”

With that, she gathered her things, got out of the car and picked one of the cabs in the park. Idris turned the car around. If Inya talked to Laraba… he thought. He would be exposed. He needed to put some fear into that girl.

When he got home, the living room was empty. He had heard Laraba and Hajara talk about meeting with Laraba’s planner so he guessed they had left the house not long after him. He heard some music coming from a corner. Looking into the corner, he found Oyiza practicing her piano. She must be working on her piece for Laraba’s wedding, he thought.

“Where is Inya,” he asked, interrupting Oyiza who answered without looking away from the piano “in the room, sleeping.”

“She must still be exhausted from the asthma attack,” he said with meaning and Oyiza’s head shot up, stopping the music.

He laughed “I am not telling on you Oyiza, okay?”

She looked at him with eyes that looked older than her eight years and he could see the derision in them. Then she went back to playing her music. He left her in the direction of his room, so she would think that was where he was going and then made his way to the girls’ room. He opened the door of the room quietly and let himself in. There in the bed, lay Inya. He sat down beside her and shook her. She stirred a little and then her eyes opened. “Hello Inya,” he said.

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Burnt – Episode 7

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Enjoy today’s Episode of Burnt.

BURNT WITH WORDS 2

Idris looked pointblank at his elder sister. “I’m waiting for someone to tell me what is going on in here” Hajara repeated, entering the room and shutting the door behind her.

“You know exactly what this is about” he responded defiantly. Hajara fumed as heat ran from ear to ear. “What the hell are you saying Idris. Do you know what people will say if it gets out that you were in the bride-to-be’s room in this unbecoming position? What got into you?” then she walked up to Laraba and checked her over “did he hurt you? Did he do anything to you?” she asked. Laraba simply shook her head in answer.

“You see? As usual, you have taken her side and don’t care about what I’m going through. You are more concerned about what people will say or not about the situation rather than the situation” Idris said mockingly.

“Are you drunk?” Hajara said as she crossed over and slapped Idris. “Is it me who is housing you, clothing you, feeding you and sending you school that you open your mouth and talk to like that? You are leaving this house definitely. I’m definitely going to talk to Donald about this silly behavior tomorrow morning. Since you have grown wings and want to prove your manhood with Laraba, you are old enough to be a man by yourself.”

“No, Aunty, please don’t involve Uncle Donald in this,” Laraba said for the first time since Hajara had come in.

“Go ahead and tell him! Is it not the same Laraba who molested me as a child right under your noses, you and mum and dad? What did you do about it?” Idris asked.

“Idris, that was in the past, and we did what needed to be done about that. As you will recall, Laraba stopped coming to the house after that incident! And we have all grown up and even Laraba here has forgotten that incident. I thought you would have done the same. And this isn’t even the first time you have seen her since then.” Hajara responded, struggling to keep her voice down.

“All of you might move on. You might carry on as if the molestation never happened. But you see, the victim never forgets. Never.” Idris said at almost a low growl.

“Idris, I am sorry, truly sorry.” Laraba said.

“No you are not. You are sorry because you are afraid I can get back at you and scatter your wedding plans so you are dashing me your sorry.”

“Stop being cocky! And don’t think I will listen to Laraba about not throwing you out.” Hajara said angrily.

“Aunty Hajara, ignore Idris. We have to do the right thing. And the right thing is to keep this within the family. We don’t want Uncle Donald looking at this family anyhow and knowing these things about us. It will affect even the way he looks at you too and that will be bad for us.”

Hajara pondered what Laraba had said and knew that the younger woman was right. “We will have to handle this within the family.” She said, primarily to herself.

“As you always do. You people handled my abuse in the family. So you should also handle this within the family.” Idris said, almost smugly.

“Shut up Idris, before I slap you silly for being remorseless! But you will apologize to Laraba right this moment. And this will be the end to this your madness. And young man, do not test my patience, because I just might lose it and act unreasonably and kick you out!” Hajara’s face was twisted with rage. It was the kind of rage that came because she knew that deep down, they were to blame for how they had swept Laraba’s abuse of Idris under the family handling carpet. Now, even though he was wrong and should be punished, her hands were tied.

For the first time that night, Idris himself was truly afraid. He knew that this time, Hajara was serious and would really throw him out if he put up any further drama. It occurred to him suddenly that if this blew beyond this room, questions might be asked and one of the girls could say something that would cause him to get caught. He imagined that his sister would go ballistic. He meekly said “Aunty Laraba, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do anything, just wanted to make a point. Aunty Hajara, I’m sorry I spoke to you that way, I got a little overexcited.” He really didn’t mean any of the things he just said, but he thought it best to diffuse the tension.

“Better. Now I don’t want to hear of this nonsense further.” Hajara pressed.

“Yes aunty,” Idris replied.

“You may leave,” Hajara ordered.

Idris quickly left the room, before she changed her mind or asked any further questions. When he was gone, Laraba finally let the dams break and she collapsed onto the bed in tears. Hajara sat with her and comforted her. It never occurred to them that Idris might have started rehashing his experience as a child with Hajara’s girls.

***************+++++++++++++++

The recoil from the gun threw Brian back. It took him minutes to recover from the shock the explosion of the gun caused him. He didn’t know guns were so loud up close. After he recovered, he walked to his tormentor who now lay in a bloodied mass on the couch. She was not moving. Brian had thought he would feel some emotion upon seeing a dead human being, but instead he just felt a deep emptiness. He turned around quietly and went into his room to sleep, still holding the gun his hands. Within minutes of lying down, he was fast asleep, and one could not have imagined he had just killed someone. He dreamed a happy dream where he was skipping along the lake in the town they stayed in Mississippi.

****************+++++++++++++++++

Before eight the next morning, Jason Okwurah let himself into the quiet house. He knew it was only his little brother and the maid that were at home, so he had snuck out of school to come and get some that morning. That school stifled him. Back in the US, they had been free in school and had done as they liked, partying, experiment with whatever drugs they wanted, sleeping with who they wanted. But here in Nigeria, this school they had put him was worse than an elementary school in the States. Every aspect of their lives was regimented. It was all rules, rules and more damn rules. He couldn’t even talk to girls openly, he couldn’t use a mobile phone, he couldn’t… damn, couldn’t think. So whenever he desperately needed to get some, this Clara lady had become his escape latch, his get some for free card. And this morning, he had woken up with that urge.

He passed the backdoor into the house and went straight to Clara’s room. The door was unlocked. He pushed it open and went straight to the bed. He was there before he realized it was an empty bed he had come to. He cursed loudly, “the damned girl has left Brian alone at home to go and see one of her lovers. She’s definitely gonna pay for this.”

He spun around and left the room in anger. The blue balls were getting to him and the prospect of being disappointed and laughed at by his elder brother if he returned to school like this riled him. He went to kitchen through the connecting corridor and had a drink. He decided to quickly check on Brian to be sure she had really left him alone at home. It was possible she had taken him along to one of those wretched church services she went to. He decided to go to Brian’s room through the living room since it was shorter than turning round the corridor.

He sensed it before he actually saw it. It was the TV, still turned on and tuned to Africa Magic that caught his attention and told him Clara was home. His eyes logically went next to the couch she would normally sit in to watch the movies and it was then he saw her, now stiffened with blood all over the cream colored couch. He first instinctively ducked behind the couch, as if expecting someone to shoot at him. Then he realized she would not be stiff if she hadn’t been dead for a while and he quickly jumped up. “Brian!” he thought. Whoever did this to Clara could not have missed Brian. He hadn’t seen or even heard him anywhere. When he burst into Brian’s room he was stopped in his tracks by what he saw. Brian was seated on the edge of the bed with a gun in his hands. It was trained on the door and he smiled as Jason entered the room.

“Hi Jason. I heard you come in and I knew you would come here as soon as you saw her. I was waiting for you.”

Jason was confused. Waiting to kill him? He was certain now it was Brian that had shot the housemaid. Had his brother gone mad? He did not move a muscle.

****************+++++++++++++++

Donald could not understand why his wife was so edgy this morning. They had gone to sleep happy and all and she had even told him she would go and chat with Laraba a little when he decided to sleep. He kept running his mind over the previous day to see if he had committed any crimes, but he found none. At the breakfast table, everyone was on the edge – that is everyone except the twins. They chattered like parrots, oblivious to the tension in the room. By the time they came back from church however, everyone seemed to have loosened up and Donald waved the morning aside. It was perhaps just tiredness, he thought to himself. Udoh came around and they decided to go to the club together to watch football, leaving the women to their own designs.

Aisha came around that afternoon to see Idris. He had not called her or even pinged her in days and she was worried. She hadn’t just been in the mood for any friskiness the last time and she thought the quarrel was just one of the short ones they normally had, but it had been days now and they hadn’t spoken.

“Aisha, what are you doing here?” Idris asked once they settled in the dining area. Hajara, Laraba and the girls were in the living room watching TV and he couldn’t take Aisha into his room with Hajara around.

“What do you mean what am I doing here? I cannot come and see my boyfriend?” she quizzed.

“That’s not what I’m saying. You shoulda let me know you were coming. It’s a bad time, the house is pretty full. I would have told you if you called me.” Idris responded.

“You weren’t picking or returning my calls mister. Even if I wanted to apologize for refusing you the other day, I couldn’t reach you. You left me with no choice.” Aisha insisted.

“Okay, okay. But we should go out, the house is just too full. Let me go and freshen up. I’ll be gone for five minutes.”

“I’ve made that fifteen already, abi is it not you. You will take forever.” Aisha said, trying to lighten things up with a joke they always made about how long it took Idris to dress up.

With that, Idris got up and left for his room.

*************+++++++++++++++++

Inya had been watching the dining area with the corner of her eye. She had been hoping to catch Aisha alone so she could talk to her without Uncle Idris being there. The moment he passed them, she waited for a few more minutes to see if he was coming out immediately. When he didn’t, she slipped away from her people and walked quietly up to the dining area.

Aisha didn’t know anyone had walked up to her until Inya tugged at her arm. “Idris, why did you creep up on me like that,” she said as she turned around. When she saw it was only Inya, she put on a plastic smile and said sweetly “oh, sorry Inya, how are you?”

Inya’s heart beat fast. Aunty Aisha was so pretty and she smiled so sweetly to her. She would have lost the nerve to ask what she was about to otherwise. She mustered the courage and spoke “Aunty Aisha, I want to ask if you will teach me something.”

“Of course Inya, you can ask. What is it?” Aisha responded. Her eyes scanned the door Idris had disappeared into briefly. He was not coming yet. Inya said something but because her attention was divided, she did not hear what Inya had said clearly. “Sorry Inya, what did you say?” she asked.

Inya didn’t like repeating the question. But Uncle Idris would be here any time soon. She gathered herself together and asked her question.

Burnt – Episode 6

I’ll be on Classic FM today between 9 and 10am and Naija FM by 8:45am tomorrow. I’ll be talking writing and yup, I go dey blow pidgin tomorrow so tune in and call in. Enjoy today’s Episode of Burnt.

TL

Burnt Boy

As they sat on couch, digging through the goodies Aunty Laraba had brought from Abuja, life couldn’t be more perfect. Hajara watched the happiness that filled the room now and a pang of jealousy raised its head in her heart. She never ever had this kind of effect on her daughters by her mere presence. But then she was their mother, she reasoned and they saw her every day. She had simply become so normal it was routine, she guessed.

“So, I guess somebody has been told that she is going to be the dainty little bride at a wedding very soon? Does she want to see her fine white dress?” Laraba said with feigned seriousness.

“Yes, yes,” Inya shrieked, twirling and jumping all over the place in her excitement. Hajara watched as Inya practically climbed over her sister to get to Laraba and how the cloud that descended over Oyiza’s countenance engulfed her, plus the way she tried to visibly fight it off and look through the clothes as if it didn’t affect her. She wondered how she had missed it all this while.

As she contemplated moving to say or do something to help Oyiza feel better, Laraba said “and somebody else is wondering what she will be doing at the wedding abi?” as she helped Inya try her lacy little bride’s gown on.

Oyiza tried her best to act like she wasn’t really interested but an eight year old is not so good at pretending well enough to fool anyone. Laraba just laughed heartily and roughened her hair up. “Well, I have been told she is the best eight year old pianist in this part of the country and I’m curious to see how good she is,” she continued.

Oyiza’s head shot up now, dropping every pretense of disinterest. Laraba kept laughing as she knew she now had the little girl’s full attention, even as her young mind struggled to pull the pieces of what her aunty was saying together. Even Inya had paused parading in her dress and was paying attention. The jealousy kicked inside Hajara again and she fought it down with an effort.

“Well,” Laraba began with a dramatic pause. Then she slowly brought another dainty dress out of her box and held it up “that pianist will be playing a song during my wedding ceremony.” This one was gold and it shimmered with every move.

Oyiza couldn’t contain herself and shrieking, she jumped all over Aunty Laraba, kissing and kissing her profusely. It was obvious she was grateful she had not been forgotten. Inya was very happy with her dress and little bride things and at the same time Oyiza was super happy with her own stuff too. It was a balance that Hajara rarely if ever achieved and the envy she had been repressing let itself lose now. The only words she could blurt out were “Oyiza behave yourself around your aunty, she must be very tired from her trip. And Inya, take the dress off, you don’t want it spoiling before the wedding day.”

“Haba aunty, let the girls have fun now. Don’t worry I think I can handle all the tumbling around just fine,” Laraba said with a chuckle. The girls who had already started obeying their mum were visibly relieved. Oyiza started talking excitedly about the song she was choosing for the wedding and how hard she knew she would have to practice with Mr. Owusu. “But I’ll practice really hard and make your wedding very grand!” she said with all seriousness.

“You haven’t tried your recital dress on yet,” Laraba said, pulling her up on her feet. The girls were so different. The dress was the least thing that interested Oyiza about her part on that day while Inya had been unable to stop posing around with it since she laid her eyes on it, making Laraba take picture after picture until her blackberry battery ran out. Hajara eventually left them to take a nap.

+++++++**************

The day sped past and it was when she finally escaped the girls and collapsed onto the bed in the guest room that the exhaustion finally took its toll. She managed to get undressed and then dragged herself into the bathroom. She turned the AC on so that the room would be cool by the time she came out. If she had not been on her period, she might have skipped the bath but there was no way she would go to bed without a thorough warm bath at this time of the month. She spent about fifteen minutes in the bathroom and then opened the door. The coolness from the AC caressed her skin and she shut her eyes to relish the moment briefly. When she opened it, she realized something was wrong.

“This is strange,” she said as she stepped into the darkness. She didn’t remember turning the lights out before stepping into the bathroom. She shook her head. Maybe she had turned it off. The tiredness must be making her all fuzzy in the head. She tried to picture where the bed should be and headed in that direction. She ditched the towel she had wrapped around her after the first step, letting it fall to the floor. She couldn’t be bothered right now.

Sure enough, after a few steps, her leg hit the bed and she simply allowed herself to fall into it. The moment she fell into the bed, she sensed something was wrong. It wasn’t laid undisturbed as she had left it and this time she was certain she wasn’t imagining it. She began to scramble to get out of the bed and find the light switch when a strong warm hand touched her arm and pulled her back down into the bed. “So you are scared of the dark now en? Do not even attempt to scream,” a familiar voice said coldly from the other side of the bed. An icy chill ran down her spine as she realized who it was and what this was about. She pretended to relax and surrender herself to the intruder. Then suddenly without warning, she bolted out of the bed and found the switch. She turned the light on and their eyes met. She quickly picked the towel that was lying on the floor up and scrambled to cover herself from the pair of prying eyes. When she had gathered herself together, she said with as much dignity as she could muster “Idris what the hell are you doing in my bed!”

****************++++++++++++++++

Brian touched the slight cut on his face one more time. A searing pain tore through his little body and the hatred towards the person who had done this to him welled up in his heart, made worse because of his feeling of helplessness. Even if he wanted to, he could not do anything about the situation, he thought to himself.

He had been serving the punishment of carrying the stool and had been glad when the movie Aunty Clara was watching showed the “To God Be The Glory” which indicated that it was over. He was in the process of dropping the stool when the Part 2 of the movie started almost immediately and she screamed “the film never finish, part 2 na part of the film so carry am!”

When he tried to protest, the knife had come flying towards him and if he hadn’t dodged, it would have hit him nearly square in the face. His quick movement saved him but it still managed to nick his face. He imagined the ugly scar such a cut might leave on his face. Inya and all the other girls would not like to be his friend again and they might even nickname him Scarface. It was then that the idea formed in his heart. He wasn’t as helpless as he thought. He rolled off his big bed and made his way to his parents’ room. They didn’t lock it, because Aunty Clara had to clean it daily. It took him only five minutes to find what he was looking for. He left the room to go and look for Aunty Clara where he knew she would be – watching a wretched movie on the couch.

************++++++++++++

“When I asked the same questions twelve years ago, did I get any reply?” Idris asked cynically as he got off the bed. He remembered those nights clearly. Even though she looked small now that he was all grown up, in those days she had looked like a giant to his eleven year old mind. It was because of her and what she did to him that he had been afraid of the dark for so long. The house had been a regular three bedroom flat and their parents slept in one, while Hajara and the other siblings stayed in one. He had just become eleven and was the only male child left in the house and so had the last room to himself except there was a guest when it doubled as the guest room. It was here that Laraba stayed whenever she was in town. It had been fine until that fateful night of his eleventh birthday. When the house became quiet and it was clear everyone was asleep, he heard a movement. He hadn’t been able to sleep because of all the excitement of the day and he lay awake in his bed. He had suddenly felt someone join him in his bed and begin touching him. He just froze and could not say a word. From that day, he became afraid of the dark. And so it continued whenever she came into town and stayed in his room.

“Idris, that was long ago, at a time when I was much younger and very foolish and I regret my actions deeply. We are both much older now and know better. You are like my brother and should not be in my bed or see me like this. What do you think would happen to my wedding if this ever got out?”

“Oh, so now that I’m older and can actually enjoy what we did those nights in the dark, I should not want to do it? And it’s just now that you realize I’m your brother, all those years ago, I was what? You are thinking about your wedding now, how selfish of you! Do you know what you did to me, did you think about how it would affect me the same way you are so interested in what will happen to your wedding now? All that is just stories and you know it!” Idris said with eyes blazing.

“But this is not the first time you are seeing me. Why now? Why at this time, Idris? This is the worst possible time for you to pull a stunt like this,” Laraba said, opening her palms in exasperation.

“That is the exact reason I’m doing it now. It is because it is the worst possible time, and I will keep looking for worst possible times to pop up, the same way you chose the worst possible time in my life to molest me.”

Suddenly there was a light knock on the door and before they could say anything the door creaked open. A nightie clad Hajara entered the room saying “madam Laraba, since you didn’t have my time during the day, now it’s time to gist the adult gist. So get out of…” that was the point she actually saw what was going on in the room. She swallowed the words she was saying and looked from Idris to Laraba and back. “Can one of you tell me what the hell is going on here?”

**************++++++++++++++++++

Brian walked into the living room with his hands behind his back. To Clara, he looked like an obedient boy who was trying his best to look as subservient as possible. She liked this demeanor. It was always good to be a little vicious sometimes so she could put a healthy fear in him. She had learnt that from his elder brothers anyway and it had put the fear in her so why should it not work for him.

She steeled her voice and asked harshly “and who called you? What are you doing out of your bed at this time of the night young man? You want me to continue where I stopped before? The suffering that Judas did not finish suffering is what you will get now if you don’t get out of my sight now!” she roared.

She expected him to scamper back the way he had come and was already half laughing at the picture when she realized that this wasn’t what was happening. Instead, Brian kept coming towards her. “You this stupid boy, you don’t hear word abi?” She stood up and towered above him. “I will teach you a lesson you will never forget in your life today”

She raised her hand to hit him. He looked at her with burning hatred and said “I end this now” and then brought his hands forward. In them, he was holding something. Clara froze in shock, her raised hand staying there when saw what he was holding. All these Americana parents. This was her last thought as Brian trained his father’s loaded gun on her and fired two shot straight at her.

ff on twitter @tundeleye

Burnt – Episode 5

We’re into the 2nd Month of Burnt and the response has been massive. Enjoy Today’s Episode. In case you missed the last episode, read it HERE. I’ll be posting an Episode of Baba Risi tomorrow, along with a picture of Ekene Ngige, winner of the Illustration Competition with his prize. Waiting on The Guardian to let me know how to get the gift he promised for the winner across. I trust we’ll get this. Yeah, and my novel Golden Sands was reviewed on Moments With Mo last week. #Winning. Enjoy.

TL

BURNT WITH WORDS 2

The next day was Saturday, so there was no school. Oyiza woke up happy and gay. She hummed a tune as she raced to her room to write her diary. She always wrote in it on Saturday, filling it with everything that had happened during the week. It was where she poured all the things she couldn’t tell anyone else, which she didn’t have the chance to share. Even Inya had never seen it and she had been keeping it for three months now after watching Carly talk about one on an episode of iCarly.

This week had been an interesting one and she couldn’t wait to write. Inya had woken up feeling much better and she felt much lighter after that. She was over Brian already anyway, she didn’t like him so much anymore. As it is with kids at that age, they fall in and out of love commensurate with the length of their lives. The whole insecticide episode and Inya’s attack was behind her and no one else would know. But even as she said this to herself, a thought kept tugging at her mind.

By the time she was done writing, there was a sound at her door and her heart skipped a beat. She was alone in the room. She sighed when it was only her mum. “It’s time to have your bath little woman, a lady always…”

Inya completed the statement with her mum “…always bathes first thing in the morning. Clean ladies are pretty ladies.”

“Good,” Hajara said, as she led Oyiza away. That morning, Donald had spoken with her about his conversation with Oyiza the night before and she had seen clearly that she needed to make an extra effort to reach out to her quieter daughter. “Quiet people are a lot more sensitive and they internalize a lot of hurt. And I am speaking from experience dear. Oyiza needs closer attention.” Donald had said. Starting this morning, she was going to do just that. Inya was already waiting at the bathroom in her dainty bathrobe when they got there.

**********++++++++++++++

In the Okwurah house, Brian was at the bottom of the food chain. He was younger by his immediate older brother by ten years. He had overheard his parents mention that having him was a mistake they had no plans for, and he hadn’t doubted it for one minute. He was always treated like an afterthought, left to his own most of the time.

His parents had been away from Nigeria again for two weeks and his two older siblings were in school in Covenant University. He was alone in the house with Aunty Clara. She had been his nanny since they returned to Nigeria about three months before. And in those three months, she had done things to him. But yesterday, he had experienced something new with Inya in school – pleasure. He would assert himself today.

Since they were alone in the house, he knew she would soon call him and he would have to respond. Sure enough, he heard her shrill voice moments later. He rolled off the bed onto his feet and sauntered to the living room. She was seated on the couch, watching Africa Magic, with a wrapper tied across her chest. He had seen ugly black people back in the States, but none came close to her. She was what his elder brother called FUGLY. Her face was meant to be yellow but it had some red patches on the cheeks which he didn’t understand. Her teeth were like a rabbit’s own and she always reminded him of Wreck It Rabbit. But below her face, she was hot, or so he had heard his elder brother, Charles saying regularly. He remembered one day he had heard Charles tell his friend that he would not mind “slamming” Aunty Clara as long as he had a pillow over her face otherwise seeing it would make him go limp. His friend had laughed so hard and Brian had wondered what was so funny about slamming someone or going limp.

But now, he wasn’t thinking of all that. His ordeal was about to begin.

“So you want me to come and wake you up abi?” she barked.

“I was waiting for you to call Aunty Clara,” he responded.

“Foolish child, you don’t know how to say ma abi, see the way you are calling my name as if you were there when they gave me the name,” she said, eyes blazing.

Brian wished he was bigger so he could punch her face and make it uglier. Whenever his parents or brothers were around, she was always the sweetest, most doting nanny one could imagine but the moment they left and she as alone with him, she would become evil like Ursula from little mermaid. There was a day she made him kneel down and carry a stool over his head until his hands ached and the floor was drenched in sweat, while she sat watching some blasted movie on Africa Magic. She always threatened to deal with him if he ever breathed one word, and from the way she already dealt with him, he decided that not talking would be best, lest she increase the dealings with him. She had started something new like a month ago though.

She would strip him naked and then ask him to lie down. She would then sit on top of him and move up and down, closing her eyes and groaning like an evil spirit. He would get so hot and her weight would press him down so much he would want to yell, but after she dealt with him the first time he yelled, he never yelled again. He simply lay there and let her move until she began to shake profusely and then fell on him, rolling of him and lying down. She would then whisper in a sinister manner

“I am only repaying you for the way your brothers use me every time they come home, simple payback. And as I don’t tell anybody, if you tell anybody, I will deal ruthlessly with you”.

He had never tested the strength of that threat. Today, she was requesting a variety of that scenario.

“Sit on the chair’s edge!” she ordered as she increased the volume of the TV.

He obeyed and she undid her wrapper. As she was about to straddle him, he summoned up courage and said “I don’t want to do it like this.”

Clara was taken aback. Brian had always obeyed without saying anything and she preferred it that way. It helped her rationalize that if his brothers could be raping her repeatedly under this roof, then she would strike back at the family anyway she could and Brian was fair game.

“What are you saying, you rat!” she said, scowling.

“I said that I don’t enjoy it like this. I wanna do it different.” Brian said impetuously.

“Who gave you the mouth to talk? What do you even know about doing anything that is making you talk about different? Is it not only what I have taught you that you know?”

“I have a girlfriend now, and she does it differently and I enjoy it the way she does it,” Brian said in a voice he imagined was grownup.

Clara threw her head back and laughed. “See this one? Who dashed you girlfriend,” she said in the midst of teary-eyed laughter.

“She made me shake the way you shake. And I know what the shaking feels like too now. So you have to make me shake too as I make you shake, otherwise…” he said.

“Sharrap there! Who gave you mouth to talk? You think this is about your enjoyment? Do your brothers think of my enjoyment when they use me? I do anything and everything they want without asking questions and you will do the same now!” she shouted. As she shouted, she recalled images of being tied up by the two vermin that the older Okwurah boys were, while the boys tried things they had watched in movies on her body until they were exhausted. So this little rat too thought he could do like his older brothers and enjoy her without giving her pleasure abi? He was already beginning to show their evil signs of selfishness at this early age. Anger welled up within her. She would teach him a lesson.

Brian cowered under her verbal assault. He didn’t know what to do and he fidgeted. “I will deal with you! You asked for it,” she continued. She then dragged him to the corner and forced him on his knees and placed the stool on his hand. He began to shake even before it touched his hands. “Please Aunty Clara,” he begged but his begging only made her angrier.

She went into the kitchen and got a knife. She waved it before his eyes viciously and said “if your hand drops before this movie finishes, I will throw this knife at you!”

The fear crept into his eyes as he watched her go and sit down, and then she fixed her eyes unwaveringly on him. Once, when he got tired, his hands dropped and the knife flew past his face faster than he could react. Thankfully, it missed. She walked past him to go and retrieve it. “This time I missed, but I won’t miss again,” she said. No matter how his hands ached after that, he didn’t drop them.

******************++++++++++++++++++

“Your Aunty Laraba is getting married next month and she wants you Inya to be her little bride,” Hajara announced at the breakfast table. Inya yelped in excitement.

Everyone was seated at the table, even the fully dressed Donald. He decided to have breakfast quickly with the family before heading out for the weekend’s round of meetings. The NCC Chairman was in town to see him.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on, I’m not finished,” Hajara said as she struck her plate with the fork. When Inya became quiet, she continued “and she is coming from Abuja,” she paused dramatically until the girls couldn’t take it and Oyiza shrieked “wheeeeeeen!”

Laughing, Hajara told them their aunt had taken the first flight and had called her that she was on her way from the airport already. The girls began to chatter excitedly. Aunty Laraba was their favorite aunt. She always got them beautiful dresses when she came, plus storybooks for Oyiza and the reigning dolls for Inya. She just always seemed to know what to come with for the girls. And she could tell the most amazing stories and always listened to whatever they wanted to say when she was in Lagos.

“Idris, confirm that the housekeeper has fixed up the guestroom for her after breakfast. She’ll be here anytime soon, since there shouldn’t be traffic from the mainland today.”

Idris got up to go and do as he was asked. He had been super quiet all through the meal but no one took any notice. Not long after he left, Donald kissed his girls on the forehead and took his leave.

The children’s piano teacher came not long after and they went into the music room with him.

“I hope you have practiced your scales,” he said without a smile. He was the dourest possible piano teacher in the whole wide world but he was really good with the piano. Oyiza sat down and ran her scales perfectly in one go. She stood up and bowed dramatically to an imaginary audience and Inya scoffed. Silly showoff, Inya thought. When did she even practice the scales?

Inya went to the piano and touched the keys gingerly. The truth was that she really didn’t like music, but her dad always went on and on about how he knew they would soon be doing piano twin recitals and all that she didn’t want to disappoint him. She would rather sit and dress the dolls she had than touch the piano. Now, she looked at the keys and wasn’t even sure which scales she was supposed to run.

“Inya, we are waiting,” the teacher’s stern voice reminded her. She began to strike the keys in hope that she would at least play something that would pass for the scales. She wasn’t halfway through when the teacher shouted “stop it, stop it!”

She turned to look at him and his yellow face had gone red as if he was going to have a heart attack.

“I am going to have to tell your dad about how unserious you are with your music lessons. Didn’t your sister just run the scales with pristine perfection?”

Inya did not know what pristine meant but she could make out that it meant very very great. Oyiza tried to explain to the teacher “she had an attack this week so couldn’t…”

The teacher hushed her. It stung Inya that she needed to get Oyiza’s sympathy.

“I am going to have to tell your father about this,” he said.

Inya thought about it. A thought occurred to her and she stood up from the piano. Picking her steps with as much grace as she could muster, she walked towards the teacher and hugged him from behind. Because he was sitting down, she was about his height and so she whispered into his ears “please don’t tell daddy, it’ll make him so sad. I’ll do better next week.”

As she said this, she ran her small hands down his sides.

The teacher was shocked. If he didn’t know better, he would think that Inya was trying to seduce him. He waved the thought away. She was just sorry and was trying to pacify him. Maybe that was how they did in all these ajebuta houses.

“Okay, I won’t tell your daddy this time. But you have to try much harder with your piano lessons.” His voice was much calmer.

Wow, Inya thought. Uncle Idris had been right. It had worked! She had found the key to escaping bad situations. She said meekly “I promise I will.”

Oyiza watched the whole drama that had just unfolded before her wide-eyed. It was as if Inya had worked some magic as she touched the teacher. Was this how Inya had convinced Brian to become her friend so quickly yesterday? Was it Uncle Idris that taught her? Was this what he had been trying to teach her the night before? But she knew what he had been trying to teach her was bad, otherwise, why did he hide under the bed when daddy came in?

Inya’s shriek brought her out of her thoughts. “Aunty is here!” she screamed with excitement. She turned around and saw a smiling Aunty Laraba coming towards them. She joined Inya shrieking and the events she had just witnessed took the backseat in her mind instantly. They both rushed towards her and almost toppled her when they jumped on her together.

The piano teacher packed his books. He was sure piano lessons for the day were over.

ff on twitter @tundeleye

Burnt – Episode 4

Here’s the 4th Episode of Burnt. You can read the 3rd Episode HERE 

TL

BURNT WITH WORDS

Donald returned to a quiet house. The last few days had been super stressful, with his company’s ongoing acquisition of the fourth largest CDMA network in the country. It was his thought that data was the key to making money from telecoms in the future, and he was about to put his money where his mouth was. In other saner places, the acquisition would have been a straightforward business transaction. But in Nigeria, as usual, it was a different ballgame entirely, with political, regional and all other nonsense undertones. He knew he would be getting home too late to see the girls now, so he decided to make a quick stop in their room and just look at them before heading across the gym to their own room. It would turn out to be one of the most fateful decisions he would ever make.

The moment he opened the door, he sensed that something was not right. He felt around for the switch and turned the lights on. He took two quick strides into the room and saw Inya shaking, with Oyiza sleeping peacefully by her side. Quickly, he picked her up and got her seating with her back against the wall. He started shouting “Hajara! Hajara!” she didn’t respond, she probably didn’t hear him. He was torn between leaving the girl shaking here and going to get the inhaler in his room or not.

Thankfully, he remembered the intercom they had installed in the girls’ room and taught them to use once it was past their bedtime and they needed to talk to mummy or daddy. It had been his idea. He picked it up and dialed his room. Hajara picked up on the second ring.

“Hajara, get the inhaler and meet me in the girls’ room now!” he ordered, skipping any pleasantries.

He had barely dropped the phone when the door opened. That was fast, he thought. Then he looked up and saw it was Idris, wearing just shorts and a singlet.

“Uncle, is anything the matter? I heard you shouting now,” he asked.

“Inya is having an attack!” Donald said, and Idris’ eyes went to the wall where Inya was backed up against. By now, Oyiza had woken up. Of course she had been awake when her father had come in but she pretended to be asleep. With all this commotion though, she couldn’t act asleep any longer without raising any suspicion. She got up, rubbing her eyes and asked “what is it, why is everyone here?”

“Your sister is having an attack,” Donald answered. “Ow!” Oyiza remarked, feigning as much surprise as she could manage.

“Where the hell is this woman?” Donald bellowed.

Idris got up to go and check on her but just as he got to the door, it swung open unexpectedly, hitting him in the face and sending him reeling backwards onto the floor. An onrushing Hajara practically climbed over him mumbling apologies. She rushed the Ventolin inhaler to the child, carrying her as she administered it. As Idris gathered himself off the floor, his eyes caught something gleaming under Oyiza’s covers.

Donald was already dialing the doctor’s number. If the inhaler didn’t work, they would have to get her to the hospital and get the drugs administered intravenously. He hoped it wouldn’t get to that.

Twenty minutes later, Inya had become stable and everyone in the room heaved a sigh of relief. Donald insisted that she come and join them in the master bedroom so they could watch over her for the night. One by one, everyone left the room, leaving Oyiza alone. The circus was leaving, she thought, as she settled into the bed to sleep. She didn’t bother to turn the lights out, she could sleep with them on. She felt so alone already. Turning the lights out would only make it even worse.

As she began to doze off, she heard the door open. She wondered who had come back for her. Maybe they would come to ask her too to come and sleep in mummy and daddy’s room. She really wanted to, but no one had asked her. It was only Uncle Idris. She flopped back into the bed as he took a seat beside her.

“Inya stole Brian from you shay?” Idris asked.

“She always steals everyone from me. Everyone!” Oyiza found herself saying with more vehemence than she meant to let off. The resentment she always tried to deny she felt was beginning to boil over now.

“Even your mummy and daddy?” Idris asked, leading her on.

“See the way they have taken her to be with them and left only me here. It’s always Inya Inya Inya Inya! Do they even want me Uncle?”

“But isn’t Uncle Idris always there for you? Am I not the one that has come to stay with you even now when all the others have left to follow Inya?” he asked.

She thought for a few moments and then nodded “yes uncle, you are always there. Always, always.” She smiled a little.

He lifted her up and put her on his laps. “Unlike everyone else, I’ll always be your friend. I’m never going to leave with Inya, I’ll always be there for you.”

Oyiza liked this. She snuggled up to uncle Idris, wishing daddy or mummy would rock her like this, the way they had rocked Inya minutes ago. Her eyes were closed and she was falling asleep when she felt something creep between her legs. Instantly, she was awake and it was then she saw Uncle Idris hands inside her pajamas. She immediately jumped up from his laps.

“Uncle, why are you touching me there? It is bad for you to touch me there.” Her eyes were now wide open.

“What is the problem?” Idris said, livid. “Don’t I touch you there when I’m bathing you?”

“That is different uncle, you are not bathing me now,” Oyiza said with as much firmness as she could muster.

“So you want to be finally alone? Everyone always leaves you. Do you want me to leave you too? You will be a lonely, lonely little girl when I’m no longer your friend.”

“But you were my friend before Uncle, and you never touched me like that. Why do you have to touch me to be my friend now?” Oyiza asked, puzzled.

Idris hadn’t thought she would have clear logic as strong as that. He groped around in his mind for a valid comeback but found none. She got up and went to the door, about to leave the room. He quickly stood up and raced to the door to block it. Oyiza remembered things much better than Inya and she was much smarter at saying what she remembered in detail than Inya. He had no doubt that she would go straight to her parents, wake them up and tell them everything. If Inya also spoke up, he was a goner.

“Where are you going to?” he asked.

“I am going to mummy and daddy’s room, I want to go and sleep there.” Oyiza answered.

“And why don’t you want to sleep in your own room. They didn’t call you, did they? Weren’t you planning to sleep here before?” Idris asked, angry that this little girl was trying play coy and outsmart him.

“I just want to go uncle,” she responded, raising her voice.

Idris saw the unspoken threat. If she shouted loud enough for her parents to come, kasala would burst. He held her shoulders and said quietly “stop shouting!”

Ignoring him, Oyiza said even louder “Uncle you’re hurting me. Let me go!”

In times of desperation, ideas flash through one’s mind at super speed. Idris was desperate and his mind groped for something to shut his niece up. His mind flashed through all those episodes of Crime and Investigation he had watched where people committed murders in situations like this just to shut people up and solve the immediate problem. They always ended up creating bigger problems for themselves and he was ashamed he even allowed the thought of killing his niece creep into his mind. He discarded the thought and many others raced through his mind, until he remembered something he had seen earlier. His frenetic mind made the connections quicker than it would have if he hadn’t been desperate and he knew he had struck gold.

“I know your little secret,” Idris said to her as he fell on one knee to be at eyelevel with her.

Her eyes shifted and his suspicion was confirmed. She indeed had that secret.

“What? Which secret?” she asked, her voice considerably lowered.

“How did Inya’s asthma attack start today?” Idris asked jeeringly.

“Everybody knows Inya’s asthma can come anytime,” Oyiza said, flustered. If she had been any older, she would have done a much better job at hiding what was going on inside her. But at eight, all those types of wiles were yet to be developed. Idris read her like an open book.

He simply stood up and walked to the bed and pulled out the can of insecticide from under her sheets. She ran up to him and tried to snatch it out of his hands but he held it out of her reach.

“I saw what you did. I saw everything. You used this to cause Inya’s attack while she was sleeping, because of Brian!” he said. From her reaction, he knew his guess was correct. She held her head down, as good as if she had said yes.

Idris smiled lasciviously and sat back on the bed.

“But Uncle Idris is your friend, and he won’t tell on you. He’s not like everybody else who wants to hurt you. He just needs you to be a good girl and nobody will hear your secret.”

Oyiza looked up, shy and defeated.

“You promise?” she asked.

“I promise, promise!” Idris said emphatically, crossing his heart.

She stood where she was, fidgeting until Idris tapped his laps and said “come and sit here.”

She obeyed and walked up to him gingerly. He lifted her up to his laps and began to reach into her pajamas again. She closed her eyes and tried to shut everything else out.

The house was extremely quiet; otherwise Idris would not have heard it on time. Before he could reach into her panties, he heard a sound of someone approaching. He surveyed the room. “Shit!” he exclaimed and Oyiza opened her eyes. “What?” she said, glad for whatever had given her respite. He dumped her on the bed and looked around the room like a hungry animal. The door began to creak open. He looked to the bathroom, but realized he couldn’t get there quickly enough before the door opened so he fell heavily to the ground and rolled under the bed, pulling the sheets down to cover the side he was.

He heard Donald speaking with Oyiza. His teeth were almost chattering. “I should have stayed out and let him see me. Then I would have been able to explain myself. But if he finds me under the bed, it will be so damning that it won’t be explainable,” he thought to himself. He hoped that Oyiza would shut her mouth.

“Zaza, you haven’t slept?” Donald said.

“I couldn’t sleep daddy, I was worried about Inya,” she said.

“Why didn’t you come over to stay with her then,” Donald quizzed.

“Because you and mummy didn’t ask me to come along. I thought I should stay back since I wasn’t called,” Oyiza responded.

“Zaza, you should have come if you wanted to. You didn’t have to wait to be called,” Donald said.

“Really daddy?” Oyiza said, sounding very happy. To Idris, it was because she could leave the room with her dad that she was happy. In reality, the little girl was happy because she had discovered that she didn’t have to ask or be called to be a part of her family. She was a part of it already and she should just live it.

Idris let out a sigh of relief when he heard the door close and the room became quiet. He waited for another five minutes before rolling out from under the bed and making his way quietly to his own room in the darkness. He hoped the leverage the insecticide gave him over Oyiza was enough to keep her mouth shut.

Burnt – Episode 3

There’ll be another Write Right soon. Much bigger than the 1st One. Read about the 1st one HERE

If its your 1st time on tlsplace, read Episode 1 of Burnt HERE and 2 HERE

Remember to follow the blog by clicking the “Follow and Recieve Notifications” button (on the sidebar for PC and below the comments for mobile devices) and supply your email. That way, you get automatic email notifications for each tlsplace post. Enjoy today’s Episode.

BURNT WITH WORDS

Oyiza was super excited about going to school today. After all, she was going to get to see Brian again. When they got into the car, Inya jumped into the front seat as usual but she couldn’t care less. Inya could have Uncle Idris all to herself for as long as she liked.

In the front, Idris debated internally on whether he should try to ask Inya on the ride. He decided that it wasn’t a good idea. Oyiza was known to be one who could repeat any conversation she had heard almost word for word if she wanted to. Even if Oyiza didn’t quite understand what they said, if she blurted out to his sister or her husband, they would surely decode it. He played loud music on the journey and drove as if he was in a hurry to get to their school on time. And he did. They arrived in the school about fifteen minutes earlier than usual and the school car park area was not yet as rowdy as it would be in a few minutes.

Immediately the car stopped and the pop sound informed the girls that he had unlatched the child lock, they threw the doors open, each for different reasons. Inya wanted to get away from Uncle Idris fast, and Oyiza simply couldn’t wait to see Brian. The way they bolted surprised Idris. He hadn’t been expecting them to leave so suddenly. Leaving the engine running, he undid his seatbelt and tumbled out of the car to try to catch Inya. Oyiza had already left her behind. Inya was asthmatic and she couldn’t keep up with her sister. Idris caught up with her in three quick bounds. For the first time since yesterday, they were alone.

He fell on one knee and came to the level of her face. She trembled all over, unable to still herself.

“Inya, why are you shaking? Are you afraid of me?” Idris asked

“No Uncle,” she managed to whisper in a small voice. Fear was good, Idris thought. He could use that. “Did you tell your mummy our little secret?” he asked. She didn’t answer. “Oh my God” he thought. Her hesitation meant she had said something.

“You couldn’t keep a secret. I’ll just ask Aisha to teach Oyiza herself so she can be the one that becomes Brian’s friend,” he said.

“I did not tell on you Uncle. But I don’t like this thing, it doesn’t make me feel pretty at all. I felt dirty,” she said.

“Do you think Aisha is dirty?” Idris asked her.

She shook her head vigorously. Aunty Aisha was always pretty just like Genevieve.

“Good, and she does that everytime, and even more. You try it with Brian and if he becomes your friend, I’ll teach you more to keep him if you want.”

Inya was confused. If what Uncle Idris was saying was true, then she just didn’t know again. There was only one way to be sure if what he was saying was true.

“So we are cool again, yeah?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Talk to me now, Inya,” Idris said beseechingly.

“Okay Uncle Idris.” She said and then raced away. Idris heaved a sigh of relief as he watched her go. That had gone well. He had established she hadn’t told anyone and he could manipulate her to keep it that way. He gathered himself together, got up and walked back to the car slowly.

When Inya got into the classroom, she spotted Oyiza playfully chatting away with Brian, looking all cheery. Jealousy welled up within her but she held her nose in the air and acted like she didn’t take any notice of them. When she got to her seat, she said hello to all her friends and they began to chat about the iCarly episode of the previous day on Nickelodeon.

“Brian is going to be our friend by the end of today.” Inya declared suddenly in the middle of their chit chat. The other four became quiet. They hadn’t forgotten how he embarrassed them the previous day.

Basirat spoke up “how are you so sure Inya?”

“Because Inya always gets what Inya wants. And Inya wants Brian to be our friend.” Inya responded. Then like a little general marshalling her troops, she began to dish out directives.

“Basirat, tell Kingsley he will be leaving his seat to go and be with Oyiza after break time.” Kingsley was the boy that sat next to Basirat and he would do what she asked. Inya turned to Charles and continued “Charles, you will help me go and tell Brian something. I will tell you quietly in your ear and you will tell him quietly too. No one else must hear it. After break time, we will change how we are sitting like this,” she pointed as she spoke to make it clear “so that I will be next to Brian when he comes to seat with us.”

They all didn’t move at first. Inya urged them on “go now, before Miss Kunat comes in”. That spurred them on and they all set about carrying out her instructions.

Oyiza watched Charles come and whisper something to Brian. She didn’t say anything about it. She didn’t want to do anything to make him angry, and she had seen her daddy get angry at her mummy at times when she asked many questions. She simply smiled and they continued talking until Miss Kunat came in and took the roll call. By the time they were doing social studies, she had forgotten about Charles’ whispering.

When it was break time, Brian escorted her to the playground and they went back to the swings, giggling. After a few moments, Kingsley came to call Brian. He said Miss Kunat was calling him. Oyiza thought the day over to see if they had done anything bad that would make their class teacher want to see Brian now. As if he read her thoughts, he said reassuringly “I’m sure it is something about my transfer. I’ll be right back.” Then he was gone. Oyiza had never felt so alone before. And she waited and waited, but Brian did not come back before the break was over. To her little mind, the fifteen minutes she waited till the end of the break time seemed like an eternity.

**************++++++++++++++++

When Brian got to the classroom, it was empty. All the pupils were out for break and the teachers had gone to catch up on the latest gossip. In the corner at the back of the room, Inya stood. He went to her with a little scowl on his face.

“So what do you want?” he said with as much sternness as he could muster in his pre-puberty voice.

“I can give you something that your girlfriend cannot give you,” Inya said with a knowing smile as she moved closer.

“What is it? Let me see it,” he said skeptically.

“I’ll have to show you.” She responded. By now she was in front of him, transformed from the little girl to a manipulative woman by the knowledge she had while he lost all the manliness he was trying to put forward and became a little boy. Even before she did anything, she knew the tables were turned. She was now in the driver’s seat.

The male uniform was a shirt tucked into a pair of shorts. The waistband was elastic and did not require a belt. She easily pulled this down along with his underwear. He was nowhere near Uncle Idris in size. She could definitely get him to shake like he did. He tried to resist half-heartedly before he relaxed and fell into a chair. Then she really began. When he shook, she knew it was his first time. Uncle Idris was right. She had him in her power now and would be hers alone.

*************+++++++++

Oyiza walked slowly to the classroom after the break. She kept looking around as she went, expecting Brian to join her so she could walk into the class majestically with him by her side. It didn’t happen. She peeped into the staffroom to see if he was there. Miss Kunat wasn’t there and neither was Brian. They had probably rushed to the class after break, she reasoned.

When she got into the class, her eyes went straight to her seat. In place of Brian, she saw Kingsley seated beside her desk. She bounded over to him and demanded angrily

“Why are you sitting on Brian’s chair? Get up before he comes or I will report you to Miss Kunat!”

“It’s no longer Brian’s seat. He exchanged with me.”

Oyiza’s head immediately shot up and she looked towards Inya’s side of the class. She knew that was where Kingsley normally sat. He was one of those who wasn’t cute enough to be amongst Inya’s four but still hung on to them. Sure enough, Brian was there, right beside Inya. Kanayo had moved to Kingsley’s former seat and Brian had taken his own to Inya’s left. She rubbed her eyes in disbelief. What had happened to “No! Never!” from yesterday? No wonder she had waited and waited. She knew immediately that the whole Miss Kunat is calling you thing was planned and that Brian had been in on the plan. It must have been what Charles had come to whisper to him in the morning. Hot tears welled up in her eyes. Inya had done it again; she had stolen the only friend Oyiza had. She began to walk angrily towards them when Miss Kunat walked in and said firmly “children, the break is over. All, to your seats and keep quiet for the next lesson.” She stopped in her tracks and turned back slowly. She had never felt so alone before in her life. In the space of twenty four hours, her little heart had fallen in love, and then had itself blown to smithereens.

Oyiza sat through the rest of school that day impatiently. The moment the closing bell rang and Miss Kunat left the classroom, she sped towards Inya’s corner. Ignoring all the other kids, she addressed Brian.

“Why did you lie to me? You did not go to Miss Kunat during break.”

Avoiding her gaze, Brian answered “I had to do something and didn’t want you to be there,” he blurted out.

“So you just left me alone? And now you have moved to this place to sit with them? You have left me alone!” she waved her hand around as she spoke, her little body shaking with the emotions she could not understand at that age.

When he didn’t answer, her eyes flashed and she continued “I did not ask you to be my friend. I was happy the way I was, and you came to make me think you would be my friend. Why? Why didn’t you just leave me alone? And now you have left me alone.” Then to Inya, she said “are you happy now?”

Then she turned away before the tears came. She would not let them have the pleasure of seeing her cry. She went back to the swings in the now deserted playground and let the tears come. They would soon come to get them. She dried her eyes and decided there and then that it would be the last time she cried because of anyone. They all just always left.

***************++++++++++++++++

“Normalcy restored” was the first thought that came into Hajara’s mind when Inya was the boisterous one when she got home that evening. She quickly mentally corrected herself. “Where is your sister?” she asked Inya when Oyiza didn’t come to the door to greet her.

Inya pointed to the corner where Oyiza was curled up with a copy of her fairytale. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that she would have normally shut the book to greet her, but now totally acted like she hadn’t heard her come in.

“Oyiza, you won’t come and greet mummy?” she said.

This time, it was Inya that was dancing around the living room while Oyiza slammed the book closed angrily and letf the living room. Hajara was about to get angry and follow her to scold her when Idris quickly gave Hajara a rundown of how Brian had now decamped to Inya and how Oyiza was taking it. Hajara calmed down. She was glad that today, unlike yesterday, she would be here to be the one to comfort her daughter.

When she got to the room, the lights were turned out. She sat beside on the bed and lifted her sobbing daughter to her laps, rocking her back and forth, whispering soothing words to her. But Oyiza had already made her mind up. She would get back to Inya.

*************++++++++++++++

Now that they were alone, Inya told Idris about how she had tried the things with Brian and how he had been following her around like a puppy since then. When she was done, she asked him intently

“When do I learn more things?”

Idris was almost taken aback by the boldness with which she asked. She had gone from the shy and angry girl in the morning to an enthusiastic “student” now. He smiled that lascivious smile again and said “we will find a way to create your lesson time.”

Hajara walked in with Oyiza just as he was saying this and she smiled “someone is changing and is now interested in her lessons! Uncle Idris is a miracle worker.” She smiled.

Idris heaved a sigh of relief. That was close. He hadn’t heard Hajara come in, but he was glad she hadn’t heard the earlier parts of the conversation. He put on a plastic smile and said “yes o, she wants to be top of her class from now on and Uncle Idris has no choice but to help her.”

As they laughed, Oyiza’s little mind seethed. Even though mummy had promised to never leave her alone, the moment they came into the living room, it was as if they forgot she was there and the whole talk became about Inya. She would get back at her for always stealing everything to herself.

That night, after dinner, their mum tucked them in and Oyiza acted as if she was asleep. The moment her mum stepped out of the room, she checked to make sure Inya was really asleep. She was. She reached under the bed and retrieved the can of odorless insecticide she had brought into the room. She shook the can well as she had seen her mum do and then sprayed it directly over her asthmatic sister. It didn’t take two minutes before Inya woke up to a violent asthma attack.

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Burnt – Episode 2

I announced the winner of the Baba Risi Illustration this morning. Ekene Ngige won. By the way, I think I need to take some of those that commented on the competition before Baba Risi for some of the comments they made.

The reactions to the first episode of BURNT shocked even me. I thought I knew how rampant the issue of sexual abuse of children by friends and family was, until that episode. The deluge of feedback I got made me know that these things run deep and wide. I understand that some memories that most people want forgotten were brought back, and I apologise. But we need to discuss this issue and how we can protect our children. Thanks to the Daley, a tlsplacer who directed me to The Underwear Rule in his/her comment. I think its a great tool to use to protect our children. Read more about it here. http://www.underwearrule.org/howto_en.asp 

But pray for the kids. Nothing else can protect them better than this.

TL

BURNT WITH WORDS

Hajara ran one of the prime makeup studios on the island. With her enterprise and her husband’s backing, she had grown it into one of the biggest brands around. Just recently, she had launched her own line of beauty products and it was an instant sellout. Owning her own business which was flexible was a compromise, one she had come to with Donald. He had been opposed to her doing any sort of work, insisting that he made more than enough to provide for his family. But she would have none of it and almost took up a job. They had gone back and forth on the issue until they eventually agreed that she would work, but it would be her own business and it would not be a boutique, events management, consulting or all the high stress, plenty traveling type of work. Makeup had been a perfect fit and it was one of her passions. It was one of her greatest sources of pride that she had been able to build the business herself and it was uber-successful.

That evening as she returned home from the studio, Hajara was surprised by her daughters. First, Oyiza was the one who greeted her at the door. Even before she sat down, her daughter was regaling with tales of how great school had been that day, uncharacteristically talkative of her. Normally, Inya would be the one who met her at the door, while Oyiza was curled up on the sofa watching TV or reading some of her beloved storybooks. When she was able to get a word out in, between Oyiza’s stories, she asked

“Where is Inya? Is she well?”

Oyiza snickered as she responded “she’s being a cry baby who wants to see you her mummy in the room. She’s been there the since we came back from school.”

“What happened to her?” Hajara asked as she hurried towards the girls’ room.

Oyiza went after her, recounting the episode involving Brian as she did. Hajara was relieved that it wasn’t some physical ailment that had brought her daughter down. But thinking about it again, she knew this would probably hit her more than any sickness could. If the tables had been turned and Oyiza was the one who had experienced what Inya did, she would not have been this worried. But with Inya, it was a different matter. She had learnt long ago that things affected them differently.

She got to the room and quickly opened the door, with Oyiza right behind her. Inya was curled up in one corner of the bed with her back to the door. If she was awake, she did not show any signs of being so. Hajara looked sternly at Oyiza and waved a finger in warning so that she would behave herself and not gloat.

She sat down on the bed and touched her daughter, waiting for her to stir if she was awake. When nothing happened, she guessed Inya was asleep and shook her a little.

Inya had hoped that they would leave her alone when they came in and she pretended to be asleep. She really did not want to talk to anybody. She felt dirty and disgusted with what Uncle Idris had made her do hours earlier. She had thought it was going to be some nice lessons like things she watched on Barney and Friends, but it hadn’t been anything like that. She shut the memory away, trying to pretend that it hadn’t happened. He had made her touch him and touch him until her hands ached, yet he didn’t let her stop.

Then suddenly, his eyes had looked funny and he shook as if something was wrong with him. She was about to scream when he hushed her up and then looked at her in a way she would never forget and told her “if you do this to Brian and he shakes like this, he will be your friend alone.”

Then he had taken her to the bathroom, given her a warm bath and taken her back into the room. Before he left, he had warned her sternly “if you tell anyone about this, you will never have any friends again because of this secret.”

She could never look at Uncle Idris the same way again after that, but she would not tell anybody. She didn’t want to be alone.

She turned and stretched like she was just waking up. “Good evening mummy!” she said putting on a fake smile. When Hajara saw her daughter smile, she let out a sigh of relief. She touched Inya’s neck to feel her temperature and it was normal

“How are you? Were you so tired from school that you slept so much?” she asked.

“I was sad when I came back from school, but Uncle Idris came to cheer me up and I’m happy again.” Inya said sweetly.

The honking of a car horn cut into their conversation. The two girls screeched in unison “Daddy!” and raced out of the room. Hajara let them go and meet their father, while she went into the kitchen to fix dinner. She met Idris there, taking a drink from the two-door refrigerator. She wondered what she would do without him now as per the girls; he was so good with them. She was glad he had helped handle Inya’s tantrums and cheered her up this afternoon. A house-help would definitely have ignored the girl.

“Good evening aunty,” he said.

“Idris how are you. I hear you had to stop a civil war between the girls today and cheer one of the parties up. Thank you o.” she laughed as she said this.

Idris looked like he was embarrassed for being thanked for helping with the girls. Hajara placed a hand on his shoulder and said seriously “seriously, thanks for being so great with the girls.” Then she turned and opened the chest freezer and said, “Now, what to warm for dinner…”

Idris quickly escaped from the kitchen. He wondered if Inya had blurted out anything. His sister had never thanked him about the girls and it was suspicious that she suddenly did so today. When he got to the living room, their daddy was already back with one of his friends that came to the house a lot, Mr. Udoh. He knew he would not have the chance to be alone with Inya till morning. He bit his fingers.

“Chief Idris,” the loud Udoh was saying, slapping him on the back. “Shay we will not find you wife like this, with this everlasting ASUU strike that is not ending.” Udoh and Donald roared with laughter and Idris quickly joined in. As Udoh sat down, he called Inya to come and sit on his laps. “Inyus Inyus peperempe, come and sit on uncle’s laps now,” he said in his rambunctious way. Normally, Inya would have raced to go and sit there, but today, she seemed to be hesitant, looking to Idris. Inside her, Inya trembled. The laps were so close to where she had touched Uncle Idris today. She didn’t want to be anywhere near anyone’s laps. Idris tried to avoid her gaze, so that it would not be obvious. He broke out in sweat inside the air-conditioned room.

“Inya, what is it?” Donald asked, noticing the way his daughter tensed up at Udoh’s request.

Idris quickly jumped in “Inya, go and answer Uncle Udoh now,” he said tersely with a sideways nod of his head in Udoh’s direction.

Inya walked gingerly to Udoh and sat on his laps. “Now, that’s a good girl,” Udoh said, bringing out some chocolates and giving them to Inya. All the while, Oyiza sat curled up on the Sofa, uninterested in what was going on, glad that Mr. Udoh wasn’t paying any attention to her.

At that moment, Hajara walked into the living room to announce that dinner was served. She nearly had a fit when she saw Inya on Udoh’s laps. She had taken this up with Donald severally but he still allowed and encouraged it.

“Inya, come and help mummy finish setting dinner up,” she said, eyeing Donald.

Even though she was not called, Oyiza went with her mum to the dining area. Donald knew what that look meant. He was too tired for a quarrel tonight, but he could see it brewing, only waiting for two of them to be alone in the room before it exploded. As a rule, Hajara made sure that everyone in the house had dinner together. All the members of the Wadada family ate quietly save for an occasional comment or request to pass something, each silent for their own different reasons.

Udoh was oblivious to the tension at the dining table though. He just rambled on and on, sharing one story after the other and laughing loudly. Even when little Oyiza sarcastically asked him about table manners, he merely brushed it aside saying “food is the engine of life” and then laughed again.

They were glad when dinner was over and he left immediately after. It was the girls’ bedtime and Hajara went to tuck them in. The moment they fell asleep, she crossed the gym area and flung the door to the master bedroom open. The lights were out.

“Donald, I know you are not asleep, so stop pretending!” she said as she turned the lights on.

Donald didn’t stir. If there was one thing that wasn’t perfect about his wife, it was her temper. She was like a grown up Inya throwing tantrums when she was riled up. The good part was that it took a lot to get her worked up, and he apparently had done the “a lot” required this night.

“Donald Wadada, you better sit up and listen to me now, since you refused to listen all the many times I said this calmly!” Inya said louder. She struggled to keep her voice down since the kids were just across.

Donald knew he could not go on pretending, so he sat up. “Hajara, what is it now? You know I’ve had a very long day and I’m tired. So let’s sleep and you cuddle and comfort me like you should now,” he said, his attempt at a joke coming out lame.

“Donald I’m not joking. I have said severally that our kids are girls and we need to be careful! I am not comfortable with any of your friends carrying any of my daughters on their laps and all those kinds of physical things. Must the girl be on his laps before he gives her chocolates? I’ve heard all sorts of stories of things happening to girls of all ages and I don’t want my daughters to be victims!”

“Haba, we have known Udoh for how long? He has always been like that now, it’s just him. Forget the stories you’ve heard, Udoh cannot…” Donald was saying when she cut in.

“In every story, it’s always someone who has been known for long and who they are comfortable having physical contact with. I’m not saying Udoh specifically, I’m talking generally. Our girls are becoming women right before our very eyes!”

Donald laughed a little “Women? Hajara, don’t be dramatic. They’re just eight. That’s a long way from being a woman. You my dear, are a woman” he said, attempting to reach her.

Hajara slapped his hand away and hissed “look at you. Do you know that they are liking boys already? Inya came home crying today because a boy she liked wasn’t being her friend and was being Oyiza’s friend. Wake up o, and smell the coffee. Children grow up faster these days. Your daughters already know what it is to like boys. SO PLEASE, I DON’T WANT THEM SITTING ON ANY FRIEND’S LAPS EN, PLEASE, BIKO, JO, DAN ALLAH, ABEG.” She dramatically went on her knees as she said this.

That explained it, thought Donald. Out aloud, he said. “Hmm. I noticed Inya hesitated before going to sit on Udoh’s laps today so this might be true.”

“Of course it is. They are growing up fast. That’s what I’ve been trying to say since”.

This was news to Donald. He would definitely take his wife seriously now. His daughters were becoming aware of things. A thought occurred to him.

“Since the girls are getting more matured, I think Idris should stop bathing them now. He can still take them to school and help them get ready and all that, but if what you say is true, he should stop.”

“No issues. That means you’re taking this real serious now.” She stood up and sighed, visibly relieved.

Sensing that the fight had blown over, Donald quickly got up and went to hold his wife. She allowed herself relax into his arms. He smiled as he hugged her tight, all the tiredness fleeing from his body and the Black Eyed Peas song “I got a feeling, tonight’s gonna be a good night” ringing in his head.

***************+++++++++

The next morning, Hajara got up a little earlier than she normally did, cutting Donald’s “look at Hajara in her sleep” time by fifteen minutes in order to get to the girls’ room before Idris would. “By showing I’m serious about this thing, Donald will take it seriously too,” she said to herself.

*************+++++++++++

Idris got up a little earlier than usual. He wanted to get Inya alone so that he could find out if she had said anything to anyone. The only time he could think of doing this was when he would bathe the girls. Normally, he would bathe them together but today he planned on separating them and bathing Inya first. He needed to get there before their mum came to check on them before she then went to fix breakfast. He walked briskly towards the girls’ room.

He got there just as his sister was ushering the twins out of their room in their towels. Only Oyiza greeted him boisterously as the girls would normally do. Hajara thought maybe Inya was tired from getting up a little earlier than usual and waived this fact.

“Good morning aunty,” Idris said, deliberately choosing not to notice that Inya didn’t greet him.

“Idris, good morning. How was your night?” Hajara asked.

“Very well o, I slept well.” Then addressing the girls, he said as cheerily as he could “oya, let’s go and get some little girls clean. Bathing time!”

Hajara laughed at the way Idris had put having a bath in a fun way. Then remembering why she had gotten up earlier than normal, she said “ah Idris, mummy will bath the girls from now on. We need to have our girl time away from all you men.”

It was as if Idris had been punched full in the face. He wanted to protest then he caught himself. What reason would he give for wanting to bathe the girls so bad? But the question rushed into his mind “why had his sister suddenly decided to take over bathing the girls?” His eyes shot to Inya, but she wasn’t looking at him. Had the girl said anything and his sister was merely waiting to get them out of the house before acting? Was his brother in law already out and returning with police to get him now? The man had the means to get the police to do anything to him if he wanted to, of that Idris was sure. Instead of giving voice to the thoughts racing through his head, he smiled and said “ah, even though I’ll miss the girls, I’m glad I’ll get some more minutes of sleep.”

“Ah, Uncle Idris, not so fast, you still get to drop the girls in school.” Hajara said

Idris made a face that was meant to mean he was sad about that. Inside, his mind began working out how to get Inya alone on that ride to school. He turned and returned to his room to get dressed for the drive to their school while Hajara led her twins to the bathroom.

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Burnt – Episode 1

The entries for the Baba Risi Illustrators Competition closes at midnight today. I’ve recieved four entries so far. I’ll be posting the entries tomorrow for y’all to vote. Voting will last till next Monday.

We begin BURNT today. Enjoy.

TL

BURNT WITH WORDS

Donald Wadada had been lying awake in bed for the last fifteen minutes. In those fifteen minutes, he had done nothing but stare at the woman sleeping beside him, the one who was his first girlfriend for three years, and had now been his wife for another ten. He could go on looking at her like that all day long, content with nothing but having his eyes feast on her beauty. Here she was, first thing in the morning without makeup, and she was still looking like the most stunning woman in the world. He let his eyes run all the way down her lingerie clad body and then back to her face, feeling a wave of desire course through him as he did. After she had given him a set of twin girls two years into the marriage, the doctor had called him into a small office and told him in clear terms that his wife would not be able to have any other children.

At first, she had been afraid. Afraid that he would want a male child and go outside of their marriage to get one. She worked hard at making her body bounce back, and bounce back it did. But she did not know how he loved her, how she was the center of his world. He could never do such a thing to her. He had eyes only for her, and worshipped the ground on which she walked.

She smiled in her sleep, stirring a little, and he thought she was about to wake up but she settled back into dreamland.

Hajara had almost given away the fact that she was awake when she smiled. After ten years of marriage, it amazed her that her husband was still like this with her. She realized now the wisdom of her aunt when she had told her “you can bring yourself to love any man you marry, because you are a woman. But make sure you marry a man who is crazy about you, and who loves you more than you love him. That, my dear, is the secret to a happy marriage.” Those words rang true about her and Donald even now.

She remembered how everyone in her circle had been when she started seeing him all those years ago now. She had been a finalist in the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria competition, and the general opinion was that she should have won. Everyone thought she was destined for a life of stardom, dating celebrities local and international and maybe settle down with some rich oil magnate or foreign designer. So they were all shocked when she brought this shy guy who ran a modest IT firm on the mainland to them. He was the classical IT geek caricature. He wore thick glasses, jeans and t-shirts and his idea of a date stopped at seeing the Facebook movie or the Steve Jobs biopic. By dating him, she effectively dropped out of the social radar and stopped appearing on the magazine covers and blogposts. It was around that time that he accompanied her to some family event that she couldn’t quite remember now. Funny how things that seemed like the world when they happened became insignificant with the passing of time. He was sitting on a table that day, looking around awkwardly while she was with some family members. The conversation inevitably turned to the two of them and everyone said what they had been saying since the first time she introduced him “Hajara, you are dating beneath you!” it was after they had all gone, that aunty pulled her aside and spoke those words of wisdom.

Thankfully, she had listened to her aunt and not the rest of the family. Three years after that, she walked down the aisle with Donald and became Mrs. Wadada. That was in March 2003, early in the internet era in Nigeria. When the internet boom began, Donald was well positioned to be at its forefront. From a struggling IT company, his business grew to become a giant. Today, he had emerged as one of the richest men in Lagos. Hajara always said an internal “in your face” anytime they came across any of those people that had said she should leave him. After his money came, she had braced herself up for what she thought was the inevitable – the other women. But they simply never came. She was beyond ecstatic that she had listened to her aunt. Any other man but Donald and she was sure they would have entered the “carry your women but not in my face phase”.

Finally, she opened her eyes and cooed “good morning baby,” and he smiled back at her, moving closer to kiss her on the forehead.

“Morning darling. That is the holy kiss. Now this is the real good morning kiss.” With that he kissed her full on the lips, passionately.

Of course, the lanky frame had filled out now, and the hairline was beginning to recede but he managed to stay fit. She demanded it, asking why would she be working my ass off to look good for him and he would be allowed to grow a protruding belly?

She sat up in the bed and wrapped a nightdress around herself. She never really slept with that on, it was merely for fashion. “Morning duty calls,” She said as she left the room.

The master bedroom was on the first floor of our two-storey duplex. It opened into a large room where the exercise equipment was installed. On the other side of this mini-gym was the children’s room. She picked her way through the mass of equipment in the space towards their room. She could hear them even getting to the door. Or more correctly, she could hear her.

She opened the door and sure enough, the little girl was jumping up and down all around her twin on the big bed that they shared.

“Play with me, play with me, play with me,” she kept on chanting. The other one just kept on rolling away from her path, ignoring her with an uninterested look on her face.

“Inya!” Hajara shouted and Inya stopped jumping, only now realizing that her mum had walked in. She flashed her perfect teeth and ran over to the door, wrapping her arms around Hajara in tight embrace “Mummy!” she shouted too.

That was Inya, adorable Inya. She looked like a miniature version of her mum. “This child is just a drama queen” Hajara thought to herself. If she entered a room and she was not the center of attention within five minutes, she would employ every antic her eight year old mind could come up with to capture everyone’s attention. She would not be satisfied until then. Hajara’s folks told her she had been like that when she was her daughter’s age, but she always vehemently denied it.

In contrast, Ohiza was like her father. Tall for her age, she didn’t possess her sister’s cuteness or easy charm. She would rather go into a room and sit in a corner, watching everyone. It was only when she got home that she would almost accurately tell you everything that happened in the room, if she was in the mood to talk. Hajara was scolding Inya now, but as usual, she was paying absolutely no attention.

“Good morning sis,” a male voice came from behind Hajara.

Immediately they heard his voice, the two girls bolted out of the room to greet their uncle. He was the only one that Ohiza took easily to. Though he was Hajara’s youngest brother, he was more like her son. He was twenty three, sixteen years her junior and she had basically taken care of him while their mum worked when they were younger. Naturally, he had moved in with her when he got into the University of Lagos, and had helped the Wadadas raise their own kids. Because they needed him for this, he had never stayed in the hostel all through school and now he was in his final year. They gave him a car to use in school so he could go from their place in Oniru.

He tried to pick them up and feigned difficulty “you girls are becoming too big for uncle to carry o!” he said and they pushed him over and climbed all over him. He took them away to help them get ready for school while she went to get Donald’s breakfast ready.

*************+++++++

Inya always sat in front whenever Uncle Idris was taking them to school. That way, she could be the one chatting away with him. He was very handsome, and his girlfriend, Aisha was like all the models in the magazines that her mum bought. She wanted to be fine like Aisha when she grew up and she never missed an opportunity to ask questions about being pretty when Aisha came visiting.

As soon as they got into the classroom, she went over the part of the class where all her cute friends like Tomisin, Basirat, Kanayo and Charles sat. She liked coming to school because everybody wanted to be her friend here. They knew her daddy was super rich, and she was the prettiest girl in the whole primary four. Even their class teacher treated her a little special.

Before the class started, the class teacher, Miss Kunat brought a boy into the class. “He’s soooo cute!” Inya whispered to Basirat. Kanayo made a face at her. “No he isn’t”.

“Didn’t your mummy tell you jealousy would make you rotten?” Inya said mockingly and Kanayo quickly shut up. None of them questioned Inya. “He has to be our friend; we’re the cutest in the class.” She said this with an air of finality. By the time she had stopped talking, she had missed his name.

Break time came and Inya and her friends tried to get to the boy. All the other kids were trying to get her attention as she passed with her crew but she ignored them all so she could be the first to make friends with the boy. When they finally found him, the boy was talking to Ohiza by the swing. Inya felt jealousy rise within her as she led her team towards the duo.

In school, since she had all her other friends around, she didn’t try to get Ohiza to play with her like she did at home.

A dry “Hi Ohiza,” was all her twin got, and then she moved on to him. Flashing her most charming smile, she said “Hiiiii”, and the rest of the quartet echoed her.

The boy looked all four of them over and then said “so I don’t have a name? Of course you didn’t hear the teacher saying my name, did you? You were too busy making noise in the class.”

Inya didn’t think before she retorted “of course I did!”

The boy raised an eyebrow lazily “oh, really? What’s my name then?”

The heat rose in Inya’s face as she fought desperately to dig his name out.

He laughed at her, an annoying laugh and then looked at her and the others “you want to be my friend? No! Never!” he said with a slight American accent. Then he went to join Ohiza who had left them to go sit on the swings and observe the drama from there.

When she went quietly to the swings, Ohiza had thought that she would watch Brian skip away laughing with Inya like all the others. Inya seemed to think everyone should be her friend, and whenever Ohiza made a new friend, it seemed to make Inya want that friend even more. After being tired of losing friends to her twin, Ohiza developed a defense – if she didn’t have friends to lose in the first place, then she wouldn’t lose them to Inya.

She had felt awkward when Brian had come to meet her in her corner of the playground. He belonged to Inya’s kind of crowd, cute like all those boys on Disney Channel and with his American accent, he was bound to be a cool kid. But he had come to her and said hi and then he sat with her IN THE PLAYGROUND! She had been floating, enjoying it until Inya and her crowd came.

Now, as he left them and walked towards her, she felt like a Cinderella whose prince had brought the glass slipper. Her little eight year old heart fell in love. Throughout the break time, she played with only Brian and found herself laughing at everything he said. When they went back to class, she saw that her seatmate had gone to Brian’s seat and he was sitting with her now. He must have asked to seat with her and her seatmate hadn’t hesitated to give up the seat beside unpopular Ohiza. All of them could go away for all she cared now – she had Brian beside her, and that was all that mattered. School was going to be fun from now on.

**************+++++++++++

Idris wasn’t in the mood to listen to any chatter that afternoon. This ASUU strike was already getting to him seriously. He wanted to get back to school and get it done with so he could go and serve but the government was saying nonsense about the country grinding to a halt if they met ASUU’s demands. Bollocks! And then Aisha had come around today and he had thought he was at least going to get some. But trust the girl, she had brought up that stupid quarrel over him not being able to get her the dress she wanted for one of the plenty award shows she liked to go for. And because of that, she didn’t allow him do anything! He hissed again as he saw his nieces coming towards the car.

He was ready to snap at talkative Inya if she would not let him be today, so he was very surprised when she sulked and hardly said a word on the drive home. By the time they got home, he was worried. “Inya, are you okay?” he reached out to touch her neck to see if she was running a temperature. There was nothing abnormal about her temperature.

Ohiza was the one that volunteered an answer “it’s because she couldn’t steal my friend” she said, dancing around the living room.

Inya stormed away into the room, crying. Idris spoke sternly to Ohiza “now you’ve made your sister cry!” Ohiza shot back “she always, always does that to me, and now this one time she doesn’t get what she wants, she’s sulking and you are trying to make me feel bad. Well, I won’t!” Then remembering something Brian had done in school to Inya, she said “No! Never!” mimicking his stance and accent.

Idris left the jubilant Ohiza in the living room and went to the room. Inya was curled up on the big bed, sobbing. He sat on the bed, speaking softly to her as he did.

“Inyus, our princess, don’t mind that naughty Ohiza. Look, I got you something,” he said, holding up Aisha’s glasses. He knew Inya loved even though they would be oversized for her. She turned and smiled when she saw it, taking it from him and looking it over.

Then she looked at him and said “is it because I’m not pretty like Aunty Aisha that boys don’t like me?”

Idris was taken aback by her unexpected question. “But you know you are our beauty queen dear, you are very pretty. In fact, we are going for Little Miss Nigeria with you, just like your mummy was in the big Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria,” he said, nudging her playfully.

“Then why doesn’t Brian like me?” she asked.

“Who is Brian?” Idris asked.

“He’s the cutest boy in our class, and he speaks with a nice pho-ne. but he doesn’t like me. Uncle, how can I make him like me?”

“Oh, that’s Brian. Well, there’s one way you can make every guy like you,” Idris said as he got up from the bed. Quickly, Inya sat up, her eyes shining now and tugged at his shirt

“Uncle, pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeee tell me now,” she said.

“If I teach you, it has to be our little secret. We don’t want Ohiza knowing it so she won’t be able to get the boys to like her too. So it’s going to be between you and me alone. Can you cross your heart?”

She solemnly put her hands across her small chest and swore “I cross my heart and hope to die”. Idris grinned and then went back to shut the door.

“Now, you will follow my lead and do exactly as I say, so you can learn what only big aunties like Aisha know” he said.

She nodded vigorously. Smiling leeringly, he dropped his pants. Already, his erection was bulging underneath his boxers. When he dropped the shorts, his erect penis shot up into the air and Inya who had never seen anything like it before shrank backwards.

“Are you afraid? You don’t want to learn anymore?” he asked tauntingly and bent over to pull his boxers back up.

She quickly said “no, I want to learn.”

He stood upright again and moved towards the bed, the trouser and shorts between his legs making his gait awkward. When he got beside her, he took her tiny hands and said, “Now, touch me here, like this.”

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