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Enjoy today’s Episode of Burnt.
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.