Archive | November 2013

Baba Risi’s Court – Freedom of Speech

Before we get to today’s story, here’s a special Baba Risi announcement. Ekene Ngige and I have been working on something sweet, and it’s for Christmas season. Yes! The Christmas season is here. And we’ll be bringing you a special Baba Risi animation to celebrate. Here’s a what the characters that will feature in it will look like. Keep your fingers crossed.

Baba Risi’s Court makes a special Monday debut today. It features the one and only @SagaySagay with whom I collaborated on the episode with Sikiru Oniru in it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Stay tuned next week as we begin a new series on Monday called A Little Bird Said.

TL

lasisi2

Rosco1 - Baba Risi

Risi 1 - Baba Risi

lasisi Baba Risi

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and of course

Baba Risi by Ekene Ngige

Enjoy today’s Baba Risi 

This was going to be a marquee case in Baba Risi’s Court. On one side, was lawyer turned banker, Abiodun, a.k.a SagaySagay. Sikiru had recommended Baba Risi’s Court to him and he had insisted that this was the only court he would appear against his opponent. He had in his team great men and women from Nigerian twitter including @ayosogunro, @shecrownlita, @dupekilla, @deboadejugbe and all the other big boys and girls, especially the writers and bloggers. One of their own had a case to answer, and they had come to show support.

To the left, wearing a smart double-breasted jacket, was Sagay’s opponent. He was the epitome of finesse, and compared to Sagay’s laidback buba and sokoto, he looked sharper than a razor. He was the Nigerian rep of the twitter handle @uberfacts. Baba Risi was just hearing of the twitter thing. Rosco had told him some people were even making money from it. “Just get many followers,” he said “and people go pay you to talk to them. Even politicians go pay you more baba. No think am o, na wetin many of these our boys dey do be that.” Small commotion had happened as all the twitter people did not want to pay Rosco the entrance fee and they kept speaking plenty English. Rosco did not even do like he heard all their English.

“Why do we have to pay to get into a law court,” one of them had said indignantly.

“Yes why do we?” more echoed.

“This place, shay na president abi Fashola picture you see for back? Abi you see Baba Risi wear that shigidi thing wey judges dey wear. This na one in town court, and for here, you must to sanwo, kudi, ego, Naira.”

Sikiru had come to the rescue and paid the entry fee for everyone. He was there too, to watch his guy Sagay. Sagay was that kind of guy, with friends amongst twitter overlords and street lords like Sikiru.

“Mr. Uberfacts, wetin you talk say Sagay do you o,” Baba Risi asked.

“He is a nuisance! We at Uberfacts have over 5.3Million followers on twitter in every English-speaking country of the world. And no one else gives such ridiculous responses to our tweets like this Sagay, in all the countries we have a following. At first we ignored him but he kept at it without relenting. We blocked him but he found a way around it. He would get his rambunctious friends to follow his lead. It is getting out of hand and we want to put a stop to it here and now!”

“Ah, oga Uberfacts, calm down o, why you dey shout for my court now?” Baba Risi queried.

“Statistics show that the atmosphere in 100% of Nigerian courts causes involuntary raising of one’s voice,” the Uberfacts rep responded curtly.

“Huh?” Baba Risi said, confused.

“Not Rotimi Williams of blessed memory. He no dey shout for court,” Sagay chipped in.

The Uberfacts guy looked like he was going to assault Sagay “he has just done it again! Why does he always come back with nonsense like that to hard researched facts that we tweet?”

“Shay that one wey you talk na fact? How we wan take prove am? Me sef fit create my own facts then. Abi if I talk now say 90% of women wey get big breast dey get flat yansh, I lie?”  Baba Risi asked. Sagay burst into laughter, joined by his supporters. “Na true, na true,” they shouted.

“How did you come up with such a ridiculous statement? That is not a fact! Please don’t compare such nonsense mumbo jumbo with what we do at Uberfacts.” The rep responded. He undid the buttons of his jacket now as he was sweating underneath already.

“Haha! How you take know? If this my own fact no dey true, how we wan know your own? And if you talk that ridiculous again en, you go pay fine for this court now now” Baba Risi retorted, doing all he could not to laugh.

“That’s not the point, Baba Risi. The point is that Sagay should stop trolling our timeline and responding with ridi…” He caught himself on time before completing the word and swallowed it. Rosco had already moved to his side, ready to collect the fine. He sighed in relief. This Baba Risi would not best the rep of an international entity like Uberfacts. He continued “he should not come back with nonsensical responses to our tweets, attempting to make us look stupid.”

“Ngbo, Sagay, what do you say?” Baba Risi asked.

“Baba Risi kan shosho, Eegun mogaji one! Twale!” Sagay started, hailing Baba Risi and bringing a smile to his face. “I no break any law o. Dem talk their own, I talk my own. Dem talk fact, I talk humor. Their fact fit true for their country, but for Naija here, no be so, ko jo rara.”

“Oya, give me example of the things wey dem talk wey you respond to recently,” Baba Risi asked, curious.

Sagay brought out his phone and quickly went to his timeline.

“For example, Uberfacts said: Believing you have a good memory helps you have a better memory. And Sagaysagay responded: Take am write JAMB now”

Laughter erupted in the courtroom. Sagay continued “see another example here. Uberfact says: It is illegal to be reincarnated in China unless you have permission from the government. Sagay respond say: Akudaya (that’s like people that die appear to people elsewhere who do not know they have died) no dey get am for Naija o!”

“Ridicu…” The rep said and caught himself again just as he saw Rosco closing in. The court burst into laughter and the clerk had to shout “order! Order!” to calm them down.

“Ahhh, Sagay, you no well o. You been watch Baba Suwe when you dey grow abi, as he dey take respond to all those proverbs wey people dey make,” Baba Risi responded, laughing.

“Beeni Baba Risi, I watch Erinkeke well well now. Baba Suwe and Opebe,” Sagay responded, winking.

Baba Risi rarely got up from his seat while court was in session when there was no danger, but today he did.

“Oya, Sagay, make I see whether you go sabi the song.

“E sun mo bi, e rerin eye,”

Sagay immediately joined and all his supporters who looked tush forgot their tushness and joined in singing.

“E gbayi yewo, e rerin idunu

T’omode, T’agba e tun ijoko se…”

By the time they got to the last line, the whole courtroom was singing and dancing along. It was SheCrownLita that was even dancing the most.

“Erin k eke o, L’abule Baba Suwe”

They all thundered that last line together, and Baba Risi fell back into his chair laughing.

“RIDICULOUS!” the Uberfacts rep shouted. He could not hold himself back any longer.

Rosco smiled and went to his side “dem don warn you, your fine na 10k.” He put his hand into the inner pocket of the rep’s suit and extracted crisp mint bills.

“I hid that money there because I heard about the reputation of this your court for extorting money from people. How come you went straight there?” the rep asked, puzzled.

“Superhero l’omo, X-ray vision things. Money no fit hide from us,” Rosco responded, grinning.

“Ogbeni rep, you no get case. Sagay is only exercising his fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of humor. My learned colleagues, I talk am well?” Baba Risi said

The normally cerebral Ayo Sogunro shouted from behind “beeni Baba Risi, all the freedoms are correct. Even if freedom of humor no dey, we don add am today for here!”

“Correct! Na my judgment be this,” Baba Risi said and then pointed at Sagay “GO ON SOUN!”

“RIDICULOUS, JUST RIDICULOUS, SUPER RIDICULOUS,” the rep kept saying to himself.

Baba Risi smiled as he saw Rosco counting the number of times the rep was saying ridiculous. Soup don done!

Sagay’s supporters started the song as he went back to join them

“Erin keke o, l’ori timeline Sagaysagay”

@deboadejugbe wrote a piece later that day titled Baba Risi, Baba Iyabo and A Lesson In Decisiveness For Baba Otuoke. @ayosogunro’s piece was titled Baba Risi and The Freedom of Humor.

Eze Goes To School – 4

Here’s the 4th Episode of Eze Goes To School by Walter Uche. It is the final episode of the series I’ll be posting on tlsplace but here’s the good news. Uche has written up to 28 Episodes on his blog. Read those and other stuff from him here http://mymindsnaps.wordpress.com/ and follow him on twitter @Walt_Shakes. Also be on the lookout for his book, he’s working on it as we speak. As I say, I’ll always be glad to bring you new writers and do my bit to let everyone know great writing is happening here in Naija and to encourage these writers. Enjoy.

TL

Eze Goes To School

The morning after the visiting day

It was something that woke me up this morning. I would like to say it was the melodious chirping of a songbird, one of the many that appeared to be nesting on the orange tree growing in the backyard of my hostel, by the window beside my bunk.

I would like to say it was Joseph, the early bird that he is, shaking me awake, so we could go and pluck the mangoes growing in the small orchard that belonged to Hope House’s House-Master, Mr. Ndubuogu. The man was a wicked man, and we gave him his comeuppance by ravaging his mango trees. When he wasn’t looking, of course.

I would also like to say it was the jerky motions of my bunk as Ibuka shifted and turned about in his sleep on the bed above mine. Or the dripping tap-tap of his urine as it leaked through his bed onto my body. I was very upset the first time that happened. And the second time. And the third time. Let’s just say, I’ve been begging our House Captain, Senior Ifeanyi, to change my bed position from underneath Ibuka for some time now.

I would like to say – and this is my favorite part of this guessing game – that it was the gentle and arousing touch of Anulika’s lips against my cheek, that kind of morning kiss that I’ve seen actors give each other in American films.

It was none of these scenarios. Instead, I was nudged awake by a smell. An odd smell, a familiar smell, a richly-putrid smell, one with a malodorous strength so great it was able to reach into the deep recesses of my sleep and yank me up, awake. I blinked open my eyes and it slammed against my nose with increased ferocity, drenching my olfactory senses.

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes as I turned my head on my pillow. Ibuka was standing by the window, staring wide-eyed out at the backyard.

“What is that smell?” I complained in a voice made hoarse by sleep. For a millisecond, I entertained the idea that the smell was coming from his body.

“It’s shit,” he answered.

“Huh?”

“Shit! It’s shit!” he wailed. And he turned to look at me. His eyes had that distressed wildness in them that I’ve come to associate with one of his hysteric moods. “Shit everywhere – all over the backyard! Shit-shit-shit everywhere!”

“Shi–what? What are you talking about?” I rose from my bed and hurried to his side to look out the window. To behold the sight of – how did Ibuka put it again? – Shit-shit-shit everywhere.

All the senior hostels for every one of the four Houses in my school are square, U-shaped structures, and each wing (comprised of four dormitories) of each hostel shared a backyard with the next hostel. This backyard is a small expanse of land which separated this wing of Peace House (my House) from the next wing of Dignity House. At the beginning of every term, due to a lack of sanitary attention, it was usually an expanse filled with towering weeds and tangled shrubbery. We would then have to hack them off with our cutlasses and keep the whole area trimmed for the duration of the term. Looking out the window now, the entire parcel of land – the half that had been designated as the property of Peace House – had been defaced by small pockets of faeces here and there. They were littered everywhere, an ugly, smelly sight, with swarms of flies fluttering and buzzing delightedly over them.

“We are in so much trouble,” Ibuka breathed out, echoing my thoughts.

The words had barely left the vicinity before his lips before we were startled by a roar coming from the pavement outside our dormitory. “ALL PEACE HOUSE MEMBERS – RUN OUT TO THE QUADRANGLE NOW! DON’T LET ME CATCH YOU SLEEPING! OUT! OUT TO THE QUADRANGLE NOW!”

The bellowing voice of our House Captain jerked the students in my dormitory still on the beds up from their various positions of repose, most of them tumbling down from their bunks in their haste. Ibuka and I exchanged a look of abject terror before the door of our dormitory was sent flying open. The door swung in sharply and slammed against the wall behind it with such force the wood vibrated. Filling the doorway was our House Captain, Senior Ifeanyi. He was squat and powerfully-built, with a round, turret-like head mounted atop lumpy shoulders and a thick waist that attested to an affinity for heavy food. He had one of those impressive physiques that made me wonder oftentimes if he was truly in his teens. Surely, someone built like that ought to already be in the university, running around with a gang of cultists or something.

But I didn’t have much time to dwell on that thought at the moment. There was a heavy scowl on his face, and the fire in his eyes made us shrink back from him. One of his muscular hands clenched one end of a slender, wiry cane.

Yep, we are in serious shit. No pun intended there.

“You are all still standing, eh?” His voice was a low grumble and his anger was unmistakable. “Instead of running out to the quadrangle, you are still standing and looking at me, abi?” Before the words had properly left his mouth, he swung the cane at the nearest – and in my opinion, unfortunate – boy. The cane whistled through the air and cracked against the boy’s body. He screamed. But Senior Ifeanyi was already on the move away from him; with an agility that was amazing in one so bulky, he lashed out at another boy. All of us were now scurrying about in the room, like an intrusion of cockroaches suddenly disturbed by the presence of a human, trying to dart past him to the relative safety of the courtyard outside, whilst attempting to escape the flying wrath of the cane. The cane sang this way and that, eliciting cries of pain from whoever it struck; I snatched Ibuka’s hand – he was already crying – and steered him towards the doorway. I was slender and nimble, and was positive I could escape the wrath of the cane. But Ibuka, with his corpulent stature, was another story. We had almost made it to the door – my frightened eyes clashed with Senior Ifeanyi’s enraged ones for just a millisecond – and then he pounced. The cane scythed through the air; I heaved Ibuka forward and out of harm’s way; he lurched forward, and I feared he would trip and fall. But my worry was short-circuited when the cane landed on me, cutting a path across my back. The stinging sensation birthed rivulets of pain that spread out from the point of infliction to other parts of my body. I cried out and tears quickly pooled in my eyes as I clutched at my back, running out to join the throng of frightened boys who were gathering in the quadrangle. Joseph was already out there, holding a sobbing Ibuka close to him.

Moments later, Senior Ifeanyi pranced out of my dormitory and continued on to the other rooms, making sure he had flushed every single student out to the courtyard. While this was going on, I spotted Senior Olumide, one of the few Yoruba students we had in the school. He was also our House prefect, the assistant to Senior Ifeanyi. He was this tall, sunken-chested boy, with an emaciated look, small, calculating eyes and an effeminate attitude. Right then, he was leaning against one of the metal pillars that stood on the pavement, inspecting the cuticles of his fingers and appearing uninterested with the chaos unfolding around him.

But I knew better. Senior Olumide was as mean as they come. Despite the fact that he was the antithesis of Senior Ifeanyi, the calm to Senior Ifeanyi’s storm, the earth to his fire, the reason to his bluster, Senior Olumide had a mean streak that reared its ugly head every now and then. Once, by way of punishment, he had ordered Ben, one of the SS1 boys in Dorm 5, to assume the angle 90 position – a sitting posture against the wall, hands stretched out, knees jutting out, with nothing to support your bottom but air –, and he placed an empty metal bucket on top of Ben’s outstretched arms, warning the wretched boy not to let the bucket fall. The boy had shuddered and sweated and sobbed throughout the hour he suffered the punishment. When he was finally released, his convulsing legs could barely hold him up.

Finally, when we had all been flushed out and assembled in the quadrangle – I stood huddled up against Ibuka and Joseph, in the midst of a multitude of JSS3s, SS1s and SS2s –, Senior Ifeanyi assumed a position on the pavement beside his assistant. “So, all of una,” he boomed in vernacular, “una don chop una visiting-day rice and garri finish, come carry shit mess up everywhere for back, abi?! Una hide-hide chop the rice finish, e get any of una wey say make him carry small come give your House Captain? Eh?!” he barked, stabbing us with his angry eyes. No one dared answer, either in the affirmative or negative. I suspected no one had extended that singular act of kindness to Senior Ifeanyi. Junior boys tended to be ungenerous with their visiting day goodies, especially when it came to extending that kindness to the SS3s. “Stingy boys!” he hissed. “Wicked boys! Wetin happen to toilet, eh? Una no see toilet go shit, na for outside better pass.”

But our lavatories are a joke. You see, it may be a water closet system, but in actual fact, it is just a glorified pit toilet. No, scratch that – a pit toilet is better. There is no running water and no one can be bothered with fetching water to flush, so students defecate indiscriminately until the bowls are overflowing with all sorts of discolored, smelly gunk. The SS3s had to cordon off a part of the lavatory for themselves, making it our task to clean that section and fetch the water for them to use when they had to stool. The other toilets were then left to suffer the excretory rampage of the junior students, constantly teeming with our faeces, most times spilling over to the floors and making navigation in the toilet a tiptoe chore. I could barely remember the last time I defecated in the toilet; the smell was much too offensive. My friends and I preferred going about our business in the abundance of bushy terrains that dotted our school environment.

Senior Ifeanyi was still spluttering with rage. “God don catch una today! You see all that shit wey dey back” – he jabbed an indignant finger in the general direction of the backyard – “all of una go pack am. All of you. But first” he brandished his cane – “Oya! Start coming one by one.” He advanced a few steps towards us and the body of students tided back from him in terror.

“Ifeanyi, wait, wait,” Senior Olumide intoned, finally lifting his attention from his fingers and straightening from the pillar. He fluttered his hand in a gesture to stay Senior Ifeanyi. “Don’t flog them.” His voice was soft and silky with a hint of a lisp, and his diction was perfect. “That’s not punishment enough.” My blood ran cold at the words. That mean streak had woken up. “They will still get rid of all the excrement, but they won’t be flogged. That’s too kind.” He then fixed his baleful gaze on us. “I want you all to squat and start frog-jumping. Now!

Amidst whimpers and groans, we promptly hunkered down on our haunches and started bobbing up and down on our heels. Up-down. Up-down. Up-down. The thing with frog-jumping is, when you start doing it, it doesn’t seem like a tough enough punishment. But if you persist, the pressure that builds up on your knees and the muscles of your thighs and legs unleashes the kind of throbbing pain that is quite unimaginable. And Senior Olumide had us do it for close to an hour. We wailed. We begged for mercy. We wept. We promised to be good boys. Some of us pledged our next visiting-day rice to the prefects. One or two hapless students tearfully shouted their protestations that they were asthmatic patients. But they remained unmoved. Our piteous cries rent the early Sunday morning, sorrowful enough to touch the hearts of even the most unfeeling of angels. But Senior Olumide had gone back to inspecting his nails, and Senior Ifeanyi moved about in our midst, his cane held ready to lash out at anyone who wasn’t frog-jumping appropriately.

Finally, after a whispered conference between the two of them, Senior Olumide waved us to a stop, and at Senior Ifeanyi’s curt command, we all hobbled about, with shaky limbs and tear-streaked faces, to get rid of all the – you know it – shit-shit-shit everywhere.

Here’s a direct link to Episode 5 of Eze Goes To School on Walter Uche’s blog  http://mymindsnaps.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/eze-goes-to-school-episode-5/

Look out for the episode of Baba Risi’s Court I’ll be posting next Monday and then we’ll start the new series A Little Bird Said the week after.

 

This Power Reform Sha…

I’m still on series writing break. Hope you guys enjoyed the Guardians of the Seals excerpt of this morning? Anyway, I engaged this oga @iamtenseven on twitter a few days ago about how to sell the all important message of the Power Sector Reforms to the general masses in Nigeria and get their buy-in, because all these figures and co coming out of the government’s media team is only getting a “siddon look” reaction from Nigerians. I promised him I’d write something to point in the direction I think they need to explore, and the questions they need to answer in their communications to get mass buy-in. So here’s me, doing my patriotic duty. 😀

TL

Power Privatization

Earlier this year, a series of events led me to perform an experiment. First, my landlord. If you live in Lagos, and you are like the vast majority of us, you have had interesting experiences with renting apartments. In my case, I moved into a flat where they debt on the meter was over a hundred thousand Naira, unknown to me. So it became a constant battle of appeasing PHCN while I harangued my landlord over the how we would sort this bill out.

PHCN in my area is abysmal. I know you just rolled your eyes and said “yeah right, it is worse in my hood”. It is one of the things we all have common in Nigeria, one of the ties that bind us all together. But they also have one very bad behavior. It is the height of wickedness. You see, whenever PHCN does their round of disconnections, it seems that it is that period that power becomes constant. I think they intentionally make power constant at this time to torture those that have been disconnected.

Now, like any self-respecting Nigerian, I have two generators; a small I better pass my neighbor for regular use, and a bigger 2.5KVA one to ensure that my fridge works for long enough to preserve my foodstuff. So I already use my generators a lot.

My monthly PHCN bill comes to about Four Thousand Naira, for power that I see for barely two hours on most days and in the bad periods, we don’t get for a few days.

So after exasperating exchanges with my landlord and getting tired of appeasing PHCN officials, I decided to let them disconnect the non-existent power and use my generators for all my power needs. I was hardly home weekdays, needing the power only at night when I returned and in the morning to get ready for work. Weekends are football time, cooking time, writing time and generally stay-at-home a lot time so I would need constant power supply. The two generators would work almost constantly until I got my inverter to supplement. I decided to try staying totally off the grid and providing my own power for a month and track the expenses.

I spent an average of One Thousand Naira every two days during the week, and Two Thousand Naira over the weekend on petrol. Doing the arithmetic, I spent Nineteen Thousand Naira on petrol that month. I spent One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Naira on engine oil in that month and Two Thousand Naira to service my generator. When I put all this together, I spent Twenty Two Thousand, Five Hundred Naira on generating my own power off the grid in that month. This was obviously not sustainable, so I negotiated with PHCN and they agreed to waive half of the debt while my neighbors and I settled the remaining half with Fifty Thousand Naira and power was reconnected. I decided to check what my expenditure on using my generators to supplement power generation for myself came to. I spent Three Thousand on petrol weekly, a thousand on engine oil and the same two thousand on servicing. All that came to Fifteen Thousand Naira. Adding my PHCN bill of Three Thousand Naira for the month, my bill for power came to Eighteen Thousand Naira. In essence, by connecting to PHCN, I was saving Four Thousand Five Hundred Naira monthly. Of course, this will be even more when I get my inverter.

Now, here’s the crux of the matter. It is not cost effective to generate power by myself. If I could get constant supply of power from the grid, and they doubled what I pay currently from Three Thousand Naira monthly to Six Thousand Naira monthly, I would gladly pay. It would still save me Sixteen Thousand Five Hundred Naira if I was generating my own power totally, or Twelve Thousand Naira with the way I supplement PHCN today. Not many people have done the arithmetic in as detailed a manner as I have. But I’m sure if we do, we will all get similar results. Doubling what we currently pay for power (except you get crazy bills, which is another story) will still result in cost savings if we can get constant power supply. One of the things that made sorting out my bill issue so tacky was that my landlord somehow made my flat share meter with the hurriedly built boys’ quarters. I tried for months to get a prepaid meter but couldn’t. No one really knew the process.

PHCN has been privatized and we have heard all the new about how many Distribution Companies, Independent Power Generation Companies and a new regulator called NERC. It is a great achievement, even greater than the Telecoms reforms in the Obasanjo era. Power has been the number one reason we have been unable to have any real industry in Nigeria. It is also one of the reasons our general quality of life is lower than even some of our African neighbors. So it is important you bring the all important issue to the point it will meet regular Tunde Leye. We like all the macro details, but what concerns us, you and I ordinary Nigerians the most is this – when do I start getting constant 24/7 (or at least remarkably improved) power supply and how much more do I have to pay. How do I get my meter? If one DISCO isn’t serving me well, can I switch to another? Who will be responsible for fixing faults and transformers in this new dispensation or do street associations still have to contribute to buy their transformers? The media team of the ruling party and NERC need to get into this gritty business of engaging us at this micro level, before they get our full buy-in.

ff on twitter @tundeleye

 

Guardians of the Seal – The Beginning

A tlsplacer  and friend, Ayomidotun Fadeyi (one of the previous Write Right judges, as well as designing that bad ass Burden of Proof cover and the #ChildNotBride logo that went viral) has been nominated for a well deserved Best Young Entrepreneur in Branding and Design in the Unveiled Young Entrepreneur Awards. I endorse him because he truly deserves to win. Vote for him here http://unveiledprojectng.wordpress.com/votingpage/

Another tlsplacer is in a pageant and needs your support to win. Like her page on fb here. That’s how you vote for her. https://m.facebook.com/pages/Nigerias-Centenary-Pageant/332276626903551?id=332276626903551&_rdr

As promised, here’s an excerpt from Guardians of the Seals, the novel I’m working on. It will change everything. Next Monday, I’ll post a Baba Risi’s Court where I’ll reveal some interesting stuff. Keep reading tlspalce.

TL

angel-with-flaming-fiery-sword-photoshop

Jacob woke up, with a slight start. He just suddenly felt that he was not alone. He got up from his sleeping skin and scanned the room in the darkness, before shedding his cloak. In his undergarments, he moved silently to the door. When he got there, he was startled. Out in the open, under the moonlight, stood an unarmed man. He wasn’t trying to hide or conceal himself. He stood there, as if he had been waiting for Jacob to come out for long.  Strangely enough, the man looked familiar, like someone he had seen before, but he was unable to see the face as clearly as he would have liked to. From the way things looked, he had no choice but to come outside and confront the man. He could not afford to look afraid in any way. He quickly sized the man up. They were both unarmed so they were even on that. He was well built and was wearing nothing but a loincloth, showing off a barrel chest and arms that fit the proportions and strength of his chest. His feet were a bit apart, as if planted into the ground for solidity. From his general demeanor and stance, Jacob guessed that this man was a skilled fighter. He stepped out and a gust of wind hit him from the left, sending a chill through his bare skin. He approached cautiously, one step after the other, half expecting the man to make a move for him with each step. Beads of sweat formed along his brow. He steeled his nerves and while still out of arm’s length, he called out in as manly a voice as he could put on “who are you and how may I help you?” The man did not respond to his question, but rather just stood there, looking at him as if to say “come and make me go away if you dare.”

Unexplainably, Jacob felt all the pent up tension inside him let lose into a rage that caused him to fly at the man to knock him down. But the man stood, solid as a rock to Jacob’s assault. They locked arms and stayed this way for a couple of minutes, each trying to push the other backwards, each trying to get the other to give ground. But whatever ground any of the two men gained wrestling was momentary, for even as it was made, the other would push harder and they would return to the original position. They seemed to match each other, move for move, shove for shove and thrust for thrust. And so, they went on for hours, oblivious to the passing of the time from thick of the night into the first lights of day, till both men were covered in sweat in spite of the cool breeze rising from the Jabbok. As the day began to break, the man made one final push to fell Jacob. Jacob lost his balance and would have fallen, had he not deftly twisted and used the very arm that was used to push him to regain his footing. Now, it was bright enough for Jacob to make out the features of the man he was wrestling. And his discovery startled him. For the face he looked into as he peered at the man was his own; line for line, furrow for furrow, and hair strand for hair strand.

And then the man reached out to touch his thigh where it joined with his hip. Jacob felt a searing pain shoot through his body, hitting his brain with such force that it nearly sent him reeling backwards. But he clung on to the man still, willing himself not to fall, knowing this was no ordinary man and needing to know who this was. The man, seeing nothing he did would cause Jacob to let go of him spoke for the first time since they started wrestling.

“Let me go no, for it is daybreak.” His voice was an exact replica of his own and it sounded to Jacob as if he was talking to himself. Jacob responded “I will not let you go, who are you? From where did you come? A mere touch from you just put me in serious pain. Why did you then wrestle me for so long if you could so easily dispose of me?”

“I cannot answer so many questions at once. If I were in your place, I would let me go before daylight fully breaks. No man sees me fully revealed and lives.”

“Then what might I receive from you before I let you go, for I perceive you are no ordinary man. I will not let you go until you bless me.”

“You ask for a blessing like it is a thing to be given away in such a prosaic manner. If I indeed had a blessing, why would I bless you?” the man chided.

“I know the value of a blessing. My father’s blessing has brought me this far, a single blessing. Now bless me, because I will never let you go, unless you bless me,” Jacob insisted, tightening his grip on the man.

“What do people call you?” asked the man.

“Jacob,” he responded.

“So you have been called a supplanter all of your life. You are what you are called. My authority is above that of the one who named you a Jacob. Henceforth, you shall be called Israel, because tonight, you have prevailed with man and God.”

Jacob fell to his knees and held on to the feet of the man that had tacitly revealed to him his identity as God and wept. As he wept, he felt the tension and rage he had felt ease out of his body as the sweat had eased out of his pores when they wrestled. Somehow, he knew it would be alright. When there was no one else, God had come. Then the man lifted him up. As Jacob stood, he saw the man holding something in his right hand.

“Do you recall Bethel?” the man asked.

Jacob nodded his head in affirmation. “The place where you first spoke to me years ago, and where I made a vow to you”, he replied. The man smiled for the first time. “Now I have been with you all this time, watching you grow and increase. There is much you are yet to know. However, you received the first piece of this puzzle in Bethel. Now you will receive the second half. Not since the creation of this world has a man held this power in his hands. You recall that the angels came down to you straight from heaven on that day?” Again, Jacob nodded to mean a yes.

The man continued “The stone that was your pillow that night is the keystone, the baetylus of that portal into heaven. It was the same keystone that was used in Eden of the East when God came down to Adam in the cool of the evening. The seal has always been hidden in heaven. Now, the time has come to put the fate of man in man’s hand.”

With this, he handed what he was holding to Jacob. It was four different objects, each the length and thickness of his index finger, the color of clear water, you could almost see through them. When you looked at them, they looked like they were flowing water, solidified.

The man explained “In Eden of the East, was a river that divided into four; Gihon, Pishon, Euphrates and Tigris. The keystone was located at the point at which the single river divided into four. Each of the seals given to you represents one of these four rivers. When the seals are combined by naming each of the rivers and putting them together, they form one seal, the original river. When this seal is put into the keystone the way the original river flowed over it, the portal will be open, and you will be able to come into heaven. If Adam had waited, this would have been his today. But now this power is in your hands. Use it wisely, for you have access to the place where I am anytime you desire. You will meet people who have passed away before you. Your eyes will see things they didn’t know exist in this world, as they have never seen. Your ears will hear as you have never heard. You will have power over beings that have lived through eternities and whose powers span eons.”

Jacob looked the objects in his hands over. He felt the same sensation of an injection of external life into him that he had felt when he held the keystone. He relished the experience with nostalgia.

The man continued “You must realize being a Guardian of the Seals is a dangerous task. Lucifer and his minions, the enemies of your race from the very beginning seek to possess this power and wipe you out. They are here in your realm, with venom to last an eternity. Tread cautiously and wield your power with restraint. The purpose of the power is to preserve your line until the fullness of time when the Seed of the Woman will come from that line. Then, your adversary will meet his final doom, and you will have the ultimate freedom. Until then, keep this as a closely guarded secret, safe from the rest of the world.”

Then the man held his hand and moved it to his chest. As his hand touched the chest, a burst of light wrapped him and the felt himself fuse with a life that was higher than his. When the light faded away, he was alone and the four seals were no longer in his hand. In their place, four distinct tattoos had formed on his chest, each representing one of the seals he had held. He knew he must be at the head of his entourage to meet Esau. He also would need to pay a visit to Bethel to retrieve the baetylus too. There was so much to do and the time so short. He hurried into his tent and packed the few things he put together. It was a dejavu moment for him. It felt exactly like it did that day when he left home.

Follow @tundeleye on twitter for updates on Guardians of the Seals.

Eze Goes To School – 3

Here’s the 3rd Installment of Walter Uche’s Eze Goes To School. Enjoy.

TL

Eze Goes To School

As a result of all the suffer-head (slang for suffering, hardship) that’s part and parcel of our way of living in school, there is one day – apart from the start of mid-term breaks and end-of-term holidays – that every student looks forward to.

The visiting day.

That one day – the first Saturday of every month – when family members bring with them a replenishment of resources for the famished students. Coolers of steaming home-cooked meals. A fresh stock of provisions. More pocket money. Affection. Laughter. And the general presence of home. Any student who was lucky enough to be visited knew what it felt like to be in heaven in that one day. In that time, you are the center of attention, fussed over by your visitors and gorging yourself with all sorts of delicacies that had been lacking from your life for the previous several weeks.

Not every student, however, is lucky to have visitors. Since the school is in the east, this unlucky lot is usually made up of those who live in such faraway places like Lagos, Abuja and Benin. And you know them by the glum expressions they wear on their countenances in the face of the exuberance of the majority. Some others effect a forced nonchalance, as though shielding themselves against the joy of their fortunate friends, and that usually works because they always have forewarning from their families not to expect any visitation. There are yet others who didn’t get to know the pain of not having their families around, because they had friends who included them in their repast.

My friend, Joseph, belongs to that last category. Even though his hometown is in Imo State, Joseph is a thoroughbred Lagosian. Middle child of a father who works in NNPC and a mother who owns a textile business and frequently shuttles between Dubai, Italy and the like. Super-busy parents. Too occupied with the amassing of wealth and the pursuit of security. No time to visit. After all, Joseph usually left home at the start of every term with more money than most students would spend in an entire term. Or two. The first time – in our JSS1 – that Ibuka and I went with him to his guardian’s house to snack on his provisions, my jaw dropped when I saw he had enough to feed all the students in the four dormitories of Peace House Junior Hostel in one day. He always claimed he didn’t care that his family never visited, because he had everything he needed. But Ibuka always disagreed, arguing that there was more to life than material things. Such things like family togetherness, nurturing of bonds, steadfastness, sharing.

Sentimental one, that boy.

And he must know what he’s talking about, because his people never failed to visit him. Every first Saturday of the month. They were predictable that way. Mine also came, but infrequently. Whichever was the case, because of the absenteeism of Joseph’s parents, the two of us always insisted on having him present with us, sharing in both the affection of our families and whatever goodies had been brought for us.

On this visiting day, the car park was a sea of people and cars, and a cornucopia of enticing smells and a thousand conversations, interspersed with ringing laughter, screams of delight and the occasional sharply uttered reprimand. Some families visited with their wards in the hostels, but a lot more preferred to stick to the car park, usually at the insistence of student who they had come to see. We junior students always strived not to make obvious the good fortune of our visitations to the predatory SS3s. if they knew you were one of the lucky ones, there were all sorts of deductibles that were imposed on you, which usually was paid in the form of money. Lanwu, we called it. I don’t know how that catchword came into existence, but I’ve been lanwu-ing since Senior Shola decided he must be my school-father in the second term of my JSS1.

“Do you know if your sister came with your parents?” Joseph asked, as we waded through the crowd in the car park, like pieces of flotsam moving with the tide. I had gotten word that my folks were around, and Joseph and I were here to find them. We had just left Ibuka and his parents – with their well-garnished fried rice and succulent chunks of chicken; and his mustached father who would laugh uproariously at any joke Ibuka said and then thump him on the shoulder and boom ‘That’s my boy!’; and his dumpy mother with her heavy musculature that made me wonder if fatness was hereditary.

“I don’t know,” I answered as I craned my neck this way and that. “Why do you ask?”

I knew why he asked. Ever since he spent last term’s mid-term break at my place, Joseph had developed a crush on my older sister, Ada, who attended a federal girls’ secondary school close to my house, as a day student. For some reason, the school was well-known for its plenitude of beautiful girls who were always groomed to the teeth and had hourglass figures. Ada always strived to be well-groomed and…well, had an hourglass figure, I suppose. I wished Anulika had an hourglass figure too, all the better to fill my arms with when I cuddle her.

If I’ll cuddle her. The jury is still out on that one.

“Nothing,” Joseph replied, attempting a nonchalant shrug. “I was just asking.” He was always just asking. He would rather forfeit the prized egg of his Monday breakfast than admit to the possession of any sentimental feelings.

“Ezenwaka!” I heard my mother’s voice before I spotted her.

Ezenwaka! Jeez! And with all her Igbotic accent on full throttle! I grimaced in disgust. I saw Joseph smirking at me.

“Ezenwaka, hmm?” he needled, chuckling.

“Shut up there, Nkemakolam,” I retorted, stressing all the syllables of his own Igbo name.

The smirk disappeared.

We approached where my father’s Mercedes was parked, with increasing anticipation. My mother was standing beside the car with her hands akimbo. She is a diminutive woman with soft, pretty features and tortoiseshell glasses that always seemed too wide for her face, but somehow managed to underscore the unflinching acuity in her eyes. Seated behind the wheel with the driver’s door open was my father. But all I could see of him were his feet and his huge sausagey fingers clasping the edges of the newspaper hiding his face.

“Brother Eze!” With her incomplete milk dentition on full display in the most charming seven-year-old smile I’d ever seen, my little sister, Ola, skipped toward me and grabbed my thighs in a fierce hug. I hugged her back.

Nna, how are you?” asked my mother when I managed to extricate myself from Ola’s hold and walked up to her. Joseph lingered two steps behind me. “Look at you, all bones, eh? Are they even feeding you in this school sef?” She tsk-tsked as she tapped my cheeks lightly, as though trying to gauge just how much flesh was left there.

“Good afternoon, ma,” Joseph greeted.

“Eheh, good afternoon, nwa m. How are you?” Without waiting for his response, she barreled on, “Look at you too. Nwa oma like you – see how they are starving you boys to death. Did we parents tell these people that we sent our children here to be starved, eh?” She turned back to me. “Ezenwaka, you look sick sef. I jikwa ahu? Are you well?” She grasped my chin and turned my head this way and that, her bespectacled eyes seeking out whatever pathologic microorganism that was foolish enough to remain attached to the skin of my face.

“Mummy, I’m fine,” I replied, cringing inwardly at her attentiveness, yet loving every minute of it.

“Are you sure?” she questioned with a tone that suggested doubt.

What could I tell her? That yesterday, I spent lunchtime lying down on the cold hard floor under Senior Boma’s bunk because I didn’t remember to wash his briefs the night before? That thereafter, I made six trips to the borehole in an errand where I fetched water for three seniors? That for one week, I’d been forfeiting the meat in my lunch of garri and soup, smuggling it out for the Labour Prefect, Senior Adindu, to eat, as recompense for missing ground-work last Thursday? That, two days ago, I suffered the indignity of shuttling between our hostel and the female hostel, transporting messages between the Social Prefect, Senior Osinachi and Senior Chinazo, the SS3 girl in his class who he was chyking?

No. I couldn’t tell her any of that.

So, I reiterated, “Mummy, I’m fine.”

“Really?” She didn’t seem convinced.

“Eliza, leave the boy alone,” my father growled. His newspaper rustled shut and he was revealed.

My father is a formidable-looking, broad-shouldered, broad-chested, heavy-featured man in his mid-forties, with a receding hairline. Thick eyebrows over stormy dark eyes enhanced the aura of authority that emanated from him. He stood from his seat and instantly towered over us all. I always harboured the hope that I would grow to be as big as he is. I’d also often wondered how mismatched my parents seemed – my mother, petite and sweet-natured, and my father, hulking and oftentimes prickly. But they made their union work; I never knew of any two people happiest and content in their marriage.

“Jonas, leave me, biko!” my mother snapped back, unintimidated by her husband’s bark. “If I don’t worry about my son, who will? Ngwa, boys, come and eat! We brought plenty to fatten you both up.” Suddenly remembering something, she looked around and asked, “What about Ibuka? Kedu ebe o no, where is he?”

Anxious to get started on my own feast, I replied that he was with his parents. Soon, Joseph and I settled down to a heavy meal of fufu and a thickly-prepared, meat-infested vegetable soup. There was Five Alive waiting in the wings to wash down every morsel. My mother clucked and hovered all around us, while my father scanned his newspaper some more, pausing just long enough to ask Joseph and me questions about the progress of our school work. Ola chattered incessantly to us, not minding that we never responded. The visitation lasted about two hours, before my mother packed a small cooler of jollof rice (‘Make sure you don’t misplace my cooler oh,’ she chided gently), my father handed over a wad of cash to me (‘Give that to your guardian first thing tomorrow morning,’ he warned sternly), and my sister hugged me fiercely again (‘You will come back for mid-term break, won’t you?’ she urged teary-eyed). Soon, the Mercedes was started, backed out of the car park and vroomed away, leaving Joseph and I standing with packages of the sustenance that was supposed to last me till the next time I would see my family.

As we made our way to the classroom block – we would remain there until nightfall, before sneaking back to the hostel, to avoid detection by the seniors – we spotted a junior student sobbing fervently in a corner against one of the trees dotting the car park. Remember when I said most students usually had forewarning from their families not to expect any visitation? Well, not all of them are that lucky. Some of them were usually expectant, and then suffered the rude shock of waiting and waiting and waiting, and having no one come to visit them. Tough, right?

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 https://tlsplace.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/write-right/ and see the Prize Giving pictures here https://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.