We have the results for the 3rd Week of the 4-part series by the Write Right Two top 5. View the results HERE
Today, we post the final episodes of the series. It’s been a thrilling ride. We should have our Winner next week and then we’ll share details of the Prize Giving Event. So keep voting for your best and keep rooting for them. One of the finalists took a bow out from the competition by not sending in an entry this week. Writing is very hard work.
Pictures from the Meet, Chat and Buy Naija Books Event will be up tomorrow, so you can come and check.
THE END by OPEOLUWA OLUBODE
“I just wanted you to feel relaxed and say your last prayers. Now, you have done just that” she said to me. Before I had the chance to reply her, she pulled the trigger. The bang of the gun alone made me think I was dead.
I closed my eyes expecting to see heaven next, but then, I heard another gunshot. It was either she targeted wrongly or she actually didn’t intend to shoot me. I heard the shattering of glass next. Surprised, I looked up from my teary and blurry eyes to see about ten policemen in the auditorium and more coming in through the shattered windows.
The shot came from the police. Thank God they had finally come. The policemen rounded them all up, handcuffed them and led them to their bullet-proof van.
As Kemi was being handcuffed, she whispered to me; “You may have won this battle, but you will never win the war.” And she smiled again. Tola started laughing uncontrollably, scaring me a little.
I closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanks to God. One of the policemen placed a call to the emergency service of Lagos University Teaching Hospital requesting for an ambulance. One of the guests who happened to have been a doctor checked Simi properly and observed that her heart was still beating although very slowly. She was unconscious and had entered a coma. Dre and I were okay but the unit leader of the rapid response squad (RRS) suggested that we needed a few sessions of counselling and trauma therapy.
When the ambulance came, Dre warded off the paramedics, carried his bride up and placed her on the stretcher. The best man did the same to me. I looked into his eyes and I knew that I had found my other half. Or maybe my brain was blocked with all that had happened.
Simi was taken to LUTH. Two of the doctors that were on ground in the Accident and Emergency ward examined her and told us that the bullet had pierced through one side of her lower abdomen and had come out from the other side, it had missed the six week old pregnancy and vital organs by a few centimetres.
Dre then had to spill the beans. He had gotten her pregnant exactly six weeks after he proposed and exactly six weeks before the wedding. Although I know that they fornicated, I’ll just say God works in mysterious ways by allowing the bullet miss the baby.
Kemi, Tola and the thugs they had hired were put in jail. My father wanted to charge them to court so he hired a top-notch prosecution lawyer who won the case even without visual evidence. Kemi was charged to court for attempted murder and for possession of firearms, Tola was charged as an accomplice to attempted murder and possession of firearms as well.
There were three hearings in total within the space of six months. At the end of it all, Kemi was sentenced to ten years in prison while Tola and the thugs got six years each
When I woke up the following morning, I looked down from my window and saw so many cars in the compound. I went downstairs to find out what was wrong and when I saw the various sad faces, I knew my coming downstairs was a bad idea. The house was crowded with so many so-called sympathisers, including people that didn’t show up for the wedding. I had so many pings, direct messages and texts from friends and relations asking if I was okay and if the wedding would still hold.
One man even walked up to me and called me to a corner. I followed him thinking he wanted to tell me something important. The man then opened his mouth to say; “your brother’s bride-to-be got shot, why do you look happy?” I ran upstairs to my room as fast as I could.
I started crying as soon as I made it into my room. Why was this happening to us? Why was the very first marriage in our nuclear family ruined? Demilade (Dre’s best man) came to check on me (he came to see the both of us but seemed more concerned about me). He later drove Dre and I to one of our therapy sessions. He took me out later in the evening to get ice-cream after dropping Dre off at home.
He asked me out on the drive back home and I told him I would think about it. Guys just don’t know the right time to express their feelings, mentally I’m definitely not ready for any advances talk less of starting something. My thoughts still revolved around Simi and the events of the wedding. For some weird reason though, some part of me felt elated that he finally made it out of the friend zone.
The following morning Dre and I went to visit Simi. She had been placed on life support because she was in an induced coma. When we got there, her parents were just leaving. The nurse on duty led us to her bedside and told us that she believed Simi seemed to respond to sound. Dre sat down beside her, telling some of the sweetest words I have ever heard. He later faced reality.
“Simi, please come out of this for me. I’ve not been the same since Saturday morning. No amount of therapy can make me forget all that happened. Simi, you know I love you no matter what.”
I was by her side sobbing and getting emotional. Her fingers began to twitch slightly, Dre’s words definitely had a huge impact on her. He stood up, holding her fingers and kissed her cheeks. In the strangest fashion, all of a sudden, Simi opened her eyes, smiled, and whispered “I do!”
THE END!!! Uhm, not yet.
One year later…
Here I am, the aunt of a bouncing baby boy, Oludare Junior (the way this Yoruba people like transferring names though. We’ll call him OJ for short). He’s almost five months old. Just about the way I imagined it, Mum ‘backing’ OJ, Dre is cuddling Simi on a couch and I’m on break also helping out with the baby. Demilade is with me and helping out as well. We are together now *wink*
Simi wedded Dare yesterday in the city of Abuja. Only our family members and a few guests were invited. Simi got to say “I do” once again, but this time, it was at the altar, in her wedding dress. OJ was with my mum at the time. The second wedding was a good one, I saw Dre dance for the first time in my life (apart from church dance of moving from left to right and clapping your hands).
Kemi entered her seventh month in prison last week and Tola ran mad one month after her sentence. She is presently in a psychiatric hospital. The thugs escaped from prison and the police is currently on the look-out for them.
Now, this is the end.
ORDERED CHAOS by JEREMIAH NZERE
It took Charles all of 5 minutes to calm Tunde and Lanre down. He sat across the table from them in a fast food outlet opposite the University of Ibadan. Charles had opted for the venue as he did not want them informing Tamilore’s mother of the news of her daughter’s abduction until he had all the facts. They were understandably agitated, having never witnessed an abduction before. It took a repetition of the story and several questions before he got the complete picture.
“So, where’s the box she gave you?” Charles asked.
Tunde gladly handed the box over to him. This was too much trouble over such a small box. All he wanted was his friend and his bride back.
Charles unlocked the box, and checked the contents. He extracted a disk drive from the box and returned it to Ovie.
“What do we tell her mother?” Tunde asked.
“Anything to buy us time.” Charles replied.
“Can you hold her off till tomorrow?” He asked Tunde.
“I’ll think of something” Tunde said
“I’ll get them back.” Charles said, attempting to reassure them. If they were going to be of any use to him, they had to get their wits around them.
He held up the disk drive. “This is all I need. I’ll be off to Abuja tonight. If I can get this to the President, I would be able to get his intervention.”
Tunde asked the question they were all thinking, but no one dared voice out.
“Would they still be alive?”
“I cannot tell. But I’ll do my very best” Charles promised gravely. All his hopes lay on the President now.
Charles was true to his word. The very next morning, he had marched into his director’s office and presented the report. The director had taken it to the State House immediately, promising Charles that the president would look at it that morning.
That day, the president sat in his office in the State House, Abuja, head bent, and half-moon spectacles perched precariously on his nose. His face was settled into the characteristic frown that showed he was in deep thought. He had been studying the file on his table for about 45 minutes now. The SSS1 had delivered it that morning, classifying it as being of the utmost importance. The report in his front was from a comprehensive 3-year investigative study into the Nigerian oil industry that detailed dates, places, transactions, amounts, and most incriminating, names, with photo evidences in some instances. The list of people indicted in the report could as well have been an attendance list of an inner caucus meeting of his political party, and a roll-call of the power brokers in Nigeria.
He had commissioned this report when he had been naïve of the debt he owed to those who had installed him in this office. When he had hoped he could radically transform Nigeria. All those were fanciful tales now. He filed the report in a special folder. That was the end of the matter. The report now would only be useful as leverage against those who would dare move against him in the coming election year.
That was dispensed with. He pressed the intercom and informed his ADC that he was going to leave in five minutes. He was scheduled to see his medical team again.
He picked his private phone, and spoke into it.
“I have the report. Let the boy disappear quietly. We don’t want to raise any dust.” He ended the call.
It was a necessary evil. The boy knew too much, and with the way these APC2 people were growing stronger every day, if they got this kind of information, they could summarily impeach him. Dead men don’t talk.
Tamilore blinked as the door opened. The first shaft of light since she had been kidnapped entered the room. Before awaking in the room, the last thing she had seen was the blazing headlamp of an oncoming vehicle. She had awoken in the dark room, and had faint memories of being interrogated, but they were fuzzy.
“Get up” a gruff voice said. A hand roughly pushed her to her feet. She was pushed half stumbling, half walking outside the room, and into a corridor. She was led down the corridor into an opening. There were about ten men, dressed in military fatigues in the enclosure, but she didn’t notice them. She saw only Ovie, for the first time since their wedding eve. He had lost weight, and was shabbily dressed, with four days growth of stubble; but he had never looked more handsome to her as he swatted the hand of the soldier who held him back from walking towards her. This was the Ovie she had fallen in love with.
“Ah the lovebirds.” One of the soldiers said, smirking. He appeared to be in charge here.
“Put them in the wagon” He directed.
Ovie and Tamilore were blind-folded and hand-cuffed, and escorted to a waiting Tundra truck. They were bundled into the back of the truck, and it trundled out of the compound down a dirt road. As the truck rolled, Tamilore bumped into Ovie.
“I’m sorry for getting you into this.” Ovie said hoarsely.
“Shiiiish” She said.
“I’ll rather die being with you than live away from you.”
Suddenly, they were thrown forward as the truck gave a lurch and stopped.
They heard several shouts of “shun sir” and a gravelly voice ordered,
Tamilore felt hands helping her down from the truck. The blindfold was released, and she looked around. She could see a body of water stretching out to her right. It could only be an ocean. Where was this? Surely, the Atlantic did not extend to Ibadan? The gravelly voice spoke again. It belonged to a clean-shaven, black man who towered over her. He inclined his head at Ovie.
“I am Major-General Ali Salem. I have been ordered by the President to release you and escort you to Aso Villa, Abuja.”
Tamilore turned to Ovie and flew into his arms. He held her, and they spoke no words. None was needed.
Charles Alidu smiled, walking away to give them privacy. He had been about to introduce himself. He had been summoned by his director to accompany the COAS3 to rescue Ovie. Everything had gone well. However, this was one more story he couldn’t share with anyone. Even if he did, no one was going to believe it. They would think it was simply an adaptation of one ill-written American action movie. He climbed onto the helicopter, waiting for the entwined couple staring at the Atlantic as the sun set in the distance.
2 hours before.
The President walked into the State Office. The meeting with his medical team had left him drained. He checked his watch and prayed it was not too late to right some wrongs. He picked his phone.
“General Salem, I’m issuing a counter-order with respect to Ovie Keyamo.”
“Yes sir” the general replied.
“He is to be released A.S.A.P.”
“But Mr. President,” General Salem began.
The president cut him short.
“Are you questioning a direct order?”
He ended the call and settled slowly into his seat, like a man bearing a great burden on his shoulders, and studied the sheaf of papers in his hand.
Five minutes later, his phone rang. It was the ex-general. Things had been strained between them recently. He infused some warmth he did not feel into his voice.
“Baba, it’s a pleasure to….”
The ex-general cut him short.
“Are you out of your mind?”
The president blinked.
“What’s this I hear about releasing the boy?”
“Yes. I made that decision.” The president said. He was getting slightly irritated, and did not feel like having this conversation.
“You have to reverse that decision. Don’t you know the implications for all of us?”
“I don’t care.” the president responded.
“You are clearly not thinking straight.”
“With all due respect Baba, I do not appreciate being insulted.” The president said, tapping his hands on the table. This old man was going too far.
“You are obviously going down, and I do not intend to drown with you. You are on your own in this.” The ex-general said. He ended the call.
The president held the phone to his ear. It appeared he was not even in charge of the armed forces. What would make a soldier question his orders, and report him, the president, to an ex-general? Wasn’t he still the commander-in-chief of this country? He was going to have to reshuffle the military brass.
He dialed Major-General Salem. He was brief, and straight to the point.
“General, you would personally retrieve that boy, Ovie Keyamo today, and bring him here. It would be your last act of service to this country.”
He clutched the sheaf of papers his medical team had given him. In the midst of all the medical jargon he couldn’t fully comprehend, he understood that he had less than 6 months to live. A neoplasm. Very rare. Difficult to detect. He was truly going down. And just this morning, he had been planning how to win the next election. Power was truly a fickle flicker. The country was going to see a very different president for the next six months.
“Do you Tamilore take Ogheneovie Keyamo, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To love and to hold, in sickness and in health till death do you part?” the pastor intoned.
Tamilore could have died in that moment. Everything was so perfect.
She whispered, “I do.”
In the first row of the right aisle, silent tears streamed down Omawunmi’s face. She was sure that somewhere in heaven Rotimi was seeing this and smiling.
Over the next couple of weeks, a series of seemingly random events occurred. First, it was rumored that the President’s health was failing, and that he moved round with a medical team comprised of Nigeria’s best specialists. It was even said he had been secretly flown to several hospitals under the guise of attending international conferences. Then, an ex-general had a public falling out with the President, and they parted ways for a while. Next, the President retired all his service chiefs. From the outside, they appeared arbitrary, but to insiders, it was all ordered.
1. SSS-State Security Service.
2. APC-All Progressives Congress:Nigeria’s main opposition party.
3. Chief of Army Staff.
WEWE by IFEOLUWA WATSON
Clouds. Tufts of blue and pink cascading through the ethereal hemisphere. They rode on the hydro-horses. The farther they went, the thicker the clouds became. They came to a place of trees – tall and leafy and many-fingered branches planted in pools of clear sparkling water. Beyond, there was an endless stream of light. A mighty gust descended and flapped away with one of them.
Sade spread-eagled on the car’s bonnet, amid the shards of glass that was once the windscreen, heaved a ragged breath. It was her last. Anike’s glassy stare saw and yet could not comprehend. Her throat willed her mouth to scream but the flap of skin drooled a mixture of saliva and blood on the inflated airbag. Rotimi’s hands still gripped Wewe’s waist. He’d pulled and held her strong. Even when he’d heard, krack krack, the sound of his breaking fibula as the driver’s seat had crushed it, he’d not let go. Blood from a laceration on Yeye’s forehead trickled down her face. She ignored it. Yeye opened the door on her side and ran to the still form of her daughter. In the blinking glare of the headlights, Tanwa was a bloodied mess. Yeye yowled like a wolf.
They stood over her. She was placed on her side. The masked figure made an incision. He cut away the muscle and fat and tissue. Then, he nipped the ureter from the organ. The ruptured kidney went into the petri dish. The surgeon straightened and the scrub nurse dabbed sweat from his eyebrows. It had been a laborious five-hour surgery. Unuttered relief hung in the air. It was short-lived.
“Shit!”the surgeon swore as he watched the urine in the catheter bag turn a bright red.
The surgeon untied the strings of his face mask and peeled the gloves off his hands. This was the part of his job he hated the most. Facing patients’ relatives and telling them the dismal condition of the patient. With drooping shoulders, he walked out of the operating room.
In the theatre lobby, Yeye’s thighs trembled as in a spasm. She’d stayed there all night. She looked like an Egyptian Mummy with her head swathed in a white crepe bandage. When she saw the surgeon approach, Yeye rose in expectation.
“How is she? Is my Omotanwa alive? Please tell me,” she said, gripping the surgeon’s hands.
The surgeon steadied her. “Madam, you need to be calm. Please.” Yeye nodded even though the words flew past her ears like buzzing houseflies. The blaring siren of the ambulance that had transported them to the University College Hospital resounded in Yeye’s ears. Sade had been pronounced D.O.A. Anike had suffered a partial stroke and broken ribs. Apart from his broken limb, Rotimi had appeared fit and Wewe had come out unscathed. The nurses had restrained Yeye in a bed, to stitch her forehead as she’d continued shouting her daughter’s name. “Omotanwa mi o! Omotanwa o!”
Yeye’s mind snapped back to the present as she watched the movement of the surgeon’s lips. “Your daughter’s kidneys were severely ruptured as a result of the impact. I removed one of the kidneys and tried to repair the other….” The doctor paused and cleared his throat.
“Ehn, ehn? So, what happened?” Yeye asked, in a hysterical state.
“The repair failed. Your daughter is bleeding profusely. I will have to perform another nephrectomy.”
“Nefre kini? Please speak in clear terms, doctor.”
The surgeon told Yeye they will have to remove Tanwa’s second kidney. Since she could not live without a kidney, Tanwa needed a donor in the next 48 hours.
48 hours! Yeye fell back into her seat with a squishy sound. Everyone knew about the long list of renal patients awaiting transplants. Tanwa would have become a skeleton by the time her name reached the top of the list.
“It would be best to get a family member to volunteer,” the doctor advised and walked away, to the observation room.
Yeye would have gladly given Tanwa her kidney but she could not be a match. She had the selfish AB blood type that could receive from all but only donate to its like. The surgeon had mentioned relatives. Yeye’s mind drifted to her co-wives and Tanwa’s half siblings. They would laugh her to scorn if she dared step into their compound. When her husband had died, Yeye had moved out of the family house and left the other wives to squabble over the properties. As always, when problems surfaced, Yeye depended on her wealth. Who would sell their kidney to her?
She lay on the couch in the sparsely furnished room. Her eyes were glazed and half-closed. He sat on a chair at the head of the couch. He told her to think of water – gushing from a tap or gliding down a rock. “The water is falling on you. Is it hot or cold?”
Wewe answered, “The water is very hot. He poured it on me. He said bad girls get burned.”
“Did he touch your burned skin?”
Wewe’s face contorted. She chattered gibberish and let out indiscernible grunts and growls. Then, she was limp. She told him of the many men that had come morning and afternoon and night. How they had forced her on her knees between their legs and the look of pleasure on the men’s faces and the disgust she felt. She began to weep.
“I was just a little girl. He called me a bitch! A-good-for-nothing piece of crap! Yes! He said he’d picked me from the dunghill. I was lucky he’d kept me!”
Wewe laughed. She croaked like a frog as she repeated, lucky, lucky. The psychiatrist pushed his spectacles higher on the bridge of his nose. He waited for her distress to pass. When she was still again, he continued.
“Do you like your skin?”
Wewe shook her head. She did not say the words. So, he repeated the question. She erupted into a long flow of words.
“I hate my skin. I want to remove it. He took me to that red-lighted hall every Friday and Saturday night. They told me and the other ladies to remove our clothes. We danced and danced and danced until our feet ached. Some of the men wanted more and we took them behind the curtain for the VIP treatment.”
The rain of words halted. The psychiatrist waited.
She resumed. “One night, I removed my clothes and pulled at my skin. A thousand pins pricked at it. I pulled and pulled but it would not come off. I ran out. I kept running across the valleys and thick bushes and over many rivers…until I found home.”
“Where is home?” he asked.
A smile played at the corners of her mouth. “Home is where the man with the blue halo over his head is. He is mine and I am his. We belong together.”
The psychiatrist was confused. He knew the blue-halo-man and the wicked man could not be the same. He looked at the clock on the wall. It had been an hour. He moved to the final step.
“You can remove your skin now. You’ve become a new person. You’re free from the pain of your past. Step away from that dark shadow.”
Wewe whimpered and wiggled on the couch. Then, she was calm.
“What is your name?”the psychiatrist asked.
“Wewe,” she replied and came out of the hypnosis.
Wewe sat up on the couch. She looked around the room. She ran her fingers through her matted hair. “Who are you? What am I doing here?” she asked. The voice in her head had gone silent.
The psychiatrist smiled in satisfaction. This was yet another patient he’d treated successfully with the controversial procedure of hypnosis. Some of his psychiatric colleagues had labelled him an unorthodox therapist and others called him, a magician.
After the accident, the doctor at the Moniks Private Hospital had sent the critical cases to UCH. He’d admitted Rotimi at his hospital and sent Wewe to the mental hospital since she had no injuries.
A nurse came into the room. She took Wewe by the hand and led her to the bathroom. There, she washed the caked grime off her skin. They cut the matted dreadlocks and cool breeze caressed her scalp.
In the psychiatrist office, his mobile phone rang and vibrated on the table. It was the doctor at the Moniks Private Hospital calling.
“Hello ore, I have another case for you here o.”
The psychiatrist beamed. The Moniks doctor had been his classmate in medical school. He was one of the few who still reckoned with him.
“You know I appreciate your referrals anyday. I just finished with the lady.”
“Ok. Thanks. They will soon arrive at your hospital.”
Rotimi’s leg was cast in a POP. He was wheeled into the mental hospital. Immediately, he began to twist on the wheelchair; turning this way and that way. “Where is she? Where have they hidden her?”He asked. She entered the room in a loose-fitting white gown. Time stopped ticking as they beheld each other. Wewe ran to him. She knelt before him and they wrapped their arms around one another. The orderly watched open-mouthed. The distressed man he’d wheeled into the mental hospital had been replaced by this tranquil being.
The psychiatrist watched the pair. Now, he knew who the blue-halo-man was. He walked back into his office. The new patient had all he needed to be well with him.
Yeye had been on the phone all day. Now, in frustration she swiped her fingers hard across the phone’s screen.
“Don’t tell me you’ve not found someone yet! Dondee! I gave you just a simple assignment.” The man on the line stammered. He was Yeye’s right-hand man.
“Madam, I’m trying…bu-t you know it’s someone’s body part we talking of….”
Yeye cut in. “So? Won’t people do anything for money? I have raised the offer to ten million naira! Find a donor before morning!”
As she turned in the direction of the ICU where Tanwa had been admitted, she saw the pair. They were moving towards the adjacent orthopaedic ward. Rotimi hopped on crutches and Wewe walked by his side. Yeye rushed to meet them. She stopped in her tracks like a zombie when she encountered the transformed Wewe.
Yeye picked her jaw off the floor. She spread her palms open. “Rotimi it’s so good you are here. Please, I need your help. I know you loved her once. I know you won’t want her to die. Please, Tanwa needs a kidney from you. Please,” Yeye pleaded, as she dropped on her knees before him.
Rotimi shifted uncomfortably on his good foot. “Stand up, stand up! Don’t kneel before me,” Rotimi said. Yeye quickly got on her feet, relief dancing in her eyes. She looked at him full of hope.
“So, will you follow me to the surgeon now? To have you matched?”
Rotimi waggled his head. Yeye went over the top. She popped full blast like a champagne cork. “No! You will give your kidney! You will donate it! You will!” she screamed. Wewe stood in front of Rotimi warding Yeye off. Yeye stopped her rant for a moment and stared at her.
“You’re my daughter! You’ve to save your sister! Please!” Yeye’s words poured forth as if hot yam scalded her tongue. She told Wewe of the nine months of carrying her in her womb. She told her of the heart-wrenching pain she’d felt for many years whenever she remembered. Then, she began to weep. “I’m sorry I threw you away. I was young and stupid and scared. Please, forgive me.”
Yeye was on her knees again. She wrapped her arms around Wewe’s legs. Wewe looked at her – long and hard. Then, Wewe pushed her away.
“I have no mother or kin.”
They left Yeye sitting smack on the concrete floor. Passers-by turned to watch the disarrayed picture she painted.
She limped from the wardrobe to the bed with her clothes. On her second trip to the wardrobe, she caught her reflection in the mirror. She began to sob. The left side of her face was a canvas of keloids. For the past three months, she’d barely stepped out of the house. When she went for check-ups at the hospital, people stared. Tanwa could not stand it anymore. She’d resolved to leave.
Yeye entered her room and her eyes took it all in. “Omotanwa, what are you doing? Why are you packing your clothes? Ehn?”
Tanwa looked at her mother in disgust. This was the woman that had made her to suffer for sins she had not committed. “I’m going to the UK. I will never return. I’m leaving you to your bad luck and wickedness,” Tanwa spat, between gritted teeth.
Bile rose to Tanwa’s chest and threatened to spill into her mouth, whenever thoughts of Rotimi and Wewe entered her mind. Tanwa was grateful to Wewe. She’d saved her life. But she could not just stand the thought of her love with another. Wewe had sought the surgeon out herself. She’d been a perfect match. It was not until the kidney was inside Tanwa, that Yeye had known its owner.
Yeye had begged the surgeon to allow a paternity test be conducted from the tissues and blood they had taken from Wewe. Yeye was not surprised with the results. It showed a 99.9% probability of Wewe being her offspring.
Yeye dragged the packed bags and tried to open the zipper. “You’re not going anywhere! You’re my one and my only. Please, don’t leave me,” she begged. Tanwa’s determination was unrelenting. She looked out of the window until she saw him enter through the gates. The driver from the travelling agency had arrived to pick her. Tanwa tried to drag one of the bags along with her. She winced as the added weight bore down on her bad leg – another aftermath from the accident.
Yeye gripped Tanwa’s arm. The intense glare and the deep-seated hatred in her daughter’s eyes caused Yeye to let go as if she’d been scorched. She watched helplessly as the driver came upstairs and carried the bags. She moved to the porch, robot-like and gazed until the car faded into the distance.
They sat in the armchair, closely like two turtledoves. They paid no attention to the movie showing on the television. Their eyes were on each other. They basked in the euphoria of their love. Anike hobbled past them, her limp left foot, flopping pa, pa, pa on the tiles. She tried to ignore the couple but they were everywhere she turned to – in the bathroom, they giggled under the shower, splashing water and having a soap fight; in the kitchen they washed plates, one washing and the other rinsing and on the dining table they fed each other, already sated with their love. Rotimi and Wewe had become a fixture in the house.
There was a knock at the door and the housemaid went to check who it was. Yeye walked quietly into the sitting room. The eyes of the two women met – Yeye, docile and Anike, fierce.
“Wha-t a-re you do-ing he-re?” Anike struggled to speak, as a spray of spittle lined her chin. The partial stroke had affected her speech and her mouth was curved to a side.
Yeye sighed. “I came to greet you and my children.”
Anike’s crooked lips make an effort to pucker. She burst into a hoarse laughter. “Me a-nd yo-ur child-ren? Yo-u can’t ki-ll this re-main-ing one,” she sputtered, pointing at Rotimi who was in a world of his own with Wewe.
Yeye entreated her. She spoke of her empty house. How the silent walls echoed her name at night; how her heart palpitated and how she’d murdered sleep. The last time they had seen each other was at the registry. Rotimi and Wewe had been wedded in a quiet ceremony. The psychiatrist had warned Anike not to try and separate the two. “They are soul mates. It cannot be explained rationally. Take them apart and you risk a relapse of their condition.”
Anike was embittered. Sade’s photographs on the walls were a constant reminder of her pain. Anike blamed Yeye for her woes. Yeye felt she’d lost more – her two daughters lived but they had neglected her.
Silence prevailed in the room. Wewe took no notice of her mother. Yeye rose heavily to her feet. She left the house, alone – bereft in body and spirit.
Wewe, the name no one knew its origin had come to stay. Her real name enshrouded in her painful past, remained a mystery. She’d refused to remember.
Outside the house, the moon sat resplendent in the sky. Wewe and Rotimi chased each other in glee. The lovers played hide and seek in between the exotic cars – the Chevrolets and Jaguars and Toyotas. In unison, they howled at the old woman in the yellow orbit.
FATE’S STORE by MIRACLE ADEBAYO
Fibroid. That’s what Doctor Ini said it was. It was hard to believe that the baby I had thought was growing in my stomach wasn’t a baby after all.
I was sick. How was that possible? There was no history of fibroid in my family. Tade jostled me to the hospital as quickly and silently as possible. His actions were strange; but I read nothing into it. He’d just found out that his wife had lied to him for years. I didn’t expect easy forgiveness. But I also didn’t expect the silent treatment he was giving me.
My operation was scheduled for Tuesday. Doctor Ini had insisted that I be admitted as soon as possible. He wanted to get things over with quickly.
Although I was a bit relieved that I wasn’t carrying the bastard’s child inside me, I couldn’t help mourning the loss. For a moment, I’d thought that God had decided to let me enjoy the ecstasy of carrying a baby again. But of course that wasn’t to be.
Fibroid. The thought sent fear running through my heart. Why did I have to have an anomaly? Why did things like this happen to me?
“Tade, talk to me…please,” he had avoided looking at me for two days. “I’m about to enter the theatre. Please just forgive me.”
I watched him take my hand in his and stroke it gently. “Sometimes, we have to do what is best for ourselves and our family. I understand that. Perhaps, if I was in the same position, I’d have done the same thing.”
A beam of hope squeezed into my heart. Could that be forgiveness I sensed? I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
“So what are you saying?” I asked, tentative.
“I’m saying, concentrate on your surgery. I need you back alive and then we can talk.”
I nodded. Dr. Ini came in, looking set for the procedure.
“We’re ready. Are you?” He asked.
“You’re doing it alone?” I wondered.
“Fibroid isn’t such a big deal,” he glanced at Tade and an inexplicable look passed between them.
“Still, you need nurses to assist you,” I persisted.
“And there will be. Listen, you’re in good hands Bukky. Just try to relax. When next you wake up, you’ll be a whole lot healthier.”
There was something bizarre about the whole thing but I couldn’t seem to put my finger on it. Perhaps I was just nervous about the surgery. It’d been a while I’d gone through surgery of any kind. I was used to being the doctor and not the patient.
“Okay, let’s go.” Doctor Ini signalled the nurses to wheel me inside the theatre.
“Tade, I’m sorry.” I clung to my husband’s hand like a lifeline.
“So am I,” slowly he bent to kiss me. And this time I wasn’t repulsed.
I was drowning in something. It wasn’t water. It was red.
I opened my mouth to scream. Instead my lungs began to fill.
Then I heard a voice. Her voice.
My baby; Laide!
I flailed around in the pool of blood looking for her.
The voice seemed to come from somewhere within me.
Laide! Baby! I’m sorry. I struggled to say. The blood seemed to be covering my head.
I was drowning. Really drowning.
I shut my eyes. I’d failed my daughter.
And suddenly I felt like I was flying. A hand lifted me ever so gently and place me on dry land.
I opened my eyes.
I was in the hospital. Alone. I knew then that the surgery was over.
I felt the sharp pain in my abdomen as I tried to sit up. That was when I saw the blood.
It had stained the hospital sheets and my clothes.
I tried to think if one lost a lot of blood to fibroid. I couldn’t remember. Was bleeding like this, normal?
I climbed down gently form the bed, ignoring the searing pain in my abdomen.
Clutching the wall for support, I made my way out of the hospital room and into the hallway. I needed to find Dr. Ini to tell him I was still bleeding. I didn’t take notice of the people who stared at me as I walked down the hallway; a woman stained with blood.
Where was Dr. Ini’s office again?
Ah! There it was.
As I made to knock on the door, I heard a familiar voice from within.
“She’s still bleeding and it’s the third day. How long are you going to keep her sedated?”
It was my husband’s voice.
“Until the bleeding stops. I don’t want her to wake up and suspect anything. She’s a doctor too and she’ll know immediately that such a surgery shouldn’t require much loss of blood.”
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Doc? I don’t want to lose my wife.”
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Arranging an abortion without her knowledge! I’m not the one at fault here.”
“I did it for her. For us. She couldn’t have that baby.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Before I could summon the courage to confront them. I saw the ground rising to meet me.
I blacked out.
The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes, was a face that looked so much like mine. I inhaled sharply for a moment, shut my eyes and opened them again for a clearer view. The face remained there, hovering over mine.
I had forgotten how much she looked like me. The last time I had seen her had been a year ago, at my grandpa’s burial. Seeing her now, sent a myriad of emotions washing over me. Suddenly my guilt kicked in and lay on my shoulders heavily. I’d deprived this girl a normal life with me for fourteen years.
I began sobbing. For all the mistakes I’d made and the people I’d hurt in a bid to keep my secret.
I felt no comforting hand reach out to touch me. It dawned on me I was more alone than ever.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as I wiped my eyes.
“Uncle Tade said I should let you know that he went to the market to get some things,” she was avoiding my eyes. In the fourteen years she’d been on earth, I’d never acknowledged her as mine in public. She was always hidden away to protect my image. The gifts I sent across to her were not enough to appease for my absence or scarcity in her life.
As she mentioned my husband’s name, I suddenly recalled what had happened. How Tade had conspired and deceived me and taken away the baby.
I tried to sit up but was too weak to. I fell back against the bed. I was now in familiar surroundings; somehow I’d been discharged and brought home.
“Come and sit beside me, Laide.” I tapped the bed softly, suddenly craving to be with my only offspring.
At fourteen she was developing nicely. Her pint sized breasts stuck out admirably on her chest and her trouser hugged her bum, showing off the little curves that were being formed. Her hair was braided into cornrows, just like mine had been when I was her age.
“Please dear,” I urged.
She came, sitting tentatively at the edge of the bed.
“When did you come?” I asked, “Who sent for you?”
“You want me to go back?” A look of panic crept into her eyes.
I took her hand in mine, “Laide, you’re never leaving my side again. I want us to catch up on all the years we’ve missed out.”
“Why now? You never wanted me in your life before.”
The bitterness echoed in her voice almost brought tears to my eyes.
“A lot of things have happened, my dear. I was wrong to keep you away from me. But I hope you know I love you?”
She didn’t answer. I had never said that to her in all her life. It had never seemed appropriate then. She’d always been the unwanted child. Loving her hadn’t been easy, it was a gradual process.
“I love you Laide. I’m sorry I didn’t let you know sooner. I’ve made a lot of mistakes but keeping you away is the worst thing I’ve done yet.”
“What about my father?”
I blinked. I had expected anything but that. “I don’t know where he is. I haven’t spoken to him since I left school fifteen years ago.”
That was a lie. I had seen him once at the former hospital I worked in. He had brought in his wife to have her baby. I didn’t bother acknowledging him and neither did he. Laide and I were better off without him.
“Did you love him?” She was blunt, staring at me with those accusing eyes.
“I won’t lie to you. No I didn’t. What we did was wrong. But I don’t regret having you.”
There was no need telling her that she was the product of my first rape experience.
Just then the door opened and Tade came in, cradling grocery bags. His eyes took in the scene before him.
“Uncle welcome. Let me take it to the kitchen,” Laide scrambled to her feet and relieved my husband of his bags.
“You’re awake,” he came toward me, a tad nervous.
“How could you?” my eyes sprang to life.
“Let me explain.”
“What’s there to say?”
“I did it for us.”
“You did it for you! Don’t you dare lie to me!”
“That child would have had the worst life if he’d survived.”
“It wasn’t your decision to make! You’re a liar and a murderer. You killed my baby!”
I was getting hysterical. Images of the night of the rape flashed through my head.
“Calm down, Bukky,” he was standing so close to me now.
“Don’t touch me you murderer! Stay away from me!” I was falling apart and could do nothing about it. As his face loomed over mine, I watched it transform to that of my rapist. The snarl on his face as he came towards me was too much to bear.
TEN WEEKS LATER
“Thanks for joining us today Laide.” Dr M, my therapist smiled at my daughter as she shook her hand.
“I enjoyed it. I didn’t know I will,” Laide blushed.
“So do we expect you next week?”
“One step at a time, doc.” I stepped in, I didn’t want Laide feeling pressured.
“Actually I’d love to come.” She turned to me. “On one condition, though.”
I cocked my head.
“You know how Dr M has been asking you to let Uncle Tade come? Please, let him come next week.”
It was a month since I separated from my husband. There were too many lies between us and we’d hurt ourselves too much to return to the normal life we lived, so I’d opted out. We both needed space and time to figure out what next to do in our marriage.
Since I’d started seeing my therapist, she’d hinted at asking Tade to one of our sessions, saying that it could help our marriage. I’d turned the idea down every time. I wasn’t sure there was anything to talk about between us.
Meanwhile Laide and I were staying with a friend of mine until I could figure out what next to do with my life. Within one month I had come to bond with my daughter in a way I hadn’t known was possible. She wasn’t perfect and was sometimes too strong willed for my liking. Like now, from the look in her eyes, I knew she won’t give up until I agreed to let Tade come to one of our sessions.
“Please Mum,” she blinked.
“I don’t know Laide. It’s too early. I just…”
“Okay then, not next week. Two weeks’ time. Doc, is that okay?”
“Perfect.” Dr M beamed at us.
“Well then, we’ll see how it goes.” I conceded.
“No mum. Promise. Promise you’ll invite him to the session in two weeks.”
Strong-willed girl, like I said.
“Why does it matter?” I asked.
“Because…he’s the only father I might ever have.”
Her words hit me straight in the heart. I’d never given thought to the fact that my daughter needed a father figure in her life.
“Okay then, I promise.”
The hug she gave me was the best reward I could’ve asked for.
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