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Like a dust devil, the whirlwind that disturbs the desert, sadness and hate captivated my soul in one spin. I didn’t need to be told I had drifted off the path to my future, it was obvious I was stagnant in my past and fast forwarded towards destruction. I didn’t care. The memories of my loss were my reasons for doing that which I did, becoming a killer. I lost three, I had only claimed two; I could use one more and strike the balance. Perhaps then, I can look towards redemption, but not until I have served my uncle revenge in its frozen state. He doesn’t deserve to father my cousins, but then they don’t deserve to be fatherless also. Stuck at a crossroad, the vendetta was the only thing that made absolute sense.
My chest vibrated and I was brought back to reality. I checked my phone to see who was calling, it was Mrs. Ogunmola, and she was calling for the second time in twenty four hours. The first time I had informed her about the fact that Bade and I had an issue and to promote peace, I had to move out. I hoped that would be enough to get her off my back for a while, but considering the fact that she was calling again, I should probably tell her the truth. I cleared my throat, took a long drag of breath and pressed the green button,
“Hello dear, I am sorry to disturb you. Was just wondering if you’ve heard from him, I mean he is your friend, maybe he has called you or something,” she said. My throat constricted, I swallowed hard before I could speak.
“Mummy, I don’t know where Bade is. If I did, I would have told you.” She didn’t say anything so I continued.
“You are making it sound as if I am hiding him or something”
“You don’t have to raise your voice at me Kunle. I am just a concerned mother who hasn’t heard from her son in days” she refuted.
“I am sorry ma”
“Don’t be” she countered, “maybe if you were sorry for trying to snatch Bade’s fiancée in the first place, you wouldn’t have moved out of his apartment.” That sounded harsh, I became defensive and tried to talk, but she cut me off before the words could form.
“I don’t expect you to know where Bade is, since your infidelity won’t let you face him,” she concluded.
I figured her next line of action would be to hang up, and so I cut in as quickly as I could,
“Don’t hang up yet ma. I know where you son is.”
I raised my voice, “I know he is hiding from me, from his sins, and I pray he never surfaces, because if he does, I will hunt him down in this life and the next.”
“What do you mean? What sins? If anything should happen to my son, I will hold you accountable. I will hunt you down and haunt your whole family” she retorted.
“I bet he never told you he raped my sister” I lashed back at her.
“Rape! My Bade will never do such thing.”
“If your son is innocent, then why is he at large? Why hasn’t he walked into the police station to clear his name?”
“Kristi, oko ijo – Christ, head of the church” she sounded scared, and I was relieved. I began to cry, the weeping was timely, but weren’t crocodile’s.
“Not just that ma, Bisi died yesterday from the pain and trauma your son left her in,”
“Omo yi ti pa mi – this boy has killed me” Mrs. Ogunmola screamed,
“Here’s what I have to say ma. Don’t call my phone again, else I’ll have you arrested as an accessory to rape and manslaughter, and lock you up in jail until your son is found.” I ended the call.
A Yoruba adage says “a dead child is better than a missing one.” But how do I tell a mother that her son is dead, and that I killed him? I melted into evil; lied without conscience, and yet will have to put up a thousand lies to protect just one. I wept like a child who bruised his jaw against a rock; mouth wide open, tears and mucor dripping, heavy breathing, and with screams of “Mama, Bisi, Tayo.”
I stood there as I watched Presido beckon to me to come over, and I began to walk towards him with giant strides. Then I heard someone call out to me, it was Bisi,
“Brother Kunle, go back!” but it was too late, I had already fallen into a pit, only to be grabbed by Bade’s left hand. I looked down and saw a bottomless pit, if he should let go of my hand I’ll be dead.
“Bade Please don’t drop me” I pleaded with him as I tried to stay on. His chest soon started bleeding profusely, and with his hand and voice vibrating he said,
“I am losing my strength Kunle, I can’t hold on any longer”
“Bade Please don’t let go,” his hands began to slip, it no longer gripped mine. As I fell I screamed, “No no no!”
“Wake up Kunle, it’s just a nightmare,” Kike’s voice calmed my fears. She was mopping my face with her hand towel.
“What happened?” she asked, “You’ve been shivering and sweating for some minutes now. I thought it was fever until you started screaming.”
“I had a nightmare. I saw Bisi and…”
“And what?” she persuaded me to continue,
“And she was crying” I lied. I saw dead people; I didn’t think it was wise to mention that Bade and Presido were among.
Kike lifted up my head, sat down, and then placed it on her laps. She patted my head as she comforted me,
“Kunle, I can’t claim to know how you feel, but I can see how much you have lost. It is hard, but you have to embrace whatever has happened in other to move past it. I am not quite sure of how long I’d be here also, but I will fight to stay alive so as to bear your child. Focus on the future, stay alive for your child.” She sobbed on,
“I pray to God to give me a girl, so that when I am gone, she will take good care of you. You have a good heart, don’t let this hurt you feel drive it to hate.” Within me, I thought “that’s too late.”
She wouldn’t stop crying so I sat up and tried to comfort her. I pulled her head to my chest and patted her hair to the back; I was amazed to see how much of her hair stuck to my hand. It was like pin to a magnet.
“There’s nothing to be scared of. It’s one of those things that happen during chemotherapy phases,” she explained, and I stammered an “o-k”.
“I will probably get a haircut tomorrow and pull a Lupita” she teased. I admired her courage, the only thing I lacked at that moment.
She went ahead to explain that all attempts to find Bade was futile, and assured me that the police were doing all they could. She was very confident that he will be found and brought to justice. I wished I could tell her to call off the search.
“I will be travelling to Akure tomorrow to see my uncle,” I informed Kike. She simply persuaded me not to, explaining that the timing was wrong and I wasn’t thinking clearly at the moment.
“I promise to be at my best behavior Kike.”
“It is easier said than done Kunle. Tell me how exactly you intend to stand in front of someone who raped your sister and keep calm, it won’t work.” She knelt down before me and persuaded further;
“I don’t feel good about this trip. I am not saying you shouldn’t go, all I am saying is, stay back till the flames of this terror has faded. Please Kunle, stay for one more week.”
“Okay, it’s fine. One more week; but what do I tell him if he calls to ask about Bisi. Since I informed him that she was in the hospital he hasn’t called, he will eventually.”
“Just tell him she is recuperating,”
“Okay” I nodded in acceptance.
As I alighted from the bus, I thought about how mad kike would be when she finds out I travelled to Akure against her appeal. Talk about the devil, my phone rang and it was her,
“Baby” I hailed in guilt,
“Where are you Kunle? I have been home for about an hour and you are nowhere to be found.”
“Errr… I went, I went to, I took a stroll” I stammered. “Kunle where are you?” she asked suspiciously,
“I will be home soon” I assured her, “Is anything the matter?”
“Not really. I have good news,” she chipped in. A cabman parked beside me and yelled, “Where? Ilesha garage, post office, old garage, wole. ” I felt like smashing the phone on his windshield.
“Kunle, are you in Akure?” Kike enquired, she obviously overhead the idiot.
“I will be back tomorrow Kike”
“Oh my God!” she screeched, “Kike please calm down, what’s the good news?”
“Kunle please promise me you won’t do anything silly”
“And that you’ll be safe. I don’t want to give birth to an orphan.”
“I promise to be safe and not to do anything frivolous.” She took a deep breath after my declaration and said,
“Looks like karma finally caught up with Presido.” I acted surprised and asked her why she said so.
“I was in the police station today for an update on Bade when I heard that he was murdered in his room. You needed to see the relief on the face of every police officer that was present. I pray that whoever killed him never gets caught.”
I declared “Amen” and was about to hang up when she informed me she had more news.
“What is it Kike?” I asked,
“They found Bade also,”
“What?” I was astonished,
“Yes. The DPO said he was found by the roadside by a farmer, unconscious and badly wounded. He didn’t give much detail, but as we speak he is in the ICU at the University College Hospital, still unconscious, and guarded by two officers.”
Shocked, I ended the call. I didn’t feel his pulse, how come he is alive? What happened to Presido’s drycleaner? I turned around and enquired about which bus was next to travel to Ibadan. As I waited for the bus to be filled, all that crossed my mind was, ‘kill or be killed’. My nightmare makes more sense now.
Written by Femi Fragile (Twitter: @fragiletimbzz | IG: femifragile)