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My hands shivered as I held the baby, a deep look into his innocent eyes and I remembered how Bade begged for his life before I yanked off his nipple; a typical case of a happy moment suffocating under pressure from bad memories. My hands wouldn’t stop vibrating. Lizzy noticed and quickly collected the baby from me.
“Carrying a child isn’t that difficult Kunle” she explained, “See. This is how to do it” eyes flicking intermittently from baby to me, she demonstrated.
She never really met Bade. I am not surprised she didn’t notice the semblance. Keji stepped forward to carry him and from the daze on her face I could tell that she was aware of the obvious. Lizzy talked about paying a midwife to breastfeed him since herself and Keji had never given birth, it would be difficult for them to produce milk. I listened absentmindedly, all that crossed my mind were thoughts of how to bury Kike and conduct a DNA test afterwards. The situation spoke for itself, but my discipline explains that reincarnation is more evident in physical appearance. Perhaps Bade’s soul wandered around while thirsting to return to the world and chose to come back through, and to the two people that sent him to an early grave. The Yorubas believe that a violent and untimely death is enough motivation for the dead to want to return; to fulfill their purpose or get revenge. Analyzing those thoughts scared me.
We made arrangements for the midwife after reaching a conclusion as regards how long she will breastfeed him, and where she would live while doing so. Lizzy proposed her place, it was bigger and that way she would monitor his wellbeing intensively with or without Keji. She handed me a prescription note, a list of drugs and other items the baby needed.
Despite the foggy state of things, being a father felt good. Nonetheless, I wished Kike had lived longer to see his face, shed some lights on the pending controversy and save me the dilemma of unraveling the mystery.
“So, what are we going call him?” Keji asked. We were on our way to the hospital pharmacy. I was astonished,
“Keji, are you seriously asking me that right now?”
“Yes. Is that wrong? We are going to name him, won’t we?” she asked with an infusion of caution and push.
I halted. I was surprised she wasn’t asking questions or talking about the source of the baby. She made it look like she was happy with the fact he isn’t mine. At least that was what I thought. On the other hand, she seemed eager to be his mother. I used the reverse psychology,
“I will be here when you are ready to talk about it.” She burst into laughter, “don’t even try to pull an offensive on me. There’s nothing to talk about. The child doesn’t look like you, so what?”
“Did you just ask that?” I refuted. “Yes. What are you going to do about it? Send him to an orphanage?” she countered. I was wowed to my feet I began to walk.
“I can choose to return him to his grandparents” I said in a subtle manner, in an attempt to ease the tension.
“Okay” she answered, “but not without a DNA test to prove your illegibility. And even if he is Bade’s son, it wouldn’t change anything. I have chosen a name for him.”
I was perplexed by her stubbornness. I also wanted to keep the baby, I was just scared of what his presence will usher into my life.
“Funto” Keji chipped in.
“What?” I asked confusingly. “Funto. That is the name of the child. Everything about me tells me God has given him to me as a responsibility. Irrespective of what the DNA test is, I will not give him up.” she declared.
“What if his grandparents want him? Because I definitely won’t hide it from them if he isn’t mine.” I tried to gain some clarity.
“Kunle, I will beg for his custody. I am sure we’ll figure out a way to make everyone happy. I owe that to Kike,” she concluded before hurrying ahead. I guess she was angry at my pessimism.
“Iransekunrin – gentleman” he beckoned at me. I didn’t need to be told that he was a prophet. He pinned his bible under his armpit and held a bell in this right hand, summed up with the fact that he could have called me arakunrin instead of iransekunrin, a religious linguistic. He looked relatively young.
“Good afternoon sir, can I have a minute of your time?” he requested. I was reluctant, but considering the fact that he asked politely I gave in.
“Okay, just one minute” I emphasized. I handed over the items to Keji and she excused us as she proceeded to the maternity ward.
“Cursed is the man who delivers what he wasn’t sent, and cursed is the man who doesn’t deliver that which he has been sent to deliver. I come in the name of the Lord.” He chorused with the proper diction. His appearance said otherwise. His sandals denoted a man that walked where cars tread. He is probably one of the educated ones that abandoned everything for the ‘work of God’. They preach the gospel selflessly, makes me wonder if the jet flying pastors aren’t men of God. I am very sure that God wouldn’t call you to suffer at the expense of preaching the gospel. That is not to justify the businessmen that tag themselves men of God. Can he get to it already? I was already becoming impatient.
He went ahead, “Amen. The Lord sent me to tell you that he has given you a responsibility; a chance at absolute redemption. Irapada” he interpreted for emphasis sake. “Make it count. He didn’t specify in what form. But he wants you to take care of the responsibility like your life depends on it.” By default, I am not a fan of such stop and search prophetic declarations, but the message sounded too direct to be a lie. In my spirit I could discern that he was talking about the baby. My countenance changed and I became restless. Why does God keep putting me in a do or die situation?
“Thank you sir, I will do so.” I said with some respect and turned to leave.
“That is not all. There is one more thing” he continued.
“What else?” I was becoming really uncomfortable.
“The lady that was walking beside you, who is she?” he inquired. I snapped, “She is my friend. What about her?”
“Hmmm. Thank you Jesus,” he nodded with his eyes closed. “The Lord is making me understand that she is your helper of destiny. She is God sent. She is your soul mate.” He added; finally something that didn’t sound scary.
“Thank you man of God” I mumbled.
“But!” he jerked his hand and the bell sounded, “She is not your wife. She is just your helper. God bless you sir, thank you for your time.” He turned and exited my sight. How can you drop such bomb and walk away? How can you call someone my soul mate, God sent, and still declare that she isn’t my wife? I felt like screaming. What is God up to? Amidst the confusion I told myself, “Kunle, God wants to make you run mad.” Where was he when I promised Keji that our future would be together? What’s the difference between a wife and a soul mate?
I brought out my phone to check for the dictionary meaning of both. It was then that I realized I had several missed calls and a text message. It was my uncle. What does he want? He hasn’t called in months. Why does it have to be today? The birth of a child and all these are happening, yet, the prophet said God has given me a responsibility. This responsibility is becoming very complicated. A million thoughts ventured through my mind. I had used Bisi’s phone, threatening to report him to myself if he doesn’t stop communications with both of us. He yielded to that warning until that moment. His text message read: please pick my call. I have a confession to make for Bisi’s sake. Please. I hissed in a vengeful manner. I was about to reply is text to inform him that Bisi had told me when my thumb mistakenly hit the receive button. He was calling back. At first I wanted to hang up, but I decided to listen to what the beast had to say.
“Yes?” I answered rudely,
“Kunle I am very sorry. I have wronged all of you, especially Bisi.”
“What did you do uncle?” I asked in a mean manner. I wanted to hear him confess, for no particular reason; I guess hearing him say it will give me a better closure than revenge will.
“I…I slept with Bisi” he stammered. “You mean you raped your niece” I aided his guilt. Abruptly, the conversation took a drift from the path which it treaded,
“But that isn’t important right now. We are a family and families always iron out their differences. I am sure we can work this out” he stuttered annoyingly. “What’s important now is Bisi’s health. I tested positive for HIV two days ago.”
“What?” I screamed and ended the call. I shouldn’t have picked. It was like being stabbed on the spot of a recently stitched injury. I felt heat from within, my whole body vibrated. I rained tears as I folded in a corner and wept for Bisi. Her death was a blessing in disguise, else, she would have suffered double stigma. Bade too, his death was a salvation; he could have contacted the virus from Bisi and be punished for his wrong deed. I later garnered the courage to text my uncle: Bisi died five months ago. I forgive you. It was my quickest decision in months.
After four days of waiting impatiently, the DNA results finally arrived. He wasn’t my son. I called Mrs. Ogunmola to inform her. I could feel her joy over the phone. She arrived in Ibadan the next day; she had informed me of her inevitable visit the previous day. I met her at Iwo road and took her to Lizzy’s house, where the baby stayed with the midwife. She came with a man she referred to as her younger brother; he drove her down. She sang choruses and danced as she carried him. I was excited to see her in such mood. Few minutes later, she requested to see me privately,
“I am thinking of what names to give to him. I have some ideas already, but I will like to add yours.” She explained.
Spontaneously I voiced out “Funto.” I knew that would make Keji happy. I still couldn’t figure out how to handle the Keji situation.
“Okay my son” Mrs. Ogunmola approved. “We don’t want to get back to Lagos so late because of traffic. We will be taking Funto with us, so as to prepare for his christening and have him grow up where he belongs.”
She caught me off-guard. How can I deny her of her grandson? Would I possibly watch her take away my ‘responsibility’? It came out the wrong way, but I remember saying, “Mummy kolejo ma – that’s impossible.”
Written by Femi Fragile (Twitter: @fragiletimbzz | IG: femifragile)