Abowu District Episode 41
Becky stared at Toye, unable to move. How had he found her?
“My dear, are you alright?” the woman beside her asked.
“Yes ma, I am fine. I will go and bring your food now.”
The woman stared at Becky’s trembling hands and heard the tremor in her voice. She looked in Toye’s direction and wondered what was going on between the two of them. Toye himself looked stunned and discomfited.
Her companion tapped her hand, “Don’t bother yourself about them. What do you think about this restaurant…?”
When Becky returned into the dining room, Toye was nowhere to be found. She continued her job, relieved to see that he was gone but worried about the fact that he now knew where she was. She sat behind the restaurant building, thinking about what dangers could befall her now that Toye knew her workplace and breastfed Bolutife when one of the cooks instructed her to dispose the garbage.
She placed the already sleeping child in a corner of the kitchen and went to carry out the instruction. On her way back to the rear of the building, she felt a hand grab her arm. It was Toye, she screamed and snatched her arm away.
“What do you want? Are you here to rape me again in broad daylight?”
He looked around to see if anyone had overheard them. “I did not rape you, I am your husband…”
“You are not.”
“You are not. You said we should go our separate ways and I heard that you’ve married another woman.”
“I am still your hus…”
“How did you find me? What do you want?”
In truth, Toye did not know what he wanted from Becky, all he knew was that he needed to talk to her and he said as much.
“What do you want to say to me?”
He looked at her, stunned by how transformed she was. “How did you change?”
“How did you also change?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean when did you become a thief? What kind of a policeman lurks around in the dark? And who is the boss you and that man were talking about?”
Toye’s eyes widened, unaware that she had been able to put two and two together. He swallowed. “Who have you told?”
She looked away from him. “No one.”
“Good, make sure you don’t tell anyone.”
“You mean apart from your friend Doyin who is obviously part of your gang. I saw him with that other man here.”
Toye held his head in his hands, realizing how much Becky knew. “You must not tell anyone what you know or you will be killed.”
“If you had just let me go that night, I wouldn’t know all I know.”
“I was trying to save your life…”
“By defiling me…?”
“I am your hus…”
“You are not!” Becky began to cry. “You are not my husband, in fact I regret the day I laid eyes on you. You have brought me nothing but pain and misery.”
She looked even more beautiful as she cried and Toye wanted to take her in his arms. She wiped her face and raised her head. “Don’t come here again, I don’t want to see you.”
She turned to leave when Toye said, “What about the boy?”
“What boy?” she turned back to face him.
“It’s alright if you don’t want to see me, but let me see the boy… my son.”
“Which son? Do you have a son? What is his name? What does he look like? You don’t have a son.”
She turned around and left him standing there.
“So you heard that I went to your friend’s office? Do you want to beat me for that?” Uche puffed out cigarette smoke and took a gulp from his beer.
Philomena was standing over him, she exhaled and told herself to calm down. “What did you go and do at her office? I thought you said you didn’t want to deal with her directly, that I should handle the poor woman?”
“Well, I have changed my mind.”
“You have changed your mind, why?”
“Woman, don’t question me. I can talk to anyone I feel like talking to…”
“Uche don’t try the nonsense I think you’re up to. Florence is my friend.”
He looked up at her. “Are you talking to me?”
She averted her eyes. “Look, I will not take it from you. You can sleep with as many women as you want but not Florence, a woman I helped to a position where she became good enough for you to notice.”
It was the last thing she said before Uche shot up and began to punch her. She screamed and begged for his mercy, he continued to beat her. When his anger had abated he spat on her and adjusted his shirt.
“Hairy goat. Is it because I gave you some money to spend that you think you can talk to me anyhow? I will deal with anyone I choose. No matter how tempted you are, don’t ever come and yell at me again, do you understand?”
Philomena wiped the blood from her nostrils and lips. “Yes sir, I’m sorry sir.”
Becky stood in front of the gate of No. 4, Ade Harper Street, GRA and wondered if Yomi was even in the building. She now recognized that it was important for her to leave Sewa’s employ, she and her son were not safe there. Toye, Doyin and the rest of the gang could come for her at any time. She knocked on the gate again and a middle-aged man opened it.
“Yes?” he asked, taking in her tight, faded clothes and the child on her back. “Are you lost?”
“No, no sir, no sir, I am not lost.”
“So, what do you want?”
“I’m looking for Yomi Makanjuola.”
He looked at her again. “There’s no one bearing that name here.”
“Are you sure?” she brought out the letter and looked at the address again. “Isn’t this Harper Street?”
He had a resolute look on his face. “Young lady, there is no one bearing that name here.”
Before she could appeal to him, he shut the gate in her face.
Florence got up as soon as Philomena walked into her office.
“Philomena, have you come to kill me?”
The other woman sat down and stared at her. “So after I turned your life around, you want to take my husband, isn’t it?”
Florence smirked. “Who is interested in your husband? I told him I was not interested.”
“But he beat me like this?” she took off the dark glasses she had on and Florence saw the bruises around her eyes, she looked closer and saw the dark marks all over face, expertly covered with powder.
“He beat you like this?”
“If you did not agree to his proposal, why did he beat me like this?”
“I don’t know, maybe he was angry because I said no.”
Philomena looked at the woman and laughed. “You must have everything isn’t it? I picked you up from the mess you were in and now look at you. You’re now wearing the same kind of clothes I wear. Now you want my husband…”
“I said I am not interested in your husband. And by the way, you gave me the capital, I worked hard to get myself to where I am today, so don’t think that you can take the credit for all my hard work. I don’t sit at the back of my shop and eat, I go out to talk to potential customers and I don’t take no for an answer, it is not my fault that I make money. It is the reward for my labour, don’t come here and insult me.”
“I came here to warn you…”
“No, warn your husband to stay away from me. You’re really trying with that man, I’m not interested in that monster, he is your plague, carry him well.”
Philomena’s cheeks stung from her words. “You will be sorry, I promise you that.”
Toye saw Philomena walking out of Florence’s shop scowling. He could tell that the conversation inside hadn’t gone on well. Could this be the opening he was looking for? He started the engine of his car and followed hers.
Doyin was at Sewa’s restaurant to see Becky but she avoided his table, leaving the other waiters to attend to him. He ate his food slowly, hoping to get a word with her. When he saw that this would be nearly impossible, he tipped a waiter to give her a message for him.
“He said you should meet him in front of the building adjacent to the restaurant, he says he has something very important to tell you.”
Becky stared the young man down and hissed. Doyin saw the exchange and tightened his fist.
Becky was grateful to have avoided Doyin but he was waiting for her at the end of the road, luckily, she was with Sewa but she saw how he looked at the boy on her back. She was silent throughout the journey home and Sewa noticed it.
“What is going on? You seem quiet, and you’ve been that way for some weeks now.”
Becky opened up to her, telling her about Doyin’s proposal to befriend her and Toye’s presence at the restaurant but she left out her encounter with him at the stall and her suspicions about their illegal activities.
“But I thought you wanted to be reunited with him.”
“That was when I didn’t know that he is now married to someone else and she is pregnant.”
“So what do you want to do?”
Becky was quiet for some time. “Maybe I should find work elsewhere, where they won’t find me.”
Sewa was not happy to hear that. “They are policemen, they will find you anywhere you go. Stay here and continue to do your job, I will tell them that you’re busy if they ask about you.”
Later that night, when the family was asleep, Becky wrote a letter to Yomi, telling him of her visit and giving him the address of the restaurant. Maybe you should come and see me instead, she wrote.
Philomena sat on an empty pew in the Anglican church with her head bowed. There were a few people in the church, including a slim man who sat in one corner of the church observing the woman. He brought out a piece of paper from his breast pocket and looked at the few things he had jotted down about Philomena.
He looked at his watch, it was a quarter to nine. Annabelle would be getting worried but he wasn’t completely worried about her. He needed to do this, so that he could have his life back. He used to think that Florence was the key to unlocking Uche’s defeat and possibly Richard’s, but now he was certain that the key was Philomena. He had followed her for about six weeks and had noticed the bruises on her face, the young women who had visited her shop to taunt her and the difference between the size of her shop and Florence’s. Philomena was a scorned woman.
Getting up from his seat he walked towards her and sat right beside her.
“Good evening madam, you’re the only one here.”
“Do I know you?” she asked, hastily wiping the tears on her cheeks.
“I have come to wipe your tears.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have come to give you revenge against your husband.”
She laughed. “What makes you think that I need revenge?”
“A happy woman will not sit here crying when she can be home with her husband. But he’s not even home is he? Maybe he’s with Florence?”
Her wide face hardened. “Who did you say you are?”
“For now, just call me Angel.”