Abowu District Episode 45
“How could you be so careless?” Bala said dropping the piece of meat in his hand in the plate before him, his bushy eyebrows bunched up together. It was early in the morning, they sat in Bala’s favorite restaurant beside the Ministry of Finance.
Toye averted his gaze. “It was a mistake sir, I didn’t know she would see it. It was there for just one day.”
“This is not good at all, not good. Your problem with women always comprises the integrity of your work, this is my challenge with you. I should have known that this would happen. Your cover is blown, I’m pulling you out.”
“No sir, don’t! I will fix it, I promise! There will be no problems, we have come too far to give up now.”
“Then you should have made sure that everything was good on your end. You are such a disappointment.”
Bala hissed and took a swig from his beer. He thought hard about the situation, as much as he wanted to pull Toye out of the case, the man was right, they had come a long way and were on the verge of cracking down two gangs for good. This wasn’t the time to back down.
“Alright, you continue, but you better be careful. Your life is in your hands. Get out of here.”
As he watched Toye walking away, Bala hoped that the young man would bring him the success he needed before he killed himself.
Bolutife was crying, it was time for his early morning cornmeal. From the money she had saved from tips, Becky went out of the hospital and bought him some. When she returned into the hospital, the kind nurse from the night before intercepted her at the entrance.
“Young lady, I cannot let you into the hospital anymore, my superiors have spoken harshly to me for letting you spend the night here. Someone reported me. I have packed your bags for you, they are over there.” She pointed to the wall, beside her. “There’s nothing more I can do for you.”
“Thank you for helping us ma, but I just need to speak with Dr Yomi.”
“I called him last night, I don’t know why he didn’t come. Or is this child his?” she asked with insincere concern.
“No, he’s not his father. Dr Yomi has just been very good to me…” she wondered how much to tell the woman. “I just need to speak with him.”
“What do you want to tell him?”
Becky busied herself with the boy on her hip, trying to find the right words. “He said I could come here if I need help.”
The nurse stared at her. “Look young lady, let me tell you the truth, because I can sense something going on here. The doctor is married. If he promised you anything, he only lied to you.”
Becky stared at the nurse who could see the effect of her words on the young woman’s face. “He’s married? When?”
“Some months ago. His wife is not in the country. Did he promise you something?”
Becky gasped as tears pooled in her eyes. She had no claim over the man, yet it anguished her to hear this important piece of information from the nurse. Why hadn’t he told her before? Did he also have a sinister motive towards her? Becky shook her head and thanked the nurse. Then she strapped her child to her back, picked up her bags and walked out of the hospital.
She was about to turn off the road that led to the hospital when she heard the impatient honk of a horn. It was Yomi, he was driving on the other side of the road, towards the hospital. She ignored him and kept walking.
She turned off the road, intending to stop at the next church she could find. From the corner of her eyes, she saw a car driving close to her.
“Becky,” it was Yomi again. “Will you please come in and let’s talk.”
The young mother merely shook her head and kept walking.
“Please stop being stubborn and just come in.”
Passersby began to stare at her strangely and as if in agreement with them, Bolutife started to squirm on her back and cry. Frazzled, she stopped. Yomi quickly opened the door for her and watched her silently as she got in with her baby and things.
They drove in silence, Becky patted Bolutife’s back as he lay cradled in her arms. The boy just wanted to sleep.
“Where are you going?” Yomi finally asked.
“Just drop me at the next church.”
Yomi said nothing and drove instead to a restaurant.
“What are we doing here? This is not a church.”
“I know, you need to eat…”
“Did I tell you that I’m hungry? Or did I ask you for money for food? Please take me to the church or I will get down from this car.”
Yomi looked at her and then at the steering wheel. “I wanted to come last night, but my father… had a mild stroke just as I was about to leave the compound. I was at our family hospital all night. I came to find you as soon as I could.”
She pursed her lips, not sure what to make of his story. He did look slightly unkempt, his afro stood out in tufts and his eyes were bloodshot. Still, there was the issue of him being married.
“Becky? Did you hear what I said?”
“I’m sorry about your father. I thought your wife prevented you from coming.” She said the last words, looking him in the eyes, daring him to tell her that she was wrong.
He looked back at the steering wheel. Becky shook her head.
“So you’re just like all the other men, you lie…”
“I’m not like them. I didn’t mention my wedding because it’s a long story really. But I am not a happily married man. And I didn’t ask you for anything, you’re just my friend. You’re more like a younger sister to me.”
She looked out of the window, Bolutife was already asleep.
“I really like you Becky, I like you, but as a friend.” he shook his head sadly. “She lives abroad and I here, we decided that it was better for everyone.”
An awkward silence passed between them.
“I want to help you. I am not tricking you, I just want to help.” He rubbed his eyes. “What happened? Why are you out on the streets?”
She told him what had happened.
“You were raped? You never told me.”
She kept her eyes out of the window. “Nobody believed me.”
“I am sorry,” he whispered and she felt a tug at her heart that would have been welcome if he was not married. “Let us go in and eat, and then we can talk about what to do.”
Sewa missed Becky, she missed the gentle smile she gave the customers as she served them, the vital pieces of information she gave her about the staff, the way she looked after her children, and her presence in the house. After four days of sending her away, she knew that she had made a mistake.
Babatunde was unhappy with his wife, regarding Becky. He was unsure of what had happened, but he knew that the girl had changed somehow, after that night when Sewa was arrested. In his opinion, she had not been given a fair hearing, no chance to explain herself. He worried about her, and wondered where she was and how she was faring with her son. Things were strained between him and his wife on the girl’s account, and he knew that Sewa had realized her mistake.
Sewa got into bed beside him and watched him stare at the ceiling.
She cleared her throat. “What is wrong with you?”
“Don’t you wonder where she is?”
“You shouldn’t have sent her away, without even thinking about where she would go. That girl served you, did you even wonder why the policeman told you what he did? Did you let her explain herself? If anything happens to that girl, it will be on your head.”
“I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did with those women.”
“Becky was different, you knew her, we knew her. You should have listened to her.” He shook his head. “All alone with that little boy!”
Sewa sighed again and felt a lump in her throat. Where could she find her? she wondered.
Toye walked up to Philomena, she stood beside the female toilet in the church, her arms folded over her ample chest. It was dark and Toye could barely make out her outline.
“Officer, I have been waiting here for too long. What is going on? Why haven’t you arrested Uche yet?”
“I am working on it madam, I assure you…”
“You have been assuring me for the last four weeks…”
“We are going to make the arrest soon, I promise. I just can’t tell you when. I need just one more thing from you. Tell me where he will be within the next two weeks.”
Philomena gave him a rundown of the places and things she thought he would be and be doing within the timeframe.
“If there’s a change, I will let you know.”
Toye finished scribbling and looked at her. “You are very courageous madam, I have to tell you that.”
“He thinks I’m a fool and he treats me as one, I want to show him that it is not so.”
Becky found a job in the hospital as a cleaner during the day, and went to school at night. She told Yomi that she wanted to be a doctor and he smiled. They were seating in the small room that they had been able to rent. The landlord had insisted that she bring a guarantor because she was a single, teenage mother.
“I believe you can do it. You just have to be very diligent.”
“I have seen too many things in my short life, I have no choice but to be diligent.”
“And stay away from boys and men…”
“You mean people like you?”
He laughed and looked at his hands. “Just be careful.”
“I will, thank you for everything. Please extend my thanks to your wife as well.”
Yomi knew what she was doing, she was subtly shutting the door of her heart against him.
Toye walked past Anabelle and moved into the kitchen. She looked at the clock, it was seven-thirty. She smiled, he hadn’t taken her threat as a bluff. She heard some noise in the kitchen and frowned. He was standing in front of the sink, drinking garri and tossing roasted groundnuts into his mouth.
“What are you doing?”
He gave no response.
“I cooked, why are you drinking garri?”
“You think I don’t know that you have poisoned the food?”
“Poisoned the food, what are you talking about?”
“If you can stab me in the back the way you want to, then you can do anything.”
“So you won’t eat my food.”
He said nothing, rinsed the bowl and walked out of the kitchen. She followed him to the room where she found him staring at the sleeping child. He had a strange look on his face and she wondered what he was thinking. After a short while, he took off his clothes and lay on the bed with his hands folded. She wondered what he was doing.
“I am ready to make love to you if you are.”
“What is all these?”
“You said you wanted me to be a good husband so I am doing what I can. I have come home on time, looked at the sleeping baby and now I am ready to please you.”
The discomfiture on her face was exactly what he wanted to see. She hissed and walked out of the room. He turned on his side and slept off.