Thank you for coming with me on this journey to Abowu District. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series.
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“Over there! Get him!”
Toye shot in the direction that Doyin pointed at, he got the attacker in two shots.
“I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding!”
Toye held his hand to the stomach wound and tried to look out from under the truck. Gunshots were still ringing out, members of the gang lay still all over the ground. In the distance, he saw Jay lying with his face in the ground. Where was Richard?
“I’m going to kill you.”
Toye felt Doyin’s gun press into his chest. He looked down at his hands on the latter’s stomach. They felt sticky with the warm blood.
“Doyin, don’t do this.”
“Tell me the truth. Did you set us up?”
“I didn’t do anything…”
“Tell me the truth!”
“Just take it easy…”
“You were nothing… I helped you to become rich. You could rent a house, get married, you could eat! How could you betray me?”
“Save your strength…”
“Shut up!” Doyin let out a sound that was a dry laughter and a cry. “I was going to leave Abowu, you knew my plans. Why couldn’t you at least let me go before doing this, hmm?”
“So what happens? Do you get promoted? Do they give you money? You think that you will be safe? Richard will kill you…”
Just then, they heard a grunt. It was Richard.
“Don’t kill him!” they heard Bala say and then some footsteps. “Richard, it is over. You are under arrest.”
“They got Richard?” Doyin murmured as his hands fell from his gun and clutched his stomach.
Toye was numb with guilt and sadness for Doyin who started to shiver, his breathing, ragged.
He scurried out from under the truck and approached his boss. Around him were dead men, and by the police truck were five members of the gang who had surrendered, their wrists handcuffed. He couldn’t see their faces in the darkness, but he could feel their hatred for him.
Bala pumped the young officer’s hand. “Thank y…”
A gunshot rang out, and Toye went down.
Uche heard some of the chatter floating in from the counter. The police had intercepted a robbery by a notorious gang, most of them were dead. Uche smiled, then frowned. They hadn’t succeeded without him just as he had predicted. No one would be coming for him.
That afternoon his mother came to visit.
“Mother, do you have any news for me?”
The old woman dropped her handbag and retied her wrapper. “They have arrested all your people.”
“All of them?”
Uche whistled. “Alright, I want you to go to my house. In my room, there’s some money in…”
“Why didn’t you say this before? Didn’t I ask you for money to get a good lawyer? Your house has been locked up, no one can go in.”
Uche leaned his back against the wall.
The woman picked up her bag. “I don’t have money for a good lawyer.”
“I am finished!”
“You’re going to court tomorrow, we just have to hope for the best.”
Uche said nothing.
“Your children are with their mother’s people. They won’t even let me see them. You have brought me sorrow in my old age Uche, I don’t know why you chose this life.”
“You weren’t sorrowful when I was buying you gifts.”
“If I had known early what sort of business you were doing…”
“What would you have done? Why didn’t you return everything when you found out? You are a bad mother and I wish never to see your face again.”
The old woman began to wail.
“I am a bad mother? Alright then,” She picked up her bag. “I will leave you to your fate.”
Becky watched her mother pouring out a bottle of palm oil into a transparent nylon bag. Her short hair had been cut even lower, a scattering of grey hair on her head. She was wearing a wrapper that used to be dark brown over a frayed, blue blouse. She looked down at her flat feet and scaly skin as they stepped on pepper stalks, onion skins, and the damp earth. Her mother handed the oil to a customer.
In the shop her youngest sibling was playing with Bolutife. The girl was naked except for the dirty underpants that covered her crotch.
Her mother, Rose, took a seat beside her and scratched her face.
“So you were saying that you left that policeman for a rich doctor…”
“No, I’m not with anyone else.”
“You have no man? Why? How do you take care of yourself?”
“I’m taking care of myself. I work.”
The woman grunted and slapped one hand over the insect on her thigh. There was an awkward silence between them, Becky had a lot to say to her mother. She wanted to ask her why she had abandoned her when she needed her most, yet she could see that her mother was in a worse situation than she had left her. Rose wanted to ask her daughter about the shadow of experience lurking in her eyes, she wanted to apologize for not taking her in, for not doing enough, yet she consoled herself with the fact that she had other children to look after.
“Why did you come here?” she suddenly asked.
Becky was taken aback. “I came to see you.”
“Alright,” she grunted. “It is good that you have come here. You will take your immediate younger sister with you. Since you are working now, we can do with your help.”
“But I’m barely getting by.”
“Yet you are wearing good clothes and your son is looking so healthy.”
“That is because I save, besides, I go to school…”
“Why are you going to school? You should be looking for a man that will take care of you.”
Becky knew that her mother couldn’t understand it. “I can take care of myself.”
“You don’t have to be proud. Take your sister and look for a man that will take care of the both of you.”
“I cannot take her. I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else.”
“You are joking.”
“I am not. I’m going to get an education, I want a better life than this…”
“Than what? You’re a woman, stop daydreaming!”
Becky wondered why she had bothered to come. She stood up and held her bag to herself. “I am ready to leave.”
Annabelle sat beside Toye’s bed and stared at the wall opposite her. She heard the ruffling of sheets and her eyes flew to the man on the bed.
“Where am I?”
She went to his side. “Abowu General Hospital…”
Images of the night before flashed in his mind as he tried to recollect what had landed him there. His lips were chapped and his eyes were dull. Annabelle could only stare at him.
Suddenly, he remembered, Doyin had shot him. “Doyin…”
“Why did you do it?”
He was confused.
“Doyin helped us when we didn’t have anything, he brought money into our lives and you betrayed him just like that?”
“Where is he?”
“He’s dead. His body was laid in the police station like a common criminal.” Annabelle broke into tears. “He was your friend!”
“He was never my friend, he would have done the same thing if he was in my shoes.”
“You are wicked!” she sat down on the chair and wiped her face. “You didn’t even think of the baby and I. You didn’t bother talking to me about it first.”
“It was a secret mission…”
“You think you’re special, that only you can save Abowu, isn’t it? You have always been so full of yourself! Richard will be released in a short while and then what happens to you? What happens to us?”
“He cannot be released. There is too much evidence against him.”
Annabelle laughed. “Who will use the evidence?”
He stared at her.
“You are naïve, even after all this time.”
She got up. “I have to leave Abowu, I have sacrificed enough for you. I have to get what money I can and take our child. I will write to you…”
“You’re leaving me?” he tried to get up but pain held him down.
“You can go back to your dirty girl, I’m sure she will gladly receive you.”
“You’re leaving me because Doyin? After everything?”
“I’m leaving you because you’re not the man I thought you could be.”
He could do nothing but watch her walk away, her name fading away on his lips.
“I don’t understand you sir.”
Bala scratched his underbelly. “Listen to me young man. What I am trying to tell you is that you cannot change the system.”
“You said you wanted us to stop the gang.”
“And we arrested them didn’t we? I have resigned, as you know. There’s little I can do about the case…”
Toye looked at Bala speaking, he stared at his large belly, the slim tribal marks framing his cheeks, the greasiness around his lips and the relaxed manner in which he sat. The man was unperturbed in any way.
“I have done my best, the culprits have been arrested…”
“And you have been recognized. You have resigned from duty as a gallant officer, whoever comes after you can do what they want with the suspects, isn’t it?”
“Don’t put it that way…”
“How much did they pay you?”
“I take exception to your tone! You came to me remember? It was all your idea… I knew we cannot change the system!”
“I advise you to get on your feet as soon as possible. They say you will still walk, although with a limp…”
“You used me…”
“Listen to me young man, take whatever money you still have and get out of this district before Richard and his boys are released. If it’s any consolation, Uche has been sentenced to death. That’s all I’ve come to say. I have to protect my own head too.”
The village of Oke-ado was quiet as usual, it was the same except for the family that had arrived two weeks ago. The family with the limping man.
They lived not too far away from Mama Abeni’s house, she was Afonja Elewe’s mother. It was the only place Toye could think of that Richard and his people wouldn’t find his family, and it was the best place for his aged parents who had sorrowfully left the land of their origin.
Toye spent his days going to the piece of land he bought, he became a planter of yams and cassava.