This is the beginning of the second season of the series Behind Mud Walls. Thank you for being here. I hope you enjoy it.
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No one thought of looking for Mowunmi at Fakorede’s house. The old man wasn’t popular with Adegoke’s household and was considered unimportant to them. And so, Mowunmi enjoyed the comfort of safety in the old priest’s house until early the next morning when he escorted her out of the village with prayers and food.
Mowunmi walked as fast as she could, avoiding thorns and animal traps. As the day progressed, the weather became chilly and the sky heavy with dark clouds. She ate the akara balls that Fakorede had thrust into her hands before she left his house as she walked, not wanting to get caught in the rain. Approaching an intersection, she suddenly heard war chants. She stopped walking, wondering where the sound was coming from. It was right ahead of her, on the way to her grandmother’s village. Confused and scared of what the soldiers might do to her if they found her standing in the middle of the road, she decided to go left and hoped that they would be not be heading her way.
After walking several miles, fearfully hoping that she would be safe on this path, it began to rain. The detour had cost her precious time. She began to run and hope that she would find shelter from the rain. Just as she was about to give up, she saw a middle aged woman and a young woman ahead of her walking briskly.
Swiftly she caught up with them.
“Good day to you.”
The older woman turned to her. “Good day to you too. Hope there’s no problem?”
“I’m a traveler and I have nowhere to hide from the rain, can I follow you to your destination?”
“How do you know that we’re not travelers?” the woman replied, looking at her suspiciously.
“You have farming baskets, you look like you’re on your way home from the farm.”
The woman looked at her younger companion who shrugged.
“What’s your name?”
“Alright, you may follow us.”
The women hurried on to the nearby village as the rain fell harder.
Ibironke was relieved to see her husband feeling better. Although he still felt weak, he was sitting up and drinking small servings of light pap. Fakorede had come to their house the morning of Mowunmi’s escape and administered an herbal potion which made him feel stronger.
When Ibironke told him all that had transpired the night before with Fadare he merely smiled.
“Well, he is better now. Just make sure that he rests and doesn’t overwork his heart. It is very fragile right now.”
“Yes Baba.” she replied.
Watching her husband breathing slowly she thanked Eledumare once again for giving her husband another chance at life.
“You say that she was able to escape?” Agbeniyi asked his wife after she had told him what Adegoke had planned for their daughter.
“Yes, I’ve told you that already. Baba Fakorede said that you must rest. I need you to be alive!” she urged.
Agbeniyi smiled. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be fine.”
“That’s what you said when I told you not to go to the farm. I suspected that there was danger ahead.”
“But you know why I had to go. We had to rescue our daughter and now that we’ve incurred even more debt with Adegoke, I don’t know what we’re going to do…”
“We’re going to be fine, concentrate on getting better. What do you think will happen to me, us, if you die?”
Agbeniyi knew his wife was right, yet he feared Adegoke’s reprisal. The man would not be forgiving.
Adegoke paced the floor of his bedchamber, shaking his head angrily. Mowunmi, the daughter of a poor, ordinary farmer had gotten the best of him!
“Tell me what happened again.” he ordered his son Adeyimika who stood nervously in a corner.
“I told her to take off her clothes and she threw the oil lamp on the floor. The last thing I remember was that the room was dark, the next time I woke up, the window was open and she was nowhere to be found.”
“Where’s your older brother?”
“Tell him to come her right away!”
Adegbola came in shortly, still wiping his hands on his buba.
“So you’re comfortable eating when the roof of your house is on fire?”
“We came up with a plan to cover your disgraceful situation and you allowed it to fall through! Who knows if you were eating when she escaped? How could you not have seen her?”
Adegbola was angry, he didn’t appreciate being spoken to like a boy and in front of his younger brother.
“Father, I have already explained to you that I had to walk away from the house, I couldn’t sit outside and hear my younger brother making love to my wife!”
“Whatever your reasons, we’re now in trouble. If Mowunmi tells anyone what happened we will be disgraced. We must find that girl before it is too late.”
“Father if I may speak, there is something I think we can do if you won’t consider it foolish talk.”
“Say what you have to say.”
“Can’t we tell Baba Fadare to cast a spell on her that will cause her to come out of her hiding place?”
Adegoke looked at his younger son and nodded, the boy showed more promise than his impotent, charismatic first son.
“There is no way we can do this. I can’t see her, it is as if the gods themselves are hiding her.” Fadare said to Adegoke when he explained Adeyimika’s suggestion.
“So what do I do?”
“Forget about her, get your son another wife and concoct a tale about her being unfaithful to her husband.”
“Alright.” Adegoke said tonelessly, rising up.
“Friend, has her family asked you about her disappearance?”
“They are not yet aware.”
“Are you sure? What if Mowunmi told them everything?”
“No she didn’t. She wanted to say it but one of her uncle didn’t let her speak.”
“Then forget her and find another wife for your son, it is the fastest way to quell any rumor.”
“But what happens on the wedding night?”
“Leave that to me my friend, I will sort it out.”
Adegoke couldn’t get over what his friend had told him. As he walked into Agbeniyi’s compound, he thought of all the money he had spent on the farmer and his daughter and how it looked as if he had been swindled.
Agbeniyi was being fed, he sat against the wall breathing slowly.
“My in-law.” Adegoke said without feeling.
Agbeniyi nodded in response, he was too weak to speak. Ibironke greeted him.
“I came to see how you are faring.”
“He is feeling better, we thank God.” Ibironke replied.
“Has Mowunmi been here to see how he is doing?”
“No.” Ibironke said with exaggerated anger. “And I wonder why. How can she forget her father at a crucial time like this?”
“You mean she hasn’t been here all day?”
“No she hasn’t.”
“Don’t be offended, I asked her to run an errand for me, I’m sure she will be back soon and then I’ll tell her to come straight to see you.”
“Please do. She ought to know better.”
“She’ll be here soon.” He rose from the stool he had been sitting on. “I will come again.”
“Alright, thank you for coming.”
Ibironke was going to talk to her husband about Adegoke’s visit but he held his hands to his lips. He didn’t think Adegoke was truly gone, and
he was right. The man waited outside the door to hear the conversation that ensued after his departure, he wasn’t convinced that Mowunmi was not aided by her parents.
Adunni and Mopelola watched their guest eating voraciously, and wondered where she had been coming from. Adunni observed a helplessness about the girl that touched her, she looked like she was running away from something.
“Eat slowly, we will not take the food away from you.” she said teasingly.
“I’m sorry.” Mowunmi replied taking a break from her food. “I didn’t realize how hungry and tired I was.”
“Mopelola, please excuse us.” Adunni said to her daughter. “What are you doing travelling all by yourself? What are you running away from?” she asked as soon as they were alone.
Mowunmi leaned back and wondered if she could trust this woman with her story. “There’s a lot to say…”
“Eat then, we will talk later. In the meantime you are safe here.”
Night had fallen yet Mowunmi was nowhere to be found.
“She has fled. She’s not in this village.” Adebisi said to her husband,
“Yes, I realize that.”
“We have to raise an alarm and tell the village the story we want them to believe.”
“What do you suggest?”
“Let’s tell them that she was caught in the act of adultery and when her husband went to report her she fled the village with her lover.”
“Will people believe that?”
“Yes, we can tell them that her desire for her own child led her to do it.”
“But wouldn’t that make the villagers suspect that something is wrong with Adegbola?”
“You’re right about that.” She said, and stopped to think. “I believe that she had help.”
“I believe it too but how do we know who it was?”
“Let’s forget that and tell her parents that she simply disappeared from the farm and her husband has been looking for her since.”
“Would they believe it?”
“I will persuade them to.”
“In the meantime, I have found someone who will replace her. Folashade, the palmwine tapper’s daughter. We need a poor girl to be able to accomplish our plan, no questions will be asked. The sooner she gets pregnant, the more people will believe our story about Mowunmi and regard her as the infertile one.”
“Start relating with her mother while we wait for the wind to pass over this girl’s disappearance. I will tell Adegbola what we’ve decided.”