Becky was about to wash clothes, she emptied the pockets and threw them into a big bowl of soapy water. Mama Adio’s children were running around stark naked, screaming and holding up sticks. Their mother was sitting a distance away from her, picking vegetables and stirring her pepper sauce intermittently. Becky shook her head deprecatingly, wondering why the woman couldn’t get her children to put some clothes on. Her baby kicked within her and she smiled, it would have the best life that she could afford. Education would be a top priority and the child would never have to sell anything on her behalf. Continue reading “Abowu District Episode 7”
I’m back with a new series. It’s called Abowu District and it follows the lives of the residents of a small town in SouthWestern Nigeria in the 1970s. I hope you’ll love it!
This series is FREE. However, I will only post on Mondays and Fridays. Please read, share, and leave a comment. I’ll appreciate it!
“Mummy! Mummy! Wake up! Wake up!!!” Sewa turned to see her nine year old daughter standing over her.
“Teju! What is it? Why are you screaming this early morning?” her husband, Babatunde said sitting up sharply.
“Teju what is it?” Sewa asked groggily.
“Mummy Daniel is in the sitting room. She said I should wake you. Something happened to your shop…”
“Ehn? My shop!” she gathered her wrapper around her chest and ran out of the room, closely followed by her family members.
In the sitting room, Mummy Daniel was pacing the small sitting room furnished with two brown faded armchairs and a sofa surrounding an old circular wooden table. The blue walls were decorated with old calendars and a black and gold wall clock. A small black television sat on a low wooden stool.
“Mummy Daniel, ehn ehn, what happened?”
The woman turned towards Babatunde. “Daddy Teju, it is good that you are here…”
“I said what happened?” Sewa asked irritably “What happened to my shop?”
“Come and see.”
Sewa dashed out of the house, out of the large compound and onto the untarred street. She ran past old houses, shops, plots of land and uncompleted buildings. Her feet dodging muddy potholes and gullies. She ran, her heart smashing against her chest, her mind imagining all the things that could have happened.
“Sewa! Sewa! Wait! Wait!” her husband cried after her, clad in shorts and a torn singlet.
She noticed that people avoided her eyes, walking past her without saying a word. She turned the corner past the shoemaker’s stall and the mosque into the street her shop was on, hers was the third in the block of shops. Ahead of her she saw that people had gathered in front of it. Slowing to a stop, she walked in the path that the onlookers had created for her and then she saw it. Her shop was empty, there was nothing left but the chair she sat on and the mat her children slept on. The kegs of palm oil, crates of eggs, cans of vegetable oil, and sacks of rice were all gone.
She gasped. “My goods! Where are my goods? Who took my goods? I just restocked yesterday. Babatunde, didn’t I borrow money? Didn’t I go to Lagos?”
Babatunde’s hands shook, their entire savings had been used to restock the shop that had profitable.
“Babatunde, there’s nothing there. There’s no…” she turned back to the shop as her legs weakened and she fell backwards.
“Sewa! Sewa!” Babatunde caught her just as she fell and held her across the chest.
“Get water! Somebody get some water!” he yelled.
Some of the crowd broke off looking for some water as Babatunde continued to call his wife’s name.
Sewa sat on the sofa in her house surrounded by her friends. Her arms were folded, her face was wet with tears and her eyes were swollen. Her friend’s arms were folded too, they sighed periodically and shook their heads. Babatunde leaned against the wall that led to the rooms, his arms were folded too.
“Stop crying,” Simbi, Sewa’s slender neighbour said, her wide lips downward-arching. “Leave them to God!”
“What I don’t understand is how they were even able to do such a thing and no one heard them. They must have brought a car, in fact, a van. How come no one heard them?” Florence, her beautiful Eastern neighbour said. “Sewa, some of the people in this community must have colluded with the thieves.”
“I agree…” Philomena, a thickset woman with sparse hair on her chest said, bobbing her head.
“Let us not talk like this. Sewa, let me ask you hard questions that you might not like.” Deborah, a dark woman wearing an oversized t-shirt on a flowing skirt said. Her hair neatly tucked under a black and bright yellow scarf. “When bad things happen like this, it is because we have sinned. Who did you offend? This is the time for you to repent and go and beg for forgiveness. You know there will be repercussions for all our sins…”
“Deborah, what are you saying?” Florence asked irritably.
“I know what I’m saying. This life is very fragile, and many times we are the architects of our own misfortune. I’m sure that if we look into this matter, we will see that she has offended someone somewhere…”
“Are you saying it is her fault that this happened?”
“I’m not really saying…”
“So what are you saying?”
“Deborah,” Simbi said. “I don’t think that we should be talking like this. No one wishes evil upon themselves.”
“I know but we must pay for all our…”
“Shut up!!!” Florence yelled. “Can you hear yourself? If you don’t have anything reasonable to say, must you talk?”
“Florence, you don’t have to insult me!”
“And you don’t have to say nonsense! Shut up if you don’t have anything else to say.”
Deborah sighed. “God bless you my sister, I will not argue with you.”
“Don’t pray for me! You didn’t pray for the person you should have prayed for…”
“Please…” Babatunde said. “Let us not fight. Your friend does not need this now.”
There was silence for a while.
“Have you reported the matter to the police?” Philomena asked.
“Yes…” Sewa said almost inaudibly.
“Since when did the police become dependable?” Florence said. “What we should do is go to a priest and put a curse on them.”
“Blood of Jesus!” Deborah said, covering her ears. “My ears shall hear no evil!”
Florence stared at her first in surprise and then in annoyance. “Who called this woman here? Don’t you have other things to do?”
“Why should we call an evil priest when we can call upon the Lord?”
Florence dismissed her with her hand. “Look Sewa, let me take you to the priest in my church. He will give you powerful instruments that you can fight your enemies with? Two months ago, one of my customers refused to pay up my money. When I went to him, all he gave me was a red candle. He said that I should light it and keep calling the person’s name. I’m telling you, before the candle was half-way gone, she came to my house and literally poured the money into my hands. She said that she just suddenly became uncomfortable.”
“The bible says that we should pray for our enemies.” Deborah said.
Everyone looked at Deborah. Sewa laughed dryly. “Thank you everyone. I’d like to be alone now.”
“We should go?” Florence said.
“I want to be alone, thank you.”
Slowly, the women filed out. Babatunde closed the door and sat beside his wife, taking her into his arms and saying nothing.
Inspector Toye Abegunde stood in Sewa’s shop looking for any evidence that could be of use. He had recently been promoted and transferred to Abowu District. Moving from the small village of Igba was his opportunity to make something of his life. He was the first person in the family who had left their town to seek out greener pastures.
He scratched his mustache and looked up at the ceiling. It was intact. Then he looked in all the corners of the room. The room was absolutely empty except the chair in the middle and the mats rolled up by the side of the wall. He stepped out of the shop and closed the doors. There was nothing else to see.
Bringing out his notepad, he studied the address he had scribbled at the office and then walked away from the shop.
Sewa was absentmindedly picking beans when the Inspector knocked on her door. After he introduced himself, she let him in and offered him a seat.
“I have just been to your shop and like you said in your statement, there is nothing there but a wooden chair and two mats.”
“Yes,” she replied sullenly.
“Do you remember anything about that day or anything anyone said before that day? Did you get into a fight?”
“No. I didn’t fight with anyone.”
“Who did you tell about going to Lagos to buy goods?”
“My husband. I also told Deborah, she prayed with me. Philomena also knew, Florence too.”
“Where do they live?”
“Not too far from here. But Inspector, none of them could have done it. I’ve known all of them for years.”
The inspector chuckled. “Madam, sometimes it is the people who are closet to us who do treacherous things.”
Sewa sighed and fidgeted with her hands while the inspector scribbled something in his notepad.
“Do you remember anything else?”
He took down the addresses of her friends.
“If you remember anything else, please come down to our station and ask for inspector Abegunde.”
“Alright. Can I go and get the rest of my things now?”
“Who knows if someone hasn’t taken them…?”
“Don’t worry about that. They’re not obvious, they’re beside the wall. Anyone who wants to take them has to look into the shop to see them.”
“I didn’t put them against the wall. I remember that I was in a hurry to attend to my children, so I just shut the door.”
He scribbled something in his notes and promised to do his best for her.
Later that day, Inspector Toye walked towards the unpainted long building beside the Aladura church where he lived, humming a folktune. He stopped by the small stall where Mama Abioye sold steaming hot moin-moin and bought a couple with a wrapping of eko, cold pap.
“You need to get married. How can you be in the city all by yourself, at the mercy of those vain town girls.”
He smiled as he thought of his kind mother with her decaying teeth. As he walked into the fenceless building where he lived, he greeted the landlord, Pa Jinadu, who was listening to his black transistor radio, with a toothpick dangling from the corner of his mouth.
“Ah, Inspector Toye! Welcome, the bad people didn’t get you today.”
Toye hadn’t gotten used to this greeting, still he answered. “No sir, they didn’t.”
He walked into the building, someone had left their door open, letting some light into the dark hallway. He got to the last door on the right and from the corner emerged a plump teenage girl, carrying a small white bucket. The smell of freshly ground pepper filled his nostrils.
“Becky,” he said startled. “What are you doing here at this time of the day?”
“I had to see you.”
“How can you be pregnant? We only did it twice.”
“Come and meet my parents before they find out.” She turned to leave.
“Wait, wait, wait! Meet your parents? You’re just fifteen!”
“Didn’t you know my age when you were you were groping me?”
“Becky, don’t be unreasonable. Let us do something about it!” he whispered harshly.
The cry of a child emanated from the open door, the sound reverberating throughout the hollow hallway.
“There are things we can do…”
“The only thing we can do is for you to come and see my parents.”
And then she was gone, the smell of fresh pepper lingering in the hallway.
“We need to talk.” Derick said to Jumoke after they had consumed Chef Lexy’s hot barbecued chicken.
“This night? Do you intend to sleep over?” She asked warily.
“No, of course not. You know I wouldn’t even think of this. I’ll come here on Saturday, spend the day with you guys.”
“I’d love that, very much.” Jumoke replied, grinning widely.
“Okay. How are things between you and Hope?”
Jumoke sighed. “She’s still not talking to me, but she’ll come around I guess. I don’t have much to say to her either.”
Derick pursed his lips in disapproval. “I think you should talk to her…”
“About what? She betrayed my trust, she needs to be sorry for what she’s done.”
“Okay,” Derick shrugged. “We’ll see on Saturday.”
Gbemi and her mother were seated in the latter’s room. She was weaving her hair into a bun.
“Make it a little less tight.” Mrs William said.
“So how are things at the company?”
Gbemi smiled. “Things are really looking up. We’re doing some rebranding and changing our recipes. I’m glad about what we’ll be pushing into the market.”
Mrs Williams smiled. “I’m happy to hear this. I knew you children could do it. Your father is less stressed, he is enjoying the fruit of his labors.”
Gbemi smiled. “If only Lanre could get his act together and give Toyin some peace of mind, his peace would even be greater.”
Mrs Williams pulled away and looked at her. “What is he doing to her?”
Gbemi sighed. “She says he feels distant, I don’t know it’s like he’s not showing interest in her or something.”
“Ah ah?” Mrs Williams wondered. “Is he seeing someone else?”
“I won’t be surprised,” She replied sourly. “Lanre can be quite unfocused.”
“Seeing someone else and his wife is pregnant? After all these years? Why does your brother do things like this? Hasn’t that girl stuck with him all these years?”
“Mummy, I don’t know o!”
“I’ll talk to him.” Mrs Williams concluded.
“What is this I hear about you and Toyin?” Mrs Williams asked Lanre later that day. “I heard you’re being distant…”
“You heard? From where? From whom?”
“That’s not important. What’s important is that you’re stressing that poor girl with whatever is going on with you. She’s carrying a baby, your baby. She shouldn’t be worried about anything!”
“Yes mum.” Lanre acquiesced, not willing to argue with her.
Mrs Williams stared intensely at her son. “Who is distracting you?”
“You’re lying, I can see that you’re lying.”
“Whatever mum…” Lanre replied, rising from the chair.
“So now you want to walk out on me?”
“Sit down! I’m still talking to you!”
Reluctantly, he obeyed.
“Who is distracting you?” she asked again, looking at him with the same intensity.
“Mum, will you stop trying to read my mind?” he said uncomfortably.
“It’s not that girl is it?”
“The Oludare girl… what’s her name again? Jumoke?”
Lanre looked away from her.
“There’s nothing to worry about mum…”
“Oh my God, she’s the one distracting you! You’re allowing that low-life…”
“She’s not a low-life mum! She’s much better that you could have ever imagined! She’s prettier than my sisters, she looks very good, very, very good and I know she still cares about me. We can finally do the right thing after all these years, this is our second chance…!”
“Your second chance for what? What right thing are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the chance to be together with her. I love her…”
“And Toyin, the woman who’s carrying your baby? What about her?”
Lanre shook his head as if it could take away the sound of her name. “She’ll understand…”
“Understand what? That she’s going to be dumped because of a teenage crush? Olanrewaju, listen very clearly to me. That girl has been with you for years, she has taken care of you and loved you faithfully. She’s from a good family, I know her mother, and her mother knows me. I like her and she likes me. What else are you looking for? You better focus! Don’t disgrace this family the way you did twelve years ago! See how we had to relocate to Lagos and restructure our lives because you couldn’t keep your pants up! I’m warning you, don’t do anything that will jeopardize your father’s health. If you disturb my peace, I will disturb your peace and you know me. Do you hear me?”
“Yes ma. Can I go now?”
Mrs Williams eyed him and left the room instead, wondering why her oldest child was so unfocused.
Derick and Jumoke were seated on the sofa in her house. Hope and Gloria had gone out to the salon down their street.
“So, what did you want to talk about? I’ve been anxious!” she said excitedly.
Derick sat up and stared at his hands. “I need to tell you something.”
“O…kay…” Jumoke said curiously, watching how uncomfortable he was. “What’s going on Derick? Are you relocating or something?”
He laughed. “No, no, I’m not. I… I need to… you said something that I need to address.”
“Okay?” Jumoke sat up herself, now more curious than ever.
“You said I’m not a parent. The truth is, I am.”
Jumoke gasped and laughed nervously. “What do you mean?”
“I was married.”
“What?!” She said in utter shock. “You were married? So you’re divorced, separated…?”
“Widowed…?” Jumoke’s rising anger deflated instantly.
“She, they… died in the Dana plane crash, three years ago…”
Derick bowed his head. He never discussed his late wife Mfon and their son Derick Jr, it wasn’t something he had fully dealt with. He’d simply forced the tragedy to the recesses of his mind until he met Jumoke. He tried hard to control his emotions then continued his narration.
“I was working here in Lagos on an important project, and she’d been complaining about how she missed me. I hadn’t been home in two months… “Since you won’t come to me, I’ll come to you,” that’s what she said. “Take a flight, so it’ll be faster…” that’s what I told her… she got on that plane with our son and that was the end.”
Derick’s eyes were filled with tears of pain, regret filled his heart and he wished once again to trade places with his wife and son.
“I should have just gone home…” he broke down crying, Jumoke herself was moved to tears. She held his hand reassuringly, knowing that he didn’t need to be cuddled.
“Derick I’m so sorry.”
Derick cried gut-wrenching tears, what hurt him the most about his family’s death was the fact that he hadn’t valued the time he had had with them. Derick Jr was less than two years old, and he didn’t even know his favorite meal. Mfon had nagged him about his workaholic behaviour several times, and he hadn’t listened until it was too late. Derick was more regretful than sad.
“I’m so sorry.”
He wiped his tears, and faced her.
“I didn’t tell you that so you could feel bad for me, I’ve made my mistake and I will always regret it. I’m telling you because you’re doing the same thing, first with your mother and now your daughter. Have you even realized that things are slowly degenerating between you two just like it did between you and your mother?”
Jumoke would have given him a tart reply, but she was still shocked from Derick’s revelation.
“Your daughter lost your trust, and so did you lose your mother’s trust…”
“Derick you’re not putting yourself in my shoes.”
“I am, I know you feel betrayed by what Hope did. Put yourself in your mother’s shoes and imagine how you would feel, if Hope got pregnant as a teenager.”
To that Jumoke said nothing, she looked away.
“You wanted love when you made a mistake, Hope did too. Forgive her and get back together, be the friends you used to be. And forgive your mum, I’m very sure she’s sorry. You never know what tomorrow holds, make the most of today while it is.”
Jumoke stared at the floor, knowing he was right.
Mrs Oludare was chopping onions when Jumoke came into the kitchen.
“Good afternoon ma.”
The mother turned, surprised that her daughter had come to see her in the kitchen. “Welcome. How was your journey?”
“Stressful, there was traffic.”
Mrs Oludare frowned slightly, was Jumoke making small talk?
“Well, I’m glad you’re here.”
“Me too.” she replied, fiddling with her hands.
Mrs Oludare looked at her daughter uncertainly.
“I brought you some plantains.” Jumoke pointed at the bag at her feet. “They’re very big so you can eat them for a while.”
Mrs Oludare couldn’t remember the last time Jumoke had bought her something. She dropped the knife slowly and faced her daughter fully. Something was going on here.
“Thank you…” she said.
“You’re welcome ma.” Jumoke replied, not able to look her in the eyes. She didn’t know what else to say.
Mrs Oludare saw her daughter’s discomfort and her heart broke. They used to be so close, until she had allowed her anger and bitterness to destroy the bond they’d shared.
“You look beautiful,” she said, deciding to speak from her heart.
“You’ve made me proud… in spite of everything. I tried to break you but you just became stronger.” She moved closer to her and took her hands. Jumoke tensed up, they hadn’t touched each other in years.
“I love you my daughter.” Mrs Oludare said in a voice laden with emotion.
Jumoke looked at her. “I needed you…” she replied in a shaky voice.
“I know…” Mrs Oludare said, crying slowly. “But I was too angry to see that, foolish anger that has robbed us of good years! I am very sorry, for not being there, for not telling you it would be alright, for not cheering you on…”
Jumoke wept, she had longed to hear those words for so long. “It’s okay mum…”
“Can you forgive me?”
“I already have…”
Mr Oludare watched his wife and daughter hold each other in a warm embrace from the door and wept silently. He had prayed for reconciliation for so long.
I want to see Hope. PLEASE call me.
It was the fourth text Lanre had sent her in two days and Jumoke knew that she had to eventually give him an answer. She continued typing on her computer and took a sip of her coffee when there was a knock on her door.
“Hope? Why’re you awake?” She asked in surprise.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“Why, what’s on your mind?”
Hope sat on the bed, facing her. “I want to see my Dad.” Continue reading “We Knew Them Part 32”
It’s the end of yet another week! The end of the year gets closer and so does Christmas! Anyway, before I go on about the festivities (which I love), here is the last episode of the week. Please read, share and buy my works. Your weekend does not have to be boring, when you can be entertained by my stories.
Next week, Jumoke meets Lanre! Don’t miss it.
The next day, while Jumoke was deep conditioning Hope’s hair, there was a knock on the door. She covered the hair with a plastic cap and rinsed her hands quickly.
“That must be your uncle. I’ll be right back.” She said to her daughter.
At the door, she hugged her brother tightly.
“Someone’s happy to see me!” he noted.
Jumoke didn’t respond, she simply held on to him. Continue reading “We Knew Them Part 17”