THE HAWK AND THE CANARY

Irikefe sat up and found his father’s gaze fixed on him. There was something about the way Papa Efe looked at him that set his heart racing. He had also been wondering why Papa Efe had been so cool about the bird attack, and how nonchalantly he treated his wounds as if he was waiting to that all day. Where did the bird that attacked him come from?


“Papa.”


Papa Efe heaved a sigh and then said: “Is that how to greet good morning now?”


“Good morning Papa.”


“Hmmm.”


They continued looking at each other and then Irikefe said, “Papa, do you think that it was Agbonyibo that sent the bird?”


“How your back? Make I see.”


Irikefe reluctantly turned his back and Papa Efe went closer and peered at it and nodded.


“You be lucky boy.”


“What do you mean Papa?”


“E for bad pass dat.”


“I asked you Papa…was that Agbonyibo?”


“How I for know?”


“You know those type of things.”


“E no matter whether na Agbonyibo or not. If you put hand for ant hole and snake bite you, you no suppose complain say snake dey there.”


“So I looked for trouble.”


“Any time trouble dey hungry you, no forget to watch out for danger.”


Irikefe continued to study his father. He knew Papa Efe. Something was not adding up. He, however, saw that he no longer felt pain. Just the caking of the powder on the wound. He stood up and stretched. He felt completely fine.


“I don’t feel pain any more Papa.”


Na me treat you with my own hand.”


“It’s one of the medicines from the village right?”


“E don dey for our family for five hundred years.”


“Why did you not just become a native doctor Papa?”


“You no go understand my pikin.”


“When I was small and you took me to Otu Jeremi, there was a popular story that you were supposed to be the next chief priest of Ughelli South. Is it true?”


“Make you no dey listen to nonsense.”


“Papa I was small. I even heard stories that thunder used to strike in your hut and different things happened to make you accept the position but you declined and ran to Lagos.”


“E no dey important.”


“Papa sometimes I wonder about you.”


“E don do. No more!” Now Papa Efe’s eyes had reddened and he lifted his hands to expose his crooked knuckles. Irikefe knew he should not talk about it again. He went over to the foot of the bed to grab a bucket for his bath but his father said, “Stop. You no go baff for one week.”


“Ehn Papa! One week?”


“I don tell you.”


“But Papa I will smell.”


“Smell. Maybe after you don smell finish you go get sense.”


Irikefe’s shoulders dropped. Then they heard pandemonium upstairs. Mama Tobi was losing her mind. Irikefe bolted out to go and see what it was all about.


When he left, Papa Efe thought about their little conversation. He did not want to be chief priest because he did not want to practice witchcraft. However, as was custom, they had already initiated him from childhood such that by the time he could choose, he already had everything latent in him. The only way he could live a normal life was by never succumbing to emotions. When he was angry, fearful, jealous, sad, disgusted, or even in love, how he should act to get whatever he wanted always showed up in his soul. Mostly it was contrary to his natural inclinations, for he did not want the kind of advantage the things within him could give. But how could one live without emotions? He found a way: Hard drink. When he took his ogogoro he saw life from a new beautiful perspective. Nothing was worthy of any emotions. However, he had to stop when he almost lost his liver to Cirrhosis. But since the coming of Agbonyibo, he had found himself floating between the different emotions, and so he knew that the time to come out of his shell was close. The threat to his son was the final straw. He acted out of love, doing the only thing that could scare and scald some sense into his son. But with this latest threat, inscribed with blood over a compound he oversaw as caretaker, the time had finally come to show the Togolese warlock a thing or two about the world he thought he knew so well.

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Ndifreke looked at her. She was uncomfortable, but it was clear that she did not wander in in error. She wanted to be there. She struggled to articulate the praise and worship but she was not deterred. It was obvious to him that she did not know another way to dress. It was in the same signature revealing clothes that had caused so much distraction since Katakata Street set its eyes on her. He looked from her to Maya, it was difficult to choose who was prettier. The pastor’s voice jolted him back to the moment.


“An entity just entered here!” The familiar rotund pastor announced, eyes closed. Someone with a strange aura just entered this gathering, sherababa! Now if you know that you do not belong to Christ – you know where you belong, and you are in this gathering, come out here now!”


They could not resist the temptation to open their eyes to look. They gasped and cleared the way as Evae walked up to the pastor.


Irikefe found Castro at once.


“Guy, you see wetin I dey see?”


“The little winch.”


“She wan repent.”


“Na lie. She no fit.”


“There is nothing the Lord cannot do.”


“Abeg make I hear word. Na trap. When him papa write your blood my blood I’m coming, you think say him wan come with armored tank?”


“Na true o. Na trap.”


They watched as Evae knelt and brought her two hands together at her heart as the pastor prayed, commanding the evil spirit to leave her, while at the same time thanking Jesus for the new soul.


“She as she maintain. She suppose dey roll for ground like snake and also dey spit foam like the ones wey dem dey deliver for Synagogue.”


No be lie. E be like say she dey mock the pastor.”


Oh boy see waist. Jesus na you still create this one?”


“Shut up. This is the presence of the Lord.”


“Now repeat after me” the pastor was saying “Lord Jesus.” “Lord Jesus,” Evae said. “I am a sinner; today I repent of my sins and commit my life to you. I am born again.”


“Guy, e no simple like dat I swear. Shoo, this girl wey make your prick loss, e don be born again, just like that?”


“De prick don wake, my guy.”


“Hallelujah!”


“You test am?”


“Yes.”


“Where?”


Castro looked around and made a pointing gesture Irkefe understood.


“Mama Kike pikin wey you open road?”


“Guy, boys don excavate am tire, but she remember her first love. I am now whole.”


“I thank God for you, brother.”


Mr Zubi moved from where he stood and took position beside them. That kept them quiet. After the prayer for Evae the pastor invited Mama Tobi and asked everyone to come close and release everything inside of them on her. And so they prayed, cast, bound, and threw spiritual pellets at the urging of the prayer band until Mama Tobi lay sprawled on the floor.


“You are delivered!” the pastor declared. “Take her inside. Help her to the bathroom, Jesus is Lord.” And so Maya helped her mother upstairs and helped her onto the bed. Maya watched her mother close her eyes and pass out almost immediately. She decided it was best to let her sleep. She did not know that Mama Tobi passed out because she saw her father who had died when she was nine years old in the civil war enter the house hand in hand with General Abacha in full uniform.

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Maya had seen his face and knew she had to talk to him. She did not know if it was a good idea to leave her mother alone, but she knew that speaking with Ndi at the first opportunity was crucial.


“You called Jonjo.”


“Yes, I did.”


“Why?”


“What was I supposed to do? You did not want to hear anything that had to do with my mother.”


“I was with you within five minutes of having that conversation.”


“I spoke with him for one minute and he was already on his way.”


“Why are you throwing yourself at him Maya?”


“I am not throwing myself at him. He is a friend.”


“What do you need his friendship for?”


“Ndi the man had the opportunity to take advantage of me but he did not. He is not that kind of a man.”


“He is a patient wolf. He is waiting for you to get comfortable with him. You don’t stop desiring a woman you once desired.”


“Well, I needed someone who would listen to me.”


“I see.”


“There is nothing between us. Just friendship.”


“Okay.”


“What do you mean by okay?”


“There is nothing between you but friendship. I get that.”


“You are jealous. There is no need for that Ndi.”


“Noted.”


Then they heard her phone beep. Again. And again.


“Don’t you want to read your messages?”


Maya sighed and opened her phone.

I was about to go out and remembered that I had not heard from you.
Hope mum is better now. Don’t forget, anything, you can call me.
Much love.

“What does it say?”


“It’s from Jonjo.”


“I said what does it say?”


Maya handed him the phone.


“Much love. Jonjo.”


“It means nothing Ndi.”


“I bet it doesn’t,” he said and walked away.


“Ndi. Wait!”


But he jumped the gutter and went down the street. He needed fresh air. He walked to the end of the street and returned. Maya had gone inside by then as he hoped. He met the men hot in discussion when he got back.


“Why did she come and where is she now?”


“She has vanished. Came like smoke and disappeared like smoke.”


“Agent of darkness.”


“She has repented. I saw real repentance in her eyes.”


“That is Agbonyibo’s first hand. Somebody may die in the morning.”


“Nothing of the sort will happen.”


“But that pastor is powerful o. See as Mama Tobi was delivered!”


“Praise the Lord. Finally, Sister Esther comes good for us.”


“Everyone, just be vigilant from now henceforth. We cannot be ignorant of the devices of the devil.”


“Abi o.”


“Meanwhile Atiku said that INEC server shows that he beat Buhari with 1.6 million votes.”


“You see. Rochas knew what he was saying.”


“They seem to have a good case. Don’t take your eyes off this one. Among other things, they are also resuscitating the school certificate matter.”


“That will never go away until Bubu buys WAEC and NECO forms.”


Him go fail ehn..”


“They National Assembly have approved N30, 000 minimum wage for State and Federal workers. And at the same time they are reviewing value added tax. See scam. They give with the right hand and take with the left. Not to talk of the inflation that will follow from the first month that money is paid.”


“Not even that. How will states that could not pay N18,000, who were owing for ten months now be able to pay N30,000. Please what are these people smoking? Who cannot see the crisis that is looming?”


“The politicians. They have just succeeded in finding a campaign slogan for someone. I will come and clear your salaries and they will vote him in and he will steal his share and vamoose.”


“Nigeria we hail thee.”


“Meanwhile, the nonentity from Rivers from the AAN whom Amaechi used to fight Wike has gone to court to challenge the continued collation of results. He wants supplementary elections. And guess what, the courts ruled in his favour.”


“So there will be elections again in Rivers this weekend?”


“You heard it here first.”


“Stupid.”


“And someone said they are planning to depose the Sultan of Sokoto and Emir of Kano because they are not taking sides with the APC to ensure the ruling party clinches the states that were declared inconclusive in the North.”


“They can’t try that. Do they think those guys are the Igwe of Idumota? Those are Spiritual leaders. Royal fathers. You will sooner derail a train with your bare hands than mess with them in the name of politics.”


“It has happened before to the Sultan.”


“That was in the military era.”


And so the men talked until about midnight when they went into their rooms one after the other. Ndifreke remained outside on the soakaway. His heart was troubled. Maya and Jonjo. There was no greater lie in the universe than two sexually active adults of compatible sexual orientation calling themselves ‘just friends’. It was always a matter of time, unless one party did not fancy the other in that way or was not favourably disposed to the idea. Even then, that was what the so-called friendship does for them – break barriers. Propinquity was the greatest aphrodisiac. Jonjo knew what he was doing. And Maya was too naïve to see.

As he pondered Ndifreke saw Evae sneak into the compound. That did not surprise him. She lived there after all, and she was now a villain who needed to thread with caution. Shortly after she entered the corridor she came out and stood outside, flustered. Ndifreke walked up to her.


“What happened Evae?”


“They changed the lock of our room and I no know.”


“Who would have done that?”


“Na me suppose ask you.”


Ndifreke scratched his head. Of course. The Council of Elders.


“So what will you do now?”


“I no know.”


“Go back to where you came from.”


“I run. I no wan stay with them again.”


“By them, you mean your parents?”


Yes sir.”


“Call me Ndifreke.”


“Okay.”


“You ran from your parents?”


“Them bad. I want to follow Jesus now.”


“But you can’t stay here alone. You can’t fend for yourself.”


“I no go die. I go start to sell ewa agoyin.”


“They will come and get you.”


“My papa no go come back.”


“He wrote on the wall that he is coming.”


“E no go fit. Jesus go save us.”


“It is past midnight Evae.”


Please sir. Make I stay for your room till morning.”


“I don’t think that is a good idea.”


“No worry. I go sleep for ground.”


“It’s not that Evae.”


“Wetin come happen?”


Ndifreke struggled to keep his eyes locked with hers. Mkpoikanna was not home. It was one of those nights he stayed back at the wharf when a ship just berthed. It was then they found the best things to steal.


“Brother, this night I just give my life to Jesus. You no need to worry,” she said and turned and entered the corridor.


Ndifreke wished he had not kept his eyes on her rubbery waist and swaying hips as he followed her inside.

TO BE CONTINUED.

BLOOD MESSAGE

March 20, 2019

ONE NIGHT WITH EVAE

March 20, 2019