Chisco held his wrist just in time. They struggled before Chisco managed to take the weapon from him.
“I don’t want to ever see you in my life again!” Achike spat at Evae and went back into his room. Chisco looked at the kneeling girl. She looked so content. It was as if she had just received a holy sacrament, except that she had just come from within inches of being decapitated.
“I hear say una don run. Wetin you still dey do here?” Chisco said.
“Na my Papa and my mama run. I no run.”
“You no follow dem?”
“I come back to be with my husband.”
“Who be your husband?”
“I love am.”
Chisco went closer to her and felt her forehead with the back of his hand. Her temperature was normal. But he still doubted that she was all right.
“My dear. Follow ya papa and ya mama run from dis place. You no go always dey luck say somebody go dey to save you. Stay far away from my broda if you no wan die.” With that, Chisco turned his back on her and followed his brother into his room.
“We’ll see about that,” Evae said to herself.
Mama Tobi sat straight and said matter of factly to the expensive looking but kind man that urged her to get ready for the hospital: “I am not going. I have said it already that Agbonyibo is what I need. I am not sick. I see dead people. It was not supposed to be so.”
It was the first time her mother had sounded so coherent. Maya was almost convinced. But what was she going to do? No one knew Agbonyibo’s whereabouts.
“Who is Agonyibo and where can we find him?” Jonjo said.
“He is a neighbor who was accused of rape and he ran away.”
“And your mother had dealings with him?”
“I cannot tell. Everybody deals with everybody here.”
Jonjo then went and squatted in front of Mama Tobi.
“Ma’am, I don’t know what this man you are calling can do for you, but I know that the hospital can do much more. They are professionals.”
“I don’t want to go to the psychiatric hospital. I am not mad.”
“That is a misconception ma’am. Mental illness is not always madness. Just as we are sick in the body, we can be sick in the mind and there is treatment for it.”
“Then they will be looking at me like they are looking at Akunna now.”
“Who is Akunna?”
“A neighbor that spent a few months at Yaba left” Maya offered.
“You are a kind man,” Mama Tobi said to Jonjo. “Do you love my daughter?”
“We don’t have that kind of relationship ma’am. She works for me.”
“I have seen the way you look at her.”
“You are funny ma’am.”
“Don’t waste time. Come and marry her. She is a good girl. I trained her myself.”
Then she looked up and shouted, “Who are you? What are you doing here? Get out! Get out, get out!”
“What is it Mama?”
A man dressed as a Pirate with an Axe in his skull just entered the room.
Jonjo pulled Maya to the side and said, “The nature of some mental illnesses are such that one may sound normal for one moment and the next the symptoms return. We have to take her to the hospital even by if by force. I will go and bring the hospital people, even if they have to come here with a straight jacket.”
“Oh no!” Maya said and began to sob.
Jonjo pulled her into an embrace and their bodies melded together.
“I will be back,” He said and left.
Now more dead people streamed into the room and Mama Tobi’s screams brought the whole compound running to their floor.
“You say someone has gone to bring the hospital people?” Mr Zubi said to Maya.
“Yes. A friend.”
“What else can we do?”
“I said give me Agbonyibo o! Bring me Agbonyibo. Let him come and undo what he did,” Mama Tobi said.
“What did Agbonyibo do to you?” Mr Zubi said.
Mama Tobi opened her mouth and saw Dozie – full grown Dozie gawking at her from Mama Akunna’s back where he perched as a baby in the eyes of the others. Mama Tobi addresses him directly. “I will talk. I will talk because I was not supposed to see dead people.”
Mama Akunna’s baby started crying. Mama Akunna moved away and hid in the crowd. Then someone said, “I go help you.” They all turned and looked at the new comer. It was Evae.
“Brother you nearly kill that girl, Chisco said to Achike when he entered the room.
“I will still kill her. She will not always be so lucky.”
“You go go prison and your life go finish.”
“I don’t care. What sort of life is this now after what her father did to me? Which face will I use to look at people again?”
“But no be her fault. Shebi you tell me say you first enjoy her curry?”
At that, Achike kept quiet. He had not had the chance to savour the lovemaking with Evae. But it was now of no consequence. It seemed to have happened in another lifetime. She was the daughter of an evil man and he would have nothing to do with her.
“She say she love you.”
“God will punish her and her love.”
“Wetin I wan talk brother be say, abeg, hold yourself. Hold your vex. I revenge her papa for you. Him no go ever recover from the beat wey I beat am. Forget about the gal.”
“Tell her to first forget about me.”
“Okay. I dey go. If you want anything, call me.”
“Come back. Come back and live with me. You are my blood. We quarreled. We should settle.”
“Brother we don settle. I like my independence now.”
Achike went on his knees and said, “I have not had the opportunity to thank you properly. You proved to be a bigger man than me. Though the situation was so bad, you did restore some of my dignity and I will forever be grateful to you for that. Come back and live with me.”
It was a moving little speech by Achike. Chisco lifted him and said “okay bro. Na devil been wan come between us. But no problem, I go come back.”
“Women are the devil. That is what I have learnt. It was because I wanted a woman that I fell into that trap.”
“Women no be devil bro. nowadays dem get strong head but dem good. I love women.”
“What did that nurse do to you Agu!”
“Brother you will not understand,” Chisco said and smiled.
Just then, they heard the noises from upstairs and joined up with the other neighbors where they had already surrounded Mama Tobi. Like most, they stood and watched as Mr Zubi tried to take control of the situation. Then Evae turned up. They were the first to see her. Chisco held his brother’s hand and made a hand to chest gesture that meant that Achike should calm down. Like everyone else, they took notice when she said, “I go help you.”
No one for a second doubted that she could. After all, she was Agbonyibo’s daughter, and Agbonyibo was the anthem Mama Tobi had been singing since morning.
“Make una leave us,” Evae said.
Everyone looked at each other. Then Mr Zubi said, “alright. We all wait in the corridor.” Evae waited until they all shuffled out. Maya remained. She held Evae in a death stare.
“You have to leave as well,” She said. Maya was taken aback by her language. She squinted at Evae and said “What?”
“I say make you sef go. Na only me and your mama go talk.”
“Maya, go!” Mama Tobi said.
Maya walked out of the room, glancing back at Evae as if Evae had just introduced herself as Meghan Markle.
“Wetin my papa do you?”
“He put something in my eyes so that I could see what Mama Akunna’s baby really was.
“You been see am?”
“Yes I did. Then I started seeing dead people as well. I have even seen General Abacha that died in 1998.”
“I know wetin I go put for your eye you go stop to dey see anything wey you no suppose see.”
“Please my daughter, give me. Give me before they take me to Yaba left. I will not be able to live with the stigma.”
“Alright,” Evae said and went outside where everyone was gathered.
“I wan enter our house so that I go fit carry shop key. Wetin I go use cure Mama Tobi dey inside the shop.”
Mr Zubi looked at the men. He nodded at Mama Cowbell’s husband, the old man shuffled away, and Evae followed behind. The man opened the padlock they had used to replace the original one and Evae entered the room. She found the keys to the shop, picked it and went outside. Some compound members followed behind. Finally, they were going to see what was in Agbonyibo’s shop. Evae did not seem to care if they were with her or not. She got to the shop and opened the padlocks and threw the door open. It was as empty as Jacob’s kettle.
The council of elders met immediately.
“How come the shop is empty? When did he come and remove the things?”
“We don’t know.”
“How is that possible?”
“We don’t know.”
“But are you people sure there was ever something in that shop? I mean, no one saw him putting things inside in the first place. It could be that the shop was always empty.”
“His daughter would not have marched there so confidently if she thought the shop was empty. Erm…Agbonyibo’s daughter, come.”
Evae walked into the midst of the men and knelt down.
“No you don’t have to kneel. Stand up,” Mr Zubi said.
“No sir. I no fit stand in front of my elders.”
The men all adjusted themselves with Evae in their midst. Mr. Kingsley even mumbled something incomprehensible. She was even m
“Erm, young woman. You say your father had things in the shop?”
“Where are the things now?”
“I no know.”
“Could he have come and taken the things without our knowledge?”
“How could he do that?”
“You no go understand even if I explain.”
“Is it physically or spiritually?”
“So you mean your father was here in the flesh and no one saw him.”
“What are we going to do now?”
“Noting. Una no go fit reach where him dey.’”
“You said the antidote to Mama Tobi’s problem was in that shop?”
“And now it is no more there?”
“E no dey there again.”
“So what will happen to Mama Tobi now?”
“I go still help her.”
“I go go look for the medicine.”
“Will your father give it to you?”
“I go find am.”
“Is it safe?”
“No worry about that one.”
“Why did you come back young woman?”
Evae looked from man to man and her eyes settled on Achike. Achike looked away. He was beginning to seethe.
“I come back to the man I love.”
It instantly became a scene of bedlam. Mr Zubi tried to contain the noise. Achike stood up and went inside the compound. Evae stayed where she was – a picture of total resolve. Mr Kingsley also stood up and went inside.
“How do you think he feels about you?”
“E no matter.”
“You father did him bad.”
“I come to change that.”
“But how can we trust you? He came and wrote on the wall that he will come back to shed blood. How do we know that he did not send you?”
“When I come I first give my life to Jesus. I believe in God because I know wetin I don do. I also know my papa and I know wetin him fit do. E go hard for him to do anything as I dey here.”
There was more murmuring in the crowd and then Mr Zubi said “Alright. We cannot chase you away. Your father paid two years rent. You and Achike are both adults and can take care of yourselves. But a word of advice. The man is hurt and is trying to heal. Do not remind him of his pain.”
“You also say you will help mama Tobi?”
“Do not put yourself in danger. If you need any help, let us know.”
“You can leave us now.”
They all tried but no one was going to miss Evae’s retreat. Most of the jaws in the gathering were on the floor as she swayed away.
“Wait o, that gal came back to give herself to Achike and he is doing shakara?”
“He was violated. He is still traumatized.”
“Please Agbonyibo should come and violate me,” Wasiu said.
“Be careful what you wish for.”
“Did you see that your idol Area Fada got bribed? He brought great disrepute to his “Our mumu don do campaign.”
“He said he was paid for his song. That Festus Keyemo paid him nine figures for his Atiku diss track.”
“What nonsense did he sing that Keyemo will pay for? He was compromised. It will not be the first or last time a leader of a pressure group would be settled in this country to keep quiet.”
“Charley Boy is not just a leader of a pressure group. The man is an icon.”
“I almost wept reading what Reno Onokri had to say about the matter. After eulogizing his talent and how he spent his pocket money to watch Charlie boy in the late eighties, he delivered the kind of sucker punch that would make the nine figure settlement feel like 30 pieces of silver.”
“Indeed that was what it was. Area Fada was calling those of us that believed in him mumu. And the biggest mumu were those that followed him to go and stand under the sun in front of Aso Rock campaigning against Buhari.”
“You see how Justice Onnoghen’s matter is turning out? Now we know that after four decades at the bar, all the money he has in all the banks is still less than the cost of the power bike Yusuf Buhari crashed in Abuja. The same Yusuf Buhari that started Youth Service in January and finished in March.”
“He started in November.”
“So what is the difference?”
“The Federal Government closed the case against Onnoghen. What does that mean now?”
“Simple. Their case is weak. The defense will ask that it be thrown out.”
“Will he return to his position as CJN?”
“We will have to wait and see.”
“The man was tried and convicted in the media. We also mocked him here. Why we have to be circumspect with these things.”
“Meanwhile the dancing senator won at the election tribunal. Dude will be dancing to Osun Government house soon.”
“We cannot celebrate until we hear from the Appeals court where the Governor Oyetola has already filed his appeal. The Supreme Court also is waiting in the wings. You know our judiciary. I will say it is too early to celebrate.”
“And then the Inconclusive National Electoral Commission conclusively declared the agbada ATM Governor winner in Kano amidst violence and protest.”
“Ganduje to be reelected Governor, whether fairly or otherwise does not speak well of our society. The man was caught on camera stuffing cash in foreign currency under his garment from a contractor. If he could not resign, how is it that he gets reelected?”
“He has asked those that feel aggrieved about his reelecting to accept it in good faith. Not even that they can seek redress in court rather than resort to violence. Everything, including outright evil is the will of God in Nigeria.”
As they talked, the man that came to look for Maya earlier that morning returned in another
Ndifreke had already made himself scarce as soon as Jonjo’s car pulled up. He brought out his phone and dialed Maya’s number. The tone he received told him he had been blocked. Mr Kingsley who had left the gathering early accosted him where he peeped at Maya from the side of the building.
“I hear he is your boss.”
Ndifreke nodded and stared at his feet.
“Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor – Sholom Aleichem.”
“Thank you” Ndifreke said and turned and walked to the backyard.
Outside at the gathering a man wandered into their midst.
“I dey find house” he said.
“House no dey here.” Mr Zubi quickly said. The man was lanky and fully bearded, bald with a northern accent and clutched a book with Arabic inscription on the cover.
“I hear say that carpenter don pack.”
“Yes but the Landlord has not declared a vacancy.”
“I know him house. I dey go meet am.”
“Who you be if I may ask?”
“I be alfa.”
“Who go follow you live for the house.”
“My wife and my children.”
“How many children you get?”
TO BE CONTINUED.