Sister Esther stopped praying, rose and sat on the bed. She felt a heaviness like she had been feeling when she prayed lately. You are told that when you feel like that that it is the devil preventing you from praying, that when that happens, you should increase the zeal and continue to call on the Most High. She had been doing that for the past two weeks and nothing had changed. Then a thought struck her. It was not something she would have done ordinarily but now she saw that it was better than doing nothing.
She found a scarf and tied her hair and applied white powder on her face and stepped out of the room. She got to the frontage just in time to see the keke that Mr. Cosmas chattered for his estate prospecting round for that day drop him off with Mr. Kingsey. She saw both of them head for Mr. Cosmas’ self-contained. She waited for ten minutes and then went over there and tapped on the iron cage protector that housed a small veranda.
“What a pleasant surprise!” Mr. Cosmas enthused.
Sister Esther greeted them both, was careful to throw only a cursory glance at Mr. Kingsley before taking the well crafted cane chair Mr. Cosmas offered her. She took time to admire the room – the white sheets and live plants that Mr. Cosmas adorned his living room with.
“I can’t believe it is my first time in here after all these years.”
“It’s a choice you made. Otherwise you’re always welcomed.”
“It’s um..very clean in here.”
“Thank you Sister Esther.”
Then there was an awkward moment of silence before Mr. Kingsley stood up and dusted his bottom even though the chair he had been sitting on was as clean as a whistle.
“Does he have to leave us?” Mr. Cosmas said.
Sister Esther looked away and said “He can stay if he wants. After all, he is deaf and dumb.”
“Sit, my brother,” Mr. Cosmas said.
Mr. Kingsley did not hesitate before he sat back. He was wondering what the visit was all about. Even though he was not exactly in her life, seeing her visit another man in the same compound where strange things had been happening did make him uneasy. He was relieved that he had the choice to remain.
“Mr. Cosmas, I am just worried about the type of things that have been going on in this compound lately. We are seeing too many strange behaviors and strange manifestations. It seems like the devil has taken a proper hold of this compound. I have been in intercession for this compound for weeks now, but every day, something new, something more disheartening happens. I have found out that I cannot even pray anymore. It is as if God is not listening. I know I don’t agree with you most of the time because you are a blasphemer – may the Lord bless your soul – but I recognize that you do not support evil and you do your best to encouraging people to live well even though you do it outside Christ. But in spite of our best efforts, what we see is drug addiction, madness, death, fornication and adultery, despair and even witchcraft. Yes, it happens here! despite all the prayers, despite all the admonitions, people seem to be getting worse. In fact, it seems like the more you preach the worse they become. Preaching against a thing is now like giving them ideas about what they should be doing next,” Sister Esther finished.
Mr. Kingsley opened his mouth to speak but Sister Esther stretched out a hand and said “ehn enh! Save it if you are going to quote an unbeliever! Stay deaf and dumb!”
Mr. Cosmas sighed and said “Do not despair sister. It is the will of the Almighty.”
“You see why I don’t like to talk to you?”
“We are in the last days of this earth as we know it now. On that, I believe you and I can agree. You know what the Bible says about the signs of the last days better than I do. but I want to add something you may not know. And that is that we are already seeing the beginning of the judgment. Consequently, everything that is dead will rise and face judgment. You interpret this to mean that dead people whose bodies have already decayed and turned to manure and their spirits have lived hundreds of times over will come out of their graves and face a judge, but it is not so. What it is, is that everything that is dead or dormant in every human will come to life and manifest and face judgment. If you have never stolen before but it is in you to steal, the opportunity for you to steal will present itself and you will do it so that the thief in you will face its judgment. You will see strange behaviors manifesting as we are seeing. It is all coming about because of great cosmic radiation that is awakening everything to face judgment. Good people doing bad things, normal people out of control, in isolated cases… bad people even doing good deeds. Everything that is latent is coming out at this time. Have you also noticed that in line with this, there is nothing anybody does that remains hidden forever? Sooner rather than later you will be found out. You have to be so that judgment can take its course.
“So do not despair my lady. If you understand the workings of this universe and the Laws of creation you will know that everything is going according to the will of the Almighty.”
“Mr. Cosmas. You are telling me that it is the will of God for all these terrible things to be happening?”
“What is happening is happening according to the laws. The laws are woven into the Creator’s creation. They are inexorable, therefore the will of the father.”
“What are these laws if I may ask?”
“That is a matter for another day.”
“So is your God happy that these things are happening?”
“He will not change his laws. He is not like us. Everything must go full cycle.”
“So there is no hope for us then. No need for me to continue praying. I will just wait for your laws and radiation to come and consume all of us.”
“Not so at all. Just as there is great perdition there is also great help. If you tune yourself aright you will receive this help. An earnest prayer with the right intuitive devotion will break through and reach the throne of grace. You also have spirit guides who are human beings in the beyond who have lived before you and made the same mistakes you make and had struggled with the faults you struggle with and are with you constantly to help you recognize and take the right path. They will guide you if you let them.
“True prayer to the Almighty is not begging or groveling or having a feeling of ecstasy especially when certain songs are played making you think that you are in his presence and vice versa. It is all nonsense. The Almighty is not impressed and that is the reason your prayer is not answered. When you finish begging and weeping you will get up and face your reality. True prayer engages the spirit of man and it is the inner quality of the one that prays that is decisive. If it is intercessory prayer, the persons you are interceding for must be receptive to help, and because you do not even know the karma-ic forces surrounding those persons you may very well be wasting your time.
“There is no time to trifle around. The end is near. So near that new spirits are no longer incarnating into the earth because there is no time for them to gain the experience and maturity they need to get to paradise. Souls in the beyond are jostling to return to come and cast off their faults so they can make Paradise. Those of us lucky to be here cannot trifle away our time. Those who are serious receive help. Those who are not are currently being sucked into the vortex of annihilation. They are out of control. You cannot help them. You may not even have the time to help yourself. 225 Katakata street, just as the rest of humanity is passing through this necessary phase.”
Mama Tobi slept in fits on the bus back to Lagos. With every jolt occasioned by the bad roads, she saw flashes of the events in the forest that night, still, it did not all make sense to her. The last thing she was fully aware of was the lascivious smack of the lips she heard from the baba who was standing behind her at one point. Then everything became dreamy. Did he have sex with her? The evidence when she examined herself afterward was that he did. In her trancelike state, she had seen herself in the midst of many people, men, and women, all naked save for leaf covering for their genitals. They each also carried calabashes of fire which they all set on the floor at the blast of a whistle, then danced around a big fire before they settled down for what seemed to be a meeting. She vaguely remembered the men and women coming to the center of the circle one after the other to recount their activities, after which they received a cheer and were handed staffs or medals depending on the stories they told. It was all like a dream. Everything went on for several hours. Then in the morning, she found herself fully dressed and standing at the motor park alone. It was not until she arrived at number 225 Katakata Street did she remember why she had been away in the first place. Strangely, it did not seem to matter that Tobi had lost his mind. She even now felt satisfaction knowing that that had actually happened. Clementina was happy to see her. Maya was too, even though she seemed preoccupied with something. Mama Tobi found that she felt satisfaction seeing a morose Maya, and was irritated that Clementina appeared happy. For that rest of that day, she struggled to carry out her normal routine while she came to terms with her new perspective on things. Then when she went to bed that night, at a certain hour, she found herself transported back to the forest of Okitipupa where she stood naked with only leaves covering her genitals.
This time, she was fully aware that she had arrived for a meeting.
The council of elders sat to deliberate the turn of events in the compound.
“Gentlemen, in the space of a few days we have seen our sons kidnapped, Mama Akunna in a ghastly accident, Akunna, and Tobi losing their minds and having to be committed to the psychiatric hospital. What is going on?”
“What is going on is what you have enumerated. Now the question is what are we doing about it?”
“Okay let’s start with what we know we can solve. Has Agbonyibo’s daughter gone back to her father yet? At least we know that if that one has happened we have the boys back. One problem solved.”
“She is not going anywhere. I’m sure you all know that. It is wickedness for you people to wish that she returns to a psychopath of a father so as to get back two good-for-nothings.”
“You cannot call them that Achike. Their parents are here.”
“Papa Efe. Mr. Zubi. Tell us, are your children not good for nothing? Don’t we all live here? Or do you want me to start telling you about them? If you are honest sirs, have you not had more peace these few days they have been away? The only person that truly misses them is Wasiu because those are two less igbo customers for him.”
“Achike, that you do not want to release your woman does not mean you should disrespect Papa Efe and Mr. Zubi like that.”
“Okay, Mr. Good man, all of you. If you were me, would you release your woman?”
Silence fell on the council.
Papa Efe and Mr. Zubi were the quietest of all. Then Achike continued: “Okay now that we are on the same page concerning that, let us move to the other matters. Akunna’s baby has been buried and his mother who miraculously escaped with minor injuries is already back home. That is something to cheer. Akunna is no stranger to the psychiatric hospital. Again if we are honest, we will admit that he is better off there anyway. The sad one is Tobi. No one knows how that one became mad. But it is instructive that it happened in Akunna’s room where he went to tell Akunna of his mother’s accident. Could it be that madness is now contagious?”
“Don’t be ridiculous Achike.”
“Anyway, he is in a hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery. Let us spare a thought for Ademola Adeleke whose governorship never saw the light of day. We said it here that the Appeal Court will set aside the judgment of the Tribunal. Now he is back to square one. He will also fail at the Supreme court. The man is a clown that lawyers are using to feed fat. What sort of life did he think he would have when he only sat for one paper in WAEC in 1980? That is a lesson for your children. Also, those of you that are sympathetic to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi because Governor Ganduje has appointed four new Emirs, you should talk to Cosmas about karma. This is a man who as CBN governor rubbished Goodluck Jonathan and helped the APC to hound him out of office and openly took sides in the governorship race in his State. Royal fathers don’t behave like that. They can turn every street in Kano into an emirate for all I care. All those traditional institutions had long been bastardized and living on borrowed time. People like Sanusi and even Ganduje were needed to bring everything to a head.”
“Achike. We still have children missing. Don’t be so unfeeling.”
“Well, I’m sorry that I am. I will take my leave in case my presence offends you.”
Just as he said that, a taxi pulled up and Irikefe and Castro alighted. They were wearing new clothes and their cheeks were sunny. The compound erupted in joy as they recognized them. Children screamed, women ululated, even the men took turns to shake their hands and give them hugs. Even though they all noticed, no one wanted to be the first to ask how they returned from being kidnaped looking like they had taken a weekend off to relax at a beach in the Caribbean.
Ndifreke followed her inside the compound. Then they took the light.
“You have taken our light,” she said to him and laughed sweetly.
“It was not me o. It is NEPA doing what they know how to do best.”
“It is not NEPA it is PHCN,” a little boy said.
“Johnny go back inside, let me switch on the generator.”
“Show me where it is and I will help with that,” Ndifreke said.
“You are very kind,” she said.
She produced a tiny torch from her handbag and Ndifreke followed her to the back of the flat and helped pour petrol into the tank of a yellow 2.0 engine and then got it working with the pull start rope. Someone from inside changed the power source and instantly they heard the jubilant voices of the children from the living room. Ndifreke washed his hands under a running tap nearby and wanted to announce he was leaving when she said:
“Come, lets go inside.”
“No need ma,” Ndifreke said.
She looked at him as if he had just announced that he was about to go and commit a murder. So he swallowed and followed her into the flat. Her children all ran into her arms at the same and she squatted and cuddled and planted a smacker on them all and then eased up and introduced them to Ndifreke.
“Meet my kids. Johnny, Kimono and Kia. My three soldiers.”
“They are fine young men,” Ndifreke said.
“Six, four and two” she said.
“Okay boys, off to your room!”
A girl of about eighteen came out of the kitchen, greeted them both and shooed the children away.
Then she extended a hand and introduced herself. “I’m Elizabeth. Thanks for your help.”
“You’re welcome ma.”
“Please Elizabeth, or Lizzy.”
“Ok. I’m Ndifreke. I…”
“I know who you are.”
“You model for Grandiose.”
“I didn’t know anyone knew me.”
“Very funny. I did model before I got married so I feel some kind of affinity towards people of my lost profession if you are wondering why I invited you in.”
Ndifreke believed her. She was tall, shapely, with a pretty face oval face and very light complexioned. She could have been mixed race.
“I also know your girlfriend represents the same outfit.”
That caused Ndifreke’s shoulder to drop. She saw it and said:
“I will pour you a glass of juice.”
Ndifreke accepted it and drank in three big gulps. He was now in a hurry to leave.
“I also heard about the breakup, and about Jonjo.”
Now Ndifreke stopped and looked at her. “You know Jonjo?”
“He is my ex.”
“And I can help you screw him.”
Without even asking, Ndifreke kicked off his shoes and eased back into the sofa. Lizzy smiled and crossed her legs and said “This now does not look like an occasion for juice. I have sparkling wine in the fridge. Do you drink?”
“Uhm, yeah, I mean, why not?”
“Wait for me” she said and stood up.
He watched her all the way to the kitchen.
Chisco finished smoking and returned to the compound. He had been spending most nights with Wasiu since Evae happened to his brother. But that night, Wasiu was not home and he did not leave his keys. He could have gone to his brother’s room and slept on the floor and faced the wall. But he worried too much about Josephine. He could not take what he saw off his mind. How was he going to approach the issue even if he confronted her? He always knew he was punching above his weight where she was concerned, but he had invested his heart in it unwittingly, and now he was a complete mess seeing that she had gone to be with someone else. Unable to control his feelings, he plucked the courage to walk up to her room.
She had already turned in for the night but still opened the door and let him in. She was in a see-through spaghetti sleeve nightie that pronounced her breasts and sat on her hips, leaving all of her thighs exposed. It was so sexy that tears stung Chisco’s eyes just thinking that another man just enjoyed all that lusciousness.
“My Agu. I wasn’t expecting you. Why do you look so sad?” Josephine said.
Chisco scratched his head, unsure where to begin. Josephine was exhausted and did not have the time to indulge him. So she said “I am going to bed. You can stay if you want. But no sex right now. I need to get some sleep first.”
How would you want sex after you have just been fucked for three hours? Chisco thought. But he could not keep quiet. When he opened his mouth what came out was “I see as you slap dat boy.”
Josephine became red alert.
“You saw that?”
“How? that was down the street.”
“I go buy something.”
“I see.” Josephine did not want to think any more of it. She just said “he got what he deserved.
“Small boys no longer have respect.”
“Na so I see am.”
Josephine then went back into the bed and tapped the empty space beside her. Chisco crawled in.
“What else did you see this night Agu?”
“I see where you go.”
“Where you following me?”
“Why did you do that?”
“I don dey love you.”
When he said that, Josephine sat up and found the fluorescent switch by her bed and sent the bright light flickering to life.”
“Awww my baby,” she said and pulled his head to her breast when she saw that he had tears in his eyes. “What would you do that for?”
“I no know. Na so e happen. Na why I no been want do anything with you. I know say you no be my size and one day you go tire come troway me like orange wey dem don suck finish.”
“That will not happen my Prince of Arochukwu.”
“But you go fuck that doctor today.”
Josephine sighed and said “Yes I did, but I no leave my toto for there na. I bring am come back.”
“E no good like dat, nurse.”
“That is how I want it Agu. I no fit love man, keep myself for one man again. Dem don show me pepper. If I like you I go give you my thing. If you no fit share, carry your two left leg waka dey go.” With that, she let go of him and turned and faced the wall.
Chisco thought about it. What did he have to lose? He always knew that she was not in his league and that he had been privileged to be with her. It was not as if he intended to marry her. When the time for that came, he knew that all roads would lead to his village. For the time being, he would rein in his emotions and enjoy what was on offer.
He turned her over and pulled down the spaghetti strap and grab her breasts and began to suck the nipple hungrily.
“Take am easy Agu. E dey pain me.”
Why e no go pain you he thought? After three hours with the doctor! But he was grateful she let him, that notwithstanding. So he eased on the sucking and licked around it and until she began to moan. She spread her legs wide and started touching herself. Chisco took off his clothes and turned her over. He arranged her waist and skywards ass at the angle he wanted it and went to her with his stiffness in his hand.
The least he could do now was to show the nurse how much better than the doctor he was.
Maya cried herself to sleep. She was skin thirsty and wanted no one but Ndifreke. Jonjo was calling, but heaven knew that she did not want anything but Ndifreke’s tenderness. But she could not take the image of him following the beautiful lonely woman into her house.
Iniquity was still smarting from the slap Josephine gave him. His mind was made up to fuck her whichever way he could. He did not fear Chisco. No woman humiliated Iniquity as such. He was going to find a way.
Iniquity also saw that Castro and Irikefe appeared to have had a good time where they were. Though both boys pointedly ignored him, he could tell that their experience was not bad at all. He made up his mind to go to the baba the following day. Now he needed serious explanation.
Over at the psychiatric hospital, Akunna was put back on his former treatment schedule. Tobi needed to be chained down because he could not help the urge to continue his walk to hell. He needed double the dose of sedatives they gave to the most restive patients to remain calm.
Sister Esther knelt down to pray and remembered Mr Cosmas’ words and stood up. What was the point? Judgment had come to Katakata street and they were all out of control and even she could not take her mind off Kingsley’s hairy arms after having been so close to him earlier that day. They had exchanged a knowing look when they left Cosmas’ room and she had as a result left her door unlocked as she turned in. The only prayer she then made was for herself. As much as she loved the Almighty and wanted to make heaven or paradise as Cosmas called it, she also wanted to be fucked. The husband had refused to come. She was going to turn forty in a matter of days! She was drifting to sleep when she heard the door knob turn and Kingsley entered the room.
Judgment time, she thought.
TO BE CONTINUED.