They got to their rooms and Sister Esther went down on her knees in the middle of bedroom and lifted her hands into the ceiling and spoke.
“Father! You are the one that giveth children. You are the one that commanded us to go into the world and multiply. You said you know the plans you have for us, plans of good and not of evil. Who is it that said, and it comes to pass when the lord commands it not? Father! Hear my cry this day and prove yourself to me! Prove yourself to this heathen world! Prove yourself to this heathen compound!”
Mr Kingsley cleared his throat from the chair he sat in the palour listening to her. Sister Esther stopped praying and rose to meet him.
“What is that nonsense you were saying, Kingsley?”
“We have to take the doctor’s advice and abort.”
“You and who will take the doctor’s advice?”
“We will do it together.”
“Never! I will have my baby. I will have my baby and he will be whole. Watch and see. Watch and see!”
“I will not be a part of such a decision. If you insist, you will have to look for somewhere else to stay.”
‘I insist! I insist and I will be going nowhere! This is your fault! They said I will give birth to an imbecile. Imbe! Kingsley your son will be an imbe!” She said clapping her hands in his face. “And why not? Open your mouth and talk like everyone else you will not talk. Didn’t your heathen friend Cosmas who knows about spirits tell you that since you have been behaving like an imbecile that you have commanded the spirit of imbe into your body and now you will be giving birth to one? You didn’t know? You thought that there would be no consequence for your idiocy? Now you can talk. Didn’t Tommy Hilfiger or Hulk Hogan say anything for you to quote for me now? Is it now that your mouth will be full with words? Yenyenyen you have to abort or pack and go kill you there!”
“Imbecility is not a birth defect. Imbecile means a stupid person. A nincompoop. A moron. We are here talking about down syndrome, trisomy syndrome, XYY syndrome, triple X syndrome. It could be any of those. These are not easy to live with. When you don’t know and it happens that is understandable. But we have been forewarned and now have the chance to prevent a lifetime of heartache and embarrassment and misery and you are here talking nonsense. The only imbecile I see here is you!”
“Kingsley you are an imbecile! Your father is an imbecile! Your mother is an imbecile! I will have my child and you will see the power of God with your own eyes!”
“Not under my roof!”
“Come and remove me. If your name is Kingsley alias Undertaker come and remove me from here.”
“In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid. – Simon de Beauvoir.” Mr Kingsley said.
“In the face of your own stupidity Kingsley, thunder will fire you! – Osuofia of Nollywood.” Sister Esther finalised.
Neighbors made sure to stick by the door as soon as Esther lifted her voice in prayer. They were familiar with her praying habit and knew from the moment she said “Father!” in the middle of the afternoon that they were going to learn something new. Chisco heaved a sigh and wiped his brow as soon as he realised it was not Eyonyam that bothered Mr Kingsley and his girlfriend. No one quite remembered ever hearing Mr Kingsley speak so many words.
“So upon all the yeye children wey we get for this compound, Kingsley wan come complete am with imbecile,” Castro said to Irikefe.
“Guy na their problem be that.”
“Sister Esther no know say as she dey pray for morning dey fuck for night say e no go better for am?”
“Dey judge you hear? Alpha and Omega. You no go think about your own life and the things wey you dey do.”
“But bros her life and her gospel no rhyme. Make we talk true. You, you already know say you dey go hellfire na why you dey do wetin you dey do. Me I know say I go repent before I die so I must enjoy myself now. But Sister Esther go dey shout repent repent and as soon as he finish enter house Undertaker go shift him pynt. E no follow abeg.”
“Mr Cosmas already explained this. You don’t need to be married by a paper certificate to be man and wife or to have sex for that matter. Free Sister Esther joor. Meanwhile na your papa go reach hellfire before me.”
“Hehe. Na when e sweet una una go remember Mr Cosmas preaching.”
“Let’s get going,” Achike said to Chisco when quiet returned to Mr Kingsley’s abode.
They got to the hospital and Chisco sat in the waiting area adjoining the ICU while Achike sought clearance for them to go into the ward where Eyonyam fought for her life. While he was away, Chisco’s spirit guide spoke to him.
“You will place that cloth over her forehead and count up to twenty. She will come back to life.”
“How is that so?”
“She was a woman on a mission. She was not supposed to die at it.”
“Where will Achike be when I do that?”
“Tell him you want to pray for her. Everyone understands that. The nurses will not stop you.”
“Bia, Ogbu. Let us go.” Achike said and Chisco stood and walked behind Achike and a nurse.
Chisco hated the smell of hospitals. The weeks he spent recovering from the partial blindness he suffered trying to save Nurse Jo returned to him. If this were not necessary, he would have run out of there.
“Ngwa go in and see your girlfriend. I brought you to Lagos to teach you how to make money but you say it is ukwu that is more important.”
She was fitted with pipes and gadgets like those he saw on television. A mask covered her nose and mouth, which he guessed, helped her to breathe. She looked every inch like a dead body. They even wrapped her in white clothes.
“I will wait outside,” Achike said. “There is nothing new for me to see here.”
The nurse that accompanied them looked disinterested. Chisco could see that she was pressing her phone under the file she carried.
Chisco brought out the dirty piece of cloth from his pocket and looked around him. No one paid him any attention. He placed it over her forehead and began to count. At the count of twenty Eyonyam lifted a finger. Chisco removed the piece of cloth, put it back in his pocket, and continued to regard Eyonyam’s face. Then her eyes flickered open. They were the colour of ripe mountain apples like the ones that grew in his father’s backyard.
“Ewee! My pikin!” She said, through a blast of halitosis, in a voice Chisco recognised but which did not belong to Evae’s mother.
Chisco ran out of the ward.
Funbi added the sliced vegetables to the pot and covered it. It was exactly as she had seen in the youtube video. She was cooking for Jide for the first time and wanted to make it memorable. The video said to cook for five minutes then turn off the stove. She decided to return to the room for the five minutes.
“What did you say you were cooking you, sweet girl?” Jide said looking up from his phone as Funbi reentered the room.
“That calabar soup nau!”
Jide set his phone aside and sat up and spread his legs so that Funbi walked in and sat on his groin. She was wearing a flair skirt, a t-shirt, and a bonnet over her head.
“You look like a housegirl,” Jide said with a giggle and cupped her breasts from behind. This made Funbi smile. It took him a long time to learn that but she was glad he did. “Always cup your woman’s boobs and tap her ass at every opportunity. We love it. It is a love crime not to,” She had told him.
“You want me to wear a miniskirt and be pounding crayfish and dry pepper abi.”
“You are still beautiful though.”
“Liar. I am smelling. That kitchen is hotter than hellfire. I couldn’t stay to bring down the pot of soup. Three minutes more.”
“I can’t wait.”
“I wish we lived in a flat with our own kitchen so I can be cooking naked for you.”
“But you said you do not want to marry me.”
“Is it only married people that live in flats?”
“Well, I would be gone by then.”
“How about you work your posting back to Lagos?
“No way! The only place I will not go to is Sambisa forest. I want to experience my service year to the fullest abeg.”
As they spoke, they heard loud shuffling feet in the corridor, shortly after which children began to scream and shout. Funbi and Jide flew out of their couch and peered through the corridor to see the retreating backs of Wasiu and Iniquity. Funbi marched to the kitchen and found her pot of soup lying on the floor upside down with the stove still burning. She turned the pot over and it was empty.
A child said, “Aunty na that brother wey dey sell igbo and Maimuna brother carry your soup. Dem turn am inside one big rubber run comot.”
Jide’s face turned to ash as he marched to the caretaker’s room.
The door was locked and Jide could hear what sounded like people struggling inside. He decided it was not his problem, as he needed a quick redress for his stolen pot of soup. He headed for the self contain rooms where the elders were.
Mr Zubi was not at home. But Mr Cosmas was.
Jide entered the room and found Mr Kingsley there talking with Mr Cosmas. He knew with one look at Mr Kingsley that he needed the counsel he was getting and it would be rude to interrupt.
“I’ll wait for you outside sir.”
“No, you can sit. You may benefit from what we are discussing,” It was Mr Kingsley whose voice Jide had never heard before that spoke.
“So as I was saying, old boy. An opportunity to be born is one no person should deny another. There is a multitude of souls out there waiting for just this opportunity and you should not deny them. The earth is the best place for the development of the human spirit and so every earth-life is super precious. It is when you depart the earth that you realize how lucky you were to be born into it in the first place. So many souls that have karmas to redeem each time there is physical procreation mill around the couple hoping that there would be conception so that they get a chance to incarnate. It doesn’t matter what kind of baby that would be born. There is always a soul with corresponding karma who needs that experience for its own growth. There are souls out there who would never ascend to paradise unless they come to this earth and live with down syndrome or any of those defects you mentioned and experience life in those bodies and live through the attendant difficulties in order to redeem past guilt before they could ascend. They could have been hostile to someone with the condition in a previous earth-life or may have denied them an opportunity to incarnate or anything along those lines. Living through a similar experience will be the requirement for their salvation. If everyone aborted those kinds of pregnancies, how would these souls gain the experience they need? Where is the love?
“Do not take lightly the opportunity this offers you as a parent as well. Being able to love a child like that would facilitate a quick redemption of your own karmas and also quicken your ascent. If there is such a thing as a shortcut to paradise, it is through love. It takes love to accept to birth and care for such a child and the blessings therein are immeasurable.”
“So you are saying abortion should never happen.”
“Denying a soul an opportunity to live is a supreme lack of love. It is cruelty as they can see and grieve. Abortion for the purpose of saving the life of the mother is understandable as it is only a healthy woman that can birth a child. But terminating a pregnancy for your own comfort is selfish and wicked. The best you can do is to avoid conception. Whatever you do at that stage is fine but once it happens you must let it be. Whatever you experience from then on is good for you even though you may not know it.”
“Esther is praying for a miracle, or I should say expects a miracle that the baby would be born normal.”
“That is also possible. There is a place for miracles within the laws. But have this understanding so that you can guide her aright if the miracle she expects does not happen. Every birth is already a miracle and every child deserves love. Love this child the way it is and by so doing you will attract only the blessings of the Almighty and give thanks for the opportunity given to you.
“I will bring Esther here so that you tell her this.”
“She will not listen to me and you know that. But she is your woman. It is your duty to enlighten her. Find a language that she would understand.”
Mr Kingsley nodded. The relief on his face was palpable.
They now turned to Jide who had not uttered a sound since he sat down.
“Gentlemen, after what I just heard I feel stupid to say that I came here to complain about my stolen pot of soup.”
“No, it’s important. That should not be happening,” Mr Cosmas said.
“Well, it happened. My woman finished cooking and Iniquity and the other jail rat came and helped themselves to everything.”
“Did you tell the caretaker?”
“His door is locked and I even heard something like a struggle from within his room before I came here.”
“Let’s go and see what’s going on.”
When they arrived at the frontage, they found two women and a man in their twenties accompanied by a police officer banging on Irikefe’s door.
Irikefe and Castro were early to the office that morning. It was going to be the day of their first conquest and they could not contain their excitement.
“Guy, Make I ask you again, this thing go work?” Castro said as he swept the floor and Irikefe arranged the furniture.
“How many times I wan explain am?”
“But Ndifreke will be here.”
“By twelve every day he takes a break to go and cry over Maya or suck Aunty Lizzy’s breasts. He will be gone for one hour. That is when we will strike. I told the girl to come between 12 and 12:15. I told her if she is late or too early that she will not get the job.”
“What if she is late?”
“You don’t know ambitious people or those ones wey dey say them get dream like Nnamdi Azikiwe. She fit reach here by 11 o’clock go chill for uncompleted building dey watch time. Make we bet? She go show by 12:10.”
“Nnamdi Azikiwe get dream?”
“Guy, all those dead people wey dem teach us for school been always get plans. Na why dem die quick.”
“Nnamdi Azikiwe reach ninety years before him die.”
“Come, na for my head you wan show say you know book? Why you never pass JAMB since?”
“No be like dat. At least I sabi this one.” Seeing Irikefe was getting irritated, Castro changed gears.
“Prince of Ugheli South! My honourable caretaker!”
“So we get to finish within like 45 minutes. That time too short o!”
“Na mojo you wan act? You don ever do pass 2 minutes for your life?”
“Bros you dey underrate me.”
“Keep quiet abeg. You buy condom?
“We go use condom?
“Which kind stupid question be dat Castro!”
“Okay I de come.”
Just as Irikefe predicted, at a few minutes past twelve just as Ndifreke stepped out of the office Bumni stood at the front door. Irikefe addressed her.
“Fine girl welcome.”
‘Thank you. Good afternoon guys. Before you people will say I did not greet.”
“You don’t forget things.”
“Ah! Why will I forget after you people made me cry?”
The two boys grinned and looked at each other. She was dressed in a body-fitting cami gown that concealed her suspect legs and showed more of a figure they did not know she possessed. Castro grabbed his crotch before he realized what he was doing. Irikefe took charge.
“See ehn, something came up. Our main boss just went to meet a client on the Island and we are both going for a shoot somewhere so we have to lock the office. But you can come inside and wait for the director you would be working with. He is coming from Ibadan.”
“I can come inside where?”
“My apartment of course.”
“What if I come back another time?”
“Do you want the job or not?”
“What did you say the job was again?”
“Da Viva is sampling new ankara designs and has made dresses we have been contracted to supply models to wear on the runway. If you no wan do abeg dey go.”
Bunmi thought for a while and brought out her phone and opened her Twitter page.
“I found myself at Katakata Street for a modeling job and the men I’m working with are behaving somehow. Please I’m at number 225. Someone should check on me if you don’t hear from me soon. The men look horny.”
Understanding their roles, Irikefe hesitated and let Castro enter the room first with Bumni. They had already removed the only chair in the palour so Castro ushered her into the bedroom. As soon as Bunmi sat, she could see the bulge Castro could not conceal. Castro did not see any need to waste time.
“Fine girl, you see that we want to do something for you and nothing goes for nothing in this life.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“What do you mean by what do you mean by that? Don’t you know that all the top models and actors in this world use what they have to get what they want? You think people just show up and begin to become superstars like that? Have you not read on Linda Ikeji how they sleep with directors and everyone?”
“Please I want to leave,” Bunmi said and stood.
“Leave to where?”
“If you don’t let me out of this room now I will scream!”
Castro went over the whole plan again in his mind. What did he do wrong? Irikefe would kill him.
“Okay calm down. It’s not like that. You are a big girl na you know what’s up. Let’s act like the mature people we are. Just relax let me call my boss.”
Bunmi saw her chance. She sat back and brought out her phone and typed, “I was right. I’m in danger. The idiots want to fok. Abeg somebody help.”
She had seen the power of social media and knew how quickly people rallied in those situations. She glanced at her replies and felt assured.
Irikefe entered the room and made straight for her. Bunmi swung her handbag and it caught him full in the face.
“Omo, Castro wetin dey happen? Una never agree?”
“If you come near me I swear to God I will castrate you!” Bunmi said and stood on the bed.
Irikefe and Castro exchanged looks. This was not how it was meant to be.
“She no wan play ball bros,” Castro said.
“See, let’s just, you know, scratch my back and I scratch yours,” Castro said.
“Are you just telling her that you idiot?”
“Bros wetin you want make I do na. The girl no gree.”
“Okay this looks like some misunderstanding. Okay Bunmi listen.”
“I don’t want to hear anything! Let me go!”
It was then they heard the banging on the door.
TO BE CONTINUED.