They all sat in the living room as the young woman went into the room. Malcolm rushed to the door to help hold Old Nurse who had half of her body paralyzed. She sat down and when she saw the faces of Mr Assanga and Mrs Assanga she smiled,
Young woman: “Can you recognize them?” she shook her head and smiled they smiled back too, she turned to them and added, “She can recognized you!”
Young woman, who later identified as Esther, sat close to her mother.
Kaylah could feel the renaissance of hope but just a glimpse for the woman couldn’t talk. Mrs Assanga went closer,
Mrs. Assanga: “How are you?” she smiled at her and Old Nurse smiled too.
Malcolm sat opposite Kaylah as he kept staring at her in intervals. Their eyes met and she looked away. His stare made her heart skip. Being in love with another was unthinkable; Malcolm was the one she ever wanted. Somehow, she wasn’t mad anymore that she wasn’t the biological daughter of her foster parents. Their union wouldn’t be seen as incest anymore.
Mrs Assanga went back to her chair; Old Nurse beckoned on Esther with the right hand which wasn’t paralyzed. She mimicked a hand writing,
Esther: “Oh, you need a pen to write?” she nodded.
Esther ran and brought a pen and paper with her hands shaking but she managed to scribble something down:
“Mr. and Mrs. Assanga right? I can still remember your faces like it was just yesterday. A happy young couple who wanted a daughter desperately; this is the girl with you right? She is now a beautiful girl. I know you are here to find out who her parents are. It is normal for such cases. The adopted child grows up and would want to know who their parents are. I knew you guys would come. Her story is a pathetic one. They were found on the bank of Calabar river and I was contacted. I took them into the home. I know you’d be surprised that I am mentioning “they” in this letter”
She paused and asked for water to drink; she gulped two full glasses and continued,
“They were two. Twins but I didn’t bother to tell you since your interest was just in the girl. And the boy we didn’t hear anything from him again. We knew he had many foster parents but all I know is that he isn’t lucky as his sister. We were told that their parents were from Old Essien town. I investigated after you had adopted the girl I envisioned this might happen like I have stated earlier so I didn’t want a situation where I won’t be able to give the needed answer. Oh,how I wish other foster parents were like the two of you! See how beautiful she is!”
She stared at Kayla, smiled and continued,
“ Ehm, I learned that they were abandoned to die in the river. It wasn’t the parents wish but the wicked tradition of the people that saw twins as ill luck forced her to part ways with her children. She was a queen there but I doubt if she is still alive. And her twin was that boy, Ifiok, she always came to play with! I am exhausted I think I have told you all you need to know. She used to be the queen but I don’t know if she still is. God help you in your search.”
She handed the note to Esther and signaled her that she’d love to go in and rest. Malcolm rushed to help but Esther smiled at him and said,
Esther: “Don’t worry. I can handle that!” she smiled at him as he stayed back.
Kaylah was jealous; she didn’t like the way Esther smiled at Malcolm. Does she think she is pretty? Jealousy spoke in Kaylah.
She looked away as Malcolm looked towards her direction- she was angry at him. They were all anxious-they all wanted to know what the contents of the letter were. Esther came back and sat,
Esther: “would you mind if I read the letter or you’d prefer to read it yourselves,” she stretched her hands towards Malcolm.
Malcolm looked at his parents and then Kaylah,
Malcolm: “we don’t mind!”
Esther started reading the letter. As she read on, Mrs Assanga and Kaylah were in tears; they held each other. Malcolm buried his head as tears trickled down and Mr Assanga just sat with emotions flushed all over his face as she read.
“Ifiok!” Esther read,
Kaylah was startled,
Everyone turned to her,
Mrs Assanga: “You know him?”
Kaylah: “I know someone with that name but I don’t know if he is the one!”
Could it be Ifiok that was her brother? She whispered.
Everyone sighed; she turned to Malcolm, “The guy who kidnapped me!”
Mr. Assanga: “what!”
The next day in the morning, they left for Old Essien town. On getting there, they asked around but it didn’t seem like they were going to be lucky with their search. They went to the market and later to the King’s place. They were told that the King and Queen had traveled so they were directed to one of the elders. Henshaw was his name, he was the oldest in his nineties but he still looked agile although he was slightly bent. One would know that he was a very tall man as a youth.
Henshaw: “ You’re welcome!” he gulped from his bottle of gin, which he offered but they refused.
They replied in a chorus, “Thank you!”
Henshaw: “And you say you don’t want to be offered anything?”
“How can I help you? for our people believe that the toad doesn’t run in the daylight for fun. So I’m sure that it is a very serious business that brings you city people here!”
Mr. Assanga grunted and said,
Mr. Assanga: “Yes, papa! It is indeed. We are looking for a woman. She used to be the queen and she was said to have twins!”
“Huh?” they all said.
Henshaw: “That’s her name!”
Mrs Assanga:” where can we find her, please!”
Henshaw: “She lives a secluded life now! The loss of her babies left her nothing but a mere distraught shadow.”
They were taken to Abasiama’s hut by Henshaw’s grandson. The sun was giving way for the moon as the people were returning from the day’s chores. They passed a lot of people on their way from the market and farms. As they got to her compound, they met her cooking.
Abasiama: “Who are these strangers who you have brought to my house,Bobo!” she said to the sixteen year old boy.
Bobo: “Pa Henshaw said I should bring them to you!”
Kaylah saw that she looked familiar but couldn’t place where she had met her- the recent events had stolen away most her memories. Mentally she was exhausted.
Mr. Assanga: “Yes, we came to see you,please!”
She gave them a chair and looked at Kaylah.
“She looked at the girl, I met in the city when I was working at the bunker!” she said to herself but she wasn’t sure.
They narrated why they looked for her and she was in tears. She couldn’t believe she was first with her daughter the other day,
“I am the one who you seek for”
Kaylah ran into her arms; Abasiama embraced her shivering. It was hard to believe that she had her daughter in her arms. They cried and cried as others join them,
“Abasi, I can’t thank you enough! I can now die a happy woman! I only ask for one more thing to be reunited with her twin if he’s still alive!” she said crying.
After crying for long, she narrated her own part of the story to them,
Abasiama: “Seven days after the childbirth, as the culture demanded, I walked naked round the village, carrying two big baskets on my head. I was to go round the village seven times; My naked body was covered in cam wood oil, my hair was in big braids. My offence was that I had given birth to a boy and a girl, it was a blessing to me, because the goddess had blessed me with two children, but in this land, it was a curse, and such children were not allowed to live. The villagers danced behind me, as I walked in front of them, with the weight of the burden on the head. They followed me, all the way to the Kwa river, as me walked in, slowly to me the water was deep and dumped the baskets which were tied to get me, on the river. I watched as the baskets flowed down the river, and the babies cried out in loud screams. I made to go after the baskets, but men jumped into the water and held me. They pulled me out of the water, to the land, My late Husband, King Obong covered me with a white loin cloth… my husband, your father said to me,
“Sorry my wife, it is going to be alright. Awasi will give us another child” he said and held me to his chest. The villagers escorted them back to the palace, the priest was waiting.
I was taken into a room where no man was allowed to enter. Some women warmed my body with water from the Kwa river, and smeared the burnt mebs the priest had given to them, on my body. While doing this, they chanted an Efik song, begging Awasi to have mercy on Abasiama and give me a good child.
The baskets in which the babies lay were tied together with a rope so that the same fate would befall them. It was expected that the god of the earth and the waters, would devour the babies. But the babies sailed in the baskets for days without getting devoured, they wailed for their mother, as the cold bit into their tiny bodies.
But before I left them I gave them a mark, very hidden on their backs! Hoping I’ll meet them someday. And that would help me identify them.”
Kaylah opened her back and the mark was there. It was another round of cry. They cried like it was their last day on earth.
Two days after Kaylah had pressurized them they should visit Stinger and find out if she was the brother she suspected. With the mark it was going to be a cinch. As they got to the station, arrangements were been made for him to be transferred to the prison in Lagos. Mr Assanga pleaded with the DPO.
Mr Assanga: “Just give us a minute with him, please!”
The DPO and other officers were confused at their behaviour. It was strange. Abasiama had come with them. Stinger was dragged out,
Abasiama: “:This is my son. My intuition never lies!”
Stinger could recognize her, “ I had the feeling since the frist day I set my eyes on you as your worker! Can I see your back please?”
The Policemen were befuddled.
Stinger: “what are you talking about, woman? My back for what?”
Kaylah: “Listen to her,please!” tears trickled down her eyes.
Stinger was acting all stubborn until one of the officers hit me with a baton and in pains, he opened the back. The hidden mark was there. Kaylah opened hers too. The marks were the same in colour and size. It was a complete reunion,
“I’m your twin,Ifiok!” she fingered his face as he stood with a fierce look grinding his teeth. For the first time in many years, Stinger was shedding tears.
The people around including the DPO were consumed by the emotions.
Stinger: “So you’re the wicked woman who abandoned us!”
Abasiama shook her head and walked closer,” Don’t come any closer!”
Mr Assanga: “Listen to her before you cast a stone on her.”
The DPO took them into his office. Each narrated their stories. And it was all a crying galore. Stinker was now broken, he cried and for the first time in his life he felt alive again,
Abasiama: “I can now die in peace. Obong, can you see us from the sky. Can you see your twins?”
They embraced and cried.
Due to Mr Assanga’s connection and withdrawal of the case against Ifiok; he was sentenced to five months in jail. Malcolm and Kaylah made their love affair known to everyone even though Mrs Assanga wasn’t in full support at first,
Mr Assanga: “I still see them as my children! How can my kids be getting married to each other. To me, it feels like incest!”
Mr Assanga: “My dear,it isn’t a big deal. Let’s be factual, Kaylah isn’t our blood!” She gaped at him and he got the message, “Well, I didn’t mean it that way but I wouldn’t want another woman for my son!”
He was able to convince her.
They had shifted their wedding until Ifiok’s release,
Malcolm: “why not we shift our wedding date a month after Ifiok’s release?”
Kaylah: “Really?” she jumped and kissed him, “You’re such a darling!”
She couldn’t be happier. Having her mother, brother and foster parents at her wedding was a beautiful dream she wouldn’t ever want to wake up from. Nadia had come to ask for forgiveness and they both forgave her. She was made the chief bride’s maid.
The wedding was a big one, attended by dignitaries and their story was on blogs, ADELOVE.COM leading the flock. It was everywhere.
Abasiama was built a moderate house in the village; her last days were happy.
Ifiok enrolled for the senior secondary certificate examination and passed. He intended to read petro-chemical engineering at Port Harcourt but Mr Assanga had surprised him by getting admission for him at university in New Orleans, USA.
Abasiama joy knew no bound as she held her grand children in her hands. Kaylah and Malcolm had given birth to twins,
Ifiok talking to the family on a video call,
Ifiok: “ Where are my little niece and nephew?”
Malcolm took the phone closer to the babies in Abasiama’s arms.
Abasiama: “Oya it’s enough ooo. Too much light would make them sick, please!”
Kaylah: “Ah, mama!”
Mr Assanga and wife were happy that they were welcoming their grandchildren too. Abasiama looked up with tears in her eyes.
Abasiama: “Obong, your spirit can now go home and rest! Well done,mbok!”
Everyone felt a strange wind move in the room as the babies cackled,
“You see how beautiful they are ,Obong. I’ll join you soon, my love!”
….. THE END
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