They entered Lagos one by one. None of them contacted the other. They had the address of where they would stay for the duration of the job. Street boys who could smell trouble from a mile away perceived nothing. They had jobs arranged for them. There were dues to collect and lots of willing hands to collect them.
Chinenye sat eating with her elder brother. He was her everything. He gave her food, gave her shelter, paid her school fees and has been there for her since they lost their parents when she was 2 years old. He was single. She wished and prayed to God that he finds a beautiful woman to marry him. He was always working that was his problem. She had cooked the food and she was happy that her brother liked it. He had asked her to bring more.
John looked at his kid sister and sighed. He was happy that she is slowly recovering from the incident that occurred some months ago.
John: “Chichi, I want to tell you something. D town is hot now. Dey raped one girl again. Abeg be careful how you are walking okay? Be coming home early from lesson. Or better self, come and meet me at the shop. You will stay with me until I close. Is that okay?” Chinenye nodded her head.
Chinenye: don’t worry brother, my guardian angel will protect me.” Her brother looked at her, nodded his head and went back to eating.
Kola sketched all day but he got nothing. All his hands seemed to draw was a girl with pain in her eyes. A girl that looked very much like Osas. Soon a huge pile of paper was packed beside his easel. I need a smoke… no..no… no more cigarette or alcohol. This is a new me. I have to do better, be better. I hope everyone is fine. He had called Olayinka and he still reeled at the insults he had received from his elder brother. What does he know? For him life his perfect. He has a good job, he is married and has two kids. What more does he want from life. Besides he is not wanted by the police. His phone beeped. He read the message and dropped the phone.
He got up and walking down to the sitting room, sat down and put on the television. He scrolled through the GOTV cable stations with the TV remote. He saw that the MTV Base series, Shuga was on. He dropped the remote and sat back to watch. As he watched, his mind drifted to Osas’ last words to him, he felt depression settle on him; an old and familiar weight. He decided to go to church. He got up, wore his shoes and stepped out into the evening air.
The church was just by Airport Junction. He crossed the road after stepping out of the Keke and walked into the church premises. He walked in as evening mass was going on. He went to the back and sat down. He listened to the priest preach and he wished God could look his way. After the evening service, he sat back for a bit and decided to seek God’s face. He knelt and prayed. He asked for peace, hope and forgiveness. After the prayer, he stood up but felt no change. He walked back home, as depressed as he left. The weight pressed heavily on him.
Attila sat in the bar and drank his chilled beer peacefully. He hated Abeokuta but he needed somewhere to lay low until the police stopped looking for him. It seemed Kola escaped the police net too, that devious devil. Well, we are not done. He will get me that money. If he thinks that night paid for his sins, he lies. When something else occurs to take the police mind off the matter, I will come looking for you, Kola. I will fuck your mother, your brother, anyone close to you until you come out of your hole….the life outside is so sweet, he thought, observing a serving girl walk pass him.
He beckoned the girl and whispered into her ear when she came to him. She smiled and nodded her head. He smiled and relaxed. Life is indeed good.
Chinenye stared at the man that had come to buy tires from her brother’s shop. He looked familiar somehow. She watched him talk with her brother as they argued price. She watched him for a time then she turned back to her assignment. As she wrote, a man drove to the front of their shop, he wound his window down and asked for directions from Chinenye. As soon as Chinenye saw his scarred face, she began to scream. Her brother left his customer and ran to her.
John: Chichi, what is it, hmm?” He asked, holding her close.
She pointed. Not at the scarred man who looked at the girl in surprise but at the customer, who had turned to look. The man on seeing her face, immediately turned and ran away. John immediately shouted “Ole! Ole!” people came out of their shop and he pointed at the running figure. Young men took off after the man, screaming “Thief! Ole! Thief!” they soon caught up with him and without finding out what he had stolen, they descended on him and started to beat him.
The same man that had asked for directions earlier on drove up with John and Chinenye. He ran to the boys and managed to intervene. He told them that he was a navy officer and they should let him handle the matter. The man, already bloodied was bundled into the man’s car and he, Chinenye and John entered and drove away.
Iya Olayinka got a visitor two weeks after Kola’s disappearance. She had lost weight then. Jide had tried to make Amala for her that day but he achieved a strange paste that a dog will not touch with its nose. They had laughed about it, then he had gone out to buy her agidi and moimoi. She was not feeling as healthy as she used to. Age was taking its toll, she thought.
The girl that stood at her gate, she had not seen before. She was a tall, beautiful girl who carried herself with poise. She smiled at her and knelt in greeting. She nodded her head in return.
Rita: “ma, my name is Rita. I made a promise to someone we both know mutually to come check on you from time to time.” She said, twisting the strap of her bag in worry. She had not wanted to come. She did not know how the reception will be like.
Iya Olayinka: “you are the girl that works at that drinking spot close to that bad spot on Okri road?” Rita nodded her head. “He never said you were this beautiful o. come, sit down my daughter.”
Rita smiled and sat down. They were both silent then they both spoke together;
Rita: “so how are you ma?”
Iya Olayinka:” what did you see in a scarred ex-convict?” they both laughed at their words. Rita felt the tension ease out of her body.
Rita: “you know what caught my eyes about him at first? It was his loneliness. He liked to be alone, that’s true but in all that, you’d see a person that was hungry for affection. I wanted to make him smile, make him feel needed.” She smiled as she spoke. Iya Olayinka looked at her in surprise.
Iya Olayinka: “are we talking about the same person? The boy I brought was always a loner.” She laughed.
Rita: “yes, he is at that. I think besides me and you, the only other person he respected and was truly friends with was Osas. He was so in love with her, it hurt to look at.” Iya Olayinka looked at her in shock.
Iya Olayinka: “if he was in love with her, what was he doing with you?”
Rita: “He didn’t know what to do with her. He wanted her but he wasn’t sure if she wanted him in return. i am not sure he is even aware he is in love with her. Funny enough the girl did want him but I was the obstruction, I think. i see the way they look at each other when the other is not watching and how they watch each others back.”
Iya Olayinka: “you don’t feel bad as you speak of this to me. Your man in love with another?”
Rita: “oh… Ours was never about love. It was a relationship of mutual benefits. He had what I wanted; a virile young man. I had what he wanted; a home away from home. But it was never love. She will be good for him.” She replied smiling sadly.
Iya Olayinka: “hmm… this young people, I don’t understand you with your new ideas. Mutual benefit ko, Mutiu Benin republic ni.” Rita laughed slowly then Iya Olayinka joined her and they both laughed gaily. They talked about a lot of things.
Jide returned from his shopping to find his mom cooking in the kitchen, singing. He stood and watched her, surprised. The melancholy had melted away. What had happened? She turned and saw him.
Iya Olayinka: “What? I can’t sing in my own house again?” she looked him over.
Iya Olayinka: “you need meat on your bones, young man. Why are you not eating?” Jide laughed, dropped the things he bought, took out a bottle of wine and turned to walk out of the kitchen.
Iya Olayinka: “young man, you are not drinking in my house. You had better take it outside.”
Jide: “yes mum.” He smiled.
He picked a glass, stepped out of the house to the veranda. He looked for a shaded place from the sun, placed a chair there, and then placed the wine and a glass by the chair. He came back inside for the day’s Punch Newspaper. He found it on his mom’s favourite chair. He picked it up and stepped out and he came face to face with Bunmi, who had just stepped out of her car. A teenage girl sat inside the car, sulking. Jide took all this in as Bunmi walked to him smiling.
Bunmi:”Hi Jide. How have you been?”
Jide: “what are you doing here? You ignored all my calls, now you appear from nowhere?” he asked in an angry voice.
Bunmi: “don’t worry, I won’t waste your time. Princess come and say hi to someone.” She called out gaily.
The teenager in the car stepped out and walked angrily to them.
Jide looked at the child then turned to Bunmi, questioningly.
Bunmi:”Oh… She’s your daughter. From when we were banging like rabbits. Yes…, close your mouth Jide. Kola didn’t tell you, did he? I came to see him and told him. You are a father now. “She said, grinning.
Jide turned to girl and back to Bunmi. His mother comes out and sees them.
Iya Olayinka:” Hi Bunmi. I hear am a grandmother again. Congratulations Jide, finally something good comes from you. Come in princess. Jide get that wine for your guest.”
Jide looked at his mother in horror, Bunmi smiled and walked past him into the house. The kid looked at him in speculation for a moment then she too passed Jide into the house. He was left outside. He felt like shouting at the small boys playing football across the road. They were laughing and it felt like they were laughing at him.
Question: will Jide take Princess in? Will Kola find peace?
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