Erica: “Aishat?” her eyes cleared immediately and she started seeing and thinking clearly. She stood up to her feet ready to pounce.
Boss: “Is she the witness?”
Locust: “Yes she is”
Boss: “Young lady! Hope you know the gravity of what you are about to do? If I find out you are lying, I will slit your throat into two and no one will be able to stop me” he warned sternly.
Aisha: “I understand sir”
Erica was surprised at how sharp she sounded. Her English was polished too and she wondered how much she must have lied to her and at what price.
Boss: “Tell us what you know”
She knelt down beside Erica and started…
Aisha: “She told me yesterday morning that she was going to poison you and then escape from here. I thought she was joking and tried all my best to dissuade her anyway but she was persistent. When I found out that she had left the tent in the midnight, I realised she meant all she said and alerted the guards” she said looking down, unable to look into the eyes of Boss.
Boss: “Is that true? Did you tell her you were going to kill me and then escape?”
Erica: “I did tell her I was going to escape but I never told her I’d poison you. I sincerely don’t know where she got that from and I don’t know how I got to deserve this from her either. I thought she was the only friend I had in this camp” as she said this, she remembered what Boss had told her once ‘Don’t think because they act like they like you that they actually do’ he had warned her. Her eyes started getting beclouded with unshed tears, this made his heart ache and he looked away from her face.
Boss: “If you did not tell her that then how did she come about that story?”
Erica: “Ever since I came here, I have seen her as naïve and innocent. She never spoke much and even when she did, she picked her words with care like one who didn’t know much English. As we can all see, she is smart and can cook up stories like this. I think what we should be asking her is what she thinks she will get to gain from implicating me”
Aishat: “I have always spoken to you in clear English just like I am doing now. You just chose to believe what you wanted, your judgement was clearly shaded with thoughts of killing Boss and escaping from here. I am not lying sir, I have nothing to gain from lying against her” she said batting her eyelids like she was about to break down in tears.
Erica: “Shut up you bloody liar or I will shut it for you. I should have just let you die that first day I came. I guess it isn’t everybody who is worth saving. Some people with venomous and treacherous hearts are just better off dead so the living can really live. I regret even opening myself up to you little girl” she snapped with gritted teeth.
Locust: “Just imagine how wild she is. Order that we kill her already. She must be killed for trying to even touch a hair from your head. Order that she be killed with immediate effect” he was persistent and the rest of the men in the tent nodded their heads in agreement with him.
Boss: “Quiet men! How dare you guys tell me what to do?” she said with a mixture of Hausa and English. “She is mine, my property and only I have the right to decide what is to be done with her. None of you, I repeat, none of you should raise your voice as regards this issue again. Do you understand?”
The men looked at one another not daring to say anything any further. Even Locust kept quiet.
Erica: “If you are convinced within you that I actually did it, then you can go on ahead and have me executed” she knew he wasn’t convinced and was looking for a way to bail her out of the situation. His eyes were betraying his emotions, he tried hiding them behind the mask he wore but she could see through him.
Boss: “You keep quiet there. Okay I have decided that since she is my property and I don’t want her to die just yet, she will be given twenty strokes of cane after which we will forget this incidence ever happened”
Locust: “You are laying bad example if I must say. You are becoming too soft hearted just because of this thing. We need an iron hand to rule over us and not some weakling” he blurted out carelessly.
Boss flung himself off the chair he sat on and within minutes, they were both rolling on the floor, throwing punches at each other. He would have killed him on the spot but thanks to the effects of the poison, he became too weak and had to just let it rest.
Boss: “This will be your first and last warning. The last time you openly defile me like this, I will have your head hung on a pole outside you short devil” he spat on him while he whimpered on the floor with no one to help him up.
Erica looked at Aisha and shook her head irritably at her.
Erica: “You think I am really nice? Go and ask of me where I came from…for doing this, I will surely get you” she whispered to her before she was finally taken away to be flogged.
Vanessa would cook and take the food to him at his home even though he never really asked her to. That Sunday afternoon, she had prepared vegetable and okra soup and taken it to his place. On getting there, she met him on the bed, looking so weak and pale.
Vanessa: “What happened to you? I have never seen you like this before. Are you okay?” he asked perching on the side of his bed.
Pat: “I am fine thank you”
Vanessa: “What happened to you though? Where are you feeling hurt?”
Pat: “What’s with all these questions? Why is it that you can’t ever mind your own business?”
Vanessa: “Oh no vex o. I am just worried though”
Pat: “Just worry about yourself and leave me alone”
She stood up and went to lie down in the sitting room, sulking.
Iya Lanre: “Where is the money my son said he sent to you yesterday?” she asked her daughter in law as soon as they got back from church without even allowing her to undress or prepare lunch.
Nkeiru: “I am yet to cash it”
Iya Lanre: “What do you mean by you are yet to cash it? Don’t you have ATM card?”
Nkeiru: “I do. I will go and get it once I have eaten. But mama, didn’t he send money to you too? He told me he was going to send yours separately”
Iya Lanre: “Didn’t he tell you? I told him not to bother doing that since he could always send it into your account. So he sent all of it into your account”
Nkeiru: “Ehn ehn…why didn’t he say anything to me about it then?” she asked quizzically.
Iya Lanre: “Do you think he needs to ask for your permission before even doing that? How can a wife be so bossy? Well since I am the older one In the house, I will be in charge of every money he sends. So give me your ATM card, I will go and withdraw the money while you do the cooking. Make sure you cook something delicious o and hurry it up, I am hungry”
Nkeiru: “I cannot give you my ATM card mama, I have my personal savings in that account since we closed down our joint account after he used the money in it to travel”
Iya Lanre: “What nonsense personal account are you talking about? You don’t have personal anything in this house. Everything belongs to my son first then you, didn’t he pay your bride price? Do you know how much he had to waste to marry you? And you are here talking about some personal savings. Give me that ATM card before I do something you will regret for the rest of your life” she outstretched her right hand waiting for her to drop it into her palm.
Nkeiru: “I said I cannot give it to you. I will call him now to confirm if he actually did send us money jointly or not” she made for her phone.
Iya Lanre: “So you are calling me a liar now? You dare call me a liar?” she walked towards her and snatched the phone from her, threw it on the floor and started stepping on it like a rebellious teenager.
Nkeiru ignored her, walked to her room and brought out her smaller phone, determined to pull the call through. It began to ring but no one picked it. She knew it would be quite late over there but she wanted to call him anyway. She dialled the line again, it rang at the other end and after some seconds of listening to the ringing tone it was picked at last but it was not her husband’s voice she heard, it was a lady with an American accent’s voice.
Nkeiru: “Hello…who is this please?” she asked with a trembling voice and her scowl on her face.
Anna: “I am…” but Lanre had quickly snatched the phone from her. She heard them argue for a while and the line went dead.
She was unable to make out what they said but she smelt something quite fishy. She was still in her dazed stance when her mother in law dashed into the room.
Iya Lanre: “So you called him anyway you witch?”
Nkeiru: “Please stop calling me a witch, don’t force me into talking back at you mama” she was about to carry out the aggression she felt at being stood up on the phone by her husband on his mum.
Iya Lanre: “What have you being doing all these while, talking back at me, disrespecting me, calling me a liar and a squanderer. Aren’t those what you have been doing?”
Nkeiru ignored her and made to walk away but she took giant steps towards her and pushed her so hard she landed on the floor and slide down the hard tiled floor on her stomach. She was surprised at the woman’s audacity to do that despite her pregnancy. She winced with pain and felt a thick substance drip from her vagina and down her thighs. With a shaky hand, she reached out to touch it, brought it out and collapsed at the sight of blood on her fingers.
Question: Will she lose the pregnancy? Was the punishment the boss meted out on Erica fair despite all evidence pointing at her?
Stay tuned for Episode 16 (You don’t wanna miss this!)…AdeLove Stories…Premier Naija Inspirational Blog!
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