FIVE YEARS LATER
Femi stood on the tarmac in Murtala Mohammed airport. He looked at the sky and looked around then he knelt down and kissed the ground.
“so this is what freedom smells like? God, it feels good to be back in Nigeria again.” He thought smiling as he got up from his knees and walked into the airport terminal.
He wasted no time as he had no baggage to claim; nothing to his name. He walked out of the airport, sauntering like a man who had all the time in the world despite his ravaged look. Prison had not been kind to him. He looked like someone suffering from a terminal ailment; all skull and bones. He had been beaten and used several times throughout the five years he was in prison. He had never been physically strong, so he had no way to fight back. The first year had been the worst, with him submitting to all sort of bullying like a sheep. It became easier when David Goldie took him under his wing. Everybody was afraid of David. They should be, the man was a serial killer and mass murderer apart from being the boss of a savage Irish gang in New York.
He didn’t have to worry about been jumped upon in the shower by crazy inmates or been beaten up by inmates when he refused their advances. The guards had ignored all these things in the past and only interfered when it suited them. He still had to let David have his way with him but it was not every time so it was better than been gang raped. He had been released before completing his sentence and deported back to Nigeria because of good behaviour but he had been banned from ever stepping his feet on United States soil for the rest of his life
Femi was desperate. He had little money and no place to stay. He needed cash fast. He had sent letters to old friends while in prison but got no reply. Even Brume had not replied him.
“That reminds me, I still got those pictures. Sweet, I knew they will come in handy someday. I just need to get his number. I have to play this one right.” He thought brushing away the sickening feeling of depression he had felt in the pit of his stomach earlier on.
He walked to an ATM and slipped in the credit card, one of David Goldie’s associates had given to him on leaving prison. “we take care of our own”, the man had said. He checked the balance. The screen displayed two hundred thousand naira. He shook his head in irritation.
Femi: “for widening my asshole for four years, all I get is N200,000? For the disgusting blowjobs and massages, all I get is N200,000? Fuck you Goldie! Fuck you!” he shouted into the ATM machine.
A lady waiting behind him, stepped back in shock at his language. He turned to her and smiled grimly. He withdrew some money from the ATM and stepped back, bowing like a courtly prince to the lady. The woman gave him a wide berth as she walked to the ATM machine.
“it is time to reclaim what I have lost.” Femi thought, cackling with barely suppressed glee.
Chidera watched Sabine pack her things. Tochukwu, her five years old son, was on the bed with his wireless game pad. His eyes focused on the TV screen.
“she has grown into a beautiful woman and a wonderful mother. It is just sad that she is not a happy woman. Just unfortunate. She would have made a great wife to a good man.” Chidera thought watching her pack Tochukwu’s things into a bag.
Chidera: “have you opened an account in Nigeria that you can wire money to?” she asked, joining Sabine in folding the clothes.
Sabine: “yes I have. I will still return sometime. I am just going for mummy’s sake. If not for her I won’t step my legs into that country again.” She replied, bitterness lacing her voice.
Chidera: “come on Sabine…yes your father was harsh; yes, he never really played the role of a dad well; yes, he abandoned you in the most trying period in your life but he is still your father. You are not going there to beg him for money, you are going to pay him his last respects. My elder brother is dead. Go to the funeral, see your family which you have not seen for five years now and make peace with them then you can come back if you still want to.” she encouraged the distressed Sabine.
Sabine paused in folding the shirt in her hand and looked at Chidera after pausing for few seconds,
Sabine: “peace? What is peace auntie? Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” she replied bitterly.
Chidera: “what does that mean, smart mouth?” she asked angrily.
Sabine ignored her and went on folding the clothes
Sabine: “Tochi, where is the other pair of this socks?” she asked.
Tochukwu looked at her and shrugged. She watched him for a second then she jumped on him. He tried to run, giggling but she was all over him, tickling him everywhere. They were soon laughing uncontrollably.
Sabine: “oya go and look for the other pair now or no more game.” She said, breathing heavily as she snatched the game pad from the bed.
Tochukwu got up with his shoulders slumped and his head down and started looking for the missing pair. Sabine looked at him with love in her eyes, then she sighed. She turned and was startled at seeing Chidera looking at her speculatively. Chidera sighed and turned back to folding the clothes on the bed
“People hurt, some heal and forget; some heal but never forget and some, they never heal and they never forget.” She thought staring at her beautiful niece moving with so much grace with all that anger bottled up. “She is only alive when she looks at her son. At least she has not cursed the boy for his father’s sake. Thank God for that.” She thought on as they quickly folded clothes into boxes for Sabine first trip back to Nigeria in five years.
Brume sat at the restaurant in tensed silence. He sipped the glass of water in front of him, then drummed a beat on the table, his eyes roving around the restaurant. He looked at his watch and sighed. He signaled a waiter and when the man came he made his orders. As soon as the man left, he went back to drumming on the table.
Timi: “you look tense.” He said, casually drawing a chair and sitting down.
Brume: “you dunce! I have been waiting for an hour and half. My wife will be wondering where I had gone to.” He whispered angrily.
Timi: “come on. Didn’t you tell her you were coming to meet me?” he asked, one eyebrow raised in mock surprise.
Brume: “why will I be meeting my doctor at a restaurant by 8pm? Why didn’t we meet during office hours?” he asked, still whispering.
Timi: “guy chillax. I can call her now and calm her fears if you want?” he replied smiling slyly.
Brume: “Men don’t be an idiot. You know she thinks you are a bad influence on me. Maybe if you were married like every other guy your age, she won’t think that you are an irresponsible jerk.” He retorted.
Timi: “ouch! That did hurt. You have gone all old and gray on me. Is this what marriage does? Well am in no hurry to get married and it ain’t nobody’s business.” He replied smiling.
A lady walked towards them and Timi looked at her and winked. The lady smiled back and he blew her a kiss. She walked passed but turned back to look at him and smiled. Brume rolled his eyes in exasperation. Timi saw him
Timi: “what? She just might be my missing rib you know. You must excuse me, I need to take a leak.” He said, getting up from his seat.
Brume grabbed his hands, his eye alight with anger.
Brume: “guy stop fucking with me. What made you drag me up here at this time? What’s up?” he asked, his hand grabbing Timi’s hand tight.
Timi: “guy, I am a doctor. I make a living from my hands, man. If you break them, you will have to feed me for the rest of my natural life and I am a difficult man to feed.” He replied, his eyes on Brume’s hand.
Brume removed his hand and Timi sat back down on his chair. Timi looked back to where the lady was seated and he waved. She waved back then she lifted the menu, hiding her face from view. Timi chuckled then turned to Brume and his face sobered up.
Timi: there is a problem.” He said, sobering up.
Brume: “what problem?” he asked abruptly, still angry.
Timi: “the reason for the absence of a baby in your home is not Anita’s fault, it is yours.” He said, dropping what sounded like a bombshell in Brume’s ears.
Brume went cold with fear. His heart squeezed and his body felt flushed with heat.
Brume: “what do you mean?” he asked, his voice shaking.
Timi: “bro, I ran some tests on you. You see i have confirmed that there’s nothing wrong with Anita. I had to be sure that nothing was wrong with you also. You had a series of STD infections which were not properly treated. Well your ability to impregnate a woman has been destroyed. You are sterile, bro. I am sorry.” he said sadly.
The waiter came with the order Brume had made earlier on and wanted to place it on the table but Timi shook his head. He told the man to bring the bill. Brume sat there in a daze. The sounds in the restaurant had retreated to a roar in his head.
“I am sterile. No that can’t be. No… I got Sabine pregnant several times. What about Nkechi at Kano? Even Aishat. Even that teacher’s daughter…I have forgotten her name. they became pregnant for me now. Or were they lying? No, this is not true. Timi is up to his tricks again but am not in the mood to play.” He thought to himself.
He got up and walked away, ignoring Timi, who was calling him back.
Question: what does Sabine mean by the Latin statement Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum? Do you think Brume will tell his wife what he has just discovered?
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