The night sky and blanketed with pearly stars. The air blew hot, and not one cloud threatened the ground with rain. Dayo trudged through the quiet street on which their house stood. Fortunately for him, the tree on which he had flung himself was close to the fence, and from the branches he had made a bridge to the street below. He looked in his pocket and saw that he had a few notes, they would be enough to take him to his destination. The burden of saving the people in that house laid squarely on his shoulders. It was his duty to help them, he told himself.
From the street, he walked on to the road that was very busy at that time of evening. Dayo flagged down a taxi cab and entered. He gave the driver the address of the house he was going to, and gave him all the money in his pocket.
Dayo: “Please sir, that is all I have” he said with a note of desperation. The driver drove to the address, and once again Dayo banged on the gate of the house. The gate man opened the gate and when he recognized Dayo, he grew angry.
Gateman: “dem send you for me? Abi o ya werey?” he asked vehemently.
Dayo: “I don’t know what your problem is with me, but the lives of the people in this house are at stake. I need to talk to someone. They should leave the house this evening” he said desperately. He felt like shoving the man away from the gate.
Gateman: “You think say na by that ur oyinbo? I get pikin for university, so ma whine mi oh” he replied and banged the gate in Dayo’s face. Dayo paced in front of the house in confusion. He didn’t know what to do, he thought he could meet privately with the occupants of the house and warn them, but this gate man was standing as a stumbling block in his path. He thought of going to the police but that was going to endanger his life, if Stone found out, there was no doubt that he would kill him.
Dayo: “What do I do God?” he asked aloud.
Back home, one of the gang members was told to go and call Dayo for dinner. Stone wanted them all to eat together before going for the operation. Every night they went out for an operation, they expected death, it was the reason they ate. Stone’s policy was that, after pursuing money on earth, a man was not supposed to die on an empty stomach. But when the gang member went to Dayo’s bedroom, he found it empty. He checked the adjoining bathroom, thinking he was having a shower, but it was also empty. He rushed downstairs in alarm, and when Stone saw his face, he knew something had gone wrong. He had been having a sense of foreboding since the day dawned, but he attributed it to anxiety before an operation. However, seeing the face of his gang member, he knew his feelings were spot on.
Stone: “What happened?” he asked anxiously.
“Robert, Dayo, whatever he is called, is not in his room or anywhere in this house” he said with a ‘I told you so’ look in his eyes.
Stone: “What!” he exclaimed and bounded up the stairs. He bashed into Dayo’s room, and confirmed what the other gang member had said. His eyes went to the open window and the branch of tree which looked pulled towards the window, and then he knew that Dayo had left the house through the window.
“Where would he go by this time, and why did he leave like a thief. Has he escaped, would he go to the police” these were the thoughts running around in his head. He was confused for the first time in a long while. He could not abort the mission because commitments have been made. He had to hope that Dayo was not doing anything that was jeopardizing their safety and freedom.
Stone: “We continue the operation as before”
“We should have just killed that boy, there was no need keeping him. If you needed a son, you could have gotten any girl pregnant” one of the gang members said.
Stone: “Shut up! Nobody questions my decision, no one!” he shouted, the veins on his neck protruding like they were going to burst out from under the skin, “We all concentrate on the mission, Robert is my problem, and after the mission, I will deal with the problem. Now, let’s have dinner” he concluded and everyone fell silent.
They sat round the dinner table and ate their dinner in silence. Every man praying in his heart to come back from the operation, alive. At the back of their minds, was also a nagging feeling that this operation would go wrong. The fact that Dayo had left the house secretly was a source of worry to them. Stone felt Dayo’s disappearance was of no consequence to the operation because he knew nothing about it, or did he?
He bolted out of his seat suddenly as everything became clear in his mind’s eye. The day they were discussing the operation, Dayo had stumbled into the kitchen and he had thought that he was sleepwalking, but was he really sleep walking or eavesdropping on their conversation. He had also been seeing Dayo everywhere he turned, like the boy was shadowing him.
“No! it can’t be” He screamed in his heart.
Stone: “We leave immediately, there might be a problem, but we might be able to salvage the situation if we hurry” he said and they hurried into another room where they kept their ammunitions.
Dayo was sitting on a stone slab in the street, lurking in the corner and watching the house, he didn’t know yet what he would do, but he knew he would keep watch and not allow Stone to succeed in his mission. But due to inactivity, he dozed off, leaning his head on his thighs. Because he was sleeping, he did not see a car drive to the gate and Ken come out with Cassandra. They had gone on a date, and Ken had come to drop Cassandra, but he was pleading with her to let him spend the night at their place, instead of the hotel.
Since he got back from America for his summer break, he had not gone home, even though his mother had been asking him to come home, as she had missed him. He had been staying in Oshogbo because of Cassandra, in a hotel. Their relationship was falling apart, and Ken was doing all he could to hold it together. He had decided to marry Cassandra, not just because he loved her, for he loved her, as she was a very beautiful young lady. But, he wanted to marry her because of her father’s estate which had been bequeathed to her.
Ken: “Please Cassie, I am tired of the lonely nights in that motel. I am in Oshogbo because of you” he said
Cassandra: “And I didn’t ask you to stay. I came home to be with my mother, can’t you just go to Lagos, your mother must miss you” she said. She wanted to end the relationship, but was afraid of hurting Ken, as the relationship went beyond them, but to their families.
Ken: “Just tonight, I won’t ask you for this again”
Cassandra: “No touching, understood?” she said and Ken nodded. The gate had the gate opened, waiting for them to drive in, and he hated the delay. He stamped his foot to register his displeasure. Ken hurried Cassandra into the car and drove into the house.
Dayo was startled awake by the bleating of a goat passing by with her kids. He wiped his face and looked around him. He jumped up from the slab when he remembered what was on ground. He looked at his led lit wrist watch and saw that it was almost 8pm. Everywhere was dark and silent. He looked towards the house and saw that it was lit, the curtains were drawn and the occupants of the house probably felt safe, not knowing about the terror that was about to be visited on them. He had barely finished the thought when he saw a pair of headlights in the distance. He instinctively knew that it was Stone and his gang. There was no time, he ran towards the house, shouting and screaming on top of his voice.
Dayo: “They are coming! Call the police, they are going to kill you. Somebody help!” he screamed. All thoughts of self-preservation had fled his mind, all he thought about was warning the people in that house. He didn’t need another death on his conscience. He remembered when he was eleven, when he met Stone for the first time. They had killed a woman, he had for the first time, witnessed dying.
He had reached the gate now, but the headlights were closer and he could see the distinct shape of Stone’s van. He banged on the gate, but the gate man did not reply. However, the balcony light came on, and he saw a young lady in the balcony. He felt a sense of déjà vu, it was his dream all over again. He continued screaming and then he really looked at the lady on the balcony, she was illuminated by the balcony lights, and she looked frantic.
“Oh my God, it is Cassandra” he thought with panic.
Dayo: “Cassnadra, it is me Dayo, you all are about to be killed. Call the police now, don’t die Cassandra” he screamed, his voice piercing the still night. Two shots rang out, the sound ricocheted in still night, and the bullets tore through the frail body of Dayo. He didn’t feel the pain yet, he was still shouting, and more shots rang out.
The pain tore through him, as he fell to the ground. Lights went on in other houses, and dogs began to bark. The thought that went through Dayo’s mind as his world turned to darkness, was that, people were aware, the mission would be aborted.
The van turned around in a hurry and zoomed off away from the house. But Dayo did not see this because the blackness had already enveloped him, and the last thing he saw was his mother smiling down on him. It was like she was saying, ‘Well done my boy’. Dayo had a smile on his lips when people came out to him.
It was like the earth was mourning the flow of blood, as the sky opened its bowels and poured out rain. The rain washed the blood that flowed from Dayo’s body and soaked the earth.
Cassandra had to fight her mother and the gateman to come out of the compound. She was sure she had heard correctly, the voice that rang out in the night. It was the voice of Robert, the one she had heard on countless calls across the Atlantic, when they talked on phone through the night. But the voice had called himself Dayo, her Dayo from her childhood. She had seen the men dressed in black shooting at the young boy, and she had known then, that Dayo had come back for her and had saved her life and that of her mother.
Cassandra: “Mother, call emergency, Dayo is probably dying, he took the bullets that was meant for us.” She said and pushed her mother aside. She ran out the small gate and rushed to Dayo. She knelt by his side and unbuttoned his shirt as she had been taught in her First Aid class in Red Cross society. Then she saw the pockmark by his belly, it was the same that her Dayo had when they were little. She needed no other confirmation that this was Dayo and he was also Robert. There was no time to think of how things had come to this, she cradled his head in her thighs and began to coo to him.
Cassandra: “Dayo, I know you are in so much pain right now but you have to hold on. I have looked in every face searching for you, and now that I have found you, I don’t want to lose you. Please don’t die, I need you, your mother still needs you to fulfil her dreams. Please Dayo” she cried and began to sing a song for him in Yoruba. She was still singing when the ambulance came and carried Dayo away. Halima and her daughter followed the ambulance to the hospital. She had heard about Dayo’s roots when he went missing. She had also met Damilola and known that Dayo was her friend’s son. She felt responsible for him. She had not been a good friend to Khadijat when she was alive, and now she swore to be a good friend to her in death.
In Lagos, Bella was preparing dinner for her husband, who would soon be back from work when she felt a sharp pain in her lower abdomen, like something was pressing on her bladder. The pain was so much that she fainted. She was lying on the kitchen floor when her husband came back from work. He had called for her and when she did not respond, he walked to the kitchen from where he was perceiving a burning smell. He saw that the sauce on the frying pan was burning and so catching fire. He switched off the gas, and then he saw his wife lying on the floor.
Gberan: “Bella! Bella!” he shook her. In alarm, he swung her on his shoulders and carried her to his car.
At the hospital, Bella had been revived, she thought that the doctor would tell her she was having a late pregnancy. She had been hoping that God would give her a child in her mid- age to keep her company, as Ken had outgrown her. Instead the doctor had a shocking news for her. The doctor told her she had stage 4 uterine cancer, and her chances of survival was slim, but he could have chemotherapy if she chose. However, without chemotherapy, she had six months to live.
Bella: “Mo gbe! God this is too much oh. Is this punishment for what I did to Dayo” she cried, to the consternation of the doctor. Gberan just held his head in his hands. He was confounded, how could Bella have cancer? He was still thinking of the dilemma they had found themselves when he saw a call from Halima. Since his boss died, Halima had not contacted him, so, he was surprised when he saw her call. But he received it anyway.
Back in Oshogbo, Dayo had undergone surgery to remove the bullets, the surgery had been complicated because of the massive loss of blood and his rare blood group, he was Rhesus positive, like his father Damilola. Halima called Gberan to tell him about Dayo and the condition he was in.
Halima: “You need to let Damilola know, he is the only one who can give blood to Dayo. His life is on the balance” she cried and Gberan could tell she had been crying, even him was crying. He had mixed feelings, joy at finding Dayo again, and sadness at the condition he was in.
Gberan hung up and called Damilola immediately. He appraised him of the situation and it was Damilola would go mad with fear. He got the address of the hospital and got on the next flight to Oshogbo. Gberan also called his mother and told him about Dayo. She did not hesitate to call her driver, to take her to the hospital.
Damilola got to the hospital and donated blood for his son, the surgery was successful, but Dayo refused to come out of coma. His family converged at the hospital, even his two grandmothers, but Dayo’s eyes were shut tight, and his pulse got lower and lower. The doctor’s prognosis was bad, “He might not make it” the doctor said. The news was met with crying from everyone who had come for Dayo. Even patients in the hospital forgot their illnesses and joined in the crying when they heard the story of Khadijat and Dayo.
Ken had been jealous when he heard Dayo announce himself, and when Cassandra rushed to him without hesitation, saying things to him and singing to him. But seeing Dayo lying so helpless, with different machines connected to him, and a breathing mask strapped to his nose, he felt piteous towards him.
While others stayed in the hospital’s lounge, Cassandra refused to leave Dayo’s side, she stayed by him day and night. For three days, Dayo as in coma, and on the fourth day he went into crisis. The doctors worked tirelessly, trying to resuscitate him. But at 11:59, the doctors pronounced him dead.
While everyone was wailing the death of Dayo, Madam Lagos called her pastor on the phone, and told him to rush to the hospital.
Madam Lagos: “I believe that if we join our faith with yours, that God can bring our son back to life” she said into the phone sobbing.
The pastor came with some other pastors in the church. They began to intercede, raising their voices to heaven in a loud cry, asking that the soul of Dayo be returned. While they prayed, the body of Dayo was being prepared to be taken to the mortuary.
Stone wanted to be sure that Dayo was dead, so he came to the hospital, and from the lobby heard the news of the boy who was shot and had just died. He left the hospital, satisfied. They had lost the contract with their client because they could not carry out the operation but he was happy that the boy who betrayed them and caused them all that trouble had left the land of the living.
But the God with the longest hand that stretches forth from heaven to wrought wonders among men, heard the cry of the saints. Even Khadijat’s mother who was a Muslim was shouting the loudest ‘Amen’ to the prayers of the pastors. God heard their cry and just before Dayo was deposited in the refrigerator, he coughed. The people bearing him, flung him away and ran for their lives. How could a dead person cough, it definitely was the work of evil people, they thought.
Dayo opened his eyes and saw that he was naked, he looked around and he could feel the stench of death around the mortuary. He ran out of the mortuary and in the hallway, he saw a green surgical garb. He quickly donned it and began to walk away from the mortuary.
The people who ran away peeped and saw him walking, they stared at him in amazement. The news spread like wildfire, and got to his family who were still praying in the lounge. They hurried to meet him, and Dayo could not believe his eyes. The last thing he remembered was falling because he had been shot, but now he was seeing his family and even the woman whom he always escorted to the market, Khadijat’s mother. He touched his hand, to be sure he was alive. It was his father who rushed and embraced him first.
Damilola: “Oh my son, oh my son” he was too stunned for words, he kept crying and mumbling. Gberan joined the hug, he had forgotten about his wife who had just been diagnosed with cancer.
After the doctor had certified him alright, his family gathered around him and began to tell stories of their lives after he disappeared.
Dayo: “So this is my grandmother?” he asked looking at Khadijat’s mother. He could not believe that he had been so close to his roots and had not known. He embraced her.
Damilola’s mother: “I am your grandmother too, I gave birth to your father” she said and everyone laughed. Then they asked him to tell them what happened. He told them everything about the look he saw in Tania’s house before she swerved the car. That he ran away because he was afraid of Tania. He told them about coming to Oshogbo to look for Madam Lagos and falling into the hands of a ritualist. As he talked, they oohed and aahed. They could not believe all the trauma he had gone through right from when he ran away.
Damilola: “Tania is dead however” he announced and everyone fell silent to respect the dead.
Damilola called the police and after hours of drilling, under the supervision of the doctors, they got the whole facts and knew that Dayo was forced into the gang. Cassandra and Halima also gave their testimonies of how Dayo warned them, even at the expense of his life. Dayo told the police that Stone and his gang were not armed robbers but assassins who robbed to cover their true intentions.
The news of Dayo being brought back from the dead spread all over Oshogbo and even the country. Reporters travelled far and wide to see the boy, and many who did not believe on God and his saving power were converted. There was a great revival in the country, as many were led to the Lord through the miracle of Dayo.
However, Stone was determined to finish what he started, he had heard that Dayo had been brought back from the dead, so he watched him. The police, with Dayo’s permission, used him as a bait. He went to the park with his father, Damilola. His father, did like he was going to get something and went away. Stone who had been lurking in the shadows came out and stared menacingly at Dayo.
Stone: “I treated you well, but you betrayed me. The price of betrayal is death and this time you will stay dead” he said and pointed the gun at Dayo. Dayo had been kitted with a bulletproof vest, but he was still shaking in his shoes. He was staring death in the face. However, before Stone could pull the trigger, he was fired from behind, he fell and groaned, and immediately, police men sprang out from bushes and captured him.
Bella underwent chemotherapy, her skin became pale, and all the hair on her head fell off. She looked like a scare crow as a result of the chemotherapy, but yet, the cancer did not go into remission. She had three months to live. The cancer had become worse and now she was bedridden. She asked to see Dayo, and Damilola brought Dayo to Gberan’s house.
When Dayo stepped into Bella’s bedroom, he knew immediately that she was going to die that night. He could smell death before he had been touched by the hands of deaths and could recognize its cold, dark, presence.
Dayo: “I forgive you, I hold no grudges” he said to the frail, sickly woman on the bed.
Bella: “Thank you my son. It shall be well with you” she said.
Dayo went back home with his father, and that night, a call came, Bella had left the land of the living.
Ken had lost his mother and the love of Cassandra because she was now so besotted with Dayo, it was like Dayo did not leave. But he was comforted with the support of his family and friends. Three families were joined as one because of Dayo. Before Bella died, she had admonished his son to be a good man, even when it was not easy to be good, and so Ken heeded his mother’s words and lived amicably with Dayo.
After the burial of Bella, Ken and Cassandra went back to school in the States, and Damilola processed his son’s papers and sent him to the United States to study Medicine and Surgery at UCLA.
The hands of God are not short, that he cannot touch whatsoever is the ache in your life. He says call on me in the time of trouble, and I will deliver you. Strive to be good, even when it is not often easy to be good. Forgive all those who hurt you and never scheme evil against your fellow human, for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Embrace light and flee from evil.
I have learned a lot writing the story of Khadijat and Dayo, and I know you have learned too. Share your lessons and thoughts with us, as we will like to read your feelings about this story. Cheers!
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