Fidelia turned the next page. She nudged her glasses as it sought to fall off her small perky nose. Her eyes shone like torches behind the thick lens. She raised her head, her ears turned to the door. She had heard her name but she was not sure. She turned back to the book. She was in chapter fifty-two and she needed to be done before the weekend. There was a long queue of book junkies and nerds like her, sighing and slavering for the book. Besides, there was a book two, a book three, a book four, a book five, a book six and even a book seven, waiting to be read. The writer of this awesome collection was presently working on the eight installment and she and her co-fans were all gathering their life savings to storm Amazon Online book store once the book drops. She had first read a review of the book on Adelove.com, and then her cousin, Marho, living in the States, had raved about it for the one hour they had chatted on Facebook several nights ago.
Her name being yelled rudely again, pierced into her daydreams. ” This is why i don’t like coming home o. They won’t leave someone in peace.” she muttered, as she got up from under her duvet and started to fold the page she was reading…then she stopped. Anita, the owner of the book, and her friend since primary two, had been very emphatic; “don’t fold the pages of my novels. Get a pen, ruler, piece of paper or whatever and place it between the pages but never fold the pages of my novels. If you do, that will be the last novel you will get from me.” She remembered her saying, her big eyes rolling behind her glasses like table tennis balls.
She found a tract that said ‘Jesus died for you’ in bold letters and slipped it between the pages. She got up from her bed and made the bed immediately. She rearranged her duvet, then she put her feet into a brown sandal, she had dumped under the bed, some hours before. She stepped out of her room and shut the door.
Dr Fejiro: “where is your sister, Kate?” he asked, rubbing his cigarette butt into the ashtray by his side. His long legs were covered with his pyjamas trousers and he had on fluffy house slippers covering his big feet.
Kate: “papa, she is upstairs reading sir.” She replied, walking past her father with swift strides as she moved to join her mother in the kitchen.
Dr Fejiro: “so she cannot hear her mother calling her name?” he asked, a distracted frown on his face as he removed his glasses from his eyes and dropped the book he had been enjoying on the stool, by the ashtray still smouldering with the last smoke curling from the squashed cigarette butt.
Mrs Anigboro: “I wonder who she took such characteristics from?” she replied, a small smile on her lips as she placed a tray on which was balanced a set of china filled with rice and fresh fish stew on the table and stood with her hands on her waist, watching the clouds of smoke that filled the sitting room. “This is not a proper atmosphere to raise children, don’t you think?” she continued; her lips now fixed in a frown.
Dr Fejiro rolled his eyes and got up from his seat. He walked to his petite wife and bent to perk her on the head. She pushed him away, irritated by the cigarette smell. He laughed and walked to his seat at the head of the table and sat down.
Fidelia climbed down the stairs, buttoning her jacket. She walked to the sitting room then went to the front door.
Mrs Anigboro: “young lady, where are you going to? Food is ready.” She said; her tone sharp with irritation.
Fidelia: “I need fresh air. I am going for a stroll. I will eat when I return.” She replied, not bothering to look at her father’s direction.
Dr Fejiro: “what is wrong with the air here?” he asked; mock surprise on his face.
Fidelia: “it is stale like an old forgotten library with books damp with mildew.” She replied. She looked up at the slowly moving smoke being circulated by the ceiling fan, “and it smells of cigarette smoke too; a fire hazard in libraries.” She continued.
Ese: “what is she talking about? Did she just compare our home to a library?” she asked, coming out of the kitchen with a tray, with a cold jug of water and several cups on it. She placed it on the table and looked at her younger sister “madam bookworm, the food will be cold by the time you return.” She added.
Fidelia: “We should give thanks to God for the microwave oven then, shouldn’t we?” she asked, opening the door and closing it behind her.
Dr Fejiro: “she has a point, you know? But what would she had done, if we did not live in an estate that is secure?” he commented, opening the covering of food with one hand, the other hand holding a spoon.
Mrs Anigboro, tapped his hands hard and he dropped the spoon and the plate cover
Dr Fejiro: “what! A man is hungry here.” He replied, holding his hand, a hurt look on his face.
Kate: “papa, it’s your turn to pray. Stop running from it.” She said, her eyes filled with laughter.
Dr Fejiro: “I hate you people. Know that. Especially you.” He replied, pointing at his wife.
She laughed and perked him on the cheek then grimaced when she perceived the cigarette smell on him. She fanned her hands at him in mock derision. He shook his head, stretched his hands to both sides and bowed. The cigarette smoke slowly filtered out of the house as they prayed before they ate.
Voke stared at his brother. The room was scattered. He dropped his bag on the floor and walked passed Obaro, who looked at him and took a drag of the weed in his hand then placed it back on an ashtray placed on the centre table, alongside guns; broken down to be cleaned. He walked passed Orezi who pointed a sawed off shotgun at him and mouthed ‘pow’ with his mouth wide open, showing his yellowing teeth. He walked, until he stood in front of his brother, who sat on the bed writing poetry, a cigarette hanging on to his lips like a limp rag hanging on the clothes line. He stood before him, and stared at him angrily.
Voke: “wetin be dis one na? na wetin we talk be dis?” he asked, flipping his hands angrily at the general direction of the two men cleaning guns in the room.
Friday: “ha…my baby brother. You don come back from school? How nice…how school?” he asked; ignoring his younger brother’s angry question. His voice was dry like paper rubbing on paper.
Voke: “shey you say you don stop to dey do dirty jobs? Even as you dey sick, you still dey follow all these ones wey no know wetin dem want for life.” He asked, eyeing the men.
Obaro: “come Voke, me and you no be mate o. no dey talk to me anyhow, you dey hear me so? No think say because you dey school now, you don turn boss. You talk any how here, I go fuck you up, you dey hear so.” He said, his eyes glittering red with the hue that comes from smoking weed.
Voke: “abegi, make I hear word! Una wey be him friends, wey suppose dey make sure say e no enter trouble, na una dey encourage am. See am! See who una wan follow go rob! Na only bones remain. Una no dey sorry for person? I no blame una sha, no be una brother.” He shouted, pointed at Friday. Then he turned to him; “Bros whatever plans you have made, kill it. You are in no shape to do a job this night or any other night.” He added, looking at Friday.
Friday: “interesting. My baby brother wants to baby me. Young man, when you start hustling for yourself ehn, then you can come and tell me what to do. Meanwhile, it is good that you are back. You are coming with us.” He said, closing the notebook, he had been writing on.
Orezi: “follow us go where? Abeg dis your broda wey dey do like woman na you want make we carry waka. Abeg Friday talk another thing.” He replied, his eyes drawn together in a frown.
Voke: “una dey even dey hear wetin I dey talk sef? I say nobody dey go anywhere. My broda no go die with gun for him hand. Make una carry una tools, make una bounce.” He ordered, walking towards them menacingly.
Obaro: “Friday! Warn your broda o. Him and our last born no be mate o. if no be say you call me, I get oda alignments wey be don set for one side o. At a time, na favour I dey do for you o, based on the character o.” he said, rising up from his seat in anger.
Friday: “put your mind down, Obas. Na my smallie, chill make I reason with am. Voke come siddon make I gi you line.” He said, quietly.
Voke looked from Obaro to the guns spread out on the table then he turned back to Friday and walked to the bed. He sat down and stared at his only brother.
Friday: “guy man, no reason d matter deep. D level don cast. As I dey follow yarn so, dem don give me two months.” He said, patting his brother’s hands.
Voke: “two months! But the doctor be say, the surgery go well na. Say you just need to dey careful with wetin you dey chow and make you no too stress yourself. Which one come be two months.” He asked; his eyes wide with surprise and fear.
Friday: “brodaly, the kidney no work. As I dey talk to you so, my body dey reject the level. Dem say weda na because i be sickler or something.” He replied, smiling sadly at his brother.
Voke: “no…no…we go go find another donor. You need to dey hospital now, so dat dem fit dey watch you. Why you no call me?” he asked, tears welling up in his eyes.
Friday: “brodaly lock up dat matter. Wetin you go for do? Right now, I wan set small cash for you to take pay your school fees and rent for the next session. From there on, you are on your own.” He said, patting his brother on the shoulder.
Voke: “bros no dey talk like this. We fit still fight this thing. We never give up, even as life don fuck us up reach. I go soon graduate. Once I graduate now, everything go set.” He replied, his eyes shining with hope and tears.
Friday: “you will make a fine doctor, young man but I won’t be there to see it. Now go get dressed, we have bills to pay.” He said quietly.
Voke: “bros, this is not the time for such things now. We should be looking for ways to fight this. I can take care of myself.” He replied. He got up and kicked the table with the guns. The table flew into the only window in the room and gun parts scattered all over the room. “Make una carry una tools comot our room. My brother no dey go.” He added, glowering at the two men.
Obaro stood, his face filled with veins as he restrained himself from punching the face of his best friend’s little brother until he won’t be able to say anything but ‘hmm, hmm, hmm’ for weeks. Friday raised his hand then he looked at Voke, his eyes glittering in the early evening light.
Friday: “if you don’t go and get dressed and fast, I will let Obaro give you a beating that will make you wake up at night calling for mama.” He said, his voice cold.
Voke: “bros this is not right.” he replied, angrily.
Friday: “little fool, allow a dying man his pleasures. Can’t I die how I want to?” he asked, raising his voice.
Voke: “what is that? Jesus! You think you won’t make it out of this job alive? What the fuck is wrong with you!” he screamed, tears falling from his eyes.
Friday: “Just want to go on my own terms, man. Why is that difficult for you to understand?” he asked, slowly. He looked away to the bare unpainted wall by the bed. “On my own terms.” He added, whispering.
Question: Voke is stuck; he cannot leave his brother to go out with just his crazy friends for company and he doesn’t want to go on the job. Will Voke join his brother and friends on this mission?
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