Dr Fejiro: “Mercy! How did you find us? How did you know?” he asked, half rising from his bed, his eyes wild wth fear.
Ashley stared at Mrs Anigboro with venomous hate, her intention for entering the room forgotten.
Ashley: “finally, after years of hiding, your deceit has been revealed. You thieves. You, Monica, that I trusted and loved as a sister, you are her living happily, shey? Why did you bring me here? Is this some kind of test, young man?” she turned to Voke and stopped short. Voke’s eyes were hard.
Voke: “sir is she the woman you ran away from in Europe?” he asked, looking at Dr Fejiro.
Fidelia had her hands on her head as realization dawned on her.
Dr Fejiro: “if the boy, Friday was correct, she is your mother.” He said, softly.
Ashley gasped and stared from Voke to Dr Fejiro.
Ashley: “who is Friday? How is he my son? Where is he?”She asked, staring around.
Fidelia: “I am finished. I am pregnant for my brother. Ha…you people and your secrets. You have killed me!” She wailed as she collapsed on the ground.
Kate rushed to her and grabbed her, as she shook with sobs on the floor. Ashley turned to Stella, confusion in her eyes.
Ashley: “how many children do I have? Tega said he sold a son and I was searching for one, now I find three. It makes no sense. Tega will explain to me. He will not deny me.” She said, then she turned to leave the room but Voke grabbed her.
Voke: “not so fast. Friday believed you were his mother. He said you abandoned him at an orphanage when he was five.” He said, holding her arm.
Ashley: “did he tell you the name of the orphanage or the name of the people who adopted him?
Where is he?” she asked, her eyes wild.
Voke: “he is dead. He died telling this man that he is his father. He was a sickler.” He said, softly.
Ashley: “Jesus! It is Boniface! Stella it is Boniface. I was too late. Oh God, please forgive me.” She muttered as tears fell down her eyes.
Stella: “I will like for all of us to calm down and carefully look at this matter. Sir, you are the man who took Ashley’s money and disappeared with her best friend am I correct?” she asked.
Dr Fejiro nodded; his face a mask of shame.
Stella: “madam, you were Ashley’s best friend and your name is Monica, am I correct.” She asked, turning to Mrs Anigboro.
She nodded her head in agreement, tears in her eyes.
Stella: “Friday was the man that came to your house claiming to be your son? And this Voke here is his younger brother?” she asked, turning from Dr Fejiro to Voke.
They nodded their heads.
Stella: “Ashley, you said Tega told you Brukeme is your son. How did you know?” she asked, turning to Ashley.
Ashley: “there is a mark in his arm that I have seen on Tega’s arm. The mark is birthmark and Tega had told me that it was mark that most of the member of his family has.” She replied.
Voke: “do you mean this mark?” he said, raising the sleeve of his shirt to reveal the same exact mark that was on Brukeme’s arm.
Ashley stared at it in shock.
Ashley: “I don’t understand. It is either, Brukeme is my son or you are or either of you are sons of Tega for another woman. I don’t understand this. I can’t even remember giving birth to a child after Boniface. The wicked soul sold the child I gave birth to for him, and told me it was a still birth.” She said, sadly, fear and worry on her face.
Ese: “what if it was not one child but two. What if they are twins but not identical?” she suddenly said, from where she had sat silently.
Everybody looked at her then they turned to Voke.
Voke: “the only way to find out is to carry out a DNA test of you, Ashley, Brukeme and myself.” He said, softly.
Stella quickly rushed out and got a doctor. The nurse that had taken blood from Voke was there with the doctor.
Nurse: “I suspected something. The two of them had similarities in genotype and blood group and they were both born on the same day.” she said smugly.
Everybody turned to her. Doctor shifted uncomfortably
Doctor: “how did you know this?” he asked.
Nurse: “I asked.” She replied.
Doctor: “okay then let’s go get the test done.” He said, briskly walking out of the room.
Dr Fejiro: “why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant for me?” he asked, softly, pain in his eyes.
Ashley: “I thought you will return back to me. By the time, I realised you were gone for good, you were nowhere to be found.” She replied sadly. “After then, everything became a blur.” She added.
Fidelia got up from the ground and came to stand before Ashley.
Fidelia: “when Friday came to our house and did what he did, I thought it was the end of my life. I thought the sun will never shine in my life again. Then I discovered that I was pregnant. At first I felt like dying then I realised that despite the circumstances, a child is a beautiful gift. I look at these men, who have lived without parental love and I wonder what sort of men, they would have been if you had been there when they were young. You are a selfish woman. This boys are alive today, not because of your prayers but because there is a God in heaven. But it is not late. God has given you another chance at redemption. Do not waste it.” She said softly.
Ashley nodded her head with tears in her eyes and she walked out of the room, accompanied by Voke.
Some days later, Brukeme watched as the doctor took his blood, while explaining to him that they wanted to run some tests. After the doctor left, Stella came into the room with her daughter. The girl ran to the bed and jumped on it. She immediately started using the sign language to talk to him, smiling. She was obviously happy to see him.
Stella: “I am sorry for getting you into so much trouble on your first day at work.” She said, standing near the bed.
Brukeme: “it is okay. My life has never been perfect. From one difficulty to the other but I am still here, still kicking.” He replied.
Stella: “that is the spirit. Your job is waiting for you, if you are interested?” She replied.
Brukeme: “thank you ma. Please can you help me contact Fidelia Anigboro. i can’t find my phone.” he asked.
Fidelia: “I am here.” She replied from the doorway.
She walked into the room and stood on the other side of the bed.
Brukeme: “when you told me what happened that night and that you are pregnant for me; I reacted poorly. I have no right to behave like hat especially considering that I am an orphan. I know we don’t know each other well, and we met in a poorly chosen situation, but I am willing to get to know you. I don’t want any child of mine to wonder about me. I want to be a part of your life and our unborn child’s life.” He said, softly.
Fidelia, nodded, tears gathered around her eyelids. Stella smiled; “at least out of this chaos, something beautiful came out of it.” She thought to herself.
Fidelia: “you are not an orphan Brukeme. Your father and mother are alive and here in Warri.” She said softly.
Brukeme: “what sort of joke is that?” he asked, frowning.
Stella: “it is true. It seems the woman who was part of the gang that tried to kidnap my daughter is your mother and your father was the mastermind of the job.” She said, her mouth tasting bitter.
Brukeme: “I am the child of criminals. Why am I not surprised? Life just loves to fuck with me.” He said, laughing bitterly.
Stella: “well your mother is not actually a criminal…” she went on to tell Brukeme and Fidelia the story as she had heard it.
Brukeme: “so the bastard sold me? I can’t wait to visit him in prison.” He said, anger blazing in his eyes.
Fidleia: “that is not all. The man who came to rob that night is your step brother and you have a twin brother.” She said.
Brukeme: “what! That’s hard to believe.” He replied.
Fidelia: “when he said karma is a bitch, I believe it was the birthmark, that he saw when he raised your arm that made him say that. He probably had wanted Voke to impregnate one of us, so the two sides of his family will be bonded together. Since Voke refused, he was surprised to find a brother he didn’t expect right there in front of him.” she said.
Brukeme: “Jesus! This is unreal. Where is this twin?” he asked.
Voke walked into the room shyly. The two brothers sized each other up.
Brukeme: “we don’t look alike?” he asked.
Voke: “not all twins look alike. Anyway our criminal father has confirmed that he sold us separately. But unlike you, I was sold to an orphanage home. The same home that Friday was dumped in. that was where he found out that we were related.” He replied.
Brukeme: “so I have a family. I am not alone after all. Where is the woman that calls herself our mother?”
Voke: “during the tests, to discover our connection. The doctor out of curiosity did extra tests on her and he found out that she has early stages of lung cancer. She is undergoing radiation treatment now. Do you want to see her?” he asked.
Brukeme nodded. They all walked to Ashley’s room. She was on the bed a shadow of herself. She smiled on seeing them.
Ashley: “I look for one but na two come find me. come here both of you.” she said.
The two boys reluctantly walked to the bed and stood before her.
Ashley: “I am sorry but I know sorry is not enough.” She said, her eyes sweeping to Stella who stood by the door. “I was not myself for a long time. I failed as a mother and I made the choices that got all of us to this place. But I will redeem myself the best way I can. Bring that file on the table.” She said, softly.
The file was handed to her. She opened it with shaky hands. Inside it were documents and papers.
Ashley: “inside this file are landed properties bought in my name by your father. He did that in a bid to hide his money from those who were after him. Also inside are account details of bank accounts and such which I believe a competent lawyer will help you get access to. There are also your birth certificates which I didn’t know where yours until it was too late. Make sure to pursue the dreams you have always hard and do good.” She said; her voice a whisper.
The two boys looked at each other as they pictured their future changing for the better. Everybody stood quietly as the evening sun set, throwing its last ray into the room, bathing all of them in its golden glow before night descended.
Ashley survived the treatment. She has quit smoking and now lives a quiet life at the brothel, which she has turned to an orphanage home employing Ehis as her assistant director.
Her twin sons; Brukeme and Voke are back in school. Brukeme is studying business administration, while Voke is rounding up is medical school. They opened a toy shop in the mall and Brukeme gets to see Lisa and her mother every day. It is one of the pleasures of his life.
Fidelia has given birth to bouncing baby girl, with the birthmark on her arm. She also is about to complete her degree program at the university.
The HIV test result came out negative and Orezi, when reached by Voke, confirmed that he and Obaro had used a condom during the rape.
Ese and Kate still visit a psychiatrist from time to time to check their mental health and help in their healing.
Tega is presently serving thirty-five years in prison at Okere maximum security prison. He is not expected to make it out alive. His wife and children disappeared across the border after selling the house and his cars.
Dr Fejiro no longer drives and he no longer smokes. He and his wife Monica are slowly putting back their lives together; finding happiness in supporting Ashley’s orphanage home as well as Brukeme and Voke’s Sickle Cell Foundation. They are also excited about their first grandchild, whom they are spoiling with attention.
Friday’s poems were published by Voke and Brukeme and the proceeds were used to start a Sickle Cell Foundation, whose aim is to give awareness about the condition to the general public.
NOTE: I hope this story was as much of a blessing to you as writing it was for me. Sickle cell is a reality that we should not ignore. The pain, children with the condition go through, is best imagined. Please check your blood group and genotype as well as your HIV status before saying I do, please.
That being said, children are a gift from God. If you are not ready to father one, use a condom or abstain from sex. Do not bring kids into this world only to abandon them like old clothes. That is a pain that will haunt these children for the rest of their lives and affect your own lives. Many of them will not be as lucky as Brukeme and Voke.
Final words; love is the key to a good life. Forgiveness is not easy but it is possible and it heals. Redemption is possible for everyone. No matter the level of depravity, one has fallen into; one can always rise out of it and start afresh. As long as there’s life, there’s opportunity for change.
Final, final words; depression is a reality. It is not a figment of the imagination. There are people among us who are unhappy with their lives. They laugh, they go to work, they make love, but deep inside they are empty. Help them. Listen to them, if you have nothing good to say. If you have something good to say, say it; it just might save a life. Finally pray for them. May God richly bless you! Amen!
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