Jemilah is now nervous, she knows her sister does not know anywhere in Lagos. Where could she have gone to? Could it be that she has eloped with her Ibo boyfriend, Chucks? She begins to have bad feelings about the whole situation. She feels selfish because she has been spending her days attending to her matrimonial issues, not noticing that her sister has disappeared. She tries to reach Meenarh on the phone but the number is switched off. She sends numerous texts to her asking her to call her when she gets them.
Chucks and Meenarh have been childhood friends. Chucks is not originally an Ibo boy. He is one of the homeless children referred to as Almajiris . At the age of Twelve, he was adopted by an Ibo couple, who, in their late fifties, had been childless. They named him Chucks and died few years later after leaving the inheritance to him. He had since then been called Chucks, even by those who knew him before he was adopted.
He had always wanted to be Meenarh’s boyfriend, but her parents were never in support of the relationship. What he felt for her was too strong for him to give up. Two weeks ago when he called her to have lunch at his place, Meenarh had told him that she was tied up with chores and would not be able to make it until the following weekend.
As confusion finds its way back into Jemilah’s mind, she starts to worry about her sister’s disappearance. With her jaw resting on her hands, she sits on the kitchen stool without noticing her frying pan on fire.
“Ye! Ye! Ye!”
The house help screams .
Househelp: “Madam!” , She calls on Jemilah who is just getting off her imaginations. “House don dey burn ooooooo…God o”
Jemilah quickly puts off the gas and drops the pan with the burning plantains in the sink and allows the tap run.
Jemilah: “Thank you, Faith. Thank you.”
Housemaid: “Madam sorry o. Abeg no vex, e get wetin I wan tell you wey fit help una find aunty Meenarh”
Jemilah: “How did you know about that?”
Housemaid: “Aunty Salamatu bin ask me about Aunty Meenarh as she just enter. I tell am say I no no, but na lie, I know o”
Jemilah: “Ok, go on…” she asks impatiently
Faith is quiet as though she is contemplating if she should speak or not. This infuriates Jemilah who is eagerly wait to hear from Faith.
Jemilah: “Have you suddenly gone deaf? Start talking, now.”
Housemaid: “That Thursday wey u bin say make driver carry am go airport she no com folo driver. She bin tell Audu make in no worry say person dey com carry her. As I comot go that aboki go buy recharge card, naim I see one fiiiiine red moto, like Uncle Chucks own come carry her. I no see d face o, but na Uncle Chuks moto I see”
Jemilah: “You mean that bastard came here to pick my sister? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Housemaid: “Na today? In dey come here every day na. I say make I tell you this one make you no come dey tink too much…naso love dey shak we girls, me don do dat one tey-tey! My mama beat me ehhn, if no be my aunty wey come save me that day, I sure say my mama for use beating kill me…” she smacks her fingers twice and then smiles at Jemilah, waiting to get a response.
Jemilah, disillusioned, calls the police to make an arrest immediately.
Jemilah once had an encounter with Chucks, Meenarh’s boyfriend. It was during her parents’ burial in the village, the villagers had gathered, all wailing over the tragic death of her parents and siblings. The bodies had already been buried according to Islamic rites, but the people still hung around the family house; some threw themselves on the ground, some, whose daily bread depended on Jemilah’s parents, also cried like their lives had ended.
It is in the middle of this continuous mourning that Chucks had driven in with two of his friends to pay a condolence visit. He came with packed foods and drinks and distributed to everyone in the compound. To the villagers, it was a feast they will always remember. Jemilah, who saw how Chucks was being celebrated, sent a boy to call him to come to where she sat under the canopy.
Jemilah: “What are you doing here?”
Chucks: “I’m sorry about your loss. May their gentle souls rest in Al-Jannah” he had said, pretending like he didn’t hear what she said.
Jemilah: “I need you to leave, now! Did we inform you that we don’t have food to give to these people? I don’t want to create any scene, so leave quietly before I lose my temper!” She had warned.
She could see the villagers giving her a stern look as she walked Chucks and his friends out of the compound. She had warned her sister never to allow him come near the family again. This was her last and only direct argument with Chucks, now she is about to teach him some lessons. She goes into her room, wears her black Jallabiya, picks the veil and calls Audu, the driver to take her out.
On her way to Chuck’s apartment in Gwarimpa, she calls her husband and tells him about her sister’s disappearance. Uncle Karim, who is in a meeting with top investors pleads with her that he would call her back; but she does not inform him that she is on her way to see Chucks. Meanwhile, Chucks is in apartment worried about his girlfriend. He has received a message from Salamatu telling him that no one has heard from his girlfriend. As he is about to reach Meenarh one more time, his door bell rings.
Chucks: “Yemisi, check who is at the door”
His housemaid goes to the door, Chucks hears her talking to someone, he does not see her coming back to tell him who it is, so he stands up to check if there is a problem.
“Any problem Yemisi?”
Yemisi: “Oga na this Hausa woman…” she is stopped by Jemilah’s ranting
Jemilah: “ …Chucks I know my sister is in there. Bring her out before I bring this house down! Is it by force? You are not good enough for her, I told you before. It can never work”
Chucks: “I dont know what you are talking about. Can you at least come in, I don’t want my neighbours thinking I am guilty of what you are accusing me of. I don’t have her. I …”
Jemilah: “You liar! You think I don’t know how you Ibo people behave? Well, I have come to inform you that if my sister does not return home today, I’ll personally come and arrest you.”
She does not give Chucks the chance to explain, she gets infuriated and leaves.
Chucks: “Meenarh, where are you? Please, come back and save me all these trouble.” he says to himself as he leans against the wall.
The following day, Chucks is arrested. Jemilah gets a call from the police station that the “kidnapper” has been caught. She relaxes, feels a little guilt, then calls her friend who had helped her slot Meenarh’s name in the Arik Air recruitment list just to confirm-the woman tells her that the recruitment was cancelled and they have informed their candidates through email.
The week has been a stressful one for her, she has not had time for her job, all she wants is to find her only sister. Uncle Karim has just returned from his trip to Lagos. He has been too busy that he has not really settled down to listen to his wife’s explanations about Meenarh’s disappearance. Jemilah on the other hand, has been waiting to discuss the matter with him so he can use all his resources to help find her sister.
Uncle Karim: “What do you mean that boy has been arrested?” he asks after she tells him everything that has happened since he travelled
Jemilah: “Yes, I ordered his arrest when he refused to produce Meenarh. I know he has her, if he doesn’t confess, he will rot in jail”
Uncle Karim: “You don’t even know whether Meenarh is missing or not. What if Chucks is innocent? I told you before, give that girl some freedom, she is an adult. She could be enjoying herself somewhere, just relax”
Jemilah: “Relax? You want me to relax when my only sister has been kidnapped by one low life? What if he gets her pregnant? What if…” she bursts into tears and continues, “Meenarh is the only family I have, if anything happens to her I’ll die!”
Uncle Karim: “Nothing will happen to her. I’ll make sure we find her, but first, you have to be sure Chucks knows something about her disappearance. You of all people know that arrest isn’t made that way. Don’t be too irrational,” he uses his hands to wipe away her tears.
Question: Does Chucks know anything about Meenarh’s disappearance? Why is uncle Karim preventing Jemilah from making efforts to find out what happened to her sister?
…Stay tuned for Episode 11
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