Biodun mourned Preye for several days after he got the letter. Gladys stood with him and consoled him even though he refused to speak of the reason for his tears. After he had mourned, he went to see Mr Nzeribe. He told him that he wanted to marry Chidinma and promised to treat her with love and respect. Mr Nzeribe accepted his offer when he realised that Mr Okunola was in support and when he also considered how Biodun had changed since he came back from his journey to the southern part of the country. Chidinma made her feelings known concerning the impending marriage. She did not love nor care for Biodun, she was doing the marriage by force and she vowed to Biodun’s face, to make his life miserable.
Chidinma: “you think bringing a forged letter from Tope that he is getting married to Seyi will help? I know you all are trying to keep me away from him. I don’t know what he did to you. You and Seyi are in this together. She wants Tope, so you her toy, doing anything she asks of you. You always did what she wanted. I will give you hell as long as we are together.” She said to Biodun.
Through all these, Biodun never complained or grew angry. He maintained his calm all through until finally he and Chidinma were man and wife.
Chidinma moved to Mr Okunola’s house and shared Biodun’s room with him. Biodun bought a small mattress which he placed by the door. At night, he placed the mattress on the ground and left Chidinma to the comfort of his bed. She was respectful to his father and helped Gladys with household chores but to him, she never spoke a word. Even when he woke up at night, to properly cover her; even when he bought her clothes or even bought her a standing fan when she complained of the heat, she said nothing to him. She acted like he didn’t exist. A month after their wedding, Biodun confirming that Chidinma was strong enough to move about with her injured leg, packed his bag for the second time and headed for the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Chidinma walked to the window and watched Biodun cross the road with his bag on his shoulder. He turned and looked back at the house. It seemed like he was staring directly at her. She stared on, her eyes filled with hate. “I pray he dies there, so I will be free when Tope comes.” She thought to herself. She turned and saw Gladys looking at her smiling,
Gladys: “you will miss him.” she said quietly.
Chidinma laughed cruelly and limped into her room, banging the door behind her. Gladys looked at the door and shook her head.
A month after Biodun left, the second coup occurred. Mr Okunola still recovering from his heart attack was worried. He had received a terse letter from his cousin in the military. In it, the man informed him that Hausa soldiers were retaliating to the earlier coup led by Major Nzeogwu. He advised him to get his wife out of Lagos as quickly as possible. Mr Okunola’s worry was not just his wife but his son’s wife, Chidinma, who was also Ibo.
As he sat in his room contemplating the matter at hand, Gladys rushed in and informed him that Mr. Nzeribe was waiting for him in the sitting room. He got up and walked slowly to the sitting room. He met Mr. Nzeribe pacing about the sitting room. The man turned as soon as he entered.
Mr. Nzeribe: “have you heard the news? They are killing Ibos in the north.” He said, obviously agitated.
Mr Okunola: “I have heard the news. I do not think it would be that bad here. Lagos is not the north.” He replied, expressing a calm he did not feel inside of him.
Mr Nzeribe: “no…no…I cannot stake my family on the kindness of strangers. I am leaving for the east tomorrow morning. Please I want to take Chidinma with me. We will be safer there than here.” He replied, shaking his head.
Mr Okunola: “it is okay. You can take her but please leave an address for Biodun to know where she is.” He replied.
At that moment, Gladys walked into the sitting room. Mr Okunola looked at her sadly.
Mr Okunola: “can you take her along too. She will be safer there with you.” he said suddenly.
Gladys looked at him with surprise. Mr Nzeribe sighed and told Gladys to inform Chidinma to get ready and she too should go and pack her things. Gladys shook her head
Gladys: “I cannot leave you. Who will make your meals and prepare your bath?” she asked, tears in her eyes.
Mr Nzeribe: “Chichi, where are you? Pack your bags, we are leaving.” He called out.
Chidinma limped out of the room, looked from her father to her father-in-law, then she quickly limped back in and started packing. Gladys moved to go help her pack but Mr Okunola held her back
Mr Okunola: “go with them please. I do not want to lose another wife. Please…”he whispered, holding her hands.
Gladys: “I signed up for better or worse, darling. How will I face myself when I leave you alone to fend for yourself? If you want me to go with them, you will have to come along.” she replied.
Mr Okunola: “no, I will be a burden to you. I will stay here and wait for Biodun.” He replied stubbornly.
Gladys: “then you and I will wait for him together.” She replied.
Chidinma came out with her bags packed. She quickly hugged Gladys and Mr Okunola then she turned to her father. I have to get a message to Tope somehow. He needs to know where I am.” She thought to herself.
Mr Okunola went inside and came out with a gun. He gave it Mr Nzeribe, showing him how to operate it then he bid them farewell. He and Gladys stood and watched them leave at the doorway. Chidinma turned back as the taxi moved away and saw them framed at the door, holding each other close in the early evening light. She felt her heart rip. She kept on looking until they disappeared from view; she felt like it was going to be the last time, she would ever see them. She sat back on the seat and stared forward.
Tope had been joined with other recruits and sent to a part of Kaduna to quell the riots that have started as a result of the counter coup. He walked through areas of the town that had been destroyed; houses stood with broken windows and doors, the stain of smoke on the walls. It was a sad scene. He witnessed several dead bodies in the carnage. People were being slaughtered like sheep. He heard that it was happening all over the north. “What has gone wrong with this country? Former friends are killing each other over what? Power…Or fear?” he thought as he walked around, his gun held in front of him.
He got to an area were smoke still covered the place. He could still hear screams and moaning of people dying. He walked slowly to the place where the screaming was coming from. He found two young men threatening a girl with cutlasses. They were tearing off the girl’s clothes, even as she pleaded. Tope watched them for some seconds then he ordered them to stop. The men turned to him and on seeing that he was a soldier, they hailed him and asked him to join them. He could not understand them but he got the meaning of their words. He asked to step away from the girl.
At that moment, a soldier of a higher rank than him came there. He saw the scene and smiled. He spoke to the men then he beckoned Tope to him. Tope went to the officer and saluted. The officer asked him to follow him; he turned in worry to the men and the girl. They were dragging the girl into a building, the girl whimpering in shock. He turned back to the officer then he heard the girl scream. It was a piercing scream. He moved to rush back to the house but the officer held him back and with a smile told him to let the boys have their fun. Tope nodded his head and walked with the officer. “there is a war to be fought.”
General Yakubu Gowon was made Head of State and the eastern region declared secession. The Republic of Biafra was named and the civil war to save the soul of a country started. Biodun and Tope were deployed with their battalion to Lagos, from where they would head for Benin and the Niger Bridge.
Lagos was a ghost of its former self. So many Ibos had run to the east for fear of attacks from their neighbours and the advancing army. Many more ran back to join the Biafran Army, with whom they felt they would use to gain sovereignty as a nation. The streets were filled with grim looking soldiers patrolling. Businesses and shops opened for short periods. The gaiety of Lagos was gone.
Tope on arriving Lagos, quickly rushed to check on his mother. He got to his father’s compound just as Alhaji Haruna was stepping out
Alhaji Haruna: “Ha…Temitope…long time no see. Look at you, a soldier. How is the war going? I hope you people are overcoming the Biafrans o.” he replied smiling.
Tope: “good afternoon sir. From the news coming to us, we are giving them hell.” He replied, smiling back.
Alhaji Haruna nodded and moved for Tope to pass. As Tope moved to climb the stairs, Alhaji Haruna called out to him. Tope stopped and watched the man walk back to him.
Alhaji Haruna: “I am very sorry about your mother.” He said quietly.
Tope: “what do you mean?” he said, coming close to the man.
Alhaji Haruna: “I am sorry…I thought you knew. Your mother is dead.” He said, surprise on his face.
Tope stared at the man, shocked. “NO!!!” He screamed.
Peterson was encouraged by his mother’s words and he carried on with the fasting…
On the night of the first day, the goddess appeared in his dream as normal. she came not as the seductress, swaying seductively but as an old woman. she looked at him and smiled, her yellow teeth showing
Goddess: “you think you can run from me,Peterson? I own you. No matter where you run to, you cannot hide from me.” she said, grinning evilly.
Suddenly the scene of the dream changed and Peterson saw himself at the graveyard where he usually made love to the goddess but instead of just the goddess, two other men stood with her. he saw one other man making love to the goddess while she watched him smiling. the two other men had their faces covered, stood beside him. she ordered them to take him away. the men quickly attacked him and tied him up. they carried him to a dark pit. he could hear chains moving and the growl of something big. he started to beg them for release, the men ignored him and bent him towards the pit. he screamed and… he woke up screaming, throwing his hands about as if he was still struggling with the men.
The Mum rushed to him on hearing his screams from her room. She asked him what had happened. He looked at her, his eyes clearing up. he sighed in relief,
Peterson: “It was a dream after all” he said quietly.
His mother looked at him then she went back to the door and put on the light. Peterson was a mess. he was sweating profusely and had bruises all over his body.
Peterson’s Mother:”Jesus! Blood of Jesus!This is no ordinary dream, Peterson.” she quaked with fear.
Peterson looked at himself, then he set his jaw in determination. he brought out his bible started reading psalm 27
Peterson: “where are you the goddess? Show your face if you can truly fight the King of kings, because the God in me is higher than that of the world.” he said,looking around the room.
he didn’t know where he got the courage from but he could sense the evil presence in the room flee when he dared them with the power of the Almighty God.
Question: Are there power truly in our tongue just same way Peterson commanded? What do you Tope will do to his father? Do you Gladys is safe with her husband?
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