The next day, Biodun was at the telephone booth by 12 pm. So he was able to pick the call when the telephone rang. The man gave him an address by the water front and ended the call. Biodun quickly commandeered a truck and drove to the waterfront.
The place was a slum. The dregs of society moved about, rubbing grimy shoulders against grimy walls. The place stank of dead fish, dying fish, dying humans, indian hemp and decay. Despite the fact that it was noon, the dirty tiny streets where dark with the shadows of leaning, rickety houses, blocking out the sun.
Biodun asked for directions to a bar, named One Nigeria. The men he passed gave him space when they saw his size, his eyes and the gun nestled on his waist band. He had pulled off his camouflage fatigues so as not to draw attention to himself as a soldier. He soon located the bar and stepped in. it was even darker inside than outside. A record was playing highlife inside the dark room. He walked to a man, he saw pouring Ogogoro from a gallon and asked of Benson from him. The man nodded his head to a crowded table.
Biodun walked there to see a game of poker was ongoing. He watched the men and then he gasped
Biodun: “driver!” he exclaimed.
Benson AKA Driver looked up and smiled. He dropped his cards and packed the coins on the table then he excused himself. He hugged Biodun and laughed then both of them found an unoccupied table and sat down to talk. Biodun explained his predicament to him.
Driver: “I get lorry wey dey go Asaba in two days time. I dey carry medicine and food go Benin from there i dey go Asaba. I no know how many of your people I go fit hide inside. I get special pass from army o but you nor dey know with soldiers.” He replied quietly.
Biodun quickly calculated the number of persons he had to carry then he sighed. The lorry will not be enough.
Driver: “I know someone who fit help. He dey smuggle too. Na your old friend, Obaro.” He said, watching Biodun quietly.
Biodun shook his head in anger.
Driver: “he get more level with army pass me. He dey carry weapons for them. He even dey go with military escort. The only problem na say e go cost you.” He replied.
Biodun nodded his thanks.
Tope’s battalion left Lagos that morning, while Biodun was looking for ways to save his family and the family of refugees, his father had adopted. They entered Asaba later in the evening. Tope passed the journey in a daze. He spoke to no one or listened in on the conversation going on around him. He just stared at a space in front of him. He day dreamed of happier times; of school, of Seyi running towards him, her hair flying in the wind, of the first time he saw Chidinma, of his mother cuddled with his father in the hospital. He dreamt of his dreams of becoming great then he chuckled.
The other men around him stared at him. They had given him a wide berth after his return from his father’s house. They noticed a change in him that was worrisome. He smelt of madness.
Chidinma stared at the roof from the mat she laid on. The old midwife, who had helped her with the miscarriage, came into the room and sat down beside her. She gave her a cup of bitter tasting liquid to drink. She drank it obediently. She turned away after drinking and stared at her mother, who sat quietly with her back on the wall. She was staring blankly at the window. She still had not said anything. Her father had gone back to the military base, leaving her and her mother in the care of the old woman. The woman had lost her only son and his family at Kano during the crisis. “In times of peace, sons bury their mothers but in the times of war, mothers bury sons.” She thought to herself then she chuckled.
She looked at the knife lying close to the bowl the midwife had used to prepare the medicine she had just drunk. She stretched her hand to it and picked it. She looked at it as it glimmered in the light coming from the window. She stared at her reflection on the knife and rubbed her hand over the jagged scar on her face. She brought her wrist close to her and placed the sharp edge of the knife on her skin
Mrs Nzeribe: “so…that is how you want to end it? Are you a coward?” she whispered.
Her voice sounded like a gunshot in the silence of the hut. The knife fell to the floor in a clatter, as Chidinma turned quickly to her mother. Mrs Nzeribe was looking at her with tears in her eyes.
Chidinma: “mama…” then the tears came.
Obaro AKA Captain chuckled gleefully on seeing Biodun.
Captain: “so you survive. Hmmm…I am impressed. So wetin you wan give me?” he asked, rubbing his palms together.
Biodun handed the money over to him. He quietly counted it and nodded. He and Driver discussed arrangements and then they informed Biodun that they were leaving next day. Biodun was okay with that because his battalion was moving out the next day too. He shook hands with the two men and rushed back to his father’s place to inform them of the plans.
He was riding a bike which he had borrowed from a friend when he saw Principal Adetola. The man was struggling to close his gate. He stopped his bike and got down. He went to the man and greeted him.
Mr Adetola: “Ha…Biodun, you did join the military. Did you good eh?” he asked, smiling.
They shook hands then Biodun helped him shut the gate.
Biodun: “how is Seyi?” he asked.
Mr Adetola: “oh…she is fine. She is with her mother in the United Kingdom. She has asked of you in her letters. You know she is married to Tope now or at least almost married to him?” he asked, beaming proudly.
Biodun: “Tope married to Seyi?” he asked in surprise. “Is that why he didn’t bother to come and see Chidinma at the hospital? That fool…” he thought to himself.
Mr Adetola: “oh…yes. When Seyi returns they will conclude the marriage rites.” He replied.
Biodun: “why would Tope marry Seyi? He never seemed to like her much.” He said, his mind far away.
Mr Adetola: “well…erm…eh…you know you people fall in and out of love anyhow.” He replied, his face filled with embarrassment.
Biodun: “or is Seyi pregnant for Tope?” he asked staring intently at Mr Adetola. The man looked away and Biodun laughed.
He laughed again then he said his goodbyes and climbed on his bike and rode away. “Seyi is pregnant for Tope and Chidinma is pining for Tope, and also pregnant for him? Despite his meekness, the dude has been really busy.” He thought to himself as he rode away.
Mr Adetola watched Biodun ride away silently. “Why was he laughing? That boy is not alright.” He thought himself as he entered his house. He walked to his chair and sat down and sighed. He thought about the phone call he had just made to Seyi. Charlotte was dead, she had said. “Charlotte…once upon a time,you and i had dreams…what happened to them? What happened to our dreams to change the world?” He sighed again.
There were no tears to shed, no pain. All he felt was sadness at the speed with which life passed by and how much of it is wasted on nothing. He brought out his pipe, he lit it, he picked his novel from the stool, and he read it.
Peterson rushed to his Mother’s room, fear gripping his heart. He entered to find his mother seated on the bed, her bible placed on her chest.
Peterson: “Mama! What is it? What happened?” he asked,his voice shaking.
Peterson’s Mother: “Chai! Peterson! God… What a terrible dream. This was a bad dream, my son. very bad.” she replied, breathing heavily.
Peterson: “What dream, mama?” he asked.He was relieved to see that nothing bad had happened to his mother.
Peterson’s Mother: “What have you gotten yourself into?” she asked, looking at Peterson suspiciously.
Peterson: “What are you talking about mama?”
Peterson’s Mother: “I’ve never had such horrible dream since i’ve been on this planet earth. God…” she replied
Peterson: “Mama, you are speaking in parables. Tell me what’s happened?”he replied,worried now.
Peterson’s Mother: “I should be asking you my son. What have you gotten yourself into?” she asked again.
Peterson: “Mama, this is no time to talk.. this is when we need the prayers most. Let’s join hands and pray.” he replied.
Peterson’s Mother: “Let’s pray. Devil is a loser.” she replied.
the both of them joined hands together and they began to pray
Peterson: “I command you evil spirit anywhere you are to STOP in Jesus Name. The book of Psalms 11 verse 6 says ” Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup”. Therefore if the word of God says so, i therefore command: Every satanic night vigil assigned against me… scatter in Jesus Name!”
Peterson’s Mother: “Amen!”
A ripping sound was heard as if something was tearing.
Peterson: “Any Power staying awake to harm me.. Die in Jesus Name!” he continued
voices were coming from the sitting room, like it was a crowd. the voices were angry.
Peterson: “Any Power transforming into animal at night to attack me.. catch FIRE in the mighty name of Jesus!” he continued
they heard a distant scream but neither of them opened their eyes.
Peterson: “Any Power that come into my Life through anything i’ve eaten or swallow or through witchcraft … Die in Jesus Name!” he continued.
they heard laughter at his mother’s door. the door swung open and darkness crept towards them on the bed. their eyes were shut so they did not see,
Peterson: “The Power that must die for my breakthrough to manifest … Die in Jesus name!” he continued.
Peterson’s Mother: “Amen!” she answered.
The darkness rushed out of the room as if it was afraid and suddenly a loud scream was heard in the living room.
Question: Whose sound did Peterson heard at the living room? Do you think Obaro AKA Captain will play his part?
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