By Yami Bamgboye
The story so far…a qick recap
It was a wet morning. Osiya had just woken up with a slight headache in the village he had been hiding with intentions to seek asylum in a neighbouring country soon enough. He was such a fine young man who had just crossed into manhood. As he twisted in his bamboo bed, he remembered his girlfriend Oga a second time. Oga had a charming physique that made mouths gape. She was indeed pretty. She deserted him since the news of the manhunt reached her through one of her closest friends.
He had met Oga several months after he had strained rapport with the girl he ever loved before she travelled to the U.S. It was a boy-like-girl-girl-like-boy thing which Osiya felt was a coping mechanism but later paved way for transfer of emotions. Oga was a craftsperson. Every time Osiya muttered he loved her, she would stammer, chuckle and start another conversation. ‘That was gone past’, he thought.
Osiya had subconsciously joined the league of expressionists in his country when he had a poem published in one of the national dailies.
‘Ili ti ma imi ma’, his weary grandmother said in a weak voice as she walked into his room to see him in bed. While she made more steps closer to his bed, he twisted again and opened his eyes.
‘Iki ira Mima’, he said.
‘My son’, she paused for a moment as emotions ran through her bones. Her eyes became laced with tears, then she continued.
‘Your father was my only child…’
‘I know Mama’, Osiya interrupted with sympathy.
‘I know you do but I’m making a point’ she retorted.
‘He was vibrant and relentless’, she continued with encomium.
‘Fearless and selfless. Hmm… his persecution was different. It was in the church. And like a thorn, God… hmm… it remained until the end. Why? We never knew and still don’t know!’ She let out an outburst and streams of tears trailed.
‘Live for me’, she begged. ‘You can’t change them, they are too powerful for you. What matters most is you, not them or the community, please!’.
Osiya’s father had been a fervent brother in a new generation church. He had strayed in one evening to hear the Founder as he was fondly called, preach. He dwelt on holiness and he spoke with so much passion and exertion that one would think he was the cleanest thing on earth. These trappings of holiness he displayed somewhat regularly, really had Osiya’s father immersed and soon, he became a member.
One evening while the Founder spoke on sacrifice, a favourite topic of his, he delved into his financial status, citing and contrasting his days of poverty with the present. The overwhelming response of whirling laughter he got every time he did this like a comedian cracking up some troubled souls, made him tell more lies. It was just a struggling church and only the Founder had a car.
Few minutes after another round of laughter had doused, a man who had listened all the while but had his own counter thoughts running in his head raised his hand to ask a question. He was a stammerer.
‘Yes Brother Kilila’, the Founder said.
In jerks, Kilila said, ‘Fa…Fafafa…’ just continue Brother, the Founder cut in.
‘But the Bible says tha…tha… no one receives ex…ex…cept he be given. Whaa…wha…y…’
‘You see’ the Founder interrupted again. He sensed a serious tackle. ‘The Bible is so broad’, he continued, ‘and the knowledge therein is so inexhaustible. Sometimes, you just have to work your way through’, he ended. This was right but was in defence of his sacrificial giving mantra which worked like magic.
After several months of genuine stewardship, Osiya’s father stumbled on a truth. On this day, the Founder’s wife had gone into spiritual seizures following a session of worship. She came buzzing ‘blaa…blaa…maa…maa…’ like revelling elephant flies around fresh faeces and silence sprinkled on everyone while they waited for her prophecies. But Osiya’s father had caught a glimpse which ruffled their feathers. It really was the beginning of his last days.
Osiya’s grandmother ended her pleas with a tender clasping, the one that sent the remaining exhortation straight to his brain, unspoken and tears rolled down his cheeks– a sensation he felt when his father passed on in his arms.
‘Grin…grin…grin…’ was how it all started on the fateful day. ‘Hello, ibi li wa?’, the voice at the other end enquired. Osiya was surprised– a call, an unknown caller. Before he muttered ‘who are you?’, the call ended abruptly and he thought he heard ‘yeeeee, Ogerevo is dying’.
‘Ogerevo! That’s my father!’, he said in his head.
‘But… he was sleeping, and… shook his head when I greeted before leaving for school, but…’, he muttered again. He couldn’t be sure he was not scared. His hands quaked; the noise other students made around him sounded a million miles away and the only thing that re-echoed in his head was wailing.
‘Bibi ma, Bibi ma’, he said when he saw his father where he had lain and tears streamed down in large quantum. As he raised his head in his arms, he saw a streak of smile on his face like someone who had a wish and conquered death in death. Then, his last breath; it was a fulfilled desire. Osiya was in his third year at the university.
What next? He couldn’t figure. He got up, paced around in circles yet, nothing was forth coming except the asylum idea. ‘Why should I keep running?’, he muttered again.
‘Besides, it was just a poem oh! In the media, they said a line struck them like an arrow “gluttons in paradise gagging watchdogs with thorn-gags, “but that is true nah. It even became worse when they placed restrictions on cyber comments, political comments and speculated jail terms for offenders. Who does that in democracy? To play safe, they said if proven to be false, I laugh. Are these not the people who make what is seen unseen?’, he concluded.
He went to his bed, adjusted his shorts and sat on the edge. Later, he lay and slept off again.
Shevo was the smartest guy in Osiya’s class in secondary school. They had been very close friends until Shevo left Kalakuta to study in Ghana and could only communicate through telephone calls and the internet. As smart as Shevo was, he was also pretty mischievous. He knew a lot about girls and sex. He had the boldness of a mature mind at his tender age. Shevo and Osiya were just fifteen years but no one could doubt he was far ahead of Osiya.
Shevo had at a time in school– while they prepared for their final exams– encouraged Osiya to woo Jumai, a girl Osiya had childhood crush on. Both Osiya and Jumai had been members of the same church too. Shevo persisted he did, Osiya knew he didn’t have the boldness. So, he opted for a love poem which Shevo delivered to Jumai with his own words. Now that he was in Kalakuta again on a short visit, the thoughts of Osiya did not flash through his mind. His only sister Makanju was in trouble and his first call was at his family house where his weary father, a fairly successful architect and mother lived.
‘Shevo!!’ His mother screamed on sighting him; he hadn’t been home for two good years.’Maami’ he said as he clung to her for as long as he could.
‘Where is Baami’?
‘In his study.He spoke about you some minutes ago.You should go see him’, she concluded.
Shevo disentangled, picked up his luggage and headed straight for the study. His father’s study was a relatively small compartment that had enough space for his consulting table and three chairs:one at an end and two at the other, two wooden drawing tables and stools, a four by four shelf where books, drawings and sketches were neatly arranged.
‘Baami’, he bent double almost immediately. ‘Get up and take a seat’, his father replied.
‘I’m glad you came. Shevo, it’s Makanju again. The last time she came home, she was carrying another baby, and I fear…’ he paused. ‘She just called to say she was recuperating in a friend’s house and wouldn’t say more’,he concluded.
Instantly,Shevo knew what that meant. He knew he was going on another journey in a day or two to Kouande in Benin to ascertain the real thing that’s going on with Makanju. He also knew that he wasn’t prepared for this, not even now that he had to abandon his academics. He stood up without saying a word and walked slowly to the sitting room to collapse in the three-seater.
‘But why… why Makanju every time? Or are these karmic mystics?’ He thought as tears streamed down his face.
Makanju grew rapidly and innocently in unknown mysteries hovering round about her. At the tender age of three, she was molested by a neighbour who escaped justice and at age ten, was hit by a motorcycle; that resulted in her curvy ankles. Funnily, in those early years, no one noticed a thing not even the most observant person in the family–his mother.
Makanju had always nursed the dream of becoming a medical doctor as a child and had really worked hard to earn the support of her parents who never forgot they waited ten years for her arrival as the first child. But the twist to all that came in the first days of her school leaving exams, little Makanju lost her memory, she lost her mind!! It was a devastating and chaotic turnaround, the type that was never envisaged. Immediately the journey to restore her started, she was taken to a church, then to another and then the assylum. Everyone wailed and prayed but two good years went by before she was sane again.
Oshiya woke up with a slight headache as he concluded plans to move that night into Nikki and then permanently to Parakou where he hoped to start life afresh. He didn’t really have to bother about the presence of Kalakuta security personnel;it was a porous border. Things moved in and out without proper checks except for smugglers that refused to play by the rules. And if they proved a little difficult, a few bucks would make them grin like the fools they were.
‘Mima, iti yi ma’ he said aloud to his weary grandmother. Her response was quick and crisp ‘Fi Iliran siwan’. There were no cries, no emotional farewell speeches from both ends as he walked into the setting sun.
Parakou had been the ancestral home of his paternal ancestors and he had grown to hear interesting tales of the intoxicating wealth of his great grand uncle and how tight-fisted he got at a point. About one year into his death, his kinsmen found the pot he had kept so much money and buried beneath his bamboo bed. His ears also tingled at the tale of the bravery of two of his daughters–his great grand-aunties–who joined king Ghezo’s Dahomean Army only to perish a few years later in the Dahomey-Egba war.
A day had gone past before Shevo left for Kouande to be with Makanju. He couldn’t shove his fears aside as he journeyed, their steps were very loud in his heart. He knew his sister needed help but the type was really unknown.
‘Hi’, a little voice beside him whispered just when their bus was fast approaching the most famous park in Kouande. At first, Shevo thought he heard that some yards away. He had been lost in thoughts but that jerked him back to the present. He turned very slowly and saw a lass give a smile invitingly. ‘Oooohh not now’, he thought.
Shevo was not the usual kid that was alien to things like this, he had been self-taught since he was a teenager. He was quick to complete ninety-five percent of his growing cycle at thirteen with a fine face, an average body size to match and had his first sexual encounter with an older teenager on his fifteenth birthday.
On this very day, he had been at an evening music concert in the neighbourhood. In the frenzy of several churchy outburts, he got talking with a sassy girl. She was elegant, fluent and dressed in a silk grey gown with red patches that hung a little above her knees. Soon, a walk by both into a corner,virtually uncrowded, led to a squeeze or two, then kissing, then a quickie. After the encounter, Shevo felt a thing…he couldn’t say but it felt more like launching. His heart palpitated, his strength ebbed and his knees quaked with excitement. He sat to recuperate for a minute and chuckled shyly.
‘It’s your first time right?’ He chuckled shyly again.
‘I know that feeling…’, she said.
She pulled him up, gave him a parting kiss and left him standing. It was the last he saw of her.
Since then, Shevo had been quite casual with matters of sex. His other sexual escapades had been with Akwaaba right before his friends, in the room they shared and Jumai, Oshiya’s childhood crush. It really was the type that examplified the ironical pyramid of attraction. Oshiya was attracted to Jumai but her emotions tilted more toward Shevo who never felt a thing for her. Shevo had been smart all the while though. He could read her body language and only had to wait for an opportunity which never came until they were out of secondary school. The adventure lasted for one good year without Oshiya’s knowledge and abruptly ended when Shevo left Kalakuta to study in Ghana.
‘Hi’, he managed to let out his own whisper with gestures that discouraged further pep talks. He rested his head, feigned tiredness and closed his eyes for the rest of the journey. The only thing he wanted was just silence to savour his own thoughts not company.
‘I made the sause with kulikuli, you like it?’ Koko said to her husband, Lt Colonel Olembe O., popularly known as O.O. among his friends. He hadn’t been home for two days and today that he was home for short hours, she meant to make the most of it. It was some minutes past 10pm.
‘You really never stop exploring with your cooking skills.It’s nice, I like it’, he replied.
‘I was going to …’ the boom from the phone on the wine bar beside the dinning corner completed the sentence. It was a secure line but not a portable.
‘Yessa’, he replied with rapt attention and was on the phone for as long as it took the Chief of Army Staff to brief him on his immediate deployment.
‘It’s an order from above’,the voice from the other end added.
‘Meanwhile, you have a day off. Report back to the Headquarters on Friday by 0800 hours’.
He went back to his meal and ate even slower than he had.
‘Koko, something isn’t right. I’ve just been redployed…never saw that coming’.
‘O.O sweetie, it’s just redeployment nothing to worry about’. She cupped his left palm with little strokes.
Moments later, she was in on O.O. It was a craft she had mastered for serious business. After a number of soothing tickles, she put her tongue on his left nipple and moved it round about very slowly. O.O moaned.He turned over, held her closer and tended to her need.
If one thing was sure,it was Koko’s deep love for O.O., she knew she couldn’t compromise that for any mission regardless of the magnitude. She had it spelt out from her first day in D.U. Kalakuta’s most sneaky, deadly spy intelligence—Africa’s version of Russia’s KGB,America’s CIA or any Op-Centre controlled by the government but non-existent— with networks far away in Egypt. Funnily, this wasn’t controlled by the Kalakutan government but a cartel of business moguls in key areas of its economy.
‘He’s out of arms way, good to go’. She said from a scrambled line after sneaking out on O.O who’s deep asleep.
Shrapnel from shattered cameras, whatnots and bodies littered everywhere. The air around the media conference was thick and foggy. Survivors couldn’t see beyond one yard as they coughed and waved their hands to clear the air. Medics who managed to respond timely had more body bags than life-saving gadgets and two or three were seen from another corner helping the badly hurt to waiting ambulances that would take them to the hospital within the presidential villa.
Each year, a whooping, drooling quantum of money was budgeted for re-equipping the hospital. It was the most equipped in the land but the least used. However, the people whose need it was meant to meet flew constantly out of Kalakuta to treat an illness as little as cough or ear infection. This time, maybe it would serve a real purpose now that there was a situation.
Few moments later, security personnel a little distance away from the twin blast swooped in, joined by the battalion from the nearest base with choppers hovering over the villa to give aerial coverage and backup. The first platoon had their orders, first to find the President and then secure the perimeter concurrently.
‘I see his new ADC in the debris of the small podium before the cameras. He’s lying face down. I check for pulse but there’s none’. The leader of the platoon said into a receiver pinned to his left shoulder. He moved away, turned a few more bodies and yelled.
‘The President is missing. I repeat the President is missing’.
Catch the final episode nrxt week Thursday. We hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far.