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WRITTEN BY: LIZZY OYEBOLA YAKUBU
We were almost reaching the school gate when Yekini’s phone rang.
“Who dey call now o, abi? I no even dey the mood at all” He said.
I looked at the screen of his phone that was on the dashboard.
“Oga Yekini, it is Oga Moses” I said and he looked at me, shocked.
“Moses? Ah, wetin dey happen?” He asked as he pulled off from the road and picked the call.
His already sad face opened up into shock.
“You say wetin?” He asked, covering his mouth with his eyes, his eyes going redder.
“Oh my God! But what is oga saying?…Ah, this is problem o. Okay, we dey come” He said and dropped the phone.
“We are going back home?” I asked and he nodded.
“Oga’s princess, see, you go take heart ni o.” He said and I sat up.
“What is the matter?” I asked and he shook his head.
“When we get home, we will find out” He said and my heart became weaker!
I had not eaten for three days and the upper part of my stomach hurt!
I really didn’t know what had happened at home but from Yekini’s face, I could tell that there was a big problem at hand. I felt like fainting. I felt like sleeping and waking up again to the news that it was all a dream.
“Errm, Blossom, make I buy you plantain?” He asked and I nodded sharply. I knew I needed to put something in my stomach to be able to handle the shock that might be awaiting me at home.
Yekini pulled over at the other side of the road and started negotiating with the seller but my mind wandered off.
Is the woman dead?
Has dad killed the woman?
Or has the woman killed dad?
I shuddered at the latter thought.
“Mercy, Lord! Mercy, Lord” I muttered as I collected the hot roasted plantain and cold sachet water from Yekini.
I quickly downed the cold water so that my empty stomach would be revived.
Yekini started to tear at his own portion of the roasted plantain. As he ate, tears strolled down his face. I avoided his face very quickly as I tried to keep hope alive. My head was thumping so fast that I knew if I didn’t conserve my strength, I might give up and lose it when eventually we got home.
“Marriage is terrible” He murmured as he ate. “Immediately oga didn’t tell us about his marriage, I suspected a foul play. But how is that even possible? How could oga not do proper findings? Why did oga bring in a woman to destroy our very lives?” His tears gave way to cries as he stuffed the hot boli in his mouth disinterestedly.
It felt as if he was eating for the same reason I wanted to eat- to stay alive!
I unwrapped the old newspaper used to wrap the roasted plantain, muttered a word of prayer and started to munch on it.
When Yekini was done eating four pieces of the plantain, he shot his head out of the car window and began to wash his teary face with a sachet of the cold water.
When he was done, he turned the ignition key and started heading home.
I couldn’t eat more than one of the roasted plantain. I quickly threw the remaining two in my school bag as we approached our street.
“Ah!” Yekini exclaimed as he looked straight without blinking.
I turned to look in the direction of our house and I was alarmed as well.
The gate was wide open and there were so many people trooping in and out.
I felt hot from inside as I wondered what could be happening.
As we approached the gate, the siren of a police van could be heard inside, the wails of a woman could be heard too. I just couldn’t fathom what it was.
Yekini parked the car in front of the house and looked at me frankly.
“Please, don’t come down. Please” He said and I nodded. Even if I wanted to, my legs had suddenly gone weak. My tongue was sour too and my head just wouldn’t stay calm.
I looked to my right side and saw a van of LMOTV- the largest private TV station in our state. My heart skipped a beat as I wondered what could be wrong.
My heart seemed to be over pumping blood because I could hear its thumping so loudly in my ears.
Just then, I saw two police men pulling a man out of our compound. Looking closely at the sight, I saw my dad, handcuffed!
“Holy Lord!” I exclaimed, clenching my teeth in horror.
My dad in cuffs?
Oh Lord, no!
I burst into tears at once, my heart breaking into pieces.
Just then, I saw grandma following daddy, crying profusely.
“Please have mercy, my son is not a troublemaker” She cried.
I saw Mr. Alatise, the chairman of the landlord association walking closer to the policemen and I quickly hopped out of the car to watch from afar and probably hear the full gist.
“Excuse me officers. This man is a respected member of this community. He is never a wicked person. He would never even hurt an ant” Mr. Alatise said.
“Of course, one cannot know what a man is capable of doing unless he is married” One of the policemen said.
I saw some of our neighbours crying. I saw a few holding phones and recording everything. I burst out crying heavily.
“Romoke, jo! I am pleading with you, jo” My grandma cried, kneeling in front of my dad’s new wife who had come to the gate, looking all swollen. Her face had doubled in size. Her hand was bleeding and she was limping.
Oh my goodness!
Did my dad do all of those?
“Lock him up forever!” Dad’s new wife said.
One woman who I assumed was a reporter held a microphone to her mouth while a cameraman followed and recorded the whole scene.
“Mrs. Romoke, can you please tell us exactly what happened to you?”
“I was simply in the kitchen washing the plate when this evil thing came inside to meet me. He asked me if lunch was ready and I humbly told him it wasn’t. I told him to exercise some patience but he wouldn’t hear any of it. He removed his belt and started to beat me. My sons rushed inside to help me but he descended on them and beat them. Then, he collected the knife I was washing and started using it to tear me from head to toe.”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
I couldn’t believe that she was lying so clearly. She told a totally new story that I just couldn’t believe.
“That is a lie. This woman has been a devil since she moved into this house. The kitchen story is all a lie. Oga did not use any knife on her as well. I knew they both had a clash but oga did not inflict any injury on her. She probably went inside to wound herself before she called the police” Moses explained, looking all angry.
“Will you mind this bloody idiot? Ask him to tell you for how long he has been working with this murderer. He is definitely trying to be loyal to his master but no longer will that be heard”
“Romoke, this is not who your mother says you are. She said you are peaceful and calm. And you appeared to be. What is happening? Are you sure it was my son that beat you this much?”
“Iya, please go and sit down jor! Do you think I would be insane enough to tear all my body this way? He did all of this to me. I am calm and all but when you meet with a devilish husband, one would definitely lose one’s cool” Romoke replied.
“Ah, and my son is not devilish o. Ah, I introduce my peace-loving son to trouble! My good son obeyed me to a fault oo. Ah, I have made a terrible mistake” Grandma burst out laughing, running towards daddy.
“Officer, please could we hear from the criminal before you take him away?” A woman asked.
“The accused or suspect, not the criminal, please. Mind your tongue, madam!” Yekini said and the woman turned to look at him disgustingly.
“Who are you?”
“I am the head of the Golang Women Rights Organization. We fight for women’s rights”
“Okay. You have two minutes to ask your questions. Afterwards, we have to leave here.”
“Mr. Fries, why did you beat your wife whom you just married to stupor?” She asked and I tried to look at my dad’s face. He didn’t even look up talk less of answering. His head was bowed shamefully.
“Did you really pick up a knife to start tearing at your wife? Please answer our questions” She asked again but she got no replies.
“This is a third degree domestic violence. Do you know that you are liable to so many years in prison?” She asked again but my dad was mute.
His mum went on her knees before him and held his shoes.
“I am so sorry, my son. Ah, I have brought shame upon you that you know nothing about. I trust you my son. Your driver trusts you. Your gateman trusts you. Even if no one trusts you, we do. Please speak out. Save yourself. Please” She cried. I could see tears strolling down my dad’s face. My heart sunk.
“Mama, you are a woman too. Look at how your son dealt with his new wife. Do you not feel pity for a fellow woman?” The activist faced my grandma.
“See, madam, I know my son very well. Since he was a kid, he had never fought. I am telling you the truth. He was always the victim. But how could he do this to his wife? I am so sure that there is more to all of this. I am sure there are some lies somewhere” She said and some, mostly our neighbors and church members were in support while the others seemed to stay on my dad’s wife’s side.
“Yeh, my back o. My leg o. My hand o” Dad’s wife started to wail. “Ah, this man that did this to me will not prosper o. Ah, I should not have agreed to marry this man o. All men are the same o” She complained on and on till she slumped on the ground.
Some people ran to her side and quickly rushed her into dad’s second car.
As they drove her off, my dad shook his head, ruefully.
“You are not even feeling a little concern for your wife, sir? She just fainted. Do you not have a love at all for her?” The activist asked again.
“I think you have asked enough questions. Come and finish questioning him at our station” The police said and started pulling him to their van.
Compassion rose from my bowels at once and I ran towards them, held my dad’s waist from behind and started to cry.
“Daddy!” I broke down in tears. “Daddy!” I called out again and my dad pushed the policemen away and turned back to face me.
“My princess, what are you doing here?” My dad asked as he looked down at me. “It’s not good seeing dad this way, Blossy” He said but I could not be comforted.
“I trust you dad” I said and he smiled.
“I think that is all I need then, baby. If you trust me, then, everyone can do their worst, right?” He asked and I nodded, weeping profusely.
“Dad, I do not want you to go to the police station. You are too good to go there” I cried and he smiled.
“Don’t you think the police station is better than this house with the woman and her children?” He asked and I wept the more, hugging him tightly.
I didn’t know why the policemen were exceptionally nice with me. They allowed me to display all my emotions for a long time.
“Dad, I would love to go with you! I would love to be locked up with you” I said and he nodded.
“You need to go to school, write your papers and become a fine doctor for daddy. That is all I need you to do. Then, you pray a lot for daddy to be fine for you, okay?” He asked and I shook my head.
“I don’t want to study! Daddy, I am so sad. I am so embarrassed. See how our gate is open and…” I was saying when he pecked me and turned to face the policemen.
“Let us go, officers.” He turned back at the weeping me and his eyes glittered with tears. “Yekini, why did you bring my princess back? Take her away, please” He said as he was pushed into the police van.
“Daddy!” I screamed, rolling on the floor.
“Ah, please officers, my son is innocent. You can see that he opened up to his daughter. He is innocent. I am the one at fault. I was the one who gave him the wife.” Mama started crying.
“Mama, just go get your son a good lawyer. God might favour him” A policeman said before entering into the van. The van sped off very fast, the siren blowing sorrowfully as it did. I ran after the van but Yekini soon caught up with me. He pulled me up with his huge hands and we both held each other and wept profusely.
“So, we are in front of the Fries’ residence. Mr. Fries who is a well respected business tycoon and residence of this estate had an arranged marriage with his wife, Mrs. Romoke who already has four sons three days ago. The information that got to us at our agency this morning however was that he brutally battered his wife, leaving her in the pool of her own blood…” The reporter continued.
Yekini pulled me to the car, put me inside and sat in the driver’s seat, weeping.
“Oga would never have done that. He never would” Yekini wept.
Moses opened the front door and sat with Yekini.
“Let me follow you people, please. I cannot stay in this house alone with those murderous boys!” He said. Yekini started the car and drove off.
“How did the thing happen?” He asked and Moses sighed.
“Oga lash am true true.” Moses started.
“Yes, we know that” Yekini said.
“When he finished, he was leaving already when those boys ran at him and banged his head with a stool.”
“Oh my goodness!” Yekini exclaimed.
“He fell over and they started to hit him. He asked me to quickly go and call the police. But by the time I got back inside, the story had changed. The sons had wounds all over their bodies and the wife was on the floor wailing, her face swollen. I later found oga in his car, crying. By the time the police came, it was even the person that asked me to call the police that got arrested. It is not normal to me” He said and I sighed silently, burying my head in my hands. I was so overwhelmed.
“What will happen now? How do we help oga? Who do we go to? Ah, this is the work of oga’s enemies o” Yekini lamented.
“Why oga go marry that kain big madam with those tall tall boys? Oga no do am well. He no do am well. He no even reason am well for us. Ah!” Moses complained as well.
“Where do we go now? After dropping Blossom at school, where do we go? We cannot go back to that house, you know?” Yekini asked.
“Kai! I no even sabi o” Moses said, dejectedly.
Yekini and Moses helped me hand over my bags to my house mistress and started to look into my face pitifully.
“Princess” Moses started, avoiding my face. “Good luck in your final exams” He said and I nodded sheepishly.
“Blossom” Yekini started. “Sorry” He said, mopping his face.
Tears rushed into my eyes and I blinked severally to trap them in.
“Thank you Oga Yekini and Oga Moses.” I managed to say.
“Madam, our oga said we should hand this letter over to the principal or Blossom’s caretaker” Yekini said and Mrs. Jonny collected it, her face full of smiles.
“Thank you so much. Greetings to him. Tell him we are so happy to have our sweet head girl here with us” Mrs. Jonny said the two men nodded.
“Please uncles, support my dad!” I said when they were about to leave.
“That is a sure thing! If we do not, who else will? You just focus on your exams, right?” Moses asked and I nodded. He hugged me tightly and we both cried.
He had stayed the longest with our family and he had become a committed part of us. He could behave tough but he had a very soft heart.
“Bye, Blossom!” Yekini said and hugged me. He looked so scared and hopeless. My dad had picked him up from a reformation center where he had gone through some reforms and therapies from drug addiction.
“Eat well. Pray well. Read well. Do daddy proud. We will be rooting for you” He said and I smiled, patting him on the back as tears streamed down my face.
After reading the letter my dad sent to her, Mrs. Jonny walked up to me and hugged me tightly. She pecked me and held my hands.
“I will love to pray for you” She said and she started praying.
She helped me lay my bed and arrange my provisions in the lockers. She got me my dinner and checked up on me severally.
Several of my school daughters and sons came to the hostel to check me after some time but none was allowed to come in to see me. They were so happy to have Senior Blossom around at the boarding school. I was so sure of that. I was happy to be there too but I wished I could be with my dad more importantly.
“He had not even eaten!” I exclaimed, wiping my tears. I couldn’t even attend prep that night. I only lay in my bed and wept.
Fola, the assistant senior girl was my only roommate but I didn’t even meet her- she had to go home to get her school fees.
That gave me more chances to weep a lot more, hoping that I could fall asleep from too much crying and wake up to the realization that it was all a dream- a very bad dream!
I did not know when my chief nurse, Pat entered with her best assistant, Ann. It was when the audio stopped coming from the TV I knew I had some intruders.
Before I could wipe my tears, I realized that they had seen my tears.
“Good morning Grace” Pat greeted and I nodded. “Are you well? You are weeping profusely” She said and I smiled.
“Thank you. I was listening to something emotional.” I explained briefly and she gave me a bear hug.
“All will be well. You need to go to the radiography department for a scan now” She announced and I sighed.
“To check my leg or the baby?” I asked and she smiled.
“The baby” She said and I nodded, disinterestedly.
If they had not interrupted my wonderful time, I would have been able to internalize the sadness in the life of Blossom and probably called Dr. Zee to tell her how sad I was.
I was deeply pained to realize that a human being like me suddenly got a sad life in a space of three days!
“And it is almost exam period. How will she cope?” I asked myself.
“Who? What?” Mrs Pat asked. That was when I realized that I had asked the question loudly.
“Nothing!” I said curtly as an attendant from the radiography department came inside to start wheeling me away for my one-millionth scan!
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