She held the fork to her lips about to swallowed when the dining wall compelled her to look but she refused. She was at the dining with her husband and two children. She had always kept this part of her a secret ever since she learnt that most men she dated feared her because of her gift. They always ended up leaving her. And now that she finally had a man to marry her and gifted her two beautiful children she was not ready to ruined it. So she forced her gaze on her food but there was that insistent feeling nagging her to look. When her husband stood up to answer the door, she quickly stared at the wall. Inside it, she saw two humans; a man and a woman without face but she could recognized the midnight gown. The man’s hand came up and circled the woman’s neck. Squeezed.
The vision disappeared immediately. It was Olaronke, she in trouble. She had to help her but how? Abuja was faraway. As she cleared the table, her mind was asking questions on what went wrong. Everything had worked out well till they got to the airport and she had not noticed any difference on her. She added detergent to the dish washer, and set the washing cycle. She turned to leave and saw a scissors cutting a pant and two hands rubbing two fruits together. The White bracelet she gave to Olaronke at the airport was a gift from her mother. It dispel evil She had to call her.
Wande was at the garden watching his wife fidgeted with her fingers. When would she summoned the courage and entered the hall rather than watching the event through the glass door.
“What in God’s name are you doing?” asked a voice behind him
Wande turned to find his friend scowling at him.
“You are the celebrant, your guests are arriving in the hall, and you are here skulking around in the garden” Bolarinwa said
“Look” Wande said pointing to the lone figure at the entrance
Olaronke was clad in a dark gown clinging to her every curve. Her hair was down and she looked very beautiful. Bolarinwa had told him that his wife would be coming to Abuja and they had planned a grand welcome for her. They had sent her to the room he was staying without her knowing and if everything worked out well they would be flying to South Africa for a well deserved Honeymoon the following morning. Wande had thought over everything, and the message Grace forwarded to him had cleared most of his doubts. Someone was trying to separate them like he had suspected earlier. But was it possible he had misunderstood what he had heard that night at the restaurant? His brain rejected the thought as the words replayed themselves in his mind. Yet, he could not ignored the evidences. He picked up his phone and called his friend on IMO.
“Hi” Bolarinwa greeted shoving the newspaper clippings on his phone screen. It was two weeks after the end interview.
“Not very married”
Wande sighed, he already explained to him that it meant nothing and had shifted the blamed on Adunni’s claiming she ignored him and hardly talk to him which was partly true.
“Bola, I want to tell you some things” he paused watching his friend’s reaction.
He explained the note he received and the conversation he over heard to him.
“And Kunle called me the other, he said that Aina girl used to visit Glorious night which means Adunni used to be there”
“One after the other Wande” Bolarinwa said after a thought and added”If she was pregnant like you claimed, after that failed wedding my father in his anger would have mentioned it. I only know one Gynae doctor and it was when Ronke was 17 that he visited the house. I think its related to menstrual issue but you know what let me call my stepmother and ask her”
After a few hours Bolarinwa called him and explained
“I was right, it was after secondary school she didn’t menstruate unlike her mates at the boarding house. That was when they went to a doctor. Since then, my stepmother said my father had always wanted her to get married on time so she could start a family. He was scared she might enter early menopause. Maybe that’s why he’s asking her about pregnancy. But its best you discussed this with my sister, including the Glorious night. I don’t know what to make of that.” he said.
Since then he had been looking forward to had a one on one talk with his wife. But his work load consumed him. There were other times he was tempted to tell her on phone but Adunni was fixated on Grace. Her questions were centred around her
“Should I get her into the hall?” Bolarinwa asked bringing him back to the presence
“No, she will come in when she’s ready” Wande said and they walked back to the hall.
The hall was teeming with crowd. Olaronke stood by saying polite hellos to the guests going into the hall. She had spent twenty minutes out there going through many thoughts in her mind and her legs were protesting from standing too long on the heels.
What if Wande did not want to see her? She chided herself for going back and forth on that single question. She had to be in the hall to know the answer. Gathering all her courage, she began to walk towards the entry door. The security man requested for her invitation. She provided him with the one her brother gave her.
The function room of Eden hotel was an assemblage of luster and silver and heaving with beautiful bodies dressed in perfect evening suits and glamorous evening dress with Rnb music playing in the background. She chose a seat near the entrance wanting to gather her wit before slipping into the the empty chair. Waiters and waitresses armed with trays of wine and fruit juice approached her table, serving her. She picked up the program book and read. Her husband was only one of my the Engineers honored tonight.
She scoured the room for Grace but none of the women looked like her. She was not even at her husband’s table. She frowned, where was she? Maybe she was late like her. Picking up the program book, she raised it up to obscured her face from Wande in case he was watching for her. She focused her attention on the French doors, if Grace was coming she would be the one to see her first and intercept her from reaching her husband by pouring half of her drink on her, accidentally of course. Her phone vibrated. It was Mummy Kemi. Her mind took a turn, she felt anger welling up in her for no reason especially at the name on the screen. After several rings, she decided to pick.
“Where are you?” Her panicked voice came through
“The hall about to see my husband” she answered rolling her eyes.
“Olaronke, listen to me and leave the hall I h……”
“I can’t. It took time before I can work up the courage to be here” she retorted. Who does she think she was to be dictating to her?
“I know its not you who is talking. But I pray your spirit helps you to listen to me. Leave the hall and go and pick that bracelet I gave you at the airport. Wear it before meeting your husband” Mummy Kemi kept mute hoping her voice was able to soothe whatever evil possessing her
“I will ma” Olaronke said standing up leaving the hall. Her mind was reeling from the many confusing thoughts pouring in and out. But she was determined to get the bracelet
Wande suddenly felt hot from the inside despite the blowing AC and the ox fan standing behind him.His tie felt like a rope, choking him. He loosened it a bit, eyeing Bolarinwa who raised his eyebrow at him. He was very stupid to believed the tale Bola spun on him. Adunni had menstrual issue. Does that make sense? She and her family were deceiving him all these years. And tonight he would teach them a bitter lesson. He would end it all, this farce and torturing marriage. He watched his wife at the entrance with the large program book covering her face. Better that distance, if she moved and inch closer to him he would squeezed her neck. Yes, that was what he would do.
He felt a strong urge took possession of him and unknowingly he tore at his shirt. Bolarinwa’s eyes grew wide. What was wrong with Wande? He looked around them hoping no one noticed him. He watched him walked and ran out of the hall and he chased after him.
Wande found himself at the garden again. He knew something was wronged with him. More like his mind. It was messed up with sly voices teling him what to do in his head and him agreeing to it. It was not right. Why would he be so annoyed to think of squeezing someone’s neck? Especially his wife.
You know what you should do to her.
No, I don’t.
Yes, you do.
You tell me.
You know you want to, she lied.
“Wande, are you alright?” Bola asked shaking him
Tell him to leave us alone
“Leave us alone” Wande repeated screaming at his friend.
The voice was his voice and yet it wasn’t. It was higher pitched and distorted, hideous, distant as if coming from cavities inside him.
Bolarinwa had never known fear since his adult life. But seeing Wande’s angry look and stance, he was scared. It seemed a power was controlling him. He looked devilish and talking to himself. Yet, he couldn’t leave him. He watched from a distant as Wande was arguing with himself.
“Leave us? Wande what the hell is wrong with you? Your shirt is turn” he asked
Tell him to shut up or you will hit him
“No” Wande shouted at the voice in his head
No? He’s mocking you
“He’s not mocking me” he shouted back
Tell him to mind his own damn business
“Mind your own business” he repeated, his voice ugly
He is mad, thought Bolarinwa. He’s run mad. i need to do something. He brought out his phone and called one of their friends.
“Kunle” he said putting his phone on a speak out “I want you to come to the garden. It’s Wande” he listened to the reply, shaking his head
“Why are you like this? Because of a lady you can’t come?” smiling without warmth or joy “who’s more important? Your friend or a random lady?” he listened again “to hell with you both. Please tell Bayo to kindly show up in the garden. I don’t know how we end up being friends with you morons”
He called his sister. Her number was busy. He kept his eyes on his friend talking to himself, praying Bayo showed up on time.
“Hey” Bayo said slapping his back
“Bayo, I don’t know what’s wrong with our friend” he said this pointing to Wande who was pacing back and forth, his suit gone.
“This evening he was normal but when we entered the hall, he tore his shirt”
A brief look of amusement crossed Bayo’s face. Wande did that? He ignored Bolarinwa’s warning not to move closer to him. He approached him from his back and touched him, Wande turned around, eyes blazing with anger, he bashed Bayo’s stunned face
Olaronke left her hotel room with the bracelet on, feeling different from her annoyed self. She was scared when Mummy Kemi called her again to described her vision. Someone who had access to her private things was the one she believed was behind it. Feeling lonely and scared, she bought a one thousand naira airtime on her phone. She was ready to spent any amount to talk all through the night till she felt whole again. She called Aina wanting to gist her about Mummy Kemi’s vision to her especially the part that someone used her underthings to cast a spell on her and her husband but Aina was not picking her calls, it was eleven already she must have slept. So she called Mummy Kemi
“I hate to disturb you but am scared I need to talk to someone” Olaronke said as a way of apologizing
“Are you alright?” Mummy Kemi’s concerned voice came through
“Just scared” her voice muffled with sobs “there is only one person who has a good reason to hurt me, my stepmother. She’s the only one who has access to my things, some of my underwear are still at home”
The cab driver, turned to look at her like she was one mad woman. But she was past caring. She knew her face must look a mess, with the stream of makeup pouring down her face.
“Stop crying” she consoled
“If not for your gift I don’t want to guess what would have happened tonight, it would be hellish than my failed wedding” she said
“A gift” she scoffed “seeing things I don’t want to see, learning things I don’t even want to know, that’s not a gift. It’s the opposite of gift. It’s something I guard even from my husband and children before people call me a name that is not mine. You can’t imagine the burden it is to me. I want to be normal, to be like everyone else”
Her voice trailed off in Olaronke’s ears. She wondered what it must be like to be a seer sort of. Mummy Kemi saw it as a curse or what could be the opposite of a gift? And yet it was the gift that saved the likes of her from doom. After tonight, she would call her father and explained everything to him. She wouldn’t lie low and let her stepmother continue to destroy her life.
She ended the call at some point, her mind was like a restless sea, heaving with wild commotions. She would live through this, she thought to herself as she provide her card to the security man again. She entered into the hall just in time to see Grace collected the award on her husband’s behalf.
So much for a happy reunion, with his girlfriend up there. There was nothing worthy staying for, she stepped out of the hall ignoring the question the security man threw at him. She wished she had listened to Aina. She warned her. She brought out her phone, going through the missed calls. She called her brother
“Where are you?”
“The hall” she answered
“Come to the garden”
She removed her heels, not caring about the environment she was in. At this moment she felt like she was not existing. Being dragged from one trials to another took its toll. If she saw her stepmother this instant. There was only one request she would ask her no begged her to kill her. She was fed up.
“Olaronke” Grace called running towards her.
She turned towards this voice not saying a word. Grace was here to taunt her and she chose the right moment. She had no drama in her. None at all.
“I am sorry about the last time. Wande is in there” she said pointing at the garden
She ignored her and continued walking till she got to the garden. The sight she met diffused all her emotions, Wande’s hands was restrained behind him while he kept screaming offensive words at them.
“Don’t move closer to him” her brother said trying to stop her. But she slapped his hands off reaching for her husband with the bracelet hand.
His features became calm and alarmed as he stared at his disheveled state. His torn shirt and tied hands. He remembered everything that happened to him, he just could not believe it
“Bola?” he asked questioning everything
Olaronke threw herself on him shedding tears she could not control. She could not remembered how they made it back to her hotel, she was just there with him crying her eyes off. She explained everything to them (Wande and her brother) most of her words garbled. They were able to make sense of what she said.
“This is serious” Bola said shaking his head “My mind is still not at rest o, I can’t leave my sister here with you. You were officially mad for more than hour. Who knows what will happen at the middle of the night. Ronke stand up, let me get you a room” Bola said to her sister
“No, I won’t leave him. Trust me everything is fine” she said caressing the bracelet
“You leave me with no choice other than to sleep here. Tomorrow, we will pack ourselves to our town. This thing must stop” her brother replied removing his suit and stretched out on the rug floor.
Olaronke rolled her eyes
“What?” Wande asked
“Another averted wedding night” she whispered while her husband burst out laughing
“Your thing don start abi” Bolarinwa said
The time struck 12, Aina dumped the itagiris into the dustbin and grabbed her red palm oil. She was in pain and barely moving. But she kept dragging herself back and forth the rooms doing the needful. She poured the palm oil on her red skin looking at the mirror. She knew she looked more like a monster. Maybe she was. Her temperature was going up and she dare not pour water on herself. So she settled beside the standing fan enjoying the breeze soothing her her pain. She saw her friend misses calls, she must be going through hell. Come tomorrow, she would listen to it all. Her next move would be on Mummy Kemi, she would discouraged Adunni from befriending her. And, that God forsaken Oluwaniyi for embarrassing her. She would destroy him. He thought every women was better than her. She would deal with them one after the other.
…to be continued