For the next three weeks, Olaronke found out that it was hardly impossible for her to hold out on her best friend who called her every day to inquire on her well being. She decided Aina was not her enemy.
Aina was the only one in this world who loved her genuinely, and stood by her. Where was my brother or husband during those dark days I was at the hospital alone with Aina receiving therapy or when I was struggling through life obstacles? Is it now I should suspect my best friend? These were the thoughts racing through her mind.
Everything seemed good at the present, tomorrow if things went bad the first person who would be on her side was Aina. Not like Wande declared his undying love for her or anything similar to that. She only knew he cared about her. He had shown all that during the early days of their marriage.
She decided she would share every of her thoughts with her. Aina was a most understanding friend, if she told her she found her character questionable, she would likely explained what happened or apologized for her wrong doings. They had traveled to her hometown the next day they got back from Abuja. Her father had invited Wande’s uncles after her own brother explained what happened at Abuja and what mummy Kemi told them. When the elders asked her if she suspected anyone, she mentioned her stepmother. It had led to a mini fight like she had envisaged. Her father loved his wife and had turned a blind eye to the woman’s maltreatment of them during the early years. Her brother supported her claim, and that resulted into an event that would forever be etched in her memory. Within minutes, they left the house and arrived at a place she had little recollection of. It was their family house built with mud and it dated back to 1800 but she believed the date was exaggerated.The house was the only mud house around there, even though it was at the roadside. Her father had refused to rebuilt it. He preserved it as his family history and childhood memories.
Olaronke stood aside with her husband and watched how foodstuffs and a live duck was quickly provided. The family head spread the white clothe at the entrance, pouring little quantities of the foodstuffs while murmuring some words she didn’t understand. The duck was slaughtered by her brother and the blood was smeared on a tall statue.
“What is all this about?” she whispered to her husband
He looked at her like she just developed two greenish horns.
“We are here because of you” he answered
“Seriously? Are you asking me that? You just branded your stepmother as a witch with that accusation. We are all here to swear”
Afterwards, she felt nauseous and vomited the little breakfast she had. She couldn’t believed she drove them to this hideous level. She watched everyone drank from the calabash, when it was her turn to drink, she felt like a lowliest human seeing how her father watched her in his angry state. Whatever future happiness they might have as a family was destroyed. Would her stepmother forgave her for this? What about her father, would he ever forgive her? If she knew her accusation would led them to this act, she would never have uttered a word.
She listened to the family head warned them not to do evil against one another. The white cloth was bundled with the duck carcass and she was asked to bury it. Wande followed her to the back of the house, together they dug the ground and buried the white bundle.
As they were about leaving, her stepmother approached her holding her hands.
“Aunty Adunni, I know I maltreated you in the past. I am truly sorry for everything I did to you. When I married your father, I was a child myself. I am only ten years older than you are, and I regretted not building a relationship with you. Let’s forget the past and move on” the woman said and embraced her.
Olaronke also apologized to her and for the first time her mind felt lighter. She was tired of harbouring feelings of bitterness towards her stepmother. The family head informed her and her husband that they were safe from all evil eyes. That no one could use their wears for evil.
At night when she was lying beside her husband in their master bedroom, he turned her to face her, studying her worried eyes.
“You are tired” he said while she nodded
“I feel worse, I went too far today” she whispered
“No, you did the right thing. There’s no moral when it comes to fighting for the right to live. At least we are safe from negative forces. But I don’t want you to call Aina until everything is fine” he told her.
Olaronke could not resist talking to her best friend even after her husband’s warning never to call Aina again till everything was investigated and she (Aina) came out clean echoed continuously in her mind. After they visited Mummy Kemi in her house and briefed her on Abuja’s incident, Olaronke excused herself and went to the toilet to call Aina.
Not just to call her, but to do the test she kept in her jean pocket, she told herself convincingly. She sat on the toilet seat, placing the test stick underneath. It was that moment she pressed the green button to call her friend who picked it on the first ring.
She fed her with every scene that happened in Abuja and her hometown excluding her husband mild “sickness” and the private investigators.
“So Bonuade is pregnant?” Aina asked her upper lip sweating hearing that news. She already knew what went down at Abuja between her friend and Wande. Her boyfriend Kunle briefed her on the little he knew and promised to found out more news. But how her spell didn’t work on them was still a mystery to her. That was why she was willing to part with three hundred and fifty thousand naira to deal with Adunni. Psychological warfare was better than casting spell at the moment, she told herself.
At this point she had to be careful before Adunni found out the truth. What if she found out the truth? What could she do to her? Nothing. In fact, it would be better off if Adunni knew the truth. It would ease her way into the insanity world.
Olaronke replied in the affirmative and brought out the stick without checking it. She wrapped it and kept it into her trouser. Later on Olaronke told her what Stevie and Mrs Georgina said about her.
“Adunni, I know I did wrong but I was too ashamed to come out clean and tell you everything. I swear on everything living, I have never met Mrs Georgina’s husband when I started dating that man. It was too late when I realized he was Mrs Georgina’s husband”
Aina went on pleading with her friend to understand her. Olarinke thought back on those days they spent weeks with Mrs Georgina in her house. Not once did she met her husband. Maybe Aina was telling the truth.
“I have been seeing a therapist. That’s where I disappeared to those weeks I was missing. And its been helping me” Aina said again
“Oluwaniyi said you sent him nudes during those days I was dating him” Olaronke told her
“He lied. You know how he hates me and wanted us to stop being friends. Why didn’t he show you those nudes when I sent it?” Aina said listening to her friend sigh
“I don’t know what to say Aina. There’s been a lot happening that I find hard to believe” Olaronke said, she was tired of everyone and everything. Life itself was boring and annoying. She was tired of living in fear and suspecting people she loved.
“It’s OK Adunni, this is just a trying time for our friendship. I know everything will be fine. After my session tomorrow, I will come to your restaurant so we can talk. You know I do love you” Aina said and waited to hear her friend’s reply on the love word before she ended the call.
She came out of the toilet and bumped into her husband who looked every bit annoyed.
“Wande” she called her voice was husky with fear. Their marriage was finally free from troubles and she would not want to go back to those days when they were polite strangers.
“You’ve been away for long. Let’s go” Wande said, his voice surprisingly calm despite the grimness of the occasion.
He held his anger in check. There was no point acting on his anger. His wife had shown she could not be trusted to obey a simple instruction from her husband. He would keep everything from her, especially that tape and pictures he received from Grace.
They joined Mummy Kemi who was oblivious of the tension between the husband and wife.
“What do you plan on doing?” Mummy Kemi asked the couple.
“I will go to Abuja next weekend while Adunni stays behind” Wande said, his voice not betraying the anger in him.
“I thought we planned going together” Olaronke said, annoyed
Her husband merely raised his eyebrow at her tone.
They talked about this and that, mostly vague things till evening approached and Wande decided that they should leave because the evening time was normally different. Traffic was usually terrible during night time.
“You cannot be trusted” he murmured and watched with satisfaction as her face crumpled with guilt
“I need your phone” he said to her as they entered his car.
Olaronke brought out her phone and switched it off. She handed it over to her husband. He should do whatever he wished, she thought to herself. It would not stop her from seeing her friend.
In a matter of minutes, Wande had cooled down and forgotten his recent irritation entirely, largely because of his wife’s martyred expression. She didn’t even put up much fight when he requested for her phone. It made him feel like an ogre seizing an adult’s property.
“Can’t you do without this lady? Are you that helpless without her?” he asked, his gaze fixed on the road before him
“She’s more like a sibling to me. Aina was with me throughout my therapy session. I was seeing a psychiatrist then, trying to understand why I do have amnesia. She was the only one with me. My father never showed up”.
Not even you.
The unspoken words hung in the air between them. And he knew those words.
Aina was supportive while he was not. Aina cared about her, when no one did.
Aina was the one with her when he left home for two months.
And Aina would still be with her when another pending problem rear up. Because there will always be trouble and who stood around to deal with them mattered. He had not reassured her he would always be there for her, nor did he ever mentioned he loved her.
The ride home was spent in silence as various thoughts poured into their minds. Olaronke brought out the stick that indicated a tiny life was growing inside her. She didn’t know how she felt about the news. Maybe because she had suspected she was pregnant. Thinking it was a possibility was very different from knowing it was a reality. She felt terrified and elated just like how she felt every months seeing her period confirmed she was a complete woman. And now she would be a mother. And as a prospective mother, she knew, she had to tidied up the loose end in her life before her baby was ushered into the world. Everything has to be almost perfect and balanced between her and her husband and the world itself.
She turned towards Wande and watched him steered the car through the congestion in Ikeja. Wande was going to be a father. She knew he would be elated to hear the news. Suddenly, she couldn’t contained her feelings, all romantic dreams she had as a young girl of breaking such important news to her husband forgotten. She would tell him here in the traffic.
“Wande” she called
A sideways glance showed her turned towards him, her face lit up. What could possibly excite her. He wondered.
“I’m pregnant” she said smiling
“Pregnant? When?” he asked her looking about in the car
“I did the test at mummy Kemi’s place. I just checked the result here in the car” she said showing him the two lines.
It took him several minutes to process the news. A baby and he was the father? His face split into a wide smile before another thought occurred to him.
“Isn’t it too soon?” He asked her flicking on the car’s indicator and changed lanes, speeding on the barren road that led to his home.
She rolled her eyes. This was not the reaction she expected from him. She waited in silence for him to say something about how he felt knowing he would be a father come nine months. But he said nothing till they arrived in their home.
“Let’s go to bathroom and do another test. Do you have another?” he asked her as they entered their home. She nodded yes and together they went to the bathroom. Olaronke felt no urge to micturate because she was in his presence and they waited for minutes.
“Turn your back” she said
“I don’t know why you are still shy about some petty things” he said this leaving the bathroom for few minutes before he re entered.
When he came back, she was in the process of dipping the stick into it. Together they watched and saw the two lines. All feelings he suspended earlier on came back gradually to him. He was excited and threw his arms around her.
“How are you feeling?” he asked her
“My breasts ache and I feel nauseous every morning” she told him as they moved to their bedroom.
“Oh sorry” he said grinning at her, his hand rubbing her stomach. He couldn’t wait to watch her stomach grow bigger each month.
“We will see your doctor probably next week”
“When you are back from Abuja?” she asked. Her words reminding him of their little quarrel.
He brought out her phone and handed it to her.
She stared at the phone and told him she thought he wanted to seized it.
“It’s your phone, you can call whoever you wish. But remember our fate is in your hands now, I won’t hold any information from you. You can decide to share it with her” he told her.
Putting it that way, he knew he had won her over to his side. Olaronke would not snitched on them especially now she has a baby to think of.
“Don’t enslave yourself to memories that belonged to the past, think of the present and the changes that came with it. Fine, Aina was with you during those tough days. I was not there, your brother was not there because you didn’t inform us. Bolarinwa had no idea what happened to you those days. If you had told me, I would have stay with you all through” he said
“Are you serious?” she asked, disbelief in her eyes
“During those days, I called you, sent gifts. I even requested but you refused to see me. I have loved you all those since I was going to marry you. And I still love you and I will always be with you no matter what happens in life” he told her those words she had longed to hear. She hugged him. Here was someone who promised forever.
Tonight, Aina had used her other trick she learnt ages ago. She had reached out to Kunle and poured out her heart to him and once again he had surrendered. She thought as she smiled at her phone screen displaying another large amount added to her bank account. Not just that, Kunle had agreed that she could spent many months in his guest house at Abuja. She was pleased.
Men, were all the same except Oluwaniyi that pretended to be an exception to that easiest rule of hooking a man. It was quite simple; be vibrant, humorous, eager and vulnerable and watched how they came to you like a Knight. That was what she learnt from Mrs Georgina. She was waiting for the woman to go through with her divorce before she pounced on her with the secrets that was capable of destroying her life. That alimony would be hers alone. Aina smiled to herself, the future was bright for her. She would become stinkingly rich.
This rule had helped her to keep men for months which never led them to the altar. She wished a man would just make her his wife. Oluwaniyi was the one she set her eyes on and it was obvious she could no longer have him with Bonuade pregnant for him. What she would do was simple, she would followed the Yoruba adage that says “Instead of the rat to let go of the beans it cannot eat, the rat will rather lay it to waste”.
If she cannot have him, no one will. She promised.
She stood all alone at the airport, waiting for Kunle to picked her up. She was about to call him again when she saw the sleek black jeep pulled beside her. She hopped in with her backpack. She had traveled light and disguised herself with her blonde low hair cut. She saw Adunni the previous day and recognized a new change in her friend. Olaronke now lied to her, she didn’t mentioned her husband had a moment of insanity like Kunle told her or the investigations they are planning to carry out to discovered who was behind those mails and pictures.
She only prayed Grace did her job well, because now she could not cast any evil spell on her friend. Just psychological warfare.
They arrived into his private suite, the location suit her purpose. It was a remote place, not in the popular towns in Abuja.
She only planned to spent few days in Abuja to execute her plans.
” You said Olaronke was with us in bed that night at Glorious night?” Kunle asked, his excitement spilling all around her.
He had told her that he recognized the tattoo on her hand from Glorious night. And in truth, she did not remembered him. How many one night standers could she recalled anyway? So she quickly wielded tales that her friend was with them on the bed. Ever since she told him, he had became obsessed with the tale. And he was always repeating it. She was hoping his obsession would led him to revealed it to Wande or Adunni. It might not achieved much but at least drama would ensued and she loves drama.
They ate and slept together in the luxurious bedroom. She spent a restless and uneasy night, she couldn’t wait for the day to break so she could have an early start on her mission.The following morning Kunle left for the East on his business trip. She was pleased to have him out of the way, he was beginning to stifle her.
She called the few men she hired, those whom had worked with her in the past. Together they went through the plans on her phone. Bonuade according to the information she received was very pregnant. So she arrived at her store very late in the morning and left in the evening around seven pm. She always waited for her husband outside the store. They decided it was best to kidnapped her in the afternoon. It was the most agonizing moment in Aina’s life. Having to watch the clock tick very slowly before her plan would be carried out.
When it was three in the afternoon, Bonuade saw her sister’s car pulled in front of her pharmacy store. She was very happy. Her sister had not talked to her since the day she got married to Oluwaniyi. The driver got out of the car, he looked new. Her sister must have gotten another driver, she thought.
The young man greeted her politely. He was all smile as he told her Mrs Ololade wanted to see her. Bonuade smiled, her sister was finally here, she wanted her to grovel a little before she forgave her. She hurriedly told one of her workers that she wanted to see her sister. In her excitement, she allowed herself to be ushered into the back seat. The face she saw was Aina and before she could scream, she felt a cold metal object pointed at her stomach.
“You can scream now. I wondered why you thought you would never see me. You and I have unfinished business” Aina taunted her as the car sped to an unknown direction
Bonuade stared in impotent anger as Aina. There was little she could do in the face of danger. There were three armed men in the car with Aina shining her teeth like it was another deadly weapon.
“So you are pregnant. You must have been thinking you have arrived” Aina said laughing out loud
“Aina where are you taking me to” she asked her face contorted in fear. They were now at a lonely road with no human in sight.
“A place where you will have an abortion. Not just that, I have arranged for a doctor that will carry out hysterectomy on you. By the time am through with you, you will be useless afterwards” Aina said each words slowly and watched her crumpled into tears.
“I will do anything you want, I will divorced him so you can have him all to yourself” she sobbed holding onto her cloth
“Too late” Aina said slapping her hands off her
She continued to wept bitterly, there was no way she would come out of this alive staring at her surroundings that was full of trees with no houses in sight. And in her pregnant condition, how could she outran three men. No one would look for her here, not the police, nor anyone. The car pulled to a stop in front of a small hut that was devoid of civilization. The car door opened, and the tall young man she assumed was her sister’s driver pulled her out forcefully from the car, even though she begged him she could walk. Her right shoulder felt like it was out of its socket with the pain radiating through her. She continued to plead with him that she was pregnant but it fell on deaf ears
When they got into the hut, her fears grew legs that spun her running back to the front door before two hands caught her dragged her back. She could her Aina’s laughter in the background. She was pleased with herself. The room was full of crawling insects and Aina knew how much she feared anything that crawled.
The man pushed her into the dark room and shut the door. No sooner had she settled down that different insects crawled on her. She cried her eyes out. This was too much for her.
The window opened and she saw Aina’s face with the torch she held
“You must be thinking how I found this perfect location for you, right? It took me weeks and stress to find this place. I have had a lot of time to think of a punishment that befits you and thanks to your husband he speed it up with the way he treated me cruelly. This me using you to get back at him. I will be back in three days with your doctor. Have fun with your host” Aina said laughing as the window was shut in her face.
…to be continued