Sacrilege – Episode 41
© Adeola Nissi
Every part of her body ached and craved a warm bed to lie on. Sleep weighed heavily on her brows but Gloria was sure she probably would never wake up again if she closed her eyes to sleep. Or maybe she would wake up… maybe life would wake her up as punishment just to keep on tormenting her. Yeah, that’s what life would do. Life is a dark cruel place where no fairness exists. Or maybe it does exist and she was just being punished justly for all her wrong doings. But is it fair that her innocent child should suffer for the sins that she committed?
While sleeping around, she had wrecked a lot of havoc in people’s lives; she had broken homes, she had watched women who were once happy with their men cry bitter tears because they found their loving spouses in bed with her. She had known shame until she became immune to it, a lot of happy homes had been shattered right at the junction of her thighs… how was she to know that her own daughter would be the one to suffer for all she did? If only she knew that the water she spilled on the ground only created a slippery plane for her daughter to thread upon, then maybe, just maybe she would have done things differently. Now, Teju had suffered from heartbreak to heartbreak, inheriting all the sadness Gloria had inflicted on women. As beautiful as she was, men used and dumped her like a low quality synthetic weavon. No one was ready to have her as a wife despite her model-like beauty and huge loving heart. Gloria had thought she was saving her little Tinuke by abandoning her, little did she know that she could still hurt her indirectly because hurting other people was placing a curse on her own innocent child.
Years ago, she had made herself believe she had no other option and that going into prostitution was the only option she had left. But the truth is, there is always an option because option itself is a choice between two or more variables. Claiming that there were no options was just her taking the easy way out. But she had been so young, so naïve, so hurt and so pregnant that she had taken whatever life dished for her. After all, a hungry man doesn’t ponder over the smell of a meal to consider if he finds it appealing. But then, some meals are better left uneaten because poison eats up the intestines and leaves irreparable damage.
It had been a long painful debate with Teju but nothing was changing her mind. She vehemently refused to kill her own child by going for chemo. Teju had obviously thought thoroughly about her decision before she went ahead with it and she was determined to stick with it to the end. The thought of having the child made her happy, Gloria had soon realized. She could see the glow in her eyes as she talked about giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, it seemed to be all she ever wanted and she wasn’t ready to sabotage it now that she was about getting it. Seeing her that happy and enthusiastic, Gloria wanted her to have what she wanted; she understood Teju perfectly because she also had the same desires when she was a little girl until her father totally shattered those dreams. Gloria wanted her daughter to have her own dreams come true, she wanted her daughter to have the joy she never had, the one she tasted and let go. Even knowing she was going to let her go, holding her child for the few days she was privileged to had been the best thing that ever happened to her; it is a feeling no one can fully express. Sge wanted Teju – her little Tinuke – to also experience that.
But then, she might never have the chance of holding her own child in her arms; that is if she even makes it to the labour room. Hassan had painted a very clear image in Gloria’s mind of the consequences of being pregnant in Teju’s medical state, and now, getting it out of her head seemed to be a problem. How could she encourage Teju on a path that can claim her life? When she had discussed with Hassan, he had let her know that only Deolu could convince Teju otherwise. Teju had done everything in her power to prevent Deolu from finding out about her medical state because she knew he could convince her. Seeing how hurt he was would change her mind. But Gloria doubted it now. Deolu was even one of the reasons Teju had gotten pregnant to start with.
Gloria entered the hospital, her heavy legs moving of their own accord. She hadn’t been into the hospital ever since Frank delivered the devastating news of Teju’s health condition. But now, going back in, Gloria felt she should probably not be going in to see Frank because she just might kill him with her very own hands. Teju had told her all the gory details of the parts Frank had played in putting her in the dicey position she was in right now. He had made her do terrible things, insane things, even blackmailed her using her medical state as an armor. What sort of monster had she married? She had suspected as much. When Laura came up with the accusation and Frank denied knowing Teju, she just knew he was lying. How was it that Frank had hurt his own daughter unknowingly, all in the bid to get revenge for something that happened so many years ago? Frank had been so focused on destroying Mark over a mistake he made that he had ended up destroying himself and so many people in the process.
Opening the door to Frank’s room, Gloria stepped inside quietly. Anger and pain coiled her insides as she closed the door and leaned in it, staring at her husband’s form on the bed. Frank’s head was turned to the side, she couldn’t see his face. His shoulders were set so defiantly, even on the bed, he could be so intimidating. She let out a sigh of exasperation as her anger dissipated. Staring at him now, she could only feel pain and pity. She was hurt beyond measure but she couldnt bit feel pity for Frank. Like everyone, he had done so many things wrong, made mistakes. He might seem so unapproachable but Gloria knew he was just a hurt man who hadn’t been given the chance to heal. She came in ready to fight him to the finish for all he had done to her daughter unknowingly but she reminded herself that she had also hurt her daughter unknowingly. How could she castigate him over a crime she was also guilty of?
She couldn’t resist remembering how he had come to her many years ago. He had been in so much pain when he had picked her out of the whore house just days after his own wedding. She had wondered what happened to him, had been ensnared by the need to make him happy but some wounds just don’t heal unless the hurt person wants to be healed.
Frank’s head turned slowly and his eyes met hers. Silence reigned as they stared at each other but Gloria was not blind to the pain in Frank’s eyes. “Thought you were asleep” she finally forced.
Frank stared at her. “Can’t sleep”
He noticed her restrain. He saw the trembling of her lips and the anger that held her tears at bay. Frank knew she was angry and would like nothing more than to fly at him and hurt him just as much as he had hurt her but for some reason, she was not exploding or cursing the daylight out of him. She just stared at him, the hurt in her eyes nearly undoing him. He so wanted her to yell at him, hit him even; because that would make him feel better than he was feeling right now. How could he have used and hurt his own daughter without him knowing? How could he have shot himself with the same bullet that he aimed at his enemy? Mark had apologized and apologized over and over again for so many years. He had done so many things to right the wrong he had committed until he became frustrated by Frank’s unwillingness for forgive. Frank just hadn’t been able to forgive Mark and it had slowly turned to a poison inside him. And he saw it now. He saw the havoc that he unforgiveness had wrecked and right now, he wished death would just take pity on him by claiming him. But wishes are not horses and life is a place where those who wish to live die and those who wish to die end up living longer than they want.
“You can say it.” Frank finally mouthed. “Say everything. Insult me, hit me… God knows I deserve more punishment than you are ready to dish out”
Gloria stared at Frank. There was really nothing she could do or say to him that could hurt him more than he was already hurting himself. The pain was undisguised in his eyes and Gloria knew words were not the punishment to give him now. “I am not going to insult you, Frank, or hit you” Gloria began quietly. “Words are not enough to express the pain you have caused me today, or the pain you caused your daughter. Fix this. Get yourself out of that sorry bed and fix all the mess you caused because you couldn’t forgive your brother for a mistake he made years ago. Fix it! That’s your punishment”
With that, she turned and left the room.
***** Jane laughed as Tess chanted ‘again’ in a cute baby-like manner as she tried to stand up straight. “Oh Tess, you are already dizzy” Jane tried denying her but Tess was very persistent, chanting ‘again’. “Oh, alright. Just one more time” Jane grabbed Tess’ two hands and rotated in a circle, swinging her round in the air, sending her legs flying. Tess chuckled in glee and Jane couldn’t help chuckling back. She dropped Tess on the rug and burst into laughter as Tess fell back unable to stand still under the onslaught of dizziness. God! Jane loved kids and Tess in particular was one adorable little bundle. Tess tried to find her footing a couple of times and fell back until she finally did. Jane laughed and pulled Tess to herself. “Come here, you. You’ve played enough, it’s time to go to bed” she said as she took off Tess’ clothes. She looked towards the bathroom. Margaret was taking so long in the bathroom, she thought. “Hey, are you bleaching?” Jane yelled at Margaret who was just in the en suite bathroom.
“Giving birth” Margaret returned and Jane smiled.
“Didnt take this long to give birth to Tess, did it?”
“Get pregnant if you wanna find out”
Jane grinned. “I will. Just hurry up. My niece needs her beauty bath. Sleeping in the bathroom wont make you more beautiful than her”she said. “Hear that baby, you are more beautiful than mummy” Jane tickled Tess and the little girl giggled.
Jane finished taking off Tess’ clothes and the kid ran around the room naked, waiting to take her bath before bed. Jane stood and was packing Tess’ clothes to the laundry basket when Margaret’s phone rang. She grabbed it and saw that it was an unknown caller. “Hey, sis Mag; your phone is ringing, should I pick up?”
“No! No, don’t pick it” Margaret yelled from the bathroom and the bathroom door flew open almost instantly, making Jane jump a little. Soapy and naked, Margaret burst out of the bathroom and snatched the phone from Jane.
“That’s was fast” Stunned, Jane stared puzzled at her sister.“Is something wrong?”
“Uhn? No, nothing” Margaret tried a smile.
The smile was sure not working as Jane frowned at Margaret. Jane eyed Margaret’s phone – wondering what she was hiding – before fixing her with one of those looks that was rife with questions. “You are not picking your call”
Margaret blinked and stared at the phone. “Oh yeah, uhmmm…” Margaret turned on her heels and disappeared into the bathroom again, closing the door behind her. Jane frowned thoughtfully at the door, ruminating over what had just happened. Thinking about it, she had noticed weirdly that Margaret had been practically inseparable from her phone all day. She had been making secret calls and had been perpetually on the edge for some unknown reasons. Something was not right and she knew it in her gut.
In the bathroom, Margaret sat on the toilet seat. How on earth had she been so careless as to leave her phone in the room? Typical Jane could have picked the call without even asking for her permission but now, she knew her sister would be suspicious. She had to come up with something, some sort of cover up excuse that Jane would buy. Swallowing hard, Margaret silenced the phone and returned the call she missed. She opened the tap and kept the water running to douse the sound of her voice. Keeping her voice conspiratorially low, she spoke immediately the phone was picked on the other end. “Hey” she whispered into the mouthpiece of her phone. “How’s it going?”
“As planned. We are leaving the hideout now to collect the money.”
Margaret swallowed. “Good.”
“Is everything clear?”
“Yes, you can relax; no one told the police”
There was a relieved exhale on the other end. “Good. That’s what I want to hear”
Margaret felt her heart racing in her chest and she closed her eyes briefly. “And Laura? How is she?”
“You’d see when she is released” he said. “Bye”
“Be careful” Margaret managed before the phone went dead. She let out a shaky sigh and rubbed off perspiration from her brows. Running her shaky hand through her hair, she scratched her scalp nervously and bit her lip. God! She felt so evil, doing this to her own sister. But then, Laura wasn’t her sister, Margaret reminded herself and besides, she deserved it for making her go through the pain of marrying Collins, right? She deserved it for being the cause of her father’s pain for so many years. It was bad enough that she had felt her father paid more attention to Laura than he paid to her, it was worse now, knowing Laura wasn’t even her sister after all, or rather, wasn’t entirely her sister. They shared the same mother but not the same father, so technically, Laura was half sister, half cousin. She deserves this for putting her in this mess, right?
But she knew it wasn’t true. She was just telling herself all these to make herself feel better about the inhumane thing she was doing to her own blood just for personal benefits. She could lie to herself that Laura deserved whatever she was doing to her now, but the truth was that she didn’t. Like it or not, Laura was probably the most loving and forgiving being Margaret had ever known. Jealousy had blinded her for years and yes, she was still jealous of the happiness and love that Laura received from everyone around her, but Margaret knew why she was doing this. She needed the money so badly. She has to abscond, go somewhere far where she can start a new life with her daughter. Collins hadn’t let her work for a single day since she got married and as a result, she had no single Naira in her name. But she needed money now more than ever to give herself and her daughter a life somewhere far away, somewhere far away from Collins. She had to get away before things got messier than they already were.
She knew why she was running, but no, her pursuer was not the monster, the monster was she herself.
Her hands were tied, her lips taped, and her eyes blindfolded. The only things Laura could use to stay in touch with her environment were her ears and skin. She could hear her two captors moving around, grabbing things perhaps. All her hopes of escaping were long gone now. How could she possibly escape when she couldn’t even see anything? Her best option now was to let them win, she thought resignedly. One person opened the door and left the room.
Then she felt it. Eyes on her. The only person in the room had his eyes on her, watching her a bit too keenly. Laura felt her blood run cold as dread settled within her. Nothing about the eyes on her was okay. Which one of them was it? Please, not the evil Rogba… Laura stayed completely still as she felt him moving, advancing towards her. Fear engulfed her until she tasted it. She had never felt more powerless in her entire life. Tears left her eyes, disappearing into the blindfold over her eyes. Unable to speak or see, she felt so useless. Then, the door opened.
“What are you doing?” That was Ajayi’s voice. So, she had been all alone with Rogba after all…
“About to sample the product” Rogba responded, eyeing Laura, his eyes rife with lust.
“Hey, don’t you dare” Ajayi snarled at Rogba, taking few more steps into the room.
“Why not? I haven’t even made the b**** pay for drilling a hole in my leg with her damn shoe” Rogba hissed. “See as she fresh”
“You are not doing this! It is bad enough that we kidnapped her” Ajayi retorted.
Rogba moved and Laura sagged in relief when she realized it was away from her. “And so? No be hellfire everybody dey go? Make I kuku sin all the sin wey I fit sin now” he looked at Laura, a devilish glint in his eyes as he advanced towards her again, his hands on the zip.
“Stop” Ajayi snapped, going round to put himself between Laura and Rogba. “She said…” he took a deep breath and lowered his voice. “She said we should not ‘touch’ her. Get over yourself and let’s go get the money already”
Rogba hissed. “Na woman go tell me wetin I go do? Abeg commot” he tried to move Ajayi out of his way but he was having none of it as Ajayi faced Rogba head on.
“You will not touch her” he said, his face hard and his hands fisted in readiness for a fight if it came to that.
Rogba squared his shoulders and advanced towards Ajayi, a glint of evil in his eyes as they faced each other like bulls at a pissing contest. Laura tasted the thumping of her own heart in the base of her throat as she sat paralyzed by fear as her fate hung in the balance.
Deolu peered from his hiding spot in a lonely bushpath through the darkness at the house within eyesight. They’d been waiting for several minutes now; why weren’t they coming out? He felt an uneasy feeling in the put of his stomach. What if the men had discovered them and found them out? Or worse, what if they they don’t doing something untoward, something terrible to Laura? She was a woman after all and an enticing one at that, all alone with ruthless men, what if… what if they decided to hurt her, or rape her…
Deolu’s hairs stood on ends and he tried to draw a decent breath while shaking off the mental picture he had painted in his mind. Imaginations of what they might be doing to her had been tormenting him all day till he was sure he had gotten to the bank of insanity. A couple of times, he had been tempted to burst in there to rescue Laura, damning the consequences but Felix had reined him in, letting him know that irrational decisions could only do more harm than good.
Deolu peered at the house again. Still no movement. Why on earth weren’t they coming out?!
“Relax, Deolu” Felix cautioned quietly.
“Easy for you to say. Why aren’t they coming out? They should be driving to the place of the drop now” he scratched his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “Sure we have the right house?”
“Yes, and calm down. Being paranoid doesn’t help now”
“Paranoid? Only God knows what they are doing to her in there” Deolu swallowed. He thought of something and stilled. “What if are not the ones coming for the money? What if they are sending other people and don’t intend to give Laura up?”
Felix didn’t look at him. “I’ve thought of that. If they don’t come out in ten minutes, we move in”
And so help them if they had touched Laura in any way, he just might become a murderer tonight.
“Wait!” Felix suddenly jerked upright, peering into the dark. “There they are. They are coming out.” He touched his ear. “Can you see that boys?”
Deolu could see… He suddenly became filled with so many emotion as he caught caught sight of Laura. She was still in her special sexy cloth from last night. Her hands were bound, lips taped and he could vaguely see a piece of clothing covering her eyes. He felt everything; anger, regret, rage… He felt like tearing apart the throat of the man that held her roughly, dragging her towards the van as Laura struggled. Deolu’s hands fisted by his sides as the man pushed her at the back of the vehicle and clammed the door.
“Move in now” he vaguely heard Felix say. Then it happened. Three men bursted out out of nowhere, guns in hands, aimed at the kidnappers. “Freeze” they yelled.
Not waiting any longer, Deolu jumped behind the wheel of his car, not waiting for Felix’s go ahead and drove straight into the scene. It all seemed too easy, almost as though the kidnappers were new to the business. One of the two men tried to escape and was stopped with a gunshot in the air. They had their hands up and were being handcuffed by the time Deolu rushed out of the car.
He opened the van and his heart shattered when she shrank away like a scared cat. “Laura” he called as he touched her. “It’s me, Laura” She relaxed, recognizing his voice. With shaky fingers, he loosed her bound hands, removed the tape and gag over her mouth and took off the blindfold almost at the same time.
Laura stared through teary eyes at Deolu, still not believing what had just happened. “Deolu… Oh, Deolu” tears of relief fell from her eyes and she collapsed in his hands.
Deolu held her trembling form so tight as her slender hands clutched him in tears. “Shhh… I’m here” he whispered. “I’m here”
To be continued