“Ruth, I hope you have arranged for the transport that will take us home because I can’t trek home please?” I whispered as she opened her back-pack and gave me a pankere (dried cane) while she held the second one. “I did my part too and also bribed his security man well. He let me in. My heart is galloping.” She put her free hand on her chest and grinned at me. “There is nothing like the feeling of cane on a wet body.” I giggled like a naughty kid and she hide a cough behind her palm. The shower stopped running and I cleared my throat. “Baby, can I come in?” I asked in a sultry voice as I turned the door knob and stepped in. “Sure, sweets. Please come in.” Adewale answered with a smile as he turned towards the door and the smile froze in place when he saw Ruth came in after me.
“What the hell is going on here?” He asked in a blustering voice as he reached for a towel and Ruth snatched it away. “Well, you look great in the nude.” I gave him a wicked smile and he shrank back against the wall. “You cheating son of a bitch. You think you can cheat on me with my friend and go scot free.” Ruth said coldly as she approached him and he raised up his hand. “Ladies, please take it easy. I can explain, let’s sit down and talk this out amicably.” He said in a persuading voice, trying to smile. “Does this place look like a boardroom to you?” I gave him the first stroke on the thigh with great relish and he yelped out loud. “Coward! Come out and play, lover boy!” Ruth gave him the second one and he lunged towards her with another yelp. I gave him another one on the butt and he scrambled out of the bath, rubbing his body frantically. We followed him into his bedroom with strokes of cane that never ceased raining on his wet nude body and watched his smooth skin developed into red painful welts. When the canes broke into two and he curled up in a corner of the room, begging and howling like a baby, we ran out of his house, howling with laughter like two lunatics and met the cab-man who was fast asleep just down the road. He drove us to Ruth’s house which was closer and we were still laughing when we went to bed.
The nightmare came again and this time, it was stronger and looked so real. It was warm and the sun was shining but it was very gentle on the skin. I wore a cotton t-shirt and shorts but my feet were bare. I sat on the edge of the elevated bank of the river on the brown grass and my legs were dangling in the flowing river. I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular as I gazed towards the spot where the sun hit the surface of the water and the glow seemed to warm my heart for no apparent reason. He came like he always did and sat down beside me. I didn’t look at his face but I could feel his steady gaze on my face and I felt resentment built up in me because he just shattered my solitude. “What do you want from me?” I asked after sometimes but still refused to look at him. “You look more beautiful every day.” He paused and I could hear the smile in his voice, I frowned. “I think it is right time I come for what is mine.” He added after a moment. “I am not yours and will never be yours. Please go away and stay away from me. Leave me to live my life please.” I said coldly as I withdrew my feet from the suddenly cold water and folded it at the knees to wrap my arms around it protectively. “What do you think would have happen to you if I have left you on your own? Shade is just a messenger. Stop being childish, Onitemi”He said in a chiding voice and I vaulted to my feet in anger. “What is it with all of you? Let me live my life the way I want it please.” I screamed down at him and his face was blurry at best. He laughed, a warm soothing sound and I gritted my teeth in anger. “I am coming and when I do, I don’t want to see that thing in you.” He said quietly. “No, it is mine. Leave me alone, go away!” I screamed and screamed until I felt someone put a hand over my mouth and shook me awake.
“Jummy, you are dreaming. Wake up please!” Ruth’s urgent, frantic voice penetrated my mind and I jerked upright, breathing heavily. “I am dreaming, right?” I asked as I took her arms, seeking for assurance and she nodded with a worried look. “Dear God! I cursed the day I met Femi.” I said in a shattered voice as I dropped back in bed and closed my eyes in anguish. “Has it been a recurring dream?” Ruth asked quietly as she stroked her palm over my sweaty brow and I nodded mutely. “I thought it was because of my experience at those ritualist shrine. It started since I was discharged from the hospital like every few days but this past week, it has been almost every day. Once I close my eyes, I see him.” I opened my eyes and stared at her. “Is it a spirit husband?” She asked quietly and I cringed visibly. “God forbid bad thing. I don’t know who he is and I sincerely don’t want to know. It’s so weird.” I shuddered visibly. “Ever since you meet shade, all these events should have changed your mind and tell you that the supernatural exist. I still insist you should talk to your mum.” She said with a faint smile as she pulled the bedspread up and lay down beside me. We slept off after a while.
It was my younger sister’s call that woke up me and I squinted at the phone with displeasure. Adenike was my immediate younger sister and my only sister but we were never close because my mother seemed to favor her throughout our growing years. She got a job in a marketing company shortly after her youth service corp and the last time we spoke was the day I called to congratulate her on her new job. I knew she must have visited me when I was in the hospital but it was when I was still unconscious and I never called to thank her. Guilty conscience pushed me to pick the call on the third ring and I sat up in bed.
“How are you, Nike?” I asked groggily in a low voice so as not to wake Ruth. “I am getting married, sister jummy. He proposed last night and I said yes.” Adenike gushed over the phone and I couldn’t help smiling. “Congratulations dear. I am so happy for you.” I said with a smile, even though I wasn’t sure what I was feeling at the moment. “Thank you. I am so happy, it feels as if I am dreaming.” I could practically see her happy grin. “Wake up, it is real! So when can I meet the lucky dude?” I asked with a smile. “I can bring him to your house any time you are at home. How is your health now, Sister Jummy? I am so sorry about your relationship with Uncle Femi.” She said in a sober voice after a moment and I winced as I watched Ruth stirred to life. “It is in the past please. Life goes on. There is enough time to meet your fiancée. Let me know when you choose the wedding date and we will rock Eko together. That wedding party will be the talk of town for months.” I said, getting into my elements and she giggled happily. “I trust you, my big sister. I will keep you updated.” She laughed heartily and I joined her, then we both hanged up. I took a deep breath and saw Ruth watching me.
“Your sister is getting married.” She stated as she sat up and I nodded as I dropped the phone on the bed. “How do you feel about it?” She asked with a smile. “Honestly, I don’t know.” I shrugged and sighed. “I am happy for her, I guess. She is my baby sister and she deserves the best” I grinned at her. “That is the spirit, dear. We will rock the party.” Ruth grinned back as she got out of bed. “I know I can count on you always.” I got out of bed too and followed her to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
I went home the following weekend and met my mother on her way out of her room. There were grey air on her temple and her steps were a bit slower than it used to be. I and Adenike took after her tall and long physique, I was fair like she was while Adenike was on the darker side like my dad but despite the fact that I looked like her younger version, we didn’t get on well. She was strict to me as a kid and my teenage years weren’t better either. She believed I was the oldest and should be an example to the others. As a result, I rebelled at every opportunity and left home at the first opportunity.
“Olajumoke, how are you? Hope you are much better now?” She came towards me with a smile and touched my cheek. “Thank you, mum. I am much better now. Are you going out?’ I asked as I moved away subtly from her touch to sit in a favorite seat in the sitting room. “I was just going for a stroll. I have been indoor since morning.” She moved to sit opposite me .I was surprised. I knew my mother was not the type to sit at home all day and was always after one business deal or another. Her hard work had paid off because she had become a very wealthy woman. “Hope you are okay? Why have you been indoor? That is quite unusual of you.” I asked casually and she was quiet for sometimes as she watched me steadily. “Time changes everything. I guess I have not had enough time for you guys and now you are all grown up.” She said wistfully and I shrugged as I fidgeted with my phone, wondering where to start from. “What is the issue, Jumoke? I know you have never find it easy to confide in me, so something must be bothering you for you to sit down there and chat with me” She said sadly. Because you have never been there when I needed you most and you never stood up for me when I needed you to, my mind screamed loudly but I said in a calm voice, “I have been having these weird dream almost on daily basis since the kidnap incidence.” I narrated the dream to her and she listened with rapt attention. “I see. Have you had other experiences before the dream?” She asked quietly and I hesitated, not wanting to tell her my experience with shade. “Go ahead, Jumoke. I know there is something else on your mind and if you tell me, it will make it easier for me to give you the answer you wanted.” She urged and I told her. “When I married your father, he was years older than I am and he was the first child in his big family. He was responsible for training his younger siblings, both the ones from his mother’s side and the step-ones. By the time, he was finally settling down, the pressure was much on him to have children as soon as possible. I couldn’t conceive the first year of our marriage and we started getting worried. We were both fine and very fertile according to the medical results we received from various test we under-gone but desperation pushed us to visit some places that shouldn’t be mentioned in broad day-light.” She took a deep breath and looked at me directly. “The last place we visited in a village in ile-ife before you were conceived, we made a covenant with whatever God it is they worshiped there, made love at the shrine in the middle of the night and went back home the following morning. I won’t go into details but I got pregnant that month and delivered you.” Her voice trembled as she stared at me and I flopped back on the seat with a weary sigh. “That man is not allowing me to rest and all my relationship with men have been hitting the rock. What are we going to do now?” I asked quietly and sat up straight when I saw her wiped tears from her face. “Mum, what is wrong? “I rushed to her side and she started crying in earnest as she turned to hug me. “I am so sorry, my daughter. I have made so many mistakes where you are concerned and I don’t know if you will ever forgive me.” She sobbed and I felt uncomfortable but continued petting her till she subsided. “It is okay, Mum. I know the root of the problem now and I will work towards finding a solution to it.” I said off-handedly and watched in confusion as more tears fell. “You are shutting me out again. “She said at last and I gave a resigned sigh. “I caused the problem and I will find the solution to it.” She said firmly as she got to her feet and went to the guest restroom to wash her face.
The sitting room door opened and Adenike came in, closely followed by a young man. They were holding hands. “Sister Jummy, How are you?” She rushed forward to hug me and I couldn’t help grinning at her. “The newest iyawo in town, how are you today?” I hugged her back and kissed her noisily on the cheek. My mother came out and watched us with a fond smile. “Good evening ma.” The young man prostrated for my mother. “How are you, my son?” Mother raised him up with a smile. “Mum, sister jummy, meet my fiancée, Olayinka Olaboye. Yinka, this is my sister and my mum.” Adenike introduced with a smile and I turned to him with a smile which froze on my face. “Olajumoke Davies, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Where have you been? ”Yinka grinned at me as he engulfed me in a warm bear hug and memories flashed between us.
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