Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One mask of trust!


I had just brushed my teeth and was heading to the kitchen to prepare breakfast when I bumped into Oga, his face looked pale and I felt he was still shocked over his wife’s reaction yesterday at the police station. ‘who sigh’ I said to myself as I walked past him as though he didn’t exist. Madam had asked me to stay and who was he to say otherwise, silently I praised my madam, she really knew how to coil her husband round her little finger. I stepped into the kitchen and was surprised to see madam at the sink washing vegetables, I made to collect them from her but she raised her hand in silent refusal and I stepped back. I looked around the kitchen for what to do next then remembered that I didn’t do my primary duties of the morning, sighing deeply I said.
“Madam shebi I fit carry ya pikin go school today?” I asked eager to continue my former chores.
My madam turned to look at me and shook her head.
“My son is at my sister’s place.” She said silently.
I nodded quietly and bit my fingernails which were rather dirty. Suddenly we heard the door bang hard and moments later the motor engine fired to life which signaled that Oga was on his way to work. The tension eased a bit and I dragged a small wooden kitchen stool and sat on it taking in deep breaths at intervals, I was shocked when madam asked.
“Senorita! Who is the other woman?”
Somehow I had known that madam had brought me back into her employ to question me about the woman Oga had in his life and even while I decided to sit back and wait for Madam’s next line of action, I wasn’t prepared for her question.
“Madam I no know ooo.” I innocently replied.
“Do you know that if I never dropped the charges against you, you would rot in prison? Are you ready to tell me who the other woman is or should I force it from your mouth?” She asked.
I stared at the woman who I overpowered yesterday in a small wrestling contest and almost laughed in mockery but I couldn’t, there was something else masked within her fa├žade that made me doubt she still had blood running in her veins. She looked like a killer.
“Madam, wetin I know be say…the woman get big booby and her yash come small.” I reply.
“Is she light skinned or dark skinned?” Madam asked further.
“For where? Bleach wan kill am…na so so cream full her body, she no yellow reach me.” I answered, boasting with my complexion.
“I need more details, how did she speak? Is she mature? How old do you think she is?”
“Errr…she fit don near thirty five, she get open teeth and she dey talk like pesin wey nose dey pain am.” I blurted.
At that instant, the knife madam held in her hands fell to the ground in a clattered heap, I rushed to pick it up but she pushed me away. Puzzled by her attitude, I move away.
“Does she have a dimple?” Madam asked.
“She no get pimple.” I supplied.
“I didn’t say pimple, I said dimple…the slight indentation on the cheek or chin.” Madam explained, showing me by placing her finger on her cheeks and pressing it low so that I could understand.
“Yes…madam she get for her two face…” I said, gesturing with my fingers as I placed them on my cheeks.
My madam held the kitchen sink for support and I saw her eyes water, after a while, she walked out of the kitchen but came back later with her phone. Shoving the electronic device in my face, she showed me the replica of the woman whom I had described.
“Ehnn madam!” I exclaimed “As I tell you how the woman be, na so you go snap am picture?” I ask dumbfounded.
“What rubbish are you talking about?” Madam asked me sounding irritated.
“Na the woman be dis na…na she.” I exclaim.
Madam stare at me in the face and shake her head in disbelief; right there before me, she dials a number.
“Hello Clara, where are you? Can you come to the house now? Okay…I’ll appreciate it. No…my husband isn’t home, I just really need a friend right now…. I think he’s cheating on me…please come over to my place….yes, an hour is fine.” My madam cried as she spoke on the phone.
As soon as she dropped the call, she straightened herself and stared at me in the face.
“I just called her…” Madam said
“Who?” I asked.
“The good for nothing woman who has been dating my husband.”
I couldn’t be more shocked, ‘there were miracle workers in this house!’ I said to myself.
“Wetin? You call am?” I asked with mouth hung open.
“My husband introduced her to me as a girlfriend of an old friend of his, I can’t believe I was gullible to let them deceive me. How long has this affair been going on? One year? Two?” madam spoke, more to herself than to me.
“Ehh ya…sorry.” I said, trying to sound sympathetic.
Madam gave me a sharp look and I was once again scared of what lurked beneath her gaze.
“Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned. Senorita! I need your fighting skills.” Madam said.
“Fighting skills?” I echoed.
“It is no news that you are a very big fighter, after the ‘jack-up’ you gave me yesterday,  I want you to do something for me.” Madam echoed.
I nodded, priding myself in the fact that even madam had reason to fear my fighting skill.
“First things first…..” Madam started.


*****
The doorbell rang as the clock struck eleven that morning and it did for a while but I didn’t answer, I and madam had hatched a plan that would make even the devil shiver in fear. After a while, the bell stopped and there was a loud knock at the door, I didn’t reply, I was kneeling behind the bar waiting for my prey to step into the house. As we had thought, Clara walked into the house speaking softly and calling out my madam’s name. I recognized the voice instantly, 'it was really the other woman and she had arrived.' After seeing no one in the sitting room, she went further to open the doors leading to the bedrooms. Sighing in frustration, she exclaimed aloud.
“Where is this woman? Why would she call me to her house and not be here. Sandra! It’s me Clara, are you home?” She called.
Nothing. No reply. The woman went to the kitchen and came out again to the sitting room. She sat on the sofa and waited for madam while dialing her phone. Immediately she dialed, Madam’s phone which sat not too far from the sofa began to ring.
“Stupid woman…so this is where she kept her phone. I have more important things to do rather than sit here all day and wait for her. Or wait a minute…did she go out to commit suicide?” she laughed and mocked “Imagine a woman whose husband can never love her, good riddance to bad rubbish.”
I was already sweating as I crouched behind the bar, it was time to pounce and I wasted no time. I jumped out from the bar space and landed a few feet away from the unwanted visitor. Her screams could be heard miles away as she almost had a heart attack as soon as she saw me. Now, I’ll explain my appearance and how I looked.
Before Clara came visiting, madam and I hatched a plan, it involved a little drama. Madam was to leave the house as though she had gone to quickly get some drinks for Clara in the supermarket while waiting for the right moment to come back home innocently as though oblivious to what was happening. I in turn was to wait for Clara to show up so that I could beat her up. My alibi would be that I was at the market at the time Clara came in, thus, dispelling any suspicions of being closely linked to the occurrence which was deemed to take place at the house. We had agreed to scare Clara in the most unfamiliar way and have her beaten badly by a frighteningly unknown specimen which would be-me. This was to make sure that she doesn’t recognize me when asked questions after the incident. Early this morning, as soon as madam and I left the kitchen, we proceeded to the spare room where madam proved her skills as a gifted make-up artist. Within fifteen minutes, she had transformed me into a very vile looking creature with red teeth and bloodshot eyes. With professional make-up, madam made me look hideous and unrecognizable and as soon as a mirror was placed before me, I almost ran for my life. I looked terrifying and every inch a vicious monster. She applied something black on my body and tore pieces of rags and clothes, transforming them into a suitable costume. I couldn’t believe my horrible transformation, I was aghast by the results.
“Jump out from the bar and attack her like a ferocious animal, make sure you tear her into pieces.” Was madam’s command as she stared at me.
I nodded, eager and willing to please.
“Then, as soon as you are through, run back to your room and wash yourself fast. I will place the market bag in your room filling it with yam and red oil. Emerge later from the back door as though you are just coming from the market but not to worry, I would be  back by then and ofcourse I’ll act surprised when she tells me that she was attacked by a horrible creature.” Madam laughed.
I joined in too.
“How you wan make I beat am? Make I give am chance to run comot?” I asked
Madam gave me a very threatening stare.
“I am not paying you fifty thousand naira for nothing, beat her till she’s almost unconscious, then run away. She will not be able to tell what attacked her and to anyone, she’ll sound paranoid.” Madam explained.
I had nodded in agreement. Now, as I stand before the woman in question while listening to her loud screams, I jump on her and attack. I bite and beat the life out of her body, in the process, most of my make-up smear on her clothes but I don’t care, I was eager to please my madam. Clara kicked, screamed and tried to fight back but in the end, she fell limp, I thought she was dead except for the small moans she made with her mouth. Suddenly, I heard the door crash into the sitting room and turned to see some hefty men rush towards me. Survival instints take over as I jump over the sofa and run towards my room and opening the door I run inside for safety. The men were fast, they followed me in and tried to grab me, I screamed and shouted loud as I grabbed my window’s burglary proof and climbed to the window top in panic. Turning back to face the men, I couldn’t believe my eyes, my room was littered with all manner of make-up and smeared with the paint my madam had used on my body. At that moment, my madam walked in looking forlorn and dejected. Facing the men, she said;
“Thank you for coming…I can’t believe I had a pervert in my home all these while. Even when my husband locked her up for hawking my son on the streets of Lagos, I still pitied her and brought her into my home again. Now, look at what she has done to my friend, the poor lady can…cannot speak, and I fear she has a stroke.” She cried.
My mouth hung open in shock and the effects of the shock must have affected my hands as I didn’t know when I let go of the burglary iron rail and landed on my bottom. All the men rushed at me and using some clothes they found scattered on my bed, they bound me hands and feet. I couldn’t be more astounded, suddenly my Oga storms into my room and demands an explanation as regards the incident in his house. Madam runs to him and hugs him in tears while one of the men proceeded to tell him what transpired.
“We think this young lady is possessed sir. We were sitting at the beer palour when your wife ran to meet us screaming that she heard a scream in the house. Apparently, she was on her way to the store to buy drinks for her friend who she was expecting when she realized she had forgotten her purse at home and on returning to retrieve it, she heard screams coming from her house. Scared over what could be happening, she ran to us for help and we rushed to the rescue only to see a horrible looking person attacking her friend, we are relieved to find out it’s just make-up paint. We chased her down and here we are.” Said the man.
“Honey…she took all my make-up…she used them for this…this evil thing. I’m so sorry I brought her back home…I feel so ashamed of myself.” My madam cried
My mouth hung open, ‘wasn’t this a pact with madam? Why was she acting like we weren’t in this together or…. did she set me up?’ I watched my Oga’s face contort as he advanced towards me in a bid to strangle me but was restrained by the men.
“We will take her to the police station…they’ll take it from there.” Said another of the men.
They bundled me up and carried me away and as I was carried past madam, I heard her mutter for my ears only.
“Thank you for being my means to a triumphant end.”
I shook my head in disbelief and at that instant I knew that I had been taken for a ride; how did I expect a woman whom I had roughly placed her child on the streets of Lagos and in the same bid, kissed her husband, a truth she knew already, forgive me easily. At that moment I realized that I had to wisen up, Lagos wasn’t for kids and if I ever managed to escape my present predicament alive, it would be a total revamp for me. As I was bundled out of the house, I shouted aloud in frustration;

“Lagos…chai! Na like dis we go dey dey?”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

All charges dropped


I looked at the small wall before me and counted the days with the tip of my fingers and tongue; it was day five and I had little or no chance to being let out of the tiny hell hole I had gotten myself into. From my sitting position, I could hear the voices from the other cellmates as they screamed;
“Abeg Corporal…release!” They cried.
This wasn’t the first time I was visiting a prison cell, I remember visiting one at a very young age, then, it was my father who was locked up for disturbing the peace of the village, other times were my brothers who had been locked up for one crime or the other.
 I wanted to scream and beg as the rest but couldn’t as my throat almost cracked up from thirst. I stood up from the ground and walked up to the huge metallic rail which separated me from freedom and stared. Police officers walked about and they spoke loudly as well, mostly ordering some cell mates to keep quiet. I was left in my small cell alone unlike other inmates who were locked up in groups. Opening my mouth for the first time in a long while, I coughed and spoke;
“Abeg, I fit see water drink for here?”
One of the policewomen who stood closer to my cell spat;
“Yes na…go buy am for outside.”
“Aunty Corporal abeg… I never chop since yesterday. Na dat beans wey I wack for the other night I still carry so.”
“You never see nothing! Child abuse and human trafficking na the biggest crime for we country now…you never see anything.” The policewoman repeated.
“Aunty I no traffic, I no abuse…why una dey talk all these thing…ehn? This no be the first time pesin dey yarn me yawa for dis same tori.”
The policewoman laughed and walked up to meet me, snorting to my face she said;
“Your Oga and Madam don gree say dem go lock you for hia, carry key troway…you never see nothing.”
My mouth stood open as I stared at her in fear and confusion, at that point I heard a loud voice at the counter, I recognize the voice because I have heard it one too many times. It’s my madam, this was the first time I was hearing her voice after three whole weeks, she had obviously just returned from her trip.
“I want to see that disgusting pig! Who and what does she think she is? Hawking my child on the streets of Lagos, where is she?”
 “Madam, take it easy, this is not a place to show your fighting skills, this is a police station.” Said the policeman at the counter.
“Do you have children?” My madam asked, her face looking fierce.
“No…but I hope to, someday.” The policeman answered.
“Then you can never understand what I am going through. I came back from my trip to find out that my nanny has been hawking my child on the streets of Lagos and adding salt to my open wound, she almost killed my husband with her amateur plays at seduction…he told me everything.” My madam shouted screaming at the top of her lungs and beating her chest. “Senorita…if I don’t kill you then I am not who I am!”
“How dare you threaten her life, and in the police station too.” Shouted an offended policeman. “You too madam, are under arrest.”
“And you, police officer, are the biggest idiot on earth.” Madam snapped.
I heard the clink of the handcuffs as it slapped her wrists and I heard my madam’s protesting scream as she was hastily pushed towards my cell.
“You will pay for this; I will sue your bloody ass.” My madam swore.
To my surprise, the policeman nodded to the policewoman who had been speaking to me, and they opened my cell and pushed my madam inside, removing the handcuffs used on her in the process.
As soon as my madam entered my cell, I heard the cell door click and the chuckle of the policewoman, then I knew it was battle time. Madam didn’t even wait a second before she pounced on me, kicking, scratching and biting. I didn’t want to fight her back but the scratches were too much and besides, I had done her no wrong, the only thing I did was; make sure I exhibited her son’s talent to the world. I suddenly grew angry at her audacity to attack me and I roughly grabbed her legs and threw her down to the ground. I can swear I saw her eyes spin and I was scared that she would die from the fall but my fears were put to rest, she was fine.
I stared at her in pity as she struggled to sit up; the truth is; she shouldn’t have attacked me, I used to be a big fighter in my village days and was yet to be beaten till I landed in Lagos and was shown black and blue by Shade in Janet’s compound.
My madam seemed to calm down, she looked dazed and in shock, she sluggishly moved up against the wall and stared at me in confusion.
“You want to kill me now right? You hawked my son on the streets, you shamelessly tried to seduce my husband and now, you want to kill me. I should never have hired you.” She said.
“Abi you don talk finish?” I asked, when I saw that she was in no mood to answer, I continued; “I no hawk ya pikin…una no understand say the boy get talent..”
“Talent? Was it the reason you took him to different bustops everyday in a bid to make money? Mind you, I searched your room and found over twenty five thousand naira hidden under your mattress. Is this how you pay me for bringing you into my home?”
“So for de good wey I do, una no fit talk thank you. Ya pikin helep save im papa when him wan die… I see him talent come show de world, na bad I do una?” I started.
“My husband is asthmatic; it’s a condition that’s peculiar to some people. My son had been taught to give his father an inhaler whenever he needs it…are you that daft?”
I blinked my eyes, at first in confusion then later, in stupidity for I had been foolish all along and I had just understood what I should have known from the beginning.
“Una tell me say Oga get Rasthmatic?” I say, trying hard to defend myself.
“You triggered it…didn’t you? My husband told me…he told me how you pounced on him in a bid to kiss him and how he fought you off and was seized with asthma attack…my husband tells me everything.”
I was caught off guard by the last statement, ‘does he really?’ I asked myself.
“Madam…I know say, I for ask una before I carry una pikin comot for miracle, wetin I no know be say, why my kiss go give Oga rasthmatic.”
“Will you shut up? You kissed my husband and still have the guts to talk to me about it…you stink!” Madam spat.
“I know say I dey smell but I fine pass that sisi wey dey totori Oga when you travel.” I say.
My madam’s eyes widened like saucers.
“What did you just say? Senorita! What did you say?”
“Haba! No be you tell me say Oga dey tell you everything, why him no talk dis one?” I mutter.
“Wait a minute…I mean... he does tell me everything, or doesn’t he?” Madam spoke, more to herself than to me.
“Madam wetin I know be say… I wan comot for hia…if una no want me for una house again, make I go, no be for cell I wan stay, na Lagos hustle I come…” I was cut short by a man’s voice from the counter, without second guessing I knew it was Oga.
“How dare you lock my wife up with that swine?” Oga shouted.
“Don’t shout in a police station or I will lock you up too.” The policeman who had locked my madam up threatened.
My madam looked at me, this time, not with pride or haughtiness but in humility.
“Senorita…what woman?” She asks.
“Oga don come, abeg ask am yaself. I no want insult.” I say sounding hurt.
“Do you want the charges dropped against you? I can do that….just tell me what you know.”
“Charge? I charge you?” I snap, not understanding the meaning of charge in her context.
“No…it’s not that I mean I can release you from this cell if you tell me everything you know.”
I open my mouth wide for the first time and laugh.
“You…you wan release me…you wey dey for cell wan release me wey dey de same cell. I don even senior you for cell sef, if dem wan release pesin first…na me.” I say stupidly.
My madam looks at me in shock, she obviously couldn’t believe I was that foolish to think that she would be in the police cell for a longer time than myself.
“Senorita! I am the one who’s responsible for your being in the cell and I have the power to drop all charges against you.” Madam said calmly.
I laugh some more as I hear the footsteps of the policeman and Oga near the cell.
“You no get power to do anything.” I continue.
Oga and the policeman walk to the cell and the policeman fishes out the keys from his pocket and giving Madam a stern glare, he says;
“I hope you’ve learnt your lesson madam.” He says “You can go home now.”
My eyes widen I disbelief when I realize madam’s words were true; she was free to go.
“Madam I beg no leave me for here.” I plead tugging on to her skirt.
“Will you leave her alone? You swine!” Oga barked at me.
“She’s coming home with us.” Madam said.
I was shocked to the roots of my hair and so was my Oga who stared at his wife in disbelief.
“Sir, I would like to drop the charges and I am sure my husband wants to do the same.” Madam said, turning to face the policeman.
Oga’s mouth was open in shock but words didn’t emerge. As for me, I hugged myself in jubilation as I congratulated myself and kept muttering over and over again.

“Weldone Senorita! Weldone! Lagos go do you better, who sigh?”