(Winning entry in the 2015 WordMaster Challenge Competition)

 

A short read by

 

©Akanbi Albert Afeso

March, 2015, Nigeria.

 

‘…for every rape victim…throughout history…’

 

 

She was walking lazily on one of the myriad pavements that beautify the landscape of the Obafemi Awolowo University campus.  The fierce September sun was directly overhead her. Even though her umbrella blocked some of its rays pouring down like bullets from a machine gun, nothing blocked the heat. In her mind, but for the heat of the sun, it was a beautiful day by all indication. The university campus was abuzz with activities. Occasionally a car went past, leaving its treads in the melting tarred road like the wake of a ship at sea. The sea of heads that was the university students who went about their everyday activities only served to make Odun proud of herself as a student.

 

In her fitted Sunday dress you might have mistook Odunola Bayewu for a fifteen year old. In truth however, she was twenty, a happy, uncomplicated girl with a nature as open and beautiful as flowers that decorates a vast valley. Very down to earth and an amiable girl, one could say she inherited her beauty from her mother. Generations earlier, her parent had moved to Ile-Ife from Ado-Ekiti for cultural and business purposes. Her father had recorded some success in his business which he started soon after the migration with his family to the ancient city. This success informed his decision to settle-in. That settling-in made it very difficult to tell whether or not Odunola was a stranger or an indigene of Ile-Ife. As a matter of fact, she was born in the ancient town. She had so blended into the system that was the unique ‘Yorubaness’ of the indigenes of the ancient city, like a  leaf that, though served as wrappings for a piece of soap, had become so blended with it that it had become the soap itself.

 

On the vast Motion Ground where the Obafemi Awolowo University Senate Building stood like a fearless king where she stood, ahead of her, a car pulled up just a few feet from her. She had noticed it cruise by once before but had not paid any attention to it. This reason accounted for why she could not make out the driver through its tainted black gleaming glasses when the car pulled over in front of her. It was a wine colour posh car. As she walked past it, the driver side glass started to wind down.

“Hello, Odun,” she heard a masculine voice called behind her.

She paused and turned.

Ade Olaitan was neither too tall nor was he too short but was lean, and always well-dressed. His brown eyes and medium athletic build added to his unique features. His white teeth flashed in the sunlight as he spoke. Everyone in Ile-Ife knew Ade; the son of a wealthy man. Even though Odun knew him, she never imagined Ade knew her so well enough to know her by name.

“How did you know my name, Ade?” she asked with a surprised thrill.

“How did you know mine?”

“Ah! Everyone knows your name around here Ade. You’re Chief Olaitan’s son.”

“Right, you got me there” Ade chuckled and added “Well, as for me, I just knew your name” he laughed as though the words were funny to he himself.       “And where’re you going standing in this hot afternoon sun?” he asked.

She hesitated and looked down at the concrete ground of Motion Ground as if she was trying to work out the solution to some invisible puzzle engraved on the tarred floor.

“I am just chilling here for the sun to abate. After here am going to church,” she said finally with a faint smile.

“But Odun, why do you like Holy Family Parish so much?” His rich, kid-like voice was gently mocking as he added with a laugh: “Or maybe it’s because of Reverend Father Akinsanya. I know a number of babes that have a crush for the man….Hmmm”

 

Odun blushed more deeply at the reference to Father Akinsanya. She did not know how to reply. It was true that she liked the young Yoruba priest, with his funny accent and dark eyes, but she wasn’t going to church because of him. She loved God and the serenity of Holy Mass. The Eucharist meant so much to her. This was why she always found the walls within the confines of the parish so comforting and thus her desire to always be in church. Besides that, since the demise of her father, the good times she had known in her childhood days had all faded like smoke from a hammertan fire. All that was left were memories; childhood memories. Everything she had now being her mother and her dear friend, Dayo; a friend like a brother.

 

Dayo, a boy of 23 years, was a huge support for her and her mother. It was the frustration that emanated from the reality of the fact that the life she had always known when her father was alive was all gone in a twinkling of an eye that always dragged her to church. It was sentiments like this, more than anything else that always drew her to church like a leash around a dog’s neck pulling it to purpose by a strong hand. Church served as a fortress where she hid from the many questions that have plagued her mind ever since the death of her father.

 

Ade looked suddenly grave. His dark skin seemed even darker. As if he regretted his words. Possibly he saw the confusion in Odun’s eyes. In any case, he did not wait for an answer. He was too in a hurry for one.

“Can I offer you a lift to church then? I am going towards Road 7” he said, putting his sunglasses back on. She noticed how thick their frames are. Real gold, she thought, like the big, fat watch on his wrist, and the large chain on his neck that had almost the semblance of one she saw some persons wearing in some picture she saw some days past that depicted images of slaves who were being transported to the Americas in the era of slave trade. His ‘Yahoo Boy’ dress style glaring, Odun didn’t know what to make of his offer.

“It’s a Honda baby, 2006 series, from Papa. Don’t you like it? The sound system is gbedu and the air conditioner is amana tight” he added nonchalantly. The sun was still beating down mercilessly. With a handkerchief she wiped the sweat from her forehead. Ade gave a proud tug that seems to mean ‘the ball is your court, hop in or stay here and continue to bake in the sun’ at his collar while he waited for Odun’s decision with baited breath, praying secretly she accepted his offer.

“The sun is hot Odun, my car is air-conditioned. More so, you won’t be late,” he continued as if he was reading from a script and that he had deciphered what was going on in her mind. After a moment’s hesitation, Odun accepted his offer. She jumped in to the car. Ade revved the engine and they zoomed off leaving behind the massive senate building and the equally massive and imposing Hezekiah Olusanmi Library standing as if in some disappointment with Odun for entering the car….

 

 

 

 …soon after Ade zoomed off, he tossed some chocolate-like stuff on Odun’s laps with the words ‘want some?’ and a mischievous grin. As if she was not in control of her hands, against her wish, Odun took the chocolate-like stuff rapped in a transparent nylon, loosened it and tossed it in her mouth. It tasted both sweet and bitter. What was it? She wondered yet didn’t bother to ask. As Ade maneuvered the steering, he was watching Odun from the corner of his eyes. Moments into the journey Odun began to feel in her head as though someone was slowing tossing a snooker ball to and fro inside it but was still half conscious enough to register what was happening. Instead of the church parish at Road 7 as he had promised, Ade drove Odun to a quiet cassava plantation in Ipetumodu, outside Ile-Ife town along the Ife-Ibadan expressway. There in that isolated corner of the ancient city, with his car concealed among the large cassava sticks and tall shrubs, Ade over powered the now too-weak-to-resist Odun and thoroughly introduced himself into her.

 

His desire for Odun over the years has been somewhat of a disease for him. Like an obsession; that kind of urge that could only be satiated in the doing of the deed itself and nothing else. All along he had promised himself that he was going to have carnal knowledge of her knowing full well that he could never achieve this feat any other way owing to Odun’s near fanatical kind of Roman Catholicism. How could he ever ask Odun to bed? First, Odun never liked him; secondly, Odun was overly religious.

 

Fact of the matter is, knowing that he was going to go away for the next three months; he had trailed Odun to campus earlier that afternoon. So his plan worked when Odun accepted the offer for a ride. Odun was in a daze. So shocked that she barely understood what was happening to her, but was fully sensitive to the raw tearing into her of Ade’s massive hitherto imprisoned flesh that had by now turned pole-like and rock stiff. Thrusting mercilessly in and out of her, breathing like an outsized elephant, Ade pounded her till he jerked inside her and let out a loud groan of pleasure. His loins emptied, he decided he was finished with Odun and bonded from the premises. Clutching the now almost ragged top she was wearing which Ade had not had the patience to remove gently but had roughly torn apart, Odun lay there among the tall, raw-smelling cassava sticks and sobbed until the hot evening turned to a starry night. She was too weak to rise up to her feet how much more walk. The fresh blood stain in her thighs only served to remind her of the fact that she had just lost her womanhood. Lost her virginity. To a man she never really liked.

 

But for her mother, her life ambition was to become a nun. To be married to Jesus. But her mom had vehemently opposed that idea, arguing that there were many ways to serve God while still enjoying the joys of sex in holy matrimony, childbirth and motherhood. Even though she agreed with her mother and decided she would get married someday, she decided she’ll abstain from premarital sex and only give her virginity to her man. The man she loved who will marry her. Now, Ade had taken all that away in the cruelest of fashion. Ade left her there at the corn field and drove off feeling happy like one who had won a trophy. As he drove off, he had no inkling what his action would cost him in the coming days…….

 

 

 …that Odun found her way home that night was a miracle. Yet she told no one -save Dayo- about what Ade had done to her. Not even her mother or the Reverend Father Akinsanya knew of it. She made Dayo swear he would tell no one. Dayo swore to her but didn’t forget. As Odun related to him in tears the event of That Sunday Afternoon, her words stung Dayo in his ears like a rapacious bee and tore into his heart like a hot spear. What he had hitherto felt for Ade was envy mixed with hate. Now to think of what Ade had done to Odun was simply unbearable for him. What he felt now was raw lethal hate. He has always loved Odun with such love that fear could not let him confess to her what he felt for her. The very thought of Odun sets his heart on fire anytime such thoughts invaded his head. Yet he could not summon the courage to tell her about his feelings.

 

Two weeks after the rape Road 7 Estate became alive with gossip of Ade’s ‘arrangee’ love affair with Foluke. Before the incident, Ade Olaitan who had been betrothed to Foluke Kayode, who herself was from a wealthy family, had kept their affair secret. After the rape, as though he suddenly found the strength to accept his ‘arrangee’ affair with Foluke, he had decided to come clean about it. The rumour mill had gone agog almost as soon as Ade accepted he was in an affair with Foluke. Like the Olaitans, the Kayodes were an established and rich family, one of the wealthiest in Ile-Ife. They have houses in Ife, Oshogbo, as well as in Akure and Lagos. Their main residence however was a magnificent building in Ife, their home town.

 

The marriage between Ade and Foluke would be the social event and talk of the town the following year both families had agreed, even though Ade’s heart was with Odun. He wanted Odun so bad. But his mother had objected to it because of the fact that the Bayewus, even though used to be rich, were now a family of limited means. If that was all there is to it, it would have been fine. Odun on her part felt nothing for Ade. To her, Ade was just another guy in the estate even though countless girls were dying to be noticed by Ade. That was the problem and Ade knew it. He knew of Odun’s dislike for him. That was one of the reasons he decided to drug and rape her.

 

After what Ade did to Odun, when she heard of his engagement the loathing she had conceived for him grew into a sort of numb hatred. She was soon haunted by a longing to repay the heartless, arrogant brute of a guy. She trusted him when she accepted his offer for a ride and look what Ade did to her. The most painful part is the fact that since after the rape Ade never looked back. She must take her revenge yet she didn’t know how. If she didn’t know how, one person knew. That one person that loved her more than she could ever imagine. That one person that was so scared to confess his feelings of love to her.

 

For Odun, even though she craved revenge, a humiliation for Ade would be just fine. A disgrace more or equal to what she felt at his hands on the afternoon of the rape. She would give anything to humiliate him, to see that leering, conceited grin wiped from his face. If all she wanted to see was humiliation for Ade, the one that loved her more than the fishes loved water and birds loved breeze wanted more than just humiliation. But outwardly she was unmoved as she maintained grace as if she had not been abused. On weekdays she went to school for her classes as usual and on Sundays she went still to church. But, something was happening inside her that not even she or her mother knew of or suspected early. The seed of That Sunday Afternoon was growing inside her.

 

“Odun, why are you so passionate about church, communion, father Akinsanya and confessions?” her religiously indifferent mother would say to her each time she came home late from church. For Odun’s mother, religion was not power. It was a sheer waste of time, a means for the powers that be to control the world. The opium of the masses.

“Mom, church is God’s house and father is a man of God.”

“That as it may, child, don’t forget that father Akinsanya is also a man first before he is a man of God and you have your study to take seriously.” The mother would always say. Her fear was that, her daughter’s beauty could tempt the Reverend Father yet, little did she realize that she should have brought her fear closer home to their estate. To one of the largest buildings in their Road 7 Estate, the home of the Olaitans.

 

Minutes turned to hours, hours to days, and days to weeks. Many weeks passed and Odun did not see Ade again.

 

One day, three months after the episode of That Sunday Afternoon, it had rained. All through September the rain hardly stopped. In fact, it was the rain that heralded September. It rattled persistently on the galvanized roofs until you thought you would go mad with the noise of rain dropping on roofs like grapes on a free fall from the sky.

 

Prior to this day, Odun had been feeling many symptoms she could not explain and her mother had not noticed or cared either. She did not care enough to take note of the biological changes that was taking place in her daughter’s body.

 

On this fateful rainy day, Dayo’s family was celebrating Dayo’s younger brother’s eighteenth birthday. Way into the partying, something happened that Odun had been dreading for weeks. She was tired of dance and had gone outside to the verandah. She was reclining on a bench in the balcony, feeling tired, nausea and weak and just thinking. Thinking of what was going on? Why she was feeling the way she was felt. Suddenly a neighbour’s eight year old boy, Samuel, came out to join and play with her.

 

Samuel, though only eight years old, was far older than his age in terms of the way he thinks and his actions. As a matter of fact, everyone in Road 7 Estate think he’s a wizard because of his extreme intelligence and eccentricity. However, Odun didn’t think of him as a wizard but as a child who simply knew more than his age. This could be a function of the fact that the poor boy was being raised by his grandmother; a woman of great wisdom. Upon reaching where Odun was reclining on a couch-like chair, he suddenly cried out:

“Ha! Aunty Odun, what is wrong? Why is your tommy bigger than usual? Are you pregnant?” Immediately Samuel said this, the urge to vomit overtook Odun and she began to vomit violently. Chunks of chicken she had eaten at the party mixed with the juice she had drank began to pour from her mouth like dirty water gushing from broken yet submerged pipe. Throughout the little frame house all celebration stopped. The birthday party was definitely over. On the balcony curious eyes were turned upon Odun. And everyone suddenly saw as though scales had fallen from all their eyes, what the boy Samuel meant.

“Oh My God! Have mercy oh lord, blood of Jesus” cried Madam Uche, a religious fanatic who belonged to the Deeper Life Bible Church sect, one of the countless Pentecostal churches of Christendom in Nigeria. Madam Uche became a close friend and neighbour of the Bayewus soon after they moved into the small house after the death of the chief. Everyone had by now rushed to Odun’s side. Water was brought to wash her face. She was ordered to drink some by an elderly woman. Soon the vomiting subsided. After careful examination, the elderly woman declared Odun may be pregnant after all. By now Odun was reclining on the same chair she had been reclining on before Samuel appeared only this time she was resting on Dayo’s body. Dayo who had gladly made himself into some sort of a sofa for Odun to lay on, was now caressing the hair in her head soothingly.

 

At this point, exploding with indignation and pulling her daughter indoors, away from the prying eyes and ears of neighbours, Odun’s mother dragged Odun indoors as she shut the door to their modest apartment behind her and her daughter. Her voice was loud and hard and there was blankness in her eyes like the blackness of the skies before thunder. How could she have been so blind? How could she not have noticed that her daughter was pregnant? Only for this little wizard to be the one to tell her of her own daughter’s pregnancy in the presence of everyone in the estate she cursed. She cursed herself for it and harsh words began to pour from her lips.

 

“How could you bring such a shame to us you this girl? Since when did you become like this? Which worthless lay-about did you fling yourself upon that did this to you? What man, who is responsible, will marry you after one child? Why have you chosen to blacken your father’s name and memory like this Odun, at your age? Every day you sleep in church, now you sure have some explaining to do to your precious Reverend Father and God.” She continued to yell angrily without even allowing the sobbing Odun to utter a word in defense of herself.

 

At last her words were exhausted and she sat down heavily, her weak heart pounding dangerously and her chest heaving from the exertion of her outburst. With the tiny tear rolling down the left side of her cheek, Odun’s mother just sat there on the couch and continued to stare in the distance like one who had just recovered from a huge shock. It was at this point that Odun told her mother of the afternoon Ade raped her. There was a long silence after this revelation apart from her mother’s wheezing. When at last she spoke, her words were heavy and disjointed. They were curses. They were words from a bleeding and frustrated heart.

“O God, if there is anybody in this world who deserves damnation that person is that Ade of a boy. Ha Ade!  You did this to my daughter? Haaaaa!!!!!!. Ade, God will punish you. You will not- ”   She began to shriek. The knock on the door not only interrupted her, it also mirrored the mood in the house. Dayo and his mother walked into the small parlour.  Dayo’s mother was awestruck when she heard of what happened.

“Why didn’t you tell us about this all this while?” She scolded Odun and then turning to Odun’s mother, resting her hand on her shoulder, she said to her in a soft tone, “Shall we take her over to the health centre? She needs to run some test you know?”

“I think we should seek father Akinsanya’s advise and spiritual guidance on this matter since Odun respects him so much” Dayo suggested. Odun’s mother ignored him.

“That won’t be a bad idea. Odun, are you sure you want father to know about this?” Madam Uche asked Odun. She nodded her head in the affirmative.

“Very well then” she said and turning to Odun’s mother,

“Let us take her to health centre and there after go and see the reverend father” she advised. Odun’s mother nodded in resignation.

“You this crazy girl, I am your mother and yet you can hide this sort of thing from me for three months only for an eight years old wizard to expose you in the presence of everyone in this estate where people run their mouths like a duck’s bottom. Thank you madam Uche, you are a good friend. You leave this to me, I will take her to see the doctor and Father, and I will handle this.”

“Very well then my friend” Madam Uche said. She caressed Odun’s hair lovingly for a few seconds and then,

“You will be fine my daughter you hear? You will be fine. Be strong”. Odun nodded.

 

 

That night Odun’s mother in company of Reverend Father Akinsanya took her young daughter to see their family doctor at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex. Doctor Ajileye an old friend of the Bayewus was one whose discretion she could count on. He was one of the top consultants in the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital. There was no doubt about it as it turned out Odun was pregnant. Doctor Ajileye had strongly advised against an abortion warning that an abortion could lead to dire consequences for Odun.

 

“So doctor, what do you advise us to do now that abortion is out of it” The Reverend Father’s question mirrored their frustrations.

“Late Bayewu was a very good friend. And none of us here seated will deny the fact that the Bayewus are undergoing difficult times. The way life is for you now madam, the Reverend Father and I knows it was not always so. Going by the current realities, if you ask me for my candid advice, I’ll advise we marry her off to the man who got her impregnated in the first place. He should bear the cost of taking care of mother and child after the delivery. Marry her off, as quickly as you can before the pregnancy furthers becomes obvious than it already is” the lean old doctor replied bluntly. Odun’s mother scoffed.

“Will that bastard arrogant boy accept responsibility of this? You really mean there is nothing you can do for us doctor?” Odun’s mother asked.

“Unfortunately nothing” the doctor said as a welcome breeze came through the slats of the surgery windows as if to support what he said. Outside they could hear the shrill, persistent sound of cicadas, while mosquitoes and some night insects crowded at the screens, attracted by the bare bulb over the simple desk. Dr Ajileye sighed and peered over the frames of his glasses. Then he lowered his voice and spoke wearily, like a man who has said the same thing many times.

“The only thing I can do for you is that, I might arrange something for the baby once it’s born. But it must be born, my dear. And I am going to do that because of the favours your husband did me in the past. You know, I don’t forget favours” he said with a chuckle and then continued.

“Your daughter is slimly built. Look at her, she looks frail.  She’s young; in fact Odun is almost a child herself. To you she looks barely three months pregnant. Don’t fool yourself, if the dates she’s given us are correct, in three months she’ll be full term. Any attempt now at a termination of this pregnancy would be too, too messy and could even lead to consequences we may all regret. So my dear, marry her off. Let the man that did this bear the cost”

“What if we try some local drugs?” Odun’s mother asked. Doctor Ajileye could not hide his disappointment at the question. His tired face showed some mild anger and irritation at the stupidity of the question.

“Don’t be naïve mummy Odun. More than 80% of the abortions in the world today are carried out on teenagers and the consequences often turn dire. Of all these abortions, the more than 90% that are carried out with local herbs and concoctions are the ones often used by African girls living in Africa and the victims often die or are left with permanent disabilities to their wombs. Whichever way one looks at it, either medical abortion or locally induced abortion, and for me abortion is miscarriage. And you know what a miscarriage is? The damage to tissues may lead to very heavy bleeding which may result in regrettable situation”.

“Maybe we should ask her what she wants” The Reverend Father said. Father Akinsanya had grown to see the Bayewus as family and therefore, when it came to matters that concerned them, especially Odun, he was always willing to bend his Catholic beliefs so long as meant well for them. Odun’s mother looked at her daughter with great indignation.

“What do you want?” Doctor Ajileye asked Odun.

“I want to keep it, I want the baby” Odun said quietly toying with her fingers as though she was looking for some missing object in them.

“Are you mad? How old her you?” Her mother yelled at her.

“Please. Please…” Father Akinsanya calmed Odun’s mother in a manner that was as soft as a little girl’s.

“It’s my baby. I want to have it. I want to keep it.” Odun said again still toying with her fingers.

“And who will look after you and the baby? And even if that bastard of a boy accepts the baby, who will marry you after one child?” Odun’s mother asked angrily

“Mom, I’ll marry, don’t worry.”

“You’ll marry! You fool. Who will marry you?”

“Well, maybe Ade will marry her” Father Akinsanya said.

“Marry who? He is bethroded to Foluke” the mother yelled.

“Leave that to me, his father is a parishioner. Odun, do you like Ade enough to marry him?” the Reverend Father asked. Odun nodded in the affirmative.

 

Even though she loathes Ade, to her, father Akinsanya was next to Christ. His question was not much of a question as much as it was an order to her to marry Ade and that’s exactly what she was going to do.  If the Reverend Father could ask the question, then certainly that was what was in his mind. If this was what was in his mind, then that could only mean one thing, he wanted her to marry Ade. Odun’s mind was working at crossed purpose at that moment. Yet she decided to obey Father Akinsanya.

 

Doctor Ajileye gave a chuckle. “So you see madam, your daughter is not such a fool as you think after all,” he said. “I told you to marry her off. And that Ade boy is worth a try. What does she have to lose? Ade’s father his wealthy. You see how clever Odun is? She’s too, too clever!” he said and laughed.

 

That was how the deal was sealed. Marriage between Ade and Odun. When Dayo heard of it, he was heartbroken. He could not eat for days. Filling his head with thoughts of Odun in Ade’s arms in matrimony filled his mind with more hate, jealousy and the very thought of food, for days, churned his stomach. Yet, he had his plans. If Ade agrees to marry Odun which he was sure he would gladly do, he Dayo would see to it that the marriage did not see the light of day he vowed.

 

 

 

And so, while reverend father Akinsanya handled the matter with Ade’s father, Odun’s mother confronted Ade with the pregnant Odun and reminded him of what he did on That Sunday Afternoon. On that hot afternoon in the dry season when the cassava sticks were strong and ready to be harvested leaving the burrowed ground from which the tubers were rooted to stand witness to his evil act. To the surprise of Odun’s mother, Ade did not argue at all. He offered at once to marry Odun. For him it was a welcome opportunity to escape a connubial arrangement for which he had little appetite while for Foluke, it was good radiance to bad rubbish. Both of them never really cared about each other. Theirs was just a desire to fulfill their families bidding. Odun’s mother was staggered. Although Odun was not surprised at how he jumped at it, she was shocked that Ade didn’t put up a show. At least he should have. If for nothing, to preserve a little decency left in him. Yet, her hate for him did not abate. If privately the Kayodes felt their humiliation keenly that their arrangee marriage had flopped, publicly they bore it with composure, and the residents of Road 7 Estate were amazed that they still remained on speaking terms with the Olaitans who had insulted them by rejecting their daughter, as if all was well.

 

Two weeks after, on one fateful Sunday afternoon, Ade and two of his elder brothers invited Odun over for lunch. Odun in turn invited Dayo. Though Dayo hated and envied Ade, he never showed it as they always greeted warmly anytime they bumped into each other in the streets of their estate. In the Olaitans large home in the estate, all five of them, Ade, Odun, Dayo and Ade’s two elder brothers were in high spirits and joked while house servants stowed microwaved chicken and salad in their plates with lots of beer to drink. But Dayo was careful not to drink too much so he could still be in his right frame of mind while Ade drank himself to stupor. After much fun, Ade’s brothers excused themselves and left. Scanning the sky, for signs in the clouds and congratulating themselves on choosing such a fine day to hang out, Ade, Odun and Dayo decided to go for a ride. It was Ade’s decision and even though it came for Dayo as a liability at first as his plans were about to be frustrated, he quickly realized as always how he could turn his liability to an asset. Ade looked at his watch and his feet shifted uneasily as he yelled:

“It’s time to hit the road. Let’s go for a rideeeeeeeeee” If there is anything Ade loved more than football, it was driving. Car racing. Dayo and Odun gave a laugh and clambered on board the Land rover Jeep. Dayo’s laugh however was an odd, sardonic laugh. His plan for that evening, even though the decision to go for a ride had altered it, would not stop it from coming to fruition.

 

The hardtop Land Rover, Chief Olaitan’s favourite, cruised through Sabo through the tiny Opa road leading out of Ile-Ife to Ilesha. The market traders, pitching their roadside stalls and displaying their wares in erected great canvas umbrellas to shield them from the sun or rain along the road in Lagere Oja Oba open market made the trio decide to go to Ilesha through the Sabo, Aladanla and Opa route. The road to Ilesha was a bit deserted. It was when they reached Osu town that Ade announced he was a bit tipsy and could not drive any longer. Even though he could drive, sensing an opening, Dayo asked Odun to drive them back to Ife. So they decided to abort their planned outing and returned home so Ade could go get some sleep and get his head cleared of the liquor he had consumed. It was when they reached the lonely and totally-devoid-of-life axis of Ile-Ife/Osu expressway that Dayo suddenly called out to Ade. “Ade! Can you hear me?” he yelled. Before Ade said another word, something uncanny happened. That was when Dayo did it….

 

…..at the inquest to what happened, the coroner acknowledged that the nature and extent of Ade’s injuries made it impossible to determine whether he was killed instantly by the accident. But it was clear at least, they felt that Ade was at least alive when the accident happened even though the damage to the Land Rover Jeep was severe. The verdict was ‘death due to misadventure’. Added to that he was heavily drunk and was driving. Dayo and Odun were Lucky to have sustained minor injuries.

 

That was the report of the coroner’s inquest, yet Dayo and Odun knew better. It was all Dayo’s plan yet when Odun saw it materializing, she joined in it even though at first she was not privy to it. The impact of the fall for Ade was severe. He died almost instantly upon impact on the tarred road. The smashing of the jeep to an object along the road to mimic an accident was done with the dexterity of an expert driver by Dayo. The arrangement and the rigging of the crime scene that followed, placing Ade neatly behind the wheels of the Range Rover was perfectly done that it all was done before blood from Ade’s nostrils and mouth began to flow. The shouts, cries and call for help later on were all faked and acted by the duo so well, one would think they were great actors onset of a great movie.

 

Three days later Ade’s remains were laid to rest in Parakin Cemetery. As expected, a crush of grieving people- distant relatives, old classmates, anyone claiming even the most tenuous connection with the dead boy’s family, friends and sympathizers from all over Osun State and beyond – all came to mourn at the Parakin Cemetery. A few spoke darkly in hush tones and voiced suspicion of a foul play. But mostly everyone agreed that it was a tragic accident.

“Anyway,” said one old mourner with a shrug, “who are we to ask questions? Investigating Police Officers at Moreh Police Station closed their files on the case before the boy was cold. God giveth and God taketh. Ha! O ma se oo, what a pity”

Rather than induce in Odun a forced premature delivery, Ade’s death did the reverse. She attended the inquest and she mourned at the funeral. The expected date came and went. Many more weeks elapsed before Odun, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy at the OAUTHC in Ile-Ife.

 

*********

        

          Odun looked into her son’s brown eyes and kissed them, and in doing so a tremendous feeling of tiredness suddenly came over her. They were so very, very brown, so like Ade’s. She sighed at the irony of it all, the waste of it all. She knew she could never speak of what happened on That Sunday Afternoon and on the day Ade was murdered to anyone. She’ll bury those two events, first the rape, and secondly the murder, eternally, in the dark chambers that was now her heart. She would not speak a word of the role Dayo played in all of it to any soul, yet she will never forgive him for the murder…she will never forgive herself for playing along much as she hated and wanted to revenge Ade…nor will she ever forgive Ade for the rape….but as for her son, she would love the tiny little creature with her life and ensured he grew up to become a great man of virtue. One that would not be like Dayo and Ade; a rapist and a murderer …..

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

Sad young woman sitting on the bed

Sad young woman sitting on the bed

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