Nosa met the disappointed and disapproving faces of his parents. He saw anger burning in his father’s eyes. No response was given to him except Itohan’s parents who sat on the chair. He was surprised to see them though. He was positive they were not aware of his relationship with Itohan. Though the mood of everyone was depressing, he thought nothing of it. His father cleared his throat and went to the point.
“Do you know this girl?” His father asked pointing to Itohan who sat at the edge of the chair beside her mother. He looked at Itohan and immediately turned his face.
“Good, thank God you know her. Well, you are going to marry her”
“I didn’t tell you I want to marry”
“True! Your action told us my son. She is already carrying your seed”
“What were you expecting? That you will put your hands in fire and it will not burn you? You have made your choice son. I and your mother do not subscribe to abortion”
Nosa watched as Itohan smiled and her parents laughed approvingly.
“I want to marry an educated woman” he lamented.
His father laughed.
“You can send her to school my son”
Itohan’s father was vexed by this comment.
“My daughter may not be literate but she is intelligent in her own way. I feel insulted by your words. Didn’t you know she was not literate before impregnating her? Today, she is not returning home with me. I feel insulted already that my daughter got pregnant”
“There is no cause for alarm. We will do the needful. Let her go with you. We will come pay her bride price. My son will marry her”.
Both parents shook hands and embraced each other. Itohan returned home with her parents with victory song in her lips. Immediately they left, Nosa received a terrible slap from his mother.
“You embarrassed us” She charged.
“That girl can’t even speak good English. I am not sure she finished Secondary School”
Nosa went on his knees.
“Pardon me, it was a mistake….”
He didn’t complete his statement before his father slapped him.
“Of all the girls, it’s Itohan you chose to impregnate. Aaaah! Nosa! Well the deed is done. I am not a polygamist, so you will not be one. You see that girl, you must marry her”
“I won’t! Baba, let me accept the child but I won’t marry her”
His mother laughed
“When Itohan and her parents first came, I and your father talked and made our decision. You see that girl, you are marrying her”
“What would happen to Nicole”
“You should have thought about her before impregnating Itohan. I learnt that Itohan and Nicole share the same fence. You have succeeded in creating enemity between them”
“Get your money, for you are paying her bride price”
Nosa didn’t know how he managed to drive home. He blamed himself for listening to Solomon and Uyi. He thought of Nicole, how he betrayed her. How was he to tell her he impregnated Itohan her neighbour. Guilt would not allow him pick Nicole’s call. He would busy or switch off his phone in the evening. Twice he got a message that she was coming for the holiday but he responded that there was no need. Rather than allowing her come, he sent her money.
It was a surprise when he returned from work one day and met Nicole in the house. He could have broken the news to her yet he deflowered her. He saw the surprise on her face, the shock then followed by disappointment. That day Nicole looked at him with a teary eyes, then walked out of his life. It was a day, he had never forgotten. How then was he to look at this same woman he betrayed?, How was he to ask for her help. Where was he to start from.
Nosa, sat up in bed. He could not sleep, he was lost in thoughts.
It was on a Wednesday. The sun shone so brightly and the weather was hot. Nicole asked her driver to park into one of the park’s along Ore way. She was famished and wanted to eat. The driver drove carefully inside the park and parked the car on an empty spot. She highlighted and asked the driver to come along with her. They entered an eatery and ordered for food, after which she bought some other edibles for herself. She counted money and gave to the driver.
“Get whatever you need for your parents”
Eghosa thanked her and disappeared into the crowd. Nicole stood besides the car trying to buy waiting for him. She watched as vehicles drive into the park and people enter their buses to continue their journey.
She looked at her expensive wristwatch.
“Phew! The time is far spent” She said aloud.
She saw Eghosa returning with two nylons. He handed one to Nicole.
“I know you like ice cream. Take it the weather is hot”
She collected it from him and smile.
“Thanks, I appreciate your kind gesture”
They drove silently before she asked.
“How old are you?”
“Forty” He replied
“Wow! You look younger than that”
“You mean I look like a baby?” He asked.
He liked the playful and humorous aspect of his Boss.
“I mean you are like my father”
“You are teasing me because I am younger than 40”
Both of them started laughing. It was not long before Eghosa parked the car along the way.
“Why are you stopping the car?”
“I am sorry Boss. There is an urgency to pray and I need to pray now”
Nicole looked at her wristwatch and frowned.
“There is no time Eghosa, I don’t want to get to Benin late”
“Please” He pleaded.
Eghosa closed his eyes and began to pray. For close to fifteen minutes he prayed, while Nicole kept looking at her watch frowning. She watched as cars sped past them.
“Round off this prayer, let’s go”
He ignored her and prayed until peace settled in his heart.
“Don’t be annoyed ma”
Eghosa started the car again and they started their journey.
“You spent more than twenty minutes praying Eghosa”
“I am sorry ma”
Nicole wasn’t happy Eghosa wasted too much time. He was newly employed and this was his first time travelling with her. To while away time, she started surfing the net. It was the sound of gun shots that jolted her. She saw cars and buses trying to reverse. More gunshots rattled the air.
“Is it from the back or front” She asked trembling.
“I don’t know ma”
Screams of passengers in different vehicles filled the car. She looked at the car and saw gun men. They opened fire. Cries of anguish filled the air and Nicole began to cry.
“These are bandits” She whispered.
Eghosa could not hear anything. He was praying in tongues. She tapped him.
“What should we do?” She asked as she saw some of the gun men approaching them.
“It’s only Jesus that can save us. I have no power of my own”
“I don’t know how to pray” She said.
Eghosa grabbed her hand and looked at her, but the gun men began to shoot at vehicles. They saw two gun men ordering some passengers to line up and raise their hands up. One after the other they shot them. She withdrew her hands from his and grabbed her purse.
“I have money here. I can give them everything. Even my ATM”
“Boss! Did you see that they are not demanding for money? I am sure they are making a statement”
“To the government”
They watched as more passengers were killed. Nicole began to urinate on her body. Eghosa noticed but understood. He grabbed her hand, for she was trembling so badly as she saw more bodies falling and screams filled the air. Eghosa began to pray, he was oblivious of his surrounding as he connected to God. Nicole watched as gun men stood in front of their car, Pointing it with their guns and she began to scream. Eghosa opened his eyes and saw four terrible gun men trying to open the door. The scream of Nicole filled the car.
“There is nobody in the car” one of them said.
They peered through the window.
“Nobody is here”
Nichyole stopped screaming and tapped Eghosa who was oblivious of what was happening. One of the gun men tapped his colleagues and whispered. With the boot of his gun, he broke the glasses and looked inside.
“I said it before, nobody is inside. I am sure they ran into the bush”
He cocked his gun and was about to shoot when gun shots rattled the air again.
“Soldiers” they shouted
For close to fifteen minutes, it was gunshots, screams and running of feet. The gun men ran away. It was Eghosa that shook Nicole for she blocked her ears with her palms. He tried to calm her but she was trembling and crying. He stepped out of the car and saw dead bodies littered the ground.
What broke him was four children dead on the road. He went back to the car. Nicole had stopped screaming but too shock to communicate. It took close to an hour before the corpses could be removed for vehicles to pass.
It was night before Eghosa drove into Benin.
To Be Continued… . . .
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