“You are doing absolutely great. We’ll be here in a month’s time waiting for you.” I smiled and looked at my husband.
“Ready for the ride again honey?” I asked. He smiled his response and turned to engage the Doctor in a conversation. I watched as Timmy, our 3year old son played with my enlarged tummy and I sighed in relief. I had spent too much time worrying and now I wondered if it had been worth it. Its been four and a half years since I last had that feeling; since I last sighted one of them; since…
It was a windy night; the sort that would otherwise have calmed my raging nerves but I couldn’t sit still. Timmy was already in bed and Fela my husband was in a playful mood; one that much as I loved him, I didn’t quite appreciate. Something was wrong and it wasn’t a pregnancy induced mood, as Fela thought. It was that creepy feeling again. Oh God, just when I thought I had finally gotten some respite.
“Come to bed dear” Fela called as I stood by the window. I peered out cautiously. I couldn’t tell him what I thought could be wrong.
“I’ll be right back” I said as I moved in a flash downstairs to check the locks of the doors. I thought I heard Fela mumble something about pregnant women and swinging moods but I was past caring. If they ever found us, my family would be their leverage against me.
The doors were all locked but I still couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling. My instincts are quite accurate so I knew trouble was near. I relaxed a bit when I heard the whistle of the neighborhood security and wished they caught whoever was out there, but even I knew that was unlikely. Anyone on my trail would have to be the very best; top of the pack. It only had to be ‘Digger’ and I cringed as I remembered his ugly sneer.
I walked back to the window and in my agitation, did not pull the blinds. I was lost in thought at the possible repercussion of discovery, the loss of my family. Then one of the security men shone the powerful beam of his torch across the house and it flickered across my face, I shrinked into the room and decided to call it a night.
I lay in bed for a long time with the dreadful feeling lingering but eventually, I fell asleep.
A shadow slinked out of the darkness and in full view of the window. The man looked back at the security men as they went on down the road and brought out a phone. He dialed a number and waited awhile for the call to be answered.
“I found her.”
He cut the call and slinked back into the darkness with an ugly sneer on his face.
“Chinda, where are you? You were supposed to get home minutes ago?”
“So sorry dear, saw some baby things I couldn’t quite pass up. Really lovely stuff.”
“Don’t we already have more than we or even the baby needs? You shouldn’t be this active at this stage of the pregnancy, you know that right? Get here soon okay. You have visitors waiting.”
“Ok hon, will be there in another 30 minutes. Visitors? Who are they?”
“Well, the elderly gentleman says he’s your Father and he’s got some other men with him.”
My heart literally stopped when I heard that. Suddenly, I felt defeated. I wanted to end it all right then but I thought of Fela and Timmy and I realized I wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Goodness, he found me!
“Hello Chinda? Are you still there? Hello!”
“Yes, I’m on my way home now. Keep Timmy away from all of them, okay. Please just do that. I’ll explain later.”
That was the day I literally cursed Governor Fashola and his bike restriction in Lagos State. I needed to get home in a hurry and the roads were characteristically blocked. As a visibly pregnant woman, no bike man was willing to give me a ride, irrespective of how high I was willing to pay.
I got home soon enough, about 45 minutes after and sure enough there was ‘Father’ in my living room; and Digger and Scarface and some other nobodies. I glanced around, taking in their faces one after the other. I recognized one; the idiot I had seen about 7months after I ran away. He was a youngster and newly recruited but now had the gall to look me in the eye. He looked away when I faced him squarely. I walked to him and spat out, “You are in my house; show some respect.”
Then I heard ‘Father’ smile and I turned to him. He’d aged considerably since I saw him last; 5 years ago now. I know I am partly responsible for his present looks. He loved me; I was the ‘chosen’ one after all. Digger was my twin but I was the one ‘Father’ wanted and nobody could have doubted why.
Fela, meanwhile, was watching the scenario playing out in front of him in silence. My story was that I never knew my family and so he was quite surprised. He apparently didn’t expect the sort of reaction playing out. He probably expected hugs and kisses and tears amid plenty of laughter but the scene in front of him was anything but that. Also, while Father could have easily passed for my Dad, age wise anyway, the other idiots in the room couldn’t have worked with the ‘brothers’ tag.
“Honey, please take Timmy upstairs and stay with him too.” I pleaded with my heart in my eyes as I spoke and he silently turned and walked out of the room. I owe my husband a lot of explanation and I hope to still be alive to tell it.
I turned back to face the room and directed my glare at ‘Father’. “What are you doing here?”
“My dear, that is no way to greet your own father, is it now?”
“You are not my father” I screamed and suddenly being aware that Fela and Timmy could hear me, I lowered my voice and repeated, “You are not my father; never was and never will be.”
Father shrugged as he rose and walked to me “Well honey, I have spent 5years searching for you. I have spent money and deployed resources to find you. You have succeeded in evading us every single time but I am not surprised. You are after all the best of them all.”
“Get to the point.” I snarled. “I am also not coming back. I have a life now; one that I have every intention of killing to keep, if I have to.”
“Good. I see you still have the fire in you. There’s a covert operation I want you to be a part of.” I rolled my eyes as he spoke and suddenly he stopped and thundered; “Stop rolling your eyes at me child.” I pause at mid-eye roll: Father only used that tone when he got impatient with anyone. I looked down.
He walked to me and nudged me, “I’m sorry but I need you on this mission.”
“I have a family now. I can’t put them in danger. It’s not possible to up-and-run when it all goes to hell.”
“I can’t let you go. You are too dear to me but I can make you a proposition. I have to have someone that will take your place and he must be from you.”
I knew good news never followed this brood around. Blood and death were the results of their presence anywhere and yes, this was the crew I once ran with. Now he wants Timmy, my son.
“No, I can’t do that. Timmy’s 3years and that’s old by your books. Besides…
“Relax child, Timmy’s all grown up. He’ll be tough to handle and might keep crying for his Mommy. I don’t need that. I’m sure you understand.
That was when it dawned on me that the sick old man wanted my unborn child. I looked down at my bump and when my eyes met his again, he smiled in comprehension.
“I see you understand.” He said with a tone of finality “It’ll be just like when you first came to me. We’ll be back for him in two weeks.” With that, he walked towards the exit.
My attempt to plead was stunted by that statement. I stuttered as I had already begun to speak. Looking around the room, I could see that Digger and the others were stunned as well. There were murmurs of “two weeks” in the air. We knew why, ‘Father’ never gave anyone more than an hour to make up their minds -and making up your mind did not need your active participation; you were ‘offed’ if you didn’t cooperate- so two weeks was like giving me the opportunity to run, again. There had to be something I was missing.
As he neared the door, ‘Father’ said; “Digger will come get him. He’ll know where to find you.” Then they were all gone.
When ‘Father’ wanted to send a strong message, he sent Digger. Digger had always looked for a way to outshine me so here was his opportunity.
I couldn’t move long after I heard their vehicles roar away, and when I could, it was to lean on the wall. Myriad of thoughts raced through my mind; Was I to pack up and leave? What would I tell Fela is the cause of our moving house? Besides, the brood would be watching. It was folly to run. There was nothing to do save to wait. Then I heard footsteps approaching and I knew I had to face Fela and tell him the truth.
I pushed myself off the wall and my eyes fell on the calendar to my side. My head swam and my eyes blurred from what I saw. That was when it hit me; I was due in two weeks.