It was the sound of gun shots that nudged her eyelids open the first time. Sleep claimed her again. She woke up -the second time -to find herself in Richard’s arms.
“Desola…I’m here. I’m here, darling.”
She could hear voices. She saw strange faces, too. It took a while before her eyes adjusted to the lights.
Plain-clothed and uniformed policemen were in their sitting room. A police sergeant told her that two of the armed men had been shot. Two had been arrested. Her throat was dry. A drink would quench it. But all she wanted that minute was for the policeman to leave her alone so that she could look around to find her sister.
Had something happened to Fausat? Why wouldn’t Richard just tell her? His eyes gave nothing away.
“I need to take her to the hospital,” Richard was saying to the policeman.
“Okay, sir.” Desola heard the sergeant reply.She saw one of their neighbours at the door. When the woman moved her head to the side, she saw Fausat.
“Fausa,” Desola called out. Fausat came running into the sitting room. When she hugged her, she noticed that her sister winced. “Did…they hurt you?”
Fausat shook her head. Teardrops trickled down her cheeks as if they had been on the brink of leaving her eyes. “It was when they pushed us onto the floor.I was so scared. I thought you would never wake up.”
“Is he…dead?” Desola asked about Gbenga. Someone had placed a sheet on him.
Richard frowned. “We need to take you girls to the hospital. Don’t worry about him.” Desola noticed Eniola’s brother behind Richard, when he lifted her off the floor. She didn’t know he was there.
“I can walk,” she whispered into Richard’s ear.
“I am not taking any chances,” was his short reply.
Her father’s neighbour, Alhaja Mulika, promised to stay in the house with Florence to wait until the police had finished. By the time they got to the hospital, Desola had managed to convince Richard there was no need for her to see a doctor. Fausat, on the other hand, cradled her hand like a new-born, trying to convince everyone she had fractured it in several places. Whilst Fausat was with the doctor, Richard explained how he came to the girls’ rescue.
“I called Pastor Olorunsogo after I dropped you off, sweetheart. I was worried about you and Fausa. You remember Pastor Olorunsogo,who came to our church in London, don’t you?” Richard asked, shrouding her upper body with his right hand like a blanket. They were alone in the waiting room as his brother-in-law had popped out to ring Desola’s father.
“You didn’t tell Pastor Olorunsogo anything, did you?”
Richard heard fear in her voice.“Don’t worry, I didn’t mention any names,” he reassured her. “I told him you were a friend. And that the worry is that your uncle would abuse the younger female members of the family. I told him how I’ve tried really hard to get you to report your uncle…”
“I don’t want my father’s name dragged through the mud. The stigma that my sister will face if the case gets to court…”
“You don’t have to go to court,” Richard interrupted her. “That was what Pastor Olorunsogo said. He said it is more important to get Gbenga disowned by your father. He suggested that it might be best for me to find someone your father trusts, a close friend that can tell him.”
Desola withdrew her hand from his.
“Or to go and see him myself. If your father knows, he won’t let Gbenga near your home again. Then you don’t have to worry about your sisters. Also, when the police arrest him, without your father’s support, he is more likely to plead guilty. So Pastor Olorunsogo called the commissioner of police here in Ogun state.”
Desola’s eyes narrowed at him.Richard could tell that her heart had jumped into her mouth. But he couldn’t sit around anymore with his hands in his pockets.“After speaking to the commissioner myself, I called your father to see if I could come to see him at his office on Monday.”
Desola jumped up from her seat. “You can’t make decisions like that for me.”
Richard followed her. “I haven’t told him anything yet.” He caressed her upper arm. The blood stain on the front of her night dress- which he guessed belonged to Gbenga- was now rather noticeable.
“It was when I called your father that he mentioned that your uncle had decided to stay in Abeokuta. I realised that you girls would be on your own with him.”
“It was you that called the police?” Desola asked.
He nodded. “I called the commissioner first. Then me and Ola rushed to your house. I tried to scale the fence because the gates had been locked from the inside.” He knew he wouldn’t forget anytime soon how he froze when he heard Desola’s scream. If Ola had not stopped him, he knew he would have been in the house before the police arrived. Luckily, only one of the gang had made a feeble attempt to fight the policemen, the others tried to escape through the back door of the house.
Desola wrapped her arms round him. “Thank you my love.”
When Ola came back into the room, he took Richard to the side. He told him he had seen a police car arrive with Gbenga.
“He is still alive?” Richard could barely keep his voice down.
“It won’t be for long,” Ola answered before advising Richard to take Desola back to his home.“She might not want to go back home when the police have not taken away the bodies yet. I have just spoken to the housemaid. One of the dead robbers happens to be the gateman. Desola was right.”
“What is this world turning to?” Richard shook his head.
Ola continued, “Take Desola to our place and try to get her to rest. She looks tired.”
“She needs a change of clothes atleast. I’m not sure she will be able to rest though.” Richard replied before glancing at Desola in the corner.
“I will stay here and bring her sister home as soon as the doctors discharge her,” Ola winked. “Just don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Alhaji is a very strict man.”
Richard welcomed the much-needed joke. He persuaded Desola to come with him as soon as the doctors had informed them that Fausat’s wrist was sprained and not broken.
Richard handed Desola a dress he had taken from Mama Wale’s wardrobe at four that morning, after her shower. He knew Ola’s wife, who was away in Lagos,would have been fine with it.The smile on Desola’s face as she took the dress from him was hardly noticeable. A towel, held in place under her armpits, covered her bosoms and her upper legs. But it was what he saw in her eyes as he left to go into the kitchen to make her a cup of tea that gladdened his heart.
A new kind.
He hadn’t thought she could love him anymore. He was grinning when he took the cup to the bedroom. Their future he thought, would be nothing but blissful.
His smile died when he walked to the bedroom door. She was on the floor. His hand couldn’t hold the cup anymore. Desola’s half naked body was jerking violently. Her limbs were slamming themselves on the floor, gripped by a seizure.