“Wey the thief? Wey the thief? Wey the thief?”
I shouted to life with sweat streaming down my forehead . Then I was utterly confused seeing Collins and Dayo jumping around the room with turning sticks and another wooden object.
“Abeg, where the thief dey now?” I finally yelled at them.
“Na the two rats wey run commot from my cupboard we they pursue since o!” Collin was panting between the struggle, still banging a stick against his wardrobe.
“If you see the thief, dey big die!” Dayo said while arranging the pots that had scattered on the floor.
I took a long sigh, resting my hands on my chests to calm my pounding heart from exploding. I realized it was the stick that was sounding like gunshots in my ears, “So, it was a rat you were both calling thief. You don dey craze o. Big fool. That is what you are!”
“Animal, you still dey sleep when Sunday service dey start by 7:30am,” Collins taunted me, “Na this rat fuck up. I for let you sleep till 12’oclock.”
When I pulled the window cotton apart I was surprised that it was daybreak already – 7:45am at the wall clock, when I had thought it was still midnight. Then I stretched my frame, my body cracking like dry sticks breaking down under a bonfire, and I yawned very loudly in a way that could provoke Collins and Dayo.
“I no get your time this morning,” I said to Collins as I reached for the wardrobe to pick up my toothbrush.
I fumbled for my phone under my pillow to check if I had got any missed call. On the previous night, I had taken seven bottles of small stout with my course mates, to mark our last exam paper which we ended on Friday.
How come my phone was off? I turned it on as I made towards the balcony to brush my teeth. I had a text message from Sharon: YESTERDAY AT 10:56 PM
“Hi! Sweetie, my parents need your attention by all means. Pls, flash my number or better still holla me with a ping. There is an important matter you have to attend to. It aint abt the pregnancy. We seem to have found your real parents.”
My heart failed a beat. How could that be possible? I dialed Sharon’s number at once.
“Good morning, sweetie,” Sharon slurred sleepily from the receiver. I guessed it was my call that woke her.
“Beautiful morning, dear. I just saw your message.”
Her voice now sounded normal. She responded that her Dad told her a story of his friend, one Chief Peter, who lost a child at the same area my assumed father had found me. She said the date of the incident was exactly the same with the one I told her.
“Really? Are.. are you sure about that?”
“ I’m not completely sure, though. But my parents need your attention in our home anytime this week. So, when are you gonna make it, nigga?”
“I don’t mind coming over tomorrow,” I told her, “but I don’t know your place, plus I don’t even have much on me for T-fare.”
“And you didn’t tell me all these while,” she said nervously.
“Oops, I forgot about that.” I mouthed, slightly embarrassed that I was the collecting from her.
She laughed and said, “You’re so funny. Hmmm…I know you’re shy to ask. Anyway, I guess 50k is gonna be enough for the T-fare and refreshment on the bus. I will send it early tomorrow morning.”
“Thank you so much!”
“Please, let’s go on BBM. I have some other gist for you.”
“You and your gist, sha,” I said and smiled, “okay, you may terminate the call then.”
On the following day, I eventually located Sharon’s home around Garki district, phase 1 in Abuja. She had sent the picture and the address of the house to me through BBM. Getting to the front gate of the house, I turned around to drink in the beauty of the locality for a moment. The district accommodated magnificent buildings, like those in the British country. And in a moment I was assuring myself that I was not in the United states, for the blemishless paved road and decorative flowers. A single electricity pole was not standing on the street unlike Agege, my place in Lagos, where wires would be plaited untidily on the streets like the hair on a wayward mad woman.
“Hey, young man!” a raspy voice stabbed at my thoughtful survey from behind.
When I turned back, my eye level could only reach just below the chests of a man in a soldier uniform. My ‘6 feet’ height was completely dwarfed by a soldier whose physique could have worked better as a bouncer.
“Are you the Festus?” The soldier asked.
“Yes, I’m Festus.” I said, frowning my face as his eyes began to examine my body. And I decided to let my eyes follow his. I wonder what was wrong with my look. I was on a black suit, red tie, white inner shirt and a pair of black suede shoe. Maybe he thought I was a pastor. I was actually expecting Sharon to meet me outside the gate. I had called her about five minutes ago, and now I brought out my phone again to call her.
“Hello, I’m in front of the gate.”
“I’m so sorry, dear. I am already close to the gate. The security man will let you in.”
At that instant, a security man came out and motioned me inside in a polite manner. I stared scornfully at the goliath as though to slap his face. I met Sharon just about four feet away to the gate side.
“Oh, I am very happy to see you in my home!” She exclaimed as she clung to me like a kid that was welcoming her parent from a very long journey. I was so delighted to feel her lovely body around me after what seemed like a decade.
“I’m so glad to see you too, baby, “ I smiled, mimicking her babyish tone, “I’ve really missed you like the world is coming to an end. ” I said as I unlocked myself from her never-ending hug.
“Oh, you flatterer!” She smiled broadly as we walked along a paved road that seemed like the way to paradise. And the impressive building I was seeing afar off was nothing, but a paradise itself.
At last we arrived at a majestic sitting room that almost took my breath away. Sharon asked me to feel at home in the couch while she walked gracefully towards the stairs. But I couldn’t sit comfortably; I sat at the edge of the couch. I had never met Sharon’s parents, except for their pictures. I did not know how they would feel about me or what they would say about me impregnating their daughter at the wrongful time. The possibility of meeting my biological parents made my heart leap behind my chest like an excited toad in a swamp.
“Dad, Mum, Festus is around!” Sharon shouted as she headed upstairs.
Just as Sharon’s parents were coming downstairs, a dark-skinned man in a white suit and hat came in, with a silver walking stick in his right hand.
“Oh, Peter, you arrived just in time!” Sharon’s Dad smiled at the man, “Here is the boy I’m talking about.” I bowed in greeting to Sharon’s parents as they approached the sitting room. I greeted chief peter the same way I had done to my in-laws.
“How are you, my dear?” Chief Peter asked, his eyes scrutinizing my body, “Fe…Festus, right?” He stuttered my name as if to be sure if I was the one or not.
“Yes, sir.” I nodded slowly.
“Please, let me see the wrist of your left hand,” Chief Peter held out his right hand.
I was confused, but I quickly obeyed him. He was now tracing his fingers over my wrist with a rapt attention – I used to have three sharp equilateral marks at that wrist during my childhood, but now they were fading away.
“Can you tell me something about these marks?”
“I don’t know anything about it, really,” I said, confused, “but, I once asked my assumed father during my childhood, he told me it must be an injury I had got from a rough play. But I thought it never appeared like a wound. It is more of a scarification….”
Chief Peter immediately left my wrist and stretched his hands upwards, muttering thanks to God.
“I was told by a Pastor that my son is not dead, but I couldn’t believe it. Oh, my Uzoma is back, alive!” Chief Peter exclaimed and broke into a brief dance that was typical of the Igbo masquerade and turned to me again with a look of surprise on his face.
I rose to my feet, still perplexed. Chief Peter continued, “Your mother died some days after she scarified these marks on you and your younger brother, Alfred. Your mother was my second wife back then, so my first child didn’t have the mark. The three marks, according to her, was a prevention against ill luck. But the day you were kidnapped, I thought the mark was an absolute nonsense. The marks must have prevented you from being killed by the kidnappers. This is wonderful!”
“You…you are my biological father?” The word rolled out my throat like a piece of rock as I embraced him in ecstasy. My joy was immeasurable having back my real father, and my father being a friend to my father-in law was another blessing to me. After what seemed like a lifetime I pulled away gently from him. Sharon was now standing beside her parents in astonishment – on her face was that gleeful look that appeared like a sea that was being graced by a radiant moonlight.
“Happy reunion,” said Sharon’s father, between his state of euphoria, “ this calls for celebration! He is the stubborn boy that stole my daughter’s heart away.”
“Uzoma, it is true that you’re responsible for Sharon’s pregnancy?” My father’s eyelids were creased with a big grin.
“Yes, father,” I smiled, tilting my head a little, “ but, it was a mistake.”
Everyone, including Sharon, burst out laughing at my statement. My father said it was not a mistake, but God’s will. He added that I must take him to my acting parents’ place in Lagos on the following day. I was very glad to hear that. Somehow, I believed that the poor man and his wife were going to become rich, for I heard from Sharon that my Father had asset in Europe and across Nigeria. I thought it would depress my in-laws that I had impregnated another girl aside from their daughter. I wondered what they would think of me; perhaps, an unserious student. Now that I was a rich man’s son, I would not be weighed down by the thought of having two wives, eventually. I knew Elizabeth never deserved me, after having affairs with Badmus upon my fetus in her womb. I had no choice. I needed to disclose everything there and then.
A ringtone from my phone pulled me out of the thought. It was a voice call…from my roommate, Dayo. I took an excuse from my new family who were still roaring with merriment. I moved across to a corner in the sitting room to hear him better.
“DY, wetin dey now?” I asked him in a low tone.
“Something don happen o,” he said, “you really need a thanksgiving right now.”
“Abeg wetin happen? Tell me nah.” I asked anxiously.
Dayo told me he just learnt from two of his classmates, who were Elizabeth’s friends, that Elizabeth had a miscarriage overnight. Wow! My heart knocked loudly like an iron trap that just caught a rat. I was so excited to hear that, but I asked Dayo if he asked the girls how it happened. According to the girls, Dayo said, Elizabeth screamed to life in the midnight that some mystical maidens were beating her with canes. And the next thing she found was blood all over her bed. I shivered in devastation in spite of my grudge for the pregnancy. Could that be Sharon’s mystical friends? I meant those spirits of no-rival, according to Kay-Euro’s revelation. I dare not cheat on Sharon in the future. I heaved a long sigh and thanked Dayo for sharing the news.
Later in the evening, my father drove me to his house at port Harcourt in his latest ‘Nissan Altima’. I got to know that my father’s best colour was white since his mansion and the exterior decorations were also white. My younger brother, Alfred, was excited to meet his assumed dead brother. Sharon already told me about him concerning the imposed marriage. Alfred said he was now pleased, after all, that I was the one Sharon had fallen in love with; not an outsider. And he expressed that he used to love Sharon very much, but he had given up once she declared to him she never loved him. What a sweet sorrow, I shook my head.
Throughout my stay in Sharon’s home in the afternoon, I refused tell her about Elizabeth’s miscarriage. When I told her on phone late in the night she almost screamed on phone with excitement.
“At last, you are for me alone, ” she told me.
“Yes,” I replied, “no woman will ever share me with you until death do us apart, I Promise. I’m not gonna cheat on you.”
“Hmm, I do not trust men generally, but I believe you, anyway. So, guess what.”
“I don’t like guessing. Just shoot.”
I heard her laugh and said, “Could you believe what my Dad said when you left? He said you are a lucky boy who has dug out two different Treasures – your biological father and ‘me’. ”
“Really?” I laughed, “your Dad is very funny.”
We soon bade each other good night after talking about other trivial things.
After we visited my acting parents’ place in Lagos, my father bought them a mansion at dolphin estate. He promised to sponsor their six children throughout university level and employ them in his companies afterwards.
Some week later, Sharon and I set out for California. We were going to be residing in the apartment my Dad had provided for us over there. Sharon would further her education after giving birth. But my own education would continue immediately. When the car was about to leave for the airport, Sharon’s parents and my Dad prayed for us for a while. Everyone’s face was beaming with fulfillment. Before my Dad’s driver could start the car, Sharon’s Dad smiled and said, “Safe journey, my Treasure and her lucky digger.” With that, everyone burst out laughing.
“Hmn… a lucky digger indeed,” remarked Sharon’s Mum.