I have been reading about a young man who was arrested for drugs and human parts trafficking. The man and his wife are apprehended together because the man points out that his wife knows about his job. According to the report, the obnoxious man says that the day his wife caught a human part with him they both take an oath – If his wife ever leaks the story she would run mad. More so, he had given her a condition that if she wouldn’t take the oath there and then he would add her to his victims. He further says that the fetish he used for the oath wasn’t potent, but he had to fake it because it’s hard for a woman to keep a secret.
Report states that the man had murdered up to twenty infants and seventeen grownups. At first I skimmed through the content, but when I began to pay attention on the details I discovered that the names of the couple are mentioned. The wife shares same name and surname with my ex-wife. When I examined the images of the criminals, a cold shiver ran down my spine as I realized that Titi is in their midst. in fact I can see her weeping profusely amongst five men. I guess the others are the accomplices.
The reason for my irresistible tears is that this same Titi told me a similar story about her roommate in the university.
The girl is Naomi by name and she had a boyfriend called Harrison. The both lovers had been together right from 100 level. Harrison had come from a rich home, and of course Naomi was proud of him. He would buy Naomi the latest clothes, shoes, jewelries, perfume and the likes. Naomi became one of the biggest girls on campus for her dazzling beauty and her latest-in-town wears. But when they got to 300 level Harrison’s parents were duped of a multimillion naira which consequently subdued their wealth to a drastic level. Thenceforth, Harrison hardly fed himself let alone catering for his girlfriend. Naomi was disappointed, but she coped with Harrison for two semesters, hoping that everything would come back in place.
At a time she couldn’t bear it any longer. Her high status was beginning to fall on campus. When the shame was too much she began to engage in prostitution in order to keep up with other big girls. She would follow other big girls to clubs where they would meet big men. She didn’t give Harrison much attention again, and she scarcely picked up his phone call.
One day Naomi went out as usual and she didn’t return on the next day. Her roommates believed she had gone home on her way. They tried her three numbers, but none of them responded. On the third day a shocking news spread through the campus that Naomi’s corpse was sighted by the bush around Idumota. Report came that all her private parts were gone … And funny enough, it was that same day Harrison received a phone-call that her Dad had received a billion naira contract. Harrison’s parents therefore became richer than ever before.
The man I’m seeing on this paper would have killed and sold her private parts the day she caught him. Has she not leant enough from the true life story she told?
According to my late grandfather, “Learning is solely meant for those whose minds and ears have not been padlocked by the doom-seller.” Grandpa would always call Devil the doom-seller who sells his goods to the adamant; especially those who are not governed by the words in the holy books.
“Dele, tell me what is it? Why are you shedding tears?” Remilekun’s voice rings out again.
Slowly I shake my head and heave a distressful sigh. “Now I believe that not all preachers are ruled by what they preach.” I say, almost to myself.
“I can’t understand you.” Remilekun’s brows wrinkle with confusion.
I show Titi’s image to Remilekun amongst the culprits on the news page. She had once seen the picture we both snapped together in my photo album; so she quickly recognizes her. Then I narrate what I read to her. She gently collects the newspaper from me and read through with a rapt attention.
I later relate the story Titi had once told me to Remilekun. She shakes her head with surprise. Then I see a mixed expression on Remilekun’s face – a sorry look beside a faint smile. I try to read her thought. She might be thinking that if Titi had not gone astray how would she have come across me.
“They said the culprits are going to be tried on the 23rd of this month.” Remilekun says while she uses her finger to trace the date on the paper.
“Really?” I hold the paper at the edge to verify it, “That is five days’ time … So, what am I going to do with the date?”
“I suggest we go there to witness the trial.” Remilekun says thoughtfully.
“Why do I need to witness that? I don’t think it’s necessary.”
Remilekun drops a kiss on my forehead. She insists that we should go together.
“Alright, we shall do just that.” I smile, kissing her lips softly.
On the trial day Omolara is also with us in the court to witness the sentence. After long arguments and appeals by the competent lawyers, those men are eventually sentenced to die from firearms. Before the Judge can pass his sentence on Titilayo he allows a dead silence to pervade through the court. He shakes his head and sighs heavily – the same way I did when I saw the shocking news.
The Judge then starts with a parable: “This would be a lesson to every woman like you outside there who are desperate for a pot full of cold water … and most of you do not care about the origin of such water … I am not saying that women shouldn’t marry rich personalities. … of course, apart from intercourse, money is the only means through which we can maintain our women and also take care of our children … But be wise in selecting the right rich men. Try to consult the right pastor or Imam – because we have fakes of them. Ask them to pray over it if the person is the right person for you or not. The desperate ones will never do that – nowadays, hardly can we find a woman who wants to strive with a man – maybe thirty percent out of hundred.”
Having said that, the Judge adjusts his broad-framed spectacles and points directly at Titi’s husband whose face had been brutally bruised by whatever whip they have used on him.
“….And report states that this man is not your early husband. You have left your early husband because his business collapsed. Yoruba people would say, ‘Igida eye fo.’ When a place is devoid of trees, birds shall surely vacate … Now this is my judgment,” at the mention of that, all the chairs begin to squeak. Everyone begins to adjust on their seats, “As an accomplice to a murderer, I sentence this lady to ten years imprisonment.”
With that, the Judge vacates his seat. The courtroom bursts with loud grumbles and one woman starts wailing at this moment. Then some people are consoling her. On a better look, I realize that the woman is Titi’s mother. Titi’s eyes begin to flood with tears as the police begin to lead her and other culprits out of the court.
When we get outside I ask one of the police to give me some minutes to talk to the lady among the culprits. The officer kindly grants me five minutes. He signals to the sergeant that is leading them to permit me.
I walk up to Titi with Lara and Remilekun. Immediately she sees us, she quickly wipes her tears. Her face goes blank with shock as she examines me from my head to toe. She must have seen the sign of wealth on me.
“You are surprised; right?” I say to her, “you thought when you left me I would die or what? The very day you packed your loads out of my house was the day God answered my prayer. I believe God is not asleep wherever he is. The absence of faith and patience in your life actually leads you to this pit of misfortune … see the lady beside me,” I point at Remilekun, “ that is the wife you prayed God should provide for me in your letter. And I thank God I met the right person. You are just a dark memory in my life. You refuse to bear me a child. Now my wife is four weeks pregnant.”
At the mention of that Titi’s regretful face begin to stream with hot tears again. She stares remorsefully at her mother who had arrived there in the midst of my conversation.
Titi shakes her head and bursts into a sob, “Mama, see what you have caused to my life! Even if I’m eventually free from the prison, can I ever bear a child of my own? Dele, you need to forgive me. The abortion I had before I left your house damaged my womb. Mama advised me to do that.”
On hearing that, Lara’s mouth is widely opened with shock.
All of a sudden Titi pounces on her mother’s shoulder with her teeth. One of the officers pulls her just in time. If the police didn’t succeed in holding her back she might have bitten the old woman to death. And indeed, little fault is that of her mother. She is the one that presents herself as a heron that would never abide in a desert.
THIS NOVELETTE GAINS ITS INSPIRATION FROM MY POEM TITLED, “THE BIRDS OF HERON”