SATURDAY, MARCH 15th, 2014.
Funmi opened her door and made straight for her phone that was lying on the table. ‘I’m sorry Aunty, I didn’t mean to waste your time today,’ she said to Ese, who raised her head up from the book she was reading immediately the door swung open. She was sitting very comfortably on the bed and looked to have settled in quite nicely in the room.
‘It’s okay, it was my decision to stay back. I could have gone home if I didn’t want to, besides I need to speak with you after the meeting is over which I really do hope is soon because I have to go be with my boy,’ Ese said. ‘And how is the meeting going?’ she asked seeing that Funmi’s eyes were swollen, obviously from crying.
‘It’s going just the way I envisaged, not well, I believe it’s time to show my parents the video,’ Funmi replied, scrolling through the video files in her phone. Her fingers were moving at a terrific pace. ‘Oh no,’ she sighed, her face creasing into a picture of worry. Her fingers trembled as she ran through her videos the umpteenth time. ‘Oh my God no…Oh no…God please no…’ she moaned as her lips vibrated and tears trickled down the now familiar path of her cheeks. ‘Aunty, I’m finished. There is no video,’ she cried.
‘What do you mean no video?’ Ese asked rising up from the bed. ‘Are you sure you didn’t save it on this other phone?’ She asked picking the other phone from the table where it lay idly.
‘I didn’t,’ Funmi replied all flushed up and feeling sick to the pit of her stomach. ‘Aunty what do I do now?’ She asked after going through the video files on her other phone and confirming that the video also wasn’t there.
‘It’s okay, stop crying,’ Ese said as she made straight for her bag, drawing out her phone like she had been expecting this moment.
Funmi watched, not sure what to expect. Who was she trying to call? She thought to herself as she watched Ese’s fingers tap on her phone.
‘Here you go, this is a copy of the video,’ Ese said as she passed her phone to Funmi, with the still pictures from the video displaying on the screen. It just needed a tap on the play button to come alive.
Funmi’s eyes lighted up as she tapped the play button to ensure that the video was real. For the first time, the sight of the video brought her joy. The tears running down her cheeks suddenly tasted different -they were tears of joy. Funmi wrapped her arms around Ese in pure delight, her body vibrating in quiet sobs. ‘Thank you Aunty, God will bless you.’ She said as joy overwhelmed her being.
‘When the center promised to help, we meant it. We’re in this together now,’ Ese said releasing herself from the tight embrace. ‘Let me take in some oxygen,’ she joked.
Funmi smiled. The world suddenly looked brighter. ‘Let me go back in,’ she said excitedly, turning to leave the room but then paused at the door. ‘How did you get a copy of this Aunty?’ she asked, her eyes betraying her curiosity.
‘Remember playing the video from your phone in Mrs George’s office?’ Ese asked.
‘You remember the little incident of you fainting when you got the report that you were pregnant?’ Ese asked, her lips parting in a smile as Funmi’s eyes lightened up.
‘I remember, I thought the world fainted too’ Funmi said grinning. ‘You copied the video when I fainted?’
‘I’m sorry, but I had to,’ Ese replied, her face wearing a much sober look.
‘Thank God you did Aunty, thank you so much,’ Funmi said, giving Ese another round of hugs before walking out.
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The atmosphere was charged in the sitting room as everyone kept their gaze on the door. The oxygen seemed under-utilized as the figures in the room were hardly breathing -it was that tense.
Dare was unsure whether to get up from his chair and go to his daughter’s room or to sit back like he was already doing and wait like everyone else. He looked at his wife, who was sitting on the edge of her chair and for the first time since this saga began, he saw in her eyes the look of anger.
Bode sat back in his chair very relaxed. He had a grin on his face that was not befitting of the present circumstance. He looked like he was mocking the situation. He glanced at his mum who had been trying to get his attention and as she finally did, he saw her lips move, with no audible words being uttered. He shook his head in response, giving her a smile. He didn’t hear any questions but he knew the message she was obviously trying to pass across.
As the waiting grew unbearable, Mrs Badejo got up from her chair heading to her daughter’s room and as if on cue, the door opened and Funmi emerged with a phone in her hand.
As she approached the group, whose eyes were all set on her, they couldn’t miss the fact that she had been crying.
Bode gloating like an over-fed baboon, stretched out his legs from where he sat. His attitude was becoming nauseating as he seemingly celebrated the tension in the room.
Funmi looked at him, his face bearing a grin she was sure would disappear in some seconds and flashed him a big smile, an act that surprised everyone in the room, including Bode.
‘Daddy, this is the video, she said as she handed the phone to her dad, just the way it had been placed in her hands by Ese. She tapped the play button as her mum and Uncle Kunle huddled closer to get a better look.
Bode’s grin faded as he watched Funmi place the phone in her father’s hands. As the eyes of Mrs Badejo opened up in shock, he found his voice, ‘I thought you said you deleted the video?’ He barked at Dunni who was watching Funmi’s demonstrations with keener interest than anyone else in the room.
The words from Bode’s mouth caused a mini stir as gasps of shock was heard from various corners of the room. All eyes in the room made a brief stop on Bode who uttered the words before resting on Dunni, the one to whom the words were addressed.
Dunni wished she could just do a disappearing act as she felt the eyes in the room prick her skin like needles. From the sad, I’m not surprised look on her dad’s face, the utter shock in the eyes of the Badejos and finally to the extreme disdain on Funmi’s face, the feedback was the same, she was less than a low life scum.
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Amaka opened her eyes as she felt her son tugging at her dress. He had an innocent smile on his face, she smiled back.
Running through the names in her head trying to pick out who to call and where to go, it suddenly dawned on her that she had not really settled into Abuja as much as she thought she had, as all the names that popped up were all based in Lagos.
Her best friend Ify, also based in Lagos, had suggested that she goes to Chika’s elder sister and explain things to her. It didn’t sound like a very good idea at the time but it was the only option available on the table.
‘Aunty, are you in the house?’ She asked, speaking into her phone. ‘No ma, we didn’t make the trip anymore,’ she replied, trying to sound as composed as she could.
‘Please ma, is my husband there, he’s not picking his call?’ she lied. ‘I would like to come over to your place…yes ma…right now ma,’ she continued. ‘Thank you ma, I’ll see you soon ma,’ she said ending the call. She sighed as she placed the phone on her left lap. Talking to Ify about the video was easy but facing her sister in-law was definitely a different kettle of fish.
But why would Bode want to hurt her so bad? What did she ever do to him to deserve such pain and wickedness?
She let her mind dwell on these thoughts but suppressed suggestions that her circumstance was a tale of karma. Serves you right for cheating on your fiancé just a month to your wedding, she heard the voice whisper continuously in her mind.
‘It’s all Bode’s fault!’ She screamed, startling her son who was doing some construction work with his Lego.
Josh turned and looked at his mother as if to make sure she was okay, his innocent eyes searching curiously like he had a grasp of the situation. After satisfying himself, or so it seemed, the little boy returned to his LEGO construction work.
Amaka picked up her phone. She could feel herself falling apart but she had no idea what to do to keep herself up. Who could have thought that the anniversary that she had day-dreamed about since the start of the month could turn out to be this nightmare she was living in?
‘God will punish Bode,’ she muttered as her fingers tapped on her phone. She was making a call.
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It happened so fast it could have been a scene from one of the parts of the Matrix trilogy. Bode taking advantage of the distraction in the room as all eyes were focused on Dunni skipped forward and grabbed the phone from the hands of Dare Badejo who was too shocked by the sudden move to offer any reasonable resistance.
He smashed the phone against the hard surface of the marbled ground with an incredible amount of force, shattering the fragile device. Still in his fit of madness, he picked up a piece of the remains of the phone, sliding out what looked like the memory card and slipped it into his mouth while everyone in the sitting room stood rooted to their positions, they were a perfect definition of the word ‘transfixed’.
As Bode’s fingers slipped the memory card into his mouth, the instincts of the police officer came alive as he slammed his right fist straight at the face of Bode, letting it land with venomous ferocity.
Bode felt his face burn as the fist of the police officer connected with his cheek bone, spewing the contents of his mouth as he was sent sprawling to the ground with a thud. As soon as he landed on the marbled ground, he felt a loud bang in his mid-section as the police officer doing a quick follow up to his punch, slammed a vicious kick right into his belly. He yelled in anguish, his head left spinning by the pain he was feeling.
The shrieks from the two Mrs Johnsons seemed to dull the combat mode that looked to have been activated in the police officer as he walked up to Bode’s heap that was coiled up in pains on the ground. The floor area around him spotted with blood stains.
The police officer bent down and picked up the memory card. It seemed to be in proper condition. ‘You should keep this, I believe it will be useful in the instance that this case goes to court,’ the officer said calmly, handing the memory card to Dare.
‘Yes,’ the Badejos answered in unison. ‘The case will definitely go to court,’ Dare stated resolutely, as he received the memory card, ‘this meeting is over!’ He declared as his wife nodded to his every word.
Bode’s mum was in tears as she crouched by her son, checking him out. The sight of his bloodied face opening up her tear tanks as they flowed freely down her cheeks.
‘Excuse me madam,’ the police officer said as he brought out his handcuffs, bending over Bode to cuff him.
The sight of her son in handcuffs was too much for Bode’s mum to bear as she literarily broke down before her brother in-law in heavy sobs, ‘Daddy Dunni bami daa duro,’ she wailed, pleading with him to stop the police officer from arresting her son.
Dunni’s mum joined in the plea as she tearfully entreated the Badejos to intervene in the arrest.
Mrs Badejo looked away, her mind made up, both from a combination of Bode’s attitude to the revelation of the video. She turned to her daughter and drew her into her arms. ‘I’m sorry,’ she whispered into the ears of Funmi, ‘I’m very sorry,’ she said, cuddling her up like a baby.
The sound from the ringing phone was becoming a nuisance as everyone was becoming irritated by its non-stop ringing.
‘Ma please help me take the call, it’s my phone,’ Bode said through bloodied and swollen lips, gesturing to his mum with his head as his hands were locked up in handcuffs. He was up on his feet, with the police officer securing him like a criminal.
Bode’s mum picked up the phone from the chair, the screen of the phone reading, incoming call from Amak’s baby. She stared at the phone, not sure what to do with it as there were no buttons to press -it was a touch screen. She had always found these new devices too much trouble to handle, what’s wrong with having buttons? She wondered as she passed the phone to Kunle Johnson and in the process not only received the call but activated speaker phone.
‘Hello, he can’t speak right now,’ Kunle said reluctantly into the phone, hesitant to receive the call.
God will punish you Bode, the caller screamed out from the phone, her voice resonating in the sitting room. She was sobbing. My God will punish you, she repeated. Everyone has ex-es, and I had you, what wrong did I ever do to you to warrant you making a video of me and putting it on the internet? Bode you have killed me. You have destroyed my home and my God will destroy you,’ the caller screamed hysterically from the other end before breaking down in quiet sobs, obviously too weary to continue the cursing. The line went dead shortly after.
The room fell into an eerie silence as all eyes turned on Bode.
‘The young lady here seems not to be your only victim,’ The police officer said, ‘you definitely have a lot to explain when you get to the station,’ he continued, stretching his hand to collect the phone from Bode’s mum. ‘I will have that madam, it’s also going to be useful.’
Bode’s mum wore a blank but weary look as she handed the phone over to the police officer, without any sign of protest. The last call had drained all her energy, even the one with which to cry. She grabbed the arm of the chair closest to her and collapsed into the softness of the cushion.
‘How can you be so wicked? Can’t you see what your stupidity is causing your mum?’ Kunle asked, finally finding his voice, his eyes was flaming red with rage, ‘how useless can a child get?’
Bode’s eyes shifting away from the police officer who was answering a call, rested on his uncle. ‘Not as useless as yours, who sold out her best friend for a meagre thirty thousand naira.’ He replied scornfully.
‘You beast!’ Dunni shouted as she flung her phone fiercely at him, but it was way off the mark as it crashed on the wall.
‘Let’s go,’ the police officer ordered as he led him past the open door, away to a waiting van that was parked outside the gate.
Bode’s mum got up and trudged along silently. She was too tired to beg but definitely without the heart to sit and watch her only child being led away to the police station. Lekan, his dad and her husband, had another wife and substitute children, Bode was the only child she had, he was her one and only, Bode was her world.
‘And what was the meaning of that?’ Kunle asked his daughter, immediately Bode’s mum closed the door behind her, he was pointing in the direction of the empty space that housed Bode some fifty seconds ago. He looked from his daughter to his wife who slapped the back of her left hand against her right palm, to show her ignorance. ‘You mean you connived with your cousin to rape your friend?’ He barked.
Dunni’s eyes blazed with fury instead of guilt, ‘I did no such thing dad,’ she retorted, ‘and I’m amazed that you have become quite an advocate against rape,’ she said, her words clothed in sarcasm.
What happened next surprised everyone in the room including the recipient, as Kunle landed a resounding slap on the face of his daughter. ‘You will not disrespect me,’ he spat out angrily.
Dare moved in quickly to stop his friend from any further attacks on his daughter as Dunni’s mum grabbed her.
‘Yes hit me,’ Dunni said gritting her teeth, forcefully releasing herself from her mum’s hold, as she urged her to be quiet. ‘Hit me!’ She repeated, her voice quivering. ‘That’s what I’m useful for, to be abused. Who sees you defending Funmi would think you’re the world’s best dad but where were you when Uncle George repeatedly raped me?’ She spat, with anger and hate clearly written in her voice. ‘Where dad?’ She repeated, ‘Under your nose and in your house, your sixteen year old daughter was serially raped by a pervert uncle and what did you do? Nothing…you did absolutely nothing. I never planned with Bode to rape Funmi and even though I may have done things in this whole episode that I’m not proud of right now, you’re definitely not in a position to judge me,’ Dunni said in a rush, her pains erupting like a fiery volcano.
Her mum moved closer, obviously to stop her from talking but she shrugged off her mum’s advances, with a look that spelt utter disgust. ‘I have no words for you mum,’ she said picking up her bag and walking out of the room.
Kunle released himself from his friend’s hold, stunned by the words from his daughter, his eyes threatening to jump out of their sockets. ‘Tell me she’s drunk and that all she just said was uttered in the highs of being intoxicated with stupidity.’
Dunni’s mum trembled. The fear in her eyes was an answer in itself.
‘Lara, you knew about this?’ Kunle asked in disappointment, ‘You knew that George serially raped Dunni and you covered it up?’ His voice rising in fury with every word he uttered. ‘You brought your brother into my house, and I paid for his education, he ate my food and I sent him abroad where he’s presently married with children and all he could do to pay me back was rape my daughter -our daughter Lara,’ Kunle screamed, ‘and you did nothing about it, not even tell me. Now I see why you were pleading for Bode,’ Kunle said, his body beginning to vibrate.
The Badejos who had become spectators in their own home watched on as the Johnsons took centre stage.
Dare positioned himself strategically to make sure his friend did nothing stupid. His mind deliberating on whether to invite his lawyer into the case or to allow the young lawyer who was standing by his wife having been drawn into the sitting room by the noise, continue with the case. It seemed wise to let her continue.
Mrs Badejo watched on at the unfolding drama and wondered what she would have done in such a circumstance. She skipped the thoughts, preferring instead to think about how many years Bode would end up in prison for, when he was eventually convicted. It was the first question she was going to ask the young lawyer by her side, but that would be in a while as the Johnson’s drama didn’t seem like ending soon.
Ese wondered at how adversity many times found a way of knitting a family closer together as she saw the linked hands of mother and daughter. These scenes seemed impossible three hours ago, but fast forward to the present, and she has a job trying to convict a man she had once loved with all heart, trying to put behind bars a man she wished she had married, especially during the last days of her failed marriage.
Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond…
Funmi walked away from the chaos in the sitting room, to pick her call as her ringtone serenaded the room. It was her sister, Jumoke calling to get updates. ‘Hello,’ she said, speaking into the receiver.
‘Hello, how did the meeting go?’ Jumoke asked hurriedly.
‘We are going to court,’ Funmi answered almost in glee.
‘Yay!!!’ Her sister screamed in delight from the other end, ‘We are Bad! Call us the Bad-ejos,’ she chanted.
‘Whoa!’ Jumoke gasped in horror.
‘What?’ Funmi asked but there was no reply. Before she could slip into a panic session, she heard her sister’s voice in the background calling out to her husband, hunnie!! I think my water just broke.
Funmi could hear her sister’s groaning and a mad scramble in the background. She glued her ears to the phone trying to get a grasp of the situation from the background vocals until her sister spoke into the phone again.
‘I’m off to the hospital, I’m about to give you a niece and we’re calling her Funmi,’ Jumoke panted and ended the call.
Funmi’s face glowed.
When she woke up this morning, she never imagined that the day would turn out so dramatic. She never imagined that Bode would end up in the police station with his mum, trying to secure an impossible bail on a saturday, that the Johnson’s would be in her sitting room right now, battling a truth that was threatening to divide their family or that her mum would actually apologise to her and hug her closely. It all exposed the fact that there was nothing like a perfect family, the best we could all hope for, was perfect love in a family.
The drama was far from over, it was actually only just beginning, but the truth she held close to her heart was that no matter how dark the night gets, there’s always the morning after.
I’m Funmilola Bad-ejo and I’m a warrior.
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