Tara
woke up to the commotion coming from outside her grandmother’s house, she
stared dazedly about the room and yawned. She was already tired of living with aunt Felicia and her cousins. Aunty Felicia hasn’t been in the best of
moods lately, she had taken her annual leave only to be tied up baby-sitting
her niece, nephews and her mother in the hospital which she found annoying.

The aunt Felicia that Tara knew was always the first one to fly to Europe every
summer and return with lots of goodies, now she was stuck in Nigeria, taking care of family. After Tara’s confrontation with her step-mom a few days ago, she felt empty and exhausted, worse of all, she had no one to confide in. After leaving Robert at the side of the road over a week ago, he hadn’t called her since then and her pride hadn’t let her call him either.

“What’s
that noise?” Tara asked herself as she rose from her bed and walked to the
window to peep out.
What
she saw shocked her! There in the compound stood two policemen, a boy she
recognized from school, an older couple, Yemisi and her parents. The boy kept
shouting out his innocence while Yemisi’s mother rained abuses on him, Yemisi
and her father stared on as though oblivious to what was happening.
Immediately, Tara rushed out of her room, and within minutes, she was outside at
the scene.
“We
want to show you how good parents we are…Tayo is such a stubborn boy and we
just had to report him to the authorities in case he tries it next time.”
Shouted the woman who Tara thought was Tayo’s mother.
Tara
stared at the couple in astonishment, ‘how could they? Wasn’t he their son?’ She
asked herself.
“Thank
you very much…we wouldn’t want history repeat itself.” Yemisi’s father said.
“Baba
Yemisi? Do you have to let our dirty secrets out like that?” Yemisi’s mother
asked her husband disapprovingly.
The
couple looked at each other in confusion and turning to the police officers,
they said.
“Could
you question the girl now, so that you can have a valid reason to mete out the right punishment to him?”
One
of the police officers turned to face Yemisi and asked.
“What
happened at Tayo’s residence?”
Yemisi
didn’t reply, she folded her arms and backed up towards her father.
“Please
answer them Yemisi…tell them the truth.” Tayo pleaded.
Yemisi
didn’t reply, she kept staring at everyone.
“I
could be locked up or something. I’m still a minor but I could face serious
charges…tell them the truth Yemisi.” Tayo shouted.
“Don’t
raise your voice at my daughter. I don’t know what you men see in her that all
you think of is taking advantage.” Yemisi’s father fired.
“Advantage?
I invited Yemisi over to my place because I wanted to teach her…” Tayo said.
“Teach
her what? Sex?” Tayo’s step-mother replied.
Tara
had seen and heard enough, from the agony in Tayo’s voice, she knew he must be
innocent of whatever he’s been accused of.
“Yemisi…are
you really going to keep silent? Is silence the answer to this problem?” Tara
spoke up.
Everyone
turned to stare at Tara confused at her sudden appearance, obviously, they had
no idea that she had come out to join them in the first place. The Dolapo
household was quieter than usual, the former bustling environment was now a
mere shadow of itself. Since granny grans fell ill, everything seemed to go
from bad to worse, no one cared about anyone anymore, it was like they were all strangers sharing a compound. Tara’s father who used to be the symbol of command in the household
was now a confused wreck, he had allowed Jumai take over his life and family.
“I…the
truth is…he never tried anything with me…not that I know of. His bed sheet reminded me so much of Melvin’s…” Yemisi said and burst into tears.
“Melvin?
What is this girl talking about?” Tayo’s step-mother asked in disgust.
“Our
daughter was molested some months ago by a man named Melvin. Good news is, he’s
in police custody now so…” Yemisi’s father supplied to the chagrin of his wife.
“We
are so sorry about that.” Said the police officers. Then turning to face
Yemisi, one of the police men spoke up, “We want to know if Tayo ever touched
you while you were at his house.”
“No…he
never did.” Yemisi shook her head.
Yemisi’s
parents let out a pent-up breath as they turned to Tara with gratitude.
“Thank
you so much Tara, we are so grateful…you are always there for Yemisi whenever
she needs help. We can never underestimate your help. I know that I can’t handle the same issue repeating itself again… ” Said Yemisi’s mother trying to hold back the tears.
Tayo,
his parents and the police officers left the house, leaving the Dolapos alone
in the empty compound.
“I
made breakfast, please come in and have some.” Yemisi’s mother offered Tara.
“Thank
you ma but I’d rather decline…” Tara started.
“Please
join us, I am really grateful for everything…” Yemisi said with tears in her
eyes. “My silence would have made matters worse for poor Tayo if I never said
anything but you prompted me to…”
Tara shook her head stubbornly. 
“I need to pay granny grans a visit. Aunt Felicia has been with her all night and I need to go there to relieve her.”
“Just come and have something to eat. You’ve been through a tough time, it’s not easy living away from your parents…” Yemisi’s mother said.
Tara managed a weak smile.
“I’ll manage ma.”
“We insist that you join us for breakfast. You are family c’mon…” Yemisi’s father said.
Tara
nodded, she looked at Yemisi and her parents and walking up to meet them, she
followed them into their flat. It’s high time she reconciled with her cousin.
****
“You
won’t kill me Shade…I have been calling your phone for the past two weeks!
Where have you been?” Her mother thundered through the phone.
Shade
was weak, the pain at her back stabbed through repeatedly and everywhere was a
blur.
“Mom…I’ve been writing exams, I told you that…didn’t I?” Shade said.
As soon as her phone had charged up, her mother’s call had come cutting through, disturbing the silence of the hostel room. No sooner than Shade picked the call, her mother shouted down at her through the connection.
“You
sound as if writing exams is a death sentence?” Her mother spat.
Shade
closed her eyes as another dose of pain wracked her entire system and she
groaned aloud in pain.
“Are
you alright? Shade…what was that groan?” Her mother asked.
“Oh…that!
I hit my feet against my bed and…” Shade trailed off. She was losing consciousness
and trying to keep her eyes open to no avail.
“Granny
grans has stroke and I’m supposed to be in Nigeria in the next few weeks. I
wonder why my family didn’t contact me on time, I would have returned
immediately. Your school should have ended its first semester now…aren’t you
supposed to be on your way back to Lagos? I want to see you at my family house when you get back to Lagos, am I understood?” Her mother asked.
The
phone had already fallen from Shade’s hand, her eyes stared wide ahead but she couldn’t
see anything but white. Suddenly, one of her roommates let out a piercing
scream and ran to her.
“Shade!
Oh my God! Shade! She’s not breathing…help! Call a doctor! Help!” A girl
shouted.

Shade’s
mother at the other end of the line had heard the commotion and with her right
hand clutching her chest, she screamed.

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