Gbenga sat in his room and stared at his feet, he was sober. His father had locked him up inside his room and hadn’t showed up since morning. He had taken his phone too as well as the extension cord for his television set and his laptop.
The events of last night were a blur and his body ached all over. He had heard the commotion in the sitting room in the morning as his parents had been yelling loud for all to hear.
“You will leave this house today. I swear!” His father’s voice had thundered.
“You lie! You can’t send me packing, never! My son won’t forgive you if you send his mother out into the streets.” His mother had shouted.
“Justina told me that Gbenga and that street urchin you brought into this house went out last night and only returned a few minutes to mid-night.”
“They are teenagers, this is their time. I know you enjoyed your life as a teen, why then can’t you let your son have fun.” His mother had shouted.
Gbenga groaned and lay on his bed, his head pounded still and his stomach growled, he hadn’t eaten all day. Just then, he heard a quiet rap at his door.
“Gbenga! It’s me…it’s mom.” His mother said through the door.
Gbenga shot off the bed, he was relieved to hear his mother’s voice. Since he’d been locked up, no one had come to his door. He rushed to the door and said.
“Mom, is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me…how are you?”
“I’m hungry and my head hurts.” He said.
“You have a hangover but don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” She said. “Your dad has the keys to your room as well as the spare keys so, there’s no way to get you out.”
Gbenga groaned in response, he was tired of being locked up inside his room.
“Gbenga darling, your dad has given me a few hours to pack and leave this house.” She said in a frustrated voice.
“Huh?” Gbenga echoed.
“Yes, he’s sending me away and also Jermia too.”
Gbenga blinked, his head was throbbing painfully.
“Listen darling, I know you did so much for me by asking that we stay but I need you to press harder with your dad. I want you…to be more firm with him. Tell him that you want me to stay. When he gets back, I would have already left with Jermia but tell him that you want us in this house with you. You have my phone number, so you can call me.”
Gbenga closed his eyes, he was disappointed. His mother was trying to convince him to get his father to let her stay in the house with Jermia, she hadn’t come to check up on him afterall.
“Did you hear what I said, son?” She asked.
“Yes…” He answered, feeling quite disappointed.
“Make sure you stand your ground that Jermia and I should be let back into the house and if he refuses, throw a big tantrum. You are his only child, use it to your advantage.” She said.
Gbenga’s ears caught the sound of her heels as she left the door of his room and he placed his face in his palms and cried. He didn’t know what to do. He remembered the way his father had looked at him that morning, he had been clearly disappointed. Now, his mother wanted him to add more fuel to the already burning fire. Could he do it? Was it worth it? Did he want to make his dad angrier with him?
Chekwube stood outside the gate to aunt Lizzie’s house and stared, she couldn’t move. Mickey turned to look at her with hands akimbo.
“What is your problem? Why did you slow down?” She asked.
“Do you think this is a good decision?” Chekwube asked.
“You are intelligent but you lack common sense.” Mickey spat.
“Huh? Why are you insulting me?”
“I am not insulting you, I am telling you the truth. Did you steal from your aunt? Did you kill someone? You are only going to her to report her perverted nephew to her and that’s all.”
“What if she doesn’t believe me?” Chekwube asked with trembling voice.
“There’s a possibility that she won’t believe you especially as you’ve only stayed with her for a little while and her nephew has been with her for a long time.”
“Then why are you pushing me to talk to her when you know that she might not believe me.”
“I am doing this because you need to solve your problem once and for all and for all I know, no problem is solved with silence. You should learn to speak up.” Mickey said.
“You are a tout.” Chekwube flung at her.
“Will you keep talking rubbish or will you come inside with me?” Mickey asked.
“What if I refuse?” Chekwube asked stubbornly.
“Well, I’ll leave you to sleep on the streets tonight because I won’t have you inconvenicing my aunt.”
“You’re mean, you’re the same person that stole me from my brother-in-law’s house last night.” Chekwube fired.
“Me? Steal you? How can I steal you? Are you sure you’re okay in the head?” Mickey asked. “Come with me and let’s stop talking rubbish jor.”
Mickey rapped at the gate and the gateman opened the door, he saw Chekwube and his eyes lightened up.
“Madam don find you tire…na now she just enter house.” The gateman said.
“Is that good for nothing, insolent, rude and perverted man here too?” Mickey asked the gateman.
The gateman looked at Mickey in confusion.
“Never mind…you nor go understand.” Mickey spat, then taking Chekwube’s hand she led her into the house.
Chekwube wanted to run back, she felt so ashamed. What would auntie Lizzie think of her? She thought. She remembered Ola’s words when she had almost been raped by broda Stanley.
‘As a woman, your self-esteem, dignity and essence could be destroyed easily by the slip of a tongue. When such things happen to you, you bottle them inside and learn to live with it. Don’t go around telling people or you’ll draw the wrong attention to yourself.’
She suddenly stopped walking. Mickey turned to look at her.
“What is wrong with you? Why are you behaving like this?” An enraged Mickey spat. She desperately wanted to beat some sense into Chekwube’s head. “We can’t be friends if you’re so stupid ooo…”
“I…can’t…I can’t go…in” Chekwube said as tears stung her lids.
“What do you mean by you can’t go in? Is your aunt a tiger? Will she tear you to pieces with her teeth?”
“You don’t understand….I’m sure something like this has ever happened to you.” Chekwube said. “My self-esteem is at stake and it could easily be destroyed by the slip of a tongue. It’s better to bottle things up rather than face the truth.”
Mickey stared at Chekwube, she was frustrated by her already. Suddenly, someone spoke up from behind them.
“What truth?” Aunt Lizzie asked.
The girls startled and turned around to see Aunt Lizzie staring at them.
Gbenga walked into the sitting room with his head bowed low, he was scared. His father had asked mummy Justina to open the door and let him out of the bedroom. He stopped at the center of the large sitting room and eyed the cane by his father’s side. His father has never really flogged him before and the only time he’d ever given his father the reason to bring out his large cane was when he’d played truant at his former school.
Gbenga stared at the cane in fear and his legs trembled.
“You have disappointed me.” His father said, looking at him. “I have done everything…everything for you but the only payment I get is more and more disappointment.”
Gbenga stared at his feet.
“Why did you leave this house for an all-night party? Who gave you that idea?”
Mummy Justina walked into the sitting room and perched by the side of the sofa, she had an unreadable expression on her face so, he couldn’t tell if she was there to play mediator or enemy.
“Can you explain to me what came over you?” His father fired.
Gbenga thought of what his mother had told him, it would make no sense to make stupid demands now, especially as his father was in tiger-mode.
“I…I…wanted to have fun.” Gbenga started.
His response infuriated his father, he picked up his cane and raised it above his head to hit him with it but mummy Justina rushed up to shield him.
“No, please sir…don’t…” She said.
“Get out of my way, Justina, I want to show this boy who his father is. I want to teach him a lesson.” His father fired.
“He was badly influenced by his mother and that girl she brought with her but thankfully, now that they are no longer here, things can go back to normal.” Mummy Justina said.
“He was influenced by a woman who hasn’t been in his life for years?” His father barked. “Who has had your back from day one? Me! I single-handedly took care of you when your mother abandoned you and left with the wealthy man that caught her fancy. Do you know the reason she’s here?” He fired. “She is here because she wants money. I can tell that the only reason Bunmi came here is to extort money from me but that’s not going to happen.”
Gbenga didn’t speak, he was still eyeing the cane his father was holding in his hand and praying that he wouldn’t have to use it.
“Tell your dad that you’re sorry.” Mummy Justina urged.
Gbenga looked away.
“Did you see that? Did you see the way he looked away? Stop shielding him, I am going to teach him a lesson.” His father said, raising the cane above his head.
“Gbenga! What has gotten into you? Your father deserves an apology for what you’ve done. Don’t you know how much your actions hurt your dad? You went out last night and got drunk…” She started.
Gbenga stood there and said nothing.He felt anger raging within him but try as he may, he couldn’t figure out why. Something told him that his father didn’t have the right to beat him or demand anything from him
His father and mummy Justina stared at him, they were quite confused.
“Chekwube! Where have you been?” Auntie Lizzie asked, walking towards them.
The two girls hadn’t noticed when she came out of the house.
“I…I…” Chekwube stammered.
“Where did you find her?” Aunt Lizzie asked Mickey.
“I was the one who hid her away.” Mickey said.
“You what? But you pretended as if you didn’t know where she was when I came to your school today.” Aunt Lizzie said.
“I didn’t want to say anything in front of my principal.” Mickey said.
Aunt Lizzie looked at Chekwube and shook her head.
“Are you okay? Why didn’t you want to go with your mother? That would have been your best option.” Aunt Lizzie said.
When Chekwube didn’t respond, Mickey spoke up.
“Chekwube came here to tell you the whole truth. There’s a reason behind her recent actions.” Mickey started.
“A reason?” Aunt Lizzie asked.
“Yes, but we need to talk to you privately and by that, we mean that your nephew shouldn’t interrupt us.” Mickey said.
“My nephew?” Aunt Lizzie asked in confusion. “Are you talking about Ebuka?”
“Yes, your nephew.” Mickey said, staring pointedly at her.
Chekwube stood there, staring at her toes, she wanted the ground to open so that she could jump right in.
To be continued…..