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George couldn’t believe his eyes, he had woken up to the
loud scream that came from Bobo. He quickly got out of bed and rushed out in a
bid to see what had happened. On rushing out, he saw no one in the small passage
way leading to the rooms and neither did he see anyone in the sitting room, so, he
went opened the door which led to the entrance of the house and saw Bobo,
Demilade and Rose staring at something on the ground, he pushed past them,
inquisitive to see what they were staring at. He stopped short as soon as he
saw it, it was an Agama lizard with a broken neck on the ground, its neck has
been tied firmly with a red ribbon and it was as if it was strangled to death.
George took in a deep breath and stormed over to the side of the house and
brought out a huge mop stick and taking it to the scene, he pushed the
lizard away to the side.

“What is this about? Did the lizard die here? And if it did,
who tied the red ribbon on its neck?” Demilade asked aloud, turning to face
George.
“This na witchcraft ooo…Oga George, na dis kain thing make
me run comot from village. You sure say, nor be me dem find come?” Rose said,
already getting teary eyed.
“Does this mean we get to cancel my short holiday in grandma
and grandpa’s place?” Bobo asked his mother hopefully.
“You guys can get going to your folks place, I’ll sort this
out and…Rose, please call me the gateman. It’s my first day back at work and I’m
already running late, how come no one thought of waking me up?” George asked
quickly changing the topic.
“We wanted to let you rest besides, your office management
knows you’ve been through a rough time…”Demilade responded, then realizing that
he was gradually changing the topic, said, “I think we should seek advice about
this sort of thing.”
“Advice? What advice? A lizard died infront of my doorstep
and I march out in search of advice. What are you talking about?” George asked trying to sound light.
“This is not ordinary George…it looks like…” Demilade turned
to look at Bobo who was standing close to her and she held her palms over his
ears so that he doesn’t hear the last words she was about to utter. “Voodoo”.
“Oh c’mon…please take Bobo to your parents place…Rose tell
the gateman to clear this mess, I need to get to work quickly…”
“Can I spend the mid-term here? I don’t want to go there…”
Bobo said in anguish.
“But they want to see you…” Demilade said.
“I really don’t want to go…all my cousins will be there and I
don’t like playing with them. They like to make fun of me…” Bobo lamented.
“Stop saying rubbish Bobo, you are older than all of them, how can they make fun of their elder cousin?” Demilade scolded.
“It’s true mommy, they say things like ‘Bobo when do we get
to meet your daddy?’ or ‘Bobo why does your mother beg our parents too much?’
or ‘Bobo I bet you haven’t tasted Kellogg’s cornflakes before because you are
poor’ I really don’t want to go there”. Bobo whined.
“I’m sure you’re making this up.” Demilade started, already getting
upset with her son.
“No I am not!” Bobo stamped his foot on the ground
stubbornly.
“Yes you are.” His mother insisted.
“You’ve lost all your memory, that’s why you don’t remember!” Bobo said.
“Don’t you dare…” Demilade started, already getting upset by his words.
“It’s okay…what should we do differently to make you go and
see your grandparents?” George asked, open to negotiations and desperate to get everyone back to a lighter mood.
“I want to be treated with respect!” Bobo demanded.
“Okay…from your cousins’ right?”
Bobo nodded and said silently.
‘They don’t let me play with their games and stuff…and they
all get pocket monies to buy whatever they want but I don’t get any because we
are poor.”
“Calm down Bobo, all these can be remedied. Why don’t you
take my game with you, as long as you have somewhere to set it up at your
grandparents house and I’ll give you pocket money.”
“Really?” Bobo asked, his face already lighting up.
“Anything to make you go to your grandparents place.” George
said with a smile.
“You shouldn’t do this you know, you are spoiling him.”
Demilade protested.
“Children should be spoiled one way or the other…”George
replied.
“Wait a minute! Why are you bribing me? Is there something
you guys are up to that I know nothing about?” Bobo asked, his eyes twinkling
with mischief.
“If you do not grab this offer, I’ll change my mind and you’ll
go to your grandparents place, empty handed.” George threatened.
“Sorry…I accept your offer…” Bobo said quickly and held out
his hand for a handshake.
George gripped Bobo’s small palm firmly in a handshake and
smiled. They all went back into the house -Bobo went to take the game, Rose went
back to the kitchen speaking to herself about magic, Demilade went to bring
Bobo’s bag from the room while George went to his bedroom to take a shower and
head to work. All thoughts about the lizard was forgotten.
********
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Amelia’s mother stared at the window of her room, she was
seated on her bed and doing nothing, just staring. She remembered when Amelia
was born, her pregnancy had been a trying time because she had gone through
several miscarriages and finally, Amelia’s pregnancy, which she thought would
go like the rest, stayed. She remembered how she and her husband struggled
before Amelia was born and how her daughter had brought wealth into their home,
hence the name Adaku, which means, ‘daughter of wealth’. Amelia’s mother
remembered the names she was called all the while she had no children, how her
husband’s family and even her family called her names, she remembered the time
of the last miscarriage before Amelia was born, when her eldest sister had
called her in confidence and had given her the advice that had quickly wiped
her tears away.
“There’s this man, he is powerful…he can help.” Her sister
had said.
And just a few days after her last miscarriage, in the
company of her sister, they had gone to visit the man far away in Ijebu-Ode.
The man had taken one look at her and had told her everythin that was happening to
her. He quickly told her that he had a solution to her problem and asked her to
get herself ready for a trip in three days’ time and return to his shrine alone
where she will spend one whole week. She got home and lied to her husband that she was
going to pay her mother a visit at the village and had packed a small bag and
journeyed to Ijebu-Ode. The man housed her in his shrine for seven days, and
all through her stay, he repeatedly had sex with her. After her stay, she
returned home to her husband and a month after that, she found out that she was
pregnant with Amelia. She and the man were the only ones who knew Amelia’s
biological father and she had sworn that she’ll take the secret to her grave.
 Now,
after twenty-eight long years, she had, just a month ago, journeyed again to
the shrine where the man resided. The shrine was still there but camouflaged by
a huge fenced compound. She remembered walking into the compound, and wondering
if she was in the right place.
“Take off your shoes…” A loud voice said from within.
Amelia’s mother quickly shed her shoes and left them at the
entrance.
“After twenty-eight years, you return to me…what brings you
here?” The voice said.
“Wise one…I have come for help, our daughter is in trouble…”
She said quietly and fell on her knees at the gate.
“Ifeyinwa…rise and walk into the shrine at your right.”
The
voice had said.
She hurried to the shrine and entered the confines, shocked
to see the man her sister had introduced to her, years ago, still looking as young
as he was twenty-eight years before. She fell on her knees before him.
“Wise one…our daughter is in trouble…” She had said.
“Yes…I felt it. She had been framed for the murder of a man
she was having an affair with.” The man said.
“Yes…and they want to convict her for murder…”
“Do not worry, they would not do that…the real murderer will
confess in two weeks…” The man said.
“Are you sure?” Amelia’s mother had asked in surprise.
“Have I ever failed you?” The man asked.
“No you have never failed me.” Amelia’s mother asked.
“Everything will be fine…she didn’t kill the man, someone else killed him. I will call upon the spirits to force her to confess. She wouldn’t know when the truth comes forth from her mouth.”
“Thank you very much.” Amelia’s mother said in gratitude,
then quietly she said. “You know Amelia is married right? Her husband has not been
picking his calls and I fear that he will leave her. What do I do?” She had
asked.
“If after the murderer is revealed and he still doesn’t want
Amelia back, take a red and blue lizard, tie a red rope around its neck and
strangle it to death, then place it at the entrance to his house at the dead of
the night. Once he sees the lizard, everything will work against him till he
takes his wife back!”
“How…do I get into his house at such hour?”
“Your husband owns the compound, I believe. Don’t worry I will send the spirits to guide you so that no
one will see you go in or out, find the keys to the gate and do as I have directed.”
“Thank you very much.” Amelia’s mother said in thanks.
“You can go now…you need to remember that she shares my
blood and nothing can harm her as long as I am alive…nothing!” He said with
determination.
Amelia’s mother remembered saying a quick ‘thank you’ and
left the place.
Now, as she sat down on her bed still staring at the window,
she smiled, ‘George was messing with the wrong family’ she thought.
*******
As soon as George walked into his office, he expected his colleagues
to gather around him in welcome but he didn’t receive any welcome messages.
Everyone stared at him for a while and looked away as though nothing had happened.
George was perplexed, he walked into his office and saw a cake with a large card with words
inscribed ‘Welcome Back’, he was confused. The tradition of his office was to
loudly welcome any staff who had been absent from work either on maternity or
long sick leave with cheers after which they followed the staff to his/her office where cakes were usually kept for them with cards and champagne but his
was different. There was a cake, some cards and a bottle of uncorked champagne
on his fridge but no one had a smile for him.
“What the hell is going on?” He asked himself.
He sat on his desk and turned on his computer, the files on
his desk showed that he had so much work to do so he got to work. He had just
started with a file when his door opened and the GMD walked in. Immediately he
saw George seated behind his desk, he looked furious.
“How long did you spend away from the office?” The GMD
barked.
“Sir?” George stammered.
“Did I or didn’t I ask a question?” The GMD barked again.
“I am sorry sir, but I was given a month’s leave from the
office, it was signed by you sir.”
“How dare you speak to me with such effrontery?” The GMD
started.
“I am so sorry sir…” George quickly apologized.
“I need all those accounts reconciled and in my office today
before six pm, am I clear?” The GMD shouted.
“All the accounts? I am just coming in and it’s a huge pile…”
George started, staring at the heavy files on his table.
“Do you love your job?”
“Yes sir…”
“Would you like to keep it?”
“Yes sir…”
“Then do as I say before I lose my mind and fire you.” The
GMD said and stormed out of the office, banging the door in his wake.
George blinked in surprise, he stared at the cake and
picking up the ‘Welcome Back’ card, he read the words written by his colleagues. Even his GMD’s
words sounded sympathetic and sweet in the card, it read; ‘We missed you while you were away and we can’t wait to see you back.
Welcome back on board, George, we are so glad to have you back!’
George shook his head in disbelief, he couldn’t fathom the
reason his boss sounded so hash against him. Shaking his head, he sat down on
his desk and got to work.
*******
Bobo was playing his game by himself and ignoring his
cousins, they were all seated in the smaller sitting room of his grandparents’ house
while his mom and aunts and grandparents were discussing in the larger sitting room
not far away.
“Did he steal that game?” His step-cousin Jossy asked.
“Maybe his mother had to beg for money to buy it for him.” Emerald,
his five year old cousin said with a giggle.
“Hmmm…beggy beggy people will always remain beggy beggy…” Tinuke, his five year old cousin said in a sneer.
Bobo pretended that he didn’t hear them, he kept focusing on
his game, ‘if only they knew the bigger game he had in his bag, they’ll faint’
he thought to himself. One of his cousins, Michael, walked up to him.
“Can I play your game with you?” Michael asked.
“I’m not done yet.” Bobo answered not looking up from the
game.
“See this pauper ooo…so, now that your mother has stolen all
our parents’ money to buy you a game, you can’t share with us?” Tinuke said,
standing up from her chair and storming up to Bobo.
“Please guys, go away. My mom didn’t steal any money and for your information, we are not poor anymore.” Bobo said.
“We are not poor anymore…” Emerald mimicked in a sneer.
Jossy grabbed the game from Bobo’s hands and threw it to
Michael who took the game and ran away, Bobo saw red, he pounced on Jossy and
started wrestling him while Emerald and Tinuke fell on his back, biting and
punching him.
“What is going on here? Stop it! Stop it!” Demilade screamed
in alarm at the sight of her son and nieces and nephews fighting.
She and her sister, Gbemi had just come in to check on the children.
“What is all this about?” Her sister, Gbemi started in
alarm.
They separated the children, Jossy had a black eye while
Bobo had scratches on his arms.
“Bobo started it…” The children said.
“You are such a rough boy Bobo…if not for the fact that you
are cousins with my children, I’ll never allow you come close to them.” Gbemi
said in anger.
“Excuse me? Bobo is a well-mannered boy…” Demilade rushed to
the defense of her son.
“How old is he? He is nine years old and he is the oldest of
all his cousins except Jossy, his uncle’s step-son who is ten years old. How
dare he fight them ehn?” Gbemi shouted.
“Don’t you dare raise your voice at me, Gbemi! Don’t you
dare! I am your elder sister for god-sake!” Demilade said.
“Elder sister my foot! I’d rather not have an elder sister
than having one whose every call is ‘Gbemi can I borrow some sugar? Gbemi can
you give me money? Gbemi, Bobo has skin disease, I have no money to take him to
the doctor…’”.
Demilade felt anger build within her, she lifted her hand
and gave her sister a sound slap on her cheek.
“Don’t you ever, in your miserable life, disrespect me again
and don’t you ever speak about my son in such tone ever again!” Demilade
screamed.
Gbemi’s hand flew to her cheek as she regarded her sister
silently and in shock. Demilade beckoned to Bobo who rushed up to his mother and held on to
her hand. Demilade stormed out with her son at her heels to where she had dropped
his bag and picked it up. Her parents who had overheard the commotion, walked up to
her when they saw that she was bent on leaving the house.
“Demilade…what happened? Did you slap your sister?” Her
mother asked.
“Yes and I’ll do it again if she dares open her dirty mouth
and spew rubbish about me or my son. Mom, dad, you both have failed me but you
know what? I really have no words for both of you…I am leaving and this time, I
don’t know when I’ll come back.” Demilade said.
Michael walked up to them silently and quietly handed Bobo
back his game.
“I am really sorry Bobo…” The six-year old said.

Demilade held on to her son’s hand and together, they
marched out of her parents house with head held high.

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