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It was like walking through fire and feeling so much pain
but the reality had finally dawned on her. She had fooled herself for too long,
believing in what could never be. Ngozi at last realized that Nduka was indeed
gone. Should she have killed herself as well? Should she have journeyed with
Nduka to the life-eternal? No, she didn’t think that! No matter how deep her
love for him was, he was already gone and he was
never coming back.
Ngozi watched the large van take the body away, it was
almost five am in the morning and the neighbourhood was fast-asleep except for
early risers who had to go to work. Late last night, Ngozi had gone ahead to
arrange a huge truck that could carry Nduka’s body to the outskirts of Lagos.
She had discreetly left her neighbourhood and had gone to another neighbourhood
in search for a van and a driver. Luckily, she had found one, even though price
was high, she had no choice but to agree with it because, she had little time
left. The unkempt driver had asked what he would be conveying but when she
didn’t give him a straight answer he’d fired her with questions,
“I hope say you nor be smuggler ooo…” The driver had asked
while chewing the butt of his cigarette.
“Noooo…do I look like a trafficker? I’m a woman who makes an
honest living. The goods is just for my husband who is on his way home from
Kenya.”
“Okay…wetin be im name?”
“What name?” Ngozi had asked puzzled.
“De name of de merchandise…”
“I honestly don’t know but…are you sure you want to do this
job? Sincerely for the price you’re giving me, you shouldn’t be poking your
nose into something that’s not your concern.” Ngozi admonished.
“Nor be me go carry am? Madam wetin you wan make I carry? E
nor get name?” The driver asked, sounding pissed.
“It’s a deep freezer.” Ngozi answered.
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“Na now you don talk wetin you wan carry. Abeg pesin nor dey
trust pesin for dis world again ooo…e fit be dead body…”
“What did you say? How dare you?”
“Heyyy…madam cool down…nor be wetin I mean. Anyway…I go come
for afternoon…”
“No…it has to be in the wee hours of the morning. I won’t
want the police to be on the road yet because they could insist on searching
the van and I wouldn’t want them opening the merchandise.”
“Then, you go give me checking point money na…you nor know
say na egunje be de way?”
Ngozi sighed in frustration, she was already down to her
last dime and that was what she was using for this transaction.
“Okay…I’ll give you one thousand for that.”
“Two thousand…” The driver said.
“Okay but please keep to time.”
“Sure…I don dey ya house…sharp four am for morning.”
Presently as Ngozi recounted her experience with the van driver late last night, she couldn’t help but count herself lucky. Aside from
the fact that the driver had arrived on time, he had brought two men with him
which helped a lot. Ngozi had double-checked on the freezer lock and had made
sure that it was latched firmly so as to avoid trespassing by the driver or
anyone in particular. Ngozi remembered giving Nduka’s body a last look, he was
already white as ice and his eyes were already covered with film as they had
lost their colour and lustre but somehow as soon as she stared at them, she had
experienced shivers which hit her down to her marrow.
Ngozi had thought out her plan deeply and very carefully. As
soon as Moses had broken into the storeroom, she knew she had to act quick. Two
years ago, Nduka had purchased a landed property at the outskirts of Lagos, he
had taken her to the location more than once and they’d shared ideas together
on that piece of land, so it felt right that it’d be his final place of rest.
She had jotted down directions to the property and had given it to the van
driver who had nodded in understanding. She had also given another warning that
the freezer should not on any account be opened, not that she trusted them not
to, but she hoped that they’d heed her advice. Moses had traveled three days
ago to see his mother, he promised to return to wait for his brother’s return
and Ngozi wished with all her heart that he never return.
As soon as the van turned out of the street, Ngozi drew the
curtains in the sitting room and cried. She recalled her conversation with the
driver and his friends.
“I trust you well enough to deliver the freezer in the best
condition. When you get to the property, you’ll see a very huge gate. I have
enclosed a key to the gate inside the envelope that contains your money. Carry
the freezer into the land and drop it at the far end of the site, after which
you are expected to leave the site and lock the gate. As for the key to the
land, you can dispose of it because I’ll change the keys anyway…” She had
instructed.
She walked into the kitchen and into the store room and
shuddered. The house was eerie silent, staring at the room for a while, she
crouched to the ground and let the tears fall,
“Forgive me, my love…I’m sorry I had to let go…I promise to
cherish the thoughts of you in my heart forever. Go with God, Nduka…” She said
as she wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her palms and stood from
the ground. Glancing at the clock in the kitchen, she sighed and prepared
herself for her second step which was, purchasing digging tools. She was going
to bury Nduka herself tonight.
*****
Ade wasn’t herself and she hadn’t been for a while now,
since the incident with Nduka she had only dreamt of dead bodies. Ade was
tired, how could she have gotten herself into such mess? She loved to console
herself with the fact that Ngozi had done the proper thing for Nduka which was,
reporting his death to his family but if she hadn’t, then, she too was an
accomplice. It was seven-thirty and Ade was really restless, since it was a
Friday and everyone had suddenly disappeared from the office, Ade stood from
her seat, packed her bag and got ready to go. She suddenly missed Emeka and
knew that her state was not helping her relationship at all as they hadn’t communicated
since the night they spent at the cinema.
“I’ll just go and pay Emeka a surprise visit, it’s been quite
a while.” Ade said to herself.
Ade got downstairs and hurrying to her parking spot, she
opened the car and got in. Tuning the radio to her favorite station, Ade drove
off into the night.
Emeka’s street was exceptionally cool and Ade used to love
the fact that when they eventually got married, their kids would have a cool
street to grow up in. She parked so close to his house gate and got out,
regretting that she hadn’t bought a bottle of wine or something. There was
power supply as the houses on the street were illuminated with bright lights.
Ade alighted from the car and decided to cross over to the supermarket across
the street to buy a good wine. As soon as she entered the supermarket, a wave
of nostalgia hit her, she and Emeka were one of the regular customers in the
supermarket and almost all the attendants knew her.
“Auntie…longest time…na wah ooo…u just leave us comot like
dat…” One of the attendants welcomed her with a smile.
“I am so sorry my dear, I’ve been so busy…I promise to come
around more often.” Ade promised.
“Welcome ooo…your Oga has even stopped visiting us. It’s
only his sister that pays us a visit all the time. She doesn’t seem to buy
things in bulk because she’s always in and out of this place every two to three
hours.” The attendant said.
“Really? His sister? I thought they are all married but
that’s by the way. Can I have your best champagne brand?” Ade asked.
“Yes you can…I’ll get it for you.” The attendant said and
ran to get it.
The transaction didn’t take so much time, she was through
with her shopping in less than five minutes and was knocking at Emeka’s door in
another two minutes.
“Who’s there?” Asked a female voice.
“Oh…hello, it’s Ade, Emeka’s fiancée. I didn’t call him to
tell him that I was coming so he isn’t expecting me and besides, I forgot his flat key at home.” Ade answered through the door.
The door clicked open and a young lady emerged with hostile
eyes. Ade was not perturbed, she waltzed her way into the house like a queen
and didn’t pay heed to the lady’s hostile glances.
“Let me make a quick call to Emeka…” Ade started but stopped
short when she heard Emeka’s car horn. “Ohhh…he’s here already…that’s his car
honking.” Ade said and went into the sitting room to have a seat.
The lady gave her long annoying stares and went into the
kitchen, emerging when Emeka unlocked his door and stepped into the house.
“Hey baby…I’ve missed you so much.” Nkechi said, hurrying to
hug Emeka and giving him a long kiss on the lips.
Though the sitting room area was quite far from the entrance
of the house, Ade could see the door from the sitting room, she was stunned to
see Emeka lip-locking with the supposed ‘sister’ as assumed by the supermarket
attendant. She didn’t know that her mouth was wide open in shock.
“Hey dear…I smell something good…” Emeka started but stopped
short when he noticed the large eyes and mouth staring at him from the sitting
room. “Oh my God! Ade…what…how…where…I mean what are you doing here? It’s a
…surprise…” He spluttered.
Ade stood up gingerly from the cushion and placed the bottle
of champagne on the center table, saying with difficulty as she walked towards
him.
“I came…here to surprise you since I know your typical
schedule for Fridays but I’m the one surprised.” Walking to Emeka she asked.
“The supermarket attendant said something about your sister living with you, I
never expected to see an open display of incest. Or am I wrong? Am I missing
something?” Ade asked, trying hard to keep her cool.
“Ade…it’s not what you think. Nkechi here is my cousin…she’s
very…I mean quite showy, you see…we greet with kisses in my village…our
family…” Emeka stuttered.
Nkechi stared at Emeka murderously but didn’t say anything,
she couldn’t let the demon in her slip at least not yet.
“Really?” Ade asked “And she calls you baby?”
“Yes…I’m the last child of the family…it’s embarrassing but
everyone calls me baby at home. Even my dad…” Emeka lied, praying to God that
she was believing every word he said.
“Okay…it’s either this is too much for me or I really crave
the comfort of my bed because, I’m going home now. I’ll see you another day,
please enjoy your cousin-ship or should I say family hood?” Ade said
dismissingly and opening the door she left the house.
“Ade…oh my God! Ade…” Emeka shouted. Turning to Nkechi he
said, “What did you tell her? I could kill you with my bare hands you know? That’s my precious jewel.”
“Oh really! Then what am I? Your house help? Your warm-body?
Your cooler?”
“That’s not the point…Ade is a very deep thinker, if I
follow her out now, she’ll be able to tell the truth by looking into my eyes. I
want you to follow her to her car and tell her that there is nothing between us
and that you are my cousin. Tell her that you kiss every man you meet on the
lips…”
“Are you crazy? What sort of rubbish is that?”
“Do you want to stay in my life or do you want to be kicked
out of it? If you know what’s good for you, you’d better run and tell her to
come back in now! I’ll be here waiting.”
Nkechi felt like plunging a knife deep into Emeka’s heart
but instead she ran outside in pursuit of Ade. Luckily for her, Ade had just
started her car and was about to leave when she ran up to meet her. Nkechi
knocked at Ade’s car window and when Ade rolled it down, she spoke.
“I know my attitude to you was bad but I was really wary of
who was dating my cousin. Sincerely, I have heard a lot of gist about you from his sisters and I was just checking you out, you know…please don’t
leave. I am cooking something special for dinner…come and join us…please.”
Nkechi said feeling angry at her forced words.
“Are you really telling the truth? I know what I saw and I might
be many things but I’m definitely not stupid.” Ade said in a low voice.
At that instant, Nkechi hated Ade with every fiber of her
being, from her luxurious car to her impeccable accent, Nkechi suddenly felt
like a ‘Rug Rat.’
“I am telling the truth and see…” Nkechi said as she dipped
her hand on her tongue and pointed it at the sky, “If I have anything to do
with Emeka, then may my end not be good. Are you satisfied now?”
Ade seemed satisfied by that, she turned off the ignition
and got out of the car.
“Okay…what did you cook? I’d love to even learn some Igbo menus
from you…” Ade chatted as she walked with Nkechi back to the house.
Nkechi’s heart boiled but something told her that it was
better to have one’s competition closer so as to know her weaknesses. She said
to herself, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies’ closer.’
*****
It was nine pm in the night when Ngozi pulled up at Nduka’s
land, it had been intentional as Ngozi didn’t want anyone to see her digging up
the soil. She intended to bury Nduka with the freezer and somehow she wished
she had gotten him a casket but in that way, things would get more complicated
and she wasn’t sure that she’ll be able to hoist a dead body that was already
frozen into a casket. She had stopped by the store and had bought a wreath to
place in the ground. But the biggest challenge Ngozi was about to face was the
reality of digging a six-foot grave. She had dug when she was a girl but that
was at the farm and digging for cultivating wasn’t difficult She wished she
could hire someone but she already had involved many people from Ade to the van
driver and his friends and she wasn’t ready to add more people to the list. She
had already mapped out a plan. She was going to dig the ground close to the
freezer after which she’ll shove the freezer into the dug-up soil and cover it
with dirt, it would be a messy work but it was all she could think of. She
parked her car quite far from the parcel of land and decided to walk. Opening
her booth, she brought out the tools she needed to get the job done and with
her heart pounding and the silence of the night roaring in her ears, she walked
to Nduka’s land. Ngozi hated wearing black but tonight was an exception.
Tonight, she was saying farewell to Nduka once and for all and she had to do it
with respect. She had worn her black jean pants, black top and camisole and
paired it up with a dark blue beanie hat. Her footsteps went, Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!
on the ground and she turned back to see if anyone was following her but no one
was, all she could hear was her heart beat. She reached the land and was
surprised to see the land wide open, she blinked in confusion. Nduka had
mounted a heavy gate at the mouth of the property and had latched it with a
heavy padlock. The padlock was nowhere to be seen and the gate had been
uprooted from its hinges, obviously stolen. She checked again to see if she was
at the right place and there on the wall was the marking that she had used in
describing the place to the van driver.
Property of Nduka Obianu, do not trespass.’

Ngozi took in a deep breath and walked into the land
flashing her heavy torchlight around to see where they had kept the freezer. Lo
and behold, there it was, just close to the back fence and as she moved closer
she hoped with all her heart that the lock hadn’t been tampered with. It had!
Ngozi shut her eyes and expected the worst, pulling up the lid she peered into
the freezer, the body was gone.
****
Ade had decided to pay a visit to the demons that had been
tormenting her for the past two weeks. Immediately she left Emeka’s house after
enjoying a lovely meal with a very jittery Emeka and his ‘plastic’ smiling
cousin, she had bade them goodnight and had headed straight to Ngozi’s
house. She really wished that somehow, she’d get back into her relationship
life and focus on it as she used to.
She entered Ngozi’s street and slowly parked opposite the
two storey-building house where Ngozi lived with her fiancé Nduka. She turned
off the engine and asked herself if it was indeed a good idea to pay Ngozi a
visit or not and even as her conscience roared loudly, Ade decided to go in after
all. Crossing over to the other side of the street, she went to the gate and
knocked. Soon she was ushered in by the gateman who quickly recognized her.
“Please is Ngozi at home or her…her…Nduka…hubby…” Ade choked
on the last words.
“Madam no dey but Oga dey inside, he just come back from travel today.” The gateman said.
Ade was shocked at his words and as she climbed the
staircase to the house she wondered if Nduka had risen from the dead. She
reached the door to the house and knocked lightly. The door was opened
immediately and Ade slapped her mouth shut with her palms as she stared at the
splitting image of Nduka.
“Nduka…oh my God! Is this really you? I am so happy…I am so
relieved…now I can sleep better at night.” Ade said and overwhelmed with
emotion, she hugged him.
Moses was shocked at the reaction of the young lady who had
just entered his brother’s house.
“I thought you were dead…when Ngozi called me to
say…that…Infact why am I bringing this up? How are you? I know you might not
really recognize me but I’m Emeka’s fiancé and I’ve met you just once and I’ve been
so worried about you and…” Ade started.
“Wait! What did you say? What happened to Nduka? You thought
Nduka was dead? What are you saying?” Moses asked in alarm.
Ade stopped to stare at the man who bore a splitting
resemblance to Ngozi’s fiancé and asked.
“Aren’t you Nduka?”
“No! I am his brother Moses. I just returned from the
village and my family is worried sick about Nduka’s whereabouts, if you know
where he is, kindly tell me…please.”

Ade’s mouth hung open, she’d let the cat out of the bag.

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