How did she come to put her craving aside for so long? It was many years back when she was much younger, a naïve fourteen year old who saw an old worn-out man, drifting along as if being pushed by the force of the wind. She felt pity for him. He did not look like a beggar but an old man tired of work which he must continue to do in order to survive. ‘Where are his GROWN UP children and what are they doing to alleviate their elderly father’s burden?’ She thought. How had he spent his youthful days or how had life unexpectedly dealt this blow on him? From then, she decided she would do all in her power to ensure her parents and family did not end up like this old man.
Now it seemed she had achieved that but could not tell of the future. It was probably a life-time job to look after family. Yet, for how long would she put God to the test? He, who had been patient with her stubborn desire to cater for her family’s well-being before answering His call so that her family would not want in her absence; and so, He blessed her endeavours. Surely, she should also do her part which she whole-heartedly wanted to, but knew would break a heart and surprise a lot others. Surprise, and not shock them because her moralistic disposition had informed them of the tendency but her past decisions would not have prepared them for it. ‘What do I do? How do I go about it?’ she asked looking towards heaven.
She was watching TV with her parents in the sitting room when OgeChukwu dashed into the house calling, ‘Lock the door! Lock the door!’ as he rushed past them and into his room to lock himself in. Carol and her parents panicked and did as he asked. Confused, they went towards his room and knocked on his door.
‘What is happening, Oge?’ their father called in the short form of his name and as he was fondly called.
Gasping inside his room, Oge whispered in response, ‘Papa,’ as they customarily call their father, ‘did you see anybody approach when you were locking the door?’
‘We did not check. We quickly locked the door as you asked’ Papa responded.
‘OgeChukwu, what is happening? Come out here and tell us. No one else is here’ Carol urged Oge anxiously.
‘Come son, please come out and talk to us’ Mama began to cry.
Oge first popped out his head from the door of his room, and when he saw that the coast was clear he brought out the rest of his body, still panting, in deep long breathes.
Papa nudged him towards a couch, ‘Sit down son; tell us all about it’.
Oge took one more deep breath and sat. Papa and Carol calmly waited for him to start but Mama continued to cry and say, ‘Speak son, speak. What is it? Why do you scare us so?’
Neither Papa nor Carol bothered to shut her down in order to allow Oge speak because they knew it would only make her cry longer, prolong the suspense and increase the tension in the air.
When he had collected himself, Oge began to speak and Mama finally quietly listened. ‘It is cult boys. They have never approached me since I came into the school, but it baffles me that they began to pester me now in my final year. I continually refused but today they picked me up in broad day light and no one could help me. Everybody stared as they were taking me away, as if helpless themselves. I prayed that someone would think of calling the police, but I didn’t wait for that anyway. I slipped out of their hands when a moment presented itself and ran for dear life. They chased me all the way from school to the house!’
‘On foot?’ Papa asked unnecessarily.
‘I took a bike at a point and some did the same in chase. They were close but, I guess they didn’t bother knocking. I’m sure they saw me run into here’ Oge finished with eyes wide with fear.
‘I guess they don’t enter people’s houses then’ Papa consoled himself.
‘Chineke me-e-e-e! Tanku! God, tanku Sir!’ Mama knelt down crying in gratitude to God while the rest remained pensive.
Hardly had she finished giving praise than Oge’s phone began to ring in his room. Oge hurried to get it and came out with it by his ear. At a point his eyes widened and he stood stiff. This alarmed others to stand and stare nervously. And then the phone dropped from his frozen hand. ‘They’ve got Obi’ Oge said and let his entire body drop on his butt to the floor.
‘Chineke me-e-e-e!’ Mama screamed this time in agony. ‘I am dead oh! God has killed me!’
Papa tried to find the seat behind him with his hands, while Carol stirred herself to action. She picked up her phone and dialed as she asked Oge –
‘What is the name of this cult?’ but Oge was yet to recover from his shock, and she yelled, ‘Answer me!’
OgeChukwu blurted out the name.
‘Then I can tell where they have taken him… Hello, hello Peter, it’s me Carol… The Black Wolves have taken my brother…You know their location now… Please hurry before they harm him… Thank you very much.’ She cut the phone.
‘What does this mean?’ Mama asked.
‘I’ve asked my former school mate, who is a DPO, to mobilize a team to rescue him. We know their location and they will handle it.’ Carol assured the family.
‘Thank you, daughter’ Papa said to Carol, but did not look assured.
‘Chineke no ne n’igwe, zoputa nwam! God save my child! Please, save him’ Mama begged heaven on her knees.
‘How did you know their location?’ Oge had recovered from his shock and frowned at Carol.
‘I made it my business to know a lot of things in school’ Carol replied without much thought to her brother’s frown.
‘Thank God we sent your brothers to the same school as you, otherwise, how could we have handled this?’ Papa said with some tear drops escaping his eyes.
Carol felt a sorrowful aura about them in the house and asked, ‘Let us pray’.
‘Ngwa ngwa, let’s do so,’ Mama crawled closer and stretched her hands to urge all into a circle for the prayer.
Oge seemed to bear a grudge with Carol as he reluctantly came closer. But Mama began the prayer already causing him to hurry too into the circle and made the sign of the cross with others ‘Afa Nnam, na Nwa, na Mmonso …’ Mama began, and all responded, ‘Amen’
But a loud continuous banging on the door brought them all to their feet. ‘Mama! Mama! Mama! Open the door!
Carol made towards the door, ‘It’s Ijeoma!’
But Oge moved with quicker steps and ahead of her, pushing her aside by the shoulder, ‘Yes, it’s Ijeoma. And I suppose you can also handle whatever was chasing her’ He unlocked the door and let Ijeoma and the other two of their siblings, waiting anxiously, inside. ‘What is the problem? Is anyone after you?’ He popped his head out, about and back inside in swift seconds; and then quickly jammed the door and locked up.
Ijeoma cried out, ‘Mama, robbers came into the shop and stole all the money we made today. They also made away with some expensive goods!’
Enthusiastic, Jude supplied more details, ‘They came with bikes! Two of them came in with guns while the other two waited with their bikes outside. Soon as the ones inside were done with their loot, they went out shooting in the air and climbed the bikes and zoomed off; just like that! It was like film in my eyes!
‘Chineke me-e-e-e! Another has happened! Father in heaven, what have we done?’ Mama wailed.
Papa sighed, ‘But you are all alive. We thank God for that’.
‘Yes! Yes! Thank God! Thank God!’ Mama inspected them, ‘Hope they did not injure any of you’.
‘We’re fine Mama; they only came to steal’ Evelyn supplied as she proceeded into her room, upset.
‘Papa, I wanted to fight one of them, if not for Ijeoma who held me down’ Jude boasted. ‘Come to think of it, they must have been teenagers like me sef’.
‘Thank God you didn’t. And thank God Ijeoma was able to prevent you from doing so.’ Carol pulled Jude to her chest to ruffle his hair.
Ijeoma mockingly sneered at him, ‘So you think because you are now thirteen you can beat those tall boys, eh? They will just fling you aside. Let school resume so you can just go back and save me from worrying about you in the supermarket’.
Papa sat down, pensive. Mama continued to wail, ‘Why! Why! God why! Where have we gone wrong?’ And Oge stood by the window, peeping through the curtain now and again.
Ijeoma noticed that there was a different cause to the tension in the house. ‘Oge, why are you home? Is anything else the matter?’
But Oge did not bother to answer. Carol decided to tell instead. Evelyn came out and stood by the door of her room to listen to it all.
‘Is brother Obi going to be okay?’ Jude now looked very worried.
‘We pray he is’. Carol replied.
‘Brother, let’s go and help the police rescue him!’ Jude went to urge Oge.
‘That will not be necessary. The police have arms to fight back and rescue him. They should have by now, I hope. Let’s wait for their call instead’. Oge patted Jude’s head.
‘But we can’t just wait and do nothing!’ Jude became upset.
‘We have done something. I mean … Carol has done something. She called the police.’ Oge sounded more angry than grateful to Carol.
Then Carol’s phone rang and all waited in anticipation for the detail from her. ‘It’s Peter!’ And she answered, ‘Hello Peter … Yes? … How is he? … My God! … Okay … Thank you. God bless you Pete … We’ll be on our way.’
Every answer she gave to the caller engendered a corresponding emotion characteristic of each member of the family. And when she cut the call, all covered her up for the full detail.
Majority of the cultist were rounded up and arrested. But ObiChukwu had been badly beaten and mutilated in the bid to force him to be initiated into the cult. Some policemen guard their house while some escorted the parents and Carol to the hospital where Obi was being treated. Oge was not allowed to go with them because some of the cultists were at large and might be after him.
Nobody thought of OluChukwu who managed their cyber café at another part of the city. That evening, while Papa, Mama and Carol stayed with Obi in the hospital, and those at home waited prayerfully, OluChukwu was minding the café which was always filled to the brim by youngsters.
Suddenly, at home, Jude asked, ‘Has anyone called Brother OluChukwu?’
Oge stirred uncertainly, ‘No! why?’
‘What d’you mean why?’ Ijeoma reprimanded Oge.
Oge quickly dialed OluChukwu’s number, ‘OluChukwu! OluChukwu! Listen to me, you have to close the café now and come home. We need you to come home now!’
But a strange voice answered, ‘You fool. You think you can set the police on us and get away with it? Well, your brother’s life has paid for our members that were arrested. An eye for an eye.’
‘No-o-o-o-o!!!!!’ Oge screamed when the call cut from the other end.
– Tempter – The devil.
– Runs – escorts for rich lusty men.
© by Ifeanyi Oluwafemi Chukwudi – Jan 06, 2011