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The Mechanics Of Yenagoa (XVIII)
Post Series: Mechanics of Yenagoa

What had I done? That was the first thought that crossed my mind. I didn’t know how, but I knew for sure I had to undo what I did to Aguero. The how, when and why Aguero was Anda’s biological father wasn’t important anymore. What was important was that if Anda was his son, then we had something beyond friendship linking us. And irrespective of the many ways he had wronged me, I couldn’t possibly wish him harm because of that. Since Ebiakpo didn’t bring it up, I knew she hadn’t heard about his incarceration and I wasn’t about to be the one to break that news to her.

In spite of my resistance, Ebiakpo insisted on telling me her version of events, so I sat back down on the couch and listened.

“It was the year we moved to Ovom, nine years after we lost mum to that strange heart disease that took her. Daddy had just died in the boat mishap that left us orphaned and his aged parents offered to take us in since we weren’t so close to our late mother’s people and there was nowhere else for us to go. I was nineteen and Waritimi was about sixteen or seventeen at the time. Grandpa and grandma were away in the village that weekend for a burial I think, so it was just you and me in the house. Waritimi had come visiting, but you were out playing football or something with your new friends in the neighbourhood.

“I was on the sofa reading a romance novel when he walked in. It was a steamy book with vivid description of sex and intimacy that already had me feeling a certain kind of way when he showed up. That, coupled with the whole losing daddy thing, made me ask him to stay. I offered him a bottle of Coca-Cola, which I’m sure surprised him because we hadn’t really spoken before then. I guess I’d always acted like the snobbish big sister that couldn’t be caught dead hanging out with her younger brother’s friends.

“After his drink, we got into some small talk and then he asked me what I was reading. I handed the book over to him, making sure to open to a page that had the heroine and her love interest making out. He read a little and smiled. I smiled back and that was it.

“We made love in my room that afternoon. It was my first time and I didn’t know a lot about protection then. My friends from school helped me with the abortion and that experience scared me and kept me away from men and relationships for a long time. Waritimi and I didn’t date and we never ever again discussed what transpired between us that afternoon. It was our secret. We moved on with our lives and three years later, after my NCE, Benson and I got married. He would be the second and only other man I would be with.

“Four years into our marriage, it dawned on me that it wasn’t my fault we couldn’t have children and three years later, realising that if I wanted to be a mother I had to take matters in my own hands, I finally summoned the courage to approach Waritimi again. He had his misgivings about my proposition, but I was able to convince him that having a baby with me wouldn’t complicate his life in any way as long as he stayed away from ours. The day I confirmed I had conceived was a bad day for me. Instead of joy and excitement, I felt wicked and dirty.

“My guilt pushed me to Reverend Ebizimor who was my pastor and spiritual everything because I needed someone to talk to, and he convinced me to keep the baby. He said murder was a far more grievous sin than fornication. He counselled and prayed with me all through the nine months of my pregnancy and promised to keep my secret when Anda was born.”

“And yet he revealed it to Blessing and Sister Agnes.”

“I don’t think he did. Maybe they came to that conclusion by themselves because of how close the Reverend and I became over the years. Besides, the man doted on Anda, I guess it was because of what he knew about the circumstances surrounding the boy’s birth.”

“And the resemblance? I could have sworn I saw it this afternoon.”

“You all saw what you wanted to see. Reverend Ebizimor has never been inappropriate with me and that is the truth.”

“Then what is this hold he has over you?” I asked perplexed.

“Ebinimi that’s not true. He doesn’t have a hold over me.”

“You let him stay in our compound for free, you cook for him, you wash his clothes, you give him money, you are responsible for his groceries, and you sacrifice time you should spend with Benson and Anda just to cater to his needs. Ebiakpo, you are at his beck and call…if he doesn’t have a hold on you, then I don’t know what having a hold on someone means.”

She stayed quiet for a while. “He knows…Ebinimi… he knows everything.” Ebiakpo broke into a sob. “If I don’t do these things for him, and he decides to tell Benson what he knows, I’ll be ruined. My marriage would be over, I wouldn’t be able to stay in this town anymore because people would be pointing at me and laughing. I won’t have any face in church and maybe even one day Anda would grow up and hate me too– ”

“Wow! Four years! This man made you go through this torment for four years and we…no, I foolishly kept him in my compound all these years. No, he won’t get away with this.”

“Ebinimi, don’t go and do anything stupid. He is a man of God.”

“He is a man of God; he is not God,” I retorted.

“Remember Ebinimi, ‘touch not my anointed–’” I froze at my sister’s words. It was just like in the dream. “Don’t bring a curse upon yourself and our family,” she pleaded with me. “Reverend didn’t force me to do anything. I chose to subject myself to that level of submission as penance for my sins. Every time Benson calls Anda his son, my heart drops and I have to buy something for the church, scrub a floor, clean a toilet, donate some money, cook Reverend a meal, buy him a shirt …do something, anything so the guilt doesn’t kill me.”

“And yet you’re pregnant again?”

“You’re not a woman, you won’t understand.”

“Understand what?”

“That Anda needs a brother or sister. Ebinimi, I’m not a whore. I don’t sleep around. I just wanted to be a mother, have a child of my own, plus I didn’t want to be that woman who left her husband because he can’t make her pregnant.”

Was that a compelling argument? I don’t know. But I didn’t want to stay on and have that conversation with her. I also didn’t think it was necessary probing further if Aguero had a hand or any other body part for that matter in this new pregnancy, so I left. I had gone to see my sister with one problem, and now I was going back home with two. First, I had to figure out how to help Aguero out of his predicament, and then I had to decide whether to let Reverend Ebizimor stay or evict him from our premises. I was so confused; I just didn’t know what to do.

As I walked out of Ebiakpo’s compound, something caught my attention. It was the brown timberland leather boot the guy across the street had on. It was the third time I’d be seeing someone wearing those same shoes in one day. What I couldn’t tell, because my mind had been preoccupied with very grievous matters, was whether it was the same guy popping up everywhere I went, or if there were three different people.

The first time was along Kalakala Street; the second occasion was outside the police station; and now, in front of my sister’s house, I see the same expensive pair of boots again. If it was the same person in all three places, then someone was tailing me. But if that wasn’t the case, then I had to get a pair of those boots myself because damn, they’re cool!

 

Photo Credit:  Kayode Peter

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This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Hmmm. Sometimes one needs to take a chill pill before casting stones. Ebiakpo’s plight is a pitiful one. Another mess for Ebinmi. A Yoruba adage says if u cast a stone into the market, it could possibly hit ur family member without u knowing. Revenge isn’t good enough. Karma is better! Very intriguing episode as ever! Good work Boss.

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