“I know I was the one that asked you to hold on, but with the way things are going and how far I have gone with the arrangement of the other things we need for the final ritual, I think we are ready to bring in the last and most important item from the list of requirements I discussed with you in Yenagoa.”
“Yes, Chief. There is no point waiting any longer. I have consulted with the spirits and the gods and they are ready for the meal.” Baba Iperu sounded relaxed on the phone. He had a large piece of stick in his mouth and Chief Edozie couldn’t figure out if it was for cleaning his teeth or if it had some other sinister use.
“That is good news.” Chief Edozie pulled out his AirPods from his ears and activated the speaker option on his phone because he wanted to be able to pick out other sounds, tone down his voice, or even end the call if he heard anyone approaching.
“I agree, it is good news,” Baba Iperu concurred. “You won’t believe I haven’t eaten anything for thirteen days now because I want to hear clearly from the spirits and the gods when they tell me what to do next. The sacrifice we would be doing demands that I stay pure.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Chief apologised.
“You don’t have to be sorry for anything,” Baba Iperu laughed. “It is part of our work and we are used to it. In fact, I have also not tasted water since I stopped eating. The only thing that has entered my mouth for almost two weeks now is this stick I am clenching with my teeth. It is my antenna to the spirit world.”
“It would soon be over by the grace of God.”
“That is our supplication to the spirits and the gods,” Baba Iperu replied. “By the way, how soon do you think the final ingredient for the food will be ready?”
“We are planning to spend some days together in Abuja this week. I had wanted to start preparing the ground, you know, start making her comfortable with these trips before I do it. I didn’t know you would want the…you know…the…the something so soon.”
“It is not me oh Chief. Ah! It is the spirits and the gods. They decide everything. I cannot fast track anything. At the same time, I cannot slow down anything. I must act according to the plan and timing of the spirits and the gods.”
“I know that.”
“I must confess to you though, Chief. I was afraid that this last thing would be hard to get. But when you called me to say that you have found someone that was…that was…done that thing to by her father, my mind came down.” Baba Iperu was conscious about saying the word because they were on a video call.
“You understand what I mean abi?”
“I understand you perfectly, Baba Iperu. But it wasn’t my doing. It was by luck that I found her.”
“It is the spirits and the gods of your ancestors. They are on your side and they want you to beat this thing.”
“I wish there was some other way though,” Chief Edozie said to the medicine man. He had developed genuine feelings for Rain and he knew that having to do what Baba Iperu demanded of him would be extremely difficult. “Baba, are you sure there isn’t anything else we can offer in place of that item?”
“Chief, we talked about this the last time. There’s no other way. This is what the spirits and the gods want and we must give it to them otherwise we forget about the whole thing.”
“This one is hard oh, Baba. I know this girl, very intimately.”
“Chief, I know the impression people have of us that do this job because of all those Nollywood movies they show on DSTV, but we are not all evil. At least, I am not evil. And just so you know, this is hard for me too. But you have come to me for help and I must help you. This is a job that has to be done otherwise the consequences will be grave for you.”
“Thank you, Baba Iperu. I appreciate everything you have done for me so far.”
“No need to thank me. It is what I was born to do. The way I see it, you are a very rich man. I know the number of families you support directly and indirectly. Keeping you alive is, therefore, a service to humanity. Will it come at a price? Yes. Come to think of it, doesn’t everything in life have a price tag attached? There is always something we give up in exchange for something bigger. Even what my counterparts in other religions call salvation or redemption, it is no longer free if you think about it.”
“It is okay Baba Iperu, I understand why this has to be done. I will FaceTime you again when it is all over.”
“Yes. We can do another video call and then I will tell you how to transport the… the…something to me. The only problem is that my phone has started misbehaving. I need to buy a new one. My son told me about the latest iPhone – ”
Chief ended the conversation abruptly when he heard footsteps outside the door of his study. The door opened slowly. It was Ohita.
“You are alone?”
“As you can see, I am all by myself.”
“I thought I heard voices.”
“I was on the phone with Nebu,” Chief Edozie lied to his wife.
“That is nice. I like how both of you have become really close in the last couple of weeks. You deserve to have a genuine friend. I am tired of all those sycophants that lurk around you all the time. So, did the Ambassador want something?”
“Not really, he only wanted to know how his son, Shata was doing,” Chief Edozie continued with his lie.
“I hope you told him the boy is doing very well?” Ohita pulled out a chair and sat opposite her husband.
“I told him Shata is adjusting well into his role in the company.”
“The boy continues to impress me every day. I’ve had a number of interactions with him in the office and I must say I’m very pleased with his comportment so far. He is focused and I like that.”
“His father was right when he described the young man as intelligent and level headed.”
“Absolutely,” Ohita said nodding her head. “In fact, that was why I was thinking that maybe it won’t be a bad idea for him and Klarissa to you know…become…” Ohita deliberately left the sentence hanging knowing that her husband would be curious to want to know why she mentioned Shata and his first daughter in the same breath.
“For him and Klarissa to become what?”
“You know what I’m trying to say Chief. Maybe Klarissa and Shata can become an item.”
“Become an item?”
“Like a date, Chief. Begin a relationship.”
“Ohita, why will you even think that, doesn’t she already have a boyfriend she has been seeing for more than four years now?”
“That small boy she was in the university with? Darling, you and I know that he’s not good enough for our Klarissa.”
“But weren’t you the one defending him when I said I didn’t want him coming here all the time? You said he was from a good home and that his mother was one-time Minister of Petroleum.”
“Come on Chief, the woman is a ‘one-time’ Minister. What can she possibly do for us now she’s no longer relevant? Besides, she’s still wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for stealing money when she was Minister.”
“Allegedly,” Chief Edozie corrected her.
“Then why is she on the run? Why hasn’t she stepped her feet in this country since their corrupt party lost the presidency to this even more corrupt government?”
“Ohita, you know I am not an advocate of conspiracy theories. The EFCC is only doing a media trial. The woman hasn’t been charged with anything and it is almost seven years now.”
“Still, I believe Klarissa can do better than that small boy.”
“Okay, you don’t like Kamsi, but why Shata? He’s a divorced man in his late thirties or even early forties, and he has a child!” Chief Edozie exclaimed. “That is not the kind of man I want dating my twenty-one-year-old daughter. Shata Anele is too old and experienced for Klarissa.”
“Chief, they can date. That wouldn’t make them husband and wife today. And even if they got married soon, wouldn’t you want to see your grandchild before anything happen?” Realizing she may have goofed, Ohita stopped in her tracks.
“You think I won’t make it, right?”
“Darling, you know that’s not what I was getting at. All I am saying is that welcoming a grandchild into this family now wouldn’t be such a bad idea.”
“Ohita, I don’t like this idea you are bringing. I don’t even know why it would cross your mind.”
“Think about it Chief. Your sons aren’t exactly interested in joining Edozie Express, neither is Klarissa. From nowhere, God sends us this bright young man who happens to be the son of your former business partner. Think about it Chief, what better way is there to cement the relationship between you and Ambassador Nedu than marriage?”
“Okay, I did not see this coming at all.”
“Chief, I’ve never played matchmaker before, and you know it. But I can see this having a happily-ever-after ending. Please hear me out Chief. What Wakama did to us has made me wiser. I think if Shata marries into this family, he’d remain loyal to us forever. Just look at what is happening in America today. That Jared Kushner fellow that married Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, isn’t he the most trusted person to the President since he got into the White House? Trump relies on him even more than he relies on his sons, Don, and Eric.”
“You might have a point there Ohita, but it is something I need to think about very carefully.”
Ohita left the room smiling. She didn’t have to push any further. She had planted the seed, and the only thing left for her to do was water and watch it germinate.
Rain woke up with a terrible cramp in her stomach. She knew it couldn’t be period pain because it wasn’t that time of the month yet, and because she had been on a fruit and vegetable diet since the burial, she knew it wasn’t anything she ate either. Eliminating those two possible causes for her discomfort made her feel even worse. Rain felt really awful because she was left with just one culprit – David.
Clutching her stomach, she stooped to the bathroom in search of something to help with the pain. Still thinking about her encounter with D3 at the small reception in the Wakama’s residence after the interment in Yenagoa cemetery, Rain hated that he still had an effect on her. She suspected that someone important had contracted him to prepare cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for the special group invited back to the house and it annoyed her. Rain was shocked to see David there because one of their mutual friends had told her that he relocated to Warri after their break up. Before then, she had taken the precaution of deleting his numbers from her phone and blocking him on social media.
She didn’t expect to see D3 so soon, so being in the same space with him brought back repressed emotions. Even though they didn’t speak or act like they knew each other, just knowing that he was in that room forced her body to release bad chemicals that hurt her stomach. Every now and then, she stole glances at him and it hurt her even more that he looked handsome still. David didn’t look like he was heartbroken or suffering and she thought it was unfair that he could still look good after what he did to her.
Finishing from the bathroom, Rain opted to rest on the bed while the medication she took went to work. She knew the sensible thing to do was to call Chief and tell him she couldn’t make the trip anymore but all three times she tried his number, her calls went straight to his voicemail.
When her phone rang, she knew instantly that it was Chief, but she refused to answer the call. She hated that she might have to disappoint him. The pain was almost gone but something else remained – anxiety. She still wasn’t sure if traveling with him was the right thing to do but because she had given him her word, she felt compelled to see it through.
Already, Rain had taken a few days off from the office under the pretense of going to see her sick mother in Port Harcourt so she couldn’t show up at work for fear of looking phony. She couldn’t stay home either, because she wouldn’t know what to do with herself, and she didn’t want to spend the weekend thinking about David and how happy he looked.
Rain remained on the bed, contemplating whether or not to answer Chief Edozie’s call. A loud voice in her head told her she should be on that private jet with him, but another voice, a tiny one that struggled to be heard cautioned her to stay home and take care of her health. Rain was confused, she didn’t know which voice to obey.
In the end, because her bags were packed and her driver was in the compound waiting to take her to the airport, she willed herself to call back. She had reached a decision and she thought Chief Edozie ought to hear it.
“Sir, I’m dressing up now. I’ll see you at the airport in a bit.”