The morning Rain left Abuja for Yenagoa, Chief Edozie saw her off to the car. He wanted to say something nice and maybe give her a hug, but he held back. He was disappointed at how the weekend turned out. Seeing Rain all dressed up and ready to head to the airport instead of being on the way with him to Iperu for the final ritual heightened his sense of helplessness. As much as his attraction to Rain was from a genuine place, Chief was conflicted because she was supposed to be the last puzzle piece required to reverse the ancestral curse on his lineage. As a result of a conversation he overheard and didn’t think to verify, he concluded erroneously that Rain was raped by her biological father. Now, that error would cost him time, and time was running out on him.
A living and breathing Rain, wasn’t the outcome he envisaged when they left Yenagoa together. On that day, Chief thought he had everything figured out. He was happy to play along with her and make promises he knew he wouldn’t keep. He had promised her heaven on earth believing she wouldn’t be around long enough to see that he never intended to redeem any one of them, but miraculously she survived and he was at his wit’s end.
What he had wanted was for her to trust him to the point where she’d do anything for him and go anywhere with him without asking too many questions. He wanted her to believe he was prepared to make her his second wife if she was ready to take the position, and it looked like she got to that point. Chief wasn’t surprised that his scheming worked on her. Many women, even women older, wiser and more experienced than Rain had fallen for those same lies. He got what he wanted in the end; however, the girl was useless to him.
In a way though, he was thankful how it all played out. What would have been worse was if she hadn’t told him who she thought her real father was and Baba Iperu had used her for the ritual. The juju wouldn’t have worked and they wouldn’t have known why. He would have died thinking Baba Iperu was a fraud without realising it was his own fault for not probing Rain deeper about what he thought he heard through the door.
Chief Edozie was sure Rain noticed his coldness but that didn’t bother him. What man wouldn’t be cold if he took a girl out for a romantic getaway and ended up having a heart attack?
When she apologised for the umpteenth time and asked if he’d rather she stayed with him until he was strong enough for both of them to travel back home together, he assured her that he was fine and that his doctor friend was sending some nurses over to take care of him. He lied to her that being by himself would help him recuperate faster.
Rain was right though. It didn’t make sense staying back in Abuja after the scare he had, but he had a reason to be there. When he noticed in the middle of the night that Rain was fast asleep, Chief Edozie called Baba Iperu from the bathroom. They spoke for only about four minutes, but at the end of the rather short call, it was agreed that Baba Iperu flew in to Abuja immediately. Chief wanted an urgent face-to-face meeting with the medicine man so they could figure out immediately what the next steps should be.
He had put in too much into this particular solution he couldn’t imagine giving up when he was this close to breaking the curse on his family. Even more, he didn’t want to depend solely on Ohita and the men of God in her payroll.
“Ha! Chief, this is serious oh!”
“I know it is. That is why I asked you to meet me here in Abuja.” Chief Edozie and Baba Iperu were in his hotel room. Baba Iperu’s flight was delayed for about five hours but he still arrived Abuja before nightfall. Chief Edozie almost didn’t recognise the old man when he came in through the door because of what he was wearing.
The native doctor had on a pair of black and white Air Jordan’s, black Levi jeans and a black hoodie with the words, ‘Fuck the Police,’ inscribed boldly in front. The inscription was white and gold, and Chief Edozie found it rather distracting. When he asked why Baba Iperu came dressed like an aging failed 80s rap artist, the man told him that he wanted to be ‘incognito’ since he wasn’t quite sure where they’d be meeting. Asked about where he got the clothes from, Baba Iperu said his son sent them from America.
At several points during their conversation, Chief was tempted to ask him to go and change into an agbada or something traditional but he restrained himself. It disturbed him, but Chief figured that it wouldn’t make him unable to fly if one day, one of the pilots that flew his private jet showed up for work dressed as a mechanic or a carpenter.
“You mean to tell me that the man that raped her is not her real father?” Baba Iperu was on his third shot of whiskey.
“Baba, you have asked me this question like fifteen times already. I told you last night when we spoke on the phone that the man is her step-father and not her biological father,” Chief couldn’t hide his impatience any longer. “Do you think we can still do something with her?” Chief Edozie asked Baba Iperu. He was desperate for a solution or any kind of assurance the man could give him.
“That one will just spoil everything we have done so far oh.”
“But without that final item on your list, everything I have brought so far, all the sacrifices and humiliation I have endured because of this, at great cost by the way, will all be for nothing.”
“I understand how you feel, Chief. It is just that I am still in shock and I do not know what we can do right now. The spirit voices have not whispered anything into the air.” Baba Iperu explained. “I have kept my ears open since I got here, but I am not picking up any signal.”
“Baba, there must be something. There must be something you can do,” Chief Edozie insisted.
Baba Iperu held up his glass to his mouth, but he didn’t sip. Clearly, he was lost in thoughts.
“Will you follow me back to Iperu?”
“That is probably the solution to this problem. Follow me back to Iperu.”
“Without the girl?”
“Yes, without the girl. You will stay with me in my house so from now on I can keep an eye on you. I will watch over you by myself until your birthday. Let me see how your village people, abi your village gods will cross River Niger and come and kill you in my shrine. Person that does not enter plane cannot have plan crash, abi?”
Chief Edozie pondered over the suggestion Baba Iperu made. It sounded like a crazy idea but the more he thought about it, the more it sounded like something that might work.
“Interesting. So, you think I should come and live with you in Iperu?”
“If you are in my house in Iperu from morning till night, what will come and kill you? You will just be eating and sleeping and watching CNN. Nobody will come and worry you there. We will tell your wife and children to leave you alone for some time while I monitor the situation and see if the spirits will tell me anything else. See Chief, if you are with me in Iperu, no death can come and carry you from under my nose. Ha, it can never happen! They have not born that death well.”
Chief Edozie spent the entire night thinking about what Baba Iperu told him. At some point when sleep wouldn’t come, he called Ohita and they spoke for close to two hours weighing all the options before them, and the implication each will have on the family and on Edozie Express. At the end of the call he managed to sleep for about an hour before his alarm went off.
He woke up with the conviction that Baba Iperu was right. If the man wanted him to live in Iperu because he can protect him there, then to Iperu he must go. It was as simple as that.