HOUSE ON THE ROCK
EPISODE 2 – Early in the Mourning
My Den of Secrets
Posted by FemmeFaçade in My Life on June 29, 2012
Daddy shouted at me today for coming home late. You guys probably know my daddy; he is on TV every other day and we live right next to Aso rock. The president is his personal friend apparently. What you probably don’t know is that my dad is a funny man. He’s always talking about discipline and being well behaved and not bringing shame to the family. It’s a joke and the punch line is that he is the one that lacks discipline and has brought the most shame to the family and we all know it but we say nothing. It’s just like when he farts in the house; it stinks badly and we all hear the sound but nobody does anything because he is ‘Daddy’. It is his house and nobody can challenge him. He is always shouting at someone. I think it’s a habit he picked up from the army. Now that he is a ‘businessman’, not much has changed except that I hate him now. I hate him with every fiber of my being. I swear I hate hearing him shouting. Fucking hypocrite.
“AHHHH!!! No! No! No! You MUST find the bastard that did this. RIGHT NOW! Are you hearing me?”
The IG’s small office became even smaller as Chief Odukoya’s massive frame grew even larger with rage, and occupied whatever free space there was. Somehow, the Chief seemed even more intimidating in a black T-shirt and blue denim than his usual regalia. Inspector Mustapha Nuhu, standing in a corner of the miniscule office, couldn’t help but think to himself how Chief Odukoya resembled one of the bouncers one would see at Aqua; the night club he frequented to let loose. Mustapha fought back a thought-provoked chuckle and cowered along with everyone else in the room as the Chief continued to bellow his rage, discontentment and spew obscenities. Smarter to let him vent all his steam before offering any sort of opinion; like how their unit had absolutely nothing to do with the graduation ceremony and were oblivious of the entire occurrence, for instance. Nonetheless, he’d become quite accustomed to everyone marching in here and blaming all their misfortune on the Nigerian police.
Mustapha’s eyes shifted from the raging Chief to his wife seated opposite the IG. Mosun was always a vision of perfection, and even the loss of her last born wouldn’t change that. Her considerably smaller frame was draped in a red and gold saree, she had on the same amount of gold jewellery she would on a normal day save a barely noticeable gold chain round her neck, and flawless make-up gave her face just the right proportion of smoothness and glow, while covering up whatever bags she may have had from crying and a sleepless night. The only evidence of her grief was the unmistakable bloodshot red of her eyes, which she’d hidden behind the sunshades she had to take off when she entered the office. Mustapha watched as she fiddled nervously with her fingers and the chain around her neck, avoiding direct eye contact with anyone as her husband continued to shout at the IG, seemingly lost in her own universe. Even when the Chief banged on the rickety table in front of her, she was as still as a rock.
They’ve been married for a number of years now; she must be used to his anger. Mustapha thought to himself as he pulled his thoughts back to the conversation the IG and Chief Odukoya were having. Although he’d calmed down, the Chief had still insisted on standing while the IG addressed him, probably to remind whoever was in the room who he considered to really be in charge.
“Chief, I understand it’s a terrible thing that has happened.” The IG all but stuttered. “Rest assured that we will find the culprit behind this heinous act.”
“I don’t want your assurance. Just find the person who killed my daughter and bring the vagabond to me! I want to kill him or her or it myself. You hear me? If not I will call my boys from the barracks to come and burn this whole Abuja to ashes.” Wale banged the table again, harder this time, and a small cup that held office stationery toppled over.
“Sir, I have already assigned a special task force to look into it and I’m putting our best man on the case sir. He will lead the task force. Don’t worry. The culprit is as good as found.” The IG’s eyes darted across the room and settled on Mustapha. He gestured towards him. “Chief Odukoya, this is Inspector Mustapha Nuhu. He will be investigating this matter.”
That’s my cue. Mustapha thought to himself before stepping out of his corner and standing at attention before the Chief. He threw an energetic salute.
Nwando lay in bed next to Felix, watching him sleep and thinking about all they’d been through together; how he’d taken her under his wings when she had just started out as a ‘corporate sex worker’ and was still trying to stick a foot in the business. After getting stiffed several times, meeting nothing but small-time bankers, Nollywood wannabes and pretentious bums, getting swindled out of her hard earned pay on numerous occasions, she was about ready to give up when Felix, one of the pimps she saw around often, had approached her at Aqua with a proposal. Felix had set her up with three of his best connections, who went on to become her benefactors, and all she had to do was give him 40% of her earnings as per norm. He hadn’t even asked to have sex with her before any job like she’d heard was customary with the pimps based at Sheraton. Instead, he’d coached her on what she needed to know and do to keep her clients coming back, insisting that the two things she was never to do were lie to him and steal from her clients.
Soon enough, their business arrangement became much more than that, he’d advised her to go back to school, stayed with her while she juggled school and clients, showed up for her graduation, and now here they were in her newly furnished Wuse 2 apartment, a birthday present from one of her Chiefs.
If someone had approached her seven years ago and told her she would be in bed with a man as wonderful as her Felix, she honestly would have laughed in that person’s face. Nothing wonderful ever happened to Nwando. Things had been going so well for her, and now it seemed her luck was about to turn again. Nausea rippled through her, interrupting her train of thought, and she rushed to the bathroom. The sound of her upheaval had woken Felix and she found him standing by the door after she’d emptied her stomach into the toilet bowl and flushed. The concern on his face made her knees weak and she sighed.
“Babe, we need to talk.”
The sun glared down on Chief & Mrs. Odukoya as they stood at the entrance of the police station, waiting for the Chief’s aides to pull the car around. Mosun stayed quiet as the Chief and IG continued to discuss the murder investigation. Her eyes roamed from the ground to the cars parked in the lot to the sky, squinting at the sun, staring at nothing in particular. How apt. she thought as she noticed what looked like rain clouds not too far away. A storm would be the most appropriate weather for the way she felt inside. Sleep had refused to whisk her away the night before as her mind stayed fixated on the picture of Sola lying in a pool of her own blood on what she thought were extremely ugly bathroom tiles. She’d had to force herself out of the house with a crying-induced headache, and the Chief’s bellowing in the office had only worsened her aggravation. Of course, he always thought shouting fixed everything and far be it from her to attempt to correct him or calm him down. She didn’t care anymore. Not like before. Those days were long gone.
The Range Sport finally pulled up in front of them and an aide came down to hold the door open. Mosun wasted no time getting into the car, but Chief hung back, exchanging last minute pleasantries with the IG and Inspector Nuhu. She scoffed as she watched him pull out a wad of notes from his pocket and hand them to the IG. How typical. Finally, Chief got into the car, the doors were shut and they started to move. “Was that necessary?” she addressed Chief without bothering to look directly at him.
He reclined in his seat, closed his eyes and sighed “What do you mean?”
“All that shouting and show of macho bravado that went on in the office- was it really necessary?”
“What would you have me do, Mosun? Or are you not aware that our daughter was murdered in cold blood yesterday?”
“Ehenn! Sola is dead. So you should be shouting like a mad person everywhere? Can’t you talk to people like human beings?”
“I’m starting to think you’re right. You’re obviously the animal that needs to be shouted at.”
Mosun turned to face her husband sharply and almost jabbed his eye with her nails.
“It’s you that is an animal, Wale! Probably one of your dirty business deals! That is why my Sola is dead!”
Chief opened his mouth to say something, but thought better of it and remained silent.
“My own Sola oh! You allowed them to kill my Sola!” Mosun’s body was vibrating with rage and it didn’t take long before she broke down and started sobbing relentlessly.
In an attempt to ward off an impending headache, Chief Odukoya pressed his fingers against his temples “Please Mosun, I don’t need all this rubbish today; I have enough on my mind already.”
The car finally came to a stop in front of the Odukoya residence at Maitama and the doors opened. Mosun continued on her rant even as she alighted from the car “What do you mean you have a lot on your mind? What about me? Is my own mind empty?”
“Please, just go and shut the door.”
Mosun froze. “You’re not coming inside?”
“Our daughter is dead. I have a lot of thinking to do.” Without another word, Mosun got out of the car and slammed the door. “Gideon, we’re going to the flat in Asokoro.” Chief Odukoya instructed the driver as they pulled out. He picked up his phone, scrolled briefly through his address book and then hit the call button.
Nwando sat cross-legged on the bed, hand-in-hand with Felix, waiting for what seemed to be the longest minute of her life to pass. Between them was a piece of paper that confirmed her pregnancy. She’d decided it would be best to tell Felix now that it was early enough to make a feasible decision and he hadn’t said anything yet. Every bit of her itched to know what was going through his mind, but, at the same time, she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to know. They’d never really discussed something like this happening to her – there’d never been any need to – and she’d heard stories about all the other girls who’d gotten pregnant and made what Felix had referred to on numerous occasions as “the wrong choice”.
Finally, Felix looked right at her. “Is it mine?”
“I’m not really sure.”
Felix sighed and buried his face in his palms. “I told you to always use a condom and take your pills, Nwando. Always. No exceptions. No forgetting.”
At least he’s calm. Nwando thought. That’s good. She reached out and placed a hand on his leg. “I’m sorry. I must have made a mistake with the cycle.”
“What’s done is done, dear. What do you want to do now?”
“I don’t know, Felix. I really haven’t thought about it. I just wanted to tell you.”
“But you have an idea whose child it is if it isn’t mine, right?”
Nwando nodded. “I know exactly whose it is if it isn’t yours.”
Felix went quiet again and Nwando could almost see the cogs turning in his head. It was one of his qualities she’d always admired; his ability to remain rational and come up with solutions. After a few minutes, he finally took her hands in his and looked straight at her. “Well, you’re done with school now. And I love you. I think it’s time for us to finally settle down.”
“Settle down?” Nwando’s heart did somersaults in her chest as she struggled to contain her excitement. “You mean for real?”
“Yes babe, settle down. I mean, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I would have loved the proposal to not be under such inappropriate circumstances, but none of that really matters, does it?” Nwando burst into a fit of giggles and engulfed Felix in a hug, plastering kisses on every bit of his skin she could reach. “You realise this means no more jobs, right? No more clients.” He pulled her back to look him in the eyes. “We are done with this life. Understand?”
As if on cue, Nwando’s phone started ringing and she glanced at the screen. “It’s Chief.” Felix nodded as she answered.
He watched her as she talked on the phone, several thoughts racing though his mind. The baby she was carrying probably wasn’t his. Felix was painfully aware that anyone with any sense would cut their losses and bail out instantly, but he was equally aware that a man in love has little or no sense. They were pretty well off now, but he needed them to go away; start afresh somewhere where they didn’t know anyone. Talk could ruin even the sturdiest of relationships and he didn’t want his child growing up around any of their past. My child, He liked the idea of it and suddenly, he started to feel some of the excitement Nwando had exhibited earlier. Anything coming from her will surely be as beautiful. What does it matter whose it is? He could see a future with himself, Nwando, and their children; a happy life as a functioning family. The idea of finally putting his degree in software engineering to use after so many years of running girls both tickled and intrigued him.
Nwando hung up and tapped Felix, pulling him back to the present. “Chief wants to see me. He says it’s important.”
“Good.” A huge grin spread across Felix’s face. “Here’s what we’re going to do…”
The Odukoya residence was uncharacteristically quiet. There was no blaring music ringing through the halls, none of the TVs were on, there weren’t any guests, and the children were in their rooms. Mrs Odukoya took her time going up the stairs, running her hands along the polished brass railing. Still beating herself up over the incident with Wale in the car, she fought back tears as she approached Yinka’s room. When she didn’t get an answer after several knocks, she proceeded to Bisola’s room two doors down and knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Bisola called from inside her room.
Mosun opened the door slightly and poked her head in. “Are you okay?”
“Yes mummy” Bisola who was lying on her bed, lifted herself up onto her elbows. ”Welcome back. How did it go?”
“My dear, I need to go and lie down first. Where is your brother? He isn’t in is room.”
“Here.” Yinka answered from behind the door where he was seated on the comforter.
“Oh. Okay. I’ll see you guys at dinner. Let me rest, please.” With that, she left and shut the door behind her.
Yinka stared at the closed door for a few seconds before turning to his sister “She’s been crying again.”
“What do you expect?” Bisola said, rolling her red eyes “Sola was stabbed to death.”
“Please, don’t remind me.”
“Can somebody even forget?” A shiver ran down her spine and she shuddered. “Seeing that, Yinka…”
“I know. All that blood…”
“How could someone be so…vile?”
“Who could have Sola wronged so badly? She was barely 17.”
“I bet it is that Chidera boy.”
Bissola almost laughed. “You think Chidera did it? Meek Chidera that was always fawning over Sola and is always so quiet?”
“Hmm. It’s the quiet ones you should be wary of, sis.”
HOUSE ON THE ROCK
Next Week: On The Inside
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