Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Inspired by Dicken's Oliver Twist and edited....


It was futile, his attempts to flee but that was the only solution he could come up with because no sooner had his trembling fingers wrapped around the soft, warm flesh of the mango that the fat, sweaty seller looked away from her neighbour with whom she was exchanging meaningless gossip with and settled on the boy. Even if he had let the fruit go, she would not have let the action go and both reacted in reflex. She raised a cry and he turned on his heel and ran.

He ran, quite oddly, weaving blindly past bodies as he tried to make his getaway, all the while mindful of the cars zipping past the street.

"Ole! Ole!! Ole!!!" The woman cried as she tried to maneuver her bulk after him in pursuit. She knew she would not catch him but she hoped that her cries would motivate someone to do so. Her voice carried over the din of car horns, haggling traders, screaming bus conductors and loud conversations to somehow capture the attention of people around. That, and the fact that as the boy ran, he bumped into people, knocking both he and them off balance and they in turn rewarded him with a few shoves here and there, laced with a generous dose of curses in whatever language they proudly called their mother tongue. That also meant he was slowed down.
Slowed down so that as he whipped past a conductor who had come off his bus to loudly call out his bus' destination in a medley of bus stop name, all the man had to do was reach out his right hand and bring the panicked boy to an abrupt halt with one well placed blow.

The boy went down. Before he could draw a breath, a crowd was upon him. The bus conductor had forgotten his passengers, other traders had forgotten their wares, students - some returning from school and others who though had on uniforms had not been to school in weeks- merged with the excited crowd and swelled its numbers, buyers forgot their budgeting and bargaining and within seconds, the boy was being jostled this way and that with the crowd's cries switching from inquiry as to the hulla-balloo to blood thirst as they called for him, the little boy, the little thief to be drawn and quartered.

He was quite small. There seemed to be very little of him but what there was received a generous dosage of slaps and knocks. It was not long before the old and threadbare checkered shirt that had covered his dry skin was ripped off his shoulders and he was relieved of his shorts under which he wore no underwear so that as these angry men and women metted out their justice, he was clad only in the sickly looking fabric that was his skin under which jutted the frame that made up his skeleton.

"Look at him. Nonsense!!"
"Ehen, yes, that is good."
"Beat him well well. Never in his life..."
"Where are his useless parents."
"Aww and he is just a boy o"
The cries mingled as one. Maybe only one or two bore the sentiment of the last statement. All had suddenly crossed that thin divide between man and animal and for that afternoon, the boy had become prey for the heated and hungry crowd. The little boy could not make out what people were saying. He did not see that the mango seller had managed to jostle her way to the front and was explaining in a loud voice to all and any that bothered to ask what he had done.
"Omo oloroburuku, oniranu ikeji aja, ole lasan lasan yii, lo ji mi nigba..." she informed. For those that did not speak her language, you did not have to be told that her information was laced with curses and insults. Some on the boy and some on his mother. The mango which had dropped when he had been hit had since rolled on the street and under a moving car. The boy had tried to plead when he had been first lifted off the ground and had since stopped. Like the sun bearing down intensely on Lagos that afternoon, there was no mercy around.

Mojere rested her chin on her hand which was rested on the car door. Beside her, Labake her best friend chatted on incessantly,
"Ah, can you imagine the colours of the lace they wanted to select? I was so disgusted. That is how you know when money misses road. Can you just imagine? They left me to go and pick out that? God forbid, I am not wearing that useless, cheap nonsense."
Apparently from what Mojere had pieced together between tuning out her friend's chatter and watching traffic was that one of their friends had chosen not to purchase fabric for aso ebi to be worn during her father inlaw's funeral reception. Thus Labake was miffed to no end.

Thud! A body slammed into the side of the car on Mojere's side. Both women including the driver who had been listening silently on the conversation, jumped. The culprit had sprinted off. It was a young man, one of those people who sold their wares in traffic and he was in an awful hurry to get down the road. It was then that Mojere realised that the car was at a standstill and so was everyone around them.
"Jesus!!!" Labake exclaimed, "Did you see that?"
Mojere was tempted to tell her no, that she had not, that she just felt like being frightened out of her skin.
"Mr. Lawal, ki ni yen?" (What is that?)
Mr. Lawal was rattled. He knew he was going to be blamed. Had he been actually paying attention, he might have had a better answer for his madam.
"Madam, awon oloshi ni yen ni madam...." he began as he started to come down. Because he was already half out of the car, Mojere could not caution him about his language. She hated when he spoke like that and she had warned him many times before.
"These useless boys. I don't know what they are doing here." Labake continued, "they should all be in school. Hen-en, just imagine...we thank God o that it is not more than this. Is the car okay?"
Mojere was more concerned if the boy was okay. Before he disappeared from her sight, she had seen him stumble a bit after the collision before he righted himself and made away. Mr Lawal had come around to her side so she rolled down the glass.
"Ko si problem ma." he told her (There is no problem) "O kan gba moto legbe but ko se e lese." (He only hit the car but there is no damage.)
"What on earth was he in a hurry for?" Mojere wondered aloud.
Labake hissed her response,
"Those vagabonds. What else? Running after cars without a care for if they got hit or something."
Mojere ignored her. Mr Lawal was looking ahead. There seemed to be some commotion.
"What is it?" Mojere asked him.
"I don't know ma." he replied, "let me go and check"
"No," Mojere replied, suddenly getting out of the car. She needed to get some air and over forty five minutes cooped up in the same space, albeit air conditioned with Labake and she was about to loose her mind. "You stay here and watch the car. I will be back."
She got out and began to move towards the excited crowd just a few feet away before either he or her friend could say a word.
Maybe it was the charged air or the worries that had been on her mind all day, or Labake's unimportant and longwided, one sided conversation but the next thing Mojere knew, she had made her way to the crowd and was jostling her way to the front.
When she made her way to the front small clearing, she was stopped in her tracks not just because there was no where else to go and those around were not budging but also because she could not understand why there was blood on the street.
In the middle of the clearing, bearing the brunt of an over zealous and possibly psychotic crowd, a short and skinny man was bring beaten. Although he was being held upright by the those beating him, it was obvious to anyone who cared to observe that he was unconscious and yet, still was being hit. Mojere was immediately sickened. She only became horrified when she realised that the person was not a short man but a little boy. Her gasp was lost in the chatter of the crowd.

What happened next unfolded like a scene set in slow motion. Because no sooner had she made her realisation that from the corner of her eye she saw two people making their way through the crowd holding a jerry can of what she instantly knew was petrol and she turned in silent horror to behold the jeering crowd, the men who held him and most of all the unconscious boy. Later, if you asked her, she would not have been able to explain what she did next.

In less than five strides, Mojere had broken free of the crowd and dashed forward. In the same motion, the man carrying the container opened it and lifted it up, tilted to empty its contents. The men holding the bloodied boy up raised a cry of hurray at the sight and the knowledge of its intent. They did not see Mojere coming. They did not see her swing her little fists, knocking the man on the boy's right and loosening his grip. Mojere could not think. She almsot could not breathe. The second she threw her arms around the boy, she felt the splash and strong stench as the petrol was poured on her body.

She had refused to let go. Somehow, the one who had agreed to light the match did not. Somehow, the enraged crowd had not touched her. It was as if in one swell move, the sight of a young woman in a suit, holding on to this small and frail boy lifted a veil off the eyes of the crowd. Someone cried "wait" and then another and another and another and then you had people asking questions.
"Who is he?
"Who is she?
"What did he steal sef?"
The mango seller who previously had been the center of sympathetic attention suddenly found herself on the end of ridicule.
"Haba! Madam! can you not see that he was hungry? A mango, and you want to burn him alive. What would you then do to the politicians?"
"Why have you no mercy?"
"The lord said we should forgive"
Stunned at the sudden change, the woman blustered and stammered her explanations. A policeman suddenly appeared. It was his first day on the job manning the junction down the street. He was not in the mood or even trained for the sight he beheld. Blood, fuel, a trembling woman and an unconscious child, bus conductors who looked high as kites and a mob throwing explanations in more than one language.
"Heys you! Madam, what is going on?" he asked of Mojere.
She did not answer. She did not hear him. All she could hear was the faint beating heart against the pounding of hers and the small, shallow breathing against her skin. The smell of blood and petrol she could not smell. The heat of the sun burning mercilessly through the fuel, she could not feel. The sounds of frustrated drivers blasting their horns as if it would make a difference did not exist. All she knew was that she had been just in time.

Just in time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Baba Catwalq

There is this picture I have of me and my dad. I am probably three or four. My hair looks like it was hastily applied to my head from a collection intended for the pubic region. My father has on one of his old plaid shirts that my mother would "mistakenly" throw away over the years. I don't know what I have on because you cannot see my body. I am about four feet off the ground, my spindly limbs jutting out like sticks of sugar cane.

We are both smiling. My dad's reaches from one ear to the other and all of the sixteen dentures that I own are put on display. In my hand is a book, one of the many manuscripts that i was surrounded with as a child. My dad's hands are free but not really.

We are standing in the room where we used to iron. In that huge house we lived in in Benin. At the corner of the picture, you can see a foot. My mother's. Everytime I look at the picture, I look at her foot. i look and look because I cannot for the life of me figure out how she came up with the concept that her toes look like "unsuccessful Ijebu groundnuts." But, such are the kind of statements my mother makes.

It is a happy picture and an odd one. Not odd that it is a father and daughter having fun. But odd because my father, after being pestered by me the whole day relented and went in search of the ankara wrapper that had been set aside for the task he was about to execute. My father hoisted me on his back and strapped me to him with the wrapper. I was too big for my mother to carry. Besides, I was no longer a baby. I now had a baby brother who was probably drooling on himself somewhere. Yet, I wanted to be "backed"

Probably sensing a budding insecurity, my father gave me what I wanted. So in that picture of mine, I am oddly potruding from behind my father. His hands reach around him to support my weight because even though he has applied a scientific formula to the tieing of the wrapper, it is coming loose and I am slowly slipping to the ground. My legs come out at his waist and it appears I have lost the slipper on my left foot.

But it does not matter. My dad has made his little girl happy and from the picture, it appears he is happy too......

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clothing wars

"The Upper House also concluded debate on the general principles of a bill on the prohibition and punishment for nudity and sexual harassment with the senators insisting on stiffer punishment for public nudity, including a jail term of not less than six months

The bill was sponsored by the chairman of the senate committee on women affairs

Senator E.Uffot รข€"Ekayte."

Maybe it just me but the only public nudity that I have seen have been from the mentally handicapped. I am guessing these guys cannot catch a break. Imagine someone just jeje-ly and rora-ly trying to have a conversation with the sun or bag of pure water and then they get locked up for six months...

The joblessness of some people amaze me. I then found this somewhere:

"The whole scenario is quite disturbing considering that this malady, called fashion, has turned out to be a breeding ground for many other societal malaises like sexual promiscuity, rape, prostitution, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, armed robbery, cultism and occult activities including a litany of similar other vices which have now assumed disturbing proportions.
Of course. I am very glad that this wise man (we know no woman could be intelligent enough to write this sort of article) added armed robbery to the list. Many people today forget that the main reason why armed robbers come to a house, is not to get away with cash or cars, but to enjoy the delights offered by the madam of the house as she lies in her bed invitingly in her flimsy night dress."

Uhhhhhhhhhhh... I think the portion in bold text was supposed to be humorous...I hope, because my alarm will know no bounds if people blame pyjamas for the sexual abuse of women in their homes.

Mrs. Ekaette, I will do my best to communicate to the toddler that was raped by the houseboy that it was because her diapers were too sexy. And the girl whose father has been raping her since she was eight, that she needs to dress better. HIV will from now be treated with a steady dose of cotton fabric wrapped all over the patient; exposing the leg will bring pneumonia. I am not even sure how you will eradicate cultism with clothing restriction and I cannot wait for your policy on how you will deter people from visiting that "Baba-in-Ijebu/Offa" for the juju they will use to blind their "enemies".

Men, I am off to catch an hour of sleep joo. This is why I cannot be a politician because I would be one of those people that will tell someone how I know that their combined IQ with that of their ancestors is less than one.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Flashback 1998

I have been staring at my blog with some trepidation for over 24 hours because I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to blog about. I thus went once more in search of those trusted notebooks that I used to rely on whilst in secondary school; some of which I have been able to keep till today and browsed through for some reclyable story.

I found this one. It was apparently written when I was in SS1 because it says on the front of the exercise book "SS1x". I cannot figure out why I wrote this but something tells me, I must have just relinquised my hold on Sidney Sheldon's "Sands of time" or something that Harold Robbins wrote. Sometimes, when I come across something I wrote a long time ago, I have to convince myself that I indeed wrote the words. My nonsense handwriting on the ruled page indicates that somehow, I did.....please bear in mind that I was only fourteen when I wrote this...I found it funny.

They lay on their stomachs on the sand, hidden by the bushes. The soldiers were approaching them and Jamie Miro's hand tightened on the ridge of his machine gun. Clara looked round her from Rodrigo whose blonde hair has been swept impatiently into a pony tail and whose eyes were fixed on the approaching soldiers, to Deedee who lat flat on her belly, a knife between her teeth and a machine gun in her hand. She glanced at Jamie Miro and wondered what she could do to help.

A thought came to her head and she knew it was the only way. Shrugging off her sweater to expose creamy full breasts in a miniscule bra, she proceeded to get up. Jamie stopped her, his eyes flying to her chest,
"What do you think you are doing?" he whispered huskily. Deedee and Rodrigo looked up and the original annoyance on Rodrigo's face turned to shocked surprise and the look on Deedee's turned to disgust and hatred when she saw how the men's eyes were trained on her chest.
Without answering, Clara reached and pulled the knife from Deedeee's teeth and stood up.
Jamie was about to yank her back to the ground but changed his mind. The soldiers had sighted Clara and drawn their rifles but they did not fire. Jamie tensed ready to blast at everyone of the soldiers if they tried anything on her. He watched in surprise as Clara ran towards the soldiers sobbing.

"Thank God I've found you...Oh, thank God," she sobbed as she flung herself into the arms of one of the soldiers. Embarassed and bewildered, the soldier held her soft body in his arms until her fake sobs subsided for them to question her.
"Where are you coming from" one with extremely bad breath and tobacco stained teeth asked.
Clara lifted her head from the chest of the one she was holding on to. She did not know why she was holding on this one because he smelt like something from the sewer but considering the odour coming from his friend's mouth, she decided he would be even worse. She moved away from him, giving the three soldiers full view of her breasts.
"I don't know..."she stammered, tears forming again in her blue eyes, "I just...ran...they...tried to kill...me. They've...killed...my...uncle." she finished, bursting into fresh sobs, her breasts heaving on her chest.
The third soldier who wore glasses was beginning to drool as he glared at her breasts and his mind went back to the last time he had had a woman and he felt a tightening in his groin. Swallowing hard, the first soldier asked,
"where were you headed for?"
Clara shook her mane of dark hair and lifted her hands helplessly, lifting her bosom in the process. Their eyes followed the movement.
The one with tobacco stained teeth winked at his mates.
"Let's get you to the jeep. It's right behind those bushes."
Mumbling her thanks, she got up and followed the soldiers behind the bushes.

Jamie almost jumped out to shoot them when he knew their intentions but Deedee held him.
"She started it," she drawled slowly, "let her finish it. If the soup starts to bubble, then we'll help her eat it." (I am not even sure where I got this phrase from)
Jamie looked at Rodrigo who nodded and settled down, gritting his teeth. He couldn't let anything happen to her. She was special. But why? She had done nothing but jeopardise the mission so far...
He almost jumped out of his skin when he heard gunfire coming from behind the bushes and a scream of pure agony pierced the air. Just as he was about to get up, he saw two of the soldiers walking out backwards from behind the bushes. they were looking at twin muzzles of two rifles and the person at the other end was Clara.

Clara didn't even bat an eyelid as she urged them to step backwards. She was barechested as they had relieved her of her bra but she was oblivious to all that. All she could think of was the two men in front of her. She had never felt this way before but it felt familiar; so familiar that it was frightening. She had not even thought twice before pumping the tobacco-stained teeth one with the heavy lead.
She looked at their surprised faces and smiled nastily,
"so where is the jeep?' she asked. the one with the glasses started to shift foot but she grinned warningly, "tsk, tsk, tsk...ah, ah, ah, don't try me honey or you'd be in hell in a sec."
The guy stood still, horror planted on his face but his friend did not seem to believe her and tried to make a clumsy grab at the rifle. Clara did not even take her eyes off the other one as she released fire on his body. the body jerked in dance-like movements and when the body hit the floor, it lay twitching with the force of the bullets before it finally lay still.
Swinging the heavy metal on the other man, she grinned,
"so cutey boy, I've got twice the amount of music, you wanna dance or you wanna show this fancy jeep?"
The man nodded profusely and began to walk through the jungle.

Jamie, Deedee and Rodrigo got up.....

That was where I stopped, apparently at the end of my cache of cliches, incessant repetitions and oddly constructed sentences delivered in handwriting better suited to a harried doctor. I am still trying to figure out what the end of the story was supposed to be and what the beginning of it would have been....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February: The Days of Love...100th post

For the gift of a 100 posts.....

I have been mising and mising (from the word 'miser') my posts so that my 100 post could occur on a special day. What makes today any more special than yesterday, I really cannot explain except that restaurants, chocolate makers, perfumeries and lingerie are out of their mind with the ecstasy of their sales....

Nonetheless, i would like to use this opportunity to wish all who stop by a happy 100th post day. I started blogging because I wanted to tell myself that I could write better than one of my best friends and fellow blogger, Rayo. I have since found out that that is not quite true. I write differently and not necessarily better and the same goes for her.

I have read so many lovely posts and got the opportunity to see the manifestations of many a great minds in this small but tightly knit and connected group known as Naija Blogville. I sometimes imagine what would happen if we as a group were actually able to effect some positive change for our people as quite a few of us are doing every day.

I have been happy to meet you all, quite sad to see some of you go- some, not all-, stimulated by some of the civilised online discourse that have been permitted to occur, entertained by some of the shenanigans that have taken place but above all, grateful for the polite comments that you leave here when you visit. Though I try to tell myself not to write for comments, I cannot deny that I am always touched to see them, especially when I have been indisposed or something....
Anyways, now that I am a 100 posts strong, I now expect to be referred as from today as Ms Catwalq. It is not easy. You guys don't know how my baba-in-ijebu has been working overtime to make sure you come back. I am like thirty goats light and the man's belly is heavily portruding.....hmnnnn, which causes me to think......

So here's to another 100...God, internet and English langauge willing.
So, parry-ova-here, parry-ova-dere. I am not sure what is on the menu but something tells me that no matter what it is, with some salt and pepper, it will go down well. Please feel free to make yourself a plate.

Happy Fah-len-tyne o!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

For the Gift of Health

Tears are streaming down my face as nurses labor over by weak and overheating body to find a vein within which to insert an IV for the much needed fluids to bring me back from the brink of convulsions, intubations and God knows what. It has been two days since this illness has been ravaging my body, two days since I have been able to function as I know how, two days since I have been able to pray as I should and ten minutes since I brought up my enzyme devoured insides in a gory mixture of blood and bile to decorate the kind nurses' shoes with.

I am trying to call God's name. I cannot. I try to call my mother. I cannot. The only sounds that emanate accompanied with the putrid breath of sickness from my mouth are guttural and incomprehensible. I am 23 years old and the nurses are talking softly to calm me down as though I were a baby. I have been stripped of clothing as liquids have been expelled from avenues I can no longer control. My eyes are beginning to roll back and even though they do not raise alarm, I can sense their panic...especially as a doctor comes in and takes over.

That was wednesday. This is Sunday. And it seems a lifetime ago. I can do nothing but thank God that he chose not take me now and in such a painful manner. My parents placed frantic calls once they found out and were thrown into more dissarray when I could not respond to them over the phone. I was so weak, I could not pray for myself. My father prayed for me. Over the phone. My aunt and her friends dropped all they were doing to rush to my side. My roommate watched in helpless panic as I deteriorated before her eyes.

Why this long story? Because it is February. The Days of love. When most people look to chocolates, wine, jewelry, pre-inscribed words on a card and an expensive restaurant dinner as fufliment of love in their lives. I never thought I would be 23 and would never have had a val but after last week it would have been worse to just end at 23 and never truly lived.

Join me, if you wish- this is not to say that if you do, something is lacking- and celebrate the gifts that we have this month. I spent just a few days incapacitated praying for healing and I was spent. Imagine those whose prayer that has been since their first breath on this earth.

Take things easy. My break down was brought on by stress. I was going through financial issues, school issues, a break up and I just kept going and going and going and not taking time to just breathe. I am glad God stopped me this way and not worse. Imagine if I had had a stroke or something.....God forbid. Still, it could be worse.

It's February. You are alive and well. Be happy for that. Greet the day with joy and excitement. Take a second look at that which you call mundane and try and see what is spicy about what you do. Realise that your life is full, so that you are not looking for someone to fill it for you but to share it with and someone who realising what an opportunity you have given them would choose to share theirs with you.

Let's lift our glasses...of juice and soda (no alcoholics here...Rayo step away from the bottle) and let's drink to the gift of good health.

It has been God's valentine to me. And I share with you.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Will update as soon as I can.
Not feeling too good.
been on IV fluids all day
temperarure up and down
be safe y'all

Friday, February 01, 2008

February: The Days of Love...

For Nwabugo

When they met, she was six and he was eight. He peered at her from behind his father, instantly ashamed at how he must looked to the chubby girl in her bright white dress and matching sandals with its little bow on the side. He wore one of the two shirts he owned, the other one being his thread bare school uniform that his older brother had passed down to him. He avoided her eyes, though he felt the intensity of her stare the whole time he and his father paid their annual visit to her father in the big house on the hill.

She liked to go on walks around the village during which she would stop to greet the old people who could not make it to her father's house. By now, she was ten. Sometimes, she brought gifts for these old people. She always stopped at his house on her way. It never made sense because his father would have gone to see her father but she stopped anyway. And then, he would be asked by his father to walk back with her and whoever accompanied her; usually the maid.
On the way, they would talk. Or rather, she would. Her Igbo was pathetic and his English was disastrous but they laboured on in their comprehension of each other.
They both figured out that she was going to the government school back in the city and into the boarding house and he was going to join his older brother to learn a trade.

The first thing he gave her was a book. The bookstore owner who sold it to him told him that it was very interesting. it had been a while that he had been in school but something told him that she would like it. It was very big and heavy and he wrapped it in the best colourful paper that he could find. It was a book on European history. She squealed and gasped. He was so pleased with himself that year, that he walked right into a pile of dog excrement on his way home.
She gave him a mixed tape. He could play it as he plied his route in the city conducting for his brother who was now a driver.
His brother looked up when the shrill voice of a foreign female singer permeated the bus.
"wetin be dis?" he asked of Ogugwa.
With pride, he replied, "Nwabugo gave it to me. She made it and brought it to the village for me."
His older brother thus changed his mind about flinging it out of the window but he was not allowed to play it when customers were in the bus or when he, the older brother was at the wheel.
Ogugwa kept his tape amongst his prized possessions: his bible, his four shirts and his leather shoes for church.
He was fifteen.

"Nwabugo, dad wants you."
It was her older brother and he had been sent to find her. It was not hard. The village was not small and everyone knew that when she was there, there was only one other place besides her home she could be found. She was with Ogugwa, on his land.
His father had died and his one piece of land had been split between him and his older brother. It was to that piece of land that sat at the very top of the hill, with a view of the city in the distance that he would come and weep for his loss and she would come to sit with him in silence as he thought.
She was done with secondary school and had been told that she would be shipped abroad for her university. He now drove a bus. He was nineteen and she was seventeen.
They were both doing good. But she was afraid to leave him. He was very broken over his dad's death. He had always promised God that he would build a house for his father and step mother who had raised him when he was able. He felt death had cheated them, his father and him, out of the dream.
"Mama Emeka is still here. Emeka is still here," and then when he still would not raise his head, she added, "I am still here."
His head jerked up and he looked at her. Really looked at her. Really really looked at her.
Until her brother came.

"I will build our house here. By the time you come back, I will have my own buses and I will ply the Lagos routes. I will build our house and you will always have new shoes." he told her before she left, a year later.
He told her that as they stood on the land, not touching, just staring at the city in the distance.
That was the first time she allowed him in her bed. Nothing happened. He was too scared to touch her. It was not that it was his first time or hers, it was that it was her and it was him. So instead, she held him till he went to sleep, his head resting on her soft bosom. He really loved that.

"Where is my daughter?!!!" Saliva burst forth from the Chief's mouth as he grabbed Ogugwa by the shirt. Ogugwa could barely see the man's anger as his eyes were near swollen shut but he could feel the hate. Things had changed, and very drastically. She had run away. But she had not come to him. Ogugwa did not know where she was and he could not go out and find her because he was holed up in the room with the police who had under the chief's directives arrested him for kidnapping and tried to beat a confession out of him.
It did not matter to the Chief that the Uzochi line plied all the routes from the east to the west and to some parts of the north. In seven years, without stealing or visiting a witch doctor, he and his brother had slaved to build their transport network. He, Ogugwa had even travelled outside of the country to Ghana, by air. He had built Nwabugo the house he promised and she had come back to him but that did not matter. He remained to the Chief, Uzochi's son, son of the palmwine tapper.
She would not marry Ikechukwu the Senate president's son. Even when her father had locked her inside the house, she had somehow managed to escape.
Ogugwa could barely think. He had thought he had lost her when he read of the engagement. Now, she was missing.

"I will speak to him." Peter said "Just rest."
Nwabugo nodded and pressed her cheek against her son's head and bid her brother good bye. Ogugwa sat beside his wife and son and put his arm around them.
"Don't worry, he will come around. No true father will disown his only daughter."
She did not reply because she was interrupted by her mother-inlaw's entrance. Mama Emeka came in dancing and smelling of old wrapper. Behind her was her son, Ogugwa's brother and his wife, Beatrice.
"His name is Uzochi" Nwanbugo whispered. Tears sprang to Mama Emeka's eyes.
"Yes, that is good. See his mouth is like his grandfather's. You are going to be feeding this one non stop."

It was Uzochi who brought them back together. It was Uzochi who chased his football out of the compound and into the road and was run over by his grandfather's peugeot station wagon. It was his grandfather who held his frail body as the little boy fought for his life. He nearly lost it too.
It was in the house on the hill, the house that Ogugwa had built for Nwabugo that the reconciliation was held. It was in the house on that land that the story would end.

Because when they met, she was six and he was eight. When they left, she was seventy two and he was seventy four. And as usual, she sat on the balcony attached to her room at the back of the house so she could catch the evening breeze, seperated from the noise and drama of grandchildren, fretting daughters-inlaw and sons-inlaw. When he found her, he thought she was asleep. It was when he pulled on her ear like he always did that he knew she had left him. For a good five minutes, he just stared at her peaceful form frozen in time.
Then without saying a word, he climbed on the day bed with her and rested his head where it seemed like he always had.
There was no heartbeat to lull him to sleep. No rise and fall of her chest to comfort him. But he begged her to wait and not cross over yet so he could come with her.

It was Uzochi who found them. Like his grandfather, he knew just by looking at them that they were where they were meant to be.