Monday, 28 January 2013

SECRETS


“Why mummy?” Jake whined. “I’m a big boy now.”
“Jake, mummy said that someone could steal us, if we don’t wait for her,” Joanna said, pulling her twin back.
When they started to squabble, Bunmi bit back a smile as she walked pass her children and got through the revolving door first.
“Leave me alone!”
“No, Jake. We have to hold hands now. Mummy said so.”
“But, you’re holding me too tight, Jo!”
“That’s enough, both of you,” Bunmi said sharply. “Jake, you know the drill. We all have to hold hands till we get to the car. Jo, loosen up your hold a bit, okay.

The parking lot of the store they had just come of out was almost deserted and dimly lit, so she couldn’t see her son’s face clearly. But, she was certain it wore a frown now. Just like his father’s.
Her mood soured and just when her thoughts were about going to the man that had fathered her children, she heard the sound of car doors being slammed shut. Turning in that direction, she saw two men get out from the back of a dark-coloured Honda Accord. From where she stood, she thought it was the latest model, but she wasn’t sure. She looked away, not wanting to make eye contact, but before turning away completely, she noticed them walk towards her and the kids.
Quickly, Bunmi pulled her children to the car. Something about those men made her uneasy.

The tall one wore a grey hooded shirt and his face was obscured by the hood. It was as if he shielded his face because he wanted to remain anonymous and that worried her.
She quickly glanced at the entrance of the shop, where two parking attendants sat on stools, chatting. One threw his head backwards and laughed. Bunmi could hear that raucous laughter, but she quickly noticed that they were not looking in her direction.
Maybe, I should just go back to the store, she thought, even as her feet moved forward, closer to the car. The men walked briskly, taking long strides in their direction.
“Jake, get into the car.” The hairs on the back of her neck were standing, so she spoke sharper than she had intended. She lifted her son and almost shoved him into his car seat, in her panic. She didn’t bother to strap him into the seat before shutting the door. She pressed the sensor on her key and locked all the car doors, then rushed past the shorter man who was almost at her car.
When she went round to put Joanna into the car, the tall man followed her to that side. She glanced at him, her heart pounding now. Even close up, she still couldn’t see his face clearly. Without speaking, she opened the door lifted Joanna and shoved her into her car seat. Before she could shut the door, the tall man held it and slid smoothly into her car, taking the space just beside Joanna.
When he shut the door, without a word, Bunmi put both hands to her mouth. This cannot be happening.
By now, the second man was at the door of the passenger side. His eyes bore into her.
“Get in and drive.”

Hands shaking, she opened her door and got into the car, while he got into the car, beside her. She glanced at the attendants again. One of them had stood and was looking at her car.
“Drive…Now.”
She strapped herself in, put the car in reverse and slowly backed out of the parking lot. The attendant sat again and resumed his conversation with his partner.
“Mummy, who are they?”
“Hush, Jo.” She looked back, saw the tall man leaning over Joanna and stepped on her brakes.
“Drive.”
She ignored the man beside her. “What are you doing to my daughter?” She spoke calmly because she didn’t want to alarm her children, but her heart was thudding so loud, she thought everyone could hear it.
When she heard a click, she realized that the man had been strapping Jo in. He leaned over Joanna to get to Jake and a second click let her know that he had also secured his seat belt. She couldn’t relax still. “What do you guys want?”
“You talk too much, lady. Drive.”
Bunmi cast a look at the man beside her. There was nothing in his voice that instilled fear. His voice was smooth and refined, not guttural or high-pitched, like she had expected, considering the circumstances. She was scared, all the same.
As she pulled out of the parking lot, Joanna started whimpering. Looking through the rearview mirror, Bunmi tried to make eye contact with her daughter.
“Hush, baby. Mummy will handle this, okay.” Amazingly, Jake was silent.

She noticed the Honda Accord pull out from the lot, to a position directly behind her.
Only a few cars were on the road, but she didn’t find that surprising, considering they were in a quiet neighbourhood. Also, it was a Sunday night and most people would be home, getting rested for another work week.
Why did we have to be out now? Why did I choose tonight of all nights to indulge the children’s ice cream cravings?
When she hit the middle of her forehead with her right hand, the man beside her gave her a sharp glance. She slowly lowered her hand to the steering wheel.
This doesn’t seem like a random abduction, though. They seemed to have been waiting for us.
Suddenly she was filled with cold dread at the thought that they had, most likely, been followed.
It’s one thing to hear about kidnapping incidents going on in Nigeria, while safe in America, and another to actually be at the mercy of some brutes.

At that point, she saw a well-lit sign, indicating that she was getting close to a petrol station. Her first instinct was to drive in there and raise alarm, but she quickly crushed the thought.
They might not have shown me any guns, but I’m sure they are armed. I can’t risk jeopardizing my children’s lives.
Glancing swiftly at the station, she noticed the metal barricades and realized that no one was in there. At that time of the night, they had obviously closed.
That’s another reason why that was a bad idea.
Bunmi was sweating profusely. Even her palms and the soles of her feet were damp. Stretching her hand to the middle of the dashboard, she pressed a button and lowered the temperature a notch. When her hand was back on the wheel, the man beside her reached out and turned on the radio.
Bunmi had been listening to music from a CD earlier, so the opening beat of the remixed version of P Square's Chop my money filled the car. He turned up the volume a bit and leaned back in his chair.
She glanced at him again. He was staring ahead, but his shoulders were moving in sync with the music.
What kind of a lunatic is this?
Almost immediately, she got to the junction that turned into her grandmother’s street. She had been staying there since she and the kids returned. So, instinctively, she started to turn to her right. The driver of the car trailing behind them honked thrice and at the same time the man beside her, whom she now thought of as Loony, spoke sharply, “That’s not where we’re going.”
Bunmi’s fear increased as she slowly backed out of the street. I was right, this is no random incident.

When she got to the end of the road, the only place to turn was left. Seeing the police check point, a few meters away, she was filled with anticipatory joy. When she got closer, she started to slow down.
“Don’t even think about it.”
This was the first time he had spoken, but there was something about the voice of the man at the back that seemed familiar. Even as she struggled to remember where she could have heard him before, she stubbornly pulled to a stop in front of the policemen. The Honda drove past them.
“Don’t even think of saying or doing anything you’d regret,” Loony told her calmly. He removed the seatbelt from around his body and lowered his window.  He smiled and spoke to the unarmed policeman, who had come to the car, “My broda, how una dey find today?”
Bros, wetin man go do naa? Na work carry person come out this cold night.” He peered inside the car. “Ah, oga mi, you dey enjoy o. See as all of una fine so. Even Davido dey play im music for una sef. Chai! Na the real silver spoon life una dey live so!”
Loony laughed, as the policeman, whose uniform showed that he was a constable, started to sing Dami Duro in discordant tones.
He put his hand into his jacket and withdrew a leather wallet. From it, he brought out a crisp note, which he handed over to the constable. “Oya, take this one hol’ body.”
When he raised it to peer closer, Bunmi saw that it was a thousand naira note. “Bros, na you be the original baba olowo! You go live long o!” He quickly squeezed the note into a ball and held it tightly in his fisted left palm.
When his partner drew closer, Loony dug out another note and handed over to him as well. Amidst hand salutes and praise-singing from the policemen, he spoke to Bunmi through clenched teeth, “Drive.”
Smiling, as she pulled away, he waved to the policemen and wound up his window.

“What were you thinking?”
She ignored Loony, silently bemoaning her lost chance. Loony’s earlier admonition had not been the reason she hadn’t uttered a word to the policemen. It had been the knowledge that his partner was sitting at the back with her children.
Why have they been silent this long? She slammed the brakes immediately in panic.
“What!” Loony cried, as he pitched forward. He hadn’t worn his seat belt after the interlude at the checkpoint.
She ignored him and looked back. The twins were fast asleep. Despite the circumstances, Bunmi found that mildly amusing.
Only a child can sleep through this horror.
Turning to continue driving, she found Loony glaring at her. “Sorry,” she muttered.
He rolled his eyes and brought out his phone. “Where una dey?”
He was silent, as he listened to whoever he had called. He nodded once. “No wahala. We don pass them. Just wait for there.”
Turning to Bunmi, he replaced his wallet and said, “Please, park the car now and get down.”
“How?... What do you mean?... What about...?”
“Now!”
Shaking, she complied. He got down too and came round to the driver’s side. She moved to let him pass, when it was clear that he wanted to open the door.
“I beg you,” she pleaded. “Take the car. Take whatever you want. Please let my children go.”
Wetin I wan use your children do?” He pointed to the passenger side. “Abeg, enter front, before you kill pesin.” He shook his head. “Women drivers.”
She stared at him for a few seconds, before racing to the other side. Quickly, she climbed into the car and strapped herself in with the seat belt. He got in too and drove off.

He drove fast and about five minutes later, pulled up beside the Honda, which had been waiting for them at the end of Falomo Bridge. He stopped and gave a thumbs-up sign to the driver, before pulling away. While taking a quick look, Bunmi realized that the Honda, which drove behind them again, had two male occupants in it.
They drove fast for some minutes, pausing only to wait for two of the several traffic lights on Victoria Island’s Ozumba Mbadiwe Street to change.
Soon, Bunmi realized that they were headed towards Lekki. She hadn’t been there in over five years, but she could recognize the landmarks. The roads were wider now, though, and each side had four lanes.
That’s new.
Soon they came to a structure, which stretched from one end of the road to another. She soon realized that it was comprised of multiple toll gates.
Another new development.
She was silent, as Loony paid the toll fare to an attendant, who had a friendly smile on her face.
He smiled, as he collected a receipt from the girl. “Keep the change,” he said and drove through the raised barricade.
Bunmi turned to her window and rolled her eyes. Generosity and friendliness in these circumstances? How noble of you.

A few meters away, they got to an intersection with a big roundabout, which she recognized. Loony turned left till they were in front of a large entrance with a sign that read “Lekki Scheme One”. The big gates to that entrance were open and he slowly drove through them.
Bunmi turned in her seat to look at him. “Where are you taking us to?” She could hear the fear in her voice, but she didn’t care. When she got no answer from him, she whipped her head around, to the man at the back. He still had the hood of his shirt over his head, but she could see his eyes. He was staring at her.
“Please, do not hurt us. I don’t have anything you guys would want. I’m only here for my grandmother’s burial. I beg you. Please, let us go.”
When he looked away, without saying a thing, she hunched her shoulders in defeat and turned away from him.

She realized immediately that Loony was pulling into a street she knew very well. Some of the fight came back in her. Eyes flashing she turned to him again, “What exactly is going on here?”
Just as she had suspected, he pulled up to a house with high walls. By then, both arms were folded over her chest. She was fuming. After honking twice, a uniformed guard came through a side gate to their car. She recognized him. Loony lowered his window and the guard smiled.
“Ah, oga, na you? Welcome. I been no know say na you.”
“That’s alright, James. How body?”
Body dey inside cloth.”
Both men laughed and the guard looked into the car. His eyes widened when he saw Bunmi. “Aunty mi, na you be this? E don tey o!” His face broke out in a huge grin.
When she didn’t respond, but only glared at him, the guard’s smile faltered and he looked at Loony, who cocked his head at the gates. In less than a minute, the guard had thrown them open and they drove into a very spacious compound.

As soon as the car was parked on the gravel driveway in front of the house, she opened the door and rushed out of the car and to Loony's side, just as he was climbing out slowly. “How dare you?”
“Just doing my job, ma’am,” he responded, almost nonchalantly.
The door at the back opened and the tall man came out of the car. He had removed the hood, so his face was no longer shielded. As soon as she saw his face, she realized why his voice had sounded familiar and her eyes narrowed.
Drawing up to her full height, she looked up at him. She was wearing flat sandals; so, his six-foot-three-inches frame towered over her five-foot-six- inches body. Raising an eyebrow and putting on the haughtiest voice she could muster, she asked, “Is this what you do for him, these days?”
His face tightened and she was glad to see that she had struck a raw nerve.
When she pushed past him to unstrap Joanna, who was still asleep, she realized that Loony was trying to do the same with Jake. “Loony, don’t lay a finger on my son,” she snapped, glaring at him.
Loony raised both arms and backed away from the boy. Then, grinning, he looked around, “Loony? Who’s Loony?”
Ignoring him, she spent the next few minutes rousing her kids and getting them out of the car, while both men watched. The tall man looked at her children, when they were out of the car, and smiled. Even though he was still smiling when he looked at her, she could see that it didn’t reach his eyes. “I see you’ve been busy.”
He glanced at the twins again and she understood what he meant.
She pursed her lips and shook her head. Then, she led her sleepy children up the marble steps at the entrance of the house, muttering words of encouragement to them.

A few seconds after she pressed the bell, the door was opened by a woman. As soon as they stepped into the house, Bunmi brushed aside her cheerful greeting and the arms that reached out in a welcoming hug. 
“Where is he?”
She shook off the tiny voice of guilt when the smile on the rotund face gradually died and eyes that clouded with hurt stared back at her.
“He’s waiting for you in his study.”
She took a few steps away from the woman, before turning back.
“Thank you, Ma Agnes.”
The woman smiled softly. “You look wonderful, my dear.”
With a small cry, she let go of the twins’ hands and flew into the arms of the woman she had known all her life. “I’ve missed you so much.”
Ma Agnes held the woman, she considered a daughter, in a fierce hug. Soon, she loosened her hold. “Go. You know he hates to be kept waiting.”

As the trio walked along the long corridor, Jake asked in a whisper, “Mummy, where is this?”
“Nowhere important, baby. We’ll soon be heading home.”
“It’s a beautiful house, mummy. I like it here.”
She smiled softly and rubbed a hand on Joanna’s hair, which was held in place by a pink band, with a bunny clip-on. Yeah, it’s a beautiful house, baby. Once upon a time, I dreamt of taking you round the whole of it.
She shook those thoughts off, as they turned a corner on the right. She saw the door of the study at the end of the short corridor and her heart rate picked up. When she got to the heavy door, out of habit, she gave three short raps on it. Without waiting to be invited in, she turned the handle and opened the door.
Expecting the softness of a plush rug underneath her feet, she was surprised to feel the hardness of a marble-tiled floor. He’s finally changed the floor.
She turned and gently led the twins in, before shutting the door. A deep voice from the right spoke, “Welcome home.”
She turned in that direction. He was sitting behind his wide hand-carved table, a small smile playing on his lips. He looked every inch a successful man, as he played with a gold pen with long fingers, at the ends of which were perfectly manicured nails. His eyes fell on her children and he pushed back his chair and got to his feet.
He still looks so good. The years have been kind.
She knew he wasn’t a vain man, but it was important to him to maintain an impeccable physical appearance, at all times. Even meeting with her, in these circumstances, she knew that he would have made an effort to look nice.

He walked round the table and came towards them, stopping when he was about a foot away. Stretching his arms to the children, he smiled widely, his eyes crinkling at the corners.
“Come, babies. Come to me.”
Joanna inched forward, but a quick tug by her mother, made her halt. Bunmi felt a little movement and looked down at Jake. He had turned his head upwards to her. Reading the question in his eyes, she patted his head and held his hand tighter.
As memories of the past washed over her, she felt pain, sadness and love hit her at varying speeds. She lifted her head, but was careful to keep those emotions away from her eyes, as she stared at the man that now held her gaze.
Her chin came up a notch, in that show of defiance he knew so well. “Hello, Father.”


TO BE CONTINUED

To read the next parts please go to:
Part Two: SECRETS: WHEN THERE IS A WILL
Part Three: SECRETS: THE FATHER FIGURE
Part Four: SECRETS: MOTHER KNOWS BEST

19 comments:

  1. Intense.....Suspense!!!! Can't wait for Part two! Hurry!!!!!! Well-done dear, great story as always!

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  2. Seriously? To be continued? Olaedooooooooooooooo! Y nu?

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  3. Hmmmm, I wonder what happened between her and her popc in the past. Can't wait for the part 2

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  4. Really? Olaedo, really? To be Continued? Don't let us wait for long!!!

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  5. Hurry up with part 2. Can't wait

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  6. Had a gamut of emotions reading this. Waiting for part 2

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  7. Nail biting suspense......OJK u have come again,can't wait for part 2.

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  8. Hmmmmm wow U̶̲̥̅̊ heLd ♍Ɣ breathe olaedo smh

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  9. Arrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why na Ola?!!!!!!!! Please gt the part 2 out fast. Suspense filled story and very interesting. weldone dear

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  10. Hmmmmm.....can't wait for part two

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  11. D suspense is killing me already! Lol!

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  12. Gosh Olaaaaaaaaaa! Please continue. I don't do very well with suspense :-))

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  13. I am wondering what must have happened between father and daughter to make him resort to kidnapping.

    Interesting story. Please come and finish it.

    First time here!

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  14. Kikilicious; ;) ;)

    Onyinye; Thanks, dear.

    Ng; Lol!!!!! Nne, o buro my fault ;)

    Che; I wonder too o. They haven't told me the entire story ;)

    Hazel; No talk too much o! I go soon do your style, lol.

    Nel; Sorry you had to wait :)

    Okeoghene; Gamut of emotions.. I like that ;)

    Ada; Nne,eh.. I can't wait too, jare :)

    Samuel; Thanksss :)

    Amby; Lol!

    Anon 14:48; YESSSSSSSSS :)

    chychic 81;Lol! Ndo :)

    Brick's Momma; You know I woulda continued this some days ago, right? ;)

    Enkay; Thanks :) Not yet finished, though :)

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  15. olaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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  16. Anon 09:25; Yesssssssssssssss ;)

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