Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Inferno 3

October 2008
Andrew came to visit one morning with a friend of his called Tochi who seemed really shy. I was instantly attracted to him. When his eyes would catch mine he would wink and I’d blush. Taking a sit, Mother motioned for them to do the same. “How have you been son? This is such a wonderful surprise. How are your parents?” He grinned and looked almost boyish as he answered. All the while I kept stealing glances at Tochi and when we were finally introduced I offered him a tour of the house, which thinking about now must have sounded lame. We got to know each other and by the end of the day I’d been asked on my first date. Andrew didn’t seem too happy about it.
 “Be sure to behave yourself kid, some guys don’t like smarty pants”. 
He looked angrier than I’d ever seen him and I couldn’t understand why. I was too excited to allow him spoil my moods, I just kept a blank expression. My step mom shook her head when I decided to stick out my tongue at him. Everyone knew that Andrew and I didn’t get along.

Tochi and I began to see a lot of each other whilst Andrew just got meaner. I couldn’t understand the animosity. I got admitted into the University and everyone around me seemed to be having sex. Tochi had hinted on us consumating our relationship but I simply wasn’t ready. As a club boy, his mates were probably teasing him about not getting some from his wifey. I think a part of me knew that I would never sleep with him. Then his club threw an end of semester party and we attended. As usual there were scantily dressed chics who looked like they were begging for it. Toch1 was being gentleman and kept plying me with alcoholic drinks every time my glass was empty. I began to feel drowsy and that’s when I saw Andrew. He told Tochi to take me upstairs to sleep it out. When we got upstairs he started to kiss me which I didn’t mind, at least not until he began to take off my blouse.
“I can’t do this, I’m not ready. I’d rather lie down for a while” I said. Tochi didn’t seem to be listening. He even held my hand with his left hand and used his right hand to rip off my short skirt. We began to struggle and when I shouted he slapped me so hard that I tasted blood on my tongue.
“Please, please no. Tochi don’t do this I begged”. He was past listening so I summoned up strength and screamed. “Somebody help me please”. At which he pushed me onto the bed, ripped off my panties and drove his fingers into me. I screamed again and he covered my lips with his. Everything happened so fast the next minute. The door opened and someone pulled him off me. I was sobbing so badly that I started fighting when they tried to lift me.

“Ssshh ssh kid, its alright, you’re safe now’’. It was Andrew and I just hugged him and started crying like a banshee. He covered me with a sheet and turned to tochi. “Have you lost your fucking mind? What the fuck did you think you were doing? Trying to rape her?’’ Andrew threw a punch and carried me out of the room. He advised that I feign sleep and as he carried me down he told people that I was drunk. He put me at the back seat of his jeep and just stood there looking at me.
“Do you want me to take you back home kid?” Andrew looked cold blooded and scary. I burst into fresh tears that had nothing to do with the assault I just experienced and everything to do with this guy in front of me.
“Why are you always so mean to me? I almost got raped in there and you’re treating me like one of your statistics. Please move away, I can find my own way home”.
“Awww, please don’t cry honey. I didn’t mean to snap at you. When I’m around you I feel so helpless. But I promise that no one would ever hurt you again. I’m sorry. Please stop crying, I’ll take you home” he said… I shook my head and surprised myself by telling him that I wanted to go back to his place. I was still al shook up and I didn’t want to be alone. He looked skeptical but took me back to his flat. He got me a fresh towel and as I took a shower he put some food in the microwave. I slept in his room while he stayed in the guest room. The sheets had his scent all over but I just couldn’t sleep.

We drove back to campus the next morning and he waited for me to get my stuff. It was the last day of the semester and he had offered me a ride home. My face was swollen and my lip was split. Everyone thought I’d fallen down last night. I and Andrew agreed not to tell mother the truth as we got home and he promised to come visit me the next day. He came the next day as promised, and the day after that, and the days after that. We became close and I began to look forward to his visits. I remember one time he hadn’t called or checked up on me in three days. I was in my room on the fourth day reading a book when I glanced up and found him leading against the door of my room. “Come in, no need to hover there-I won’t bite you”.
With an uncertain smile he came into the room and sat down. “I’m not bothering you?”
“Nope. I was bored anyways that’s why I’m reading’. How have you been?” I asked
“I’m good kid. Sorry I haven’t been in touch. My mom was down with typhoid, so its been crazy at home” he replied.
“Sorry about that. I hope she’s alright now?” He replied in the affirmative. I hugged him then and when I withdrew he smiled. He raised his hands to touch my cheeks and I held on to them. His lips looked so inviting, so I leaned forward and did the noble thing. I kissed him. Taken by surprise, he returned my kiss and my arms went around him drawing him closer. I pushed him away and stood up to lock the doors. I wanted this guy very badly and he was gonna get it today.

Present day
He held my throat in a death grip and I couldn’t breathe. Every time I tried to scream he would squeeze tighter. Something glistened in his hand and I watched in horror as a blade came down to strike my chest over and over again. I woke up shivering and cold to my teeth. Who was this man I kept seeing in my nightmares. My throat was parched so I decided to go to the kitchen for a glass of water. I was walking past the sitting room when my instincts told me to halt. Something was definitely wrong. The hairs at the back of my neck were standing and that’s when I saw the shadow moving in the dark towards the sitting room. I dropped to the floor and sat behind one of the couches, thankful that I hadn’t turned on the lights. At first I thought my childhood horror character willi willi had come to life, but weren’t those the sound of footsteps? Well I’ll be damned, ghosts didn’t have footsteps and come to think of it they glided not walked. I definitely had one advantage over this intruder-this was my home and I knew all the nook and crannies of it. I held my breath as I crawled towards the kitchen. One thing was for sure, I needed a weapon fast. I wasn’t gonna die tonight.

The final chapter of this story would be published next week. Thank you for your patience

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Inferno 2

December 1996
It was Christmas and as usual the orphanage was buzzing. Most of us had stopped believing in 'Father Christmas' because we assumed he only visited kids from rich homes and those with parents. No, the reason for the buzz was that lots of people came from the outside world during this period to foster children. We all wanted to belong to a family that would love us, but then no one ever really got their wishes. I for one had even given up hope of ever being adopted.

  “Ifeoma.” I cringed at the all too familiar voice of the Matron. I stood up and when she saw me, she beckoned me over and I followed. As we walked past, I saw some of the other kids smile.
  “Good luck ify this is your year, chuckled Omolara, but I smiled and refused to meet her eyes. How many times had I heard that particular line?
  “Please shut the door”, I want you to meet Mrs Marcus. She has taken a liking to you and wants to adopt you into her family matron said softly. Madam, this is Ifeoma, one of our brightest children. She’s high-spirited but she means no harm.

To my surprise she seemed to colour slightly herself. “I would leave the both of you to get to know each other completely’’. With that she ruffled my hair and closed the door.
The possession in this woman’s eyes should have scared me but I reveled in it because it had been a long time since anyone cared. “Now, I can say with heartfelt sincerity that you would make a good addition to my home. I lost my family years ago in a car crash and you remind me so much of my last daughter Amy”. Our eyes met and she smiled. I found myself smiling back.
 “I hope you can call me mother someday” she said and I nodded. My heart was beating very fast. I never though I would see this day. The matron came in sometime later and I was sent back to the dormitory. Later that evening I was told that the adoption process would take a couple of weeks, after which I would be free to leave for my new home.

One Month Later:
A car was sent to pick me up and I found myself in Victoria Island. I know this because we lived in this area before I was sent to the orphanage. As soon as we got into the compound I felt at peace, like I was coming home. A boy of about twenty stood by the garden looking bored as the car pulled up the driveway. I wove to say hello, but all he did was shrug and look away.
  “Hello darling how was your trip?” asked my step mom from the doorway. “Welcome to your new home” and then she hugged me which was a bit weird. The last person to hug me was my mom and she was dead. I was introduced to the household staff and everyone seemed happy to see me. The maid took my bags and showed me to my room. My new bed was huge and I fell asleep as soon as I laid down on it. The girls from the home had been sad to see me go but I promised to visit them often.

I was awakened by a knock on the door later that night and my step mom poked her head into my room, satisfied that I was awake she pushed the door wider and stepped into the room. Trailing behind her and carrying a tray laden with food was the rude boy I had seen earlier. He dropped the tray at the foot of the big bed.
  “Ifeoma, this is my nephew Andrew. He’s here for the summer”. “Andrew why don’t you welcome ifeoma into the family”.
He looked at me for a long time, as if weighing his options. “Hello, good to meet you” and just like that he politely excused himself and left the room. Mrs Marcus and I talked for a while and I told her about my parents and my life before the orphanage. She listened as I spoke and nodded a few times. When I was done, she held my hand and said a prayer then bid me goodnight.

I didn’t see him the next day, the cook said he had gone back home. I kept wondering if perhaps the thought of having a raggedy orphan under the same room with him ticked him off. I tried to settle into my new home but it was not easy. The change of environment affected me so much that I took ill at one time. My foster mom was an angel and was real patient with me. She enrolled me in high school and I made new friends. Then the night mares began to come. I was having dreams about the night my parent died and every time I woke up there would be a niggling feeling at the back of my head. It would always feel like a part of me knew the killer and I began to feel like I was being watched which was quite absurd.

September 1998
I didn’t see Andrew again until I turned eighteen. It was at the Certified II party at Glover court and the place was packed. Being in an all girls school always made outings like this a compulsory affair because of the presence of members of the opposite sex. I spotted Abiola-my crush-and was struggling within myself whether to go over and say hello when i saw him walk into the room. He was the most popular boy in his University and everytime my friends spoke about him, I acted like I didn't know who he was. Still, I found that i couldn't take my eyes off him. He saw me and smiled. As he walked over i looked around for escape routes as my heart beats increased ten fold.  
  “tut tut tut….you aren’t trying to hide from me are you? He asked as he came to stand in front of me. You do know your beauty is one of those rare ones that cannot be hidden”…
  “Hello Andrew I replied. Good to see you too” I added with a bit of sarcasm. “It’s been what-two years?’’
He smiled then, in a slow and sexy way. “Yeah, you bewitched me from the moment I first laid my eyes on you and I knew I was lost, so I ran home the very next day”. I laughed at that.
   “What’s so funny sweets?” asked a slim girl who suddenly appeared at his side. I thought I saw him frown but it was gone so suddenly that I might have imagined it. “Hello babe, meet ify, ify this is Alicia-my girlfriend”. The last bit was said forcefully. She took one look at me and.. “You’re the orphan girl aren’t you? I’ve heard a lot about you”. Wow, you don’t look like an orphan anymore I must say”. I smiled, and politely replied “These things happen-but look at you. You must be the anorexic girl people laugh about who lives on only alcohol or was that his last girl friend? Gosh, I’m really not sure anymore because Andrew has a reputation for mixing with trash”. Its so nice to see your again Andrew, mom misses you. With that I turned on my heel and walked away, straight to the corner of the room where Abiola was. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Inferno

June 2nd 1994
I listened to Nkem cry as I sat by the window reading Oliver Twist for the hundredth time. The sound of her voice made me really angry and I wanted to throw my book in her face. The only thing that stopped me from doing so was the fact that this book, along with the clothes on my back where all the memories I had left of my parents. The policemen said I was clutching onto the book even as I remained in a coma for weeks. They said there were times tear drops would fall from my eyes, but my condition didn’t seem to improve. A hiccup sounded right next to me, interrupting my thoughts and I turned to find that Nkem had moved closer to me. I gave her a hard look and almost spat at her when she began to weep again. Everyone else took pity on her every time she started wailing-everyone except me. It was true that she had lost both her parents, but hadn’t we all? Just when I was going to shut her up, the bell for evening prep rang out and we all scurried out. My name is Ifeoma Nwachukwu and I live in an orphanage.

January 6th 2010

The sound of my blackberry vibrating brought me back to reality. It’s my personal assistant and it turns out that I’m late for the meeting with our new clients. I’m a Lawyer working at Johnson and Johnson, one of the top law firms in Africa. I still cannot believe it has been eight years already and over twelve years since that fateful morning when I lost both my parents to a killer. At the time the detective in charge said my father had shot my mother first and then himself. What a load of bollocks. I wore my glasses, put on my Louboutin shoes and walked to the conference room. Mr Osagie raised an appreciative glance towards me as I entered and I couldn’t help but smile, I always have such effect on men. We shake hands and sit down to talk business. Halfway into the conversation my mind starts to drift again to the events that changed the course of my history forever.

September 1991

My parents had just returned from a dinner party and my mom was clearly upset. I remember my dad trying to console her in Ibo as she paced the length of the sitting room restlessly. I sat on the stairs and just watched her even though a part of me wanted to go and give her a hug. The last time I saw her sad was when she lost my baby brother in her womb. Finally, she let my dad take her upstairs to the room and as they passed by me, I thought I heard her chuckle. My dad bent to kiss the top of my head and said ‘’iffy, bia ka-anyi gbagote n’elu. (Iffy, lets go upstairs). So I followed them up and went to my room to sleep. The next morning my mom seemed happier. She sang in the kitchen as she made pancakes and was not even aware of my dad’s presence until he grabbed her waist. She sighed and leaned into him. I learned later that she had gotten into an argument with her siblings but when I asked my dad why, he told me it was a grown up issue.

I felt someone touch my arm, and looked up to find Mr Osagie waving his hands in front of my face. Everyone in the conference room had their eyes trained on me as I smiled and said I was alright. When they didn’t look convinced I reminded Mr Osagie of the last statement he made. Satisfied that I was still with them, he continued the discussion. I thought it would be best if I excused myself, so I feigned dizziness and stood up to get a bit of fresh air. I had just stepped into the elevator when this huge guy rushed in and bumped into me. He looked familiar and when he smiled I got a feeling of dejavu. He asked if I was okay and I replied in the affirmative. I kept stealing glances at him as the elevator rode down. Something wasn’t right.

When the lift got to the ground floor, I took a brisk walk outside as the man turned left.. The air smelled of dust which could only mean that it was about to rain. There was a time I used to love the rain-way back when I was a child. But twelve years ago on a rainy day, my parents were murdered in the early hours of the morning. Contrary to what the police report says, I knew it was murder. Earlier that day I heard my father arguing with someone over the phone and he was telling the person to go to hell.

“I would not allow you to threaten my family, so I have decided to go to the police and report your activities” said my dad. I walked to the door of the study and saw him gesticulating wildly. He continued “I dare you to do your worst; I am not a puppet’’…. Something must have caused him to look up then and when he saw me standing there, he smiled and shut the door in my face. I went into the kitchen to assist the cook by simple sitting on the table top. I didn’t think too much of the incident after that.

Later that night as I slept, I was awakened by my mother screaming and crept downstairs to find out what the problem was. I saw a man shoot my dad as I bent to look down and slap my mom when she screamed again and tried to go over to my dad. I recall her begging for mercy and promising not to tell a soul. Just then the man just smiled and it sent chills down my spine. “Do you play cards madam? He asked her’’ and when she remained mute he went on “Of all the characters, I like the joker best because no one takes him seriously and yet he’s the deadliest.’’ Just then my mom looked up and saw me crouching on the stairs and I felt an immediate psychic connection with her as her eyes pleaded for me to be quiet. That was one of the things I loved about her, with a look she could say a million words. I remained perfectly still and deadly silent even as I watched the man cork his gun aim for her head. The look of fear, surprise and maybe defeat are all i remember in her eyes as the bullet slammed home and brain tissues spilled all over the floor. It was hard to believe that my parents were both dead and a man was coming up the stairs possibly to search me out. I forced my feet to move and crept into my parent’s room to hide in their ward robe. I fell asleep, only to wake up in the hospital. It turned out i had been shot twice but had somehow survived.

When my head felt better, I went back to the office to finish up the meeting. The rain was coming down in a drizzle now and I could see people on the street moving around. I suspected everyone had their problems, but carried on as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I closed my eyes as a tear drop slipped from my face and quickly wiped it away.

To be continued.....