It’s Day 8 people and you can trust us to deliver on our word, you unlock the task, you get the story, no matter how long it takes or how much the Grinch tries to play foul with the rules.
No long Yarnings – It’s Daniel in the house, do enjoy and drop a feedback.
P.S: Look out for “The Task” after the story – It holds the key to unlocking Day 9.
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//Thursday, 22 December, 2016//
Somewhere In The South
Edobor could hear the rapping on the front door as he turned listlessly on his bed. He was in no mood to entertain visitors and wished that the person trying to break down his door would quit trying and go back to where he or she was coming from.
He raised his eyes to the clock on the bedside drawer and was not surprised to see that the day was already nine hours old. He shifted on the bed, cuddling closer to the pillow.
The knocking sounds continued for another twenty seconds and then it stopped.
Edobor sighed in relief, atleast he would finally get his much craved peace and quiet. The one that had eluded him since he discovered that Amenze, his fiancee, was not in Lagos with her sister for the Christmas celebrations as she had hitherto made him believe, but was with another man, tucked away in a mansion in GRA.
The music from his ringing phone disrupted his train of thoughts as he turned his gaze to the device lying on the bed. He stretched reluctantly to pick up the phone, his fingers reaching to mute the call until his eyes connected with the ID on the phone screen.
It was Ehimen, his friend and colleague. Edobor knew he had to take the call. He swiped on the screen and tapped on the speaker phone. ‘Hello?’ He grumbled into the phone. His voice thick and low.
‘Guy, you still dey sleep?’
Ehimen’s voice seeped out from the phone’s speakers whilst Edobor adjusted his frame on the bed to a more comfortable speaking position.
‘Na your motor make me know say you still dey house o. Abeg come open your door before this harmattan finish me for here jare.‘
Edobor sighed, dragging himself reluctantly out of his bed.
He trudged lazily past the living room with his left thumb and index finger rubbing on his eyes softly. He stopped just at the entrance of the main door and allowed his right hand squeeze on the door handle to open the door to welcome both his friend and the harsh harmattan breeze.
Ehimen’s eyes were fixed on his friend. There was a curiosity to be found in the intensity of his gaze as he watched Edobor fiddle with the phone in his hands. ‘She don call you?’ He asked, settling into his chair.
Edobor shook his head.
Ehimen shuffled in his seat, his gaze still fixed on his friend who looked shaken up from having caught his fiancee in a lie, ‘so what’s your plan?’
‘Plan?’ Edobor scoffed, raising his eyes to match his friend’s gaze. ‘It’s over,’ He groaned matter of factly, his voice coated with pain.
‘It’s a lie,’ Ehimen countered with that very familiar tone of disbelief. ‘You wan break up with babe wey we don anoint as our wife? You no fit abeg.’
Edobor let out a short mirthless laugh. ‘Ehis, when person no wan laugh, you go dey crack joke. Na me dey break up with Amenze, abi na Amenze dey break up with me?’
Ehimen’s stare narrowed at his friend, with his brows arched questioningly. ‘Which kain question be that? no be you just talk just now say it’s over?’ Ehimen asked.
‘Sake of say you see your babe with Imafidon? Abi no be the same Imafidon for area?’ Ehimen quizzed, ‘wey drop out from school go yankee?’
‘I-Don,’ Edobor replied.
‘Yes,’ Edobor replied with a smirk on his face. He was visibly enjoying his friend’s confusion. ‘The yankee edition of Imafidon. This one dey drive Range Sport.’
Ehimen chuckled, ‘I-Don or Imafidon… I still don’t believe Amenze will leave you for that dropout?’
Edobor had a wry smile on his face as he listened to Ehimen’s pontifications. It was obvious that Ehimen’s switch to Queen’s english was to let him realise that this was no longer a joke. ‘Ehis, I’m serious,’ Edobor stated calmly, ‘I really wish this was a joke but it’s not.’
Ehimen’s countenance dropped as the glitter in his eyes dimmed. He could see that his friend was very serious and worried.
‘You can imagine Amenze asking me to stop embarrassing I-Don…’
‘Ooghe nor,’ Ehimen blurted in bini, his eyes widening in shock. ‘It’s a lie.’
‘This is someone that told me she was going to be with her sister in Lagos, frollicking with a guy at KADA. You would imagine that she’d be thoroughly embarrassed and full of remorse, but not Amenze, she was too busy flicking her new Iphone 7 in my face to feel anything remotely close to shame.’
‘Naa lie!’ Ehimen gasped in disbelief. ‘Amenze no bad like that.’
‘Recession dey make people do strange things my brother,’ Edobor sighed, a tired smile on his face, ‘e be like film for my eye when Imafidon… sorry I-Don, carry my fiancee enter Range Sport zoom comot.’
Ehimen was slackjawed, his eyes pinned on Edobor.
‘But I don’t blame her,’ Edobor started, ‘I blame Bubu for all this intimidation from these Ame boys. Na me wey save for almost three months before black friday epp my life, wey I take buy Tecno phone for Amenze wan come dey compete with one guy wey give am Iphone 7? ‘
‘Guy that Tecno phone no cheap o,’ Ehimen interjected, his eyes widening again, this time for emphasis.
Edobor gazed at his friend in surprise, ‘I dey talk Iphone7, you dey tell me say that Tecno phone no cheap. You’re taking this your ‘I must support my friend’ thing too far. Do you know how much the Naira is to the Dollar right now?’ Edobor asked Ehimen, who had his gaze fixed squarely on his friend. ‘And you honestly believe I can compete with that with a Lecturer’s salary?’
Ehimen wasn’t so sure if the questions were rhetorical or if his friend genuinely expected him to answer them, but as he searched for his voice, the sound of Edobor’s ringtone sliced through the silence.
Somewhere In The North
The phone continued ringing, it’s shrill piercing sound reverberating around the small room. A room that smelt of sweat and gin.
There was nothing of significance to be seen around the room apart from a single sized mattress lying by the corner, underneath a small window cut out in the wall.
Khadijat tossed the pillow with a swing of her arms from her curled up position on the bed. She did not need to turn in the direction of the ringing phone to know she had hit her target as the pillow drowned the sound from the device.
It was the Inspector’s phone. He had forgotten it.
Khadijat’s face contorted into a wrinkle in what was supposed to be a smile, as the thought seeped into her mind. The Inspector had refused to pay her the one thousand five hundred naira they had both agreed on for their rendezvous, insisting that a week’s privileged supply of food rations were enough payment for what he derogatorily termed, ‘just two hours thirteen minutes of service. A miserly three and a half rounds.’
Allah had seen the injustice and had decided to balance the scales – or better put – upturn the scales in her favour.
The phone was one of those expensive looking phones with big screens that should not retail for less than five thousand naira even when negotiating from a desperate condition.
Khadijat blinked at the wall, her bland expression masking the ongoing chaos in her head. She thought of the best place to sell the phone but the pictures that flooded her mind were pictures of the camp and her burning village. Places that seemed to remind her only of her loss.
The pictures of the lifeless body of Alli, her husband, lying face down in the dust, and the ghoulish gaze of her potbellied angels, Sani and Miriam, staring at her from sockets encased in malnourished bodies, stayed stamped on the canvas of her mind.
The tear trickled down her face but she wiped it off quickly. She was too ashamed to cry.
If she was helpless to fight against the guns of Boko Haram when they ransacked her village and made her husband one of hundreds of victims, would she also say that she was helpless to save her children from starvation?
‘Hmmn…’ Khadijat exhaled as she dragged herself out of the bed. Her eyes strayed to her slippers stationed by the wall and the sight of its chopped soles immediately ignited in her a sense of urgency as memories of escapes made in the worn-out footwear flashed before her eyes.
She had to leave before the Inspector returned or else her dream for a new beginning would remain just that – a dream.
Khadijat straightened her gown on her body and the smell of the Inspector on the fabric clutched at her stomach as a wave of nausea swept over her. She hurriedly picked up her hijab folded neatly at the foot of the bed and threw it over head, temporarily casting her world into darkness.
The bright light of the midday sun was a stark contrast with the darkness in the room and Khadijat could feel the scorching heat burn through the hijab as she marched on the stretch of road leading to the highway in quick, hurried steps.
As she inched closer to the highway, her heartbeat drummed furiously against her chest and her palms turned clammy. Khadijat felt a new wave of nausea sweep through her body but this time it was not because of the smell of the Inspector, it was the thought of him.
Na shiga uku Allah ka taimakeni
Khadijat muttered a prayer under her breath as her eyes ran down the stretch of the highway. Leaving Dikwa for Maiduguri was the first part of her plan but her destination was Abuja. A land she hoped would grant her a new beginning.
A bus soon appeared in the distance.
Somewhere In The West
The bus cleared off the road into a designated bus-stop and grinded to a halt to allow another set of passengers alight.
Dele Adesada was one of those passengers that hopped off the bus. He clutched a brown envelope in his hand and turned into a street by the side of the bus-stop. His house was just five blocks down the road.
The sound of jingle bell… jingle bell… jingle all the way… playing out from one of the shops at the junction of the street was the only reason to believe Christmas was just three days away. Like one of the passengers noted in the bus, ‘e be like say we go hold meeting cucuma postpone this year Christmas go next year, this one wey money no dey, MMM no dey, even harmattan sef no dey. The mata get as e be.’
Other passengers had erupted in laughter and even though he had not joined in, he could not deny that the man had made a valid point. It sure didn’t feel like Christmas.
Dele turned into his compound through a black pedestrian gate and made straight for his flat. He couldn’t wait to peel off his clothes and step under the shower to feel the drops of water beat lovingly on his head. It was the least he deserved after another fruitless search for a job.
Dele turned on the knob of his entrance door and allowed himself into his living room. The room looked slightly different from the way he left it in the morning. It looked a lot more Christmassy as there was a big Christmas tree beautifully adorned with decorative lights standing by the TV stand.
Where did Tade find money to do all of this?
The question buzzed around in his head as he stooped to pick up a card that had fallen off the tree. He read the message in the card and shook his head sadly when his eyes caught the name of the sender, Mr Nwosu. It was the name of a colleague who had also been laid off in February this year when things had continued to go bad in the economy.
It had been ten gruelling months without a job and Dele could not be so sure how long he could keep his sanity especially with his savings now completely depleted. Even if he escaped the Christmas spending, how was he going to pay the school fees for his twin girls in January?
Dele sighed quietly, and as he straightened himself to replace the card back on the tree, his eyes caught the picture frame that was hanging on the wall. He paused. His eyes locked on the grin that used to inspire in him the expectation of change. All the grin reminded him of right now was the grinch – the creature responsible for stealing Christmas.
The voice of his twin girls roused him from his reverie and he turned just in time to receive the onrushing girls into his arms in a big hug. They were both wearing a Santa hat and looked extremely adorable. Tade was standing by the door leading to the rooms looking like Mrs Santa with a curious stare.
‘I’ve been standing by this door for the past fifteen minutes, Tade said, walking up to the group to join in the hug, ‘and you didn’t even notice me.’
Dele kissed his wife lovingly in response until one of his twin girls smacked him in protest.
Tade giggled. ‘So what were you thinking about?’
Dele sighed, peering into the eyes of his wife. ‘I was thinking about how much we need a miracle right now,’ Dele started with a measured tone and then his eyes strayed lovingly from his wife to his twin girls and back to his wife. ‘And I was thinking of how grateful I am to God for such a lovely family at Christmas.’
‘And does that include him?’ Tade asked with her eyes fixed on the picture frame that had arrested her husband’s attention some minutes ago.
‘Who?’ Dele asked, feigning ignorance.
‘Sai Baba,’ Tade replied with a giggle.
‘Sai Baba kor, Sai Mama ni,’ Dele chuckled as he eyeballed Tade playfully. He lifted up his twin girls onto his arms amidst excited shrieks and strolled into the inner rooms. It was about time for that shower he had been dreaming about all day.
Somewhere In The East
There is no east in Bubu’s country.
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