Aduke and Larape became the bane in the life of Alabi, the one time best friends became sworn enemies, Larape will not forgive Aduke for her betrayal while Aduke hated Larape for her selfishness. She ask’s ‘which woman will see the opportunity of marrying a well to do young man like Alabi and not fall for it’? After all polygamy is not taboo.
Competition started among the women. Larape indicated interest in selling “Adire” local fabric, she travels to Abeokuta to make her purchases and she hawks her wares around the city and she had a shop where she displayed her wares on market days, she also visit other villages on their market days.
Before long Aduke also started the same trade, making Larape to be mad. First it was marring her husband and now she had ventured into her trade. Why not choose another trade Larape had challenged her when she first saw Aduke displaying clothes in a new shop at the market square.
Selfish woman! Selfish woman! Was all Aduke kept shouting.
Larape sold off all her clothes and in two weeks, she stopped selling clothes. She left the business for Aduke.
They both had three sons each and were ready to have more if not for Alabi that started running from them, he had not planned to have six children in such quick succession but for the women in his life that were trying to out wit each other.
Larape started to go round the village collecting money from traders daily for savings and paying them their money upon request or at end of the month after deducting her commission. She uses a bicycle for her trade; she was called ‘Iya alajo’. Mother of thrift.
Not sooner had she started the business, her fame went viral throughout the neighbouring villages. she had to extend her coverage area to as far as four communities that share boundaries with us. She employed two other women as her assistants, she was also a money-lender, like her husband, she was notably very rich as could be seen from the glow of her skin and the expensive ‘Aso oke’ jewelries, shoes and bags that she wears.
Aduke’s clothes business did not thrive. It collapsed after six months as the rate of debtors doubled and she did not have any money to continue the trade.
It was when she eventually ventured into the thrift business that everyone realized that she was really a trouble brewer.
But Larape was far gone into the business, to feel the impact of Aduke’s entry.
Aduke could only muster a handful of clients and after one year in the thrift business, She began to spread malicious rumour about her mate using diabolic means to support her business.
An old woman once asked Aduke to explain how Larape is being diabolic when she collects your money daily and pays it back when due without failing, she advised Aduke to stay off the scandalous path she was taking and mind her own business.
Things took a drastic turn when robbers stormed the house on the hill on a fateful night, that night Aduke took her children to sleep in her father house, the thieves’ carted away bags of money belonging to Larape and Alabi. Alabi was supposed to travel into the inter-lands to purchase cocoa seeds by the next day, Larape was supposed to start paying off her clients their dues the next day being the last day of the month, a lot of money was in the house, and as if taking all of money was not enough, the thieves stabbed Larape to death and carried her three children out of their beds and dumped them inside the well full of water, Alabi was beaten to stupor but his life was spared.
Our people have a saying that “when the witch cried at night and the next day, a baby is dead, every one would know it is the witch that killed the baby” so it was obvious that Aduke had a hand in the tragedy that took place in Alabi’s house.
That was how Alabi became a dare-devil that tortured the village for two years before he met his own end too.
After he recovered from the hospital, Alabi went to his house and strangled Aduke to death, he then took Aduke’s three children and dumped them in the well when they were asleep. He disappeared for two month, only to resurface with his gang, and they began to terrorize the village and other communities.
The first operation they carried out was to Baba elemu’s palm wine shop and killed Aremu and his three friends who had suddenly come into mysterious wealth, Aremu was a relation of Aduke and he was a small-scale farmer but had suddenly bought a motor cycle and started wearing new and expensive clothes, he also started to drink and throw money around. In a small village like ours, we know everything about everybody.
He was drinking with three of his friends one evening at Baba elemu’s when Alabi went there unmasked and shot them at close range on their heads. They died instantly spilling the gray matter in their heads all over the palm wine parlour.
That was the night Alabi the Cocoa merchant changed his name to Alabi the Terror! Alabi became the law in the village, he killed without thinking twice, if someone owed you money and refuses to pay, tell it to Alabi and he will get your money for you while your debtor will either be hospitalized or dead.
Alabi’s only friend was a wicked native Doctor called Oloro, he was very popular with his evil charms, he lived alone with his wife at the end of the village before entering the sacred forest, there has never been light inside his house even at night. rumour also had it that he had sent his children away to school abroad. Alabi’s relationship with Oloro made people to fear him the more as it was rumored that Alabi was capable of vanishing in the face of danger and that bullets cannot penetrate his body, he was mostly feared because of the fact that he had nothing to lose, A man who could kill his wife with bare hands and drown his own children is a man with steel as heart and poison as blood.
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Alabi did not stop at killing Aremu and his friends, he went on to wipe off Aremu’s wife and children, he killed them all in one single night and burnt down the house, about thirteen people were killed in the inferno that gutted the Aremu’s house.
Aduke’s family ran away from the village, everyone of her relation left the village for fear of being killed by Alabi. Alabi was like a raving mad lion looking for a kill, it is only the children that do not run when we see him because he gives us gifts of cash and sweets or chewing gun, he moves around with his gang all on motor Bike’s and he was our hero!
After the death of grandma, I was left alone in the world. No one really cared if I existed and my elusive mother was yet to come home. Uncle Ladi a bus driver that shuttles between Ekiti and Lagos told me when he saw me scavenging at the motor park told me that he saw my mother at ‘eko Idumota’ and told her that her mother was dead and buried, he said my mother had screamed and feigned to be touched and she vowed to be in the village the next day.
That was four years ago, she is yet to come home. Uncle Ladi says he still sees her in different parts of Lagos city but she avoids him as much as she could so he now pretends not to see her whenever their paths crossed. No one knows what she does in Lagos, but we know she is alive.
I continued schooling, I continued hunting and I continued to scavenge to survive until I finished my primary education. There was no plan for furthering my education, I was contented with the fact that I could read and write at least.
My only friend was Pharaoh the dog! We became friends the day we were both involved in a brawl at the butchers end in the market. Our prayer was answered when a butcher carelessly threw away a chunk of red meat instead of the bone in his hands, I had beaten Pharaoh to pick up the meat and tucked inside my pouch but the dog would not accept defeat as he grabbed my khaki pouch with his teeth and we began to struggle for possession. The dog was snarling revealing dirty brown incisors dripping with sticky saliva. I held unto the pouch with both hands as I used my legs to kick at the dog, I was shouting at him to let go and accept defeat because I beat him to it. As if the dog understood, he let go and I took to my heels.
I had run for about four minutes and I stopped to trek when I heard the sound of panting Pharaoh by me wagging his tail and jumping to reach my pouch, I took to my heels again and Pharaoh followed me home. We ate together that evening after I had cooked egusi soup with eba. I dished his portion into an old plastic plate I found in the kitchen. He ate up, lapped up some water from the bucket full of rain water outside the house then he lay down and slept at my door.
That was how Pharaoh became my friend and companion and together we went hunting and scavenging. We were a formidable team when we get to the butchers stand, whatever Pharaoh picks, he brings it to me and we put our spoils together and go home to enjoy a sumptuous meal. We also went hunting at nights and early mornings as well as check on my snares and traps, we sold our catch to the Villagers operating local restaurants called ‘Buka’. We buy food stuff with the proceeds. I had no future ambition so I took each day as it came
To Be Continued…