Early the next dawn, just as I wanted it, we left the Manse in Chief Inspector Gift Quartey’s car. I wanted us to see Korku briefly before he left for my parents’ place.
We took the rent for my parents’ home with us; the pastor had taken it from Esi the previous night. Esi herself was admitted to the hospital that night; she was admitted for shock. The pastor informed me, however, that she would be alright. He would visit her later in the day and pray for her again. He was convinced her heart was now wide open to receive the love of Christ.
I directed them to the hotel, and right to his door.
Pastor Nana Kofi knocked, and a moment later he came to the door.
“Yes?” he asked, and I floated silently through the door and looked at him.
He was already dressed in dark slacks and a beautiful African print top, and my poor heart went faint with desire and love for him. The thought of what I had done to this man was what had almost made me kill Esi. The raw pain he must have gone through because of my immaturity and stupidity. The agony of watching me getting married to another man whilst his heart beat so fiercely for me! I felt so sad, and I wanted to hug him, but I knew I could not do that, at least not yet.
“I am Pastor Kofi,” there came the old man’s gentle voice from the other side. “I’m Afia Ansah’s friend. She left a message for me to give you.”
I saw the way he put a hand to his mouth and waited a few seconds, his face cut up with agony, and then he slowly opened the door with an unsteady hand.
They came in.
There was only one chair in the room which he offered to Pastor Nana Kofi. Chief Inspector Gifty stayed by the door, and Nana Kojo sat on the edge of the bed.
“You better sit down, Mr. Dogbe,” Pastor Nana Kofi said kindly. “What I’m going to tell you is a bit heavy.”
Again Korku hesitated, and then he gently sat down beside Nana Kojo on the bed.
The pastor began to speak, his voice gentle and filled with compassion and hope and understanding, but still Korku had an incredulous look on his face, and his eyes were soon filled with fury.
“Now, wait a second, wait, wait!” he said and got to his feet, shaking his head in his pain. “What’s the meaning of this? If you think that for one moment I’ll listen to you a second more you must be joking. Look, I come from a village where we have more powerful evil powers than this! If you deal in the occult and saw some things, fine, but don’t you dare tell me Afia is hovering around and had conversations with you and all that crap. Please, I demand that you leave.”
“Now, listen, Mr. Dogbe,” the pastor said, holding up his hand.
“Don’t you dare drag Afia into this ugly crap, mister!” he said in a tight voice. “Please leave. Leave now!”
I hovered around in distress, and then I touched Nana Kojo lightly on the arm.
“Tell him Ant Swell, go on, tell him!” I said desperately, remembering the first time we had visited his mother in the village and tried to make love quickly on their cocoa farm, and an ant had bitten the tip of his manhood, causing it to swell so much and accompanied with such pain that he had had tears in his eyes.
“She said ant swell!” Nana Kojo said quickly. “Aunt Afia says I should tell you ant swell!”
Korku froze suddenly.
He looked at Nana Kojo with incredulous shock with his mouth open.
“What?” he asked, his voice almost inaudible. “What did you just say?”
“Aunt Afia asked me just now to say that to you,” he said nonchalantly. “I don’t know what it means.”
Korku took a step backward and came up against the wardrobe.
“You mean, she’s here? Now?” he whispered staggeringly, and tears came to his eyes.
I felt a blast of uncontrollable love for him and floated toward him.
“Tell him I want to hug him, please,” I said, my voice tearful and unsteady. “Tell him I want to hug him but he will feel cold!”
Nana Kojo looked at his grandfather in alarm.
“He will not feel cold because you love him,” Nana Kojo said with a bashful smile as he watched us. “He will just remember your scent, the one he remembers and loves best. That will be the…what is that thing, I always forget, grandpa!”
He looked at his grandfather desperately for help.
“Your aura, Afia,” the pastor said. “He will feel your aura, your scent.”
“Oh, Kork, my love!” I whispered tenderly as I put my arms around him.
He gasped, and his whole body began to shake uncontrollably, and his tears flooded his face in torrents.
“Afia!” he whispered in a shattered voice.
“I’m here, my love, my breath, my darling,” I whispered gravely. “Oh, Korku, Korku, please forgive me!”
“I can feel her, smell her!” he looked up and shouted in great distress. “Why can’t I hold her? Why can’t I touch her?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Dogbe,” Pastor Kofi said sympathetically. “Two different realms! She can touch you, but you can’t touch her. She’s a spirit!”
“She says she’s very sorry, Mr. Dogbe,” Nana Kojo said in a sad little voice. “She wants you to forgive her for everything!”
“I forgave you, Afia!” Korku groaned with passion. “But I won’t forgive you for…leaving me! Come back, Afia! Please come back! I’m dying without you!”
“Oh, Korku, please don’t make my burden unbearable!” I wept and squeezed him tighter because my heart was breaking.
Desperately, without thinking, and wishing for it more than my soul could take, I raised my lips and tried desperately to kiss him.
“Noooooooo!!” Nana Kofi shrieked fiercely, his voice so frantic and so terrified that I stopped and whirled toward him. “Don’t, don’t, don’t, please don’t, madam! If you…kiss him he will die!”
The pastor jumped to his feet instantly, his face horrified.
“No, no, Afia, don’t, please!” he said desperately. “You will kill him!”
“Allow her!” Korku said painfully, explosively. “Maybe it will be better if I die too! I can’t bear this!”
“No, my love, my darling, don’t say that,” I whispered as I tightened my grip on him. “Stay, and take care of our son, my love.”
“She wants you to stay and take care of your son, Mr. Dogbe,” Nana Kojo said, and his voice broke, and he began to cry softly.
His grandfather went to him, sat on the bed, and held his grandson lovingly and rubbed his back. And so, we all sat down, and they spoke to Korku who just could not stop weeping.
They gave him the rent money.
“Afia wants you to give it to her parents,” the pastor said. “She also wants you to tell them about the real Will and the house she’s built for them.”
“And what happens to Tony and his mistress?” Korku asked furiously. “I want to break the neck of that murderer!”
“Oh, last night Chief Inspector Gifty was able to obtain a search warrant from one of the chief judges in my team, another great Christian. We’re on our way there to take the poison from where he buried it.”
“She’s also issued an order for an autopsy,” Gifty continued. “Once we find traces of the poison that killed Afia in her body, they would be charged with first degree murder. Those two are going to prison for a very long time. And we’ve spent too much time here already. We have to go.”
“Afia,” Korku whispered as fresh tears fell down his face. “Hug me, my love. Oh, how I wish I can see you for just a second! Just a second, Afia!”
I hugged him so fiercely!
Yes, just to be able to kiss him, to feel him just one more time inside me…that would have been the ultimate parting gift from earth. But no, I could not! I had been a fool, and allowed this calamity to hit and separate us.
“We have to go, Afia,” the pastor said kindly. “You can see him later in the day again.”
But I was loathe to let him go.
I had never been so sad in my life, never!
To have thrown this life away, to have shoved this gem of a man aside and replaced him with the chaff that Tony had turned out to be, was really tearing me apart.
Just a moment of sober reflection, a moment of pushing the pain aside and looking at the rape issue with a compassionate eye, to find out from him why he had tried it, to apply what we learnt at counselling, to forgive him…oh, a million things that I could have done to prevent this moment, oh Lord!
But, it was too late, so very late.
“Afia, please,” the pastor insisted gently.
Reluctantly, I left Korku’s embrace.
He tried to hold on, oh, how he tried to hold on!
Above all else, I wished for a second life, a second chance, even just a single year to make this man happy, but I could not, no. I could not have that. It was too late for everything.
Death was eventual, yes, but when it happened, everything became final.
I looked at him as he dropped on the bed and wept pitifully, his heart once again broken! I could not bear his pain, not a second longer!
I blasted out of that hotel room with uncontrollable wrath!
“Madam, no, no, no, wait for us, madam, noooo!” Nana Kojo shouted just before I left the room.
“Afia, don’t do anything stupid!” Pastor Kofi shouted. “You might lose your way to salvation, Afia!”
But their screams were lost on me!
I was rushing toward that house…
Toward the snakes!
Oh, dem die finish be dat!
To be continued