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© Serah Iyare 2017
Efosa embraced his wife and beamed with joy. It was their tenth wedding Anniversary. It was also his forty-fifth birthday and her thirty-fifth birthday. His parents and siblings, inclusive her parents and siblings were in Lagos to celebrate with them. It was a private party, just them and their immediate families. God had given them a beautiful nine-year-old girl, Edua and his wife was seven months pregnant with their twin boys. When they found out a month ago, after her scan at the Ante-natal clinic, their joy had known no bounds. They had been praying to God to bless them with another child since the birth of their daughter. At a point, they lost hope. Just when they were about to give up completely, and while contemplating adopting a child, God surprised them with a miracle pregnancy and it turned out to be twin boys. Exactly what they had been praying for, a male child, but God graced them with two! Double portion!
His transport business was also moving well and he had been able to buy a house, a six-bedroom duplex in Lokogoma, Apo, a segregated part of Abuja. He had about eight luxurious buses plying different routes all over the country. Business was good and he had been able to set up a first grade butik for his wife in Wuse market. Presently, she owned about three other shops in other parts of the Federal Capital Territory. God had blessed them richly and they were eternally grateful.
Efosa and Adesua turned towards the eight steps cake, holding a table knife. Everyone sang for them, and at the end of the song, they cut the cake. Their parents and siblings clapped and cheered as the couple kissed.
Edua jumped in excitement. She loved to see her parents happy. She stood by their side and grinned from ear to ear. It was a good thing that her mother would be delivering a set of twins soon. She had been an only child for far too long. It would be fun to have two little brothers. Most of her school mates had younger siblings and she often wondered what it was like. She was going to get a first-hand experience once the babies arrived.
The photographer moved around, taking pictures of the celebrants and everyone else, while the video-man covered the event.
Osagie and Osaze, Efosa’s younger brothers walked out of the large sitting room and stood at a slightly dark corner in the hall way. They opened a bottle of fruit wine and emptied a whitish powdery substance in it. Osaze shook the bottle till the substance blended with the wine. Osagie grinned with satisfaction, grabbed his brother’s hands and pulled him along. They returned to the party room and approached the celebrants.
“Congratulations!” Osagie shook hands with his elder brother.
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“Hey… thanks,” Efosa smiled in appreciation.
“God has blessed you on all sides. We rejoice with you,” Osaze chimed in.
“Thank you. I am grateful,” he looked from one to the other.
Osagie refilled the couples’ half-empty glasses with the fruit wine he was holding.
“Thank you,” the celebrants chorused. They sipped at their drink and ate from the cake on their plate.
Edua tugged at her uncle’s trouser, “I want some too,” she raised her empty glass.
Adesua eyed her daughter, “Don’t mind her.”
Osagie chuckled, “Leave her, it is just fruit wine,” he filled the girl’s glass with the wine.
Edua sipped at the drink and left her parents’ side before her mother could attempt to collect the glass from her.
“You should allow her to enjoy herself,” Osagie encouraged his sister-in-law.
“If you cage her all the time, she will start doing things behind your back,” Osaze added quickly.
“Exactly,” Osagie nodded in agreement.
Adesua sighed. She didn’t want to start an argument, “She is just nine. I cannot allow her to misuse her privileges.”
Efosa’s brothers laughed.
“Let her be. We are all celebrating,” Osagie refilled their almost empty glasses again.
Adesua saw her mother through the corner of her eyes. She was standing at the doorway and beckoning at her.
“Please excuse me,” she walked away and approached her mother.
The moment they were out of the room, Osasu collected the wine glass from her daughter.
“You shouldn’t be drinking,” she eyed her.
“It is just fruit wine,” Adesua protested.
“Stick to fruit juice,” Osasu headed to the kitchen, “I am going to throw this into the sink.”
Adesua groaned and returned to the sitting room. Her younger sisters pulled her close.
“You look so beautiful,” Ehinomen complimented her.
“I am taking this your dress back to Benin with me,” Osedebamen added quickly.
Adesua smiled, “No problem. I will pack it with a few other things for you.”
Osedebamen beamed with gratitude, “Thanks sis.”
“What about me?” Ehinomen addressed her elder sister.
Adsesua turned to her, “And of course, you too.”
“Good, good. What do we have a big rich sister for?” Ehinomen winked at her.
They all laughed and giggled. Adesua’s eyes met her husband’s gaze. He was standing across the room with his brothers. He winked at her and blew her a kiss. His gesture made her to laugh. She was happy that she said yes to him when he proposed many years ago. She had no regrets.
Osagie and Osaze urged Efosa to finish the bottle of wine. He started to hiccup after draining the last glass. He began to feel very uncomfortable, he left the sitting room and his younger brothers followed behind him. He went up to the master bedroom, hurried into the bathroom and splashed some water on his face. When he came out, his brothers were waiting for him in the room. The annoying hiccups returned.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Osagie suggested.
“You should lie down for a while,” Osaze advised him.
Efosa nodded in agreement and sat on the large bed. The hiccups worsened.
He laid on his back and a sharp pain pierced his chest region. He grabbed the area with his hand and looked up at his younger siblings. They stood at a distance, watching him like vultures. He tried to speak, but, another pain cut through him. What was happening to him? Was it a heart attack? He was too young to be experiencing such. He was in good health and he was always in the hospital for one check-up or the other. He couldn’t cry, he couldn’t speak, but, he was feeling excruciating pains. His breathing changed. It came in short, fast, gasp. He raised his head, searching for his brothers. They were still standing there. Why were they not trying to help him? They didn’t even look alarmed. The pain spread to his neck region, strangling him in the process. His eyeballs widened in shock and fear. It occurred to him that he was dying. He closed his eyes and opened them.
It wasn’t his time to die. He had so much to do on earth. He wanted to watch his daughter grow and his sons were arriving into the world soon. He wanted to see his children’s children. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t his time to die. He managed to roll over and fell on the rugged floor with a thud. Maybe if he could crawl to the door, find his way down the stairs, someone would be able to help him. He gathered the remaining strength he had and dragged his weight towards the opened door.
One of his brothers went to the door and kicked it. It slammed against the wall. He froze in that spot and looked up at them. It dawned on him that they were responsible for his condition. What did they do to him? Why? He had been good to them. He had been taking care of his parents and siblings since he began to amass wealth. No one lacked anything in his family. He didn’t understand the reason behind their evil action. It broke his heart that the ones he loved with all his heart wanted him dead. He started to cough hysterically. He bowed his head as memories flashed through his mind’s eye. His childhood years, his school days, friends he met, mistakes he made, successes he achieved, awards he got from different organizations, people he worked with, his staff, his lovely wife, the birth of his daughter replayed in a second, and the event of that night came last.
He rolled and lay on his back, coughing and staring at the ceiling, hands wrapped around his body, panting for breath. He thanked God for everything. He had lived a good life. He felt life slipping out of his mortal body. He relaxed and gave in to the peace and calm that enveloped him. Suddenly, he gasped and breathed his last.
Osasu found her grand-daughter in the kitchen, sipping from a glass of wine. She collected the glass from the girl and threw the content into the sink.
“Grandma!” Edua cried out, alarmed at the woman’s action.
“Shut up!” she eyed the girl.
“I was drinking that…” she pouted her mouth and eyed the woman.
“How old are you?” she hissed and walked out.
Edua ran to the sink. The wine was gone. She stomped her feet on the tiled floor, eyes smarted with tears. She hoped everyone would leave their house and go back to wherever they came from soon. She wanted her freedom back, fast!
Osemudiamen Imasogie and his wife, Omoye, walked up to their daughter-in-law and her sisters.
“Where is your husband?”
Adesua turned towards them. She looked across the room and searched for him. Her husband and his brothers were no longer in the sitting room.
“I think he is with Osagie and Osaze,” she glanced at her mother-in-law.
“Okay,” Omoye smiled at her. She was happy that her daughter-in-law was pregnant again. She heard that the girl was carrying a set of twin boys. Her son was finally going to have an heir.
“How are the champions?” Osemudiamen pointed at her tummy.
They all laughed out loud. Adesua felt a rumbling in her stomach. She placed a hand on her abdomen and rubbed it.
“Are you okay?” Omoye looked straight at her.
Adesua began to shake her head.
“Is it labour?” her father-in-law came to her side.
“She is just seven months pregnant,” Omoye eyed her husband.
“You never can tell,” he addressed his wife.
“When did you become a doctor?” Omoye looked him up and down.
“Ouch!” Adesua’s grip tightened on her tummy.
They all turned to look at her.
“Oh God!” pain sliced through her. She sunk to her knees in a flash.
“Adesua!” her younger sisters cried out in alarm.
“Is that blood?” Osemudiamen pointed at his daughter-in-law’s white and black
poker dots dress. There were red stains on it.
His wife followed his gaze and saw it too, “Jesus! Jesus! Where is Efosa? We need to get her to the hospital immediately.”
Adesua’s sisters stood at her side and helped her up to her feet, in slow steps, they walked towards the front door.
Osagie and Osaze carried Efosa’s lifeless body down the stairway. Osasu who was walking down the hall way screamed when she saw them.
“What happened to him?” she ran towards them and placed a hand on her son-in-law’s forehead. He was very cold. She withdrew her hand quickly and looked up and his brothers.
“He is dead,” Osagie announced without empathy.
“How? What happened?” she staggered back.
Efosa’s brothers exchanged glances.
Ojemare came out of the kitchen carrying Edua, his grand-daughter. He found her seated on the tiled floor, panting for breath. He froze when he saw his son-in-law in the arms of his brothers.
“What happened to him?!” he shouted.
Osasu turned around and saw her husband carrying her grand-daughter. “What happened to her?” she hurried to his side.
“We need to get her to the hospital, fast!” he met her alarmed gaze.
“Lord Jesus help us!” her heart beat accelerated in panic.
Osemudiamen and his wife rushed to their son’s side when they saw him being carried out of the house by his brothers, leaving weeping Adesua with her sisters.
“What happened to him?” Omoye screamed at her sons.
Adesua began to cry when she saw her husband’s motionless body.
“What is going on in this house?”’ Osemudiamen flared. He ran to the security post and collected one of the car keys. There were six exotic cars in the compound. They placed Efosa at the back seat of the silver and white Prado jeep. Osagie got into the driver’s seat, his father sat beside him, while his mum and Osaze sat with Efosa. The Security guard flung the gate open once he saw the oncoming vehicle.
Ojemare and Osasu rushed out of the house carrying Edua. When they saw their daughter writhing in pains, held by her sisters, they knew that something terrible must have happened to her, her husband and her daughter.
“Where is everyone?” Ojemare demanded.
“They took Efosa to the hospital,” Ehinomen supplied, relieved to see their parents.
Osasu hissed, “And they left your sister here. What’s wrong with these people?”
“Daddy…” Adesua raised her head and looked towards her father.
“Yes baby,” his heart cried out for her.
“Get the car keys from the security post,” she gritted her teeth in pain.
Osasu held unto her grand-daughter while her husband ran to the security post to get one of the cars key.
They placed Adesua and Edua at the backseat of the car. Ehinomen and Osedebamen sat beside them, while their parents got into the front seats of the car.
“You need to get to Saint Nicholas hospital. Our doctor works there,” she instructed her father.
“Okay baby. Relax, everything is going to be all right.”
Adesua glanced at her daughter and began to cry. The nine-year old was gasping for breath. What was happening to them? It was their day of celebration, but, it had turned to a day of crisis