‘Yes, Omotara. The Danjumas only had boys, the girl they called their daughter wasn’t theirs.’ The man replied, staring happily at the stars in the sky as he continued his story without knowing he had caused something else.
It took some time for Tarasha to assimilate the information. The doctor didn’t sound like someone who was drunk or someone who wasn’t sure of what he was saying. The cool atmosphere changed drastically for her and she began to feel hot inside.
The doctor continued to speak on but she could no longer hear what he was saying. She had several questions running through her mind and occupying her thoughts. She was also trying to picture in her mind who her mother could be if it wasn’t Lydia Danjuma.
‘Then who was Omotara’s mother?’ Tarasha suddenly asked in a loud tone, interrupting the man’s story.
The doctor and Henry turned to her in surprise. The look on her face was different from what it was when the both of them joined her down the balcony and they realized that something serious must have changed her mood into the unpleasant one she now seemed to be in.
‘Omotara’s mother?’ the doctor raised her eyebrows at her.
‘Yes, where is she?’
‘I don’t know who she is or where she is but…’ the doctor stopped with a gasp, wondering why she was interested in knowing who the mother was.
It then occurred to Henry that Tarasha was the same Omotara the doctor mentioned. He could now understand why her countenance had changed and why she looked so worried.
‘But what?’ Tarasha asked the man impatiently.
‘But… why are you so interested in knowing the mother? Is there something our operations also have to do with the Danjumas?’ The doctor asked.
Tarasha stared at him in silence for a while. Her mind couldn’t grasp the news yet and she hoped in her mind that the doctor was wrong. Then she suddenly remembered her mother’s diary; the only book where her mother (Lydia Danjuma) wrote all her secrets and poured out her heart. If what the doctor said was true, then something about it had to be in the diary.
She turned swiftly and proceeded straight up the balcony leaving Henry and the doctor dazed.
‘What’s wrong? Did I say anything that I wasn’t supposed to say?’ Doctor Ekwueme turned to Henry after Tarasha was out of sight.
‘You didn’t do anything wrong sir,’ Henry said, touching the man on the shoulder lightly. ‘Lets go in, I have to talk with her.’ He proceeded in straightaway and the doctor followed him.
Dave sat there in pain as he watched the breaking news. A video of the dead bodies of the SSS officers was being shown as the reporter spoke. Dave was overwhelmed with guilt especially when it got to the part showing the dead body Officer who had led the group of men into the building. The officer’s dead body was almost unrecognizable, it looked like a sharp object was dug into his forehead and made to come out from behind. The officers’ deaths were his fault, he had led them to their deaths just as he did in Anambra. The deaths of the men would haunt him for a very long time, he was very sure of that.
He got up from the bed and walked into the bathroom of the hotel room. He walked back out a minutes later with his face wet and a face towel hung around his neck. He proceeded out of his room and stopped at the door to Stephanie’s room.
He knocked at the door gently and waited for a response. He sighed when he got none after a minute. He knew she was likely not going to talk to him that night, he had been trying to get into her room for more than an hour after he returned to the hotel but she wouldn’t open the door to talk to him.
He lifted his hand to knock again but missed as the door opened at that moment.
Stephanie stood at the doorway. She was putting an underwear which covered her body partially.
She raised her brows at him without saying anything and he stared back at her for a moment without having words to start his conversation.
She tried to close the door and turn back inside but he stopped it with his hand.
‘Please, can I talk with you?’ He finally asked. She opened the door and let him in.
‘So, what do you want to talk to me about?’ she asked after closing the door. She stopped at the front of the door and folded her arms across her chest.
Dave looked around the room and noticed that the place was well tidied and clean. He noticed she had also packed her bags at a side.
‘I’ve been trying to speak with you since I returned but you wouldn’t open the door.’
‘Yes, I was trying to put the loads together. I’ve arranged all the tools and ID cards you gave me into the wardrobe,’ she paused and walked to the wardrobe. She opened to show him how she did the arrangements. ‘As you can see, my bag is ready, I’ll be returning to Abuja tomorrow. I think I can continue this without you.’
Dave was shocked and speechless. He just stared at her face with his mouth agape like a confused fellow.
‘My flight is by 8am, I won’t be needing anything, I’ve already ordered for a vehicle to come pick me by six thirty.’
‘Why are you doing this Steph? We started this together, why do you want to continue alone at this point?’ Dave asked in a pleading voice.
‘I’m sorry Dave but I can’t continue with you. I don’t trust you, you can sell me out.’
‘Sell you out? Come on, I would never do that.’
‘But I just saw you do it to someone else today,’ she sat on the bed and crossed her legs, turning her back to him.
Dave sighed. ‘Steph, you should understand me, I explained this to you already. Samantha Osman is a criminal that I can’t trust. I shouldn’t have tried to contact her at all.’
‘But you wanted to help her save the Chief, why did you turn around and bring in the SSS to take the glory?’
‘No,’ Dave frowned. ‘That’s not what I intended to do, I’m not interested in taking the glory for anything. I only realized that working with her would mean betraying my agency instead of being loyal to them.’
‘That’s the more reason I can’t work with you. Your loyalty is to your agency. Who knows if you would realize tomorrow that working with me would mean betraying your agency?’
She stared at him for close to a minute waiting for his answer but he kept mute. He couldn’t think of anything to say to her.
‘You should be rest assured that I won’t let anyone know of your secret agency. And If you want, I would not even act like I know you the next time we see.’ Stephanie added.
Dave was heartbroken with her last statement. He couldn’t bear the fact that she was already planning to cut off all ties with him.
‘Stephanie, I beg of you, please listen and try to reason with me. I had no option than to do the right thing.’
‘Yes, I know. That’s why I’m leaving all for you to continue with the right thing.’
‘Please don’t Steph, I believe that we can work this out together.’
‘No, thanks Dave.’ She said as she got up from the bed and proceeded to the door. ‘I think you should leave now,’ she said and opened the door for him to leave.
Dave was stunned. He could see it in her eyes that she was really mad at him. There was nothing else he could do. He let out a deep breath and proceeded out of the room hesitatingly.
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‘Tara,’ Henry called out loud as he got to the door. He knocked twice thinking that she must have locked the door from behind but he noticed that it wasn’t locked and wasn’t jammed properly. He pushed the door in gently and walked in. She didln’t look up or act as if she noticed his entrance. She was seated at the right side of the bed and had a device in her hand. Henry could see as he got to the centre of the room that she had just turned on the device and it was still booting.
‘What do you have to say to me?’ Tara asked in an unwelcoming tone which made Henry stop on the spot. ‘I think I’m okay if all you want to do is comfort me.’
Henry heaved a sigh. He hadn’t totally made up his mind on what to say to her, and she wasn’t even looking any longer like one who was disturbed by the news. He made his way to the bed and sat at the same side as her, giving only a little space between them.
‘Well, can I sit with you for now?’ Henry asked with a shrug after seating.
She took her gaze away from him and focused on the device in her hand. She felt good on remembering that she had only scanned the diary and saved them on her device few hours before she needed it. The device had already finished booting. She clicked on the menu icon and changed her sitting position as she scrolled down to find the PDF reader application.
PRESIDENTIAL LOUNGE, LAGOS.
The feverish feeling did not leave Chief Elvis even after he finished his meal and took his drugs for the night. He knew something serious other than malaria was wrong with him but he expected that the doctor at the clinic in Aso Rock should have found out that he needed more than just malaria treatment.
He dragged himself to the room tiredly and sunk into the bed without taking off his clothes. He thought of calling Rex again at that moment but he felt too weak to get up to search for his phone, but he was soon forced to look for it when he began to hear the sound of the ringing tone.
‘Oh!’ he let out a gasp as he saw the name of the incoming caller. It was the Inspector General who had called him earlier when he was at Madam Henrietta’s house. He had promised to return the call when he left the woman’s house but did not remember to do so.
‘Chief Rikau,’ he answered with a gasp. “I’m sorry I haven’t called you yet, I’ve not been feeling too well since I returned to the house.’
‘Sorry about that sir? But why is the fever still persisting, I thought they ran some tests on your blood already.’
‘Yes, I’ve been tested. The Doctor said it’s severe malaria but I think I have to visit another doctor. I’m however sure it’ll pass away soon.’
‘Please take care of yourself sir.’
‘I wanted to confirm if you still met with Rex today.’
‘No, he asked me to wait. He was expecting Samantha Osman but SSS men showed up.’
‘Agent Tim reported to me also, he said Samantha Osman was somewhere around Okoko in Lagos. He and Agent James visited the place.’
‘Tim and James are in Lagos?’ The Vice President asked.
‘Yes, they got there this afternoon.’
‘What are they doing here? I do not really understand, tonight’s case only concerns the SSS.’
‘I know sir, even the Samantha Osman’s case is supposed to have been fully handed over to the SSS for them to work on alone with full force but you remember we are working it in both forces with your influence and so that we can easily track her since she is directly against our individual selves.’
‘I know, but I don’t still understand what James is doing in Lagos. I still understand that Tim has to be here.’
‘Sir, he works together with Tim in the same team, it would be against protocols not to involve him in what Tim does.’
‘Come on, but you and I know that he cannot be involved.’
‘Yes sir, he doesn’t know anything that has to do with us. He only knows what Tim allows the team to know.’
‘Well, we just have to be careful with that boy. I do not even trust him even though he is my son. I’m thinking we should find a way to suspend him from the force until Samantha Osman’s case is over.’
‘Hmm, I will do something about that sir.
They spoke for few more seconds before they ended the call. Chief Elvis dialed Rex’s number immediately.
‘Hello Rex, I’ve been trying to reach you since we spoke last.’
There was no response for almost ten seconds. The Chief called his name twice again before there was a reply.
‘I’m sleeping already Chief, I believe you should have seen what I did to the SSS men on the news’
‘No, I didn’t listen to the news tonight. I wanted to find out if there is no problem.’
‘There’s none, I only regret not being able to kill the SSS men who withdrew.’
‘I asked for them to do so.’
‘They took a wise choice by obeying you,’ Rex said with a chuckle. ‘Well, I’ve moved the man to another location. I’ll come get you when I think it’s time to see him.’
‘No, can’t I come there after my event tomorrow?’
‘No, you can’t. The SSS men spoilt my plans already; we would have some trouble if you decide to come from your event.’
‘I don’t understand you Rex, I have limited time to use in Lagos. I have to return to Abuja next tomorrow so that I can give a report to the committee.’
‘You can’t come from straight for the event,’ Rex insisted in a calm voice. ‘Except I come there to get you myself.’
‘You don’t need to, I would return to the house briefly after the event to change my clothes and disguise a little, then I’ll come there with few of my escorts.’
‘Chief, do you know that Samantha Osman would be watching every of your moves tomorrow?’
The Vice President was quiet for a while. He realized that Rex was saying the truth.
‘That’s true, it means I have to increase my security.’
‘She might not attack you there but would monitor your movements and may follow you everywhere you go. That would mean you would be only be prone to attack when you journey to this location with your few escorts.’
Chief Elvis heaved a sigh of frustration. ‘So you are suggesting that I may not get to see that b****** before leaving Lagos?’
‘You can decide to wait a little longer, you’d only make sure that you don’t tell anyone of your plans to remain in lagos.’
‘I can’t stay longer Rex, I need to return to Abuja next tomorrow.’
There was silence for almost one minute.
‘I think you should just kill the man, don’t risk the chance of him getting away.’
‘Well, are you aware that his death would not make Samantha Osman drop her charges against you?’
‘Wow!’ he let out a gasp. ‘That’s true. Let’s be patient for a little longer, maybe I do not have to talk with the Chief. Just continue with your threat to kill him and try as much as possible to extract hidden information from him.’
‘Can we torture him now?’
‘Let her drop the allegations first, I’m thinking she would demand to see him first before doing so. Seeing him tortured may cause something else. What about the substance you do inject people to get them to talk?’
‘The effectiveness of that substance depends on how weak and fearful the victim is. Most times, the victim has to be tortured before it works.’
‘Okay, just find any way to make him talk without giving him physical injuries first or you should probably wait until she withdraws her allegations.’
‘I’ll talk to you later Chief.’
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The availability of the diary in electronic copy made it easy for Tarasha to locate the specific parts she needed to read without wasting time on flipping through many pages. For the first time, she realized that the diary contained almost thirty years of Lydia Danjuma’s life. She knew it wasn’t the original version, but that the different diaries she kept over the years were summarized, merged and rewritten into the available one.
She was able to locate what she needed quickly by typing a search word into the find box of the PDF reader. The keyword was ‘Tara’ and it was located several times in the document. Tarasha navigated back to the first result. She scrolled up to the beginning of the paragraph containing the word and began to read.
‘Adunni regained consciousness three hours after she started receiving treatment in the hospital. I could see her eyes moving to and fro and I knew immediately that she was looking for her baby.’
Lydia’s fingers worked on the keypads of her Nokia 3310 phone as she whiled away time with the game. She had another phone in her bag but preferred to use the Nokia more because of its strength and capacity of the battery. She was seated beside a hospital bed which had a young lady lying in it. An intravenous fluid bag was hung on a stand beside the bed and the liquid from the bag was being passed into the young lady’s vein and she laid there still but breathing.
Lydia’s eyeballs rolled up as she noticed a movement in the bed. She met the young lady staring curiously at her.
‘Hey! You’re awake,’ she said with a kind smile.
The young lady squinted at Lydia for a moment and then let out a deep breath after remembering who she was. She could recall vividly the face of the woman and a man standing above her when she as lying in the bush with the baby.
‘Where’s my baby?’ the young lady asked.
‘She’s fine, I kept her with the nurses.’ Lydia replied, still keeping her smile.
‘Thank you,’ the young lady said with a faint smile. She heaved a sigh, wondering if the baby was a blessing or curse to her.
‘You’re welcome,’ Lydia replied. She dropped her phone into her handbag which was placed on the floor and then leaned towards the bed. She put on a serious look. ‘What’s your name? And how did you get into that bush?’
The young lady let out a sigh, she closed her eyes and then turned her head the other way.
‘Oh!’ Lydia gasped. ‘Sorry, maybe I should allow you rest properly before asking my questions.’
The young lady turned her face back slowly with her eyes closed. She took in a deep breath before opening her eyes. ‘My name is Adunni, my story is a long one.’ She began in a sad tone.
‘Oh! Adunni,’ Lydia said in a comforting tone. ‘I…’
Their conversation was interrupted when the door of the ward flung open and Danjuma entered with a Doctor. Both were surprised to see Adunni awake.
‘Hey! Young woman, how are you doing?’ the doctor asked as she proceeded towards Adunni.
‘I’m fine ma,’ Adunni replied.
‘Good to know,’ the doctor put on a smile. She placed two fingers on Adunni’s neck to check her temperature. ‘You’re sweating already, that’s good.’
Danjuma stopped beside his wife and placed a kiss on her cheek.
‘How far?’ Lydia asked almost breathlessly.
Danjuma shook his head and let out a sigh as he stood beside his wife, a sign that there was something wrong.
‘I’ll send the nurses to her now,’ the doctor said to them before Danjuma could answer his wife’s question.
‘Okay ma,’ Danjuma answered and they watched as the doctor walked away.
Danjuma turned to the other side beside his wife and sat at the edge of the hospital bed. ‘Have you spoken with her yet?’
‘I only found out her name is Adunni,’ Lydia answered. ‘Did you get to find anyone who knows her from the village?’
‘Yes,’Danjuma answered with a sigh. ‘Almost everybody knew her,’he said and paused to look at Adunni’s face. ‘They said she’s pregnant with someone else’s baby and tried to lie against someone else.’
Adunni turned her face to the other side and burst into tears, she muffled her voice with the pillow. Danjuma’s word brought pain to her heart again and she could still feel the shame that the pregnancy had brought her.
‘They said she lied against an important Chief…’Danjuma tried to continue.
‘Shhh…’ Lydia hushed him as she got up from her seat, she had noticed that Adunni was crying already.
To be continue