Abasiama having walked for long, weary and feeble sat on a heap of sand by the river bank. She sat there staring into empty spaces. It was busy for fisher men went about their activities and those with commercial boats and ferries went about theirs too. It was quite noisy. There were those that sold fishes to customers by bank of the river. Her mind had gone back to Stinger, there was something that attracted her to him and even Kaylah,
Abasiama: “Or is because I’ve soft spot for them?” she asked.
She felt very complete around- it was a feel of being whole again but she couldn’t explain why she felt that way around them.
Abasiama: “I don’t know them from Adam!” she sighed cupping her face in her hands.
She dragged herself from the spot where she was seated to where she’d board a boat,
Abasiama: “Old Essien town,how much?” she said to the young boys who were loading their boats and chatting.
They turned and looked at her,
Boat boy 1: “I am not going there!” he shook the head and threw his gaze to his friend.
Abasiama followed his gaze,
Boat boy 2: “three thousand five!”
She was shocked,
Abasiama: “Ah, my child, is that not little bit on a high side?”
Boat boy 2: “It isn’t my fault, ma. It’s recession and the raise in dollar!”
She shook her head and muttered to herself,
Abasiama: “How has increase in dollar affect transport fare,mbok? How are they even related?”
Boat boy 2: “Uhm, bring three thousand,mama!”
Abasiama: “I’ll give you two thousand and I can’t go higher than that!”
His friend nudged him to accept,
Boat boy 2: “Okay, bring it!”
She hopped into the boat without her exhausted mind refusing to think about anything. There was no more fight left in her. She had given up on seeing her children. Maybe they weren’t meant to meet.
Mr Assanga was pacing about in the living room, his wife curled up on the longest couch sobbing. Malcolm was seated on the arm of that couch.
Mr Assanga: “Malcolm, what had come over you? why would you tell such a vital thing in front of an outsider?” he stared angry at his son.
Malcolm dropped his head,
Malcolm: “I’m sorry, dad. I wasn’t thinking!”
Mr Assanga shook his head, he paused and stared at Malcolm,
Mr Assanga: “By the way, how did you get to know?”
Mrs Assanga was still sobbing as the men continued talking,
Malcolm: “I found it. I saw the adoption papers in one of your hidden boxes!”
Mr Assanga sighed and shook his head,
Mr Assanga: “You would have consulted us first!”
Kaylah hadn’t returned home since she left the house. Her phones were switched off, all efforts to get to her was futile.
Mrs Assanga stood up from the couch and faced the men,
Mrs Assanga: “If anything happens to my daughter I won’t ever forgive any of you!” she ran into her room sobbing.
Mr Assanga took his car keys and bolted out, Malcolm ran after him. They knew they were both in trouble if they return without her. They both shares in the blame.
Stinger was yet to be transferred to the maximum prison at Lagos. He wasn’t allowed any visitors but Kaylah had managed to convince the officers with plea and a tip.
Officer 1: “No take time o! sharp sharp abeg!”
Officer 2: “na risky tin shey you know?”
She nodded and thanked them,
Kaylah: “I am grateful!”
She was directed to a small room,
Officer 2: “Wait here!”
She sat on a chair. It was a small room with a small bulb. The light wasn’t enough to lit the whole room. It was a semi dark room. She sat down the anger she felt towards her foster parents had faded. It had melted. She couldn’t be more grateful. Who knows with them she would have being either dead or roaming around the street. They loved her as their own. She never could have suspected that they weren’t her parents if Malcolm didn’t tell her.
Kaylah: “I’m sorry, mum. I’m sorry dad!” she whispered to herself as she rested the chin on her hands on the table.
Trampling of feet’s made her jerk. Stinger was been dragged to the room,
Officer 2: “Siddon there! And I give you just five minutes!”
Stinger gave him a stern look. The officer stood by the door,
Stinger: “You didn’t have to come!” he looked away as she tried looking at his swollen face.
Kaylah: “See what they did to you?” she said with tears in her eyes.
Stinger: “It’s not like I don’t deserve it,anywhere!”
Kaylah: “You were nice to me,Ifiok. I won’t let you rot in here!”
Stinger bite his lower lips; he didn’t want to get emotion.
Stinger: “Leave me please. I do not deserve any kind gestures from you!”
She just kept a unwavering stare at him- it was as if she was trying to reach out to something missing in him. She felt like family. He was endeared to her in a way siblings would to each other. She felt same way.
Officer 2: “Time up,madam! “ jacked Stinger by the hand, “Oya carry go!” he pushed him using the stick in his hand.
Stinger stared at her as he was taken to his cell. She walked out and leaned by the door crying.
Mr Assanga and Malcolm had arrived the police station to file a report about the missing Kaylah,
Officer 1: “How she be?”
As they were given a description of how she looked, Kaylah walked out. They were dumbfounded. They rushed towards her.
“What are you doing here?” they both chorused.
The police officers looked at each other and then turned their gazes to them,
Kaylah: “I’m sorry dad. I’m sorry, Malcolm!”
Mr Assanga: “No worries at all! We had come to file a report that you were missing!”
Malcolm: “I was thinking you’d been kidnapped again!”
She shook her head,
Officer1: “Na she bi dis?”
They nodded, “Ah,what a small world. Chai!”
They led her to the car. In the car they feasted on silence. No one said a word to another. Malcolm drove as fast as he could.
Mr Assanga, his wife, Malcolm and Kaylah had come to the motherless babies home where she was adopted. The woman running the place was young and beautiful. They had the same pointed nose like Kaylah. They narrated their story to her,
Young woman heaved,
Young woman:” I know of your story very well, “she said to them as she attended to them.
She wasn’t the one that gave them Kaylah. She couldn’t be. Judging from her age she must have been born around that time too. She told them that the one who could help them was Old nurse, her mother who used to run the place but old age and stroke had made her bedridden.
Kaylah was in tears. Did that mean she wasn’t going to know who her real parents were?
Mrs Assanga: “Can you take us to her, please!”
Young woman: “it would be of no use cos she can’t talk!”
Mr Assanga and Malcolm: “Take us please!”
Young woman sighed,
Young woman: “Let’s go!”
They followed her out. Kaylah just followed not that she had any hope. She couldn’t tell how she felt.
Mr Assanga held her as they walked to the car.
They all sat in the living room as the young woman went into the room. Malcolm rushed to the door to help hold Old Nurse who had half of her body paralyzed. She sat down and when she saw the faces of Mr Assanga and Mrs Assanga she smiled,
Young woman: “Can you recognize them?” she shook her head and smiled they smiled back too, she turned to them and added, “She can recognized you!”
Young woman, who later identified as Esther, sat close to her mother.
Kaylah could feel the renaissance of hope but just a glimpse for the woman couldn’t talk. Mrs Assanga went closer,
Mrs. Assanga: “How are you?” she smiled at her and Old Nurse smiled too.
Malcolm sat opposite Kaylah as he kept staring at her in intervals. Their eyes met and she looked away. His stare made her heart skip. Being in love with another was unthinkable; Malcolm was the one she ever wanted. Somehow, she wasn’t mad anymore that she wasn’t the biological daughter of her foster parents. Their union wouldn’t be seen as incest anymore.
Mrs Assanga went back to her chair; Old Nurse beckoned on Esther with the right hand which wasn’t paralyzed. She mimicked a hand writing,
Esther: “Oh, you need a pen to write?” she nodded.
Esther ran and brought a pen and paper with her hands shaking but she managed to scribble something down:
“Mr. and Mrs. Assanga right? I can still remember your faces like it was just yesterday. A happy young couple who wanted a daughter desperately; this is the girl with you right? She is now a beautiful girl. I know you are here to find out who her parents are. It is normal for such cases. The adopted child grows up and would want to know who their parents are. I knew you guys would come. Her story is a pathetic one. They were found on the bank of Calabar river and I was contacted. I took them into the home. I know you’d be surprised that I am mentioning “they” in this letter”
She paused and asked for water to drink; she gulped two full glasses and continued,
“ They were two. Twins but I didn’t bother to tell you since your interest was just in the girl. And the boy we didn’t hear anything from him again. We knew he had many foster parents but all I know is that he isn’t lucky as his sister. We were told that their parents were from Old Essien town. I investigated after you had adopted the girl I envisioned this might happen like I have stated earlier so I didn’t want a situation where I won’t be able to give the needed answer. Oh,how I wish other foster parents were like the two of you! See how beautiful she is!”
She stared at Kayla, smiled and continued,
“ Ehm, I learned that they were abandoned to die in the river. It wasn’t the parents wish but the wicked tradition of the people that saw twins as ill luck forced her to part ways with her children. She was a queen there but I doubt if she is still alive. And her twin was that boy, Ifiok, she always came to play with! I am exhausted I think I have told you all you need to know. She used to be the queen but I don’t know if she still is. God help you in your search .”
She handed the note to Esther and signaled her that she’d love to go in and rest. Malcolm rushed to help but Esther smiled at him and said,
Esther: “Don’t worry. I can handle that!” she smiled at him as he stayed back.
Kaylah was jealous; she didn’t like the way Esther smiled at Malcolm. Does she think she is pretty? Jealousy spoke in Kaylah.
She looked away as Malcolm looked towards her direction- she was angry at him. They were all anxious-they all wanted to know what the contents of the letter were. Esther came back and sat,
Esther: “would you mind if I read the letter or you’d prefer to read it yourselves,” she stretched her hands towards Malcolm.
Malcolm looked at his parents and then Kaylah,
Malcolm: “we don’t mind!”
Esther started reading the letter. As she read on, Mrs Assanga and Kaylah were in tears; they held each other. Malcolm buried his head as tears trickled down and Mr Assanga just sat with emotions flushed all over his face as she read.
“Ifiok!” Esther read,
Kaylah was startled,
Everyone turned to her,
Mrs Assanga: “You know him?”
Kaylah: “I know someone with that name but I don’t know if he is the one!”
Could it be Ifiok that was her brother? She whispered.
Everyone sighed; she turned to Malcolm, “The guy who kidnapped me!”
Mr. Assanga: “what!