In Essien town, Abasiama had become a shadow of herself, Life had dealt unfairly, the years told on her. Her face was all wrinkled; her eyes were dark and lifeless. Since her husband, the Obong died, years ago, she had lived the life of a recluse, wasting away in the house the community had given her upon her husband’s death. The Obong had died without a child, and ever since his twins were cast into the river, he had become an object of mockery. His detractors could not wait for him to vacate the throne; they instigated many uprising against the Obong Kparawa.
One day, on a cold November morning, when the leaves were brown and dried, and littered all over the village, Abasiama woke up and decided it was time to once again, find succor in the arms of the Whiteman’s God, and this time she wanted to take her husband too. So she had her bath and wore her costliest velvet, with big ceremonial beads and patterned her hair in new designs.
Her husband loved beauty, and it was time to cajole him with hers, he must come with her to the Whiteman’s church, after all, what has their beliefs, culture and tradition done for them, other than cause them untold pain. Even Awasi had turned deaf to their cries; perhaps the Whiteman’s God would be more merciful.
She walked gaily, to her husband’s hut, to the amazement of the palace hands. Since the incidence of the twins, she had withdrawn into her shells, she ate her meals in her hut, and avoided her husband’s company. So when they saw her that morning, beautifully attired, they wondered what she was up to, and most of the palace maids walked behind her. They were intent on finding the source of her happiness. Abasiama got to her husband’s hut but did not find him there, so she proceeded to the throne room. She staggered backward, when she beheld the Obong.
Abasiama: “Oh no, no, no. This cannot be, why you did this Ima mi” she cried as she stared at the gory sight before her. The maids, who were walking behind her, heard her cry and rushed into the throne room.
Maid: “Awasi oh” she wailed.
There on the throne, the Obong was suspended by a rope hanging on the ceiling, the Obong had committed suicide… he had hung himself. In those days, it was forbidden for a person who had committed suicide to be buried. So when the news spread, even though Abasiama had tried to conceal it, the villagers trooped to the palace, to cart the body away. The body was thrown into the Kwa river, and the palace was cleansed by the chief priest.
Abasiama was thrown out of the palace, normally, she would have remained as the queen mother if she had a son that would ascend, or the next in line would have married her, but the villagers saw her as a woman with bad luck. They blamed her for everything that had happened to the Obong, and they wanted her stench out of the palace.
They gave her a hut close to the bank of the Kwa river, and every day, she walked a few depths into the river, just where the water came up to her waist. She looked farther into the horizon, like she was expecting her twins to come back to her from wherever they had sailed to. She had this feeling deep in her heart that her twins were still alive, but whether they were fine, that she could not tell.
One day Abasiama woke up with another idea…
Kaylah began her new role as a beauty queen with zest; she was given an official car and a monthly salary package. But that was not the end of the good things that would happen to her this December. She had also secured an admission into the University of Lagos, to study Public Relations and Foreign Policies. So the family had decided to celebrate God’s goodness, by travelling to their hometown for the festivities. They had bought a lot of food items which they intended to share to the villagers. Kaylah was happy about the impending trip, as she would have a chance to reach out to the village children.
She told Nadia about her plans and the latter offered to come with her. They agreed to organize a show for the kids to help them celebrate Christmas. Nadia’s main aims of coming along, were to share in the glory and also keep an eye on Kaylah. Kaylah had taken the crown that belonged to her, and she was determined to take it back.
Kaylah recruited some musicians and comedians to go with her to Eket her hometown, and celebrate Christmas with the village children. She had planned a three days tour, from one community, to the other, so as to reach virtually all the children in Eket.
On the 25th day of December, they mounted a stage in the village square in Esit Eket, there was food, drinks, music and comedy. The turnout was tremendous, even men and women attended, they have never had that kind of Christmas before. Even though, Kaylah had not invited the press, Nadia could not waste an opportunity to shine, so she licked the details to the press, and they trooped to Eket ready to capture every moment with the new beauty queen. Nadia kept giving interviews, in which she would say that, the idea was hers, and she presented it to Kaylah. Kaylah was not disturbed by this, she was just happy that she made the children happy.
Kaylah: “Who brought the press men; I would have to send them away, if they scare the children away with their big gadgets”
Nadia: “No way you cannot do that” she replied in a rush, which got Kaylah’s eyebrows raised up.
Kaylah: “The press is not important here, I brought you on board because I believed you had the same vision. The children are my priority here”
Nadia: “Of course they are, but how will people know they have someone like you, if the press does not cover our activities. In saving the world, you need the media”
Kaylah: “When you put it like that, it makes a lot of sense. I am so glad you are my right hand woman” she said with a smile.
Nadia: “Yes, I am glad too. We make a great team, don’t we?” she embraced Kaylah. Kaylah pulled away after the hug, and left to oversee the event.
Nadia: “Such a hypocrite! But I am a bigger hypocrite” she said with a scowl.
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On the 26th day, the entourage moved to Ibeno, the stage was set at the beach, and children from all corners of Ibeno trooped to the event. It was spectacular, to watch Kaylah relate with the children.
Benita watched her daughter with tears,. After the birth of her son, Malcom, she had been unable to give birth, she wanted another child, preferably a daughter, but life had denied her the opportunity, until she met Kaylah. She had been a beautiful baby, with an aristocratic feel to her. She wished things were different, she wished she didn’t have to keep this secret that haunted her every time she thought of Kaylah.
Stinger was sitting at his usual spot, under the coconut tree, from where he watched the event happening a few meters away. He watched with so much concentration, that one would think he was interested in the children. But no, his eyes were on the celebrities gallivanting around the event. He had to find out who would be more profitable to him, so he decided to go to the event. He walked closer, till he was in the midst of the children. He shook their hands and ruffled some hairs, but his eyes were on the beautiful fair lady, hopping and dancing around with the children. He edged closer to her, and tried to catch snippets of her conversation.
After a while, he brought out his phone and discreetly, took pictures of her and then he sent the pictures to his second in command. He tailed her everywhere she went. Even after the event, he tailed her in a car to the house she was staying in. There were lots of people in the house, but he knew, with surveillance he could get what he was looking for.
He brought out his phone, as he stood outside the magnificent building, from the exterior, he could tell that the occupants were affluent. He smiled as he thought of this. He dialed a number and gave an instruction to his men.
Stinger watched the house for a few minutes until four of his men arrived.
Stinger: “The house is huge, how do we locate the person we want?”
Militant: “We can just pick anybody, they are all rich and important people in that house, anyone would serve”
Stinger: “We cannot act like that, without a plan. We go after the victim that I have chosen”
Militant: “Aye aye, anything you say”
So they spread themselves around the house, hiding behind trees, as they waited for nightfall. They discovered that despite the number of people who had trooped to the house, after the event, as dusk approached, people began to leave the house.
At about 8pm, they flew over the fence into the compound. The compound had electrified barb wire fencing, but Stinger had cut a space, big enough to accommodate one man at a time, with a pair of insulated tweezers. They had their guns at the ready as they lurked in corners, inside the compound. Just when they were getting impatient waiting for the signal from their leader Stinger, they struck gold.