She ran, her tongue flailing like a thirsty bingo in the jungle yearning for the cool water bowl in its master’s house. She did not know where she was going. Her feet just continued to pound the thorn-thistle path. Then, she heard it – sounds of big vehicles breezing past ahead. She fanned out her arms like an eagle hovering in the high clouds. In a burst of speed she came out, onto a tarred road. *** The night was cold and scary. Baba Di after his night rituals which consisted mostly of groans and grunts and mutterings had poured a warm liquid over her head. When it streamed into her eyes she’d screamed until her voice broke and only whimpers escaped her trembling lips. After the pain came sweet emptiness. Ojuola fell into a deep slumber from which she was only awakened when the birds' chirping heralded the rising dawn. She felt it in the first moment of wakefulness. It was very different. Her eyes fluttered open and the acacia trees waved its branches in a halo over her head. It took just a moment and it hit her. “I can see! See!” she squealed. Her palm covered her quivering lips as she surveyed the alcove for the old man. She was alone. Adrenaline pumped in a surge through her veins. Her legs found motion. Ojuola stood beside the road. She was not sure if she was to wave at one of the big vehicles whizzing past. She flattened her palms against her dress as the wind threatened to carry it up. Hot, salty tears trickled from her eyes to her lips. A blue saloon car slowed to a stop. Ojuola took cautious steps and backed into the bushes behind her. A young man and woman approached her. “Young girl, what are you doing in this isolated place?” the woman prodded, moving a step at a time, not to rattle her. The man waited, leaning on the car’s bonnet. The woman’s eyes were kind and the laugh lines around her mouth reminded Ojuola of her mother. She allowed herself to be led into the car as she cast wary glances over her shoulder. *** “We shouldn’t have left her there,” Ireti mutters, pacing the room strung in her girdle and bra. Nat sits in a corner, puffing at his cigarette, eyes bloodshot. They hear the ruffling sound of a key in the main door and they both jump. “Mummy! I’m home o! Mum?” Mary bellows, standing in the dark room. She fumbles about until she finds the light switch. She grimaces at the rowdy living room – stools upturned and used glasses littering the centre table. Ireti lumbers out of the room, feigning sleepiness. She yawns. “Oh, Mary you’re back? You should have waited till morning. Night travel is not safe.” “I actually left early but the bus moved like a snail. But are you not happy to see me?” Mary poses, throwing her characteristic pout. Ireti’s eyes dart around the room as if looking for a missing object. The eyes find a resting perch on the door of Ojuola’s room. As if on cue, Mary moves towards it. “Is Ojuola asleep already? She’ll be so happy to see me,” Mary chatters, a hand poised on the door knob. Ireti bites down on her lower lip until she draws blood. “She is not there.” Mary turns around in a half circle, bewildered eyes riveted on her mother. She pushes the door open and gasps at the vacant room.   They sit, with lips and faces pulled tight. Ireti has told the story thrice – how Ojuola strayed off and they had searched everywhere to no avail. Nat is quiet, his fingers itching for another stick of cigarette but Mary’s allergy to smoke prevents him. The throbbing fingers find the TV’s remote, flipping through the channels. He ignores the sidelong daggers Mary darts in his direction. Ireti squeals. “Go back! No, not this station, the other one,” she says, her buttocks almost sliding off the edge of the sofa. Mary turns her attention to the television. There it is. Ojuola on the screen and the presenter asking for the relatives of the girl to come to the station for her. Mary jumps up. “Oh thank God! I’m going to get her right now!” she says as she heads for the door. Ireti stands to dissuade her. It is past 11 P.M and the broadcast has been on repeat since noon. The television station will be closed by the time she reaches the other end of town where it is located. “Your mother is right. We’ll go in the morning,” Nat finally speaks up. Mary considers the two for a few seconds and turns and drags her bag behind her, into her room. *** Ojuola runs her fingers on Mary’s cheeks, her eyes brimming with tears. In a picturesque world, where no evil casts a dark cloud over the sunshine, Ojuola and Mary linger, shutting out their audience. “You have beautiful hair and pretty eyes,” Ojuola says as she continues to take in the sight of her friend and cousin. Ireti and Nat stand against the wall, not moving. They cannot fathom how the blind girl was not just able to escape Baba Di but also regained her sight. “Let’s go home.” Mary and Ojuola link hands. For the first time since they arrived, Ojuola levels her gaze with the guilty duo who draw back as if willing the wall to swallow them. They start for the door. There is a loud bang on the door and a flurry of shuffling footfalls. They are surrounded. “Mr Nat and Mrs Ireti Ojugo, you’re under arrest…” The police officer’s words fade from the present as Mary stands transfixed, watching her mother and Nat being handcuffed. Ojuola has a big radiant smile dancing on her face. *** “I didn’t know the house address so I couldn’t tell the police where to find them,” Ojuola narrates, closing her eyes as if longing for the former darkness. “It was a wise trap. I realised my mum was under Nat’s influence but I never knew it was as strong,” Mary says, a tinge of sadness lingering in her voice. Mary and Ojuola move to the dining table. There, they eat from one plate of jollof rice masticated with peaceful smiles. Ojuola, the eyes destined for affluence, once blinded but now within the sight of a bright future.


P.S: I have received some private messages from eager readers looking forward to the completion of this series. I'm so sorry for keeping you waiting for this long. I accept I become lazy especially when it comes to episodic stories. I got carried away by other duties and of course since this does not come with a deadline, I allowed myself to relax over it. I don't know exactly when I can start another series but I promise to post short stories and flash fiction frequently to keep the blog alive. Thanks so much for your interest in my writings.

I have so many stories in my head, the ones I live everyday and the ones that pop up in my dreams. I may never be able to write them all, but I will try.

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