I have killed again. This time, my words were the knife and I had drawn across her wrists with every word that fell from my lips. I felt like dying as Aunty Benedicta cried over her only child. I felt so weak as if Eliza had carried a part of me along with her.
As I sat there, unable to take my eyes off the weeping mother, I saw Uncle Moses walk into the room. I immediately got up and rushed to him;
Princess: “congratulations sir, the poor girl had finally had enough and taken her life instead of facing your perversion.” I said to him, tears gathering in my eyes.
Uncle Moses: “what are you talking about? You think I had something to do with this? I have not been at home all day.” he said, angrily.
Princess: “you are the only one that I know who can stoop so low as to molest…” I paused. “What if it wasn’t Uncle Moses? What if it was Osazee?” I held my peace and left the room.
I went back to my room and sat down on the bed. I was trying to think but the image of Eliza’s lifeless body kept intruding into my thoughts. “Who did this to her? I need to have an ally, someone close to Uncle Moses who can throw some light on his activities in the house.” I thought. I sighed then I looked out of my window. Right across from me, I could see a small building with a cross on top. I didn’t know the family had their own church inside the compound. Money! I nearly spat.
The chapel was one of the smallest buildings in the compound that is why I had not noticed it, besides I didn’t get to finish my tour with Amaju earlier on. I walked across the lawn, the grass crunching under my feet. The door to the chapel was open, so I entered.
I walked down the pews to the altar and stood still. I had not been to a church since I left Kano. I have not prayed since the night I saw Mama and Uncle Jonathan together. I was out of touch with God. I stood before the altar, feeling like a fish out of water. I stood there, trying to say something but the words clung to my throat. After some few minutes, I turned my back intending to leave the chapel. That was when I saw Osazee.
I had not seen him when I entered because my mind was filled with too many things to think on. He was kneeling before a pew, his head bowed. Osazee was praying.
The first feeling that rushed through me was mocking laughter; “God will not listen to you sir.” I thought. then I felt envy; “despite his numerous failings, he still has the guts to come to a church to pray. Why does God not strike him dead the instant he stepped into the chapel?” I thought too. These thoughts roved in my head as I walked pass him on silent feet.
I was at the door when a thought came to me; “shebi you are looking for someone who will help you in your hunt? You can use him as well as watch him, in case he is up to his old tricks.” I nodded my head at the wisdom of the thought and turned back. I found a seat at a pew some rows behind him and sat down.
After about an hour of waiting, in which time I tried to think of God’s purpose for me in life, the old woman at the church, my mother’s ailment, Uncle Jonathan’s phone call, Teddy; the little ray of sunshine in my life, and Mama’s warped family, Osazee got up from his knees and turned to me. he stopped on seeing me and sighed. He walked to where I was and sat down beside me.
Princess: “you come to church?” I asked, looking him up and down in distaste.
Osazee: “I am trying to find my way.” He replied softly. I nodded.
Princess: “you destroyed my life; do you know that?” I asked.
Osazee: “the boy who did those things back then, was a fool and he was lost. I am very sorry for what happened. I don’t know how to make it up and repair the damage but if you need my help on anything, I will not hesitate.” He said.
Princess: “where did you learn to speak English so well?” I asked.
Osazee: “night school. Oga Moses registered me in a night school.” He replied.
Princess: “how did you and him meet?” I asked.
Osazee: “it was God o. I was living inside Oba Market. My father had disowned me soon after the incident with you. I was high on weed, codeine, anything at all. I worked as a conductor for one bus driver and one night, he boarded our bus at Ugbowo. We got talking in the bus and when his business in Benin was done, he called me and I have been with him since then.” He replied, smiling sadly at the memory.
Princess: “so you and that molester are good friends abi?” I asked.
Osazee: “I didn’t know that he was doing such a thing o. but I have no hand in this thing. This your family… they are not all okay in their head. The money is just a cover. Many of them need to see a psychiatrist. Some of your cousins are odd like that.” He said.
Princess: “where you with Uncle Moses today?” I asked
Osazee: “No but he drove out very early in the morning. Is he back?” he asked.
Princess: “oh yes… just after we discovered one of my cousin’s dead body.”I replied.
Osazee: “who! Which cousin?” he asked suddenly agitated.
Princess: “Eliza. Why do you ask?” I asked, curious.
Osazee: “be careful o. this house is not what it seems o.” he replied.
Princess: “you will know won’t you? Does he listen to you? Do you feel forgiven for your sins?” I asked.
Osazee: “it gives me peace to know that someone does not judge my mistakes and is willing to give me a second chance.” He replied.
I nodded and left the chapel.
When I got back to the main house, Eliza’s body had been removed. I walked around avoiding the clumps of people gathered at intervals in different parts of the house. They were everywhere; I never knew so many people lived in the house. I came out took the path to Aunty Benedicta’s quarters. Her place was filled with people too. I entered and stood in the shadows of the curtain by a closed window. I could see that she was still weeping. I wanted to go hug and comfort her and tell her that everything will be fine. That living was hell for Eliza and that she was in a better place but I didn’t think I was wanted. So I stood and watched as people came and left. I was there when the sun came down and she crept into her room, seeking to be alone.
When I was sure no one was watching, I crept passed them and entered her room. the light was on and she was seated looking at pictures she had brought out of a box. She looked up when I entered
Aunty Benedicta: “I want to be alone. I don’t have time for your drama.” She said.
Princess: “no one wants to be alone at a time like this, aunty.” I replied as I came and sat on the bed. “I am sorry I couldn’t help her.” I added.
Aunty Benedicta: “you are so full of yourself. What would you have done?” she asked angrily.
Then I told her of what had happened between Eliza and I earlier that day. she started weeping again, so I went to her and held her as she sobbed into my shoulder. In that moment, we were just two women mourning another woman’s passing; something you should understand all too well. She sobbed for a while and I never moved even though my blouse was wet. After some time, she sniffled and raised her head. She looked at me and rubbed my face sadly.
Aunty Benedicta: “I and Thomas were dating. We had planned to get married soon after father came back from one of his numerous trips.” She said softly.
I looked at her sharply. She nodded and brought out a black and white picture of my father when he was younger. Both of them stood together near a river and they seemed happy; so young, so alive.
Aunty Benedicta: “your mother took him from me. She got herself pregnant for him and eloped with him. He was too much of an honourable man to leave her stranded. She knows this, yet she sent you to me? At first, I thought it was mockery; she wanted to show me what I could not have. Then I thought it was a plot to steal what I had left; which was father’s favour. But now, I feel she is just trying to say she is sorry the best way she can. Eliza was an act of anger. i wanted to make your father hurt, so i got pregnant for his friend, Ahmed. He was arrested on a trip to France and died in prison. She was all i had left. She was all i had left” She said softly. I sat quietly beside her and held her hands as she cried.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, even Mama. I sighed.
Question: Now we know why Aunty Benedicta was not happy to see Princess. If Uncle Moses is not the guilty party in the molestation of the late Eliza; then who is guilty then? Osazee?All that glitters is not gold o; shuo!