GRACE - Episode 10

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Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog - Mother, Port Harcourt, Like a robot, Lagos, Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Oyibo, Wetin, Oga, Maryjane.

“I think I saw a man in the other building, Chinyere,” I pointed out. “Don’t mind my father. He runs around with little girls. He has been doing that since my mother passed away,” she answered. “It seems he was keen to run back into the house though. Is he alright?” “I think so. He has been paranoid lately…He hardly leaves the building.” Gbenga walked to the balcony and gave Rotimi a signal to storm the compound. Rotimi and his men rushed to the gate. As soon as the gateman saw the police IDs of his colleagues and of course the guns that they brandished, he prostrated on the floor. “Oga I no wan trouble,” he said as the guns waved in the air. The group dashed briskly into the compound. They ran around the main building and stormed the second building behind. “What is going on downstairs?” Chinyere shouted. She ran down the stairs and Gbenga and I followed her. By the time we reached the other building, the police were dragging out a man in his boxers outside. “Wetin I do,” he asked. “What is it? Please leave him alone!!!” His young girlfriend yelled.

They slapped him ruthlessly before asking him any questions. “How dare you treat my father like that?” Chinyere shouted. “If you don’t close your mouth, you will end up in the same position as your father,” one of the policemen answered her harshly. I stood there breathing heavily, dying to find out what Uzo Idika had to say about my beloved Grace. She would be turning seven years of age in a few weeks. My heart was running amok with excitement. Could this be it? I thought to myself. Gbenga held me knowing what I was going through. “Are you Uzo Idika?” An angry-looking policeman asked him. Looking up at the barrel of a gun that was pointed at him instilled crippling fear in the man. “Yes…yes sir,” he answered as he shook as though he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. “Now, I want you to think back to about seven years ago. I believe you kept records of all your dealings. You bought some children from a ritual killer in Ore close to seven years ago. What did you do with that batch of children?” 

“Children?” He asked “What children?” Chinyere asked. “Gbim!!!” A ferocious blow landed on Idika’s face. “Chineke mere mu ebere (Lord have mercy on me)” he said through pain while holding his jaw. The policeman who was interrogating him positioned himself for another blow and one of his colleagues pointed a gun at Idika. Rotimi bent over and said to him, “If you waste my time any further, I will have them shoot you in the leg.” “Let me remove his leg with a bullet,” the gun-wielding policeman shouted. “Please wait oga,” Idika said raising his hand persuasively in the air. “What did you do with the children?” Rotimi repeated. “I…I sold them to a ritualist, except for two of them.” “What did you do with the two?” I sold them to a rich woman who was not able to conceive.” I could hear the beating of my heart. My hands quivered extensively. Could Grace be one of the two? I prayed fervently to God. 

“Who was the woman?” Rotimi asked him. “I don’t know her name…honestly, I don’t know her name. All I know about her is that she was unmarried but wanted children. She told me that she had a lot of money and needed children to inherit her wealth. She bought both girls from me for nearly ten million naira. It was good money, so I took it.” “Where does she live?” “I don’t know. All I know is that she is based in Lagos.” Gbam!!! One of the policemen punched him in the mouth. Chinyere was crying by now. I had tears around my eyes, but not for Idika. I was crying for my little Grace. She had changed hands a lot in her young life…that is if she was one of the two children. I hung tenaciously onto hope. I prayed that this woman was real and that she took care of my Grace. “There has to be something you know about this woman that will help us to find her,” Rotimi pointed out.

“She said that one of the girls looked like she had asthma. She was coughing very badly, so she had to give her some medication to reduce the coughing.” “That’s my Grace!” I shouted. “What?” Chinyere asked me. “One of the girls your father sold is my daughter,” I told her. “I came this far to find your father, Chinyere. I am sorry, but I had no choice. You father had been in hiding, but you gave him away on the plane. I felt it in my guts that he was the one we were looking for when you mentioned that your father was hiding in a building in Port Harcourt. There is nothing I won’t do to find my daughter who was ripped forcibly from my hands and taken away,” I explained to her. Surprise was written all over her face.

Iidika was taken into custody while we returned to Lagos with no clue as to what to do next. I told Rotimi to find me a nurse…someone with many years of experience. “If that was Grace, and I believe strongly that it was her because I remember she was coughing constantly…then we have to look in hospitals. She has to be frequenting the hospital if she has asthma. I want to hire a nurse or nurses to help me look for her. My search for my daughter turned cold for the better part of thirteen years. Altogether, twenty years went by without my finding Grace. Even I began to give up. We searched in every hospital and followed every single tip, yet nothing turned up. I lost faith…I cried and beat myself up. Then, one day, Maryjane, one of the nurses I had hired came to me. I was not even paying her at the time. She was going through a girl’s medical records when she stumbled on something striking. “We have to check her out, Bimbo,” Maryjane said with excitement in her eyes. “Why? What makes you very sure about her considering all the people we have checked out without luck?” I asked unenthusiastically. “This girl has Asthma. She is adopted. I saw it in her medical records. She has a twin sister too, but they look nothing like each other. Yes, some twins don’t look alike, but at least you could see an indication that they are of the same parentage. Not these two. 

“One is as white as oyibo, and the one whom I think is Grace is as dark as charcoal. Guess what?” “Tell me.” “She looks very much like you!!!” Maryjane flashed a picture at me. I was stunned. My hands began to shake. I could not believe my eyes. Her thick, full lips were like mine. Her big beautiful eyes looked very much like mine. She had a dimple at the very same spot that I have one. Without saying a word, tears began to drop down my face. “It is her!!!” I said through tears. “It is her…I can feel it in my bones,” I kept shouting.  

“It is definitely her,” I continued to shout and cry. “Now, we have to work carefully on how to approach her. I have checked the address on her hospital card, but they no longer live there. One of their former neighbors told me that her mother built another house in Lekki and moved over there some months ago. Interestingly, she is a student of Law at Unilag and she works part-time for a law firm on Ogunlana drive in Surulere. I will check their house in Lekki and the law firm in Surulere to find out the easiest place to find her. I just want you to look at her to make sure she is the one in the picture. We will not approach her…you dey hear me so?” Maryjane asked authoritatively. She was naturally bossy. She often forgot who was paying her bills for sifting through hospital records across Lagos in an effort to find Grace. I had stopped paying Maryjane some months back, but she was not the type to quit. She kept looking for patients – younger ladies who had lived with asthma from birth. Eventually, her persistence had paid off. We struck gold. Even though it was an older picture, the girl whose eyes stared back at me in the picture was my carbon copy. 

Back to Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Lagos (From Episode 1)

“If you approach her now she will likely rebuff you. What if she does not believe your story?” Maryjane asked me. “What if she does?” I shot back at her. “If she gets confused and angry towards you, I am no longer helping you Bimbo. I think we should let her go for now. We need to find a more cordial way to approach her. For instance, when she does not appear too busy, I could talk to her about you and find out if she might be interested in meeting you. That way, we take things easy. We have to be gentle. I am worried that she might think we are coming for her mother’s money or something like that.” “I am fine…I don’t need her mother’s money. When she gets to know me she’d come to realize that.” “That is, if she comes to know you, my friend.” I knew Maryjane had a good point, but I could not take it. Twenty years was too long a time not to see your child and then to see her and not tell her how much I loved and cared for her. 

I turned away from Maryjane like a robot and walked straight towards Grace. She was chatting with someone beside her car. Her left hand was on the car door. I could tell she’d hop in the car any moment and drive away. My heart raced like a rocket while my stomach rumbled like an angry volcano. I could hear Maryjane warning me not to do it, but it was too late. I had to…I had waited far too long. I thought of the very moment when I handed her over to those criminals. I was overcome with emotions as I neared her. “Grace my child,” I called to her. Of course she did not answer me. She was still talking to the gentle man whom I could tell was trying to ask her out. He stared at her as though he wanted to remove her clothes with his eyes. If only he knew I was her mother…her true mother. I wanted to take a piece of stick and hit the guy over the head.

I stepped even closer to her. “Hello, can I talk to you for a moment,” I said this time. She stared at me. I could see the look in her eyes. I was in my mid-thirties, so I looked fairly young. I was dressed in a black skirt and a white top. Her eyes said it all. She could see the striking resemblance between us. She could tell that we were related…somehow, but she was not quite prepared to hear that I was her mother…her long lost sister maybe, I guess she may have thought. “Do I know you?” She asked. “It is a long story. My name is Abimbola. Can I have a chat with you?” I said, managing to keep myself from shouting, “I am your mother!!!” “Let me talk to you later, Chris,” Grace said to the young man who reluctantly walked away. Even he could tell that Grace and I had a blood tie somewhere. He stared at me and then at Grace as he walked towards his car. 

“I don’t think I have ever met you before, but you look exactly like me,” she said. “You are right. I…I…I am your…your m-o-t-h-e-r,” I stammered. She stared deeply at me. I could tell she was pondering what I had just said. If only she knew how old I was when I had her. “Do you have a moment? We could walk into the shop over there to talk for just a few minutes. I will tell you all about you and I,” I offered. She was definitely keen to find out what was going on. We walked into the shop and sat by the window. I told her whom I was and how she came about. She was attentive. Soon, I was shaking and crying as I recounted the traumas I went through back when I had her. “I named you Grace when I had you. I begged those demons not to change your name, but I guess they forgot all about that when they passed you to the highest bidder who passed you to the next highest bidder. The grace of God came to me in your form during the darkest period of my life. The love I had and still have for you gave me the strength and wisdom to get through that terrible experience,” I explained. “Actually, my name is Amara. I guess it is a coincidence. That means Grace in Igbo,” she said. I began to cry even more. She too cried like a baby. That was when she walked across and hugged me. I had been dying to hug her, but I was afraid she might not be ready for that.

We wrapped our arms around each other as torrential rainfall fell down our faces. “I have searched for you every minute of the last twenty years,” I whispered in her eyes. “I am sorry that I could not do more to protect you. I love you so much Grace! I have looked in the face of every little girl that walked past me in search of you. I have travelled cities and villages. I have run after strangers, asking them if their names were Grace…all in search of you. I did it all with a strong resolve, faith and hope that somehow, I’d see your beautiful face again, my child.” “I believe you…I do believe you,” she said. “I look exactly like you…exactly. There was nothing more you could have done to protect me more, given the circumstance. You did your very best and from where you stopped, God kept his eyes over me until this moment. I could have been among the many children they slaughtered for rituals, but here I am…with you. I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through. I need to introduce you to my mother…my adopted mother. She is an amazing woman. She bought a lot of children from those ritualists and had them placed into adopted homes. She kept Linda and I. She will be thrilled to hear your story…which is my story too.” 
Story continues...

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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GRACE - Episode 10
Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog - Mother, Port Harcourt, Like a robot, Lagos, Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Oyibo, Wetin, Oga, Maryjane. An African Literary Blog
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