TIMI SANGANA - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Sister, convent, baby, dodctor, ants, refuse dump, street, night, dark, Apostles, University, boys.

Sister Margaret was on her way back to the convent that night; it wasn’t in her character to crawl around late in the night. She had lost track of time passionately counseling Judith, a fifteen-year-old girl who was minded to give her boyfriend her virginity because he was about to leave for Belgium. Sister Margaret had come to talk to Judith at Mrs. Ekwensi’s request. While draping clothes one afternoon, Mrs. Ekwensi had overheard her daughter, Judith, telling her friends she was going to let Gabriel sleep with her before he would leave for Belgium. She said it was the only way to make sure he would come back to her. Mrs. Ekwensi was shocked; she was so shaken up by what she heard from her daughter that her heart almost stopped.

Her ears were scorched by the words from her daughter’s mouth. She thought, “Fifteen years old Judith has a boyfriend and is planning to have the carnal knowledge of a man nearly twice her age!” Mrs. Ekwensi went haywire; she kicked, punched and sunk her teeth into her daughter’s butt as she tried to wriggle out of her grip. She so beat up Judith that neighbours thought she would die by morning, and yet Mrs. Ekwensi felt she had not inflicted enough pain on her. Even though she promised to kill Judith and hang her dry, if she dared to do that, she still was not convinced her daughter would not do it, so she called in Sister Margaret to let her talk to Judith to see if she would have a change of mind.

When Sister Margaret realized how late it was, she promised Mrs. Ekwensi she would return some other time and left for the convent. By the time she alighted from a bus at Day-spring bus stop, it was a bit too late for her to get a bike to the convent, so she knew she had to walk the whole stretch of Maloney Street to get to the convent, and Maloney had a fair share of touts who often made life miserable for the street dwellers. There was no electricity supply that night; the street was momentarily illuminated by cars which passed through intermittently. Sister Margaret held her chaplet and prayed feverishly under her breath. If she heard any sound nearby, she would turn in fear and raise the chaplet. As she drew close to a refuse dump on the street, she began to hear the cry of a baby.

At first she thought it was the cry of the mythical bush-baby, and she had heard how ravenous it could be, so she crossed to the left side of the road. But as she drew closer to the refuse dump the cry raptly held her attention. She wanted to stop to check it out, but she was too afraid, so she continued walking. After about ten blocks away from the refuse dump, she just could not continue her walk home. She knew the cry was that of a human baby and not from some mythical bush-baby, even though the street was dark and lonely, she turned back and headed for the refuse dump. As she drew nearer to the refuse dump, she thought maybe a teenager like Judith must have got pregnant for her boyfriend and dumped the baby after she put to bed to avoid the stigmatization that went with being a teenage mother.

When she got to the refuse dump she started looking slowly for the baby, for some reason the baby stopped crying. Even though she was afraid, she held her nerve and continued searching. Suddenly the baby let out a shrill cry and Sister Margaret was sent flying into the air in fear. The baby’s cry rent the air. She could tell the spot where the baby was, quickly she got hold of herself and moved away a few bags of thrash and there was the baby kicking and fighting as a swarm of soldier ants attacked it. Her maternal instincts loaded into operation and she began to brush the ants away with whatever she could find.

She picked up the baby and moved away from the refuse dump. She set the baby on the ground closer to the road where she could get occasional rays of light from passing cars. While she fought the ants away from the baby, she heard footsteps marching toward her; apparently very terrified, she lifted her head to know who it was. Two young men approached her and one of them asked, “Madam who you be? Wetin you dey do here by this time?” Before she could answer them, one of them flashed his torchlight on her face and said, “Ah! This one na sister oh.” Sister Margaret could not speak, she stuttered, “Baby… baby… baby is dying,” she pointed to the ground and just immediately the baby let out another soul wrenching cry.

One of the boys flashed his torchlight on the ground and for the first time Sister Margaret saw that ants were filling out from the baby’s nostrils and ears. Without asking any further questions one of the boys lifted the baby and said to Sister Margaret, “Follow me!” Sister Margaret could not tell where they were taking the baby to, but she was sure they were going to get help. She did her best to keep up with them, but it was too hard; the boys were too fast for her. She lost track of the boys and could not tell which turn on the street they took, and worst still she did not know their names. She tried asking a few people she saw in the direction she thought they must have headed but no one had seen any boys running with a baby covered with soldier ants.

After about thirty minutes of asking around to know where the boys entered she gave up hope of finding them. Discouraged, tired and sad, she found a spot by whatever street it was she found herself on and sat down. While sorrowing she heard people asking, “You see am, na sister. She wear sister clothe. She no too tall…” Sister Margaret screamed from where she was sitting, “Hey! I am here! I am the sister!” She stood up and went to meet the boys. “Sister wetin happen now? We say make you follow us, we no come see you again,” the boys asked. “Una too fast for me. I no come know where una enter. Where is the baby?” Sister Margaret asked. “Doc don clean am. Come see am,” one of them replied her. When she got to the place, she could not recognize the baby. The man the boys called Doc had cleaned the baby up and a woman was holding the baby in the light singing it a lullaby.

The doctor introduced himself, “I am Doctor Ambrose Afonayi. I own this clinic. You must be the nun who found the baby.” “Yes I am; my name is Margaret Briggs. You have saved the baby. God bless you. Can I hold the baby?” she requested. The woman who holding the baby gave it to Sister Margaret. She shed a few tears as she held the baby close to her chest. “Thank you doctor, if you had not helped, maybe this beauty wouldn’t be alive by now,” Sister Margaret said tearfully. “It is very late now, I think we should get you home sister,” said doctor Ambrose. “You know I am going with the baby,” Sister Margaret said aggressively. “Oh! Ho! Ho! Ho! No one has said you will leave the baby behind sister. We are not planning on keeping it. I suppose you work with Her Lady of the Apostles,” queried Doctor Ambrose. “Yes I do.” “Your convent, Her Lady of the Apostles, has an orphanage, don’t they?”

“Yes we have an orphanage but it belongs to the Glover Dioceses, not Her Lady of the Apostles.” “Forgive my error. I thought because the nuns at the convent manage the orphanage, maybe it belonged to the convent,” said Dr. Ambrose apologetically. “No Doctor, you have nothing to be sorry for, I was only trying to offer you the right piece of information. People walk into the orphanage every day thinking it belongs to the nunnery. We only take care of the babies there and that’s where our little prince will be until the police hopefully find its parents.” Dr. Ambrose went into the clinic compound and drove out his 504 Peugeot through the back gate. Sister Margaret and two of the boys who helped take the baby to Dr. Ambrose joined him in the car and they drove off to the convent.

By the time they got to the convent it was 11:55 pm. Sister Margaret banged on the gate of the orphanage as hard as she could and said annoyingly, “I know I will stand here till morning, Edidiong won’t wake up unless a bomb goes off next to his ears. He is a cow!” Sister Margaret wanted to ask the boys with her to help bang on the gate and then she realized she hadn’t bothered to ask them their names all night. “Oh! I am sorry boys…no gentlemen. You have earned it. Real gentlemen you two are. Please what are your names? I am Sister Margaret Briggs.” One of the boys introduced himself, “I am Shetima Simon, a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology from University of Ibadan” “What! I can’t believe this,” said Sister Margaret. Turning to the other boy to her left she said, “May I get to meet you Sir.” “My name is Ogadinma Michael, a Bachelor of Arts holder in English Language from the University of Nigeria Nsuka.” “And all along, I thought you two were bandits, midnight robbers, rogues, touts. Forgive me gentlemen. You know how well-known Maloney Street is for crime and violence. I thought you had come to rob me at the refuse dump.”

The boys exchanged funny looks and smiled. “No, we are no bandits. We are part of a vigilante group patrolling Maloney Street now,” said Shetima Simon. “Maybe it’s time we woke this Edidiong so you could go get some night rest Sister,” that was Ogadinma Michael. The boys simultaneously began to bang thunderously on the gate and after a while they heard a sleepy voice ask, “Na who dey disturb person by this time of the night? We don close, the mother baby house don close, come back tomorrow.” “Edidiong open the gate it is Sister Margaret!” “Ah madam na you they knock? I think say na people wey bring baby. You know say these small small girls no dey fear again, they just dey born pickin like foul dey throwey as if mama no…” “Edidiong stop talking and open the gate!” shouted Sister Margaret.


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Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: TIMI SANGANA - Episode 1
TIMI SANGANA - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Sister, convent, baby, dodctor, ants, refuse dump, street, night, dark, Apostles, University, boys.
Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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