Kogberegbe approached his car, a frown on his face. Kasumu looked sober as he apologized, “I’m really sorry about earlier.”
“No, you are not!” Kogberegbe spat at him, “Because if you are truly sorry, you will take corrections as I dish them out to you.”
“I believe I have been too carefree. And I honestly got jittery when I saw that woman.”
“And why is that?”
“I’d rather not say, please.”
“That’s Okay.” Kogberegbe said, not bothering to argue with him. “Starting immediately, you are off this case.”
Kasumu’s eyes widened, “You can’t do this to me!”
“Try me,” Kogberegbe said, walking briskly to the driver’s side. “Hop in, I’ll drop you off at the office.”
“I promise you I am ready to turn a new leaf. You did say I was getting better at this…and it’s important to furthering my career.”
“I know that. And it is because I like you that I am willing to let you go.” Kogberegbe started the car.
“I don’t understand.”
“It is either I let you go or get angry enough to have you locked up for obstruction of justice.”
“Ha! Is it because of what I just said? I just don’t want things to get messy ni o!”
“You obviously know both husband and wife. And if my intuition is right, you know them on separate grounds.” Kogberegbe said.
Kasumu sighed heavily “God! I hope I don’t regret this…Please all I request is that you be diplomatic with whatever I say to you.”
“In all the time you have been with me, have I ever struck you as a blabber?”
Kasumu sighed again, “Mr Bolomope is oga’s brother”
“DPO?” Kogberegbe didn’t see that coming at all.
“Half-brothers, hence the difference in surnames. Mr Bolomope’s dad died when he was just a child. His mom remarried and had Oga years later”
“Why did you think this information would land you in trouble?”
“Not that…but the fact that the woman is Oga’s mistress”
Kogberegbe was so shocked he lost control of the car temporarily and almost hit the curb.
“I know Mr. Bolomope as Oga’s brother, but not the wife as his sister in law. That came as a shocker to me today as well.”
“That is horrible. Don’t you people reason things out together when you get to the bar?”
“Like I said, I had no idea the woman was related to him. I have just seen them together a couple of times, especially when he needed me to book a room for them. And I know you understand I cannot advice the DPO. My family depends on this job.”
“This puts a whole new twist to this story,” Kogberegbe said. “It is obvious that Sylvia knows something about their illicit relationship. This explains why Pelumi arranged for her friends to grace an occasion she herself didn’t attend. It explains her forcing them to be Sylvia’s friend to start with. And it explains what hold Sylvia has on the DPO.”
Though Kogberegbe hated the turn of events, things were beginning to make sense to him.
“It also explains the shocked expression you shared with the woman, her discomfort and great urge to have me out the door. She must have thought Sylvia divulged what she knew.”
“Here,” Kogberegbe glanced sideways only for a few seconds to hand Kasumu the piece of paper Pelumi gave him, “Are you familiar with that address?”
“Ayeye? Very well, I grew up there”
“Great. That is our next stop.”
An hour in heavy traffic, and they finally got to Ayeye. Kogberegbe wasn’t surprised when Kasumu informed him with a silly smile that they would have to park the car on the main road and trek up what looked like a hill but on which houses were built all the way with hardly any spaces in between.
He wondered how these lands got sold…and if civilization could ever be experienced here.
Kogberegbe activated the car’s security system and they proceeded up the hill. The houses had no numbers, and they just had to make do with asking around, showing around a picture of the deceased. He wondered how people lived and survived in settings such as this. After about thirty minutes of enquiring, they finally found an elderly woman who knew whom they sought. She started to describe the house to them but when she saw the confused look on both their faces, she beckoned on a child to take them down.
“Risi!” She called.
“Risika!” She repeated with a stronger note and a little girl came running out. Kogberegbe was almost certain that the girl heard when the woman called her the first time, but for some reason, people on this side like their names to be called more than once before they responded.
“Wa mu awon baba yi lo si’le baa’Mukaila.”
Barefooted, the little girl led the way. The tribal marks on the girl weren’t lost on Kogberegbe. He knew Nigerians considered tribal marks beauty-enhancers, and if you look at them from a perspective, they do look beautiful. But at the same time, Kogberegbe could not imagine the cruelty of subjecting children to such torture and disfiguration. Many would argue that the marks are made before the child could feel pain but Kogberegbe always argued back that what about the emotional pain the child feels when he or she grows up and decides it is not what they want, the marks are built to last forever. That is not to mention the possibility of the child picking up an infection during the process.
“Ihn nuu lookan un.” Risi turned to inform them. With the way she pointed, Kogberegbe suspected she was showing them the house they sought.
“Mu wa de’be k’ole ba wa pe won j’ade.” Kasumu instructed the girl.
She didn’t respond but walked briskly on, not minding the black streams of sewage on the ground, an obvious sign that there was no proper sewage disposal system in place. How do these people not get infected? Kogberegbe wondered.
When the little girl turned a second time to address them, he noticed that asides the three thin horizontal marks she had on either cheek, she also had one fat stroke on each cheek bone. Kogberegbe knew for sure that this, as believed in many Nigerian cultures, is to ward off the spirit of abiku. This refers to a child who dies repeatedly before reaching adulthood. It is believed in Yoruba land that these children revisit the same mother and that their repeated deaths are caused by the same deity. Once the mother gives birth again and sees the same features as the previous ones, she cries out to “custodians of the spirit world” who make an enchanted mark on the child to keep it alive. It is believed that these children do have families in the spirit world to which they are committed. Myth further has it that these spirits go hungry because people do not offer sacrifices to them, hence why they mingle with humans for a while – in order to source food for their spirit families. It is also believed that the Abiku deity takes delight in the anguish of the mother, as the child is taken away at some point of happiness or the other; and it does this in revenge for not being offered sacrifices.
Kogberegbe sighed, wondering for the umpteenth time if this story was true or if it was nothing more than a myth. Some analysts have claimed that cases of Abiku in foetuses is simply as a result of Rhesus factor, of which nothing was known in the past. For children who survived up to a certain age, they argued deaths could have been caused by a number of factors including malaria, diarrhea, sickle cell and a host of other diseases that much wasn’t known about either. And for the symptoms, which included hallucinations of various degrees, scientists attributed to bipolar disease and schizophrenia amongst other diseases that involve hallucination. However, the claim that some children reincarnate with marks previously made on their bodies in their previous life, for identification hasn’t been addressed by scientists.
Kogberegbe jerked back to life as this little girl called out to someone with so much energy that he couldn’t believe the sound was emanating from such a tiny structure.
“Se won ran o si mi ni?” A woman finally answered Risi in annoyance.
“Awon oyinbo yi ni n beere baa’Mukaila.” The girl said to the woman who took her annoyed glance from Risi and landed it on both men. Kogberegbe didn’t understand much of Yoruba but he had become used to the term “oyinbo” and knew perfectly well that the girl was describing him as a foreigner.
“Ehen? Se’o si o” This woman asked.
To be continued
© 2017 Temitope Adelakun
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