A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
“Oh…excuse me” The Secretary interrupted, “Mrs. Ojuroye has just walked in. Please, hold on for her” Gbayike sighed heavily, placed a hand on her chest, after all, her efforts was not going to be in vain.
“Hello … Gbayike is that you?” Her sister spoke.
“Yes Aunty … it’s me. Why did you behave like that, I thought you …”
“Gbayike … I’m sorry. So sorry” She interrupted. You won’t believe it. Two days after we met, my boss instructed me to embark on an overseas trip… there was nothing I could do. She doesn’t know I have a catering business, I couldn’t offer any excuse. I came back only yesterday”
“Yesterday keh?” Gbayike was becoming itchy.
“But your secretary did not tell me that”
“I instructed her not to tell anyone … Oh so you called, but she didn’t tell me that”
“No I saw her, she came here, I took her to all those places we agreed about”
“What!” Mrs. Ojuroye almost screamed “You did what … who? … My Secretary … No!”
“She said you asked her to meet me and I should take her to those places you discussed”
“Impossible! My secretary does not know anything about what we discussed. Not even my husband … my secretary does not know your address so how come … hello … hello… Gbayike …. Are you there?”
The first two men on the queue saw it happen! They rushed forward and quickly grabbed her as she fainted. They carried her outside the call room and placed her on a bench occupied by some women. The women quickly vacated the bench when they saw the victim.
“She must have been suffocated” A woman said.
“Madam … are you alright?” One of the men who carried her called her. No response.
“Hey, please get something to fan her!”
They poured water on her head; soon she recovered and opened her eyes.
“Are you alright lady?” The second man asked. She nodded and sat up. The second man rushed back inside, he must have missed his chance to make a call. The first man stayed with Gbayike.
“Are you sure you’re alright? Can you get home by yourself? If not I can drop you”
Gbayike accepted the offer. She knew she would not be able to drag herself to the road, take a cab and then stroll home from the bus stop. Moreover, her cloth was drenched in water.
“Thank you very much Sir, God bless you” She said as the man pulled up in front of her house.
“Do I help you upstairs?”
“Don’t worry Sir, I’m okay now”
Gbayike knew she must not allow Wonuola to know anything was wrong with her; she was just recovering after the accident she had in the kitchen. She dragged herself upstairs and went straight to her bedroom. Wonuola was sleeping.
‘So my sister did not send anyone to me? Who was that lady who came the day I was preparing to travel to Onigba-Iwofa… was I dreaming?… No! Even Sister Wonuola saw the lady… She slept here! Sister Wonuola must not hear … was the woman a spirit?’
Gbayike could not sleep that night. The memories of the lady came back to her. She could remember the lady very well, light in complexion, gap-toothed, average height and long hair. She recalled all the places they went together, her smiles, jokes and generosity. She recalled the lady bought her a nightie at Dugbe. She stood up and hurried to the wardrobe, picked the nightie. She looked at it with amazement and wrapped it up.
‘I will never use it again!’ She said to herself.
The following morning, Gbayike was on her way to Onigba-Iwofa. She felt something strange was happening. She prayed all the night, committing her ways to the hands of the Lord. She bound every forces of darkness and prayed for Morakinyo’s ministry. She left the house without telling Wonuola. She was afraid to tell anyone her mind again. As usual, she gave Wonuola her breakfast and kept her lunch in the cooler. Jaiye, Wonuola’s friend in the church would come as usual at twelve noon to assist and cheer her up.
The journey to Shaki was terrible. Gbayike had not embarked on any journey like that since she returned from the youth service. It was only during her youth service days that she joined the Corpers Fellowship on a Rural Rugged Missionary outreach to the Koma people in Adamawa State. Apart from that, the trip to Onigba-Iwofa was the roughest.
The vehicle she boarded from Ibadan was a mini-bus. It was the ten-seat type. Two kilometres after Oyo, the vehicle had just negotiated a narrow bend when a huge trailer lorry appeared in the front. The driver expected the trailer to slow down as the road could not contain the two at the same time. Instead the trailer increased speed. By the time the driver realised the need to apply his brake it was too late, the brake screeched while the vehicle flew into the bush and was going towards a big gorge…all the passengers screamed.
Gbayike shouted “In Jesus name” the gorge was clearly insight, the driver struggled with the steering violently, less than ten metres to the gorge, his struggles paid off, he managed to turn the vehicle back from the path of the gorge towards the road. As soon as the vehicle stopped; all the ten passengers jumped down thanking God for the narrow escape.
Some men took a stroll towards the gorge to assess the depth. They came back to tell others that the gorge would have become their final burial ground as no mortal would dare go down there to pick a living being let alone the dead. They lifted their hands to heavens and thanked God the more.
The journey continued after about thirty minutes. No major damage occurred. It took great persuasion to get some of the passengers to return to the vehicle and continue the journey. They agreed to continue the journey only when they realised no vehicle was going to stop and carry them. The scene of the incident was not in any way close to any town or village. All the vehicles that stopped to assist them have been filled to capacity.
As soon as the vehicle arrived Shaki Motor Park, passengers alighted and immediately went on their knees again praising God in their local dialect. Gbayike had used the opportunity of the accident to minister Christ to the fellow-passengers. All of them, including the driver and his conductor accepted Christ. They all closed their eyes and bowed religiously as Gbayike led them into the sinners’ prayer.
“Onigba-Iwofa ti o l’eru” The conductor of a mammy wagon shouted as he saw the passengers alighting from the min-bus. Gbayike was lucky. The conductor has called out for only one passenger without load. Only one space was available in the wagon, the only one that plies that route except on market days. Two other women in the mini-bus were also on their way to Onigba-Iwofa but each had loads.
“Is this your first time on this road?” The old man sitting next to Gbayike asked.
“Yes Sir, I simply want to and visit a friend. The old man noticed Gbayike was feeling quite uncomfortable, the usual attitude of first comers. The regular passengers had become used to the dusty pot holes-filled road. Most of them slept while the journey continued. Gbayike wondered how they could have managed to sleep under such conditions.
“The Pastor?… Ah! Everyone here knows him” Said the first woman Gbayike asked as the vehicle waited at the market square.
“You … take this visitor to the Pastor’s house” The woman ordered her daughter. The little girl quickly jumped up with enthusiasm.
“Thank you Ma” said Gbayike and quickly followed the girl who was already making her way out of the market.
“I thought your mother said it’s not far?” Gbayike asked as they negotiated another corner. She doubted if the girl really knows the place.
“Yes! It’s not far, we’ll soon get there!” The girl said with a confident tone that told Gbayike her fear was unfounded.
“That is the house” The girl pointed at a red brick house some fifty metres away.
“Thank you very much” Gbayike said as she dipped her hand into her purse to bring out a 50 kobo note. The girl looked at the note unbelievably as Gbayike stretched it towards her. She grabbed it quickly saying a speedy thank you, as if to ensure the note gets to her before Gbayike would change her mind. She sped off rejoicing.
Gbayike looked at the house again and her heart missed a beat. The house looked dirty and rugged. She compared it with the flat she stays and Morakinyo’s former quarters on the campus. Again she wondered why on earth he had to leave his promising career for this.
“Good afternoon here!” She stood outside the house and called, the door was not closed. Someone must be inside, she thought. She called again, a bit louder than the first time. A female voice answered from within. Gbayike, wondered who the female voice could be. A few seconds later Oyinkansola came out to meet her at the door.
“Yes, good afternoon … who are you looking for?” The question threw Gbayike off balance. The words rolled out too harshly and was filled with hatred.
“Em … my name … em sorry, I came to see Pastor Olagunsoye” She stammered “I mean em … Brother Morakinyo who stays here” She found it difficult gather herself together. The lady did not help the situation; her eyes were sharp and penetrating. She stood right at the door, not minding that Gbayike was standing outside.
‘So you came afterall?’ Oyinkansola thought. She knew Gbayike was coming, but she never expected her to make the journey. Sapientia had informed her a few hours ago. Certain demons sent to monitor her movement spotted her at the motor park and quickly reported to Sapientia. The information had been passed on to Hagatha in the village.
Oyinkansola looked at Gbayike again, her face flashing with anger. She thought of Sapientia and wondered why she made the stupid mistake of allowing the ‘Idiot’ to get through. The arrangement was to send some demons to cause a fatal accident that would claim her life on the road.
‘Anyway, your coming makes no difference’
“Pastor Olagunsoye is not at home, he went to the palace for a meeting …why are you looking for him?” Oyinkansola was not hiding her feelings. Gbayike met her unprepared.
“I came from Ibadan, I just came to say hello to him” Gbayike’s tone was changing. She hated the manner Oyinkansola was interrogating her.
‘Who does she think she is? Does she know he has been longing to see me all these days?’
“I’ll like to wait for him” She said, boiling.
“No, you can’t wait for him!” Gbayike could not believe her ears!
‘Who is this for God’s sake?’
“I want to go out, and since I’ve never met you, I can’t leave you in the house!” Oyinkansola said finally. Gbayike kept silent for seconds she felt like slapping Oyinkansola. She knew she was going to say what she might later regret or have to apologise for.
“It’s alright; can I give you a message for him?” She asked, unsure if the woman was the right person to give a message afterall.
“Go ahead!” Oyinkansola said looking straight. The heat in Gbayike increased, she was going to burst. The insult was becoming too much…but she remembered that very soon this woman would realise she was going to be Morakinyo’s wife and give her the expected respect.
“Please tell him Gbayike Adegbenro called from Ibadan. I’ll go back to Shaki and stay with a friend. Tomorrow I’ll call back to see him” Oyinkansola merely nodded.
“Please may I know whom I’ve left the message with” The words had tumbled out before Gbayike realised their gravity. She wished she had not asked.
‘What if this woman begins another tirade of insults’
“Oh myself? … My name is Oyinkansola Olagunsoye”
‘So she’s Morakinyo junior sister, and she’s been insulting me. Now I’ll tell her who I am’
“Oh so you’re Bro. Morakinyo’s sister”
“His sister?” Oyinkansola asked with amusement. “Not at all … I’m his wife … we got married last month… I am Mrs. Olagunsoye”
A dead silence followed that pronouncement. Gbayike merely stared at the woman, she could not speak though she tried to, her voice was gone.
“Ah! Who is this! Sis Gbayike … is that not…” Morakinyo’s voice broke the silence. Oyinkansola hissed heavily any dashed inside. For a moment, Morakinyo became confused wondering what had transpired between the women.
“Sister Gbayike, I hope all is well?”
“Ah all is well” She forced a smile. “I was about leaving a message with her before you came”
“Oh you mean my wife” Morakinyo said.
The words hit Gbayike like nails. She simply forced another smile and said “Yes”
“A message for me?”
‘Oh my God what am I going to say now?’
“Em… the pastor said he’ll like to see you” She paused; “I think there are some things concerning your ministry that he wants to discuss with you” Morakinyo knew she was either lying or saying half-truths. He knew why she came, but of course it was too late. He had no reason to regret marrying Oyinkansola…even without his Pastor’s knowledge!
“Actually, it’s been sometimes now that he sent me” She continued knowing she had to continue saying something to cover up the shock. “…But, I could not find the time to squeeze out because of the school certificate exams”
“Oh I see … thank you very much”
“I’ll like to go immediately so that I may go with the wagon that returns to Shaki in the afternoon. I have to be in the school very early tomorrow morning” she said.
“Ah you can’t just go like that, won’t you take a meal with us before you leave” Morakinyo said. Sincerely, he would have loved that she stay some time with him, but he knew they would have virtually nothing to say. He wished she would reject the offer.
“Ah no Bro. Morakinyo, not today. I’ll definitely come again some other time and spend maybe a whole weekend” Gbayike knew she was only babbling. Nothing under the heavens would make that possible.
“Oh that would be wonderful!” said Morakinyo knowing that would never happen. “Please tell the pastor that he should expect me within a fortnight”
Morakinyo saw her off to the motor park. The ten minute walk seemed like eternity, the silence was almost visible. The two of them knew there was nothing to talk about. When eventually they got to the motor park, Gbayike could not help saying “Praise God”. Morakinyo heard her but thought she was just thanking God that the wagon had not gone yet.
To be continued in Episode 17.