Charles typed quickly, his eyes darting from the keyboard to the laptop screen. His wife was distracting him and he felt like pushing her out of the room.
She’d slammed the door five times in three minutes, paced the room grumbling the way the muezzin nasally intoned before dusk from the mosque down the street.
He stopped working and glanced at the heap of clothes on the bed. Funmi added more clothes to the heap. The wardrobe had been upturned. The documents he had painstakingly arranged in his briefcase were littered on the floor.
He had no time to engage in any argument with his wife. He needed a job badly and sending out applications was topmost on his mind.
Funmi stood in front of her husband, her arms folded on her chest. ‘Why are you so unsympathetic and wicked? I’ve been looking for my phone since morning and you just sit there unconcerned. You came back to a scattered house and you couldn’t even ask what was going on. How sure am I that you didn’t take it?’
Charles looked at her irritably. ‘Keep searching. You will find it.’
Funmi hissed. ‘Nonsense. Charles, if you are with my phone, I’m begging you in the name of God, give it to me.’
‘I’m not with your phone. Please, can I have my dinner?’
‘Come and take it in my nose.’ Funmi barked, touching her nostrils. ‘If truly you are not with my phone, you will help me look for it.’
Charles was infuriated. ‘I don’t have a job anymore! Don’t you get it? Why should I be looking for your phone instead of searching for a job? It’s not like you’ve ever brought a dime to this house. I do all the work. All you know to do is take and take. If you still want food on your table, leave me alone.’
‘What exactly are you saying? That you don’t love me anymore?’
Charles shook his head. Why were women so dumb like this? What does love have to do with this? He should have married a woman with some sense. She didn’t have a job, no business, nothing! She was not even making a move to learn a skill.
Stewing, he put on his shirt and left the room with his laptop.
Funmi leaned on the wall, frustrated.
Where on earth was her phone?
Ebun sat in the hotel lobby waiting for Izu to pick her up. She glanced at her wristwatch. It was almost 8p.m. If everything had gone as planned, she would have landed in her sister’s house.
On her way to the park, she’d called Funmi’s line. It rang once and didn’t go through again. After several attempts, she’d become worried. She was about reaching out to her mother when she remembered that her mother was in an interior village for an evangelistic outreach with her father. There was no network in the village.
Why did her sister end the call and switch off her phone? Was it possible that her sister did not want her to come? Was Charles unhappy about her decision to pay a visit? It was possible her sister didn’t want her visiting yet. She’d wait until Funmi reached out to her again.
Ebun raised her head to see Izu standing with his hands thrust into his pockets. His best friend, Fisayo stood beside him.
‘I kept you waiting for long. I’m sorry.’ Izu pulled Ebun into a hug.
‘It was my fault.’ Fisayo said with pleading eyes. ‘We stopped over at my office to pick up a document.’
‘It’s fine.’ Ebun said, ‘Where is your wife?’
‘She went straight from work to our usual spot.’
Ebun smiled. How she missed the Saturday hangouts with her fiance and the wonderful couple. Before she left the country, she had a job that sucked up her entire week. She always looked forward to Saturday evenings.
‘Have you been able to reach Funmi?’ Izu asked as they walked out of the hotel.
Ebun shook her head. ‘Not yet. I’m trying very hard not to worry.’
Fisayo opened the passenger door for her. Ebun thanked him and climbed in while he sat beside his friend in front. ‘She’ll be fine. I’m very sure you’ll be in Ibadan this week. Be calm. God’s got this.’
Ebun sighed and began to mutter tongues while the two friends chatted about a football game. She continued praying until they drove into Ikeja and stopped at a beautiful restaurant with a signpost inscribed Timi’s Place.
Fisayo’s wife sighted them from afar and hurried to meet them. The ladies screamed and hugged each other.
‘Ebun! This is your face. Oh my God! I’ve missed you.’
‘Dunni! It’s so good to see you again. I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to your wedding.’ Ebun said as Dunni led them to the seat she had reserved for them.
They settled in, laughing and talking while the men placed the orders. Their meals arrived. As they were about to dig in, Izu stopped them.
‘I sense strongly that we should pray for Ebun’s sister. It looks like there is trouble looming.’
The four of them held hands and quietly began to pray.
‘We activate the ministration of angels right now. Angels, go and help Funmi and Charles.
‘We destroy every agenda of the devil in that home right now. We speak peace.’
Dunni opened her eyes. ‘There is a woman around Funmi as I speak. I don’t know who she is yet but I think there is a connection between her and Charles.’ Dunni turned to her friend. ‘When was the last time you spoke to Funmi?’
‘This morning.’ Ebun said. ‘I woke up with a strong impression to speak with her. She sounded fine and I was actually supposed to be at her place today but I’ve not been able to reach her.’
Fisayo shook his head. ‘I see a woman hold a wire and cut it off with big scissors and immediately there was power outage. She seems elderly.’
Izu looked from one person to the other. ‘I’m also seeing Charles and a tall slender girl locking hands. There is a chain wrapped around their wrists.’
‘I saw something similar last night.’ Ebun said.
They stared at the meals in front of them. No one made a move to touch it. Izu called for the waiter.
‘Help us pack all these.’ he said, pointing in the direction of their meals.
When the waiter left, he turned to the others. ‘Let’s just go somewhere to pray. We’ll eat later.’
Fisayo’s three bedroom flat had always been the prayer center. It had started with Fisayo and Izu and later, the women joined them. Several times, Izu would laugh and say they called forth their women in Fisayo’s living room.
As they got into Izu’s car, a burden hit Ebun’s heart. She saw an image of her sister wriggling in pain.
Funmi, you are the beloved of the Lord. Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world, Ebun prayed quietly.
Funmi’s eyes flew open. She sat up, shocked to see herself sleeping on the floor. How did she get there?
She tried to recall the incident that took place few hours ago. She had been looking for her phone and had gotten into an intense argument with her husband. Charles had walked out of the room.
Her eyes went to the bed. Her husband had not returned.
As she got up, she felt a stab of sharp pain on her left side. She cringed and waited for the pain to subside before stepping quietly out of the room. She stopped when she heard voices in the living room and slightly pulled back the curtain. Aunty Toyosi was sitting with Charles. They were laughing at something she was saying.
Funmi felt lonely but she didn’t want to interrupt them. Maybe she’d just watch a movie and try to sleep again.
She stopped at the entrance to the room. There was a nudge to go to the washing machine close to the courtyard. She thought against it but the nudging stayed strong on her heart.
‘Funmi, my dear daughter. You are awake.’ Aunt Toyosi said, smiling as Funmi came into the living room.
Funmi knelt slightly to greet the woman. The sharp pain hit her side again. She let out a sharp cry and held her waist. Aunt Toyosi was immediately by her side. Charles remained seated, looking at her.
‘Are you okay?’ Aunty Toyosi said, compassion filled her eyes.
Funmi smiled. ‘Big Mama, I’m fine.’
‘Where are you going to?’ She asked, curious.
‘I want to pick up some clothes I dried in the courtyard.’ Where had that lie come from?
‘Stop stressing yourself o.’ She pointed at the food warmer on the dining table. ‘I have made correct efo riru with semovita. You should have seen your husband devouring his portion. He was just licking his fingers.’
Funmi chuckled. ‘Thank you Mummy. I’ll eat soon.’
She passed the courtyard and stopped in front of the washing machine. For goodness sake, what was she doing here? She moved towards the back of the machine and pushed it forward. Something fell to the floor. She peered closer.
Funmi’s mouth opened wide. How did her phone get there? She tapped the screen. It was switched off. Funmi was fuming as she turned on the phone.
How would she have suspected that her phone was hidden behind an abandoned washing machine.
Only one face came to her mind as the culprit. Her husband.
This had to be Charles’ work. No wonder he acted nonchalant while she scrambled everywhere for her phone. Anger rose in Funmi’s heart.
Her husband wanted to frustrate her. His plans would not work.
Her phone vibrated as text messages poured into her phone.
Hi sis. I’ve been trying to reach you. I plan travelling down to Ibadan today. In fact I’m on my way to the park. Please call me once you see this. Ebun.
Funmi! I’ve been trying your line all day. Please call me when you see this message. I’m praying for you. Ebun.
There was a message from her mum.
My dear daughter. My phone will be unreachable for the next three days. By now you should know your sister is back in the country. I can’t wait for christmas to see my girls. Hope you are spending time to pray and declare God’s word over your family. Remember, we live in a wicked world and we must stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit to walk through this world unscathed. I love you. Your father sends his regards.
Funmi went into the room, furious. She paced the room, hot with rage at what her husband had done.
Why would Charles hide her phone? What did he seek to achieve by doing that! He had complained that she spent too much time on the phone but she had taken to correction. What else does he want?
The door opened. Charles entered lazily, chewing cashew nuts from a bottle. Funmi was irritated at his sight. She sat down and began to type responses to chats she had missed.
‘Oh, you have found your phone.’
Funmi rolled her eyes at her husband and returned her attention to her phone.
‘Why that look? Fine, I didn’t help you search for it but maybe it’s good it got missing for a few hours so you can enjoy real life.’
Funmi lost it. ‘If you were so angry that I was always with my phone, is that enough for you to hide it? I’m trying to be a good wife to you. I don’t spend time with the phone as much as I do before. Couldn’t you just appreciate that? You switched off my phone and went to hide it behind the washing machine. Well done!’
Charles’ face was full of pain, ‘I hid your phone? Me? Are you hearing yourself at all? You are accusing me of hiding your phone behind a washing machine. Don’t I have better things to do?’
‘Who hid it there? Big mama cannot do such a thing and that leaves you.’
Charles dropped the bottle of cashew nut on the table. ‘I’m in a good mood right now because there is a job prospect for me so please don’t get me angry.’
‘Just say the truth, you hid my phone.’
‘Are you out of your mind? I have not touched your phone today!’
‘How am I supposed to believe that!’
‘Funmi, don’t annoy me this night. What nonsense. How dare you accuse me of taking your phone?’
Funmi sat on the bed and held her head. She would let this pass. She knew her husband had hid it but she’d not push further. If he pulled the stunt again, she would give him a piece of her mind.
She remembered Aunt Toyosi had prepared food for her. She had no appetite but she didn’t want to upset Big Mama. Besides, the more she stayed in the room with Charles, the angrier she became.
She needed to vent too. Big Mama was a great listener. She’d rather be with Big Mama than with an annoying husband.
When Funmi stepped into the living room, she saw Aunt Toyosi lying down on the sofa, her eyes glued to the TV. On the screen, a woman chased two wounded men with a cutlass in her hand. Aunt Toyosi laughed so hard, it sent shivers down Funmi’s body. She wondered what was funny about a woman running after wounded men.
Funmi dished efo-riro into a bowl and two wraps of semovita. She joined Aunt Toyosi on the sofa. Aunt Toyosi lowered the volume of the TV and turned her attention to Funmi.
‘You don’t look happy.’ Aunt Toyosi said. ‘Are you okay?’
When Funmi didn’t say anything, she touched her arm lightly. ‘Funmi, you are not saying anything.’
Funmi glanced briefly at Aunt Toyosi before looking at her food. ‘Charles pissed me off today. But I’m good. I have allowed it to pass.’
‘If you want to talk about it, you have my ears.’
Funmi smiled and changed the subject. ‘This food is really good. I’m so glad you are around. Mama, I have missed your wonderful meals. When will you prepare that delicious yam pottage?’
Aunt Toyosi chuckled. ‘Tomorrow.’
Funmi danced on her seat. ‘I can’t wait!’ She stopped and frowned. ‘Big Mama, Imagine, I saw my phone at the back of one of our washing machines. Why would Charles hide my phone? I know he complains that I’m always chatting and watching comedy skits, but I’ve tried to cut that down.’
Aunt Toyosi touched Funmi’s chin tenderly. ‘If there is anything I have learnt in thirty years of my marriage, it is that grudges attack the root and destroys the foundation of a marriage. You must let offences pass as quickly as possible. Forgiveness is a lifestyle for any relationship to work. Remember Jesus’ words, Forgive as I have forgiven you.’
Funmi sighed. ‘Big Mama, thank you. I needed that reminder. I’m still pained but I know I’ll get over it.’
‘Yes my dear. You will.’
Funmi finished the two wraps before she realized it. When Aunt Toyosi asked if she wanted more wraps, she refused.
She touched her stomach. ‘I’m satisfied.’
‘Mama, there is something that has been bothering me.’ Funmi started, after she cleared her plates and cleaned her hands on a napkin.
‘Go ahead. I’m all ears.’ Aunt Toyosi said. Funmi sat beside her and rested her head on the arm of the sofa.
‘Why don’t your children return home? I was shocked when Charles told me they don’t want to have anything to do with you. Imagine your own daughter said she doesn’t want you at her wedding. I don’t understand why they can’t appreciate the wonderful mother they have.’
Aunt Toyosi’s eyes were teary. ‘That’s life my girl. You pour everything into your kids and they turn their backs on you. Only my nephew Charles stood by me all these years. He is a blessing to my life. I remember when I got news that my sister and her family were involved in a ghastly motor accident, a part of me died until I was informed that Charles was still breathing. How would I have known God preserved that boy’s life so I would have some sort of comfort in my old age.’
Funmi wondered how Big Mama would feel if she knew Charles didn’t want her to come to the house. She decided not to say anything. What Big Mama didn’t know would not hurt her.
Aunt Toyosi patted her gently on her shoulder. ‘You should get some rest. Tomorrow, I’ll share with you my pregnancy stories. Promise ahead not to laugh.’
Funmi clapped excitedly. ‘I can’t wait to hear the stories. Tomorrow should come already.’
Aunt Toyosi hugged her. ‘Goodnight darling. Sleep well.’
‘Goodnight Mama. I love you.’
‘I love you too.’
Funmi bounced into her bedroom, feeling light and joyful. Why would anyone hate Aunt Toyosi? The woman was fresh breath on a sunny day. Funmi vowed to do everything possible to make Aunt stay for a long time.
It was a woman that attacked Funmi this time. She didn’t see the face but the rest of her body were clearly visible.
What did this woman want from her?
She had a fat club on one hand and a syringe on the other hand. Funmi tried to sit up but her legs were numb. She could not move her hands too.
‘You can’t have my husband. You are going to die today.’ The woman blurted out.
Funmi’s heart raced. She shook with panic as her gaze dashed from the club to the needle. Everywhere was dark except for the street light that streamed in through the window. She tried to make out the face of the lady but all she saw was darkness.
She seemed young, Funmi thought, praying she’d be able to find a way to talk her out of the madness.
When she stepped forward, Funmi noticed she had a gait about her. She wore a free gown that reached her thighs. Funmi concluded she was in her early thirties. What would she say to this woman that’ll distract her.
‘Please, who are you?’ Funmi said, softly.
‘Since my husband has refused to do the right thing, he’s left me no choice but to do things my way. The child in your womb dies tonight. You die alongside.’
What was she talking about? Whose husband did she take?
Funmi was shaking terribly. ‘Please-’
And the club came down on Funmi’s stomach with a loud force. She screamed as the pain coursed to her brain. The club came down the second time, harder than the first. Funmi cried in pain, panting for breath.
The last she heard was cynical laughter, voices mocking her and then there was darkness.
Funmi’s scream woke Charles up. He jumped out of bed and switched on the light. Charles froze. His wife was in a pool of blood.
Charles went around to her side where she lay lifeless. He stared in confusion at her still body before reaching for his cell phone. He had to call for an ambulance.
The bedroom door opened. Aunty Toyosi burst in. ‘What are you trying to do?’
Charles’ hands were trembling. ‘I have to get her to the hospital now.’
‘Will you stay away from her right now!’ Aunty Toyosi yelled.
Charles placed his hand under his wife’s back and lifted her off the bed. ‘I can’t allow my wife die. I’m taking her to the hospital ’
Aunt Toyosi slapped him hard on his face. Funmi fell back from his hand to the bed with a loud thump.
‘You brought this on yourself when you chose to ignore a covenant we have set for you. You think we will allow you just roll with an alien?’
She slapped him again. ‘That’s for disobeying me when I asked you to let the girl bleed to death. Don’t ever disobey my orders. I’m going to bed.’
Charles felt as if his head would split into two. The banging wouldn’t stop. He reached for the edge of the bed but fell to the floor.
Save my wife Lord. I know I don’t deserve to be helped. Just take my life and I’ll be fine but Funmi deserves better. She deserves a good man. Don’t let her die. Just take me instead. Jesus, please.
Ebun woke up to her phone ringing. She ignored it at first, her eyes heavy with sleep. After the prayer meeting with Izu and the couple, she’d returned to the hotel to work on a research paper.
When it stopped ringing, she flung the phone aside and pulled her pillow closer. Whoever was calling would have to wait till morning. She went back to sleep.
It rang again.
Ebun ignored it. It stopped and started ringing again. Her eyes wide open, she stared into space, hoping the caller would give up.
When her phone rang again, she hissed and reached for the phone. She looked at the ID. Izu.
She sat up quickly. Why would Izu call her at 2a.m? Something must be wrong. She answered the call.
‘Ebun, This is urgent. I know you are tired but this is a life and death situation. Something is going on in Ibadan. I want us to pray together.’
The sleep disappeared from Ebun’s eyes. Her mouth started to move quietly in prayers. Izu was praying aloud on the other end. Another call came in. Dunni
‘Sweetheart, Dunni is calling me.’ Ebun said to Izu.
‘Find out what she wants.’ He said. ‘I’ll be praying here.’
Ebun ended the call with Izu and answered Dunni’s call.’
‘Ebun, we need to pray for your sister. I was about rounding up my 1 to 2am prayers when I saw her in a pool of blood. I saw her spirit leaving her body. Fisayo is praying already. You should inform Izu too.’
Ebun sighed. ‘We were praying together when your call came in. Thank you Dunni.’
When she ended the call, Ebun leaned against the wall, worried. What was this battle her sister was going through? Was it the family Charles came from? Was Charles abusing her domestically?
Ebun, stop thinking. Pray.
Ebun pushed the worrisome thoughts away and climbed out of the bed. She paced the room, praying aloud and tapping her phone screen. Her mother had called thirty minutes ago. When she couldn’t reach Ebun, she’d left a message.
I had a terrible dream about Funmi. Where are you? Are you in Ibadan now? Don’t just talk and gist with your sister. Pray with her. Get her stirred up. This lukewarmness is exposing her to the enemy. No child of mine is going to be ruined by the devil. Reach me on your Father’s line as soon as you can.
Ebun legs were trembling. She knelt down in the middle of the room and called Izu.
EPISODE 6. MONDAY
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