The thought kept ringing in his head as he gripped the steering wheel tightly. His palms were sweaty; his furrowed brows also spotted beads of sweat. He found concentrating on the road ahead difficult.
If only he knew what it all meant….
“Seven days before death comes calling. Repent or there will be gnashing of teeth,” the prophet had yelled at him as he left the store where he had gone to shop for a present for Wunmi, “the book of Romans 6 verse 23 says it all,” the shabbily dressed prophet had spat as he shoved him away from his path and made for his gleaming Mercedez Benz GLK 350.
His first inclination was to ignore the prophet’s words, but they kept nagging at the recesses of his mind.
With a flick of his fingers he switched on the A.C. and wound up the glasses. Maybe, He need not dwell too much on what the prophet said. It wasn’t for him.
Seven Days. His mind turned it over and over and over….
Too many things were happening almost at the same time….first there was that dream he had had for three consecutive nights now. In the dream, he was carrying a dead bloody baby and on his waist was a string rope to which was tied Wunmi and another man he didn’t know.
He always woke up with a scream every time. This was not the way it was supposed to be. What he was promised must not end in SEVEN DAYS.
He swung the car off the highway and took the paved side street for a few hundred meters, stopping in front of a high gate; it was elaborately decorated and sported a lion’s head dead in the center. It was an impressive gate gracing a high and daunting wall. He honked the horn with three sharp bursts and the gate was swiftly thrown open. He drove into an even more impressive courtyard.
On each side of the driveway that stretched as far as the eyes could see from the gates, were tall, shady coconut trees. They gave the drive up a very serene feel; the patterns made by the shadows of the trees on the windshield as he drives through giving a feeling of diving under water.
At a slow speed, he drove through the long winding driveway for almost five minutes before finally reaching a magnificent two-storied stone house at the end. The two massive columns supporting the colonnade were like sentries. The effect, even more so due to the large lion’s head designs etched into each column.
He parked the car right in front of the wide stairs that led up the colonnade onto the front porch and eased into the house.
Inside, he made straight up the stairs for his room where he flopped on the bed facing the ceiling.
What was he to do now? He knew he had to talk to his “guardian” and tell him about his dream and the prophet. But, doing that came at a great price he is not sure he wanted to pay. He closed his eyes and slept.
They sat facing each other at Lounge 1 at Shitta, a bubbling inner city part of Surulere, the cool breeze blowing softly through the open windows.
Phillips was waiting anxiously for the “news”. When she had called the week before asking to see him, he had thought she was going to break up with him. Her voice was not so happy and she wouldn’t tell him what it was that was so important. So, he assumed she had grown tired of double-playing her fiancé. If that was the case, it was what he had also been planning for a while. If she was going to make it easy for him, he might as well make it memorable. That was why he had gone to buy her a gift at the store, and taken out a reservation at Lounge 1.
“So?” he asked with his mind half occupied.
“Phillips, I am pregnant.”
It was like a bucket of cold water had been poured over him. It was not what he had expected the “news” to be. He stared at her with an unseeing gaze, his mind in turmoil.
He stared right past her at the Turret of the Abdulawahab Folawiyo Mosque, which dominated the skyline behind where Wunmi was seated. The turret dwarfed even the link bridge between the National Stadium end and the Masha end of the area. It was a fitting monument for the Shitta community.
Just like the Lounge….
“Phillips!” The accusatory note in her voice forced him to focus on her, “Did you hear anything I said at all?”
He nodded his head in answer to the question offering nothing more. Causally, he scanned the bar. It was only half-full, and since it was still early evening that was not unexpected. He needed to get away from her as quickly as possible.
“Phillips, what are we going to do?”
He shifted his gaze away from the bar and faced her, “’we’? What do you mean ‘we’?” he snarled at her. Of course, her claims that he was responsible would have been laughable under any other circumstances. But, not the one under which he found himself at that moment. His world, as he knows it, was crashing right before his eyes.
“I….I…You are responsible,” she struggled to reply.
Phillips continued to process the information as he tried to determine the last time he had sex with her.
“When did you find out?” He asked vaguely.
“Five weeks ….”
“What!!!” His whole body was on fire as the gravity of what she just said dawned on him. She had found out she was pregnant for five weeks and had not told him. And in that time, his mind registered with horror, they had had sex every weekend.
He fought hard to keep the panic in his voice down, “You had known for five weeks and just chose to tell me today?” his voice a blend of anger and panic.
He had to get away from her, find his “guardian”. He had no choice now but to let him know and see if the damage can be remedied.
The prophet’s words sprang into his mind…the wages of sin…..He had to punish Wunmi for trying to bring his world crashing around him.
“Look, I will tell you what you never should have known. Knowing it is a punishment for you, for disrupting the ten years of splendor I was promised by the IKOKO. You see, I am infertile. I have been since I was twenty-five. Since when I traded my fertility for wealth. Don’t look so shocked Wunmi. We are one of a sort, so to speak. So, I know I am not responsible for your pregnancy. I said we are of a sort, because unlike you I preyed on you. I used you for my sexual release as well as a sacrifice to the Ikoko. Unfortunately, you have endangered my life, yours and that of the baby. It cannot be born. You can also not tell a soul about this. If you try you will run mad on the spot. I just needed to warn you. Now, I am leaving here. Do not scream, and do not try to find me.”
With that last line of warning, he got up and left the lounge.
He was so furious with himself and Wunmi, that he did not notice the prophet until he had bumped into him.
“The wages of sin is death.” The old man muttered.
“Get away from me!” He brushed past him and hurried to his car.
“There is no hope now for a forsaken soul….”
He shut out the rest of his words by slamming the door shut and speeding away into the night. He drove very fast, oblivious of honking from angry drivers who had to skid off the road for him to speed past. He connected Western Avenue and headed up towards Costain End, linking the Eko Bridge. The road was free at this time of the night and he continued to increase the speed.
He has to reach his “guardian” right away. How could he know Wunmi was pregnant? Now he has broken a golden rule of the Ikoko. Sex with a pregnant woman was forbidden and meant death of the offender. Only a miracle can save him now. He took out his phone and dialed getting a dead beep in return.
He looked irritably at the phone, his tension obvious in the way he gripped the steering and the phone. His mind trailed to Wunmi….
For the briefest moment, he took his eyes off the road to glance at his phone, when he lifted up his head; he was only in time to see the figure of a woman crossing the road ahead.
You are going to hit her! His mind shrieked at him.
As he swerved wildly to his right in order not to hit her, his mind recalled the prophet’s words – the wages of sin is death; he fought valiantly to steady the car but lost control of the wheel and hit the balustrades that blocked off the pedestrian walkway. His Mercedez Benz GLK 350 hit the steel with a sickening crunch and a snap of bones, somersaulted and plunged into the lagoon.
The whole incident happened so fast it was not witnessed by anyone. Even the road ahead was free and there was no sight of the woman crossing the road.