“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” ― C.S. Lewis,
She went through the period praying and believing she will survive it. Enitan’s labour was the longest she went through in her life. She was in labour for more than four hours and it was when they were preparing her for a Caesarean that the baby came out both legs first. Abike knew it was her prayers that saved her.
Since then, the couple have had two more children but Abike and her mother-in law had not been talking or communicating. Abolade in the last year had travelled to Warri to pick up a job in an oil prospecting company after searching for a job for more than three years and not finding any. He left with the intention of settling down within the first two months and relocating his family to Warri. It was the month he arrived in Ugborodudu that the altercation between the Itsekiris and the Urhobos started. So, six months after leaving home, Abike had not heard anything from her husband and all the money and whatever resources had in reserve had finished. She could not go to Warri because there was nobody to take care of her children. Even if there was somebody, Warri is a no go area for civilians since the Army had in the last month moved in to quell the raging war between the Urhobos and Itsekiris who had been at each others throats for more than six months and Ugborodudu was the centre of the inter-ethnic war. So, at present Abike was not sure about her husband. She could not say if he is still alive or had been shot in the cross fire between the warring ethnic groups who had taken oil workers hostage or the military trying to quell the fight. The only thing she resorted to was prayers and hope.
She could not go to her mother-in-law even now that her children had nothing to eat. It could be like asking your staunch enemy for food, you would not know if the plate of food would be laced with rat poison. So, Alhaja was out of the calculation. She could have taken her children to the palace at Apomu but that would have been when her mother was alive. She would have served as a mediator between her father and her. Her mother however died of heartbreak, a year after she eloped with Abolade and disgraced her family and her father. Going back now would be nothing but disgrace and an opportunity for her family to not only make fun of her but also hate her with passion for rubbishing their name. Not to think of the fact that her father, the popular and respected king had written her off among his children. In short she is a persona non grata in her own hometown; a forgotten index and an ignored cipher. Her last option was the most dangerous one. Two streets from her home lived this young gentleman of her age who works in the Central Bank of Nigeria. He drives a fine Mercedes Benz 260S.A suave, urbane gentleman, Abike wondered how he could be living in the squalor that was Oju-na, the snaky narrow road behind Lagos Central Mosque. A den for addicts, con artists and the innumerable ‘all right Sir boys’ popularly and otherwise known as Area Boys. Oju-na is a pot-pourri of old, decaying buildings spiced with few modern houses, one of which Justin lives in. As if by divine arrangement Abike had always crossed Justin’s path. Soon they became friends and in the last six months close friends though without any sexual or physical relationship between them. They swapped stories and experiences together. Justin however of recent had been showing signs of wanting to get intimate with her.
Abike in spite of her husband’s absence had vowed to keep to herself. She hoped that after the war in Warri, he would come home to meet her. So, she had been very careful with Justin. She refused collecting anything from him, though Justin had tried many times to give her money and had bought many things for her children. She had rejected all totally. However, one day when all her troubles came to a head and she had spent the whole day confused, crying and wallowing in self-pity, Justin walked into her room. Her children had gone to school and Justin was expected to be at work. Unknown to Abike, Justin was on leave and since Abike had stopped visiting him for almost a month and ignored him on the street, he decided to check on her. He met her crying her eyes out. The door had been left open and Abike was on the bed crying silently. Justin tiptoed to the bed and was shocked at the room and the state he found Abike.
Though the room was neat and well arranged he thought that taking the picture of the beautiful, well bred young woman he perceived around Abike she could not be living in such a place. He was about to ask a question when he realised she was crying and that her eyes were puffed. Justin went to the bed and started remonstrating with her.
What’s the problem Abike?
Nothing? You are crying and by your look you must have been crying for long.
Yes, but I am okay now.
You are not okay Abike; tell me what’s wrong?
There is something. I am your friend. Don’t be afraid of talking with me ,I may be of help.
Instead of answering him, Abike burst into tears again. Justin took his handkerchief and was mopping her face. One thing led to the other and Abike found herself holding and embracing Justin.