Story: Chronicle Of A Royal Prince And The Devil Incarnate

    EPISODE 1

    Questionrn with a silver spoon; my parents were the crème de la crème of society being that, my mother was the only daughter of the Oba of Lagos, and my father, the chairman of Balon Oil group. Suffice it to say, I was destined for a good life… or not.
    I was six years old when mother died. That day was the worst day of my life, it was the day that the stars aligned for evil, and the Universe changed my lot. The day before mother died, she had taken me, her beloved son on a shopping spree because Christmas was in two days. She had been so busy with her fashion house, that I had thought that this year’s Christmas would be my day of mockery as I would not be wearing any new clothes. We shopped the length and breadth of Balogun market, entering only the exclusive stores with their expensive, state-of-the-art interior décor. In this kind of stores, you must be alighting from a 2016 model of car, and be dressed in new season clothes, for any of the salesperson to attend you. After shopping, the six years old me needed a break; mother took me to a fast food restaurant, where I had lots of ice cream and pop tarts to satisfy my little heart. How would I have known that this would be my last time with mother? It was like the biblical last supper.
    I slept like a prince, counting the days to Christmas, when I could show off my new expensive attire to the other rich kids in the estate. I always wore the best even when the other kids had richer parents because, when money meets a fashionista, a novel idea is birthed. Mother was fashion oriented so she had an eye for design and fabric, with this precision; she picked my clothes at the store. I was in lala land when I heard a piercing scream; it was unmistakably my mother’s. I Jumped out of bed and hurried down the lit hallway, down to my parents’ wing. Before I could turn the door knob, a hand gripped me and scooped me off my feet.
    Me: “Leave me alone, I want to save my mother” I cried because, so close to my parents’ room, I could hear mother’s groans, amidst other voices. I turned and saw Mary, my favorite nanny. Her eyes were red rimmed like she had been crying.
    Mary: “Leke bobo, your mother will be fine, your dad will take care of her” she whispered and stroked my head as she usually did on those nights that mother was out late and I was unable to sleep. She took me back to my bedroom, and pressed down a door knob by the bedlamp, which brought a maid to the room.
    Mary: “Bring Leke, his favorite hot chocolate” she instructed.
    Leke: “I don’t want chocolate, I want my mummy” I wailed. We all heard footsteps coming down the hall to my bedroom, the door opened and there was a young lady glaring at us. She was lithesome, with very fair skin, and deep dark eyes. She had long black wavy hair, and she looked like the people my science teacher called “half caste” when she was teaching us the races of the world. She would have been beautiful, but the aura and the permanent scowl on her face, made it hard for me to associate beauty with her. My nanny Mary was beautiful, even though she didn’t have the body that this woman had, even though she did plain sade braids, even though her hands were callused from all the hard work she had done in her life. But she, not this woman was beautiful, because where this woman inspired fear, Mary inspired love and security. So, I saw her as ugly and in one of my moods in the future, I would call her that, to her face.
    Woman: “You will have chocolate and keep your mouth shut”
    Leke: “Who are you to tell me how to act in my father’s house, go away, I want my mummy” I retorted, fat tears streaming down my eyes. That was my first encounter with the woman who would turn out to be my tormentor. She did not reply me, but the look she gave me, caused fear in my little heart. I hid my face in Mary’s arms and bawled my eyes out. I knew in my heart that something was very wrong with my mother, if not, who was this woman? And why was she ordering me around in my house.
    When I woke up, the room was empty; Mary was nowhere to be found, she had pulled the curtains to give the room a cool ambience, but my dreams had been filled with scary scenarios that involved my mother. I remembered I had heard my mother scream last night, so I jumped out of bed, in my Tom and Jerry pajamas, and rushed to my parents’ room. My parents’ room was also empty, so I rushed downstairs to the living room, and saw that my mother’s family had arrived, father, Bamidele, was sitting alone on a couch, and his face was sober, his sister Aunt Jumoke was sobbing and retying her wrapper a thousand and one times. Something had gone wrong while I was asleep.
    Leke: “Father?” I called softly, but my voice carried and everyone turned to look at me as I stood on the last stair, afraid to move forward into the room. My father stretched out his arms and I ran, all the way into his arms. He began to weep, holding me tightly like I was his lifeline. Mother’s dad, my maternal grandfateher, the Oba was sitting with his wives; he looked at me and sighed, a long and sad sigh.
    Oba: “Ha death, why are you so wicked, could you not have spared her for the sake of this little boy?” he lamented. I turned to my father and asked for my mother. At this question, the women present, began to sob and sing a sorrowful song in Yoruba, iya ni wura.
    Leke: “Where is my mother?” I asked again, crying. I was having a bad feeling, and I knew at that moment that something had happened to my mother.
    Bamidele: “Your mother has gone to meet the Lord” my father replied me.
    Leke: “My mother is dead?” I burst into fresh wailing. I was just six years old, but I was wise beyond my age. My parents were business people, so I was left to myself most of the time, fending for myself meant, what I read was not censored, so I read anything I laid my hands on. I had begun to read books about Metaphysics, and I was also beginning to question the existence of God. So I knew people died and we would never see them again, I also knew people died not because they wanted to. Also, having heard my mother’s screams, I knew she had died a painful death. Telling me “she had gone to meet the lord” was not going to obscure things for me.
    Leke: “What killed her?” I asked between bursts of sobs. The room fell quiet at my question; it was a big question coming from a child such as I was.
    Oba: “Somebody should take this child away from here” my maternal grandfather said in a strong voice. Mary took me from my father’s arms and up to my bedroom.
    On the day that my mother would be buried, I saw that same woman who had shunned me the day my mother died; she was hovering around my father. I was walking beside Mary, so I asked her.
    Leke: “Who is that woman?”
    Mary: “That’s your father’s personal assistant”
    Leke: “What is she doing here though” I murmured under my breath.
    Mary: “Don’t be silly, she and other staff are here to condole with your dad”
    Leke: “And was she also condoling with dad on the night mother was screaming?” I asked. Mary looked at me and shook her head pitifully. While I was conversing with Mary, the object of my discourse walked up to me and took my hand. On her face was plastered a forced smile.
    Woman: “Adeleke, I am Nora, you will be seeing me a lot in your house, I have to help your dad cope with the loss. I suggest we get to know ourselves” her red painted fingernails dug into my supple flesh.
    Leke: “Everyone calls me Leke, and please you are hurting my hand” I mouthed off.
    Nora: “Aren’t we a tad ill mannered, which will change in time” she replied, letting go of my hand.
    Mary: “Stop taunting the child’ she said simply, pushing me behind her. Nora turned to stare at her and my champion, Mary stared her down. But Mary would not be there to save me from subsequent attacks. Mary would be evicted from the house in a fashion almost like my mother’s.

    EPISODE 2

    After mother’s burial, my maternal family left the house, and so did father and Nora. I was left once again to myself, but this time, there was no counting the hours until mother would be back and filling it up with reading. There was no anticipating mother’s voice as she shouts “Leke bobo” as she climbed the stairs. The house was quiet and cold, it was like mother had carried the life of the house to her grave, or perhaps, she was the life of the house. With her sing song laughter that rang around the house and made me smile whenever I heard it, even with her shouts when she was angry with the house servants, she made the house alive. Now it was just cold and dead. I lay on my bed, not bothering with my shoes. The rain began to fall lightly, I thought of mother in the grave, the rain falling on her. She had hated the rain when she was alive, she said it made everywhere dank and colorless, but I suspected it made her cold, as she always layered on clothes when it began to rain. Who would protect her now from the pelting of the rain, she was there alone in the grave, not even her beloved son had stayed back to keep her company. A line from a sermon I heard in church sometime ago crept into my little mind.
    “The dead has nothing to do with the living” I cried, I hit the bed, hoping to inflict some of the pain I felt on it. I heard the door open, and before I saw her, I knew it was Mary. Mary is not intrusive, I was only six but when she enters my room, she does it like am older.
    Mary: “Leke, I brought you pop tarts” she said. The mention of “pop tarts” reminded me of my shopping spree with mother, a day before Christmas.
    Christmas had come and gone, even with the New Year, and for the first time, the other rich kids did not get floored by me. All the expensive things mother had picked up for me, were in my wardrobe untouched, I detested them.
    “Take them away” I said in a low tone, my throat choked with sobs. Mary came to the bed and pulled me into her arms, and rocked me like a baby. Then, the door opened for the second time, and the devil’s mistress came in. She was wearing black, and she was wearing a dark makeup. She reminded me of “Lucifer’s Queen”, a book I read a fortnight ago.
    Nora: “Don’t you have something to do in the kitchen or something?” she asked rudely, glaring at Mary.
    Mary: “My job description is limited to Leke’s needs” she replied her, and began to loosen the lace of my shoes.
    Nora: “Is he not a little old for a nanny? Please leave the boy, he can undress himself” Mary got up abruptly; I knew she was vexed, but was trying to control her temper.
    Mary: “The boy has just lost his mother, why are you picking on him?”
    Nora: “Why would you say a despicable thing like that?” she yelled on top of her voice. My father came in at that moment; he was probably looking for his executive secretary.
    Bamidele: “What is going on here?” he asked looking frightened, like he was expecting another bad news. At that point, I realized I was only thinking of myself, but my father was also in grief too, he had just lost his wife, but that’s what kids should do right? Worry about themselves, but I am not like most kids, I understand what Adults do not expect me to understand. I was not that close with my father, we have our moments, when he was not busy being pursuing millions. I was still thinking that me and dad have to grief together, we have both lost the woman we both loved, when Nora opened her mouth and released the bomb.
    Nora: “Adeleke is just being a naughty boy, he asked for pop tarts, now he said he wants chocolates” My eyes opened wide in disbelief. I knew adults lie, but they always had a reason, but she was lying for no reason. What was she up to.
    Bamidele: “Give the boy whatever he wants” he barked, his frustration was evident on his face.
    Leke: “She is lying father, I asked for nothing, Mary was just here when she entered and asked Mary to leave, Mary…”
    Mary: “It is alright, Leke’ she said and patted me on the head. Nora was so vexed that Mary could just stop me from giving an explanation to my father, that the veins of her neck stood out and her eyes became even darker. The truth was, Mary had a lot of leverage with my parents because they depended solely on her to take care of me. They saw she was good to me, she gave them peace of mind, and they could pursue their dreams without worrying about me.
    Bamidele: “What do you want, Leke?”
    Leke: “I want my mummy” I said as fat tears rolled down my cheeks. Father crossed over in two long strides and pulled me into his arms. He began to weep, sobs shook his body. We were both sad, we had both lost our woman.
    Nora: “Bamidele, you know you have to be strong, you have a company to run” she said as she walked over to us and extricated my father from the embrace, then she embraced him. I watched them and wondered what kind of secretary called her boss by name and embraced him in such manner. My little mind could already see what she was doing, it was the reason she had lied, she was warming her way into father’s heart.
    Nora: “Come on, let’s go make you some tea to calm your nerves, you are meeting with the investors from…”
    Leke: “You know what else I want, dad? I want her gone” I interrupted her, pointing my finger at her.
    Nora: “Oh my God, Bamidele, your son is being nasty” she began to cry, her mascara ran down her face, she looked just like a witch.
    Bamidele: “Apologize to Aunt Nora now, Leke” Father thundered, gone was the man, who was crying at the loss of his wife.
    Leke: “I am sorry” I said, trembling at father’s anger.
    Bamidele: “That’s better, Mary I do not know what you have been teaching this boy” he said. Mary looked up at him, with pain in her eyes, this was the first time, father complained about the way she handled me. She turned and looked at Nora; she was obviously blaming her for this change.
    Nora: “Let’s just go” she murmured and pulled my father out of the room. Mary told me to go to the bathroom and shower, after which I wore my pajamas and another day without my mother ended or so I thought.
    I fell asleep the moment my body hit the bed, my six year old body was tired, even though my mind was still trying to comprehend the things that were changing. Then a piercing scream rend the quiet atmosphere in the house, it was coming from a room on the same floor. I got up with fear in my heart, was I going to lose my father too. I had woken up to this type of scream and my mother had died after ward, was it my father’s turn. I was too scared to move, I stood in front of the door, unable to turn the knob. I saw the shadow of two feet stop in front of my door, and my heart lurched into my mouth, the feet traipsed down the hallway, as the scream grew louder. The fear of the unknown gripped me and paralyzed me, I fell down in a heap.
    When, I woke up, my room was lit by the sunlight streaming in, through the flowery curtains Mother had decorated my room with. Fear gripped me as I thought of last night.
    Leke: “Father!” I screamed out in fear, I could not bear to lose my father; he was all I had now.
    Bamidele: “I am here son, do not be afraid” he replied as I hugged him fiercely, and then I noticed Nora looking down at him with a menacing glare. I looked around and could not find Mary. That was when I remembered the tiny detail about last night. It was a woman’s scream I heard.
    Leke: “Father, where is Mary?” I asked eagerly. Father looked at me with sad eyes and began to pat my head. I pushed his hand away angrily; he was trying to hide something away from me.
    Bamidele: “Calm down Leke, Mary is going to be alright”
    Leke: “She was alright when I went to sleep last night.” Before my father could explain further, he was informed by one of the housekeepers that policemen were downstairs waiting for him.
    Bamidele: “Adeleke, please stay in your room and do not come out” he said and ushered everyone out, he closed the door but did not lock it. I sat on my bed and pondered. My father had never called me “Adeleke” before; things were changing fast, too fast for my little mind to comprehend. I went to my reading table where a picture frame of mother stood; I picked it up and held it to my chest. After a while, I dropped it, my curious mind wanted to know what was happening downstairs and why Mary had not come to my room. I opened the door confidently, knowing everyone was downstairs and walked down the hallway in a hurry. I went down the stairs, in slow quiet paces. Just before the landing, a bit obscured from people in the living room, I squatted to listen.
    Police: “How long has Mary been working for you?” I arched my eyebrows, why were they talking about Mary? I asked myself.
    Bamidele: “Since Leke my son, was a baby. He is six years old now” father replied.
    Police: “One last question, where is your son?” I heard the police man ask, it seemed I came when it was all over.
    Bamidele: “My son is not in the house, he went to be with his grandfather” I heard father lie to the police man. Why was he lying to a policeman? I asked myself, nobody was giving any answers.
    Police: “Mary is still in coma at the hospital, it seems she went into the shock. I am surprised though that someone that has been with your child since infancy will be attacked in your house and nobody from this household is at the hospital with her”
    Bamidele: “I had to take care of my son” he said before he realized he had told the police that his son was away from home.
    Police: “Is it the same son, you told us went to his grandfather’s?”
    Leke: “I am here, no need scolding my father” I said as I walked down to the living room, father just shook his head in resignation.

    EPISODE 3

    Nora: “You should have stayed in your room as your father said. Always listen to your elders” she said her eyes on father, who was scowling at me. He was obviously blaming me for disobeying him, but wasn’t he the one who told the police two different tales? Adults are always blaming kids for things that they did.
    Police: “I consider this an obstruction of justice. We will hear from the boy if he knows anything about it” the taller police man said as he came closer and squatted to my level.
    Policeman: “Your nanny Mary is in the hospital, she was attacked last night in this house, her two legs are broken, she may never walk again, if you know anything that will help us catch the culprit, your nanny will love that.” I was already weeping at this point, Mary’s legs were broken and she would never walk again, who would take care of me now, I had lost my mother, now I was going to lose my nanny?
    Leke: “The last time I saw her, she tucked me in for the night, and she stayed with me till I slept. I woke up to a scream, a woman’s scream. I was too scared to come out, I thought my father was dead too”
    Policeman: “Why would you think that?” I looked at father, he had a pained look on his face, and Nora on the other hand was looking intently at me, hanging on my every word.
    Leke: “The last time I heard a scream, my mother died” I said through choked sobs, just the mention of my mother brought sadness and tears. The policemen looked thoughtful, and began to scribble in their writing pads.
    Policeman: “So you did not see anything that night, except hear a scream?”
    Leke: “I saw feet, they stopped at my door, I was so scared”
    Policeman: “What did you do, did you go out?”
    Leke: “I cannot remember, I woke up in my bed, my father was with me”
    Bamidele: “We found him passed out by the door, which is the reason we tried keeping him away from you. He just lost his mom, he is traumatized” father added. The policemen kept scribbling in their pads.
    Policeman: “What killed your wife?” At that father stood up angrily from the couch and walked over to the policeman who had asked the question.
    Bamidele: “I won’t allow you disrespect me in my own house, and in front of my kid. If you have no more questions, you best leave”
    Policeman: “Being a brute won’t get you anywhere, because we realized that you as the head of the family did not call the police, you covertly took her to the hospital. The public only know your wife died, but no one knows how she died, her burial, there was no lying in state. Then days later, your nanny is attacked in this house, you refused to call the police”
    Bamidele: ‘If I did not call the police, then how are you here?”
    Policeman: “One of your nieghbours called. Mister man, you will follow us to the station to give your statement”
    Bamidele: “I am going nowhere with you, look here, do you know who I am, do you think you can just come here and say rubbish. If you are not arresting me, I advise you go do your home work” father replied.
    Policeman: “This is not the end, we will be back” he said and they left the house.
    Nora: “It is all your son’s fault, he is so unruly” she said angrily. Father looked at me in a way he had never looked at me before, like I was a nuisance to him. He walked to me in quick strides and grabbed me by the arm.
    Bamidele: “You will do as I say” he said and pulled me up the stairs
    Leke: “Father, father, you are hurting me” I cried as he dragged me up the stairs. When he got to my room, he opened the door and pushed me in, this time he locked the door on the other side. I banged the door, but no one heard me, or if they did, they were forbidden to answer me. I cried my eyes out, till I fell asleep. In my dream, I saw mother, she had her throat slashed, blood was gushing out from the slit, and her fingers were all covered in blood. I screamed till I woke up, I was still screaming. I heard the door rattle, it opened and one of the female house servants came in. We called her IyaBiliki, I rarely saw her because, she was always in the kitchen.
    IyaBiliki: “Leke bobo, why you dey shout like say you see ghost, abi you see your mama?” she asked. I nodded my head slowly, I was disturbed by what I saw of my mother and I began to wonder if that was how she died.
    Leke: “How did my mother die?”
    IyaBiliki: “Omo mi, this question you dey ask me, ei big pass me oh. Na only your papa go fit answer you” she said in a sober voice, then she held me to her b---m and began to rock me.
    IyaBiliki: “Ha death, death is not fair” she said aloud. The smell of soot and cooking was beginning to choke me from her clothes, so I pulled away softly. I didn’t realize I had been crying, IyaBiliki seeing that I was crying, made to pull me again into her b---m, but I shifted away fast, I couldn’t bear the smell that emanated from her one more time. I looked behind her and saw that she brought a tray.
    IyaBiliki: “Ha no mind me oh, I bin dey bring food for you, when I hear you dey shout. I prepare omiobe with correct brokoto” I smiled; this was one of the joys of having Yoruba parents… lots of meat and big ones too. I sat at my reading table;IyaBiliki cleared my books to one side and dished my food. As I was eating, it struck me, that this was the first meal that I was eating in my room, and all by myself. When mother was alive, she made sure that she was home for my meal times, even if she rushed out afterwards, but she must be there to eat with me. I missed my mother all the more.
    Two days after that incident, I have been restricted to my room, I was not allowed out. So I began to read all the books I had read before, just to fill the void I felt. I could not wait for school to resume, so I could escape my reality and mix up with other kids my age. The police came to our house with an arrest warrant for father; somehow they had concluded that father was responsible for the attack on Mary. When father was arrested, Nora became scarce in the house; I was released from the house arrest I had been subjected to, by father. I took this time to see Mary in the hospital, iyaBiliki who was now in charge of taking care of me, took me to see her. Her state was grotesque, her legs have been mangled. I wondered who could have done such horrible thing to a simple woman such as Mary.
    Leke: “There really is no God, if there is, why do good people suffer so” I began to sob, so great was my pain. It was obvious from where I was standing, that Mary may never walk again, if she could not walk, then she could not stay in our house. It seemed to me, there was a force trying desperately to make me all alone. I was scared of that line of thought because, it would mean, my father was next. I went close, and held Mary’s hand, while I stared at her intently, like I was willing her to open her eyes. And she did…
    Mary’s eyes opened and held me strongly like she was glaring at me, she held my hand tightly and I got scared, I almost whimpered when she spoke in a soft tone that belied her looks.
    Mary: “Leke, you are not safe in that house. Something is out to get your family, they killed your mother. You have to leave that house” she said
    Leke: “But Aunt Mary, where would I go? I am only six!” I exclaimed.
    Mary: “But you are stronger than you think, are you not Leke bobo?” she said, I smiled in spite of the confusion I felt.
    Leke: “Aunt Mary, I am scared. I saw the feet outside my door, I was scared, I am still scared”
    Mary: “I see the books you read, you are stronger than you know, call your maternal grandfather to come get you” I nodded my head even when I knew there was no way I could access grandpa’s number.
    Leke: “My father was arrested” I said simply, at a loss of whatelse to say.
    Mary wanted to speak but stopped, she was looking at someplace behind me. I turned and saw Nora standing there.
    Nora: “Adeleke, your father needs you at the police station. Mary, I am deeply sorry about your condition, hope you get well” she said.
    Mary: “Leke, don’t go” she said even as it seemed like she was slipping back into unconsciousness.
    Leke: “But my father needs me” Mary shook her head slowly, and then her eyes closed. I looked at Nora, who stared back with a passive face that divulged nothing of her intentions.
    Leke: “Let’s go” I said and walked ahead of her, out of the room where Mary was kept.

    EPISODE 4

    Nora took me in her SUV, we drove in silence for a while, with me wondering if she was really taking me to the police station, so I could see my father. Then she spoke to me, in words that were shocking to my ears.
    Nora: “Adeleke, I know you think I am harsh, or I don’t like you. I understand you are going through a lot of changes since your mother died, but you have to trust that I and your dad are here for you” she said, her eyes on the road. I was looking at her the whole time, trying to see if she meant what she said. But Nora had this kind of face that you could never use to tell what she was ruminating, in the recesses of her mind.
    Leke: “But you lied against me” I said, trying to figure her out.
    Nora: “A harmless lie my dear. I did not want to worry your dad, he just lost his wife” It sounded reasonable to me, so that when she offered me Ribenna juice, I did not hesitate, I drank all of it, and I smiled at her.
    When we got to the police station, my father and his lawyer were already at the counter, I rushed and held him, I had missed him, and after the talk with Nora, I attributed all his new characters to losing Mother.
    Bamidele: “My son, I am so sorry for what you are going through” he said and kissed my head, my heart burst with love for him. Then my world shattered…
    Nora: “You have to let Bamidele go, Adeleke confessed to attacking his nanny, Mary” she threw the bomb and kept her usual passive face, like she was not about to destroy my life forever. I looked at father, who was staring at Nora, I wondered if he also knew about this.
    Leke: “Father, is that why you wanted me here?” I asked
    Policeman: “What kind of mock story is this? That this little boy mangled those legs I saw?”
    Nora: “I did not believe him, until I remembered that his dad had told him he is schizophrenic” she said. I looked to my father, but he was not even looking at me, he would not save me, nobody would save me. My mother was dead, Mary was decapacitated, and my father had just turned against me. My life had just taken a turn for the worst. The police immediately seized me, they took me into their interrogation room, where they kept asking me all sorts. While I was in their custody, my room at home had been searched, coincidentally they had found a thick iron rod, and also gone through my books. It seemed the fact that I read books written by atheists made me an evil person, capable of attacking his nanny. From the police station, I was taken to the hospital where my blood and other body fluids were tested. Traces of Zolpidem were found in my blood, and it was concluded that I was mentally unstable. So instead of being taken to prison, I was a child, the court sent me to a mental institution.
    The day I was led into the mental institution, Father was beside me, but I made sure no part of my body touched him. I already hated him.
    Bamidele: “It is all for the best son” he said, as the door closed, locking me in for ten long years.
    In those years, photos of my mother and the books I usually read were my succor. I went into the mental institution with a plan, I was going to be the easiest patient they had, pretend to take all my medications; of course I would not really take the medications because they made you crazy if you are not. So I would always stay up in my room reading and talking to my mother’s pictures. I am sure wherever she was; she would be moaning the fate that had befallen her beloved son.
    One day, Nora came to visit; this was on my seventh birthday. She brought cake which she shared with the other children loonies.
    Nora: “How are you?” she said as we settled into a couch in the visitors lounge.
    Leke: “I know what you did. That juice you gave me in the car, which was why that drug was found in my blood. I have never been medicated before. You lied against me again, are you going to tell me now that you were doing it for my good?” I asked her in a very cold voice.
    Nora: “I have been selfish, your father is innocent of the crime he was accused of, and he has a governorship ambition in the coming election, I could not let him go down for that. Would you have preferred your dad to be destroyed?” she asked. All the while, my face had been turned away, but when I turned to look at her, the light fell on an object, a big diamond rock sat on her finger.
    Leke: “You are getting married to my father?” I asked incredulously. It was just months after my mother’s death.
    Nora: “You will probably spend your entire life here, but you will be well taken care of, I will take care of your father and all he has” she said and walked away swiftly. I got up to leave for my room, when I heard my mother’s name mentioned on television.
    News Anchor: “Disturbing news about the death of FolakeAboderin has emerged just days after BamideleAboderin’s engagement to society lady, Nora. A reliable source tells us that her neck was slit right inside the Aboderins mansion. The question on everyone’s lips is, did she slit her own throat, could she have been suffering from mental sickness, seeing as her only son has been committed to a mental home” I stood transfixed as I gazed at the television screen.
    Leke: “My mother’s throat had been slit?” I whispered in disbelief. I knew for a fact that she had not done that to herself, she loved life too much to kill herself. She was looking forward to Christmas, she was looking forward to seeing me grow, and she could not have slit her own throat. I went back to my room to ponder the things I had heard. I was sure that the same person, who killed my mother, also attacked Mary. What did the person gain from harming these women? If I found the gain, I could find the killer.
    Ten Years Later
    On my sixteenth birthday, I was certified normal and released from the mental home, straight into the streets. Many years had passed, but the pain in my heart over my mother’s murder had not been eroded. It was as fresh as it was, years ago. My first port of call was my mother’s fashion house, I was sure no one would recognize me because, staying put in one place for years had taken a toll on my weight. Where I was a skinny child, I was now a burly teenager, I had height too. I walked into the shiny building, with polished floors that reflected your image as you walked, and big chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. I was a bit lost, till I sighted the receptionist. She was a pretty lady with over toned skin and the longest Brazilian weave I ever saw. I was at her desk asking after a job opening, when Nora walked in elegantly with her aides running after her. She looked the same as she did the first time I saw her, ten years ago. She was still elegant in face and physique, and yet still not beautiful in my eyes.
    Leke: “Who is that woman?” I asked, being careful not to sound interested.
    Receptionist: “She is the owner of this place; she is a powerful woman oh.” The receptionist replied with delight, she was ready to divulge all the juicy details I was sure. I had found my first informant.
    Leke: “What of her husband?”
    Receptionist: “Ha he is late oh. Before he died eh, he was just like a vegetable, paralyzed from up to down. Madam tried during that period oh. But she is bouncing back sha” she replied, licking her mouth like the gossip was sweet. I was stunned at first; my father was dead, now I was truly an orphan. I did not mourn my father because I was not sure of his role in my mother’s death.
    So I started as a cleaner in my mother’s company, giving them false names, I kept my life as AdelekeAboderin in a box and resumed life as Mikhail Samoa, a Ghanaian boy, it was a low level job and there were no security checks. I also began to go for GCE and JAMB classes in the evening, I had my plans, and they would not work without a sound formal education. While I worked, I found out things about Nora, how she lived her life these past years. One day, I had gone to check my GCE results and found out I aced my papers, it was not a surprise though. In the mental home, I had a gateman smuggle in books for me to read, so I was almost genius, studying was a lifeline to me. So while, I was celebrating with a few workers in the lobby, Nora walked in with her aides.
    Nora: “What is going on here?” she barked.
    Receptionist: “Sorry ma’am, Mikhail just aced his GCE and JAMB” she said. She turned to me and said,
    Nora: “You!” My heart skipped a beat.

    EPISODE 5

    I looked at her in the eye, even if she recognized me, I was not going to cower.
    Nora: “What is your name?” she asked
    Leke: “I am Mikhail ma’am”
    Nora: “Are you computer literate, can you do graphics?” she asked impatiently
    Leke: “Sure ma’am” my heart was already singing because I knew where it was leading to.
    Nora: “My graphic designer just quit, and our collection launch is close, can you fill in till we get someone else? You will be paid of course”
    Leke: “Yes, I can do this” I said enthusiastically
    Nora: “Come on then” she took me to the creative department floor; I had been raised from the ground floor to the top floor. This department was the most important, if they had a problem, the whole company got a problem. If I wanted to learn the rudiments of my mother’s business, this was the department for me, so I was determined that this arrangement would be a permanent one. After my first day using the usual applications to transform hand drawn cloth designs, I went online and found out about AutoCAD. I spent the entire night studying it in an all night café around the company. The next day, though I had deep eye bags, I was ready to take the whole creative department by storm. After making the first batch of dresses using my AutoCAD, the creative director ran to my cubic office which was a cut out from the storage rooms. She was around thirty or so, but had this twentyish look about her. She was dressed in a midi skirt and a blouse with a flamboyant bow on it. From her dressing, you needed no one to tell you, she made the designs the fashion house owns.
    Director: “You made these?” she said with her eyes wide behind her wire mesh glasses, holding the prototypes in her hand. Nora walked in at that time; she always seemed to walk in at the right time. I have noticed that she did not actively engage in the day to day activities of the company.
    Nora: ‘What is the excitement about?” she asked obviously not pleased with the bickering.
    Director: “These prototypes are the best I have seen, since I started working here, and he made them” she said. Nora looked at me, and smiled. She was probably pleased with herself for bringing me on board.
    Nora: “I think you got the job then, congratulations” she said simply and proceeded to her office.
    Director: “I am Kunmi, I have been designing for this company ever since, even when the real madam was still here”
    Leke: “You knew my mother!” I exclaimed and immediately regretted it, as I saw the look on Kunmi’s face.
    Kunmi: “Your mother?”
    Leke: “Not my mother jare, I am always thinking of my mother ni, she died many years ago” I said hitting my head in an exaggerated manner.
    Kunmi: “Same, with the original madam. I love her, she is the reason, I am still working here, if I leave here, I am going to open my own fashion brand, I will probably carry all my fans which are the customers of this brand. This present madam knows nothing about the fashion industry and she will not calm down to learn.” She said. I put it in mind, to keep my head down and learn all I could from Kunmi, I had just found the career I would be in. My mother left big shoes and I was going to fill them.
    Leke: “Wow, I wish I met the former madam, she sounds interesting”
    Kunmi: “Ha, she is oh. She had a flair for fashion, I learnt most of the things I know today from her. It is a pity she died as she did”
    Leke: ‘How did she die?” I asked, but Kunmi had sealed her lips.
    Kunmi: “So I am glad you are our graphics designer, you bring my designs to life even before they are cut. I love it, what you say we do lunch, with my younger sister, she just got admitted into the University, you will like her” I accepted and that was how I found a new family where I had none.
    Lunchtime came, and I followed Kunmi to an upscale restaurant, there was a simple air about Kunmi, but she didn’t do anything in a simple way. I felt the restaurant was too much for a simple lunch, but what did I know? I spent years inside a mental home. She was ordering for both of us, when two young girls walked up to us. One was the exact replica of Kunmi, Olive colored skin and all.
    Kunmi: “Hey, Banks you are here. Make yourself comfortable, I was about ordering food. Oh and yeah, this is Mikhail, my colleague at the office, Mikhail this is Banke my sister and her friend, Prisca”
    Banke: “Sister mi, this one is too small for you oh” she said eying me from head to toe, she even bent to look at my shoes.
    Kunmi: “Naughty girl, he is my protégée, a genius if you like. If you see what he made of my designs, he landed himself a good job today” she said .All the while Prisca was just looking at me, like she had never seen my kind before, while Banke was more or less disinterested in me or what her sister was saying. The meals came and I dove into mine, I had not forgotten table etiquettes, but I have also not seen this good food in years. It seemed however that I was irritating Banke the more.
    Banke: “If you ask me, he looks more like a stray, than your colleague, sister mi. Is Fola fashion house now employing strays?”
    Prisca: “Haba Banke” her friend said.
    Kunmi: “Banks, be nice” I dropped my cutleries, and dapped at my mouth. I disliked her immediately; she was just like Nora, beautiful, but not beautiful in my eyes. Latter along the way, Banke would fall head over heels for me, and she would be my first victim.
    The day for the collection launch finally arrived, I had something planned, I wanted to test a theory I had, the outcome would determine my next step. I was busy the night before with the creative team, they were putting finishing touches to the collection, and I was there every step of the way. I had decided I was going to study fashion and design in one of the good fashion institutes in Lagos, but I was going to gain as much hands on experience as I could from Kunmi. I saw Nora less often as I would have liked, she was rarely at the fashion house, but she was always there to collect the accolades like she was involved. I knew she would turn up for the collection launch in her best, ready to reap where she did not sow, and I was ready for her.
    The guests had arrived, the host for the show was already thrilling the guest, some musicians had performed, and it was time to showcase the designs. Nora came on the podium, dressed in a vibrant dress that I recognized from the prototype I made. She had a good body so it looked good on her, I could not deny that fact. I myself, had gotten myself cleaned up, I was dressed in a sleek Tuxedo. I had been collecting monthly pay which was more than most boys my age earned, so I invested in a good Tuxedo. I knew Banke would be attending, and I really wanted to impress her. Yes, it is the Nigerian mentality, we impress people we don’t even like. The models began to strut on the runway in the clothes designed for that collection, they were halfway through all the designs when the lights went off, and the big projector screen came on. A voice boomed out of the speakers saying;
    Voice: “You killed me, confess! Confess now” the voice was guttural, like an animal’s.
    People screamed, but Nora screamed the loudest, she screamed till she slumped on the ground in unconsciousness. Pandemonium broke as the guests began to find any way to escape the hall. I looked up to the screen and smiled. On the screen was the picture of my mother, with her neck slit, blood oozing out unto the white bed sheet as she splayed on the bed. I had found the picture on the internet, and tweaked it with my new found graphic designs skills, to look more horrific. An ambulance was called and Nora was wheeled into it, her face had lost all color, despite the makeup on her face, she looked dead, only the slow rise and fall of her chest made people know she was still alive. The collection launch had ended in a mess. But most importantly, my theory had been tested, the coming days would tell. I walked out of the event center, into the hotel’s lobby. The event had been held at the prestigious Eko hotel and suites’ event center. I bumped into Banke, she glanced at my outfit and I could tell from the faint smile on her lips that she was impressed.
    Banke: “Hey Mikhail, have you see my sister Kunmi?”
    Leke: “No I haven’t “I replied her in a disinterested way, and brushed past her. I turned back to see her mouth open in disbelief. I went out the gate of the hotel, hoping to catch a bus to the hospital, I needed to know how Nora was faring. I was about jumping into one of the yellow and black stripped buses, when I heard my name… my real name. In my new life, after the mental home, no one knew me by my real name. “Adeleke” the voice called. I turned, with fear etched on my face and behold…

    EPISODE 6

    I turned and there before me, was Mary, I was dumfounded, I also felt guilty. Straight out of the mental home, I had not thought of her, I was fixated on mother and finding the real cause of her death. I did not remember the one woman, who was not my mother, but loved me no less. I rushed toward her, and then stopped. She was not looking at me; her eyes were on someone else, a slim dude that could be in my age group. She was looking at the boy because, that is how I would look, if I had not grown fat due to sedentary living in the mental home. He had my height and my shape of head, and he was turned away from her. She began to walk towards him, but I intercepted her. She looked up at me, and I stared at her. Unlike Nora, the years had told on her, she did not have a ready smile like before, there were a few crow feet at the edge of her eyes, and a few gray hairs in her mass of hair. We stared at each other for a few seconds, on her face was a frown; she could not understand why this young lad was standing in her way. Her moment of comprehension came when I smiled.
    Mary: “Leke?” my smile was unique; I twitched one side of my mouth upward when I smiled. Despite every change that had occurred in my life, that didn’t change.
    Leke: “Yes Mary” I bent a little and embraced her. My eyes welled up with tears; she was like a part of my past that had eluded me.
    Mary: “Oh Leke bobo, I knew you were going to make it because you are strong” she said as she wet my tux with tears and phlegm. I pulled her away softly, and looked at her legs.
    Mary: “It is a long story”
    Leke: “I want to hear it, come on, lets eat somewhere” I pulled her by the hand and took her to Mama Cass. I ordered their special spaghetti with big cow tails, while Mary ordered amala and ewedu. We ate in silence, each of us immersed in our thoughts. After eating, I ordered a bottle of wine for us to talk over.
    Mary: “Leke, how do you have the money you are spending?”
    Leke: “I work at my mother’s fashion house, and I am being paid”
    Mary: “Really, Nora allowed you work there?”
    Leke: “She doesn’t know it is me, I go by a different name now”
    Mary: “That sounds like something I watch on television, what is your job there?”
    Leke: “I work in the creative department as their graphic designer” I replied impatiently.
    Mary: “I am asking the wrong questions right?” she asked rhetorically. She was always so perceptive of me, right from the time I was a little boy.
    Leke: “You can ask me anything you want though” I said to make her feel better. After a few seconds, I couldn’t pretend not to be curious.
    Leke: “I am curious, the doctor said, you would never walk again, how are you walking?”
    Mary: “It is a long story” she said as a blanket of sadness came over her eyes.
    Leke: “We have enough wine for it” I replied, and she looked from me to the bottle of Chardonnay, like she wanted to oppose me drinking wine. But she thought better of it. I was surviving in this cold, cruel world all on my own; I deserved a glass of wine once in a while. The truth was, I had bought the wine for Mary’s sake, and my intention was to seduce her, not sexually but mentally. So that, she would tell me everything, and leave nothing out. It is a trick I learned from the laws of seduction, a book I read while in the mental home. The next person I was going to try this trick on would be Banke.
    Mary told me how she had told the police, who came to get her statement that I was innocent, that though she had not seen the face of her assailant, it was a grown up person. Whether it was a man or a woman, she could not tell because the person was wearing a free flowing clothe and masked from head to shoulders. The police had reopened the case, and the heat around my father became much. Many theories were peddled around; some said he had hit on Mary, when she had refused his advances, he had attacked her to punish her, some others said he had slept with her and she was blackmailing him, so he decided to end her life to save face. Just before he was arrested again, Nora approached Mary and gave her a deal she could not say no to.
    So, Mary went ahead and withdrew her formal statement, she told the police that I was an unstable child and was on medication. She had also put the question of my mother’s death to rest, as she lied that my mother was suicidal and had tried to kill herself before. I was dumbfounded when she was done. I could not believe that she was capable of such betrayal. I could not say a word, even though my mind was riddled with words. I felt betrayed, but I had also learnt an important lesson, that humans would always look out for themselves first. The reason Mary had betrayed me and my late mother was so she could walk again. After she kept her end of the deal, Nora flew her out of the country for rehabilitation. She underwent numerous surgical procedures before she could walk again. By the time she came back to the country, Nora and my father was already wedded, and they wanted nothing to do with her. She had been living from hand to mouth, from one menial underpaying job to the other. She was still unmarried because, the guilt of what she did, destroyed any relationship she tried to build.
    Mary: ‘I am very sorry Leke, I was tempted by the ability to walk. I looked at my life, stuck to a wheel chair and I could not bear it. Forgive me” she said holding my arm entreatingly.
    Lleke: “Is your life any better now?” I asked before I could stop myself. I could not deny that I was angry. Mary had the power to change the course of my life, but she didn’t care. She condemned me to a life in a mental home.
    Mary: “Forgive me; I have regretted my actions ever since. I have wanted to see you, but the home administrators refused”
    She begged to make it up to me, but I wondered how she could ever make it up to me. While she was talking, telling me of her plan to disguise herself and work in the house again, so she could keep watch over Nora.
    Mary: “I will disguise myself, anything I will do to make it up to you” she said desperately. I almost told her to go retract her statement, and tell the police the truth. Instead, I said;
    Leke: “No, this is something I have to do alone. But you have given me a better idea” I said thoughtfully, the wheels of my mind turning in my head and birthing a perfect idea of how to snare my mother’s murderer.
    I thought of a better plan, and I knew just who I was going to use to execute that plan. I smiled and turned to her, even though she had betrayed me, I was still happy to see her because she was the only one from my past who really knew me and what I had been through. So I embraced her. She told me, she had heard about the collection launch and had come to demand that the mental home administrators allow her see me, before luck had shined on her and she had seen me. I was not the least warmed by this bit of information because, coming to see me was not the essential thing she could have done, she could have gone to the police and told them the truth.
    The next day, I rushed to the fashion house; I needed to be there for all the gossip, it was the only way I would know how my plan had fared. The receptionist as usual was ever ready with gossip, she hammered on about how guests had fallen on each other, how one guest had fallen on someone to find out it was her fiancé who brought another girl to the show, whereas she was also with another man in the show.
    Receptionist: “But, who could have played such mean prank?” she asked.
    Leke: “You are asking the wrong question. The right question would be, why did she react the way she did?” The receptionist shrugged with her eyes wide open, the question was bigger than her. Then came Kunmi, with Banke in tow.
    Leke: “What is she doing here?” I asked pointing at Banke.
    Kunmi: “Rude much. Well she suddenly has an interest in fashion designing after last night’s debacle”
    Leke: “I would wonder if it is fashion that interests her or drama” I said, which got me a stink eye from Kunmi.
    Banke: “Hello Mikhail” she said with a small smile. I just nodded and walked away.
    Receptionist: “That boy is beginning to put on airs” I heard the receptionist say lightheartedly.
    I was working on some prototypes in my cubic office when I heard the click of heels coming towards the office. It was Nora; she walked past on her way to her office without a sideways glance. I rushed out of the office to take a look at her receding figure. I was surprised because, just yesterday, she had been shocked out of her mind, but today she was back on her feet like nothing happened.
    Leke: “Does this mean…” I began to ponder the possibility that I was wrong. No, I was not wrong, I would need to up my game, and it was time to bring Banke in.

    EPISODE 7

    Throughout the day, Banke walked up and down past my office, but I did not invite her in. I had already decided she was the right person for my plans, but I wanted her to stew, she had looked down on me the first day we met. Besides, I didn’t like her, I liked her friend Prisca, but Prisca would not be right for the kind of role I wanted Banke to play. So I made my move.
    Leke: “Banks, will you have lunch with me?” I asked as I walked into Kunmi’s office.
    Banke: “Oh, I was just about going out for lunch, so we could go together. Just let me freshen up” she rushed out to the restroom.
    Kunmi: “How old are you anyway?” she asked without raising her head from the pattern she was cutting.
    Leke: “Am twenty one” I lied. I was confident I could pull the age, after all I was big.
    Kunmi: “What about your parents?” she stopped what she was doing to look at me.
    Leke: “They are dead, I am an orphan” I replied. At least, I was not lying about that.
    Kunmi: “Oh sorry dear”
    Leke: “Why are you asking these questions, I only asked Banke for lunch, I am not marrying her” I teased.
    Kunmi: “Don’t be silly” she replied.
    Leke: “Ma’am…” I started, but Kunmi cut me off.
    Kunmi: “Mikhail stop calling me ma’am, I am Kunmi not ma’am” she retorted
    Leke: “Alright alright, Kunmi, what is going to happen to the collection launch?”
    Kunmi dropped her scissors and looked into space thoughtfully; Banke chose that moment to break the silence. I frowned at her; I was going to see if I could make Kunmi talk about Nora’s reaction, she was someone who knew my mother.
    Banke: “I am all set, let’s go” she said and we left together…
    I took her to a pizza café for pizza and chocolate fudges; I still had that love for chocolates. Not having any at the mental home did not make me lose the habit. While she ate, I watched her; she had beautiful, lean and long fingers, that had rose colored nails, I wondered if she would take on the role I had for her.
    Leke: “Do you like me?” I asked suddenly, and watched as she played with the pizza on her plate, obviously thinking of how best to respond.
    Banke: “You are a very likeable person; even my sister likes you…”
    Leke: “I want us to date” I went in for the kill, she was beating about the bush, it was the only signal I needed.
    Banke: “Really? Let me sleep on it” she said
    Leke: “How is your friend Prisca, she seems like a nice day” I asked, deliberately. She would know that I noticed Prisca, I even remembered her name. And if she really liked me as I suspected, she would want to secure her position.
    Banke: “She is fine, she is probably at her boyfriend’s place” she replied. So, she did not secure her position, but she will before the day ends.
    That evening, after work, I was at home, in the small self contained apartment in the boys’ quarter I rented monthly. I was overcome with grief, I missed my mother. I took out her picture and traced the contours of her face. I was certain that she was murdered, by whom, was the puzzle I was trying to solve. Another thing that baffled me, was the complicity of my father, did he know about the killer? I wondered. I thought back to when I was little, and the house. I took my diary where I had been writing in since I got into the mental home and began to sketch the plan of the house. The details were a bit sketchy, but it was usable. Banke would need the sketch for her undercover duties in the house. I was still drawing the plan, when my phone began to chirp, I saw a strange number and received it.
    Leke: “Hello” I said
    Banke: “Mikhail, it is Banke. Sorry, I got your number from my sister”
    Leke: “Oh that’s cool. How are you, have you had your dinner?” I asked, turning on my charm.
    Banke: “Yes, you?”
    Leke: “I have not; will get something to eat out”
    Banke: “I could throw something together for you” I refused, but I was glad, she was being caught in the web already.
    Leke: “If that is all, I would like to go about my dinner now” I said passively
    Banke: “I wanted to tell you that I have accepted your offer to date. I would like us to date” she said
    royal-prince9
    Leke: “Wow I am happy, we are a team now” I said
    Banke: “Yes, see you at the office”
    Leke: “You work with us now?”
    Banke: “Goat, I am coming because of you” she said and hung up. I pumped my fist in the air.
    Days after, my relationship with Banke was going well, she was frequenting the office. Nora however, was nowhere to be found, she had not been in the office. I took a risk one afternoon, and went to my former house. Standing outside the fear, a sense of foreboding suddenly came over me, what if someone recognized me, I thought. But I took courage and hammered on the gate. It was a new gate man, so there was no risk of being recognized here.
    Gateman: “Who you dey look for?”
    Leke: “I am an employee at Fola fashion house, I am here to see Madam Nora” I said in impeccable English. Our former gateman had been a learned man, so he always communicated in clear cut English. This one was quite different and I was soon to find out.
    Gateman: “You dey mad ni, who you dey blow oyinbo for, you dey craze?” he flared up and made to bang the gate in my face, but I held the gate.
    Gateman: “Oh, so you want to fight your father abi”
    Leke: “Na Madam Nora send me, if you no allow me, she go sack you oh” I said because my instincts told me Nora was not at home, she had probably travelled out of the country, following the debacle at the collection launch. He opened the gate a crack and glanced at me from head to toe. He was probably pleased with what he saw, so he flung the gate wide open. I went in tentatively, looking around the place in which I had been born. Not much had changed, the garden was still well kept, and the house had been freshly painted. I felt nostalgic as I walked in through the oak doors into the large living room. The picture of father when he was been interrogated by the police when Mary was attacked flashed in my head, I looked towards the staircase where I had hidden. It felt like it was yesterday. I walked up the stairs to the living area; I turned into my parents’ room. It seemed no one had lived there since mother died. It had the musty smell of a place not lived in. I opened the wardrobe; mother’s things were still intact.
    Leke: “Is Nora scared of coming here?” I asked myself, I left the room and walked to my room. I opened the door and peeked inside; it was no longer like the room I left years ago. It seemed that Nora had taken up residence here. I went in and began to rummage through her things. I did not find anything that was note worthy, so I arranged everything as I had seen it, and left. As I descended the stairs, I bumped into iyaBiliki, my eyes widened in shock.
    IyaBiliki: “Who you be and wetin you dey do here?” she asked with her hands on her waist in akimbo.
    Leke: “I am a staff in Madam Nora’s company” I said and winced as I said this.
    IyaBiliki: “Eh eh, na here is office?” she asked and came closer, peering into my face.
    Leke: “She asked to get something from her… her” I paused, and remembered that father once had an office in the house, perhaps Nora had converted it to hers, so I took a risk.
    Leke: “She asked me to get something from her office” I concluded.
    IyaBiliki: “Which office, since oga die, that witch never use that office”
    Leke: “She seemed out of it though, since that collection launch” I said fishing for gossip.
    IyaBiliki: “What is you talking. Please come and be going you no know wetindem send me” she pushed me towards the door. I almost pushed back and told her that this house belonged to me, but what would I gain, other than destroy my well laid down plans. It was time to bring Banke in. I opened the door and came face to face with Nora.
    She was decked in a black jumpsuit and Christian Louboutine shoes. My eyes were wide in shock when I saw her.
    Nora: “You are that graphic designer Kunmi talks so much about aren’t you?”
    Leke: “Yes ma’am” I stuttered.
    Nora: “So what are you doing here?”
    Question: How would Leke get out of the quagmire he has found himself, how would he explain his presence in the house?
    Throughout the day, Banke walked up and down past my office, but I did not invite her in. I had already decided she was the right person for my plans, but I wanted her to stew, she had looked down on me the first day we met. Besides, I didn’t like her, I liked her friend Prisca, but Prisca would not be the right for the kind of role I wanted Banke to play. So I made my move.
    Leke: “Banks, will you have lunch with me?” I asked as I walked into Kunmi’s office.
    Banke: “Oh, I was just about going out for lunch, so we could go together. Just let me freshen up” she rushed out to the restroom.
    Kunmi: “How old are you anyway?” she asked without raising her head from the pattern she was cutting.
    Leke: “Am twenty one” I lied. I was confident I could pull the age, after all I was big.
    Kunmi: “What about your parents?” she stopped what she was doing to look at me.
    Leke: “They are dead, I am an orphan” I replied. At least, I was not lying about that.
    Kunmi: “Oh sorry dear”
    Leke: “Why are you asking these questions, I only asked Banke for lunch, I am not marrying her” I teased.
    Kunmi: “Don’t be silly” she replied.
    Leke: “Ma’am…” I started, but Kunmi cut me off.
    Kunmi: “Mikhail stop calling me ma’am, I am Kunmi not ma’am” she retorted
    Leke: “Alright alright, Kunmi, what is going to happen to the collection launch?”
    Kunmi dropped her scissors and looked into space thoughtfully; Banke chose that moment to break the silence. I frowned at her; I was going to see if I could make Kunmi talk about Nora’s reaction, she was someone who knew my mother.
    Banke: “I am all set, let’s go” she said and we left together…
    I took her to a pizza café for pizza and chocolate fudges; I still had that love for chocolates. Not having any at the mental home did not make me lose the habit. While she ate, I watched her; she had beautiful, lean and long fingers, that had rose colored nails, I wondered if she would take on the role I had for her.
    Leke: “Do you like me?” I asked suddenly, and watched as she played with the pizza on her plate, obviously thinking of how best to respond.
    Banke: “You are a very likeable person; even my sister likes you…”
    Leke: “I want us to date” I went in for the kill, she was beating about the bush, it was the only signal I needed.
    Banke: “Really? Let me sleep on it” she said
    Leke: “How is your friend Prisca, she seems like a nice day” I asked, deliberately. She would know that I noticed Prisca, I even remembered her name. And if she really liked me as I suspected, she would want to secure her position.
    Banke: “She is fine, she is probably at her boyfriend’s place” she replied. So, she did not secure her position, but she will before the day ends.
    That evening, after work, I was at home, in the small self contained apartment in the boys’ quarter I rented monthly. I was overcome with grief, I missed my mother. I took out her picture and traced the contours of her face. I was certain that she was murdered, by whom, was the puzzle I was trying to solve. Another thing that baffled me, was the complicity of my father, did he know about the killer? I wondered. I thought back to when I was little, and the house. I took my diary where I had been writing in since I got into the mental home and began to sketch the plan of the house. The details were a bit sketchy, but it was usable. Banke would need the sketch for her undercover duties in the house. I was still drawing the plan, when my phone began to chirp, I saw a strange number and received it.
    Leke: “Hello” I said
    Banke: “Mikhail, it is Banke. Sorry, I got your number from my sister”
    Leke: “Oh that’s cool. How are you, have you had your dinner?” I asked, turning on my charm.
    Banke: “Yes, you?”
    Leke: “I have not; will get something to eat out”
    Banke: “I could throw something together for you” I refused, but I was glad, she was being caught in the web already.
    Leke: “If that is all, I would like to go about my dinner now” I said passively
    Banke: “I wanted to tell you that I have accepted your offer to date. I would like us to date” she said
    Leke: “Wow I am happy, we are a team now” I said
    Banke: “Yes, see you at the office”
    Leke: “You work with us now?”
    Banke: “Goat, I am coming because of you” she said and hung up. I pumped my fist in the air.
    Days after, my relationship with Banke was going well, she was frequenting the office. Nora however, was nowhere to be found, she had not been in the office. I took a risk one afternoon, and went to my former house. Standing outside the fear, a sense of foreboding suddenly came over me, what if someone recognized me, I thought. But I took courage and hammered on the gate. It was a new gate man, so there was no risk of being recognized here.
    Gateman: “Who you dey look for?”
    Leke: “I am an employee at Fola fashion house, I am here to see Madam Nora” I said in impeccable English. Our former gateman had been a learned man, so he always communicated in clear cut English. This one was quite different and I was soon to find out.
    Gateman: “You dey mad ni, who you dey blow oyinbo for, you dey craze?” he flared up and made to bang the gate in my face, but I held the gate.
    Gateman: “Oh, so you want to fight your father abi”
    Leke: “Na Madam Nora send me, if you no allow me, she go sack you oh” I said because my instincts told me Nora was not at home, she had probably travelled out of the country, following the debacle at the collection launch. He opened the gate a crack and glanced at me from head to toe. He was probably pleased with what he saw, so he flung the gate wide open. I went in tentatively, looking around the place in which I had been born. Not much had changed, the garden was still well kept, and the house had been freshly painted. I felt nostalgic as I walked in through the oak doors into the large living room. The picture of father when he was been interrogated by the police when Mary was attacked flashed in my head, I looked towards the staircase where I had hidden. It felt like it was yesterday. I walked up the stairs to the living area; I turned into my parents’ room. It seemed no one had lived there since mother died. It had the musty smell of a place not lived in. I opened the wardrobe; mother’s things were still intact.
    Leke: “Is Nora scared of coming here?” I asked myself, I left the room and walked to my room. I opened the door and peeked inside; it was no longer like the room I left years ago. It seemed that Nora had taken up residence here. I went in and began to rummage through her things. I did not find anything that was note worthy, so I arranged everything as I had seen it, and left. As I descended the stairs, I bumped into iyaBiliki, my eyes widened in shock.
    IyaBiliki: “Who you be and wetin you dey do here?” she asked with her hands on her waist in akimbo.
    Leke: “I am a staff in Madam Nora’s company” I said and winced as I said this.
    IyaBiliki: “Eh eh, na here is office?” she asked and came closer, peering into my face.
    Leke: “She asked to get something from her… her” I paused, and remembered that father once had an office in the house, perhaps Nora had converted it to hers, so I took a risk.
    Leke: “She asked me to get something from her office” I concluded.
    IyaBiliki: “Which office, since oga die, that witch never use that office”
    Leke: “She seemed out of it though, since that collection launch” I said fishing for gossip.
    IyaBiliki: “What is you talking. Please come and be going you no know wetindem send me” she pushed me towards the door. I almost pushed back and told her that this house belonged to me, but what would I gain, other than destroy my well laid down plans. It was time to bring Banke in. I opened the door and came face to face with Nora.
    She was decked in a black jumpsuit and Christian Louboutine shoes. My eyes were wide in shock when I saw her.
    Nora: “You are that graphic designer Kunmi talks so much about aren’t you?”
    Leke: “Yes ma’am” I stuttered.
    Nora: “So what are you doing here?”

    EPISODE 8

    I opened the big oak door and came face to face, with Nora. She was decked in a black jumpsuit and Christian Louboutine shoes. My eyes were wide in shock when I saw her.
    Nora: “You are that graphic designer Kunmi talks so much about aren’t you?” she asked with her brows arched.
    Leke: “Yes ma’am” I stuttered.
    Nora: “So what are you doing here?”
    Leke: “I was worried that after the failed collection launch, you have not been coming to the office, I got the address from Kunmi” I said earnestly. I could see a faint trace of a smile on her lips.
    Nora: “You came to see me, so why are you leaving without seeing me, come on, perhaps we could talk about the fashion brand” she said and I saw a lonely woman, desperate for any link to a human being. I turned on my heels and we walked back in. Iya Biliki was giving me the stink eye, she obviously knew that Nora had not sent me, and wrote it off to an overzealous staff.
    Iya Biliki: “Olofofo” I heard her mutter under her breath.
    Nora did not entertain me in the living room as I had expected, she took me to her bedroom to my utter surprise. I was already calling her stink names in my head expecting that the woman was going to ask me for sex. I was also scared that I would be a disappointment since all I knew about sex were the things I read in books. But Nora did not have her mind on sex.
    Nora: “It is a little inappropriate to bring you into my bedroom, but it is the only place I feel safe. It is ironic though that this room belonged to…” she stopped talking, even when I was hanging on her every word.
    Leke: “Belonged to who?” I asked, desperate for her to continue, but she stared into space like she had not heard me.
    Nora: “What will you have, I have exotic wines, old wines in the cellar”
    Leke: “I will have Chardonnay if you don’t mind” I said. She stopped on her tracks, turned and looked at me. Chardonnay was my father’s favorite white wine; mother also took up on the taste while they were dating, so it was all they drank at home while they were alive.
    Nora: “How old are you anyway?” she asked
    Leke: “I am twenty five” I lied.
    We talked about the fashion house, but anytime I tried to bring up the incident that happened on the day of the collection launch, she would brush it aside. Then she asked about my family, I told her I was an orphan and she had the effrontery to feel sorry. It took all my will power to keep smiling, when what I really wanted to do was bash her head. I asked to leave when it was getting dark, and she was beginning to slur her words. I told myself there would be other chances. Besides, Banke had been burning up my phone with calls. On my way out of my former house, I called Banke to meet me somewhere so I could take her to my place. I was angry and she was the closest victim, I was determined to exert my anger at the whole of humanity. Banke came, dressed in a super short dress, and her face was all made up. She obviously came with expectations, and I was not going to disappoint, at least in giving her what she wants.
    Leke: “Why are you dressed up, are we going out?”I asked mockingly.
    Banke: “You are so unromantic. Compliment me if you wish, stop beating around the bush” she replied and threw herself on the bed. The short while before she came, I had groomed myself, so when I went to the bed and pulled her up for a warm embrace, she was hit by a huge amount of male freshness. When I tried to pull away from the embrace, she leaned in closer, holding on to my Tommy Hilfiger vest. I pulled away nevertheless; I was not going to be that guy who rushed a girl like he had never had sex, even though I have never really had sex. I took out a bottle of red wine from the bedside refrigerator and poured two glasses.
    Banke: “Wow, cool” she said as the rich taste of Cabernet sauvignon hit her taste buds. As we sipped the wine, she talked about herself, all the relationships she had been in and her expectations for our relationship. She had high expectations; it was too bad that I was not the one for them because, even though I had to pull on big boy pants quite early, I was just sixteen. Everything she knew about me was a lie.
    Leke: “Relax, you are just twenty one, live” I said. If she had wisdom, she would have got the message. The fact that she did not though, was good for me. When I leaned towards her, she tilted her head and I brushed light kisses on her lips. I deepened the kiss when I felt her shudder, and saw her metamorphose into a wild sex beast. She pushed me to the bed and began to ravish me. I wanted to take back the controls, but she was not letting go of the reins. Before I knew it, she had flung her dress away.
    Leke: “Have you done this before?” I asked, suddenly afraid I would mess up, Banke was not naïve after all.
    Banke: “You haven’t?” she asked incredulously.
    Leke: “I have never quite found the right girl, until now” I said gazing into her eyes. If I had to admit my virginity, I best present it in a romantic way. I was not about to tell her I was still a virgin because I was locked up in a house for loonies for ten years.
    Banke: “I am honored. I feel so ashamed now, wish I waited for you” she replied with doe eyes, looking up to me like I held the keys to the kingdom.
    Leke: “No need to be, all that matters is now” I said patronizing her. I began to trail kisses all over her naked body, I felt her turn jelly under my hot lips. The reins of control were back in my hands.
    When I opened my eyes, the sun was up. My heart raced in fear, had I slept off my first chance with a girl? I panicked.
    Banke: “Morning sunshine” she said with a wide satisfied smile. The memories of last night began to return to me. It was lit; I had done well, even at my first trial, all thanks to all the kamasutra I read.
    Leke: “Morning bae” I replied and got out of bed.
    Banke: “I am so in love with you” she exclaimed, I stopped in my tracks and went back to bed to lean in for a kiss. Even though I was not feeling her, I had to treat her well, so she would be malleable for me to use in my plot against Nora.
    Leke: “When does your school resume?”
    Banke: “In December, I have months to kill before then. I would have been so bored if I did not have you” she said, smiling sheepishly. She was beginning to irritate me, did she have sex and lose her brains after wards? I wondered.
    Leke: “I have something that will keep you engaged. We are a team right?”
    Banke: “Sure boo” she said excitedly.
    Leke: “I want to do a documentary on Nora Aboderine. The incident at the collection launch has got me thinking. It seems Nora came out from nowhere and became the chairman of Fola fashion house. I want you to be my eyes and ears.” I said carefully, watching her facial expressions.
    Banke: “You want me to spy on your boss, and my sister’s boss?” she asked, getting up suddenly from the bed, to go stand by the window.

    EPISODE 9

    I walked up to her, and stood behind her; I held her and rested my head on her back. While I had put on a pair of boxers, Banke was still prancing around in her birthday suit; she had a beautiful body though.
    Leke: “We are a team remember, who else would I commit this delicate task to, if not you?” I said, infusing a bit of sadness in my voice. She turned around immediately and held me; all her reluctance was gone, at the prospect of getting someone else to do the job.
    Banke: “But how would I achieve that?” she asked, as a worry frown creased her brow.
    Leke: “You are a smart girl, you will figure it out” I kissed her forehead; I knew girls loved that gesture.
    Banke: “I will do anything if it would make you happy” she said, kissing me on the lips.
    Leke: “Be sure to keep this between us, this is our project, I don’t want your sister interfering”
    Banke: “Sure” she replied excitedly. It was weekend, but I did not want to spend it with her. I Had woken up with an epiphany and I had decided to start working out. So living in a mental home made me fat, but I wouldn’t stay fat. I needed to up my game and I wanted the kind of body men in playboy magazines have. But if I told Banke I was going to the gym, she would want to follow me, so I told her I had a class to attend.
    Banke: “What class?” she asked, pouting her lips. She had obviously planned to stay the whole day with me.
    Leke: “A graphics design course I registered for” That got her out of the house and out of my hair.
    So, I jogged down to the gym, the cost of registration here was steep, but with my salary, I could afford it. I had just walked into the gym, when I bumped into Prisca, Banke’s friend. She had on a pair of yoga pants, and boy, was she hot? She was sizzling hot in a pair of thin yoga pants, and a sports bra. Her body glistened with sweat drops; it seemed she had been working out before I came.
    Leke: “Oh my God” I whispered as my jaws dropped. I did not realize she was this sexy.
    Prisca: “Mikhail! You are here?” she exclaimed excitedly.
    Leke: “Yes bae, I am looking to lose some pounds” I said, licking my lips.
    Prisca: “Let me take you to my personal trainer, he is the best here” she said pulling me by the hand. My eyes fixed on her perky butt all the way to the trainer. The trainer, who was a hulk of a man, put me through intense routines until all my muscles were sore.
    Leke: “Prisca, you are the most beautiful girl I have seen” I said as we walked out of the gym.
    Prisca: “Thanks, but you chose Banke, even when she was rude to you the first time”
    Leke: “Uhm, actually, she asked me out, and her sister being my boss and all, I didn’t want to get on her wrong side. It was you I wanted all along, my heart recognized you the very first time I saw you” I said. Of course it was all lies, sure I had noticed her the first time, but it was because she was gazing intently at me, not because my heart was doing any leaps over her.
    Prisca: “Hmmn, so what do you want?” she asked as she stopped by a BMW car.
    Leke: “I still want you” I said cautiously, I didn’t want to come across as disloyal to Banke.
    Prisca: “Not until you ditch Banke, I don’t share” she said as she opened the car with a remote control.
    Leke: “Come on bae, are you going to put something as beautiful as us on hold, because of Banke? I thought you were the confident type who went after what she wants” I said as I pushed her against the car, and smashed my lips on hers. We pulled apart, each breathless, and I rushed to apologize.
    Leke: “Am sorry Prisca, I was caught up in the moment” I was not sorry the least, I kissed her deliberately, but I had to make her think me a gentleman who was at the mercy of his emotions.
    Prisca: “I don’t know I don’t want your girlfriend to pour hot water on me oh” she said twirling a strand of her hair.
    Leke: “Will you be my girlfriend?” I asked and she smiled. I knew I had her already.
    Prisca: “Where are you headed, I could drop you off”
    Leke: “Are you ready to go home, I am not, let’s go to a café and catch a few chocolate drinks” I said, even though I knew my salary account was running low, but I could starve myself to spend a little time with Prisca. I needed to be sure I had her. She agreed and we went to Browns’ Café in Victoria Island, it was a long drive from Lekki because, the traffic jam was much. We got to Brown’s café at brunch hour, and settled to cakes and chocolate drinks.
    Prisca: “I love a guy who likes chocolate” she said as she nibbled on her cake.
    Leke: “So are you also going to Unilag?” I asked
    Prisca: “I am not interested in University right now; I want to build my company for a year or two. University education is not running away” I was floored by her response, she was smart. She was my dream girl, beauty with brains, but I was not looking for a partner, I was just looking to have fun, all the fun I was denied for ten years.
    Leke: “Cool, what kind of company is that?” I asked passively, like I was not floored.
    Prisca: “A media company, a blog that I want to metamorphose into a media empire” she replied
    Leke: “Oh, so what do you blog about?”
    Prisca: “I am pleased that you are this interested, well, I blog about everything black people, black celebrities, black people doing wonderful things, and so on. It is thriving though, I have about 200000 followers, but I am hoping for more”
    Leke: “Hopefully, when I come into my own, you would promote my fashion brand”
    Prisca: “You are interested in fashion, cool, I know a couple of fashion institutes I could recommend for you” That’s how we chatted till the sun went down, and dusk set in. Time flew and we weren’t aware, we were so immersed in our conversation. She was really my dream girl. But was I ready to give up my plan with Banke for Prisca? No, I was not, giving up would be like giving up on my mother. Love could wait, I wasn’t ready. We decided to have dinner, and she offered to pay, I didn’t mind because I was already red. She ordered gizdodo and asun for both of us, and we chased it down with glasses of red wine. The waiter also bought us a bowl of quinoa salad on the house. It was an understatement to say I had a wonderful time. It was the first time I had ever felt alive since leaving the, mental home. I went home satisfied, but guilty.
    It was a month after that encounter, I was having sex regularly with Banke, but Prisca was not giving me any. Nevertheless, whenever we met, it was intellectual o----m, and I was not cool with just that. We made out a lot and just when I was really getting into it, she would pull away. I was beginning to see her as a tease, but I could not stay away. Banke on the other hand was yet to find a way to get close to Nora, she was more interested in spending nights in my apartment. I was beginning to wonder why her sister had no control over her. My phone was filled with nude pictures of Banke, which she had sent through whatsapp. The girl had no chill at all.
    I was working on a prototype, I had learnt a lot from Kunmi since being here, so my prototypes were better. Nora had no time for the business, if not for Kunmi, the brand would have been relegated to the background. In spite of Kunmi’s advice, she refused to organize another collection launch. I guess she was scared that something might happen again, I guess she knew someone was on to her. Banke walked in, with a wide grin on her face.
    Banke: “Bae, I found the perfect way to enter Mrs. Aboderine” she said.
    Leke: “Great, let me hear it” I said as I stood up from my chair to come stand before her.
    Banke: “I will be her personal assistant!” she exclaimed like she had discovered the way to the sun.
    Leke: “How are you going to convince her to take you on as her personal secretary?”
    Banke: “I already did, through my sister. I resume tomorrow! Yaay!” she exclaimed joyfully. I embraced her, I was excited myself. Finally my plan was beginning to move forward.
    Leke: “You came through for me, I love you” I said without meaning a word I said.
    Banke: “I love you too boo” she kissed me, just as Kunmi walked in.
    Kunmi: “Keep your romance out of our offices, is this the reason you wanted to work here?” she said feigning anger.
    Banke: “Come on, sister. Mikhail loves me, and I love him too”
    Kunmi: “Eeew, young love, so irritating” she teased and left the office.
    Leke: “We have got to be more careful now, what if it had been the missus?” I asked, not the least pleased with Kunmi knowing about the relationship.
    During Lunch break, Banke offered to treat me to lunch, we were on our way out when we bumped into Nora; she was just alighting from her car.
    Nora: “How are you Mikhail” I was surprised she remembered the alias. I was about to reply when I heard my real name, in Mary’s voice.
    Mary: “Leke!” she called. Nora turned, her face was Ashamed, she had gone pale like she was going to faint.

    EPISODE 10

    I froze, and held on to Banke’s hand tightly. But Mary had seen my face and seen Nora. She quickly began acting a script I am sure she did not write.
    Mary: “Leke, Leke won’t allow me rest. I see him everywhere I go, he won’t allow me rest, I want to talk” she said acting like she was psycho. Nora did not mind that we were standing there, perhaps she did not remember, in her state of confusion. She rushed at Mary and pushed her to the ground and began to wrestle her. I discreetly brought out my android phone and began to video all I was seeing.
    Nora: “How dare you show your face here? Do you want to die? Don’t you dare mention that name near me, don’t you dare say a word to anybody” she yelled on top of her voice. Her aides had heard of the altercation by people going into the fashion house, they ran out to separate her from Mary. I simply put the phone in my pocket and watched. Mary had bruises all over her face from fingernail scratches.
    Mary: “I am no longer scared, I need my peace. I must talk!” she wailed.
    Nora: “Get that woman!” she yelled to one of her aides. I moved at the same time that the aide moved, and we both collided into each other, our head meet in a knock. We both held our heads in agony, by the time we turned, Mary had gone. That had been my intent, and Nora was staring directly at me. My heart caught in my chest, I was afraid she knew what I did.
    Nora: “Why did you move, could you have caught her?” she asked, her eyes fiery. I was not bothered by her anger, she only thought I was being overzealous, my true intent was hidden from her.
    Leke: “I am sorry ma’am” I said.
    Nora: “Look now, you have hurt yourself” she said. I was not surprised that she had a soft spot for me; it has been a long time coming. Since I started my gym routine, I looked better, where there had been fat, there was muscle. So, I knew a worldly woman like her would be tripping. I apologized and quickly excused myself.
    I watched the video more times than I could count, and I was convinced that I was on the path of truth. I could not wait for Banke to start bringing evidences. I called Prisca and told her I had breaking news, one that had not appeared on any other blog. She agreed to meet for lunch the next day. I was happy, but the problem was how to avoid Banke during lunch. I only hoped that her new job would weigh her down during lunch.
    The next day, as soon as it was lunch break, I rushed out of the office, but walked straight into Banke coming up the stairs.
    Banke: “Where are you going to, in such a hurry?” she asked with her eye brows up.
    Leke: “I have a class, the design course” I said.
    Banke: “Can it wait, I have got something” she said as she pulled out her phone, she asked me to switch on my Bluetooth, which I did. A video entered my phone, I opened it to watch. It was Nora in her office making a call, she was saying;
    Nora: “Everything I did, I did for you. I gave you the life you wanted and yet you married someone else. Do you know what it took to give you what you now enjoy? I can remove you from that position, if I choose” she was saying. I turned to Banke and smiled.
    Leke: “This is really good, how did you get it?”
    Banke: “Her phone rang, and she asked me to leave the office, I knew it would be juicy. So I left, but not before dropping my phone with the video running” she said cockishly. I embraced her and planted a kiss on her fore head; I was truly appreciative of this. I could feel I was getting closer.
    Leke: “It is exciting, isn’t it?”
    Banke: “Super exciting, I should start a blog you know, spy on celebrities” she replied, her eyes alive with excitement.
    Leke: “But you are going to the university” I said, I didn’t want anyone intruding on Prisca’s turf. I was really beginning to have tender feelings towards her.
    Banke: “Of course I am just wishing. Prisca does blogging, what does she get from it?” she scoffed. I felt like hitting her for making mockery of Prisca.
    Leke: “Don’t talk about your friend, like that” I said, and she flipped me off.
    Banke: “So we will see this evening?”
    Leke: “Sure, there is something I want you to do” I kissed her on the fore head and hurried away. Prisca had sent me a text; she was already at Browns’ café waiting for me. I had arranged for a uber ride as I was descending the stairs, just before I met Banke. I hopped into it, and it drove me straight to the café. Prisca was sitting in a secluded booth, her laptop open before her, and a cup of latte on the table.
    Leke: “Hello sweet” I kissed her hair as I sat down.
    Prisca: “Quick question, are you still seeing Banke?” she asked the minute I sat across her.
    Leke: “Wow, did you dream of her last night?”
    Prisca: “I dreamed of you instead. I am really beginning to fall for you, and I need to know if you are down with me. Seriously I don’t want emotional distress” she said matter-of-factly
    Leke: “I am no longer seeing her. I brought you a video, I think it will drive traffic to your blog” I said changing the subject immediately, as I slipped out my phone. She watched the video and was impressed.
    Prisca: “This is hot! But how come, you are making videos of your boss”
    Leke: “It is newsworthy, the question is what is between her and that lady, why was she intent on silencing her. These are questions you should ask, you are not curious enough. You should hire a curious paparazzi if you can’t go around, sourcing for news”
    Prisca: “You are amazing” she said, staring into my eyes.
    That evening, even though I would have loved to spend it with Prisca, I called Banke to come to the house. She even brought food she had cooked.
    Leke: “You even have time to cook?” I asked surprised, when she opened the thermos flask.
    Banke: “My job is not really tasking” she smiled sheepishly.
    Leke: “What about our project. I need you to follow the missus around. Did you see what happened today, Missus has something to hide, something juicy. Think of how big this documentary is going to be and what we both can get from it. Our wedding will be in Dubai because we can afford it, with the proceeds from this documentary” I said, deliberately bringing up the marriage angle.
    Banke: “Oh my God Mikhail, that is so romantic” she leaned into me for a kiss. But I stylishly pulled away, because if I give in, we would go many rounds before Banke is satisfied, and I really needed her to focus.
    Leke: “Because of what we have to achieve, I want us to up our game. I will give you a tablet to put in her coffee when you serve her tomorrow”
    Banke: “Oh Mikhail, this is getting dangerous. What if I get caught, besides, what is that?”
    Leke: “It won’t harm her, trust me. It will only make her uninhibited. We need to know what is up with that drama of today, time is running out”
    Banke: “If you say so” she said. I smiled in my heart; I was going to give Nora a dose of her own medicine, not literally. When I was six, Nora had come to take me from the hospital where I went to see Mary, and she had put something in the juice she gave me. That is the reason Zolpidem , was found in my blood work. I had however found out the effects of Zolpidem, and hallucination was one of them. I put the little tablet in an envelope and gave it to Banke before she left.
    Throughout the night I could not sleep, I was anticipating tomorrow. I knew the works of Zolpidem, so I knew the canary will sing, but what would she say? Would I be right? I was also scared that things could go wrong, Banke could be caught. In all my anticipation of the next day, I did not anticipate what finally happened.
    The next morning, I was up early, did a little weight lifting, bathe and dressed up. I was going to commute from Lekki to Victoria Island where the fashion house was located. Kunmi was already at the office, I watched her as she worked with her team on a bespoke dress, which was draped on a mannequin. It was past eleven before Nora came into the house. She had big eye bags like she did not sleep.
    Nora: “Banke!” I heard her call, down the hall. Where the hell did Banke go? I walked to her office which was the outer office before you got to Nora’s office. I searched in her bag and fortunately saw the envelope I had given her the night before. I slipped the little tablet into my pocket and proceeded into Nora’s office.
    Leke: “Good morning ma’am, I am not sure Banke is in the office. Is there something you needed?” I asked politely.
    Nora: “I had a board meeting at the oil company, all through the night. Please brew me a cup of coffee” she said. I walked straight to the coffee maker and poured in some coffee beans and threw in the tablet before I brewed. After it was made, I poured into a cup and gave it to her. She sipped it like she was a vampire drinking blood. It was the Zolpidem, she was probably misusing some drugs. After a while, her eyes rolled back in her head. She stood up, and began to point at me. I brought out my phone and began to film.

    EPISODE 11

    Nora: “Adeleke, you just could not stay in the mental home, could you? You think you can get back all I have taken? You lie my dear. I have gone too far to give up now. Do you know? I attacked Mary, and framed you for it. She could have saved you; but I bribed her with rehabilitating her legs, and she did not care about you. Was she not pretending like she could protect you?” Nora said, laughing hysterically.
    Leke: “I know about that”
    Nora: “You know, so why are you still here, you should go hide because you can’t defeat me. Even your father knows”
    Leke: “You killed him too, didn’t you and my mother too” But Nora didn’t answer, her eyes had rolled back again into her head, she slumped on a couch in the office and zonked out. I slipped the phone into my pocket. This was good, but not good enough, she had not given me the real gist, but this could get her jail term. Now that things were beginning to play out, I was patient; I didn’t want to make a mistake. As I walked out of the office, I bumped into Banke, I pulled her away to my office, where she flung her hand away.
    Leke: “She is sleeping; she looked for you but didn’t find you. Where were you, you had a job to do, and couldn’t do it”
    Banke: “Don’t even talk to me in that condescending tone. You have the audacity to date two friends?” My heart skipped a bit.
    Leke: “What are you talking about?”
    Banke: “You know d--n right what I am talking about. I saw the video you made yesterday on Prisca’s blog, and when I asked her, she told me you gave her. I didn’t know you were talking with her” she said her cheeks flaming with fury. I stayed quiet composing my thoughts, all my plans since I came out of the mental home was on the line if I did not convince Banke of my loyalty to her.
    Leke: “And you just concluded I was dating her. I stumbled on her blog and I needed some cash to purchase the drug we would use in our project. You have done so much for us that I didn’t want to ask you for money. I sold the video to Prisca”
    Banke: “I will ask her and if you are lying…” I did not let her finish.
    Leke: “Ssh, don’t say it. Something you don’t know is that Prisca has eyes for me, if you give her the impression that we are not firm, she will go after me. Is that what you want?” Her confidence began to waver, she was sure I was cheating on her before, but now, she was not sure. And she was not ready to let her friend know there was trouble in paradise.
    Banke: “I am sorry for doubting you; I don’t know what I was thinking” she said and embraced me.
    Leke: “Promise me we will not have this conversation again” I said firmly
    Banke: “I promise baby” she said earnestly.
    Leke: “Now go wake your boss” I said and walked away to my office, thanking the stars that I had taken care of the issue. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if she had really believed I was cheating on her, she definitely would have destroyed all I had taken time to build.
    Leke: “The b---h! She was already threatening me, after she will say she loves me” I muttered under my breath. The anger overcame me, I was mad at her for thinking she could hold me to ransom; she had forgotten one little detail. I had her nudes, and the day she hurts me, I will make sure her image is tarnished forever. The thought of the ace I had over her calmed me, and I could settle again to work.
    Before lunch the video of Nora straddling Mary and threatening her not to confess had gone viral. The human resource department was running helter skelter, trying to salvage the situation, and all the while, Nora was sleeping under the inducement of Zolpidem. No one could wake her up. The phone lines were buzzing with reporters wanting to ask one question or the other. By the time Nora woke, the question on everyone’s lips was; “What did Nora have to hide, and who was Mary?”
    By the next day, the media had dug out the attack on Mary ten years ago, and how I was thrown into the mental home for it. People began to wonder if the child might have been innocent, and if Nora was in fact responsible for the attack on Mary. Among their musings was the question of how Mary managed to rehabilitate her leg, if she was just a nanny at the time. People began to connect two and two. I checked Prisca’s blog, and began to read the comments on the video, people rained curses on Nora for framing a child for the crime he did not commit. This was my second best day since leaving the mental home, I was practically bubbling. I walked by Nora’s office and Banke was at the secretary’s table.
    Leke: “What is happening here Banks, hope your ears and your camera are open to receive”
    Banke: “This project is beginning to seem like it is aimed at destroying the boss. You should not have sent that video” she said.
    Leke: “I told you, it’s just a onetime thing. Besides, don’t you want to know the kind of person she is?”
    Banke: “We have all got secrets, leave her to hers. She is going out of her mind, I feel bad for her”
    Leke: “If you want to feel bad, feel bad for the people whose lives she has destroyed!” I said vehemently, banging the desk before me. Banke shuddered in fright; she stood up and walked away in a hurry. I shoved my fingers through my hair, I could not believe I had lost control, but I really felt like shaking sense into Banke. How could she pity Nora, did Nora pity me when she killed my mother and sent me to a mental home for something she did? I needed to calm myself, and since I was not doing anything, I left the office. I called Prisca on the way and she told me she was not busy, so we agreed to meet up at our favorite Browns’ café. I arranged an Uber ride on my phone, and in two minutes the cab arrived.
    At the Browns’ Café, Prisca was not there yet, so I ordered my favorite chocolate drink poured on ice rocks. As I took the first drink, I felt it cool its way down my oesophagus to my stomach, I felt calmness return to my body. It was just in time for Prisca arrival, I watched her as she wormed her way through the café which was crowded at this time. The morning gym routines were paying off, her curves were more defined, I could see her toned arms in the sleeveless sundress she wore. I realized I was falling in love with Prisca, she was the only one I wanted to talk to when am upset, I felt happy whenever I thought of her. But how could I tell her that what she knows about me are all lies?
    Prisca: “Hello bae” she said and kissed me on the lips as she came to where I was sitting. She went ahead and wrapped her arms around me, resting her head on mine.
    Leke: “I can feel so much love from you, is it our anniversary yet?” I teased.
    Prisca: “Silly, you are amazing, I just hit 1 million followers today, I already have deals on my table. I am rich!”
    Leke: “Weren’t you rich before?”
    Prisca: “That was my parents’ money, this is mine. I am officially a business woman, and it is all thanks to you. I love you” she kissed my head.
    Leke: “What will you have?”
    Prisca: “Order anything, and then I want to show you where I live” she said. My heart leaped for joy, she was finally letting me into her life. And I knew that today would be the day she gave her body to me. But luck was not on my side as things turned around for the worst. I was signaling the waiter to come when I saw Banke approaching us, her face was contorted in fury and I knew that I was going to lose Prisca today.
    Banke: “You b---h!” she said and hit Prisca across the face.
    Prisca: “Banke, what is the meaning of this?”
    Banke: “You are here, kissing and smooching my boyfriend, and you ask me questions?” she asked, ready to give Prisca another slap but I held her hand.
    Leke: “Why do you have to me create scenes, do you thrive on drama?” I asked her. I saw the hurt in her eyes, as they well over with tears.
    Banke: “After everything I have done for you? This, What does she have that I don’t?” she asked jerking me by the shirt. Prisca raised her eyes to me, I saw the hurt, I had hurt the girl I loved the most. I saw the security men approaching us, and tried to detangle Banke’s hands from my shirt, but her grip was firm. Prisca shook her head and walked away just as the security men reached us.
    Security: “Please you have to leave now” one said. The shame burned on my face, and the anger slowly began to seep back in. I shoved Banke, and she fell backward to the floor, then I left the café. Banke had destroyed my love nest with Prisca; I would never be able to return to Browns’ café.
    Unknown to me, Banke had gone straight to the office, from the café and to Nora. She had met Nora when she was brainstorming with her aides, trying to ascertain who made the video, and how it was disseminated.
    Banke: “I know who you are looking for, it is Mikhail” she said standing before them. Her face stained with tears and her mascara running down her face.

    EPISODE 12

    I was surprised after I had called Prisca several times without her responding to any of my calls, Banke’s calls came in. I was still angry that she had caused problems between me and Prisca, but I received the call anyway, she still had me by the balls. I was not ready to expose myself to Nora, till I was ready to bring her down and get justice served.
    Leke: “Hello” I said, in a nonchalant voice.
    Banke: “Hmmn, am sorry” she said. I could feel that she was forcing herself to apologize. Truthfully, it was the not in her place to do so, I was the one at fault, I was cheating on her. So why was she forcing herself to apologize, she was a beautiful young woman per physical looks; she could get any man she wanted. I put it down to her love for me. I told myself she was obsessed with me.
    Leke: “You don’t have to apologize, I was wrong to get close to Prisca, but I have never cheated on you. She called me, and said she wanted to treat me to lunch as an appreciation of the video which made her click one million followers. I didn’t know how to tell her to stop smooching me, because I did not want to spoil her joy”
    Banke: “Really, that b---h has been eyeing you from the onset” she said, I could hear the anger in her voice.
    Leke: “Hope you have not done something crazy in your moment of rage”
    Banke: “You think I exposed your project, I didn’t. I would have but I realized that I loved you and I couldn’t do that to you” she retorted, and I pumped my fist in the air…literally
    Leke: “This is a temporary setback, I love you and we will make it”
    Banke: “I love you too” she replied and we kissed.
    Weeks after, Banke had begun to act up, she would bring up excuses that would keep her from coming to my place, and she also did not come to my office regularly as she was used to. I was in my office one day when Nora walked in; I had a ready smile on my lips. I was ready to seduce her because, since the issue with Prisca, Banke had not been bringing any evidence. She wouldn’t allow me put a drug in Nora’s coffee, I needed Nora to confess all I thought she did. So I was ready to seduce her, if that would get me what I want.
    Nora: “I checked our records, and you came in from the cleaning staff, you submitted no credentials or means of identification” she said. My heart began to hammer in my chest.
    Leke: “Yes I did not; it was not required for my level of work”
    Nora: “What did you say your name is?” she asked sounding disinterested, but under that I could sense her interest.
    Leke: “I am Mikhail” I said trying my best not to stutter.
    Nora: “I meant your surname” she replied impatiently.
    Leke: “Uhm, Samoa” I picked a name out of thin air.
    Nora: “I see. Sorry for the interrogation, but the things that are happening are beginning to look like sabotage, so we are checking our staff. Everybody is accounted for, except the lower level staff like the cleaners, which I would get to. So I would like to see some sort of identification”
    Leke: “I will get it to you ma’am” I replied, even as my mind was racing. She turned to leave, and I went back to the prototype I was working on. But when I raised my head, I saw her standing by the door, and I could swear I saw something in her eyes.
    I was worried throughout the day, I told myself the curtain would soon fall, it was time to make a contingency plan. I went on the net and began to search Google for private investigators in Lagos. By the time I closed for the day, I had two investigators I wanted to check out, but I was also thinking of what Nora had said, I wondered where I would get a fake identity, I was also worried about Prisca. She had not been receiving my calls for weeks, and she also stopped coming to the gym where we usually did workout.
    I called Banke to come spend the night with me as she would have done before the Prisca issue, but she came up with another excuse. So I spent the night tumbling from one side of the bed to the other thinking of all the things I had to do. For the first time since I left the mental home, I cried. I was just sixteen going on seventeen, but I was wearing shoes that were proving to be bigger than me. My mother while alive, would tell me that God always watched over the world, so if there was a God and he was watching, why did he allow the bad things that happened to me, to happen? The God factor was created by human beings, I had read that in a book and I believed it. Even though there was something in my heart trying to convince me to the contrary.
    The next day, I called Kunmi to ask to be excused from work because I was sick. I wanted to use that day to see two investigators I had picked and see if they were worth their mettle. I also wanted to ask around for fake identity cards and all. I called Mary on the number she gave me; I thought perhaps she could help me with the fake identity; after all she was not as innocent as I had thought her to be.
    Leke: “Hello ma’am” I said as she picked on the first ring.
    Mary: “I am still Mary, I have not changed Leke”
    Leke: “You have. Why did you come to the fashion house, were you going to blackmail Nora into giving you more money?”
    Mary: “I came to see you, not her. I wanted to tell you that I am ready to confess” That was a shocker to me.
    Leke: “So why have you not confessed?”
    Mary: “Are you ready to let the world know your true identity?”
    Leke: “Am not. It is the reason I called you, I need fake identity card, where can I get one?”
    Mary: “I will ask my nephew. I will call you when I have answer” she replied, and I hung up immediately.
    I got into the office and the first person I saw was Banke, I pulled her into a corridor and smashed my lips on hers. But she did not respond, her lips were like cold marble, and she was like a lifeless statue.
    Leke: “Banks, what is wrong?” I had kissed her, not because I was aroused by her presence, but I had wanted to test something. And I was right, contrary to what Banke made me believe, she had not forgiven me, it was the reason she was avoiding me. If she did not forgive me, why did she not break up with me, why was she carrying on like we were in a relationship? It occurred to me at that instant that, Banke and I had not had sex since the Prisca incident.
    Banke: “Why should something be wrong?”
    Leke: “You are not the Banke I know, you don’t visit, when last did we have sex?”
    Banke: “Come on, I have personal issues, it is not like I don’t want to come. School will soon begin, I am busy getting ready” she said and rushed over to me, giving me little kisses on my neck, but it was all forced, she was not a good actress. What is going on? I wondered to myself. Just then Kunmi came in, and glanced our way.
    Kunmi: “I told you both, no romance in the office!” she said sternly. I quickly moved away to my office. The moment I opened the laptop, I went to my Facebook page, I wanted to keep up on the happenings, but what I saw made my eyes bulge and my heart fall out of my chest.
    Leke: “Oh no! Banke, what have you done?” I exclaimed and bowed my head in my hands.

    EPISODE 13

    There on my computer screen was Prisca’s naked body splayed on the bed, with an old man beside her, and the caption, oh God the caption… “The truth behind Lagos runs girl turned Blogger”. I could not even bring myself to read it, I just scrolled to the end and I was not surprised to see Banke’s name appended at the bottom. I was confused, so Prisca was a runs girl? And she had told me her parents were rich, so the money she has is really hers, but gotten from doing runs, sleeping with rich old men for money? I got up and paced my office, things were beginning to get hot, and it really was time for me to get to those investigators. I quietly left the office, but I felt like I was being followed. I turned and saw a man dressed in black from head to toe, he was just standing and looking somewhere else, but I could see his attention was on me even though he was looking somewhere else. So I did a test, I walked into a nearby restaurant and sat in a hidden booth farther inside. I watched as the man in black walked into the restaurant and began to glance everywhere like he was looking for something, he was obviously looking for me. I saw a door that probably led to the back of a restaurant, I got up and bending low, I left the restaurant through that door. The door led to a backyard which seemed like the cooking area, the cooks gave me wry looks as I walked past them in a hurry. I came out on the road and hailed a Taxi, I was going to meet the female investigator first.
    I got to the office building where she does business from; it was one of those upscale office buildings in Lagos, with glass walls, shiny reflective floors and steel door elevators.
    Leke: “Hello, how do I get to B and B P.I services?” I asked the chic looking receptionist. The demon in me almost asked her out. She was really beautiful, with long shapely legs that I could see from under her desk.
    Receptionist: “Take the elevator to the fifth floor, it’s the first office on your left” she said in a melodious voice.
    Leke: “You are beautiful by the way” I said, I couldn’t help it, I had to tell her. She smiled in response without saying a word; I guess she was being professional. I reached the front door of B and B P.I services and paused. It looked like opening the door was a big step I was taking, and it was because things were progressing into another stage, soon I would put a case against Nora and get restitution for all she had taken from me. I opened the door and went in. Benita who I had spoken with on phone, was a big woman, she was huge even while sitting down.
    Benita: “How old are you?” she asked the moment I stepped into the office.
    Leke: “Do you want the real age or the football age?” I asked with a straight face, even as she bubbled with laughter.
    Benita: “I want the real age”
    Leke: “I am 16, but I am an orphan, I have no legal guardian, but it is safe to say am emancipated”
    Benita: “Let me hear from you, what exactly you want?” she asked looking intently at me. I wouldn’t be surprised if she did a course in psychology and was already psychoanalyzing me. I told her my story, and what I wanted done, I also gave her the evidence I had at hand and what I wanted her to find out about Nora. She gave me her bills and I used the whole money in my bank account to pay. I was left with the only five thousand naira in my pocket. But when I thought of Nora paying for all she did, it was all worth it. As I was about to leave, Benita stopped me with her voice which always had an authority to it.
    Benita: “There is something I will like to share to you” she said, I walked back to her desk, and it dawned on me that she was going to preach, she already had a big bible open.
    Leke: “I don’t have time for this; I have got to get back to the office, concentrate on the job at hand and leave my spirituality out of it” I said curtly and left the office without looking back. I had almost decided to use the other P.I I saw, but I was not ready to sacrifice professionalism on the altar of my needs. I believed that she would stick to the wishes of her client.
    On my way back to the office, I kept pondering on the man in black that was tailing me, who had put him on my tail, who was monitoring me, and why? It was confusing to me because, I felt no one knew me, the alias I use “Mikhail” is an inconsequential person, the only two people affected by his existence is Banke and Prisca, no one else cared if I lived or died, so who was following me, could it be Banke? I thought. When the thought of her intruded my mind, it caused a great anger in me, I wanted to do something that would hurt her badly, but my hands were tied. Even if she was no longer helping, only she was privy to the undercover job I had been doing. If she exposed m e, I would be kicked out of my mother’s company, and I might not get the chance to uncover the things I wanted to uncover. But when the time was ripe, I would hurt Banke badly, I promised myself. I slipped out my phone and dialed Prisca, she responded immediately it rang.
    Prisca: “Leave me alone, haven’t you guys had enough news, yes I was a runs girl, come and beat me!” she yelled angrily into the phone, obviously she did not check the caller before she responded. It was also obvious that she was under a lot of pressure from paparazzi and the press community.
    Leke: “Prisca darling, it is Mikhail” I said and the phone went quiet, I thought she had hung up, but I checked, the call was still on. When I almost spoke, she began to talk, in a less emotional tone; in fact, her voice was flat and dead.
    Prisca: “I curse the day I met you at the gym, you have destroyed my life”
    Leke: “Prisca, why are you not looking on the bright side of this, any press, good or bad is good for your blogging business. Did you check your views since this story broke? Why not rise from the ashes like the phoenix. You are just nineteen; you have a whole long stretch to make up for your wrongs. Tomorrow is not promised; why not start now, instead of wallowing in pity. Banke wants to destroy you, but her success or failure depends on you” I said in a calm tone. I loved her regardless of what she had done in the past and where she had been.
    Prisca: “Thank you, but don’t ever call me again. Ever” she said with such finality that it sent a wave of coldness to my heart.
    Leke: “If that’s your wish, I will obey it” I said and hung up immediately. I might love her, but I was not going to crawl on the floor and beg her. After all, she knew I was dating Banke at the time, she started seeing me, she was not even sleeping with me, so why was she feeling like I took her virginity and ran away. Ooops, she doesn’t have any virginity to her. I was momentarily angry at her. Just as I dropped the call, my phone rang, it was Mary, I received the call. Mary told me her nephew knew someone, and I didn’t waste time in getting the details, I rushed to the address.
    It was on the main land, in the ghetto part of Agege, where the danfos were rickety and stank, and the roads were red sand, with big potholes that could spoil a car. I was sweating profusely by the time I alighted from the danfo, my shirt stained with the dust from the danfo.
    I navigated the street to a compound which had fallen into squalor. The stink from the toilet at the front of the compound was very pervasive. I walked up to a young girl who was plaiting the hair of another young girl.
    Leke: “Ku ise o” I greeted, and the girls responded, “I dey look for Femi” I said in English accented pidgin.
    Girl: “Oh broda Femi? Go straight then turn go right, you go see am for outside” she said, I thanked her, and walked through the face-me-i-face-you compound, holding my breath so I wouldn’t breathe in the odious smell. I met with Femi, whom Mary had directed me to and within minutes I had a national identity card in the person of “Mikhail Samoa” with parents “Bella Samoa” and “Koffi Samoa”. So if anybody was to search for me on the internet, that was the information they would get. This guy was good, from his cubicle sized room at the back of the compound, armed with his laptop and set of Trojans, he could hack into any site, even the National Identity Commission, I paid him and left, satisfied that my alias was secured.
    I rushed into the office to complete the last set of prototypes, so I could submit to Kunmi before I left for home, she was always the last to leave the office and the first to arrive, she was that dedicated, and I made a note to self, that when I got back my mother’s company, I would make her the chief executive officer, she would help me take the company to where I wanted it. After I was done with the prototypes which did not take up more than thirty minutes because I had started it before leaving the office, I walked towards Kunmi’s office to hand over to her, but I heard voices in Nora’s office. I could hear Kunmi, and I was about moving ahead, when I heard Banke’s voice.
    Leke: “What would Banke be discussing with Nora and Kunmi?” I asked no one but myself. My eyes widened as snippets of the conversation began to filter out to me.
    Nora: “You must not let him know we are on to him, because I am not done with my investigations”
    Banke: “I cannot keep on pretending, he disgusts me with his lies and deceits”
    Nora: “I paid you handsomely for this, so you have to see it through. I was not there when you decided to be sleeping with him, so you cannot tell me now that you cannot stand him” she said sternly.
    Kunmi: “I am not comfortable with this, this is getting out of hand. I don’t want my sister mixed up in this whole mess”
    Nora: “But she got herself involved when she agreed to spy on me, the only option aside this, is jail. I will sue her for espionage” she replied Kunmi, and I heard her chair make a scrapping sound, she had gotten up, signaling the end of the meeting. I rushed back into my office, left the prototypes on the table and left the office in a hurry.
    Leke: “Two can play this game” I said furiously. I Slipped out my phone and called the private Investigator.
    Leke: “I want twenty four hours surveillance on the subject. I want to know everything she does, who she meets, who she talks to. I want to start receiving reports from tomorrow” I said authoritatively into the phone, I was paying good money, so I deserved thorough work. Things had to move fast, it was only a matter of time before Nora discovers my true identity.
    Leke: “I know what i have to do” I said to myself as I made my way home.

    EPISODE 14

    Leke knew it was a matter of time before Nora found out his true identity, so he went back to that neighborhood in Agege to see Femi.
    Femi: “Ha egbon, what is it again?” he asked. I told him I wanted him to hack into the network of the mental home where I had been held for years, and erase every file they had on me. So that if Nora ever went to the mental home, they would not have pictures of me, and she would have no idea of my current looks.
    Femi: “That’s plenty work, but I go do am for you. You will give me 1 hour” he said, and since I didn’t have anywhere I could stay and wait around the neighbourhood, I stayed with him inside the small room, which stank. Within minutes I was perspiring, the small ceiling fan was making so much creaking sound, but was doing little to ventilate the room, as it circulated hot air. After a while, when it felt like I would suffocate, he announced that it was done and showed me proof. I paid him a sum of two thousand naira and left. I was almost done to my last one thousand, but I told myself that it was all worth it.
    Two days later, I was in the office pretending as usual that I did not know that Nora was aware of what I did, when she walked in wearing all black, she was smiling but the smile did not reach her eyes. I knew why this was so, I had Banke to thank for this, and I was going to get my pound of flesh from her.
    Nora: “Mikhail, you did not bring any proof as I requested” she said, with her gaze intent on my face.
    Leke: “Well, I have an identity card from the NIC, I had to go search it out from my luggage. I will get it to you as soon as I can make photocopies” I told her, feigning excitement that I didn’t feel, my lips spread in a grin that did not quite reach my eyes.
    Nora: “Let me have a peek now” she said, very interested and trying to be passive, like she was not interested. I dipped my hand in my pocket and felt the card I had gotten from Femi, but I told myself I would make her anxious, so I did. I removed my hands again.
    Leke: “I didn’t bring it with me, I think I forgot” I said and watched her face turn pale like she was going to faint. It occurred to me that she was nursing the idea that I was Adeleke, the only survivor of the Aboderine family.
    Nora: “Alright, make sure you bring it to me personally” she said and walked away briskly. When she left, I slipped my phone out and began to scroll through the pictures on my phone; they were mostly Banke’s nude pictures. She was the reason I was in this mess, she put Nora on my tail, she destroyed my comfort zone, Prisca, and she acted the way she liked, not even thinking of what I was capable of. It was time to make her know that I was just not stupid or spineless. I went to a Facebook group I was a member of, and posted the photos there, with the caption “See the nudes of Lagos Slay Queen”. I watched as people commented and shared, in thirty minutes it had over a hundred shares. I knew before the end of that day, it would have gone viral. I felt a sense of calm, yes, she would never recover from this, I told myself. I began to pack the few things I had into a storage box, I was getting ready to go underground.
    Unknown to me, Nora had gone straight to the mental home, but she met new faces she didn’t know. When she asked for me, they told her I had been discharged from the home, she asked for my records as my guardian, but there were no records to give, they told her the system did not have any records of me, they explained that it was a year since I was discharged, perhaps the system had deleted old archives. Nora was restless, there was no way for her to confirm or dispel her fears.
    Meanwhile, on my way home, the private investigator called me on my cell phone.
    Benita: “Hello, kiddo. I am really sorry to tell you this, but I cannot continue with your work. There are no concrete evidences. The video you got can be pulled apart by any defense attorney worth his mettle. It is better we stop now, than get thrown out of court.” She said in a calm voice that was an antithesis of the raging storm I felt inside.
    Leke: “So I should just let everything go, she killed my mother, my father and put me in a mental home, and you are telling me, there is nothing we can do?” I barked into the phone.
    Benita: “You are still young, leave the matter to God, live and let live. The truth is like candlelight, it cannot be hidden under the bed. I have transferred your money back into your account. Do have a nice life and seek Jesus, he is ready to carry your entire burden” she said, and I angrily hung up on her. I felt like I was back to square one, do I release the video to the internet? I pondered as I walked home.
    It was evening of the same day; I was falling into depression owing to the anticlimax I felt after the private investigator called. I was in the toilet doing my s--t, with my ear buds stuck to my ear, and the music on the high. Unknown to me, Banke had come to the house in her bid to continue her charade after the stern warning Nora gave to her. She probably knocked and when I did not respond, she entered the apartment since the door was open. On my bed were my WAEC and Jamb results, I had brought them out to peruse, the only evidence of my real life, not the fake life I lived. I was not expecting any visitors, so when the urge to defecate came, I rushed to the toilet without packing up the credentials. When Banke came in, she picked them up and looked through them, she realized the double life I was living, and quietly left the house after snapping photos of the credentials. When I came out, I smelt her perfume, but I did not pay any mind to it, I felt it was just my restless mind playing a fast one on me.
    Banke on her way home, googled the name, and found out everything about the death of my mother, the attack on Mary and how I have been in the mental home. She began to piece one and two together; she remembered Mary calling that name the day we bumped into Nora on our way out of the company, she also remembered what Mary had said, like she had knowledge of something awful that Nora had done. Could it be? She asked herself.
    Nora was the executive secretary and she turned into a wife very fast after my mother’s death. She realized that perhaps I was trying to make Nora confess to something she did, perhaps my suspicions were right. There was only one way to find out, she decided to work with me again on the project, and this time she was determined we would find the truth about Nora.
    Banke: “Thank God, I didn’t tell her about the evidences Mikhail has, Mikhail or Adeleke…oh God” she said in her head as she jumped into her sister’s car and drove off straight home.
    Getting home though, Banke was met with the biggest shock of her life. Her sister Kunmi had her eyes swollen from crying, she shoved her ipad at Banke.
    Kunmi: “See what you have made of yourself, is this the life I was building for you?” she wailed. She starred at the screen unable to connect her brain with what her eyes were seeing.
    Banke: “Was this what Prisca felt when I distributed her photos online?” she asked within herself. She was unaware that I knew about her deal with Nora, so she concluded that I did it to avenge Prisca. Well, it was true, but not just for Prisca, but for myself too. Her face contorted in anger as she picked up her phone and called a famous blogger she knew.
    Banke: “I want to tell you the biggest story of the century” she said.

    EPISODE 15

    Before morning, the media was buzzing with the biggest news of the century: “Mentally unstable son of late oil merchant, Adeleke Aboderine is alive and posing as Mikhail Samoa” . I had thought that Banke’s nudes would be the talk of town, and when I saw her in the office, I would look her in the eye and tell her why I did it, then I would walk away from her. But that was not the case, as my story had eclipsed the nude pictures. No one cared about her nude pictures; everyone was agog to know what happened with me, and why I took on a fake identity. Reporters laid a siege to the mental home, where I was kept for years, looking for more details, but the staff wouldn’t give them what they wanted.
    Yet, all these was unknown to me as, there had been a power outage in my residence all through the night, so my phone’s battery was drained, I was hoping to charge at the office. Imagine my surprise, when I got to the office, and a host of media people accosted me, shoving their microphones into my face and shouting to be heard above one another.
    Reporter: “Are you really Adeleke Aboderine?” the female reporter asked, I was stunned. I just stared at her like she was speaking mandarin, unable to move a muscle as their cameras flashed on my face.
    Reporter: “Why did you take on a fake identity, what do you hope to achieve?” another asked on the top of his voice, men were always thinking things could be done by force.
    Reporter: “Are you mentally stable now, why were you released?”
    Reporter: “Will you ask for what rightfully belongs to you?” a female reporter, very fair skinned with diminutive frame asked. Her words passed through the fog in my head.
    Leke: “Yes, I will get what rightfully belongs to me, this fashion house which was my mother’s, the oil company and every asset that belongs to the Aboderine family. Nora is a supplanter, but I am back” Immediately the words left my mouth, I regretted them; I had made a costly mistake.
    Reporter: “This is BNC and we are reporting live from the Fola fashion house complex, where the only survivor of the Aboderine family is posing as Mikhail. The question on our minds is, what does he plan to do? You heard him, this is only the beginning, stay tuned for more”.
    I kept asking myself, as I went into the company, how did they find out? I also accepted the fact that Nora knows already, therefore it was time to run and hide, till I am ready. But the fear on my mind was Nora could act based on the fact that she knows I was on to her, she could liquidate all the assets and abscond into thin air, and I would lose everything. I got off the elevator and the first person I saw was Banke, with a devious grin pasted on her face.
    Banke: “Oh there you are, the man of the moment. You thought you could damage my reputation, but look, no one is talking about my nudes,but they are all talking about the impostor. Before the week runs out, you will be sent back to the mental home, or worse the missus will have you killed. Either way you are out of my life for good” she said and made to walk past me, but I gripped her arms and allowed my nails dig into them.
    Banke: “Let go of me you maniac” she yelled and struggled to get free, as slowly the fear crawled into her eyes.
    Leke: “How did you find out, tell me now” I pulled her into a deserted corridor. With fear she told me everything, it dawned on me that I had left my door unlocked while I was in the toilet yesterday, I had been careless and it had cost me my cover.
    Leke: “This is the second time you are betraying me, who told you that you could just play with people’s lives?” I jerked her and slammed her against a wall, as I told her of the deal she made with Nora. Her eyes widened and she whimpered in fear, she was expecting the worst. I felt the anger in me bubbling to the surface; I moved my hands to her neck and tightened my hold. I didn’t know what I was going to do to her, but I wanted to hurt her badly.
    Kunmi: “Let her go now” I heard Kunmi’s voice, I turned and saw her glaring at me, there was disappointment in her eyes.
    Kunmi: “I expected better from you. Please don’t drag my sister into your madness. And for you Banke, go get your things we are leaving” she said bitingly.
    Banke: “Leaving?” she stuttered still rubbing her neck.
    Kunmi: “Yes, this company is going down, I don’t want to be near when it finally crashes” she said. I rushed to her and knelt down.
    Leke: “Please Kunmi, do not leave, I am sorry for what I did to Banke, she pushed me, she betrayed me. I also know hiding my identity was not the best, but it was the only option I had. The person who killed my parents and framed me could easily kill me too. I needed justice for my mother that is why I put Banke to spy on her. Please, for the sake of my mother, do not leave” I pleaded, real tears streaming down my cheeks. Kunmi surprised me, she pulled me up and into a hug, she was also crying.
    Kunmi: “I knew there was something about you, which is why I took to you. When we heard your mother committed suicide, we were confused because, no one loved life more than your mother, how could she have killed herself? We concluded it could be that she was covering a lot of her pain, especially as her husband, your late father got married too soon after her death. I will stay because you asked, just tell me what you need, I will help you with getting the company back, anyway I can help”
    I thanked her and went to my office, not giving a glance at Banke, if I lost everything, I would blame her for it. I had already packed all my personal effects into storage, but before I left, there was something I needed to do. I booted the desktop computer, and via a USB cord, I sent the Nora video into the computer. If the investigator would not help me make a case, I would cause a public outcry so loud that, the law enforcement agency would have no choice to reopen the case. There was only one person I wanted to carry this video, which was Prisca. It would also be a way for her to find a foot again. I emailed her the video, with a note.
    Leke: “I know you are mad at me for many things, but please do as I say, because we will both benefit from this. Post this video on your blog; this could be the comeback you need. People need to start asking questions about what happened in the Aboderine family, ten years ago” I wrote. I looked at the office one last time,I had loved the job I did here, even though I was planning my revenge on Nora. With nostalgia, I stepped out of the office and saw Nora and her aides coming towards my office. I broke into a run, I was not ready to wait an find out what her reaction would be. I sprinted into an elevator and locked it. At the ground floor, I jumped out and dashed across the lobby, amidst questions from the receptionist. In front of the gate I was rushing into a taxi when a hand grabbed me. Sweat broke out on my brow instantly, as fear gripped me stronger than the hand on my arm. I turned, expecting the worst, and starred into the face of Iya Biliki.
    Iya Biliki: “You! You no be better pikin oh” she said.
    Leke: “Please, I am not in the mood for this, I am in a hurry” I said, a bit relieved, but anxious to leave.
    Iya Biliki: “You dey craze, na me Iya Biliki you dey talk to like this. Ok oh, take this letter, na your papa say if I ever see you, make I give you” she said and t----t a brown, worn out envelope into my hand.
    Leke: “You know I am Adeleke?” I asked
    Iya Biliki: “Yes na, I hear am for news, your picture na dem dey show for television since. Why you no tell me say na you, when you come house. I thank God sha, you dey alive” she said. I raised my head and saw Nora’s aides in their black suits running out of the gate, I held Iya Biliki’s hands tightly, I could not say a word as emotions clogged my throat. Then I jumped into the taxi and told the driver to drive fast and take a different route.

    EPISODE 16

    I looked at the old, brown envelope in my hand; I turned it over and over again, fighting within two options, to open or not to open. What did he have to say? Apologize? Was it not too late to apologize? He brought the woman that killed my mother, and stood there and watched while she destroyed his son’s life. There was really nothing he could say, that would make everything right. I tossed the envelope to my bed, and slumped on the bed after it. I didn’t have a television and I needed to know what was going on in the outside world, so I went on my Facebook, I had a few social media celebrities and I knew if anything significant was happening, it would show on my news feed. But there was nothing, Prisca obviously did not heed my message, she must be really mad. My problems were becoming bigger than me, so I went to my resting place, which were the memories I had of mother. Even in the mental home, whenever I felt like I was going to go truly insane, I went back to the fond memories I had of mother.
    Leke: “I miss you so much mother” I said as tears clouded my vision, I felt so alone and lost in a big world. I began to really doubt if I could effect justice for my mother’s death, after all the investigator said that the case was too old and there no concrete evidence. Thanks to Banke, I was no longer at the company, how could I ever get evidence when my cover was already blown. Before I finished the thought, a knock came on my door. I jumped out of the bed in fright, had Nora found out my place of residence? But how did she find out? These questions were buzzing in my head, as I walked tentatively to the door. I used the peep hole, and saw it was Banke. I sighed and opened the door. After we stared at each other for a few seconds, she broke the silence.
    Banke: “Are you not going to let me in?” she asked twirling her hair, if she was trying to seduce me, it was not working.
    Leke: “Why do you want to come in, everything about me is out in the open. There is nothing else for you to uncover” I spat at her.
    Banke: “please forgive me, when I found out about your true identity, I realized why you have been spying on Nora, I saw things through your eyes, and I wanted to help you. But when I saw the nudes and the disappointment in my sister’s eyes, I was pained. I didn’t think, I only thought of the pain, and I thought at the time that you did it because of Prisca. I am really sorry” she said and made to kneel down, but my hand flung out in reflex, and held her. But I removed my hand immediately, like I was stung by a bee.
    Leke: “Don’t do that” I said uncomfortably, and moved aside for her to enter the house.
    Banke: “I can still help you anyway I can, I know you probably don’t want me, but I want to help for old times’ sake”
    Leke: “Now that you all know my story, I don’t think either you or Prisca would want me. So why do you want to help?”
    Banke: “But I do, age is just a number, I know Prisca broke up with you, she told me. But that is not why I want to help. I lost my parents while I was young, but I had Kunmi to take care of me. You have no one and that must suck like hell. Allow me help you, I still love you”
    Leke: “I love Prisca” I threw the bombshell, she had been leaning towards me, but she pulled back immediately.
    Banke: “How can you love her, after what you know about her?” she asked incredulously.
    Leke: “Love covers a multitude of sins. Besides, everyone has a story, a past they wish they could change. We don’t judge people by how they were, but how they are now” I replied.
    Banke: “In any case, call on me if you need anything, I mean anything” she emphasized, my eyes were on her mouth, I watched the way her tongue rolled the words. She was trying desperately to seduce me; I told myself that she needed to be rewarded for her efforts, so I pulled her to my chest in one swift move and crashed my lips on hers. She did not hesitate for a second; she kissed me right back, with everything she had got. I pushed her to the bed and tore her buttons away, the demon in me was aroused, and I was ready to devour the meat that was presented to me.
    When I woke up, Banke was in my arms, sleeping peacefully. The room was dark, and I could see the white sliver of moonlight on the window pane. I checked my phone, it was 7pm already, and there were many notifications on Facebook. I opened my Facebook page and smiled, Prisca had come through for me. The video had gone viral, with many comments. People were asking for Nora to be prosecuted, she was branded with all sort of derogatory names, and people began to speculate that she had killed the famous Folake Aboderine.
    Leke: “Yaas!” I exclaimed, I could not contain my burst of joy. Banke woke up at my exclamation and looked at me in amazement. I grabbed her and kissed her in joy, I might have even kissed my enemy at that moment. I was filled with hope again, finally the journey was coming to a close, or so I thought. Then a knock came on my door. I jumped out of bed again; I was sure this time that Nora was the one on the other side of the door. Banke saw the fright on my face and asked what the matter was.
    Banke: “Open the door ni” she got out bed and wrapped the duvet around her, then she proceeded to open the door, I pulled her back and checked the peephole again. I saw Prisca, and was relieved, but then I remembered Banke was here and became anxious all over again. If Prisca had come to make amends, she would not, if she saw Banke naked in my apartment.
    Leke: “You have to go now, follow the back door” I said even as the knock continued insistently.
    Banke: “I am not a w---e, don’t treat me like that” she yelled. I sighed, resigning to fate as I flung the door open. Seeing Prisca again, released a flood of emotions I had bottled up inside. I rushed forward and pulled her into an embrace, she hugged me back and I felt her heart quicken its pace. But then she saw Banke half clad, and knew what had gone down, she pulled away from me gently, but her gaze was like a knife piercing into my soul. I looked behind her and saw she had company. I squeezed my eyes trying to recall where I had seen this fair lady.
    Lady: “Hi, I am a reporter, we met today under harsh circumstances I must say. Call me Lilian” she said and extended her hand. I took her hands in mine still wondering why Prisca brought a reporter.
    Banke: “How do you know this place when you told me you never slept with him?” she asked glaring at Prisca.
    Leke: “Hold your tongue, I gave her the address, but she never paid me a visit” I replied her.
    Linda: “Maybe we could come back at a better time” the reporter said with uncertainty.
    Prisca: “I brought you here, so my job is done. Goodbye” she said and before I could say “Jack” she had gone. I would have gone after her but I was in my boxer shorts. I took clothes from my wardrobe and proceeded to the bathroom to dress up. I could not help but notice that Linda the reporter had her eyes on my bulge below.
    When I came back out, Banke had an old worn out paper, whose page had gone brown, in her hands. I looked and saw the envelope on the bed. I saw red.
    Leke: “Who asked you to open it?” I barked. I was aggravated by everything she did, I had not forgiven her for outing me like that to Nora.
    Banke: “I don’t think you have read this letter, this is what you need” she tossed the old paper at me, I grabbed it and began to read, tears dropped down my eyes.
    Bamidele’s Letter to His Son, Adeleke
    Hello Adeleke,
    I hope that this letter gets to you; I pray that someday your life gets back on track. I failed you and your mother. I brought a serpent into our life, but was it deliberate?
    Nora was my executive secretary, she knew the in and out of the business, not because i carried her along, but because she was smart, and things I didn’t think she knew about, she knew. Nora found out about some shady deals like money laundering and embezzlements going on in the company, orchestrated by me, using Balon Oil. For years she had built a case against me, with evidences and files that ran for years since she had been with the company. She had been blackmailing me for years, extorting money from me.
    One day, Nora got tired of just that, she wanted more. She gave me an ultimatum, to divorce your mother and marry her, or spend my life in jail and have the EFCC confiscate all I had. I was not a courageous man, I chose to marry her. But I loved Folake, she had been good to me, we built all we had together, how could I tell her, I was no longer interested in the marriage? I had cold feet, so she decided for me. She killed your mother, I had gone down to the kitchen to make coffee because I could not sleep, when I heard the scream, I rushed upstairs. But I was too late; Nora was standing over your mother’s dead body. She cried that your mother had attacked her and she was defending herself, she told me I had to say it was a suicide or she would destroy my life. I was weak again, so I succumbed and told everyone it was suicide even though Nora had taken the knife. Your maternal grandparents were the first I called. We agreed to keep it within the family, which was the reason there was no lying in state for your mother.
    I consoled myself with the fact that I still had a part of Folake in you; you are just like her, with that stubborn light in your eyes. But when Nora came for you again, my self-preservation would not let me fight for you, my only son. She claimed she did not know who attacked Mary but I knew it was her from Mary’s statement to the police. But I felt confident that Mary would stand up for you, where I had failed, but I was wrong. Mary was bought by Nora, and she changed her statement. This time I found the courage to speak up; I was ready to lose everything. But Nora threatened me that she would kill you if I did. I knew she was capable, only i had seen her in her true form. So I watched you taken to a mental home for something you didn’t do. The guilt lived with me, and as I write you this letter, I might not live past this year, my heart cannot take the guilt and pain anymore, it is giving out. But I hope that one day you would find it in your heart to forgive me.
    She also made me sign all my assets to her, but go to Indimi and Indimi law firm, ask for Barrister Indimi jnr, he will tell you what to do. Perhaps things can become all right again.
    Yours beloved
    Bamidele Aboderine.

    EPISODE 17

    I slowly dropped to the floor and bawled my eyes out; I did not mind that there were two ladies in my apartment gaping at me fall apart. The more I cried, the more the anger filled my heart; I thought it was going to explode out of me like a volcanic eruption.
    Leke: “You Nora, Yooou” I groaned and roared like an angry lion. The ladies shifted away from me, they could feel the angry vibes I was letting off.
    Banke: “Baby, be calm and think of the way forward” she said as she walked tentatively towards me, she put her hand on me and raised me up. I readily accepted the hug she offered, I needed someone to show me care and love at that moment, and she was there. It was a pivotal moment because, It changed my feelings towards her; I began to see her beautiful soul despite all the mistakes we have both made.
    Leke: “Thank you Banke” I said and hugged her back.
    Linda: “It is getting really late and I should go, I have your contact, so I will set up a meeting tomorrow. Just be strong, you are almost there” she said, I smiled at her in return.
    For the first time since I started seeing Banke, we had a shower together, we didn’t do anything, but we were content just being close to each other. After bathing, we went to bed in each othe’s armsr, and for the very first time since mother died, I saw her in my dreams, she was smiling at me. I was trying to go meet her, but she was moving away till she faded. I got up abruptly, and woke Banke in the process.
    Banke: “Honey, what is it?”
    Leke: “I had a dream, I saw my mother, she was smiling at me” I said with a faraway look in my eyes.
    Banke: “She is probably happy with you, for the progress you have made. Justice will prevail, soon” she said.
    Leke: “You are probably right” I said and laid back on the bed, she laid beside me too, I could see the worry in her eyes. They said age is just a number, she was already twenty, I was almost 17. But I was beginning to envision a future with her, or maybe because I was just grateful to her for being there when I fell apart. In any case, I knew I owed an apology.
    Leke: “I am sorry for everything I did, I was wrong in dating your friend Prisca, I was wrong using you just to achieve my goals. I am sorry for hurting you. Will you ever forgive me?”
    Banke: “I forgave you long ago, I am here am I not. But you bad sha, kiddo” she said and smacked my butt.
    Leke: “Oh no, you didn’t just call me kiddo” I said, my eyes wide open in fake surprise.
    Banke: “yes I did, what can you do?” she said between chuckles. I took a pillow and flung it at her; she took hers and flung it at me, before long we were in a romantic pillow fight. I had to show her I was the man, and the muscles she was seeing were not blocks of fat, so I turned her to her back and pinned her hands to her head. She wriggled her hips to get me off, but I was firm. We gazed at each other with smiles on our faces, and then I bent down to kiss her. Not the usual fast and furious kisses that we were used to, but a slow, rhythmic kiss. Her eyes filled up with unshed tears, as she looked up at me.
    Banke: “I never stopped loving you” she said. I wiped the tears that were threatening to fall, and laid beside her.
    Leke: “Lets sleep, we have a long day tomorrow” I said and cradled her head on my broad muscular chest. Soon, she was snoring lightly, but sleep was far away from my eyes.
    The next morning, Banke had her bath and hurried out, she told me her sister was burning up her phones with calls, she had to know she was alright. I took a shower and dressed up in a starched TM shirt. I was going to meet the barrister that father had recommended and I was ready to impress.
    I was in the lobby of the magnificent Indimi and Indimi law firm when my phone buzzed, I wanted to ignore it, but when I saw it was Banke, I received it. She told me to tune into any television channel that something was airing live in all channels. I hung up and went to the receptionist at her polished mahogany desk.
    Receptionist: “Hello, welcome to Indimi and Indimi law firm, how can I help you today?” she asked in British accent. It matched her fair skin and beautiful face.
    Leke: “I am Adeleke Aboderine, I have an appointment with Indimi jnr. But for now, there is something airing on Nigerian television that I have to watch. If you would please oblige me” I said turning on my charming smile.
    Receptionist: “Of course, go right ahead” she said and handed over the remote to me. I scrolled through the cable channels to our indigenous MNC. What I saw was unbelievable.
    There in front of Balon Oil, people were camped outside with placards asking Nora to be prosecuted for her crimes against a six years old me. It was also the same situation in front of the Fola fashion house, when Nora arrived in her tinted Range rover; the people began to throw stones and anything they could lay their hands on, at the window. She was boxed in, and her driver could not reverse, then one of her aides came out and made the mistake of shooting a small handgun into the air, hoping to disperse the crowd. It had the reverse reaction; the people began to pelt him with stones, he lost control and pulled the trigger into the midst of the crowd.
    It hit a woman, and she fell to the ground, the crowd began to use sticks and stones on the glass of the car until it broke, and they tried to open the door. Some other had begun to bring old tires and matchsticks; they were going to burn down the cars with its occupants. My heart began to pound, I did not want Nora to die, not before she made restitutions, and gave me back all that belonged to my family, I wanted her to go to jail for her crimes against my family. Dying like a victim was not among my plans for her.
    But the police came at the nick of time and with their tear gas dispersed the crowd, they took Nora and her aides in their van to their police station. I heaved a sigh of relief, not only had a disaster been averted, but also, the police were now involved in the case. I turned to the receptionist and asked to be led to the barrister’s office.
    Receptionist: “Take the elevator to the 7 th floor, the office is the only one on that floor” she said using long and lean well manicured fingers to point to the direction of the elevators.
    On the 7th floor, I walked into an open space which was decorated with state-of-the-art decoration; a paralegal sized me up, he was obviously ascertaining if I could afford the barrister.
    Paralegal: “What do you want?” he asked sternly.
    Leke: “I am here to see Barrister Indimi jnr, my late father sent me, he handled his affairs” I said looking down on him, how dare he look down on me?
    Paralegal: “Your name?” he asked nonchalantly, obviously not impressed by my narrative.
    Leke: “Adeleke Aboderine” I said.
    Paralegal: “You are that boy who has been all over the news, mehn respect” he said and gave a mock salute. He took the intercom and spoke into it. I saw the steel door that was closed, open of its own accord and I was ushered into an office that was beyond description. A man, dark in complexion was sitting behind the big curved polished ivory table. He stood up and extended his hands, which I shook confidently.
    Indimi: “It is a pleasure to see you, I had often wondered what would become of all Bamidele properties, I am sure he left a note for you, that is why you are here” I gave him the letter I had received from Iya Biliki. He put on his reading glasses and began to peruse the letter.
    Indimi: “Wow this is huge; he never confided in me about the financial crimes, I would have helped before it got to this stage. Nevertheless, it is better late, than never. First we have to sue her for presenting a will that was signed under duress. I have the real will”
    Leke: “You have another will?” I asked in surprise.

    EPISODE 18

    Indimi: “Yes I have the real will, which is authentic, and with this letter we can prove that the other is fake. Besides, the authentic will was made years ago, when he was hale and hearty, even though your mother had died. The fake one was made when he was paralyzed and ridden to the bed” he said and went to the coffee maker to make coffee.
    Leke: “How soon can we start, we need to oust her before she liquidates and takes off” I said anxiously.
    Indimi: “Just let me do my job, you just go ahead and rest”
    Leke: “Do you have a photocopier, I want to take back the original copy of that letter” I said firmly.
    Indimi: “You don’t trust me, your father trusted me” he said looking at me intently.
    Leke: “Don’t take it personal, I don’t trust anyone” I said with a sly smile.
    Indimi: “Of course, you have been through a lot” he replied with grace. My phone rang and I saw it was a number not stored on my phone, I pressed the receive button cautiously.
    Leke: “Hello”
    Linda: “Hello Adeleke, I got your number from Prisca. I was thinking of an idea; why don’t we do a sit down show, have you tell the world your story. Did you know Nora has been released, though her aide is been charged for manslaughter, but we know her connections. Let’s make it too hot for them to sweep under the carpet” she said.
    Leke: “It is a great idea Linda, so where do I meet you?”
    Linda: “Actually your girlfriend suggested it, and she also offered her house”
    Leke: “Prisca?”
    Linda: “No, Banke” Wow, Banke was surprising me at every turn, even though I had not dealt her a fair hand in the past.
    Banke’s house, or rather Kunmi’s house was a rented three bedroom apartment, we used the sitting room for the sit down show. Banke decided to give us our privacy; she went shopping with her friends. The camera guys set up the camera and the mini microphones were stuck to our clothes. Action!
    Linda: “This is your favorite sit down show by your one and only Linda. Today, we have the man or rather the boy…”
    Leke: “I am a man, I might be just sixteen, but I have gone through life and I have had to survive by my own strength, if that doesn’t make me a man, I don’t know what will” I replied her.
    Linda: “Oh, great. Adeleke is the man that has the buzz of the media for the past few days, and the story of the Aboderines has come back to light since that video that came out first on Inforistic.com, which featured Nora. In the video, we heard a voice prompting her, was that you?”
    Leke: “Yes, that was me. I stumbled on her, she was using drugs, and she was high. I saw an opportunity and I grabbed it. She was hallucinating and I had to prompt her to tell the truth. Seeking justice for my mother was all the motivation I needed” I said, trying to change the facts, I could not tell them that I had drugged her.
    Linda: “You were in the mental home for ten years, how was it like?”
    Leke: “It was terrible especially because I knew adults had connived to put me there. My father knew that I did not attack Mary, my nanny, he also knew I was not on any medications as regards my mental health as Nora had said, but he still kept quiet and watched me get locked away in a house full of loonies. I could have gone crazy, but the memories of my mother kept me sane”
    We stood up and went into Kunmi’s state-of-the-art kitchen, where I talked about my decision to take up an alias especially when I found out my father was dead, how I realized I had no one to protect me but myself. The interview took an hour, and when I was done, I could not wait to find out what was going on. I checked my phone and found out, it was on the news already; Nora had been sued for falsification of my father’s last will and testament. The hearing was slated for tomorrow.
    Leke: “I have to go now”
    Linda: “Alright, you looked great on camera, the public will love you and they will not rest till justice is served” she replied.
    That night, Banke came over and invited me for dinner at Bukka Hut, it was somewhere I had never been and it was nice. We had a bowl of spaghetti and roast beef. We laughed and I began to enjoy Banke’s company like I never did before. What changed, I kept asking myself. After dinner, we hung at the Quilox bar where she rocked me on the dance floor.
    I was having a nice evening, but the weight of my problems never left me. I kept thinking of what tomorrow would be, I knew Nora wouldn’t relinquish the assets on a silver platter, I was scared that I could lose my life.
    Banke: “What is that worry frown? Relax bae, I saw the news, the hearing is tomorrow, that’s why I brought you here to relax. Enjoy the night, tomorrow, you can slay dragons” she kissed me by the side of my mouth.
    Leke: “Yes, you are right” I replied and we danced all night. It was 2am when we made for home.
    Banke: “You should spend the night in my house, Kunmi is with her boyfriend” she quipped. I was about replying when I heard the pop sound, and before I knew it, the rear window of the car had broken.
    Leke: “Put your head down now!” I said, I regretted immediately, allowing her drive.
    Banke: “Oh my God, what is going on ,Leke?” she asked nervously.
    Leke: “Isn’t it obvious, we are being attacked” I said, with a bit of fear in my voice. We drove in the midst of gun shots; the interior of the car was filled with broken glass and gun pellets. I was scared that anytime the bullets will damage our tyres and then it would be all over for us.
    Leke: “Take the next turn, it will give us time to lose them, and be out of the line of fire” I said, the sweat beads creasing my brow were begin to drop, I was scared out of my mind. Banke swerved at the next turn, and that was when I heard the sound before I felt the pain. A bullet hit the passenger side and went through my side.
    Banke: “Adeleke!” I heard her scream, even as it seemed like it was coming from far. Was this the end? Would my mother ever get justice for her death? Had I failed them? I turned to look at Banke, her face was horror stricken, she was crying, and a tear dropped out of my eye. I tried to stay awake, but couldn’t, my eyes closed of its own will, and it went dark, like the curtain had fallen, and the play was over. I could no longer hear any sound, or feel any pain, I was fallen fast, through a maze, and it felt like I would hit the bottomless pit.
    Meanwhile, Prisca had come to the house to look for me, she had tried staying away but couldn’t, she loved me and she was ready to forgive everything. When she came and didn’t see me, she got worried.
    Prisca: “Why am I worrying? He is fine, he probably just went out” she tried quelling her fear. As a last resort, she called Banke, it rang and rang but she was not picking up.
    Mary also felt weird, and had a compulsion to call me. She picked up her phone, but realized she had no call credits. She rushed out to the woman selling petty things in the shack in front of her compound.
    Mary: “Iya Dupe, abeg give me airtime 100 naira own, I go give you tomorrow, I get urgent call to make”
    Iya Dupe: “Make sure say you give me, no be abeg I dey use buy am oh” she replied and gave Mary the airtime she needed. Mary recharged her phone and began to call my number, but the operator kept telling her it was unreachable at the moment.

    EPISODE 19

    Whereas before, it had been dark, I saw light flooding me around. I opened my eyes and saw the white lights with the white linoleum floors. I panicked, was I back in the mental home? Did Nora succeed a second time? I made to get up from the bed, but the pain shot through my side, and I yelped out. Then I saw Banke jump out of the couch close to my bed, she had been sleeping and had been woken up by the sound of my cry.
    Banke: “Oh my God, you are awake” she said as tears filled her eyes, she kissed my cheek and rushed out of the room, shouting “Doctor”. Within seconds, two doctors rushed in, with Kunmi and barrister Indimi in tow.
    Doctor: “You all should wait outside while we check for his vital signs” one of the doctors said and shooed them away like chickens, while the rest prodded me, and wrote in their pads.
    Leke: “What happened to me?”
    Doctor: “You were shot and brought by your lady friend. She was quite brave as she said you were pursued by gunmen. The police are outside, waiting for my signal to come in and get your statement” he said as he pointed a tiny light into my eyes. I remembered the incident clearly; I was surprised I was still alive. I thought I had died, but here I was, given another chance. “By whom” a voice in my heart asked. I couldn’t answer that question, so I shrugged it off. Then it hit me like thunderbolt.
    Leke: “Doctor, how long have I been here?” I asked in panic.
    Doctor: “You have been unconscious for the past three days”
    Leke: “Three days?” I asked, my eyes bulging out of their socket. All I was thinking of was the scheduled hearing for the counterfeiting of my father’s last will and testament.
    Doctor: “Relax, you had surgery to remove the bullet. You were lucky, if it had gone any lower, it would have hit a vital organ and you would be dead.”
    Leke: “Please call barrister Indimi anyway, it is important” I said anxiously.
    Doctor: “Don’t go spiking your blood pressure now, I will call him now” he said his eyes on one of the machines plugged to me, as he went out of the room. He came back with barrister Indimi.
    Indimi: “You gave me quite a scare, am not as young as I used to be” he said rubbing his eyes wearily.
    Leke: ‘Nora tried to kill me” I said assuredly.
    Indimi: “We don’t know that for sure, there is no evidence, only motive. It is very circumstantial”
    Leke: “What about the hearing?” I asked.
    Indimi: “I stalled it, Nora has damaging documents on your father, it is possible of crumpling the Aboderine business dynasty, and she is prepared to do it. She told me so, in many words” the barrister replied.
    Leke: “You are telling me the problem, but not the solution, are you not the adult here?” I asked acidly, I was angry at him, even though I shouldn’t.
    Indimi: “It depends on you, my hands are tied, we have to get the documents, but how do we do that? The judge wants an answer in two days from today”
    Leke: “Answer to what?” I asked quizzically.
    Indimi: “If there should be out of court settlement or not. Nora has us by the g---n”
    Leke: “I do not want any out of court settlement. I would lose everything buy Nora must pay for her crimes” I said vehemently.
    Doctor: “You are getting agitated; I think the barrister should leave. I will sedate you so you catch some hours sleep, when you wake, the police will get your statement”
    Leke: “My answer is no” I said emphatically, as the doctor inserted the syringe into my vein, and my eyes drooped with drowsiness.
    For a week, I was in the hospital recuperating and Banke was by my side, Mary had come to see me, even Prisca. I saw her watch Banke feed me with sad eyes. I loved two women, but I wanted to be with only one, that is Banke.
    When I was discharged, I reached out to Mary. I took the time to visit her in her ghetto neighborhood. The visit was important, because the day of the hearing was approaching and anytime now Nora would leak the incriminating documents. She didn’t invite me inside, she brought out a chair and placed it in the long, narrow passage on which rooms faced each other.
    Mary: “How is the wound, is it healed?”
    Leke: “The pains are almost nonexistent now, but the wound is there” I replied.
    Mary: “Thank God you are alive. I want to tell you that I am ready to testify against Nora about her bribing me to change my statement”
    Leke: “It is more complicated than that. I need something from that house, and I need Iya Biliki’s help. Only you can contact her”
    Mary: “Alright, I will contact her in person. Whatever she says, I will call you and let you know” she said
    Leke: “This battle will soon be over” I said and got up abruptly, but my side gave me a sharp pain and I yelped.
    Mary: “Careful Leke bobo” she said in the tone she used when I was little. I turned and gave her a hug, I needed it and she needed it too.
    At evening, Mary called to tell me that Iya Biliki had agreed to help me. She told me that there was a little back gate at the house that no one used, and truly I didn’t recall any gate like that. I was to be at the gate by 4pm, which was when Nora goes out in the evening. Banke had offered to come with me, but I had refused.
    Leke: “Nora doesn’t know that you and your sister are on my side, I want to keep it at that”
    Banke: “Be careful, I can’t lose you, baby” she kissed my fingers, she was romantic like that.
    At 4pm, I was at the gate, it was rusted and vegetation was already growing on it. I heard a creak and the gate opened slowly.
    Iya Biliki: “Oya come fast oh” she said and led a way through a path curved out in the carpet grass. It led to the servants’ area of the house. She didn’t go through the front door, but instead in the servant area, there was a spiral staircase that was dusty like no one used it. She pushed the door open, into a musty room. It was filled with boxes, that, after a closer look, I realized they were my mother’s.
    Iya Biliki: “Dey waka come” she said as she opened another door in the room, and I saw that we were in the hallway of the living area. I walked tentatively to my former room, as I remembered from the last time, Nora now occupied the room, and if there was anywhere I could find the documents in this house, it was her bedroom. Iya Biliki stood guard outside while I went in. The room was dimly lit, so I used my phone’s light and navigated the room. I checked everywhere but couldn’t find anything. I was beginning to sweat profusely, I couldn’t search forever, and there was no telling when Nora would be back.
    Leke: “Could it be it is in a safe deposit box? Oh no” I whispered to myself and leaned on a wall in defeat, I had failed. If we did an out of court settlement, Nora would demand for anything, it would be my father’s situation all over again. I pushed my hands against the wall to support myself, and it resounded. I looked at it quizzically, and wondered why a brick wall would echo sound. So I moved my hands flat against the wall and found that it was not really a wall, but wood polished to the same color of thee rest of the room. Then, I found a tiny button that I wouldn’t have noticed. I pressed the button and the wall gave way to reveal a safe. I looked at the dial; there was no way I could get the code, and there was need to be discreet. I put in my father’s birthday, but it didn’t open, i tried the day i went into the mental home, seeing she decided to use my room, but still the safe did not open. I was losing time, and anxious, sweat beads creased my brow even though the room was chilled from the air-conditioner.On impulse, i tried the date of my mother’s death, and heard a click sound, the safe had unlocked. I opened the safe to reveal file folders up to ten, and an object wrapped in a dirty rag. I unwrapped it and behold it was a knife with black things on it like dried blood. My eyes widened as the realization hit, this was the knife used to slash my mother’s throat. I took the documents an d the knife wrapped in the dirty rag and went back the way I had come. As I was rounding the corner, I saw Nora’s range river driving into the compound. I thanked my stars that I had left at the time I did.
    The day of the hearing, it was held in the civil court, the case was called and the lawyers deliberated. Barrister Indimi brought out the authentic last will and testament which was back dated, and therefore it invalidated the one that was done in the period of his sickness. But Nora’s lawyer argued that the real will was outdated because Bamidele my father had no hope of seeing his son, and so he gave all, to the only survivor of his family, that is his wife Nora.
    I whispered to Indimi, I didn’t mind if I was playing my card early, it was the only concrete proof, I couldn’t sit here and watch Nora’s lawyer turn everything upside down.
    Indimi: “There is one more piece of evidence, a voice from the grave” he said dramatically. Nora turned to look at him, wondering what he was on about.

    EPISODE 20

    Nora: “What evidence could you have? Stop wasting our time” she barked. Barrister Indimi walked up to the judge and presented an old worn out paper, then he distributed photocopies to the court clerk.
    Indimi: “Right there is a letter written by the deceased, Bamidele to his son. Hoping that, one day his son would return. He kept the letter with a trusted employee, who gave it to his son when it was made public that he is the son of Bamidele Aboderine” Nora eyes bulged, I had played a fast one on her.
    Judge: “While we run tests to ascertain the authenticity of this letter, constables arrest that woman for the murder of Mrs Folake Aboderine whose assets are also included here”
    Nora: “What! This is not what is being discussed here; this is a civil court not a criminal court” she said fiercely, clenching her fist. If she could, she would strangle the judge.
    Judge: “The law is the law; of course I am not trying you. You will be kept in a holding cell till the letter is proven to be true, then you will be charged. Meanwhile the case is adjourned to two days hence. I expect that the necessary test would have been carried out” the judge said and hit the gavel with finality. Two constables had already gotten hold of Nora and were leading her away to the court’s holding cell. She turned and looked at me, her eyes filled with hatred. Then her eyes went from me to a man sitting at the far back of the court room. He shook his head at her, and I saw a cloud come over her face.
    Leke: “How do they carry out test on paper?” I asked as I walked out of the court room with barrister Indimi.
    Indimi: “They will do an analysis of the writing, to determine if Mr.Bamidele Aboderine wrote the letter. They will probably date the paper too, to know how old it is. If everything checks, we would have killed two birds with one stone” he said.
    Leke: “Wow” that was the only thing I could say, I was overwhelmed, my goal was so close.
    Indimi: “You know it is about time you stop making this about revenge, and start making it about responsibility. Responsibility to your parents, to the companies, to your family” he said and patted me on the shoulder, it was like a man to a man. As I watched him leave, Banke came up to me and held me.
    Banke: “It is going to be fine” she said, as she held me from behind. Her body, so close to mine, made me feel warm and reassured that everything would turn out alright.
    Two days later, we were in court again, Banke did not come with me because she had a test; I kept forgetting school was now in session because she was always with me. The judge entered the court room and Nora was brought forward, she had on an orange jumpsuit.
    Judge: “The court clerk should pass around the test results as given by our analysts” he said, and the court clerk passed some papers to barrister Indimi, and Nora’s lawyer, who looked grim as he perused the letter.
    Judge: “Effective today, all assets belonging to the Aboderine family should be handed over to the one and only heir, Adeleke Aboderine. Based on the other facts contained in the letter, Mrs Nora Aboderine should be handed over to the police” He said and hit the gavel. I turned to barrister Indimi, and when he extended his hand for a handshake, I threw my arms around him and hugged him.
    Indimi: “You are welcome. I will see that there is a smooth handover to you. Look smart, today is going to be a long day” he said and nodded his head.
    That night I slept, thinking of the words barrister Indimi had spoken at the court. I asked myself if I was doing it all because I wanted to revenge for all the things Nora did to me, I decided that I was doing it for my parents, especially my mother. She didn’t deserve to die the way she did, so she deserved justice. Nevertheless I couldn’t deceive myself, I felt that if Nora was thrown behind bars, I would have the peace that had eluded me for a long time, that the wound in my heart would begin to heal, that the deep seated anger I felt towards life and humans will begin to go away. I was almost close to my goal, so why did peace still elude me? I slept thinking of all these. Then I saw my mother again, and this time she was talking.
    Folake: “My son, it is high time you accept this one truth. God exists, take it from me. The battle is not over, it has only begun. Your integrity will be tested; your strength will be tested. You need God, my son. Find God now” she said, and I bolted out of my sleep. I was breathing fast, and my body was wet with sweat.
    Leke: “What kind of a dream is this? Find God, where? Is he in the south, or the east, or the west, where is God?” I asked aloud. Then a voice whispered in my mind.
    Voice: “He is in you” the voice said, I knew not where it came from. I was greatly troubled, I tossed and tossed in bed but I could not go back to sleep. I was a voracious reader, I had read different kinds of book, but never have I read the bible. I took my phone and downloaded a bible app, with the intent to read and see what is said about God. I read all through the night, from Genesis. At some point I began to read the New Testament. By the time it was morning, I had this conviction in my heart that there was God. I didn’t know how to pray, no one taught me. Mother was too busy with the company to poke into my spirituality. So I knelt down beside my bed and prayed like Jesus had said in the bible.
    Leke: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation…” I prayed and asked for forgiveness for not believing that there is God. That morning I felt peace, a peace that had eluded me all the while, I smiled easily as I walked into Fola fashion house. I felt like singing. A new man had been born.
    Kunmi: “You look different, happy. Well you should be, you are finally getting justice” she said
    Leke: “Yes, but it is more than that.” I said as I went through the lookbook for the new collection. I was happy I met Kunmi, she taught me a lot of things, so even though I was a long way from being a fashion guru, at least I was on my way. Barrister Indimi arrived and called a board meeting, in which Nora’s lawyer was present to hand over all the documents pertaining to not just Fola fashion house, but also Balon oil, and the houses, and the cars. As he was handing over the documents to me, I remembered another set of documents, the incriminating ones that would tarnish my father’s reputation. I had stolen them to prevent Nora from using them against me, but now that I had found God, I felt that restitution was needed. It was not an easy decision to make. After the formalities, on our way to Balon oil group of companies, I told barrister Indimi what I was planning to do.
    Leke: “I want to hand over the documents to the EFCC” I said soberly. He pulled over to the side abruptly, the tyres of the car made a screeching sound as the car braked.
    Indimi: “Did I hear you correctly? You risked your life to get these documents and now you want to give them to the EFCC? Do you know what they will do? They will seize all companies related to Balon oil, all properties because it would be assumed that the proceeds of fraud were used to acquire them, do you want to get everything back from Nora and then lose them?”
    Leke: “God will take control, I just have to do His will and believe that He has better plans for me” I said and barrister Indimi just looked at me incredulously. My mind was made up and I was not going to turn around.
    At the company, I saw the man who Nora had been looking at, and I saw that he had an interest in me.
    Leke: “Have we met?” I asked him. He replied in the negative, but there was something about him that didn’t sit well with me. I asked him about his role in the company and he told me that he was the president of the company. Then I remembered that Nora had been begging a man on the phone in the video that Banke recorded. This was the mystery man. I pulled barrister Indimi aside and whispered to him.
    Leke: “That man, the president of the company, we have to investigate him, I think that he is the man that Nora is seeing. He was at the court and she exchanged a look with him” I said.
    Indimi: “Alright, I will put a P.I on him; let’s see what we will find out” he said and went back to his discussion. I knew before the barrister would get around to it, we would lose something vital. So I didn’t go home, I switched off my phone and began to tail him. He was called Jolomi, and he was married with two kids, according to his company profile. He was in the human resource department at first but was promoted when Nora became the chairman of the company. I watched him as he drove into his magnificent house, I could not follow him inside, and so I waited. I wanted to see if he would go to Nora. I got lucky when after two hours, his gate opened and I saw his car drive out, I caught a glimpse of a fair skinned lady waving him goodbye before the gate closed. I followed him slowly as he drove into Epe police headquarters where Nora was held pending when she would be cha

    EPISODE 21

    I entered the police station, hiding behind pillars, but always close. He asked for Nora and she was brought out. She looked disheveled, her hair dirty and unkempt.
    Jolomi: “Your lawyer is not doing a great job; I want to get another lawyer for you. He is known for turning cases around, even criminals walk when he handles their case.”
    Nora: “You better find a way and get me out of here because, I will start singing and see if I can cut a deal” she said through clenched teeth, as she gripped the bars separating them.
    Jolomi: “Whatelse do you want me to do. You were careless, he was right under your nose and you didn’t know”
    Nora: “Don’t give me that s--t! I did everything for you, so that we could live the life we could only dream of, but immediately you had what you wanted, you threw me aside. Got married, had kids. What about me. Now you want me to stay here alone, get me out or you will join me” she said as tears clouded her eyes.
    Jolomi: “I didn’t tell you to kill anybody” he said through clenched teeth.
    Nora: “You weren’t saying this when you were asking me to hurry. When you attacked the nanny because you wanted her out of the way” she spat at him and walked back to her cell, without a backward glance. I moved behind a pillar as Jolomi walked out of the police station.
    Leke: “He is desperate; he has to be removed from the presidency chair. There is no telling what he will do” I whispered to myself.
    I saw Banke for lunch where I updated her about the whole deal.
    Banke: “You are rich now” she said, with a smile that was not so bright.
    Leke: “What’s that, are you not happy about that?” I asked raising her chin with one finger and gazed into her eyes.
    Banke: “Of course I am, you are finally getting what you deserve, but, now the girls will come running. You have money now; you are also a television sensation. Your interview had more than a million views on YouTube; you are fast becoming a celebrity” she said as she pushed the spaghetti around in her plate, with the fork.
    Leke: “Well, what I am about to do will pull a spin on all that” I replied.
    Banke: “What are you about to do?” she asked anxiously. I told her about the incriminating evidence I had stolen from Nora, and how it could damage my father’s reputation, and get the companies seized.
    Banke: “Wow that’s a tough one”
    Leke: “Yes it is, but I am, a Christian now, I can’t lower God’s standards because it is inconvenient for me”
    Banke: “Wow when did you start talking like that, thought you were an atheist” she said surprise etched on her face.
    Leke: “I found God, He was here all along, but I was too blind to see” I replied, she touched my neck like she was feeling for my temperature, then she turned my head this way and that way like she wanted to know if I was truly alright. It made me chuckle.
    Banke: “If you who has been telling me that there is no God, can find God, then what am I waiting for” she said. It was the most beautiful thing I ever heard her say. Right there while we were having lunch I preached to her from all I read in the bible, and led her in a short prayer of repentance. I knew I had to lead by example so I told her to follow me home to get the incriminating documents, so we could take it to the EFCC. I didn’t know what the future held, but I was confident that God would make everything right.
    I walked into their office and demanded to speak with someone; I introduced myself to the investigator that was given to me. I went ahead to tell him all about Nora blackmailing my father.
    Leke: “These are the documents she was using to blackmail him” The man who had two long tribal marks on each side of his face, looked up from the documents and stared at me.
    Investigator: “Are you angry at your father? Is this some sort of revenge against him?” he asked, trying to understand where I was coming from.
    Leke: “No, I might have hated my father at one point in my life, but not anymore. He was only human; he made mistakes that cost him more than he bargained for. I am doing this because it is the right thing to do” I said and Banke held my hand, this action gave me assurance.
    Investigator: “However, are you aware of the consequences of this thing you are doing?”he asked. He was probably to receive settlement and sweep everything under the table, or perhaps he was being nice.
    Leke: “I am well aware, what would it profit me if I lost my standing with God so I could protect the image of my family?”I retorted.
    Investigator: “Very well, we will carry out our own investigations and do the needful. Thank you, you are a law abiding citizen. Nigeria needs more of you” he said and shook my hands.
    Leke: “Oh well, Nigeria needs more of God” I replied.
    Since the day of the court ruling, I had taken up residence in the house where I was born. I was watching the news, where I saw that Nora had been granted bail, and the trial set for a month away. All thanks to a celebrity lawyer, notorious for setting criminals free. He could manipulate the law, even doctor evidence. He did whatever was necessary to get his client freed. I took out my phone to call barrister Indimi when Iya Biliki came into the living room, a young man dressed in suit on her heels.
    Iya Biliki: “This man say na Oba send am, he wan see you”
    Leke: “Which Oba are you talking about?” I asked
    Iya Biliki: “Your grandpapa na, your mama papa” I stood up abruptly.
    Leke: “My grandfather? The same one that didn’t care, to look for his grandson all these years, or is it the one, that could not ask questions about his daughter’s death?” I asked angrily.
    Man: “I am only the messenger, come see him and ask him his reason. Your grandfather is dying, this may be your only chance to get your answers” he said earnestly. I typed a message on my phone to barrister Indimi to make an appointment for later in the day.
    The car that had been sent to pick me drove into the Oba’s palace amidst women singing and throwing flowers. The car pulled up to the entrance which was decorated with wreaths and gold painted pillars. I alighted from the car and saw that a red carpet has been rolled out from the car into the palace. The man who had come to the house escorted me into the palace. A woman dressed elegantly approached me; she held me and looked at me. Then she embraced me.
    Woman: “Welcome home son”
    Leke: “And you are?”
    Woman: “Olori Abike, the second wife of the oba. Your grandmother was the first wife but she died before you were born” she said.
    Leke: “I see” I said acidly. Suddenly I was their son, where were they all, when I needed them. I kept a passive face as she took me by the hand and led me upstairs. The Oba was in his bedroom; he was bedridden and couldn’t come down to the living room, so I was to meet him in his bedroom. I was filled with indifference as I entered the room, and beheld the man on the bed. He was not the tall and strong man I knew from my childhood, he was frail and shrunken. It removed every feeling of anger I had towards him. I rushed to him, and knelt down by the bed.
    Leke: “I am here grandfather” I said.
    Oba: “Omo mi” he replied in a feeble voice as he placed his hand on my head.
    Olori Abike: “He has been this way since he found out that his daughter did not commit suicide but was probably murdered. He feels he failed her by not asking questions. He was mad at her for too long” she said.
    Oba: “Abike, I am sick, not dumb. Allow me tell my own story” he said feebly, Olori Abike bowed her head slightly before leaving the room. I went closer to him, and though his face had been weathered by the years, I could still see my mother’s face in his.
    Leke: “Grandfather” I said as different emotions flooded me.
    Oba: “I did wrong, I thought wrong” he said as he struggled to tell his story.

    EPISODE 22

    Oba: “When Folake said she had found a man to marry, and brought Bamidele. I did not want her to marry him because, aside the fact that he was an orphan from a lower class family, and with no pedigree, he was also weak, I saw that he lacked courage, and I didn’t want that kind of man for my first daughter” he began to cough, a maid entered as if on cue with a glass of water. I helped prop him up on a stack of pillows so he could be more comfortable. After drinking from the glass of water, he continued.
    Oba: “But Folake was always stubborn, she was strong willed and wanted her wish at any cost. She was my favorite child because she looked so much like her late mother. Ha Folake” he said sorrowfully as a teardrop trickled out of the side of his eye.
    Oba: “So I let her have her way. To my surprise, they were good together, the toast of the society. Everybody loved them, so imagine my surprise when they called me early in the morning that she had committed suicide. I was angry; she had soiled the Akinifesi name. After the burial, I stayed away. I let my anger blind me, it got worse when I heard that you had attacked your nanny, and had been sent to a mental home. I forbad my family from associating with that mess; I cherished the family name more than the family members. What your father was before he died, was all because of your mother”
    Leke: “How do you mean. Mother always said father was from a rich family, his late parents left him a lot wealth”
    Oba: “She could have said that, but it wasn’t the truth. She invested in him, he had an idea, she had the money and the contacts. As the daughter of the Oba, she met with and liaised with top notch politicians, monarchs, and investors. She made Balon Oil, but she was the exemplary African wife and didn’t let anyone know, but the family knew”
    Leke: “You were wrong to abandon me, no matter how angry you were. You heard she committed suicide and you just accepted it, without asking questions” I said, angry tears rolling down my cheeks.
    Oba: “I know, that is why I want to make peace before I join my ancestors. But your family is here, you are not alone anymore. I am sorry for what you went through, I wish I could turn back the hands of time, I would do things differently” he said and broke into a sob.
    Leke: “I am a Christian now, and I do not allow anger and unforgiving spirit to control me. I forgive you, and I am sure my mother, your daughter, has forgiven you” I said and kissed him on the cheek.
    Olori Abike entered with two other wives and they all took turns to embrace me.
    Olori Abike: “Our child has returned” she said with a smile, and they broke into a song.
    On my way home, barrister Indimi called me, he was anxious.
    Indimi: “The curtain has fallen. The EFCC has seized both the company and other properties. The only asset that escaped it is your mother’s fashion company because she had it before she married your father, and also in deference to her father, the Oba of Lagos. Everything else has been taken. I am on my way to court to contest it, all the properties cannot just be taken over by the government like that.” He said.
    Leke: “We expected this, so why do you sound like you didn’t?”
    Indimi: “I wish you didn’t hand over the documents to them” he said in a defeated tone.
    Leke: “It was the right thing to do. I would rather, that you concentrate on our case against Nora, than contesting the will of the EFCC. Nora cannot walk free” I replied.
    Indimi: “You are the client; your wish is my command”
    When I got home, I was met with chaos, the servants were outside the gate with their belongings, and the house had been sealed with a tape, some EFCC officials were standing guard, and the pressmen were there to record our shame.
    Iya Biliki: “Leke, wetin is going on, I no understand iyo” she wailed
    Leke: “It is going to be fine. When the dust settles, I will contact everyone. Any of you who still want to work for the Aboderine family can come to the fashion house, I am sure there will be something you all can do” I said. I watched as one after the other they left, I began to question the wisdom of what I had done. If this was the right thing to do, why did it feel so wrong?
    The trial of Nora began on the 24th day of April, which was exactly one month from the day she posted bail. At the courthouse, I was accosted by the press; they asked all sorts of questions. But I refrained from answering them as barrister Indimi had requested.
    Indimi: “I often tell the lawyers in my firm, to save the press time for after they win the case, and I abide by that rule too” he had told me in the office before coming to court. Banke held my hands tightly as we walked up the stairs of the court house. The press left us to another quarry, and I turned to see that Nora had arrived with her celebrity lawyer, who was posing and put on airs before the camera.
    Nora’s lawyer: “My client is innocent, and I am going to prove that in court today. An ordinary letter written by a man who felt his young wife had wronged him is not to be taken seriously” he said with a broad smile. My eyes met with Nora’s, she looked at me, with no emotions on her face, then she turned away.
    Inside the courtroom, the court clerk called the case, and Nora was put in the defendant box. She looked different from the last time I saw her in court. She was relaxed and confident in the aqua colored dress she had on. She was a far cry from the angry woman the last time.
    Leke: “What is she up to?”
    Indimi: “Probably nothing, she may just be confident in her lawyer.”
    Leke: “Is there a chance she can beat the rap, and go free?”
    Indimi: “There is, but there is also a chance that she won’t. Her lawyer is ruthless and there is no telling what to expect” he replied, his face was serious, and he was concentrated on Nora.
    Judge: “How do you plead?” the middle aged judge asked.
    Nora: “Not guilty” she replied.
    Judge: “prosecuting counsel?” Barrister Indimi walked up to the stand and stared at Nora for a while.
    Indimi: “You were in the house of the Aboderines on the night that Folake Aboderine died, why were you there?”
    Nora: “I had gone to give some files to Bamidele Aboderine, my boss then to peruse” she replied confidently.
    Indimi: “You could not have waited till the next day?”
    Nora: “No” she replied, without making any efforts to elaborate.
    Indimi: “Could you tell this honorable court, what was so important that could not wait till the next day?”
    Nora: “We had an investors meeting first thing the next day, he had to peruse those documents before the meeting, and there was no other way”
    Indimi: “You see I didn’t expect you to give me so much detail, because it is expected that after more than ten years, the details would be sketchy.” He said, that was the first time since the trial that I saw Nora flustered. She sat up in her seat and looked towards her lawyer. Barrister Indimi walked to the table and picked up copies of the letter father had written to me, and distributed to the court. He even gave Nora a copy.
    Indimi: “What you are all looking at is the letter written by a dying man. Where he confessed his sins to his son and asked for forgiveness. This letter says that Nora killed his wife, Folake, I really don’t know why we are having a trial. You killed his wife to pave way for yourself, as you married him just three months afterwards” he said.
    Nora Lawyer: “Objection my Lord, badgering the witness” he said bolting out of his seat.
    Judge: “Sustained, but next time don’t act like there is a live wire under your a-s” he said and the courtroom burst into laughter.
    Indimi: “Why would a dying man lie against you?” he asked
    Nora: “He wanted to frame me”
    Indimi: “No further questions” he went back to his seat as Nora’s lawyer went up to the defendant’s box.
    Nora’s Lawyer: “What was your relationship with Mr.Bamidele Aboderine before the death of his wife?” he asked, and I looked at Indimi because I suspected something.
    Nora: “I was his executive secretary, but he was always harassing me. I would come to the office and he would spank my butt or he would grab me by the g---n. I wanted to leave the job but I had no other option, so I stayed. His wife knew, it was why she committed suicide”
    Leke: “Liar! Do not desecrate my mother’s memories with your lies” I screamed out in anger.
    Judge: “Counselor, advise your client before I throw him into jail for contempt” he said, and the barrister held my arm. I felt Banke’s hand on my shoulder, it was reassuring.
    Nora’s Lawyer: “After the death of Mrs. Aboderine, what happened, did he stop harassing you?”
    Nora: “No, it only got worse; he would demand that I come to the house. Then one day he raped me” she began to sob. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had thought that giving the incriminating documents to the EFCC was damaging my father’s reputation, but this was worse.
    Nora’s lawyer: “At what point, did you decide to marry him”
    Nora: “When I got pregnant for the rape, he asked me to marry him. I did, and I regret it ever since, because he battered me till I lost the baby.”
    Nora’s lawyer: “Who did you confide in?” he asked, a smile on his face. He was obviously glad that the theatrics were working. I looked around; people were moved with all the sobbing Nora was doing.
    Nora: “I confided in Mr.Jolomi, he was a staff at the company. I am sure the son knew about the affair and Jolomi’s knowledge about it, seeing as his first executive duty was to remove Mr. Jolomi from the company. They are just trying to set me up for what I didn’t do”
    Nora’s lawyer: “No further questions” he said and walked back to his seat, with a smug look on his face. Barrister Indimi walked out in a hurry
    Indimi: “One last question, how did Mr.Jolomi go from being a low level staff in the human resource department, with just a HND, to being the president of the company shortly after your marriage to Mr.Bamidele? Nora just looked on; she opened her mouth to speak. But no word came out.
    Indimi: “I am done listening to this bullcrap that…” he was interrupted by the Judge.
    Judge: “Counselor, watch your language!” the judge hit his gavel
    Indimi: “Sorry my Lord for my language. In fact I am done talking to Mrs. Nora” he said and went to the table where he grab an object inside a transparent evidence bag. The audience gasped when they saw what was in the bag.
    Indimi: “This is the knife that was used in murdering the victim, I have the police report which says it was a knife and the cut of the knife, but the knife was never found. I also have the report from the forensic department which confirms that the fingerprint matches with Nora’s.”

    EPISODE 23

    Nora’s lawyer had his mouth open; he could not believe how things were turning out. He had thought that if they discredited Bamidele Aboderine, the testimony of the letter would be made invalid, but he was not told about the murder weapon.
    Nora’s lawyer: “My lord, I need a few minutes with my client” he said, eyeing barrister Indimi.
    Judge: “The case is adjourned” he replied, and called the two lawyers into his chambers. He gave them a date which was two weeks away. He told them to prepare, because he was ready to wrap the case up.
    While I was walking out with barrister Indimi, I saw Nora and her lawyer in the hallway, they were arguing.
    Nora’s Lawyer: “I cannot believe you allowed me enter this case blind. I have made murderers beat the rap, but usually, when I ask you for the f-----g truth you tell me as it. Besides how did the murder weapon get into their hands?”
    Nora: “It is all my fault, I should have disposed the murder weapon, all these while I forgot about it. I never imagined in my wildest dream that that boy would come back to haunt me. I am so confused” she said hysterically.
    Nora’s lawyer: “I will try my best to see that you don’t go to jail. Trust me; hardened criminals have walked free when I handled their case.” he said as we passed by. I could feel eyes bore into my back, so I turned back and saw Nora’s eyes with so much hate filled in them; her eyes bore into mine like a challenge. I turned my eyes away and continued walking, but my hands were trembling with fear, in my pockets.
    Banke and Kunmi had agreed that I bunk with them, till I was back on my feet, despite pleas from barrister Indimi to get a house for me, as a gift to my late father. But I didn’t want to be alone, I loved the feeling of togetherness I had with Banke and her sister Kunmi. Banke had turned into the best thing that happened to me in a long while. She, who was a sex kitten, could spend the whole evening with me without thinking of sex. She was very smart, and whenever I was discussing the fashion company with Kunmi, she would make inputs that were brilliant and workable. She also loved making delicious meals just for me, she made me feel special and I didn’t feel so lonely. Even though my grandfather had opened his doors to me, I still was not used to him or his family. I spent years without them, and I was fine on my own. Suffice to say that Banke and her sister were the family I had.
    I had just had my bath; Kunmi was as usual keeping a late night at the office, because we were planning a collection launch which would also let our customers know that despite the EFCC brouhaha we were still in business, Banke also had a study group meeting. I was expecting her home anytime soon; I had even heated a portion of soup she would eat with the semo I made. I was reading a spectacular story on Inforistic.com on my phone, when I heard the doorbell ring.
    Leke: “That must be Banke” I said with joy as I rushed out to the foyer to open the door. I made a costly mistake. In my haste, because I did not expect anybody to attempt my life, once was enough, I opened the door without checking. It only occurred to me that I had made a mistake when I came face to face with the muzzle of a gun held by no other than Nora.
    Nora: “Hello Adeleke. We meet again, this time no pretenses” I was holding on to my phone, and Nora asked that I fling it away.
    Nora: “I will not allow you catch me unawares again. In fact, after this visit, you will not be making any videos” she said pointing the gun at my head.
    Leke: “Have you come to kill me? Do you really think you will get away with it this time?”
    Nora: “I will, I have made enough money, I can afford to live in any country of my choice. As I speak to you, a private jet is waiting to take me out of this country tonight. But I could not leave without tying up loose ends”
    Leke: “Then kill me, I shall reunite with my parents” I said spreading my arms wide, with my eyes closed. I was waiting to feel the pierce of the bullet through my skin. I would miss the life I would have had with Banke, but at least, I would see my parents again, especially my mother.
    Nora: “You were let out of the mental home; you were given a second chance at life. You could have made a new life instead of coming after me. Did you think you could win? Did you think I would let you win? I regret only one thing, I should have killed you when I had the chance, after your mother’s death, or even at the mental home. It would have saved me all these nonsense. But then, better late than never” she said through clenched teeth. I opened my eyes to see her fingers squeeze the trigger. I heard a loud whack sound. I stumbled backward as Nora started falling. She fell flat on her face and that is when I noticed Banke holding a big stick in her hand, with fear in her eyes. She looked up at me, then dropped the stick and ran to hug me.
    Banke: “Leke, are you alright. When I saw her pointing that gun, I thought I would die if she killed you” she said in a rush as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
    Leke: ‘I am here, thanks to you, I am still alive. How did you know” I asked, puzzled.
    Banke: “I came in through the kitchen door, I bought cat fish I wanted to use in making pepper soup, didn’t want it to stain the house. I saw her pointing the gun, from the hallway, I knew Kunmi wasn’t back and knew it was you. I tiptoed back; I was so scared she would see me. Found the stick at the backyard” she said kissing my neck desperately. She wouldn’t let go of me, it was like she was scared she would lose me.
    Leke: “We have to call for help before she wakes up from unconsciousness” I said and dialed barrister Indimi. He picked on the first ring.
    Leke: “Hello barrister, I need help. Nora is here, she tried to kill me” I said into the phone.
    Barrister Indimi: “Wait for me, in fact, go outside, the police will be on their way now” he told me. I hung up and pulled Banke, we secured the front door, and went out through the kitchen door.
    In a few minutes, I could see blazing red and blue lights, and I could hear the siren wailing, the police were here. I gave my statement and so did Banke. We went into the house, and Nora was still unconscious. She had a big concussion on the head. One of the officers carried her out.
    Police officer: “Please, come to Area one command tomorrow, it is important” he said and led his team out. I heaved a sigh of relief, the worst was over. No judge would grant her bail now, and the case was as good as won. She had thought she would kill me and flee the country, but she had failed. I turned to Banke and embraced her, I owed her my life.
    Leke: “Thank you Banks” I said
    Banke: “Don’t thsnk me, I have a lot to make up for” she replied with a radiant smile.
    Nora never left the prison house; she was remanded there, pending the outcome of the trial. The day of the trial finally came, and we returned to court. Nora was brought in, wearing an orange prison garb. Gone was the confident smile, in its place was a scowl. She kept struggling with the prison wardens that brought her.
    The judge came in, and the court session began.
    Judge: “We need to wrap this up, we have seen the evidence. The defendant was even caught in the house of the plaintiff after attempting on his life. It is obvious, she is a repeat offender. Anything from the defense counsel?”
    Nora’s lawyer stood up and shook his head, he was obviously feeling bad, and this was his first defeat in court, as it was obvious where the case was going. We all expected a jail term for Nora, but was shocked beyond words when the Judge gave his verdict.
    Judge: “On one count of murder, the court finds Mrs. Nora Aboderine guilty. On one count of attempted murder of Mary, the court finds Nora guilty. On one count of attempted murder of Adeleke Aboderine, the court finds Nora guilty. You are thereby sentenced to death by hanging. This is my judgment” he hit the gavel. The court fell silent, if a pin had fallen to the ground at that moment, the sound would have been heard throughout the court. I turned to barrister with eyes wide open.
    Barrister Indimi: “I didn’t expect this” he said, answering a question I only asked in my head.
    Nora: “No I won’t take it, I will say the truth. I have something to say” she broke the silence.
    EPISODE 24 (Final)
    Judge: “What can you say, the trial is over”
    Nora: “I did not attack Mary the nanny, Jolomi did” she exclaimed. I turned to barrister Indimi and nodded my head. I had been pondering on the possibility that a man attacked Mary, because of the way the legs were mangled, so much that she needed rehabilitation before she could walk again.
    Judge: “Who is Jolomi?”
    Nora: “Let me tell you a quick story, and perhaps you all, even you Adeleke , will understand why I did all these. I did it for love”
    Nora’s Story
    I met Jolomi while working as the executive secretary to the late Bamidele, my late husband. Jolomi was a low level staff, he was not earning much. In fact, I was earning more than he was. We started seeing each other and I fell in love with him. But soon he changed, he was always complaining of having no money, while I had money. I was not complaining and I tried not to make him uncomfortable. He was living in a f-----g boys’ quarter when I met him, I rented a one bedroom flat for him, so that he would not be complaining so much about my one bedroom apartment. But Jolomi was never satisfied, he began to tell me of his parents, how they were abysmally poor and how he tried to escape poverty by getting an education, but how the situation in the country was f-----g him up.
    I wanted to help, but the kind of money Jolomi needed, I didn’t have. One day I was going through some files I was working on for Bamidele. I stumbled on an anomaly, when I talked about it with Jolomi, in a light manner, talking about how Nigerians could not do without corruption; Jolomi took it upon himself to investigate. It happened that the fraud went back many years. Jolomi put together a file, and asked me to blackmail Bamidele with it.
    But Jolomi was not satisfied, he always said, “Why fetch water in a cup, when we can have the whole d--n well”. We extorted a huge amount of cash from Bamidele, but Jolomi always wanted more. He told me I should blackmail Bamidele into marrying me, he said when we get what we wanted, I would divorce Bamidele, and he would marry me. I killed Folake because Jolomi asked me to, then when I complained about Mary, he took care of it.
    I did it all for him, but the moment I made him President, he got married to a woman I am sure he was dating even while we were together. Why should I carry this punishment alone when it is obvious I only danced the piper’s tune?
    ============================================================
    Judge: “Your story changes nothing. The sentence stands, but of course Jolomi will be arrested and made to face the appropriate jail term. This is a lesson to ladies, love cannot be bought with money, if it is not there, it is not. And anything that would make you stain your hands with blood, is definitely not love” he hit the gavel with finality and left the courtroom. The media people went into a frenzy as they clicked their cameras a zillion times to capture all the emotions playing across Nora’s face. I shook my head, instead of anger, I felt pity for her.
    The date of the hanging was scheduled to take place in a fortnight two weeks. During this time, I was filled with mixed feelings. Finally my mother was getting justice, but did Nora deserve to die. I had forgiven her according to the commandment of God, even though it took me a while to get to that point where I could forgive her for everything she made me go through. Banke was always there to give me support, she became like a second soul to me, I began to believe Genesis, and the story of God’s creation. Banke was really made from my rib, she knew me like the back of her palms, she knew what I was thinking even though I was not saying it out loud.
    One day, we were at home, a few days to Nora’s hanging, we were watching the news, it was mid day. The EFCC had pardoned my father Bamidele Aboderine for the fraud he committed, on the orders of the President. According to the News anchor, the president was impressed by my honesty, and since my father was no longer alive to answer for his crimes, there was no need seizing the properties. The president also believed that under me, the companies would be free of fraudulent practices.
    Leke: “Oh my God” I exclaimed, I could not believe my ears. Almost immediately, my phone rang, it was barrister Indimi calling.
    Leke: “Barrister, are you seeing the news on MBC?” I asked, my voice was filled with joy and laughter.
    Barrister Indimi: “Yes son, which is why I am calling. I don’t know that your God, but I want to know him. Do you believe this is the first time; the EFCC is returning properties seized where there is proof of fraud? This is nothing short of a miracle” he said, if I could see his face, I knew he would be looking puzzled.
    Leke: “It is the Lord’s doing, I left it in the hands of God and he fought for me”
    Barrister Indimi: “Not wanting to be a kill joy, but I need to tell you the reality of things. Expect the company to experience hardship because many investors will leave, they will sell their stock at very low prices, devaluing the company’s stock in the market. You should be ready”
    Leke: “Why should I be troubled, God who started this, will finish it” I replied, I promised to call at his office the next day. I went back into the sitting room because I had gone into the dining area to receive the call.
    Banke: “We need to celebrate, so many good news. Jolomi has been arrested, you know he ran away, his wife has been in police custody ever since. She finally gave up his location, and the police have apprehended him, he is looking at nothing less than fourteen years” she said pointing to the television.
    Leke: “God be praised, things are falling into pleasant places” I said and hugged her. She went to the refrigerator and brought out a cold bottle of red wine.
    Banke: “This calls for celebration”.
    On the day that Nora would be hanged, I dressed up in black, Banke refused to go, she could not stand the sight. I would have been absent but the government insisted I had to witness that justice was served to the case. She was brought to the gallows dressed in a black dress. Her hair was combed and in an up swept bun, she had her face made up, she was beautiful, except for a few wrinkles. The priest stood before her and prayed for her soul, and then he asked her to make restitution. Faced with imminent death, Nora began to weep.
    Nora: “I am sorry for all I did. Adeleke, if you could ever try, please forgive me for what I did to you and your family. I am so sorry. If I was given another chance at life, I would do things differently” she cried.
    Leke: “I forgive you” I shouted from a few feet away where I sat with the prison officials and Barrister Indimi. I had forgiven her a long time ago, and I thought hanging her was a waste of life. Right there and then, I made a decision, I was going to read Law, and become a lawyer, for the sole purpose of abolishing the death penalty, and saving as much convicts as I could, from death.
    After the priest was done, Nora was led to a raised platform, and a noose was tied around her, at the count of three, the platform was pushed from under her feet, and in a few seconds, Nora was dead. I couldn’t help it, I burst into tears. Hanging there, she was limp and lifeless; all the power she wielded meant nothing at this moment. A portion of the bible filtered into my mind;
    “For the wages of sin, is death”
    After a week, the media was getting tired of the story of Nora’s hanging, it had run its course, people were more concerned with those who were living, than those who were dead. But, all barristers Indimi told me, was coming to pass. After the EFCC gave me back Balon Oil, investors began to withdraw, many sold their stock at pitiable prices, I tried buying back as much as I could, but the mass sale devalued our stock price in the stock market. I had gotten back the company, but it was failing.
    I met grandfather, and discussed the issue with him, the frail old man told me to organize a remembrance for my parents, and he would make sure the elite of the country were present and then I could make a sale pitch.
    Banke: “Leave the planning to me, I got you” she said when I told her, what the Oba, my grandfather had said. And she outdid herself.
    On the day of the remembrance, the elite of the country, from the length and breadth of the country gathered to remember my parents. The Oba was present, carried on a dais which was borne by four pallbearers. During the event, when it was time for me to give a speech, I stood up and took the podium.
    Leke: “Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for being with me today to remember my parents who died through unfavorable circumstances. But the bible said, in all things we should give thanks, and I thank God because He knows why he allowed the things that happened. My parents are gone, but I am here to fill the big shoes that they left behind. I know some of you say in your hearts, what can this little boy do? What I can do is transform the money you give to me to riches. If you follow my story for the past months, you will see that I am a fighter, not a quitter. My parents left a legacy, and I want to continue the legacy, wouldn’t you rather put your money where there is a purpose? Balon oil is more than a company to me; it is a part of my parents that I can hold on too, so you know I will never give up on it. Put your money where there is purpose and integrity. Give me your money and I will make you richer than you are now” i said peering into their eyes. I was begging, but i was doing it elegantly.
    Suffice it to say, after the remembrance, investors better than the ones we had before flocked to the company, I knew they also were prodded by my maternal grandfather. And like a phoenix, the company rose from its ashes.
    THREE YEARS LATER
    The company flourished beyond my expectations, barrister Indimi was by my side all through, taking care of all my legal needs. In three years we had grown into a conglomerate, I was super rich, richer than my parents had been. I was happy and my investors were happy, because they received great turnover on their investments. Life was sweet.
    I opened a fashion training institute, as a subsidiary of Fola Fashion House, where the less privileged could come in and acquire fashion skills for entrepreneurship, at the paltry sum of two thousand naira, it was my way of giving back to the society. I also made Mary the administrator of the institute, if she could manage an unruly child like me, she could d--n well manage a fashion institute.
    On this day, the 14th of February, life was sweeter. I was getting engaged to the love of my life, and the woman who stood by me through it all. I was twenty now, and though Banke was a few years older than me, it didn’t matter, who was counting? She looked very beautiful in her champagne gold sequined gown. I personally designed the gown for her, I knew her very well, even the contours of her body, therefore, the gown was a perfect fit because it was designed with so much love.
    Leke: “You are so beautiful, ife mi” I told her as we stood on the starboard of the cruise boat we had rented for the occasion. The noise of the music and our guest was behind us as we peered into the calm waters.
    Banke: “Your love makes me so beautiful” she replied.
    Prisca: “Here are the lovebirds” she said coming to join us, with her boyfriend Lucas, a white man she met in South Africa on a vacation. I had apologized to Prisca for leading her on even when I was still seeing Banke. She forgave me, and my apology helped her move on from the impossible love she felt for me.
    Lucas: “They are the most beautiful couple I ever seen” he said smiling. Banke rushed to embrace Prisca, seeing her she was convinced that everything was alright between them. She always worried that Prisca was still carrying hurt feelings.
    Leke: “We should toast”
    Prisca: “Yes we should, but not here. Come in, your friends and loved ones are waiting for you” she said and pulled Banke inside the boat. I saw the faces of people who had stood by me through the struggle, people like Mary, even Iya Biliki.
    Iya Biliki: “Ha, small boy turn a biggie man” she sang and danced in a funny way.
    Prisca: “Let’s toast to the couple of the year. May their love be ever sweet” she said and everyone raised their glasses. I looked upwards at the night sky bedazzled with stars like diamonds, and felt that my mother was watching from heaven, and she was smiling at her beloved son, Leke Bobo.
    The End

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