Dial Episode 13 is on…
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Fear was a very terrible thing.
I knew real fear as I stood at the car park of the Bare Light International Church that Sunday morning, looking at my car.
Apostle Williams had asked someone to bring it over during my stay at the upstairs suite. For the first time in my life I had no joy in me to enter my beautiful car.
My heart was thudding, and there was sweat on my face.
I jumped and almost fell when a car’s horn sounded behind me, and as I turned I saw that Apostle Williams’ car had come to a stop behind me, and he had got out, his face grim and…yes, scared.
He handed me a blue envelope.
“And what is this?” I asked angrily.
“Two cheques, Mr. Biko, two cheques,” Apostle Williams said, and he couldn’t look into my face. “Covering Twenty-two thousand cedis. From me and Light Greyhem.”
“What the f**k is the meaning of this?” I asked, my eyes narrowing. “I gave you ten thousand each, making twenty thousand! Why have you given me twenty-two thousand? What’s the extra two thousand for?”
He smiled and took out a handkerchief, and slowly wiped his face.
And when he looked at me I could see the fear plainly in his eyes now.
“Mr. Biko, we don’t want to owe that man in any way, trust me, hence the extra thousand each from us,” he said.
“Owe what man?” I asked, but I knew.
“That Wowo man, Mr. Biko, that Wowo!” he said shakily. “I have never witnessed the things this man has done ever before, and I don’t want to witness it again. I think he’s a very dangerous man, Mr. Biko.”
He turned and headed for his car.
“Hey!” I cried angrily. “Now what, you bastards! You promised me you were going to help, and so I didn’t go and see that man! And now you leave me in the lurch like this, you damn fake pastors?”
He paused, turned and wiped his face.
“We are not fakes, Mr. Biko,” he said calmly. “But that man…he’s bad, very bad. If I were you, I’ll go and see him.”
“Now? You tell me this, now, you bastard?” I said.
“Go away with your troubles, Mr. Biko, just go away!” he said.
He opened his car door, looked in, and then he let out one almighty scream that made my hair stand up!
It was a crippling scream that tore at my insides by its note of acute terror!
Apostle Williams turned, still screaming, and rushed toward the buildings of BLIC, his legs moving so fast that I wondered why he was a pastor if he could run like that. He could have won some Olympic medals for us as a runner.
People in the car park were looking on dazedly, not understanding why the man of God had screamed like that and left his car in the park. People were looking strangely at the car.
“Is it a snake?” a fat man asked across the lot. “Did he see a snake in his car?”
At the mention of snake all the people that were beginning to move toward the Apostle’s car stopped in their tracks.
I didn’t think it was a snake, and so I moved forward and stood near the open door of the car.
On Apostle Williams’ seat was the white pot with the white envelope in it. My heart gave a massive kick, but I smiled grimly. At least I was now sure that the pot was not in my car.
“Serve you right, you fuc*king bastard!” I whispered as I turned away and went to my car.
I got in, started up, and drove away from BLIC.
By the time I got to my residence, my mind was made up.
I had come to the conclusion that Nana Bosomba of Wowo was a very formidable man to go up against. I refused to think about the incidents that had happened ever since I met him, because the more I thought about them the harder my heart raced, and the stronger my fear became.
Yes, I had messed up, big time, where Akos was concerned. Damn, I should have left that girl alone, and not followed the uncontrollable instincts of my loins. In the past, I had not been scared of death. I had thought of death as something eventual, a strange phenomenon that would eventually catch up with everybody, and so death didn’t scare me.
Perhaps it had been because it was remote.
But now, I knew Nana Bosomba could kill me in the most horrible way. And because I was now seeing possible death, in a very horrible way, I was now scared to die. I realized now that life was a good thing, a fine feeling, and it was precious to me.
So, I was decided; I would go to Wowo first thing on Monday to visit Nana Bosomba, and beg him. My only prayer was that I would be able to last through Sunday, and the early part of Monday till I saw him. He had given me a deadline, and I had messed up with it, and now anything could happen to me.
I needed to see him, and beg him, and pay him, if I needed to. It was now imperative to do anything within my power to assuage Nana Bosomba.
Yes, I was scared of him.
And when I got to my residence, that incredible mini-castle I had designed and built, I found a beautiful white Mercedes Benz parked under the canopy garage outside my gates, and leaning against its side was Nana Bosomba.
I was staring at it, and my heart began to thud and yammer furiously because I knew without any shred of doubt that this was going to be an unpleasant encounter.
My eyes almost protruding out of my head, I swung the steering-wheel and brought the car to a halt beside the white Mercedes.
I jumped out of the car and rounded it, going toward the man with fear all over my face.
“Please, please, please,” I said, forcing myself to remain calm because I could feel the panic bubbling up in me. “I’m sorry, okay? I’m so very sorry! I was coming over tomorrow to see you, to beg you! Please, I beg of you, let’s settle this issue.”
I noticed then that he was holding a half-eaten boiled egg.
Today he was not in a smock, surprisingly. He was wearing a white shirt over black trousers.
He looked at me and smiled, his face kind, calm and almost happy, and then he popped the rest of the egg into his mouth and chewed gently.
“Mr. Yao Biko,” he said kindly. “I was expecting you yesterday to honour my daughter, but you didn’t show up, choosing instead to spend time in a church whose members go around showing their vaginas and penises. What were you thinking? If you had chosen a good Bible-believing church I would have known you were serious. But that pus*y church? Come on, give me a break!”
I looked at him, stumped for words. For a moment, I didn’t know what to say.
“I didn’t know there were differences between churches, really,” I said desperately, fighting to keep the fear out of my voice. “Please, Nana, I beg of you. Can we go inside and talk?”
He smiled again and shook his head.
“Oh, Mr. Biko, the time to talk is over, surely you know that!” he said calmly. “Akos was buried yesterday, and that effectively seals everything.”
“Damn it, man!” I said, and now the fear was on my face as helpless tears almost came to my eyes. “So what does this mean? You’re going to kill me?”
“That’s preposterous, Mr. Biko!” he said, his voice still calm, but I noticed that his eyes were now cold. “How can I kill you, Mr. Biko? I’m not God, please. I came over yesterday, after the burial, to take the rest of Akos’ things home. I decided to pass by to take my pot and the invitation, since you didn’t honour them.”
“The pot?” I asked, oddly disoriented.
“Yes, Mr. Biko, in the front passenger seat of your car,” he said calmly.
I turned, trembling, and opened the passenger door.
And there was the pot with the envelope in it, right on the seat. I turned and looked at him helplessly. He took a step forward, and then he picked the pot up, turned, opened his back door, and gently placed the pot on the seat.
I shut the door and turned to him, my eyes pleading.
“What now, sir?” I asked softly.
“Oh, nothing much, Mr. Biko,” he said in his infuriatingly clam voice. “Now I’ll take my snake, and then I’ll be on my way.”
I gasped and took a step back.
“Your snake?” I whispered with great terror.
I had always been terrified of snakes.
He smiled gently.
“Yes, in your backseat,” he said. “I sent it to mess you up this morning, because you angered me by going to that buttocks church, but I changed my mind. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll take my snake.”
He stepped forward and opened the back door of my car.
And then the gigantic head of an anaconda slithered slowly out of my car, followed by the shiny, exotic, gigantic body of the horrible snake. I groaned with acute terror and took frantic steps back, my eyes popping, my terror peaking!
I missed a step and fell to the ground hard, quivering with terror!
That snake had been in the backseat of my car all along!
It had ridden with me!
It could have killed me, swallowed me!
I couldn’t breathe as sweat poured all over me! I watched with pure unadulterated horror as the snake slithered on the floor, and then climbed into the backseat of Nana Bosomba’s car in a never-ending shiny roll of snake body!
It was so frightfully long!
I knew, without a shred of doubt, that I was never going to ride in that car again!
Finally, its tail came out of my car, and moved into Nana Bosomba’s car.
He had sent that horror to mess me up!
This man was more dangerous than I had ever thought!
He shut his back door and then he smiled and looked at me.
“Should I help you up from the floor, Mr. Biko?” he asked gently.
“You keep your damn hands from me!” I screamed in anguish as I scrambled desperately to my feet. “What’s this, man? Why are you doing this to me?”
His face became bleak immediately.
The smile vanished, and the gentleness was gone.
In his eyes was the look of sheer malice, and pure hatred.
“She was my favourite daughter, Mr. Biko!” he hissed acidly, his eyes spewing sheer malice. “She was just a plaything to you, but she was my fuc*king world! You dishonoured her, and you killed her. The question is, why the hell did you do that to me, Mr. Biko?”
I ran my hands through my hair desperately, my face frantic with fear, unable to control my panic.
“Oh, come on, sir, please!” I cried desperately. “I was stupid, yes…but please, I beg of you! Let’s discuss this! I’m sorry, please, so sorry!”
“Sorry my ass!” he said softly, his calm restored. “You were not even at her funeral, Mr. Biko. You don’t know our customs. I had to bury my daughter in the cemetery of the lost, which is the final resting place of dishonoured people in my clan! I couldn’t bury her in the Black Cemetery where all her ancestors are resting, where I’ll rest when I die! Do you know how that makes me feel? You broke my heart by putting my daughter on your list, Mr. Biko. That was all she was worth to you, just another fuck*d pu**y on your bloody list! But she was my gem, boy, my heart and the apple of my eye!”
I was weeping now.
“I’m so sorry, please!” I cried, holding out my hands. “Please, forgive me! Please forgive me! I’m ready to go to Wowo now, to do anything, anything that will give your daughter honour and let her be buried right! Just tell me what to do, please! I can’t take this torture anymore!”
He stepped close to me, his face grim.
“It is too late now, Mr. Biko,” he whispered.
“So what are you going to do to me now?” I shouted in anguish. “Kill me? Is that it? You’re going to kill me?”
He patted me on the shoulder.
“No, Mr. Biko,” he said softly. “Unfortunately, Akos loved you, and she begged me with her final breath, in her letter to spare your life. And so I will respect the wishes of my daughter. I won’t kill you, Mr. Biko. You’re free.”
He turned away and opened his car door.
“I’m free?” I asked tremulously. “You mean really free? We’re cool?”
He smiled at me and nodded.
“We’re cool. At least, Mr. Biko, I know you will grow old with more experience,” he said gently. “Yes, you will grow old knowing that you can’t always do things the way you feel like doing it. You will grow old.”
He got into his car and drove away.
I heaved a great sigh of relief then.
Finally, the nightmare seemed to be over.
We were cool. Akos, by her kind heart, had begged her father for me, and he had listened.
I moved into my huge mansion, the great beautiful house I had built, the envy of many people, but which was so empty!
I had no family, no friends, no love…just a lonely, lonely life filled with emptiness.
Never had I missed my father so much! He would have known what to do, how to protect me from the horrors I had faced since Akos died.
I sat down in my expensive luxurious living-room and wept bitterly.
I wept for Akos, and I wept for my father.
More importantly, I wept for myself.
Finally, drained, I prepared myself some jollof rice, ate, watched violent movies…and then I went to bed.
Two weeks passed, and nothing happened to me. No attacks, no evil voices, no phones speaking or televisions coming on in spooky ways. No pots, no midnight foods, no white envelopes.
It seemed to me that Nana Bosomba had left me alone.
Life was looking up, and I was beginning to get happy again…until I went for a haircut.
My barber sat me down, covered me with the large silky barber’s apron, and then he picked up a comb and began running it through my hair. This man had been my barber for many years. My father had introduced me to him, and he had cut my father’s hair till he died.
“Ei, Mr. Biko, na worry you worry wey your grey hairs dey come na so?” he asked with concern. “Abeg, make you no worry o! Ah, even your father wey e grow like that no get grey hairs like this, Mr. Biko!”
“What are you talking about, Felix?” I asked softly.
My hair had always been jet black, inherited from my father. Even at his rich age, he had just a speckle of greys in his hair.
I was just twenty-six years old, one year to the day my father died.
“Your hair, Mr. Biko,” Felix said gently. “Plenty, plenty grey hair. Ah, I don’t understand o! Or you use some yeye hair dye for top? Because last week when you came no grey, but today nooor so much grey like this? Why?”
I bolted from the chair and faced the huge mirror!
That morning I had combed my hair, and there had been no grey. What the hell was this barber talking about?
Everybody in the shop was now looking at me as I leaned forward and stared.
The crown of my head was covered with grey hair!
Not much, no, but visible…dotted and pronounced grey hair!
My heart gave one mighty kick with great fear as my head seemed to explode with the final words of Nana Bosomba of Wowo…
You will grow old with more experience…you will grow old!
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