Dial Episode 28 is running…
Local beauty. The boy who had broken her virginity had married someone else, hurting her badly. She had been a good Christian, and had waited three years after that, vowing to give herself only to Mr. Right…cliché!
She had been rumoured to be an unassailable target.
I had come in, with my good looks and money, swept her off her feet…and she had ended up as number thirty-six on my Dial List.
She had called, she had cried, she had threatened, she had begged…but I hadn’t minded her.
Why had I really chosen her as part of my list of women who could forgive me willingly?
Simple. She was a good Christian; good Christians forgave quickly.
And so I called her, for the very first time since I slept with her. I was prepared to be met by bitterness the moment she heard my voice, but surprisingly she was very calm.
“Yao Biko,” she said. “I guess this is a different number.”
“My real number, Aku,” I said softly. “You can reach me anytime on this number.”
“What do you want now, Yao?” she asked, throwing me off for a moment.
So I began to speak to her, employing my most persuasive charms. Eventually she agreed to meet me, but not at her home. We finally agreed to meet at the Green Park, which was a Social Centre. I had managed to convince her to see me briefly and help me out of a predicament that could lead to my death.
And she had decided to meet me, and give me just ten minutes of her time.
I arrived a few minutes earlier, and sauntered lethargically into the garden part of the park. There were a few people around, mostly couples and families, seated on the park benches or buying food at one of the food joints.
I had not eaten that day, and it was almost in the afternoon, but I wasn’t hungry. I waited for her morosely, and soon she appeared at the entrance of the park. She was wearing a pair of white jeans and a loose-fitting green shirt. A nice hairband was holding her braided hair back. Tall, curvy and statuesque, a real beauty to behold.
I had forgotten my turban in the apartment of those wicked sisters and their friend, and so I stood up in my grey cornrow hair and waved to her. I had not put on the sunshades too, hoping that my appearance would shock her into forgiving me quickly.
She looked at me, scowled and turned her face away, scanning the benches again for any sign of me. I felt a sudden wave of self-pity; I had changed so much that she could not even recognize me from afar.
Dazed, I walked toward her, waving again, and this time she took a longer look at me, and suddenly her beautiful lips opened in a horrified ‘O’.
“Yao, is that you?” she asked with absolute horror. “What happened to you? Or is it some sort of makeup?”
I breathed shallowly. Her horror at the sight of my appearance really cut into me, and for a wild moment I felt the pinpricks of tears in my eyes, but I took a deep, shuddering breath and smiled sadly at her.
“That’s why I needed to see you, Aku, dear,” I said gently. “Have you eaten? Can I get you something to eat, or drink?”
She shook her head, still staring at me with horror.
“No, no, I’m fine, Yao,” she said quaveringly. “Tell me, what’s happening to you?”
And so we sat on one of the park benches, and I narrated my ordeal to her. Once again I told her a watered side of the story, telling her she was the only one who had been chosen to forgive me, otherwise I would age, and die an old man whilst still only twenty-six years old.
She listened without interrupting, her eyes growing ever more horrified by the second.
A young man in a dark hoodie passed, and then he stopped suddenly and smiled at Akushika.
“Hey, Shika, is that you?” he asked warmly.
She dragged her eyes from me with an effort and smiled at the young man.
“Oh, hi Phil,” she responded. “Where have you been hiding yourself? It’s been a while!”
“Oh, yeah, I’m in ‘Tadi now, got employed in a firm there!” Phil said happily, bent and hugged Akushika quickly.
He looked at me then and smiled.
“Is this your father, Shika?” he asked with a gentle smile, holding out his hand to me. “Nice to meet you, sir.”
I didn’t take his hand, and I looked at him furiously.
“Do I look like her father?” I asked coldly. “I’m her handbag rather!”
“Yao!” Akushika said with raised eyebrows. “That is rude!”
“It’s cool, it’s cool,” Phil said with a sad smile. “Sorry if I offended you, sir. I’ll be around for a while, Shika. Will call you.”
“Yes, Phil, please do that,” she said with a smile, and then waved to him as he moved on.
I sighed miserably and looked at her set face, my despondency rising again.
“Sorry, Aku, dear,” I said miserably. “Didn’t mean to snap at him.”
“Oh, that’s okay, Yao,” she said softly with a scowl. “You know, you really shattered me, and broke my heart. I gave myself to you out of love, and I gave you everything! And you used me, and dumped me so badly!”
I took her hand and looked at her, putting a remorseful expression on my face.
“I’m so sorry, Aku,” I pleaded. “Please forgive me!”
Tears brimmed in her eyes, and her lips quavered. She shook her head sadly.
“I loved you so hard, Yao,” she said. “You know, I thought I was safe when I gave myself to you, but I got pregnant, Yao!”
“Oh!” I whispered, aghast, feigning a look of damnation on my face. “Oh, Aku, Aku, Aku! I’m so sorry!”
“Oh, don’t be!” she whispered tremulously. “I didn’t know what to do. I was so desperate! And I followed a friend to see a doctor for an abortion. I was given an injection, and a certain capsule was inserted into my vagina. Three days later I started bleeding, and didn’t stop bleeding. Eventually I was rushed to the hospital. It seemed that the nurse who inserted the capsule used the wrong one. There was a serious complication, Yao, and in the end, the doctors had to remove my womb.”
I was stunned.
I looked at her with horror.
Tears fell down her cheeks in torrents now as she wept, and she took out a handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. She looked me straight in the eye and shook her head once.
“I cannot have babies now, Yao, even if I get married,” she whispered tremulously. “In my anguish I called you, but your number didn’t go through anymore. I’m a stronger Christian now, Yao, and I can never repay evil with evil. I don’t hold anything against you, and I’ve never held anything against you. I forgave you a long time ago, Yao Biko.”
The relief was so great that I almost jumped to my feet and danced a crazy jig.
The words exploded in my head…
I forgave you a long time ago…
I was freeeeee!
She got to her feet and smiled down at me.
“I hope you get your freedom from this…this curse thing, Yao,” she said gently. “But really, you need true repentance to overcome all these ills. Anyway, I wish you well, but I don’t really ever want to see you again. Goodbye, Yao.”
I got to my feet immediately.
“Look, Aku, I’m so sorry,” I said, trying hard to stop the elation from showing on my face. “Let’s go to my car. I’ll take you home. I’ll write a cheque for you!”
She looked at me with a sudden flash of anger in her eyes.
“A cheque?” she asked tightly. “Did you say a cheque? Did you even hear one thing that I said? You’re pathetic, Yao! I don’t need your money!”
And then she turned and began to walk quickly away from me.
I watched her go, and although I felt a twinge of pity for her, the overwhelming emotion I felt was the fact that I had managed to get her to forgive me!
“I’m free!” I whispered with profound relief. “I am so free!”
“Not so fast, Mr. Biko,” said Nana Bosomba.
I screamed and fell down instantly, causing some people around to giggle. A young man came to help me up, but I brushed his hand aside and stood up with horror all over my face, looking around desperately.
Surely…no, no, that couldn’t have been Nana Bosomba!
But it was!
There he was, sitting on a bench three spaces away, wearing his white batakari over black slacks, his linked arms resting on top of a walking-stick with a curved handle in front of him.
I walked toward him, my expression dazed, looking into his dark unfathomable eyes. I stopped in front of him and spoke in a dry voice.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you, Mr. Biko, for a final time,” he said gently.
I licked my dry lips and looked at him with angry eyes.
“I got it, Nana Bosomba,” I said tightly. “She forgave me.”
He shook his head sadly.
“No, she didn’t, Mr. Biko,” he said with a smile. “She said she forgave you a long time ago. She never needed you to ask her for forgiveness. Indeed she held nothing against you.”
“You stop that bullsh*t!” I screamed with sudden horror, almost reaching out to hit him. “Stop that crap! She forgave me, do you hear? Your damn curse is broken, you stupid bastard!”
“Keep your voice down, Mr. Biko,” Nana Bosomba said, unperturbed. “You’re causing a scene. Relax, Mr. Biko. Take a seat. There’s something I want to tell you.”
I saw that people were staring at me, and so I sat down gingerly beside him, seething with rage all the time.
He put his walking stick down beside him, and then he rubbed his hands together gently, and when he held his hands open, there were two green apples in each hand.
He offered one to me.
“Care for an apple, Mr. Biko?” he asked gently.
“I don’t want your apple, sir!” I grated out angrily, feeling the terror rushing up at me, and finding it hard to keep it down.
“Suit yourself, Mr. Biko,” he said, and threw the apple he had offered me away. The apple curved into the air, but before it began its descent to the ground, it just disappeared into thin air, as if there was an invisible dustbin in the air.
I moved away from him along the bench.
I was that scared of him.
“Mr. Biko, you disappoint me,” he said slowly and bit into his apple, chewing with obvious relish. “I specifically told you to make your five choices carefully. Do you know you failed the test miserably?”
I gasped and looked at him with traumatized eyes.
“What test, huh?” I asked in anguish. “Stop playing this silly game with me! I’m sick and tired of you, and your antics! Why can’t you just leave me the fu*k alone, huh?”
He bit into his apple again, chewed thoughtfully, and then he fixed his dark eyes on me.
“Now you’re making me angry, Mr. Biko,” he said, his voice frosting over. “But I’m not going to get angry. Like I was saying, you failed the test. When I told you to find five women from your list, and get just one to forgive you, I wanted you to sit down, reflect and really feel the anguish you gave the women, but you didn’t Mr. Biko, you didn’t.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked desperately, still fighting down my panic.
“You were facing a death sentence, Mr. Biko,” he said carefully. “You knew that if you didn’t get one of them to forgive you, death will knock at your door. I was expecting you to really reflect on how badly you treated those women. I wanted you to be genuinely sorry for your selfish and wicked acts toward those women.
That girl who just left became pregnant, and in the long run had her womb removed. You’ve destroyed her life, Mr. Biko. She cannot have babies in her marriage, all because she gave herself to you believing wholly that you intended to marry her! If you had kept your side of the bargain, she might not have had to go in for an abortion.
What a sad story! She told you this, and you were not even sorry for her! All you were interested in was getting her to forgive you. How selfish and uncouth can you be?”
He threw the half-eaten apple away suddenly, and again it disappeared into thin air, and his dark eyes blazed at me then, no longer friendly but filled with deep wrath.
“What is this?” I asked numbly. “Why have you twisted the whole issue, huh? You told me to get one lady to forgive me, to break the curse! I did just that! So what the hell is wrong with you, Nana Bosomba of Wowo? Why do you want to make my life a living hell?”
“Because you’re an arrogant, pompous, spoilt little brat!” he said, his angry voice matching my own. “You treat women like trash! The purpose of my test wasn’t to get one of them to forgive you! I wanted you to be genuinely sorry for what you did to them! But you were not sorry!
Instead, you chose the women you were sure will give you a quick pardon! You never regretted any of your actions! As usual, you just wanted a free way out! It doesn’t matter if all of them had forgiven you! It doesn’t matter if none of them forgave you!
I just wanted to see if you would be really sorry, and ask for forgiveness from them because you were really sorry, not because you just needed a cure for the curse! If you had asked with real remorse, apologizing with real humility, feeling really sorry for your actions, this curse would have been broken whether they forgave you or not!”
“What are you trying to tell me, you damn bastard?” I screamed furiously as the fear exploded in my heart. “What does this mean? Where does this leave me? Why are you making my life a total mess?”
He looked at me and shook his head sadly.
“I just wanted you to be really sorry for how you treated my daughter, and the other women on this list,” he said, and then he held his fingers bunched and pulled through the air, and as he pulled an A4 paper soon appeared in the thin air, following his pulling gesture, until he had pulled a full sheet of paper out of the air.
He handed it to me.
I took it with trembling fingers.
It was my Dial List, with forty-six names on it, printed perfectly.
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“So you can print in the air,” I said needlessly, because if I didn’t say anything, I would have gone mad at that point in time.
I looked around me, but it seemed we were alone on that stretch of the park. Surprisingly, it seemed all the visitors had left us alone, and were on the other side of the park.
I stared at the list, and my hands shook with sudden cramming fear.
“Please, give me another chance, another set of names, please, I beg of you,” I whispered in a daze.
“You had your chance, Mr. Biko, and you blew it,” he said, his voice gentle again as he got to his feet. “It wasn’t necessary to get one of them to forgive you. It didn’t even matter. All I wanted to see was your real regret! I was expecting you to feel real remorse, real sorrow, but you didn’t. All that mattered to you was to get a quick forgiveness, so that you would be free of the curse, and go and add more to that list. I’m sorry, Mr. Biko. You failed.”
I looked at him through a blaze of tears.
“Please,” I whispered sadly, my body and lips shaking now. “What happens to me now? Please, Nana, have mercy on me! Give me a chance, another test, please. I promise…what are you going to do to me now?”
“I warned you, Mr. Biko,” Nana Bosomba said softly. “I warned you. I have no more slack ropes to give, Mr. Biko. We’re done now. You will grow old, and you will die of old age. Goodbye, Mr. Biko.”
He bent, picked up his walking-stick, and began to walk away.
“Oh, no, no, no, no!” I moaned in anguish as I got to my feet. “You don’t do this to me! No one does this to me, no one! You damn, evil bastard!”
I rushed at him furiously with clenched fists, going round him and stopping in front of him, my eyes furious and mad as I pushed him hard in the chest, causing him to take a step back with sudden alarm.
“You don’t leave me like this!” I groaned furiously. “You better take this curse off me!”
“Or what, you’ll give me a cheque?” he asked, and his eyes blazed his fury. “Make sure you don’t touch me again, Mr. Biko!”
“No, I’m not letting you leave until you take this curse off me!” I hissed, and reached out to push him hard again.
And that was when his whole body became covered with sudden blazing fire that licked toward my face dangerously!
I screamed and jumped backward, feeling the heat of the fire on my hands! As I fell I smelt the singed hair on my arms!
“Goodbye Mr. Biko,” his voice came from within the fire as he walked away from me. “Say hello to your father for me.”
I remained on the ground. And I wept softly.
This was it. Death had found me, finally.
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