She was in a rush.  She was in an extreme hurry trying to unmangle the mixed up chatter of instructions in her head of what to buy and what to do and who to call and what to say and what to cook and… long what to’s.
She hardly slept the night before and had to leave home early the next day because the curtains are not in the right colour and the carpet which was purchased months ago had the wrong pattern and it could be overlooked but that was the same pattern for the custom-made sofa fabrics so… Oh and the gown for the second dinner was an inch too lose on the top and an inch too tight by the knees, bride could fall while walking. Somehow, brooms and packers for the brides house had been conveniently forgotten and oh!  Match sticks and ingniters, with coals please, you know, for incense.
Her brain was buzzing with a long list of instructions as she manuovered through the market with the expertise of one who went only once in about 4 months. She hadn’t taken her bath, she felt uncomfortably sweaty, she hadn’t even brushed and the long hijab was whooshing all over her. She cut through lanes and somehow always ended up in the vegetable place. She sighed in frustration and turned back through the same place she came from. Her sister was in full bridezilla mode. The ugly kind.
She finally located the place where the nuts and screw people where. She needed screws because some screws for the bag hanger were missing. She opened her wallet and got a wink by emptiness, no cash.
She sighed in frustration and opened her mouth to ask to transfer, but how could they, they barely have a standard wheelbarrow.  She decided to try her luck still.
“Please um!. Please do you accept transfers?”. She asked in a small voice. She felt suddenly so nervous
 and stupid.
The old man with the screws turned to his counterpart,  a young man selling shoe polish and brushes. ‘Ka gane me take nema?”. Old man had no idea what she was proposing.
‘Transfer? As in can I transfer to your bank account?’.
Young man caught the word ‘bank’ and hissed. “
You want me to keep my money in the bank so they can use it to fund Buhari’s election?” He said in Hausa. ” You people think you are wise but you are the ones being fooled”.
She left without the screws, afraid that maybe a screw in her head was loose.
She quickly hurried to the ATM ignoring 30 missed calls from her sister, mother, her Aunt and her sisters friend.
She waited on the line for ages before it was her turn. And then the card decided it was comfortable inside the ATM so it stayed in. Frustrated,  she left the card inside noting to file a complain after her self-promised 24 days of hibernation after the wedding.
She had just exited the bank gates when she caught sight of him. She had just concluded that her day could only get worse when she saw him, she couldn’t have been more wrong. Her sister had always said she’ll meet her ‘the one’ during her wedding. She was right but not in her wedding.
He was standing on the opposite side of the road looking all shades of manly gorgeousness. She knew it then, in the marrow of her bones she knew she had to look no further because if the way he reacted to the sizzle of tension that sparked for those seconds their eyes clashed was any indication, he was also suckered. Then she felt the pull.
It was an unexplainable force of attraction like a hand slowly luring her forward towards the half of her soul. She was oblivious to the world around, to the people passing and life moving- they all were mere blurred edges in her story. The light was his smile as he edged nearer to her too, the moth was she, both to each other.
And then it hit her, from nowhere. The car tried to screech to a halt but it was going too fast and the lady in long hijab was deaf to it’s honks.
She felt nothing but a sense of somethings presence.  Or someone.  She tried to pry her eyes open, she knew he was beside her where he was meant to be but caught only a glimpse of those dark intense and very familiar eyes before the pain took over racking her every sense and she could feel her soul depart.
She got up all bleary eyed and puff faced when she heard the locks turn. He was back.
He stepped and shut the door behind him before looking at her. He almost sighed in welcome frustration. It was going to be the same routine again. A routine he enjoyed because of the sheer rush of power it gave him.
‘Are you okay?’ She asked. She was torn between reaching out to touch him and staying within the invisible boundaries he had put up which only he could cross. Maybe if she didn’t push it, he will start staying with her.
She wrung her gown with unstill hands and waited for him to reply. She wasn’t sure when she became nervous near her husband, he never beats her, he doesn’t even raise his voice not to mention a finger. But that made her more nervous , the calm.  The roaring thunder is always more peaceful than the silent lightening.
‘Come come here. I’m fine. Of course I’m fine’. She moved slowly towards him and he embraced her. She was feeling the tears lodge in her throat, when he was affectionate, which was most times, she always felt the tears. But she never let them fall, he may think her a weak woman who is being too clingy and needy, she didn’t want that. She knew that he married her for a certain appeal in her independent spirit and a thrill in the long chase she made him do. What went wrong -what made her so shrunk in size and spirit, so dull and slow, and so frail in ego was beyond her. Love probably.
‘Have you eaten?’ He asked. She shook her head. She hadn’t eaten since the hour he left home.  Never seemed to be able to eat or sleep when he wasn’t home. He left three days ago.
‘But why? You look starved.  Let’s get you something to eat, have your bath and rest okay?’ She nodded.
I’ve told you, whenever I am not home, it’s because I’m working and the network in the office is bad, I never seem to connect with your line. Don’t worry about me okay?’.  He said as he laid her to sleep after she was full and refreshed.
‘Now let’s give you your shots. Less worry, more healthy. Okay?’ She nodded again her eyes wide in anticipation. She had a disease too complicated for her to comprehend and he took care of her, only he was willing to stay with her and give her her shots of injection. After that, the whole world seems alright again and she honestly never cared about what he did. She was always in a state of unexplainable euphoria and to the outside world,  she was a perfectly happy housewife.
‘There there’ he said and patted her arm where the needle was just pulled out  ‘You’ll be alright. I’ll be right here’
He waited for her to sleep then pulled out a box from the top of the dresser, the shots were about to finish,  he needed a larger dose to keep her high and off his case. He loved his wife, at least he loved knowing he had a wife, it made him more appealing to other girls and the fact that he had tamed such a wild shrew to become his personal powerless pet was a mighty boost to his ego.
Besides, he was sure that was the only way she could ever remained married to him. She wouldn’t have it that he was a man for many women and he had vowed never to be divorced, it was sign of failure.
He packed up some fresh sets of clothes, some wads of cash dropping a bundle of hundred thousand naira beside her and dropped two tablets of rophynol into a bottle of water beside her. Then as a second thought,  added three more.
They were doing it. They were finally doing it!.
She didn’t look at her husband all through the journey. He didn’t look at her either and none of them turned to look at the backseat where she lay knocked out.
She cracked her knuckles, she was nervous, not scared, not anxious, nervous. They couldn’t be seen doing it.
It could be a bad idea, but never a bad decision. When she remembered the hell they had to put up for four years, she was sure they had to get rid of …it / she whatever it was.
Oh but she was a pure angel during birth.  Her daughter, Afwa, was a serene one. People never got tired of commenting on her peacefulness.
 ‘What a peaceful baby’ they’d say ‘she sleeps all through the night and wakes up only a few times for some refreshment. She never fusses. Not at all’.
And she will beam in pride and tell them another tale to corroborate Afwas peacefulness.
Second year, Afwa learnt to walk then talk, she was a pretty fast learner,  super smart kid. They used to banter, she and her husband on who she got her smartness from. That was before she started becoming something else.
 First it was complains from the neighbours kids and her sisters kids about Afwa hurting them, even the older ones. She used to discoutenance it as play-gone-wrong.
Then the girl started hurting her and her husband. A prick with a blade, paper blazing with fire dubbed from the gas cooker on her hand, a stab to the leg. Each time she will stand before them and laugh. She never ran, they never beat her. They couldn’t.  She started getting really worried.
She got the Mallam, her daughter had to be possessed. It was the only explanation. But after the Mallam was chased away from the room where the exorcism was taking place like a wild man and without a proper explanation, they decided it was really beyond minor ‘possession’.
A string of Mallams came and where sent away never to return through year three, four and five. In those years, Afwa had burnt down the house, cost her father his job, and smothered her baby sister to death. She always laughed in a monotonous high pitched voice while at it. It was too much for them, she was the devils incarnate in the form of a 5 year old.
The last straw. Her mother dreamt of them- she and her husband- tied by Afwa by the fireside with other children as sacrifice to whichever thing they served, she prayed so hard until she felt  herself zoom back to the land of consciousness.  She found Afwa straddling her, her face right in front of her, a wicked smile playing on her lips. Then she jumped off laughing and walked out to cause some more grief.
Her husband had the same dream too. The next Mallam told them that she was ‘Yar ruwa. She belonged to the river. They had to take her to riverside at the break of dawn so her people could fetch her, else, she will sacrifice them both.
‘Hold her arms, I’ll hold  her legs’ she suggested to her husband. She didn’t want to touch the girls hands even though she was heavily sedated. The hands looked like something extremely sinister.
They carried her out of the car. She was so much heavier than a five year old child. They  dropped her by the riverside as per the instructions and her husband threw in three stones into the river.
‘Good Morning People of the river. We are here with one of you. We have brought her back in peace. Please let us be’.
They turned and walked back. Afwa’s father wiped the tears pooling in his eyes before they fell . Afwa’s mom felt nothing.
They could feel something different the moment they stepped back into the house. It felt light, airy and brighter. Like the demonic presence has been lifted. No regrets.
‘Mama’. She heard the voice say before she felt a tap on her knees. ‘Mama I’m hungry’.
Her heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be.  But it was her voice. But she was gone. She slowly opened her eyes.
Afwa stood before her looking all innocent, every inch a five year old.
‘Mama I’m hungry’ Afwa repeated.
‘How did you get here?’ She asked. Her voice was shaking badly. She tried to get off the sofa where she was enjoying her post-Afwa rest but couldn’t.
 ‘How did you?’.
‘Mama I’m hungry too’.
Afwas mother knew, as sure as she knew herself, that she had given birth to only one child when she gave birth to Afwa. But there standing by the kitchen door, holding a knife, was a girl exactly like Afwa, she could be her clone.
‘Mama I’m hungry’ they said in unison. Then burst out laughing