Luck or lack of it comes in different forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of a pretty lady you meet during your close friend’s wedding.

Zainab was the friendly and chatty but unimposing type. I didn’t appreciate her friendliness at first, but the more she spoke, the more I became acquainted with her humor, she had that kind of effect.

She did not only have an alluring personality she also looked like riches, it drew the ladies to her like a moth. Her father had to be someone, no questions asked.

I noticed she was different. She acted different, she dressed different (she wore no asoebi, in it’s place was a lace that could rival the brides) and she spoke different. I’ll ask Anisa, the bride where she knew her from, I mentally noted.

It wasn’t long before it was clear that Zainab was a resilient entrepreneur and even has blood relations with the Dangote’s, she had a picture of her with a group of women at Halima Dangote’s wedding as backing. She was a little perfect woman in her perfect world  and I could see a reflection of my awe and envy in the eyes of the other brides friends. 

‘All these business women be intimidating us with their big life’ Our friend Amma said after we had snapped over 50 glorious pictures on Zainab’s IPhone XS Max. I nudged her with my elbow. Amma is the I-say-whatever-is-on-my-mind-and-i-don’t-care-what-you-think type. 

‘It’s true now’. She said as she munched on a cake. ‘Which business do you even do like this. Because I feel it in my veins that I will soon become rich too. Let’s gist rich girl to potential rich girl’.

Zainab threw her head back and laughed heartily. She wasn’t at all pompous or offended by Amma’s innocently careless words.

‘I see it too honestly. You have the look of a great entrepreneur in your eyes. Always searching for new opportunities’. 

What Amma? The makings of a great entrepreneur as untactical as she was? Call me Bill Gates. 

Amma turned and smirked at me. She had already started playing rich. Not one to be left behind especially since there’s a prospect that the secret to Zainab’s riches were about to be leaked and I could also have a chance to connect with this Dangote blooded woman, I also scouted closer and opened my ears.

‘I deal with everything a woman may need ranging from lingerie, to kitchen stuff, to adornment, to furniture to clothings, to beddings… just say woman and I’m here. Sometimes I venture into houses, cars and electronics’.

I looked her over. She didn’t look stressed out at all. She looked like ‘yar hutu, a typical spoilt child who cannot do a days work to save her life. 

‘How do you manage all that?’ Aisha asked. Zainab’s audience had multiplied to 5 and I hadn’t even noticed.

‘I have connections on both ends, the sellers and the buyers. You think I source for all those goods myself?’ She said with a small smile, scanned our eyes to make sure we were fitfully entranced, then continued, this time dropping big names that usually ended with Dangote, Dantata, Indimi, Dankabo, Chachangi and Azman.

‘Anty…. is a dealer for Prestige products while Uncle…. has a huge shop filled with the latest Super Waxes, Anty…. is into cosmetics , Brother… has a car company, …. is into real estate ‘. Names and money rolled off her lips like they meant nothing.  In my mind all could think was I want to be like you when I grow up.

‘So what I do is called drop-shipping. I advertise for them, get a buyer, send them the money, hold my commission and have the product delivered to the buyer, ’. Easy peasy. 

‘Wow!’ I breathed out. No wonder!  ‘So you are like the marketer, advertiser and middle man all in one?’.

‘Exactly. It will fit you’.  She said while regarding me. I practically glowed, I knew I had a sleeping entrepreneurial streak in me. Wakey wakey.

‘So if you are interested I could hook you up with them. I could deal directly with you but I honestly am so busy with what’s on my plate. I’ll just give you their numbers and vice versa, you see what they sell, negotiate your commission and you advertise. They usually don’t care how much you add to the price as long as you sell’.

‘Sign me up!’ Aisha said with a raised hand. Aisha is over ambitious, I bet she can sell a house in a few days just so she can have money and belong to the riches crew.

‘I’m definitely interested’ Ibtisam declared.  I rolled my eyes. Ibtisam is only interested because she can have contacts of men from big families, she is currently actively husband hunting. Which may not be such a bad idea. 

So that was how 7 of us got into drop-shipping with Zainab, kin of the Dantatas.

I was so excited. Especially when I started communicating with the big named, big business people who always spoke busily like you were interrupting a million dollar sale so you have to round off quickly with whatever you were saying. 

The first I spoke to Muhammad Tijjani Dantata, my insides became a puddle. His tush tone and polished British English just flew away with me. I was calling him husband in my head.

I got my first customers the first week. Everything went according to plan. Shoes,bags, makeup stuff were delivered within a few days of transaction and I got some money from it. I didn’t even spend a kobo. I just took my profit, sent the money and the goods were delivered. I started aiming higher especially since Aisha just sold a TV.

Soon, we were all actively seeking bigger things, bigger commission. Aisha was negotiating a car sale, I couldn’t be left behind. My brother-in-law wanted to buy a new car, he had finally decided to change his tired looking car and my sister suggested my services. See me, my family members have moved from mocking to patronizing me. Money is good.

Then my boss wanted to get a house for his newest bride -to-be and he fell in love with houses up for sale. And that was how I was head locked in a car and house deal. Ecstasy had nothing on my happiness.

The prices where very good. My commission was enough to get me second hand small car and the customers were happy.  My boss had gone to see the house with an agent, it was perfect.

I sent the deposits of the money, millions of naira and the car was on it’s way, my boss’s house was sold.

I called Amma and I swear I could smell her jealousy through the phone. It was my turn to smirk. She had ordered for her cousins entire kitchen utensils including some electronics. It was huge money but it wasn’t hefty millions of Naira worth of house.

My bother-in-law called me a week later.

‘Has your car arrived?’ I asked him excitedly. 

‘That’s what I wanted to ask. I’m yet to get it. They said 4 days max’.

‘Okay I’ll call them’ I said and rolled my eyes. He is such a nag.

I called the car dealers office. They said the rains had made them stall off the delivery from Lagos. But it’s on the way.

Barely 5 minutes later, Aisha called me. The car she had finished all negotiations and payments on 3 weeks ago is yet to come. Zainab is not picking her calls and she sounded like she was in tears. 

My heart skipped a beat. Worry not…breathe…false alarm. I tried Zainab’s number, she assured me that everything was under control and Aisha was unnecessarily panicking. I breathed. I knew there was no cause for alarm.

I called Aisha and told her what Zainab said. She was silent for a while.

‘Have you spoken to Amma?’ She asked.

‘No, what happened?’.

‘Her cousins wedding is in two weeks time and the kitchen stuff has not been delivered.’ Aisha said and sniffed.  I was momentarily blank, then confusion rolled in and fear eventually bubbled. 

I felt faint, like the ground I was on was paper thin and It could cave in right away. 

‘Ibtisam and Fatima have not received any response either’. Aisha’s words buzzed around my head.

Before I could say a word Aisha continued ‘I called Anisa and asked her if she could get through to Zainab and she said she had never seen her in her life. She said she thought Zainab came with you because you came in at the same time’.

She’s fraud Ummi, Zainab is fraud and we just entered one chance’. 

 It was too much, the phone was burning my fingers like her words had caught fire.

I threw the phone on the ground like it was the source of my confusion. I could hear it ring but I couldn’t move to answer it.

An hour later, maybe less, I picked the phone up still dazed. My boss had left 12 missed calls and a message. ‘The house you sold to me is currently occupied by people claiming to be the owners. CALL ME ASAP’. 

‘No!’ A whimper escaped from my throat. No this is impossible. I couldn’t even cry real tears, tears, it turns out are a privilege.

I sat huddled up in a corner, dialling Zainabs number, I knew the response I’ll receive ‘Number is currently switched off’. And I understood, there and then, I understood why people will want to take their own lives.

I never thought I’ll send my profile to any page on Instagram in response to men looking for a wife/ soulmate/ life partner. 

I always thought it was too silly, if a person is destined for you, the person will be yours even if he resides in Mars. 

But then maybe it was the thought of turning 28 soon with no prospect of a wedding in view,  or maybe it was maturity settling in with a bam! and unsitting my firm believe in never doing anything to get a man. Whatever it was, I had a moment of epiphany. And in it,  it is okay to fast track meeting the one as long as it’s through a halal means. So the day I saw a request by a man whose words sounded earnest and whose English looked flawless enough for me, I found myself messaging Northern Hibiscus… and mumbling a prayer while at it.

She didn’t reply for a day. I was fidgety, nervous, anxious and in constant trepidation about the implication. What if I come off as desperate, what if he is an axe murderer, what if I don’t like him at all and I have to lay him off, I hate doing that- I’m a softie. I wanted to retract the message but she’d already seen it. The last what if was the one that made me the most nervous- What if the account of Northern Hibiscus is hacked and her inbox are screenshotted and my careless gesture is splayed bare to the whole world- the shame.

But she replied, the next day,  she replied with a phone number. He just saw my profile, he didn’t ask for a photo, he liked me enough to give my number. ‘Can I get his Instagram handle instead?’ I asked her. 

‘He isn’t on Instagram’ came the short reply. What?!

He sent me a message first a day later. I had already convinced myself he wouldn’t message and hang me if I message him first. I was convinced it was for the best if he doesn’t, but the inner me wasn’t delighted, she is a curious one.

So while I groaned when he messaged, she cheered and hi-fived herself. Then we started talking and I couldn’t help but cheer and hi-five myself.  He was like a gold fish in a river full of tilapia, the perfect catch, and I snagged him. 

Sadiq bought me from the word ‘hello’. His diction and play of words is so mesmerizing I’d read our chats everyday over any English text. If you know me, you know a good command of diction is my weakness. I am vain brained but whatever. The more we chatted,  the more I liked. We didn’t exchange pictures till two months later, we didn’t even request so, we weren’t interested in the physical so much as the logical… or lexical rather. But he wasn’t all English, I swear he was something of everything,  any subject, any topic, my guy knows it, a freaking walking Encarta. 

As a sucker for intellectual conversations, I was gone within the first week. He said he liked my mind. It’s special with a touch of weird,  I say the oddest things at the right time, which was perfect because I loved his.

The day we exchanged picture, It became a fact written on stone. I could marry him,  I wanted to, I had to. No better man for me out there. He was just like I had envisioned,  not better, not worse, Just. Like. 

That day, he told me he had to come see me, see if I was real, I was too good to be real ‘that brain and that beauty is a deadly combo’ his words. 

I had asked him too,  I had asked why when he could have half of the female population,  send a request on social media. He said half of the female population weren’t for him, just one woman is and he may have found her. 

Apparently the day her messaged NH, he just woke up, prayed and less than 5 minutes later, he found himself opening an Instagram account and sending a message to Northern Hibiscus ( he already knew about her). He had made up his mind to accept the first person to reply. Somehow, he knew it will be me, not me me, but me. Yes he was also a hopeless romantic like that.

We kept on chatting, this time knowing what the other looked like, but not how the other sounded like. You see, we have never had a phone conversation,  nor exchanged a voice note, nor done a video call. And it was cool with us. I had hinted on a phone call once and he had said that he wasn’t a call person. I respected that.

I began counting down. Weeks to when he takes his annual leave, days and before I knew it, hours. The days leading to when he was coming, I could barely contain my excitement.  I told everyone in my house; my husband is coming!. 

‘Habiba there’s something very important that I’d like to tell you but I’d rather do it face to face’  he said after it was established that he was coming the next month.

I had worried. What was it? He was married most likely. The good ones always were. My heart was unsettled because somehow,  I had a feeling it was big.

‘You are married? You have kids? Divorced? You don’t like potatoes? Because that’s a deal breaker for me’.

‘Lol. None of the above. Calm down’.

He typed back then wrote something that made me laugh and made my worry reduce.

We contemplated on where to meet first. Whether to meet at home or in some other public place. Sadiq is a very modest person. He wasn’t interested in anything that can lead to a ‘haram relationship’ because he said that he genuinely wanted to marry me. So he’d rather home or a public place because he couldn’t trust himself otherwise. I found that very respectful. 

I was ready by the time he said he’d left the airport and was heading to town. I had no makeup on, I was barefaced, literally trying to be transparent. I wanted to come as I am because if he appreciates that then he is a sure keeper. Our relationship was never a pretentious one.

My younger sister rushed into the room. “He’s here’. She declared and my heart slid down and lodged below my stomach.  Here we go…

I spritzed some perfume. Checked myself in the mirror. Rubbed on some lip balm. Adjusted my headtie and veil and finally went down.

The car door opened slowly as I approached,  I was to walk him in. To avoid plenty awkwardness, we decided to meet outside first and as he stepped out in his full manly glory,  I knew that my fate was sealed. I didn’t know when a giant foolish smile plastered itself on my face.

He came towards me with a giant foolish smile of his own. He was taller than he seemed. Good. How did you snag this one you…? I asked myself and my inner self offered me a high-five.

‘Hi’. I said with a little wave. His presence was so easy, it wasn’t as awkward as I thought it’d be.

He smiled and returned back my small wave in an oh-so-charmingly -boyish manner my inner self groaned and sighed. Especially when two shy dimples crept out. I didn’t notice that enticing feature in the pictures. Even better!.

‘So… how was your journey?’. I asked.

His smile grew even wider and he gave a thumbs up. 

Okay… That’s weird. 

‘So …’ I said. In my mind I was like say something. 

He brought out his phone and started going through it. The f**k! I thought. My brows were furrowing together in an ill-concealed frown.

Then he pushed the phone in my face.

‘You are so beautiful’. It read.  Even though the sincerity and emotions in that sentence was almost tangible, my frown deepened. 

‘Thank you’ I mouthed. But my voice was low. Why didn’t he say something? Why did he have to type that and not say it? It was not possible.  But… but it seemed like it. It wasn’t possible that my Sadiq, was dumb. But how?.

He was watching me intently as I struggled with the realisation. His smile had faltered and I could see a shadow of sadness settle over his face.

It was true then.

‘Sadiq’ I said tightly. He looked away. A small gasp escaped from my throat and I covered my mouth with my palms. The shock coursing through my bones made me feel faint.

‘Sadiq’ I called his name again this time, my voice pained. He shut his eyes and looked away.

Then he removed a letter from his pocket and gave it to me. On the envelope read  ‘Please Read This Habibty’.

I didn’t know why I reacted that way, but I slapped the envelope from his hands and fled back in. Why? Why me? Why him? Why didn’t he tell me?

Why now? Why this?!

I ran back as fast as my legs could go against the sting of hot, betrayed tears. But even as I ran, I knew that I’ll go back to him, I knew I felt bad for him, I knew that it wasn’t enough to keep us apart, but it hurt that I’ll never know the voice of love.

It was later, much later, after I’d taken a month to myself to think and heal.  After he and his family and mine had pursued me and tried to make me see reason, after I’d agreed and given in, that my sister told me that she saw all that happened from the balcony . And that after I had slapped the letter from his hands, it had fallen into a small puddle made of the June rains, and he had dejectedly picked it up, shaken the water away and wiped a stray tear from his eyes. She said it was the single most heartbreaking scene she had ever witnessed.

She was the first person he saw after buying his ticket and proceeding to the waiting area.   His sense pricked up on high alert the moment he laid eyes on her and the first thing that came to his mind was -soft. She looked so soft and fragile like a delicate cluster of cloud or cotton candy.

It seemed like she wasn’t walking, she was gliding through and she had a meek demeanour but exuded confidence.  She looked like a no-nonsense lamb. He couldn’t help but stare at her, eyes filled with wondrous confusion.

She softly landed on a seat almost opposite his, looked around disinterestingly before whipping out her phone.  He was holding his phone too but it was only so that it wouldn’t be too obvious to her or anyone the fact that he was staring at her from above the phone

Then it was time to board. He watched her struggle with a medium sized box, a small luggage and her hand bag over the flight of stairs that led to the platform where the train awaited them.

His gentlemanly instincts which was otherwise dormant but for the sights of damsels in distress and a few choice moments kicked in and he approached her. He was nervous.  He had never been that nervous to approach a girl. Not even the fiery ones. But he had sweaty palms in anticipation of talking to a lamb.

‘Do you need help with that’?   He asked her, his faint British accent becoming more accentuated by the lob-dob of his heart.

She turned to him, a sweet smile already plastered on her face.

‘Don’t worry, I’m good. Thanks though’. Her voice was like he imagined.  Cottony. Soft and melodious like she was singing softly in speech.

How modest, he thought. The baggage was obviously dragging her back. He had to help. He wondered why she didn’t take the elevator instead but he wasn’t complaining, it was his grand opening.

‘I know you are.  But it seems unfair, I have just a laptop bag and you have three bags. It’s just fair to share’. He flashed her his most charming smile.

She looked at the bags as if in contemplation, turned her gaze to him, then wordlessly extended the big box to him. He collected it, thought fleetingly of how he just acted like a bellboy and hoped she won’t attempt to give him some change after they reach their seats.

‘I can help you with that one too’. He motioned at the smaller hand luggage. Her eyes widened in an emotion he couldn’t decipher, she stared down at it and shook her head.

‘I’m fine really. Thanks’ another smile.

They were both in first class. Good. First class tends to have empty seats so even of they weren’t seat mates, he hoped the seat near hers will be vacant. The connection he felt with her couldn’t just be lost on the train.

‘What’s your seat number?’ He asked, he willed her to say seat 31, the one near his.

’54’ she replied. Dang!

He hauled her box up the rack. She smiled in appreciation.
‘Thank you. Where’s your seat’. She was just being polite.

’32’ he said motioning with his head to the rows of seats behind.

She nodded, he stood still for a  bit waiting for an invitation from her to join the seat but she had already settled on her seat and was rummaging through her handbag. The hand luggage was wedged between her leg and the seat in front of her and it looked uncomfortable.

He bent to help her put it up also on the rack but was cut off by an alarmed sound the moment his hand touched the bag.

‘Don’t touch that!’ She exclaimed.  Then realised her voice was a notch higher than cottony. She lowered her eyes in shyness and looked away. ‘I want this one beside me’ she explained further.

He nodded and left wondering about the very sudden outburst. His mother had always warned him to never open a lady’s bag, he may be surprised at the things he might find. His mother never said anything about touching it.

He settled on his seat but his mind was restless and soon enough, his body grew restless too. Something was enigmatic about her. He wanted to find out.

He stood up and pretended he was going to buy something in the corner canteen . He wanted to see if the seat near her was like his, empty.  But there was an elderly man seated there struggling to settle his laptop on the small fold-in table attached to the back of the seat in front of them.

He passed by them. She was still typing on her phone. He bought two meatpies and two drinks them came back beside the man who sat beside ‘his lady’.

‘ Sir if you want to work on your laptop you could have my seat. It’s that one in the middle by the charging  point.  If the lady assents of course’.

Both he and the man turned to look at her, both with pleading eyes. She smiled for a fraction of a second then shrugged.  The man thanked him, carried his bag and headed to the table spot. With the charging point near him, he could finish his preparing his presentation long enough to have time to hack into his girlfriend’s instagram account.  He had a feeling she’s doing something fishy over there.

‘I’m sorry. I hope I’m not imposing myself’ he said, he didn’t sound sorry.

‘I don’t mind’ she replied. He extended the snack and drink to her, she shook her head. He insisted,  she collected it and kept it near him. Then they started talking.

Because her speech is soft, one will hardly notice how much of a conversationalist she was. But he noticed,  as he noticed everything about her. Like the way her gze kept gliding by the bag.

They spoke about plenty things, their family, their early life, University.  She didn’t go into depth,  she avoided some aspects, he noticed that too.

Before he knew it, they had arrived. Ut was the shortest Abuja -Kaduna train ride he had ever been on.

He helped her with her bag. They went down the stairs and stood at the end waiting for their rides.  Hers came first and he was ad to say goodbye. At least he had her number. Our love story started on the train. It was a classic one. That was what he’ll tell their kids and grandkids,  he thought.

It was only when he heard a phone ring beside him that ge realised in horror,  she had forgotten her lady bad.

He picked it up. Moved forward trying to see whether they were still in view or had turned back to get it but the cars and people where fewer then. It was already past 8:00 pm. Last train for the day.

He decided to open it and answer. No doubt it was she trying to get her phone back.

He opened the bag, reached for the phone, froze. It was no lady bad, it was a death bag. There was a sleek metallic gun, some bottles, three fingers wrapped in something like cling film, some clothes stained with blood and by the side, huddled between the clothes, a human skull stared at him with empty hollowed out sockets.

He dropped the bag in fear and turned around in confusion hoping no one had seen him but he saw her. She smiled,  itbwas everything but warm and fluffy.

‘It’s quite unfortunate.  I really liked you. Didn’t your mother teach you not to open a lady’s bag?’.

Before he could move, a car stopped behind him. He heard the door open and all in a split second with shock rendering him immobile, someone covered his face with a cloth heavy with chloroform and he sunk into it’s intoxicating lure all the while staring into her eyes. Her hardened, lifeless, scary eyes.

He should have heeded his mother’s advice.

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