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Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide - Literature - Nairaland

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Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 2:16pm On Mar 22
Hi... Here is the book 3 of Fortune City Series. As I said to ardent fans of these City, I will write the book chronologically.
You don't need to read the other books to understand this, but you will enjoy these characters better when you read the other stories.

You can read
Book 1
Crawling in the Mud at
Okadabooks: https://m.okadabooks.com/book/about/crawling_in_the_mud/31215


Book 2
The One Called Dogs
This is still being edited. The version you will see on Nairaland will be nothing near when you might eventually read

There are several people we need here, all and you. Yet, some of our City people live around here.




Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 2:17pm On Mar 22
Chapter 1
The Fight for a Mother

Tania stared into the darkness of the night as she waited patiently for the power generator to go off. Their next-house neighbour, Baba Jamiu, was fond of using his small power generator popularly called 'I better pass my neighbour' till it roared to a stop. So, as she stared at hunger in the face, she hoped the generator would soon roar to a stop.
Her mother refused to feed her that night, and now she had to steal a piece of meat. It was better than suffering from the punishment of starvation.
'Die! Die!' She muttered as she sat patiently in the sitting room, which served as both the sitting room and her bedroom. Unlike the other bedrooms in the house, she didn't get a bed to sleep in. Instead, a crafted mat was her bed. But she loved it because it always felt softer than any bed. In fact, after sleeping on the mat for about three years, she didn't enjoy sleeping on regular beds anymore whenever her father was around.
The generator refused to heed her. Thus, she sat at the edge of her mat, counting numbers. Even if she tried sleeping, the noise would definitely keep her awake. Moreover, she was still in need of food. Her mother always counted the pieces of meat in the pot before going to bed but, that night, she forgot to do that because she was angry at Tania, which was becoming a norm.
Her mind wandered to different things in the house, but she refused to heed her mind's lack of attention. Instead, she decided to practise another dance-step in the dark sitting room. That also was becoming a norm since the power supply in the area got spoilt a week ago. Because she just couldn't bring herself to sleep early, she found joy in tapping away into the night. Sometimes, she would crash into chairs, arousing her mother.
She was, however, too crafty for the old woman. As soon as she made a mistake, she always laid still as if she was asleep. Understanding her mother's high level of wisdom, Tania would draw in long breathes and release them in a prolonged way. The first two nights her mother came out, that Tania drew in shallow breaths, she regretted ever trying to dance. Her mother flogged her until her own voice became hoarse from shouting abuses and curses on Tania.
'I dance and tap', Tania whispered in the night as the generator's vibration continued. Soon, she was engrossed in the new steps she saw in their last year's cultural dance. Everyone adored the dance step, but only one of the students in the senior class could do it. Since then, Tania had always practised it and had even gotten it. All that remained was for her to master it, and probably add her own styles to it. Then, she might consider being a part of the dance group at last.
Soon, the generator began to convulse, making terrible noise like one that just lost her son. The light from the other house began to fluctuate.
'This is it', Tania murmured and scrambled up.
She couldn't let the window of opportunity pass her by. She ran into the kitchen and gently opened the pot. As fast as she could be, she took a piece of meat and replaced the cover of the pot. The blinking light revealed drops of soup on their cupboard. Tania rubbed it off and bided time. When she was sure of her safety, she ran off into the parlour and laid to sleep.
However, the generator refused to go off, and her hunger also refused to dissipate. She wondered what she could do.
'Oh!' She gasped and sprang off the floor. Trying as hard as she could, she opened the bucket that contained garri and crunched them into her mouth. The generator refused to go off, and that made her wonder what was wrong. She peeped from the window and hissed.
'Off this rubbish!' She muttered as she headed to the place the bucket of water was. Despite the darkness, she knew the kitchen as she knew her body parts.
Just as she dropped the cup, the generator went off. She froze. Her mother would definitely be roused from her sleep. Tania swallowed hard, wiped her mouth, and anticipated a time to escape. The moment she was sure the coast was clear, she tiptoed off the kitchen into the parlour. And this time, she slept off.
She must have slept off for a few hours before something firm, hard, and fleshy rammed itself into her face. The sting jolted her and aroused a yell from her sleeping body. She sprung out of her mat in preparation for whatever had struck her.
Everywhere was flooded with light. Tania shut her eyes and hurriedly blocked her face. She didn't need any diviner to tell her that her mother was at the other end of their large lamp. Her mother didn't use their lantern because the glass might break off. Those things were one of the most fragile glasses she had ever encountered. Any tiny crack and the whole house would not know peace from the breeze that would disturb the lantern and from her mother, whose name was actually Peace.
With her, Tania had never known peace. It was hell here and there, and she had accepted it as her new reality.
'What did you do in the kitchen?' Her mother yelled and lashed out with a cane. Tania screamed in horror. Even if she would tell the truth, her mother's continuous lashing made her cringe, cry, and try avoiding the cane.
'I only drank water', Tania kept yelling.
But her mother wouldn't stop. She flogged every part of Tania's body, making her yell for help and scramble out of her calculated reach, but it was a fruitless effort. After what seemed like forever, her mother stopped, hissed, and walked away.
Tania, crouched in a corner, cried her eyes out. Water streamed down unstopped, and every part of her body craved for peace. This was the norm in her life, now. At that moment, she regretted fighting for her mother.
On her way from school the previous day, her classmate, Ayo noticed a mark on her back and called her attention to it.
'What's that?' Ayo asked and touched her back.
Tania smiled and shook her head. She wouldn't want to tell her ordeal to Ayo in public.
'This is definitely a stripe', Grace Ademola said.
She and her sister, Rachael, were new but had been with them since the beginning of the term. From what she had seen, Grace seemed to be the one pulling Rachael to make friends with others. Rachael loved to be alone but couldn't do without her sister. That day, their mum didn't come for them, so they followed Tania, Ayo, and the other students.
'Did I say I'm blind?' Ayo retorted.
'Who can say?' Rachael replied. Ayo glanced at her and looked away. Rachael's body was filled several marks from stripes of cane and injuries, which made most of the students steer clear of her trouble. These injuries and mark looked older, but they still inspired fear.
'She looked like that new boy. What's his name again?' Grace said and glanced at Rachael.
'Like you're not new', Ayo said nonchalantly.
Rachael gave Ayo another cold glare and hissed. 'His name is Bidemi…'
'Adeoti', Tania added.
'Yes. Bidemi Adeoti', Grace said excitedly. Tania always loved the joy she saw on Grace's face whenever she talked to Bidemi. That was an indication that Tania wasn't the only one that felt butterfly in her stomach whenever she saw him.
'Bidemi and Tania… Lookalike', Grace said as she clutched a drawing book in her hand.
Ayo held Tania, stared at her for a while, and shook her head. 'No. She doesn't look like Bidemi. Ngwanu! She looks like her foolish mother. They are lookalike, even though the woman is wicked. She doesn't even look like her father'.
'Oh! She understands Igbo. Are you Igbo?' Rachael asked and scowled. 'I hate Igbo girls'.
'Don't you ever call my mother foolish', Tania said and shot Ayo an angry look.
Grace and Rachael argued about Igbo girls and how it was condescending to say such a thing. But the only thing on Tania's mind was the disrespect Ayo just had for her mother.
'What nonsense? How will she even call my mother foolish', Tania said.
'She is foolish. Foolish. See the stripe on her... your back', Ayo shouted.
Before Tania could stop herself, she slapped Ayo. That aggravated the spoil little brat. Ayo's eyes shone in horror.
'I will finish you', Ayo shouted and rushed towards Tania, but despite her height, she was good with such situations. She flung Ayo on the floor and sat on her. She was ready to beat the daylight out of her. Other students came nearer to witness the grand fight.
Ayo raged and promised to beat her to a pulp. But Rachael was proactive. She pulled Tania off Ayo in a single lift. Grace held Ayo back, and Tania heard other girls complaining about how Ayo was too spoilt to know that flogging was one of the things they all have endured.
'Why are you calling her mother foolish? My own mummy uses Koboko', one girl shouted when Ayo wouldn't keep quiet. Tania never prayed to be flogged with that wicked leather.
'Ah! My own is wire', another girl said. 'Two, wrapped, at a time'.
'My own mummy uses stick too. It's normal'.
Tania dusted her body and walked faster to meet her siblings.
'I will tell mummy', Junior, their youngest one said. She pleaded with him to keep her secret, and he agreed after she promised him a packet of biscuit.
However, in the night while they were cooking, he reported her. Her mother, who was trying to make Eba, didn't bother hearing her side of the story before she removed the hot pestle and hit Tania, who was still shocked that Junior betrayed her. She couldn't defend herself before she got another one on her feeble arm.
'You're not eating in this house tonight', her mother exclaimed after the fifth stroke.
So, as Tania crawled back to bed in the middle of the night, the only thing on her mind was how to get to school the next day. At least seeing the new faces like those of Rachael and Bidemi would make her happy. Ayo and Grace were no longer her friends. Why would Grace hold Ayo instead of her?
Tears flooded her eyes again as the pain of the cane got to her. She whispered to herself, 'I will tell Daddy when he returns'.

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Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 12:38pm On Mar 24
Chapter 2
All by Yourself

Bidemi Adeoti hated the way their class teacher brought him out to the front of the class to introduce him but felt that it was better than the way the two other girls, Rachael and Grace Ademola, were introduced. They both were fair in complexion, of the same height as he. The only difference was that one of them seemed to be used to being introduced at the front.
Within a few weeks of the school's calendar, he came to understand that the new girls were brilliant, but that didn't bother him. His own love for books too could place him at the top. Right now, his major problem was his Aunt. He hated it at his Aunt's place. His Aunt, Aunt Teju, took him from his mother because he ran away from home, which was also because Aunt Teju came visiting on a day their principal publicly rebuked him. If he had stayed back, she would have really flogged him, and his parents wouldn't have interfered.
'Yes, you. The new boy…' A teacher called out to him. 'What's that your name again?'
'Bidemi…' Grace said. He glanced at her and back at the teacher.
'I'm Bidemi Adeoti, sir', he replied.
'Good, Adeoti', the teacher said. 'What meaning of CPU?'
Bidemi swallowed hard. He just wasn't ready for any of these people. He missed his mom and Usman, who was now living with Bidemi's mother because his parents were dead and his only known uncle was rotting away in prison for killing his wife.
'I don't know sir', Bidemi replied.
As if she waiting for that, Grace's hand flew into the air. The computer teacher shook his head and pointed at Tania Olaaje. Grace's hand shot down.
'Central Process Unit', Tania said.
'Clap for him! I thought they said you had good grades in your former school. All the teachers have been commending you, three new students, for a while now', the computer teacher said, disappointed.
Bidemi became lost again in thought. As much as he tried to hide, he still couldn't help it whenever they were given assignments to do. He would always solve it to the best of his ability. However, unlike before, his aim wasn't to compete with anybody.
Rachael whispered something to Grace that made her frown. Bidemi smiled. Now, that was what he loved. He seemed to find an ally in Rachael than Grace. During break times, he always joined the boys in playing ball. Most times, they relegated him to the post because he was right there. They even called him 'Ike Shoromu', one of the top Nigerian goalkeepers and he loved the name. On a very few occasions, he played in the striking positions.
These were the only few times he felt happy. On other days, however, that the senior students want to play football, a more significant number of the junior students would be sent off. Being the second-best junior keeper in the school, he was quickly sent off. The senior students always have their keeper handy.
When he wasn't on the field, his mind would wander off to his Aunt again. Living with his Aunt meant he was partially secluded to their house. Unlike at home, Green City, with his mom, he could go out to play with the other boys in the street, and his friends in boarding house.
Whenever he had the opportunity, he would sneak off to an empty class in their school and sing his head off until he went home to his wicked Aunt.
That Thursday afternoon, when he got home, he saw her packing some items onto a tray, but he wasn't concerned. All he needed was to behave himself and prove his parents wrong about sending him off with his Aunt.
'After eating, don't wash the plate yet', Aunt Teju said.
'Okay, ma', Bidemi replied.
That was a relief. At least, he would have the chance to focus on something else.
'You're selling these items for me', Aunty Teju said nonchalantly and continued what she was saying.
Bidemi stopped in his track and glanced at her with a bemused look. She was joking. He went over to the little room she gave him and changed his dress.
'Your food is in the kitchen', Aunty Teju shouted from the parlour. Bidemi hurried to the kitchen. His Aunt lived in the house built by Bidemi's grandmother, before her demise. Painted in army green, his Aunt took care of the house as if it was the only thing she had in the world. Bidemi's paternal grandmother had three houses and two children. At her death, Bidemi's father got one, which was in Green City, while his Aunt got this one.
The third one was rented out, and its income was always equally shared between Bidemi's Dad and his Aunt.
Bidemi couldn't place a finger on the kind of love they had that made his Dad agree to go that way. Many African elderly ones would have greedily demanded the right to the third house or gotten more shares.
He ate without fear or any consciousness of time. He hummed on happily as he was sure that he was going to bed immediately. Some of his school mates have seen how good he was at football and have invited him to their street field. As soon as his Aunt was out of the house, he would visit them.
But for now, he had to rest to wake and join his Aunt in cooking at night and then do his assignment. She denied him access to TV. The only times she allowed him to move near a TV were on Fridays and Saturday. As much as he was always angry with her, Aunt Teju's home felt slightly better than his Mum's, but that couldn't make him forget how awesome his Mum was.
'Do be fast! Kilode. Do you want to spend the whole year eating?' Aunt Teju called from the parlour. He wondered what he would still do for her. He washed the plates in the sink, returned to his room, and laid on the bed. His Mum would have clamoured for him to go to the bathroom immediately, but Aunt Teju didn't mind, and he loved it that way.
He felt her presence but remained on the bed. He was sure she would leave him if she saw that he was asleep. He hadn't taken a liking for her and wouldn't by chance to do that now. Suddenly, she slapped him, springing him to reality.
'Nonentity! You want to be useless', she bantered as she included more slaps to his woe. He jumped out of bed, tired and shocked.
'You're stupid. Really stupid. I said it. Bimbola had spoilt you. You came home. Laid on the bed. And slept off. Are you drunk? Were you deaf when I told you to get ready to hawk for me?'
Bidemi was astounded.
'I thought… It's a joke', Bidemi said.
She scoffed and clapped her repeatedly. 'You're a shame of a boy! Children of your age are in the market, selling things for their mothers. Didn't you see them when you ran away from home?'
Bidemi swallowed hard. She brought back a memory he would forever hate. The singular thought of boys that had gone through the pain because of her statement, but he had no other option than to heed her. His mind drifted to the time he ran away from home because of her.
'I can't hawk anything?'
'You're silly. Monkey lasanlasan. Who do you think you're talking to? I will beat you that people will come here to mop your body with hot water. Who do you think you're talking to?'
She stood akimbo and was breathing rapidly like one that had just finished running a race. Bidemi pouted and stared at her. They stared at each other for a few seconds. The look on her face showed how serious she was.
'But I don't know how to do it', Bidemi mumbled.
'You'll learn how to. Knowledge does not rain from heaven. We gather it here. Have they not been teaching you anything over there in your mother's place? You're really spoilt. I should have brought you to me since', Aunt Teju said and marched out.
Bidemi pouted. 'I will tell my mum'.
Aunt Teju spun and was angry. Like one invaded by soldier ants, she flung her slippers into the air and shot at him with the sandals as an armour.
'You're spoilt. You're silly', she repeated and flogged him with the slippers as if he was a sinner with no redemption than the lashes from her white, old bathroom slippers. Bidemi yelled and wouldn't stop shouting how he would report to his Mum. He wanted to stop saying that, but that was the only sentence coming to his head.

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Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by pabon(m): 7:30pm On Mar 24
Divepen, good evening. I wish to seek your counsel on something. Can you email me (you'd, probably, not like to drop your email. Mine's on my signature.)
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by germaphobe(m): 12:37am On Mar 25
My boss, my boss. CONTINUE jare
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 6:03am On Mar 25
Divepen, good evening. I wish to seek your counsel on something. Can you email me (you'd, probably, not like to drop your email. Mine's on my signature.)
Yes, I will send you a message..m
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 6:04am On Mar 25
My boss, my boss. CONTINUE jare
Thank you, boss. So, happy to see you here
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 7:06am On Mar 25
Chapter 3
The Wheel of Pain

'Did you see the stripe on Bidemi's body', Grace Ademola asked as she walked home beside her half-sister, Rachael.
'It's called welts', Rachael said.
'And also stripe', Grace countered.
'Well, yes. It's a synonym', Rachael said after shrugging. She had been rubbing her left knee obsessively since they arrived at school that morning.
They both were hurrying out to meet their stepmother, Madam Flourish. She was waiting outside the school. Her real name was Pascal Ademola, but because of her wealth, she was referred to as Madam Flourish. Reports had it that the only person richer in the whole of Fortune City Island was a man named Mr King.
Even though Grace's mother used to live with them, Grace knew Madam Flourish as her mother. Madam Flourish took care of her as if she was her mother. She gave her everything she needed. Thus, when she wanted to leave Black Town to Green City, Grace did everything possible, including getting sick to follow her. At first, her mother disagreed, but upon intervention, she followed her.
But for some reasons, her parents divorced, and her father wanted her to be near him after he and Grace's mother had an agreement that she could come to see Grace anytime she wanted. Moreover, she wouldn't have gone with her mother for any reason. She preferred Madam Flourish.
'I don't care if it is a stripe or wet', Grace said.
'Welt', Rachael corrected.
'Wet', Grace said.
'W… Don't worry sef', Rachael replied. They were doing all they could not to run. Every minute with Madam Flourish felt heavenly well except when it came to food. Rachael did not love madam Flourish's preference.
'I said, Bidemi had stripes on his body', Grace said.
'How's that your concern?' Rachael retorted.
'Someone beat him. That's bad', Grace said and clung to her drawing book.
'See. I don't have any time for this. The only thing on my mind is to pick the best time to start preparing for my exams'.
'That's still far… Like two months from now'.
'I know. Were we not together in the class when they announced it? But, I want to start reading for SS1 from next term'.
Grace stared at her and shook her head. She opened the door and jumped in the front seat. Although Rachael would never fight her for the front seat, she still loved to fight for it.
'Your mum is around', Madam Flourish said after they have exchange pleasantries.
But Grace's attention wasn't on Madam Flourish's words. The only thing on her mind was to become closer to Bidemi. She tried playing with him some days before, but he seemed lost in his thought. Sometimes, he would leave for one of the empty classes to sing. She loved playing 'I call on' game with other students because it was situated under the window.
The game was not her favourite because of the speed it required. Everyone would be given 100 marks and be allowed to pick a preferred name. Then, someone would be placed in charge of calling on anyone they feel should reduce others' scores. The person, whose name was called, would jump into a circle at the middle of the bigger circle and would shout, 'stop'. By this time, the other contestants must have run as far as they could. The nearest person would have herself to blame. The person in the middle would then jump thrice towards the person they want to choose. They have the right to gather momentum from a far distance before jumping as long as they jumped from the last place they stepped on. As soon as the person was caught, the person's mark would reduce by ten. Anyone with the highest score, in the long run, became the winner.
Once, Grace and another student from Jss2 almost quarrelled, but she had to play the role of peacemaker later. The person calling the names was a friend of the girl. So, they have given each other signs on who will be called. As usual, when the name was called, Grace was one of the last two. By this time, Grace had 30 marks, the lowest. The girl jumped into the middle as soon as she was called.
Grace pleaded with her to pick someone else, but most of the others were the girl's friends. So, she chose Grace, reducing her marks to 20 marks. Grace and Rachael were pained. They, then, focused on the girl. Even when she was at the farthest distance, Rachael did three long jumps to catch up with her, sometimes helping Grace, which was allowed.
Before long, everyone she refused to catch the other time focused on the girl. She was angry but didn't react until Grace made it her mission to send her off. By this time, she had only ten marks. She pleaded and begged Grace with everything she could and even made ridiculous promises that would have stopped others, but Grace wouldn't budge.
Rachael, like before, offered her help but Grace wouldn't listen. She ran to the back and sped with all her might. If she lost that jump, her marks would be deducted. So, she concentrated, jumped and astounded everyone the first two times. However, as she was coming for the second round, the girl rubbed off her line and took it to a farther place.
'That's where I was before', the girl said.
'You're lying', Grace yelled.
'It's her place', the caller said.
That didn't go down well with Grace as she ranted on. Then, she spun towards the girl. 'You're a thief'.
'Me… Are you drunk? I will beat you', the girl shouted. In no time, the girl was moving towards Grace with an intensity that everyone understood to mean she wanted to fight. Being one of the best female junior fighters, a karate trainee, a boy scout's member, people revered her.
'Are you out of your mind?' Rachael said and moved nearer. Grace had once engaged Rachael in a fight and wouldn't want any other person to go through the pain she went through. She pulled Rachael back and held her there while some other students held the girl back.
'Grace', Madam Flourish called as she noticed that Grace was lost in thought. Rachael shook her shoulder.
'Ma?' Grace called.
Madam Flourish would have giggled, but she didn't. 'I know how hard you're trying to understand your mother. She has your best interest at heart'.
'Why did she come?' Grace asked.
Rachael nudged at Grace's seat belt. She understood what she meant. Madam Flourish always warned them about the danger of not using seatbelts. Grace dragged it across herself and sat upright.
'She came to ensure you're really attending school', Madam Flourish said.
'No', Grace shook her head. 'You told me not to lie'.
'Are you saying I'm lying?' Madam Flourish asked, shocked.
'You said lying is bad'.
'But that's why she's here'.
Grace shook her head again. 'I know she's here to know if I'm going to all those big schools'.
Madam Flourish's face was flushed. She glanced at Grace and back at the road. 'Your school is big'.
'No. It's not as big Royals Academy. They said they use computers to teach them there'.
'Well, to some extent, your school is bigger. Rachael, weigh in on this matter', Madam Flourish said and peered into the rear-view.
Grace refused to turn.
'Our school is big', Rachael said.
'You see?' Madam Flourish said.
'But not as big Royals Academy', Rachael concluded.
'You see?' Grace said.
'All in all. She means well'.
Grace nodded and remained silent till they got home. Rachael talked all the way, telling Madam Flourish how things went in school and how she wished Madam Flourish would be the matron of one of the houses. Annually, the school divided all the students into four groups. These hours were symbolised by different colours- Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue- and were later named after their patron or matron. Most times, winners were determined by the level of motivation from their patrons. Many teachers were aware of Madam Flourish's wealth, despite her humility. And they have been hinting on how much they would want Madam Flourish to be a matron, and if she was one, they pray to be included in her house. Other students also have been enthusiastic about how they would prefer her.
When they drove into the vast compound, Grace remained sullen. This time, she didn't stare dreamily at the flowers. Instead, she entered the house and knelt in front of her mother.
'Good afternoon, ma'.
'How are you?' Mrs Ademola, Grace's mum, said grudgingly.
'Fine ma', Grace murmured.
Grace entered her room. She always wanted her own room, but Madam Flourish was against it because she needed Grace and Rachael to bond. They weren't always together. They just met last year when she moved with Madam Flourish to Green City and had to go to a new school.
Grace sat in her room and screamed into her pillow. Their room was painted pink, and they had a bed each but shared the same wardrobe. Their shoes were placed in different racks. Madam Flourish thought of everything, and that always made Grace follow her like a lapdog.
'Big mummy is calling you', Rachael said. She called Grace's mother 'big mummy'.
Grace sat up and stared at her.
'I'm sleeping', Grace whispered.
Rachael stared at her for a while and left the room. They had played the trick on Madam Flourish many times, and she always caught them in the act. But it had never stopped working on other people they were avoiding like a woman on their street, Aunt Lolade, who made it her life's mission to report them to Madam Flourish because of the money Madam Flourish gave her per visit.
'Pascal, is this way you train these girls? To lie', Grace's mum shouted as she came towards the room. Rachael came ahead of her and made a face at Grace. Quickly, Grace rested her on the bed and pretended to be asleep.
'If you don't get up now, I will pounce on you', Mrs Ademola ordered.
Grace grumpily got off the bed. Madam Flourish came in the room and scolded Grace. 'That's the wrong thing to do. Your mum had been waiting for you for more than one hour'.
Grace's mum turned and spread her palm. 'Why are you preaching? Was this not what you want? You took this one, erm… Rachael and then my daughter too'.
'I wanted to be here', Grace shouted at her mother.
'Shut up', Mrs Ademola shouted.
'You don't talk to your mum like that', Madam Flourish repeated.
Mrs Ademola moaned her discomfort. 'I don't want you preaching to my daughter. She's my daughter. Enjoy Grace's presence. She's like the daughter you never had'.
'Mum', Grace said. Tears had welled in her eyes.
'Shut up! One of these days, I will have a legal reason to get you off this hell. She has poisoned your heart. You no longer love me. You're not treating me as if I'm not your mother. I gave birth to you. I have lost everything to her. My man. My daughter and my home'.
Madam Flourish shook her head. 'Ikeoluwa, let's not exhume a grave. You actually stole my man and home'.
'You gave me because…' Mrs Ademola said, paused and walked away. 'I'm going. I'm returning to my house'.
'Don't you dare call me. Pascal. Don't… Please'.
'Ah….' Grace groaned.
'You, keep quiet there', Madam Flourish said. And she could see the sadness in Madam Flourish's eyes.
Grace grabbed her bag and rushed off to her drawing-room. Everything she ever needed was there. She had a lot of Banana chewing gums. Although Madam Flourish wouldn't approve of it, she bought a lot. The questions and answers in the wrappers always fascinated her. Thus, she had gathered a lot of them.
Grace's mind roved about to every situation surrounding Madam Flourish. She had been barren for years and had to force her husband to try other women. At first, he rejected her offer. But after a while, he gave up and made Rachael's mother pregnant. Unfortunately, it was a one-time affair that he didn't take seriously; thus, he wasn't aware of Rachael. Because Grace and Rachael schooled in the same place, Madam Flourish eventually met Rachael and knew that she was Mr Ademola's daughter. And she had been taking care of her ever since, even her Guidant, her great-grandmother, died.
Grace drew pictures frantically after she read all the facts in the chewing gum papers. She could not decide on what to draw. She started drawing Madam Flourish but stopped. Then, she tried everything, but her mind wasn't stable.
'Grace, your mum is gone. Get your food on the dining table', Madam Flourish called from outside the door. But she didn't obey her. She focused on her drawing. Rachael came to knock at different times, but Grace kept shouting, 'leave me'.
Even when the pang of hunger got to her, she wouldn't listen. She rose and paced the room. She was angry at her mother for abusing Madam Flourish and at Madam Flourish for not fighting back.
'Grace', Madam Flourish called in the night. Grace wouldn't know if FEPA (Fortunecity Electricity Power Authority) took their power because Madam Flourish had inverters. FEPA was an extension of the Nigerian NEPA (Nigerian Electricity Power Author).
'If you don't come out, I'm returning you to your mum even if you become sicker by the seconds'.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 7:07am On Mar 25
The threat in Madam Flourish's voice meant a lot. She opened the door, and Madam Flourish moved aside, stretching her hands towards the parlour.
'Your food! Now!'
Grace dragged herself to the sitting room. However, her anger had to give way for that of Rachael. Madam Flourish sat in front of her, staring dagger. Rachael looked amused.
'This is the height of it. I will never allow you to enter my kitchen again', Madam Flourish announced as she sat and opened the plate of food in front of her. Grace chuckled.
'You need protein. Our teacher said protein…'
'Your teacher is deceiving you. Is she living with… Did she not…'
'He… He's a man', Rachael corrected.
'Whoever he might be. He should teach you choices… This… Look at…Shoot! You knew I hate beans and become sick from it, but you cooked it anyway and ensured I didn't know until it was too late', Madam Flourish mumbled as she fiddled with her plate of beans.
'I can keep it till tomorrow', Rachael snapped.
'Oh! Wise choice. So as to waste my food. The poor are hungry, and you want me to waste food', Madam Flourish retorted.
'What of the day you made me eat chilli food?' Rachael growled. 'I had a choice, and I don't love chilli food'.
'Is this your revenge?'
'Something like that'.
'Akata!!!' Madam Flourish shouted. The girls were bemused. And Madam Flourish seemed to notice their confusion. 'It means foreigners. You're all this chinko, Chinese people, that eat noodles'.
'They eat chilli food too', Grace interjected before she could stop herself.
'Then, we're living with a vampire', Madam Flourish clapped and shouted. 'Rachael, you are a vampire…'
They argued until Grace took her empty plate to the kitchen. Later, they watched their favourite TV series, 'Fuji House of Commotion' till 9 pm. Then, they changed it to 'When You Are Mine', the latest Telenovela in town. As soon as it was done, Madam sent them to the library, which was Rachael's favourite spot in the house. Madam Flourish had equipped the apartment with every book she could lay her hands on.
Also, she got them comfortable chairs that had mini desks attached. They had everything there, ranging from the calculator to tiny pins. She ensured that they couldn't have a reason to leave the library until it was time to sleep.
They read till 10:30 pm when the 10 pm News will be coming to an end. Then, it was time for bed.
Immediately Madam Flourish rang the bell at the door for them, Grace rose from her own desk. Rachael decided to stay back. Grace slept, refusing to make any meaningful discussion with Madam Flourish except to tell her goodnight. Yet, Madam Flourish didn't allow her to go until she had given her a big hug, which made Grace frowned. But she couldn't resist it.
As she laid on the bed, however, her mind returned to Bidemi. She liked him and would want to spend a lot of time with him, solving different questions together. He was brilliant and was also a keeper for his class.
She must have slept for three hours or more before she heard Rachael yelling from her bed. Grace rolled over and stared at her, unable to comprehend what was happening. Madam Flourish was at their door before Grace could get herself off the bed. She switched on the light and rushed to Rachael, who held her leg high. This surprised Grace. She jumped off the bed and ran to her.
'What's it?' Madam Flourish questioned as she touched the leg.
'Pain', Rachael cried and pointed at her knee. Grace was astounded. She rarely saw Rachael crying. Even when the toughest teachers flogged her, she was always like a rock.
'Where?' Madam Flourish asked.
'Everywhere. In my knee', Rachael cried. Tears poured down her face. Madam Flourish called for several things at the same time. Grace raced up and down the house, getting these things, but they weren't effective.
'We have to get a doctor here now', Madam Flourish shouted and carried Rachael. Pain and fear blossomed in her eyes and made Grace fear that Rachael would die. She raced after them as they entered the parlour. Madam Flourish took her Samsung phone and flipped it open to dial a doctor's number. After the third trial, he answered the call and claimed his car was bad.
'I'll come to pick you', Madam Flourish hurried to her room to get her key. 'I'll be back'.
'Take me with you', Rachael cried. Madam Flourish turned to her and nodded. 'Wise choice!'.
She lifted Rachael and helped her into the car. Grace followed her. The girls cried all the way to the Doctor's house. Many vigilantes met them. Many of them knew Madam Flourish and gave her a safe passage by blowing their whistles for others to know. Rachael once told her they had secret ways of doing it. The doctor examined Rachael as soon as they saw him.
'You'll need to get her to the hospital. I will have to follow you too', the doctor said. 'A minute. Wifey'.
'Please ooo'.
'A minute', he shouted and raced for his room. There was a little uproar in the house, but the voice soon died down. The Doctor ran into the car.
'Is everything okay?' Madam Flourish asked.
'She will be fine', the doctor replied and hissed.
They took Rachael away to a ward the moment they entered the hospital. The doctor asked Grace and Madam Flourish to stay back in the reception.
Grace's mind went haywire. She thought of many things and how she would live without Rachael. She remembered the day she and Rachael beat Chioma, one of their classmates in their former school. The girl's parents were wealthy, and she used that to bully Rachael whenever she was always in need of money for her great-grandma. That was before Madam Flourish eventually met her. Instead of giving her the money, Chioma made Rachael do ridiculous things like beating students she didn't like.
Soon enough, the doctor came out and beckoned on them as he led the way to an office. There was nothing much in the office that a big chair, a large desk, piles of files on his table.
'Your daughter has gout', the doctor said when they were settled.
Grace had never heard of that before, but from the way the doctor explained it, Rachael would suffer pain a lot. He kept explaining, and Madam Flourish kept shaking her head, approvingly. Meanwhile, Grace couldn't understand most of the things he said.
'Well, there are a lot of natural remedies, but I think you can let her take coffee often. It will reduce the uric acid that causes gout… Well, to some extent, its job is to help the body excrete this rubbish out of her body'.
'Just that…?'
'Well, a few check-ups here and there and these drugs', the doctor said and wrote something in a way that she couldn't read it.
'What's this, Doc?' Madam Flourish asked. She was still in her pyjamas but had worn a sweater over it before they left home.
The doctor smiled. 'Don't worry. The pharmacist will understand. And your daughter will sleep here till I'm sure the last injection I gave her worked'.
Madam Flourish nodded. 'Grace, you might sleep in the hospital. Doc. Can we get a bed for her?'
'Well, see the nurses. They will tell you the price and all you need to do… What about you? Won't you sleep?'
'At this point in my life? Never'.
They talked to the nurses, who prepared beds for them in the same room as Rachael. Grace tried but couldn't get herself to stay awake.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 10:23am On Mar 26
Chapter 4
Spider’s Web

That morning, Tania got late to school because her mum made her do a thorough cleaning of the house. It wore her out. On the way to school, she kept thinking of the best place to run to. There was no other option. She would definitely leave her mum. Ever since she had come of age, she had heard several stories of the various places in Fortune City and Nigeria. If she read about them in their school mini-library, she would find a place she could run to.
But despite being in Nigeria, Fortune City felt like another world to her. She wanted to go into the deeper parts of Nigeria. But Miss Falekes told them, the island authorities wouldn’t allow anyone to cross out of the city without proper documentation. So, she had to think of a better place to go within Fortune City.
Just as the bell rang for a change of lesson, their class-teacher, Miss Faleke, entered the class. Tania glanced back. Being short, she got a seat at the front row. When she was first pushed to that seat, she had a great fight with her classmates. But after Miss Faleke’s interference, she succumbed.
Rachael was absent.
‘Rachael Ademola’, Miss Faleke shouted as she was a doing their roll call. Tania looked at Rachael’s empty seat again, wondering what could be happy. Despite not being one that talked much, Rachael always defended the weak in the class.
‘Not around!’ Grace said, tiredly from what she was drawing. Her eyes were red.
Miss Faleke also was curious.
‘Why is she not around?’ Miss Faleke asked.
Grace blinked back tears and swallowed hard as she looked about. ‘She’s in the hospital’.
The whole class seemed rattled. No one had cared about Rachael’s absence because she was always keeping to herself. She only played with others when Grace was with them.
‘What exactly is wrong with her?’ Miss Faleke asked, concerned. Grace cringed and Tania knew why. They all hated telling adults some things in the presence of their classmates.
‘She has erm…. Uhm… Go…’ Grace stuttered and sighed.
Miss Faleke frowned. She couldn’t comprehend what Grace was trying to say. So, she pressed forward as Grace couldn’t find the word for Rachael’s sickness.
‘What’s it?’ Miss Faleke asked.
‘Gonorrhea?’ Someone suggested.
‘God forbid!!!’ Tania said. She didn’t fully know what Gonorrhea meant, but she had heard it repeatedly and was even sure some of their teachers had frequently mentioned that it was a terrible disease.
‘You’re right? God forbid!!! I’m sure it’s nothing much’, Miss Faleke added.
Grace nodded her head. ‘It’s gout’
‘What does that mean?’
‘She had pain in her joint.’
‘Hmmm… That’s serious. May God grant her speedy recovery. Class rep! That’s a job for you. You and your assistant are to visit the wonderful girl. All the other teachers think she will be the first this term and even in your JSCE with the way she’s going’.
‘Yes ma’, replied Chinonso, their class captain.
‘And that’s a call to all you. Tighten your seat belt. Read. Study and be the best. Win Rachael. Show the teachers they are wrong’, Miss Faleke said and left. Tania watched her in awe. She admired her and hoped to be as kind as she was.
As soon as Miss Faleke went out, Chinonso came out. His assistant, Ayo, was with him. She was elegant, and her clothes were well ironed. The only person that could compete with her in neatness was Grace, who was the neatest in all-wise. Her writing, books, and clothes were neat.
‘We will all be paying ten naira…’ Chinonso said.
‘For what?’ Someone replied.
‘Water’, Ayo said. ‘We will buy card… Get well soon card and a bunch of broomsticks for the class’.
Murmur ran through the class. Everyone was asked for the money. Tania had no cash to tender. This was the time she missed the mysterious Rachael, who would have noticed it and paid on her behalf. Grace always had her way of paying for Bidemi, but he would reject it and pay for himself.
Tania wondered why Grace would keep doing that when he had repeatedly rejected her offer. Most times, Bidemi would have to bring his own share of the money the next day, but he would definitely pay.
‘Where’s your money, Tania?’ Ayo asked,
‘I will bring it tomorrow’, She replied.
‘But we’re going to visit Rachael today’, Ayo said,
Tania’s stomach rumbled. She hadn’t eaten that morning, and they were disturbing her money for money. Luckily, the bell rang. Senior Christiana hurried to their class.
‘Tania and all dancers come and join me now’, Christiana shouted.
‘But, I’m not a dancer’, Tania yelled.
‘Follow me before I smack your head’, the senior student said.
On a typical day, Grace would have rushed over to join them, but she was simply drawing. Not that she was good, but she loved to be a part of everything that was being done in the school. Tania glanced at Bidemi.
Like before, Ayo wouldn’t hear a word of what Tania was saying. She threatened to disturb her whenever she returned to class. After much persuasion, Tania joined the dance group for that day only. The senior student saw her doing some dance steps and would want her to teach the group. As much as she was careful not to be among them, she couldn’t contain her joy. When she was done, she was excited to watch Christiana jumped happily in the air. She was quick and learnt her heart out.
Upon getting home at the end of the day, she met her mum, already cooking. That could only mean one thing: her dad was returning that day, and she would go back to the room. Immediately her mind went to another part of the solution. What if I told dad?
Her dad would definitely find a solution to her problem. As soon as she was in the house, she knew the drill. She was sleeping in the room, and that meant she would remain there throughout his stay. Her mum would call her once in a while, to do minimal jobs.
She remained in her room, brought out a paper and began to write her letter to her father. She wriggled out words repeatedly, and after several trials, she was sure she got the right one. Just as she finished writing it, her father’s car honked outside the house.
She hid the paper and sped outside. Her brother and sisters were there all ready to welcome him. Tall, and straight, her father’s height remained a wonder to her, especially as she was short. If she had gotten his stature, it would have given her hope that she didn’t look like her mum.
‘Oh! My darling’, her dad mooed as he played with Junior. Her dad spun him in the air, making Junior excited. She glanced at her mum and could see a big fear in her eyes, but she tried to hide it.
Their dad tried to drop him, but Junior wouldn’t hear a word of it.
‘Don’t drop me’, he squealed as he held on tightly. The same excitement that was in their father’s eyes reignited, but her mum wouldn’t have it anymore.
‘No. Junior, get off your dad and let him go inside. Ibaje wo ni yen. Get down!!!’
Junior refused to heed her. She moved nearer and pinched his ears, making him yell without shame. Her dad giggled and dropped him. Then, her sister, Demilade, rushed to greet him. He was excited to see them. When they were free, Tania walked to him and knelt to greet him.
Not minding how big she was becoming, he swooped her off the floor and spun her around. Tania giggled and soon became lost in the joy. She rarely felt this way except when she was dancing. Every sorrow in her mind melted immediately.
He hugged her fondly and rubbed her hair. ‘How’re you doing?’
‘Fine, sir’, she said amidst the realization that her mum’s eyes were their major spectators and the fact that she was lying. She went to the car’s trunk and carried her dad’s bag as well as the other things. She could feel tubers of yams in one of the sack. She was sure he bought those cookies he loved to buy for them on his travels.
They all entered the house, and someone knocked. Tania hurried to the door.
‘Who’s there?’ Tania asked and spun towards the door.
Her sister and dad entered the room. Tania’s mum yanked the door off her hand. Tania tried to steady herself, but her hand pushed the cushion, and it screeched. That sort of called their dad’s attention.
‘What’s that?’ He asked as he poked her head.
Her mum laughed. ‘She was rushing to open the door and slipped. I don’t know what’s wrong with you? Have I ever allowed you to open the door for people without my authorization before?’
Tania swallowed her answer, which would have been ‘always’. Her father entered his room, and her mum opened the door for her nurse.
‘Oh! Aunty nurse!’
‘Mummy Ire’, Tania said and knelt to greet her.
‘How’re you?’ Mummy Ire asked. ‘Are you fine?’
‘Yes, ma’.
Mummy Ire looked at her over and smiled. Then, she turned to her mum.
‘You’re trying with this girl. I’m really glad.’
‘What can one do? One’s child is one’s child. We can only thank God that they are many. I would have made her my god and God wouldn’t be happy’, her mum replied.
The two of them kept talking. Her mum glanced at her and with her eyes commanded her to return to her room. Tania had noticed this pattern whenever Aunty Nurse or people that knew her were around. Her mum always wanted to act well when she was there.
Tania returned to her room and reread her letter. She waited for the darkness when it would be easy for her to sneak her letter to her dad. Her father had indeed gotten them cookies, and this time, she would make sure she ate them without any fear. The family joked and laughed. For the first time in months, Tania sat to watch TV. Her mum would have berated her or even make her feel sad for ever watching TV. So, she made it a custom to stay in her room until it was time to sleep in the parlour.
‘I even bought something for you, Junior’, her dad said. She knew that it was the best time to give him the letter.
‘I think I want to sleep now’, Tania said, and her mum’s head sprung towards her as if she suspected what she wanted to do.
‘That’s early’, her mum said.
‘I just feel tired’, Tania said and gritted.
They bade her a good night, and she strutted off. When she got near her parents’ room, she slid the letter under the doorframe and rushed off.
After waiting impatiently for an uproar from her dad, she went to the fridge to get cold water. Her father’s presence gave her the ability to do anything she wanted at that time. When she was done drinking directly from the bottle of water, which was a taboo, she decided to discover something she had always wanted to.
Focusing with all her might, she gently closed the fridge and watched keenly to see when the light would go off. So, she held the door firmly and closed its door slowly, one inch at a time. But she missed it. So, she repeated the process until she was able to see the fridge’s light go off before she closed it. That brought a big smile to her face as she walked away
Dancing to no particular beat, she leapt in the air and danced with so much vigour that sweat couldn’t help sipping through her pores. She didn’t mind as she remembered the wordings of her letter.

Dear Daddy,
I am writing this letter to you because I am tired of my mummy. Every day, she will be beating and beating me as if I am not her daughter. Even me I think I’m not mummy’s child. Please come and return me to my mum. Every day, mummy will beat for small things. And she makes me sleep on the floor. I have cold and I’m afraid I will faint one day with the way she beats me. Please take me with you or somewhere. I promise you I will be a good child’.
Thank you for hearing my request.
God bless you, daddy.
Your daughter

1 Like

Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by pabon(m): 10:59am On Mar 27
Beautiful. More ink to your pen.

Please, I sent you a message. I didn't know it didn't deliver initally. Just resent it.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by germaphobe(m): 7:50am On Mar 28
the last episode got me speechless
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 2:47pm On Mar 28
the last episode got me speechless
Thanks boss. It's really painful.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 2:48pm On Mar 28
Beautiful. More ink to your pen.

Please, I sent you a message. I didn't know it didn't deliver initally. Just resent it.

Thanks. I will reply the message soon. Power problem for days now.

1 Like

Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 2:48pm On Mar 28
Chapter 5
A Call for A Mother

Bidemi couldn’t stop grumbling as he hurried through different streets. What if my schoolmates live here, he wondered. He and his Aunt had just argued before he left home to sell her wares. Despite the way he called the attention of people on the street, he didn’t make a single sale. He felt happy about it at first, but then he began to wonder what would happen if he didn’t make any sale at all.
As his mind rummaged through different things his aunt might do, he saw a call centre at the end of the street. The shop had a landline sitting on a table and another small Motorola by its side. A small banner, displaying the service provider, was enough to tell him his call would be fast. He moved nearer as he realized that he could eventually get the chance to talk to his mom without the knowledge of his aunt. He had always talked to her under the watchful eyes of his aunt, but he wanted something different this time. That was the only way he could connect to his parents better.
‘I want to make a call’, Bidemi said.
‘You this small boy?’ A lanky girl said. Her yellow gown was falling off her shoulders, and she kept pulling it back in place. Mucus crawled down her nose, and she sniffed repeatedly.
‘Who’s a small boy? I want to make call?’ Bidemi replied. He hissed at her rudeness.
‘Mummy Iyabo, this boy wants to call o’, the girl called at somebody. Bidemi swallowed hard as the goods he sold was still clamped to his head. A short dark woman ran out of the house, dropped a small green potty by the side of the house and wiped her wet hands on her wrapper.
Bidemi swallowed in the realization that she would spread germs to him.
‘Where’s the number they gave you?’ The woman asked as she typed sporadically into her phone while her right hand was outstretched.
‘No… Number’, Bidemi stuttered.
The woman looked up and snapped at him. ‘The number my friend. I’m busy inside’.
‘I know the number offhand’, he replied quickly.
‘Good… Tell me the number and stop acting like an slowpoke’, she said.
Bidemi could remember their home line. His mother was surely at home and would reply. He reeled out the number to the woman.
‘It’s ringing’, the woman said and shoved the phone into his hand. The phone bounced, and he held it awkwardly. The woman yelled, ‘don’t fall my phone o…Or else, your patents will pay for a new one’.
‘Hello, mummy’, he said when he heard a cackle at the other end.
‘Hello, who’s this?’ His dad said.
He wasn’t expecting his father to be near the phone, but it was still a good thing.
‘Dad… It’s me, Bidemi. How’re you?’
There was a brief silence at the other end.
‘Where are you making this call from?’ His dad asked.
‘Business centre’.
‘Did your aunt ask you to make this call…?’
‘No… I just wanted to greet…’
‘You’re not serious, Bidemi. If you want to call me, you can use your aunt’s phone. Now, get off’.
The call disconnected, and he felt sad about it. He looked at the call centre woman as she snatched the phone off his hand and then browsed through it.
‘One minute two seconds’ The woman said and handed over the phone to the lanky girl. ‘Forty naira’.
Astounded, Bidemi quickly did a quick mental calculation. ‘But it’s 20 Naira’.
‘Who will pay for the two seconds?’ The woman asked again.
After a little back and forth, Bidemi paid up. Later, he made a great sale, and that made him return home in time. He wished he talked to his mother.
‘Welcome ooo… My caller’, his aunt said. She went on to berate him about his being a nuisance. He didn’t need an explanation to understand that his father had told what he did. As she kept ranting, she removed her slippers and repeatedly beat him.

1 Like

Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 3:09pm On Mar 28
Chapter 6
Seasons of Truth

Saturday was one of the best of the week for Rachael and Grace, especially when Madam Flourish decided to stay back at home. Aside from washing their school clothes and doing little house chores, she practically did everything else. Being one that loved working too, she sent them off to read or play some brain-tasking game.
Whenever there was a need for extraneous works, however, like ‘ultra-cleaning of the house’ as she called it, she would invite freelance-cleaners. That particular Saturday was one of those days. The two girls were lost in their different works. While Grace was busy with the lessons from the textbooks, Rachael battled with her books. She was getting better but was mandated to take her bottle of coffee everywhere she went.
Suddenly, someone yelled from outside. Grace stopped her hand and hoped the noise would die down. But that seemed like the beginning of the noise, reminding her of the day a mother flogged her son from home to her former school, Dekleye College. She assumed a boy was regularly bullying her son, but upon getting to school, she discovered Rachael was the perpetrator all along. That not only infuriated her to beat the boy to stupor, but it also caused the public flogging of Rachael by the Vice-Principal. That time, Grace supported the punishment because she wasn’t aware of the relationship between her and Rachael.
‘Flourish… Where are you?’ Grace’s mum shouted. Her voice was so distinct that she couldn’t help but sigh. She began to shake despite the numerous promises she made to herself, and sometimes Rachael that she would always remain calm every time her mother was around. Ranting on, her mother entered the house. Grace dashed to her drawing-room as she sensed a looming danger. Her mother wouldn’t even know she was there.
Doors were banged intermittently, and her mother’s voice muffled from time to time. She kept calling for Grace until Rachael poked her head into the drawing-room.
‘Gracey, big mummy is calling you’.
Grace mumbled but got up, nonetheless. She sighed and wiped her soft hands on the apron Madam Flourish bought for her as suggested by her fine arts teacher in Dekleye. There was a time he wrote a long list of things she needed. He must have assumed that she wouldn’t get them, which made him surprised when she brought a huge amount of money for the materials and even extra for suggesting such. Despite not following him, he got things of good quality. Grace removed the apron and stomped out to meet her mother.
‘Grace, you’re spoilt. Flourish has spoilt you. She taught you nothing. Nada’, her mother yelled and pulled her by the ears towards the women working outside the house. Grace tried not to utter a word since Madam Flourish had warned against such.
‘If your lost but found half-sister can’t even work, you too wouldn’t be spoilt. I can’t wait and allow an insect to poke my eyes. If not for your stubborn father, I would have taken you with me to be taught the reality of life’.
Madam Flourish was in the parlour too. Her silence gave Grace all the red flag she needed to see that her mother wasn’t to be argued with. Her mother dragged her to one of the women cleaning the house. The woman wore a blue apron as did many of the others, but hers was neatly ironed, and despite the dirty work she was doing, her uniform was impeccably neat.
‘Mummy, e ku ise. Please, stop this and give her that mop’, her mother said.
‘Ah! Our mummy, big mummy, gave us the job’, the slim woman said and tried to return to her work. But Grace’s mother hurried to her front, pulling Grace with her.
‘You don’t understand, do you? This is my daughter, and I want her to work. If you don’t want your daughter’s life to end up useless, you will give her the mop’, Grace’s mother said.
‘Ma…ma, don’t you dare swear for my child. I told you the truth, and you’re here cursing my child’, the women yelled at her. This time, her hands were becoming red as she forcefully gripped the handle of the mop.
‘I don’t even have time for this nuisance. Give me the mop’, Grace’s mother said and made to take the mop from the woman, but she pulled back.
The woman wheezed angrily and glanced at a place beyond both mother and daughter. Grace glanced back and saw Madam Flourish using her head to gesture at the woman to hand over the mop. Still angry, the woman murmured some things as she thrust the mop into Grace’s mother’s hand.
‘Are you talking to me?’ Grace’s mother hollered.
‘No. I’m just saying I’ll collect my own money’, the woman said. Grace’s mother grunted and pulled Grace’s ear again. Pain surged through Grace’s body as her free hand clamped the stinging ear.
‘It’s between you and the idiot that refused to give birth to her own child’, Grace’s mother barked at her.
‘I will pay you everything I promised’, Madam Flourish shouted with trembling voices.
‘Ese gan Mummy. Thank you, ma. Your desires shall be met’.
‘Is it my own that won’t be met?’ Grace’s mother shouted, but the woman was gone before another brawl could ensue.
Madam Flourish entered the house, and Rachael stood transfixed to the top of the stairs. Grace’s mother sat on the edge of one of the power pots as she continually instructed Grace on what and what not to do. Grace’s mind was in all places, including wishing her dad would return that day.
‘I will tell my Dad’, Grace mumbled as she wiped the sweat off her face.
‘What did you say there?’ Her mother asked as she edged forwards on her flower-pot seat, making Grace glance at her to be sure she would fall. If her wish came true, she would have all the joy in the world. But the woman seemed glued to the flower pot as if it was following her movement.
‘Nothing, ma.’
‘Madam, I’m not deaf. I will remove your tongue and cook it for you and that witch that held you to herself. If she thinks she wants to use your presence in her life to make God look down on her, she dreams…’
‘But I like her, and I like it here’, Grace blurted out before she could stop herself.
‘Yes. Why won’t you, brainless girl, like it here? She has mixed something in your food and that of your father’s. She has given charmed vegetable soup. You both have been hypnotising and by the time I’m done with the prayer sessions, your eyes will be opened, and I’ll have you back’.
Grace shook her head and worked. When they were done, her mother led the way into the house. She will walk all around as if she owns the place, Grace thought.
Grace shook her head like a clown and made faces at her mother just as Madam Flourish stepped out to check on them. She frowned the moment she saw what Grace did. Grace’s mother crashed into a chair.
‘So that you know, the girls have done their house chores. Those were just extra cleaning that I allot to people older and grittier’, Madam Flourish said, resting on the cushion. Rachael came out with her books and avoided Grace’s mother’s eyes.
‘Shut up, jare. You’re spoiling them. You… Ehys… Rachael. You better be careful. I heard you used to live with one old woman before. Those people, old women, they know how to train children. My grandmother died a few years back, and she taught me a whole lot. Life needs people like us to teach children’.
Madam Flourish walked away like an angry, raging child.
‘Grace, that my bag over there, check it. You will find two bars of chocolate’, she said.
‘I don’t want chocolate’, Grace retorted.
‘I’m giving you something, and you’re rejecting it. Flourish, did you teach these girls not to collect things from me?’ Grace’s mother yelled. Madam Flourish didn’t respond. And Grace’s mother repeated her question.
‘I told them not to collect things from a stranger’, Madam Flourish replied from her room.
‘So, am I one of those strangers? Did she tell you I’m one of those strangers, ehn Grace? Rachael, I know you will tell the truth. Did she tell you that?’
Racheal shook her head. ‘No, ma’.
‘Grace, that’s your mother’, Madam Flourish shouted. ‘Grace take the… Whatever, she’s giving you and let us have peace’.
‘I don’t want her chocolate…’ Grace yelled back.
‘So, I’m the witch that won’t let you have peace, right?’ Grace’s mother shouted. Her tone was more aggressive than before. Madam Flourish refused to reply. Grace wished this day wasn’t real or that it ended quickly. Her mother pointed at the bag.
She grabbed the bag in anger and ransacked it for the chocolate. As soon as she saw the bars of chocolate, she grabbed them and closed the bag. Then, she saw two wrapped nylon and remembered seeing them with one of the boys at school. It was filled with a balloon. Most of them always wanted a feel of it because it could contain different buckets of water and still not burst.
‘Good. Now, go and get me cold coke from your fridge’, Grace’s mother ordered.
Rachael hurried out the cushion to get the bottle of coke, and she gave it to her.
‘What’s this?’ Grace’s mother yelled. ‘If I wanted tea, I would ask you to make one for me’.
The girls looked perplexed.
‘What? Why are you both looking at me like deaf people? Why is your coke not cold?’ Grace’s mum asked.
‘Because …’ Grace said and became lost for words. Instead, she pointed towards the fridge. Her mouth simply became dried up.
‘Our fridge got spoilt three days ago… Mummy has called the person that will check it out’, Rachael interfered.
Grace’s mum sat in silence. She looked at them for a while as if she was sizing them up. Grace shifted weight from side to side as she itched to return to her drawing-room.
‘Okay. This is what you will do. You, Rachael, will get me those big digestive biscuits and Grace will go to the third street. There is a woman on that street. I bought a very chilled bottle of coke there once’.
‘But Mummy does not send us that far’, Grace said.
‘Who’s your mummy? I am your mother. And you obey me’, her mum shouted.
Grace murmured her response.
Madam Flourish must have been nearby because she stepped into the parlour.
‘Erm… I prefer not to send them out to far distance or even out. The rate of kidnapping these days is on a high’, Madam Flourish said.
‘What are you saying? Please o. My husband is not here to tell me what to do?’ Grace’s mum yelled.
‘Our husband…’ Madam Flourish corrected and rolled her eyes. ‘Or your ex…’
‘I don’t understand what you’re raving about. You have stolen him from me and…’
‘Taken him back…’ Madam Flourish corrected.
‘Leave me, Flourish. Leave me. Let me talk. Don’t feed me. I’m capable of feeding myself. You disgusting bully’, Grace mum said and burst into tears. Grace scoffed. She couldn’t even believe her mother’s reason for crying at this point.
‘Okay. Send her whatever you want. Stop this nuisance. Even children shouldn’t be acting this way’, Madam Flourish shouted and walked away. Grace’s mum pointed at her bag.
‘Bring it here’.

Grace obliged her and got the bag. Her mother removed her purse and took some naira note.
‘This is for you and this is for you. Two of you get going’, Grace mother said and spat on the floor. ‘Can you see this spit? If it becomes dry before you return, then you will be in a hot soup’.
Grace glanced at the spot she spat at. ‘There’s nothing there…’
Her mother longed to slap her, but Grace evaded it. ‘Tell me rubbish again, and I’ll have your head’.
The two girls walked out of the house, pass the women cleaning the house and out of the building.
‘I hate her’, Grace yelled the moment she was out of her mother’s earshot. The two girls planned to buy the biscuit first then move to the third street. As soon as they walked on, Rachael suddenly turned. Grace turned to look at what she was looking at and saw a man in a suit.
‘I’ve seen that man before’, Rachael said.
‘God will not forgive my mum for what she saying to Mummy’, Grace said as she remembered her mum calling Madam Flourish, barren.
‘I remember’, Rachael said, fearfully. ‘I remember. That is the man… Remember when we were in Green City. Remember that day we were fighting. No, not even once. This man used to separate us whenever we were fighting’.
Grace remembered Rachael used to beat her when she was made to bully her and this man, truly, would suddenly come from nowhere to separate them.
‘I remember him… Maybe he’s just here to do something’, Grace said as her mind faded off to her mother’s rudeness.
‘I’m afraid’, Rachael said. ‘I will buy the biscuit and return home’.
‘But you promised to follow me’, Grace said.
‘I’m afraid’, Rachael hurried to the street that led to the place she would buy the biscuit.
Grace, angrily, went her way. Her mind went through all the things that had happened that day. Rachael wasn’t always afraid. The bulk of her fear came from what her mum caused and Madam Flourish’s fear of kidnappers.
‘Buy your biscuit’, someone yelled from the end of the street. Grace glanced at the person with awe. Despite the distance, she could make him out of anywhere. She hurried towards him.
‘Bidemi…’ She said with glee. Each of her worries and fear dissipated at once. He looked up at her and smiled.
‘Grace…It’s nice seeing you’, Bidemi responded and walked past her. She wished he could talk to her. Then, an idea struck her.
‘Can I buy your biscuit? She asked.
Bidemi hurried away from her as if he hated her. She was angry. Maybe she wasn’t beautiful. That was the reason only a woman, Miss Angelina, from their previous school have loved her. Other girls always have boys sending letters to them, but she had gotten nothing from them. She was in Jss3. Even some boys showed they liked Rachael by helping her to do things. They just don’t come near her.
After getting the drinks, it took her a great deal not to run home. When she got to the gate, she met her dad.
‘Where are you coming from?’ Her dad asked.
‘Mummy sent me on an errand’ Grace said.
‘Is she alright…?’
Grace nodded.
‘Pascaline’, her dad called as he climbed the stairs.
‘No… It’s not big mummy o. It’s my mummy. She’s here…’
‘Ade is here. Have I not told her not to frequent this place? Let’s go up there’, he shouted and climbed the stairs.
Grace ran up to him, collected his bag. She wanted his hands to be free when he was talking to her mum.


Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by fattprince(m): 2:42pm On Mar 29
Divepen, good evening. I wish to seek your counsel on something. Can you email me (you'd, probably, not like to drop your email. Mine's on my signature.)
Please like how much do you write?
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by pabon(m): 10:20pm On Mar 29

Please like how much do you write?

I don't understand your question. Do you mean the number of words I write or how much I charge for my ghostwriting jobs?
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by fattprince(m): 3:09am On Mar 30

I don't understand your question. Do you mean the number of words I write or how much I charge for my ghostwriting jobs?
Amount you charge sir
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by pabon(m): 8:27am On Mar 30

Amount you charge sir
Come to my email address (pabsolined@gmail.com).
Please don't mention me here again. You can look for one of my story threads on my profile. Let's stop derailing Divepen's thread.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 12:50pm On Apr 01
Chapter 7
Change Again

Tania met only her mother in the sitting room. Her father’s car wasn’t in the compound. Although he hinted that he would leave soon, she never assumed he would leave without a proper goodbye. Her mother, on the hand, held two pictures and her eyes dashed from one picture to the other, staring at them intently. Tania knew she would do herself more harm than good to let her mother catch her watching.
‘Good afternoon, ma’, she said and gestured her courtesy.
‘Welcome darling’, her mother said.
That stirred Tania’s fear. Her mother had never called her ‘darling’ in a long time, and she did that only when her dad was around.
‘Your dad is in the room, waiting for you’.
Tania went there and met him lying on the bed. She was wondering what he would do and had done since he saw the letter.
Immediately she entered the room, her fear gave way for happiness. It’s been a long time she entered that room. As perfect as always, the room has always been the perfect example of her future room, but life had something else planned for her. She glanced from one part of the room to the other. The sight of the bed made her long for one too.
‘Hey!’ Her dad said and looked up from reading a newspaper. He beckoned on her to come nearer.
As he repeatedly asked her questions about herself, she was delighted, hoping for more of this. She missed staying in the warm comfort of her father’s arms.
He had a way of making her happy. She wished he didn’t work with a special private law firm travelled around the country to handle different cases.
‘I’m leaving this evening’, her father said.
Tania swallowed hard as reality hit her straight in the face. She was returning to her old life, about to be drowned in the pain of how things used to be. Her mother’s fury would be unleashed again. Soon, everyone would hear their noise, with her mother chasing her in the middle of the night, and she screaming for help.
Several of her neighbour-friends had told her how they hear them most nights. It would have been unbearable if not that she wasn’t worst off. At least, she still had a bed to sleep. Many of them faced crazy ordeals.
‘I know the things you’re facing without my presence. But you’ve got only your mother and that’s what I want you to hold on to because she’s the only true thing except me. I’ll come through for you, for your mother, for our family’.
She blinked and wondered why he wasn’t talking about the other things she wrote in her letter. But he seemed oblivious of them. He kept telling her the things he would do for her that she became bemused and lost.
‘I’ll take you guys to the northern Nigeria, Borno to be precise. It’s beautiful there. Soon, we might have to travel abroad. I’m working on everything but I don’t want you to worry’.
She nodded and returned to her room, tired. On the way, she met her younger brother dozing off by the staircase. He must have been chasing Demilade with the cane, which had slid off his hand.
‘Junior…’ She whispered.
He was peaceful despite his awkward sleeping position. She preferred it to the times he would go about in the house, wreaking havoc.
Then, something occurred to her. Quickly, with her heavy bag still dangling from her back, she picked the cane and raced to her room. Her mother wouldn’t know where it was and that was the best thing to ever happen to her that week. She now had power. Her mother wouldn’t have something to flog her with when her father was gone.
Ever since her father returned, Demilade had been running more errands. Although her mother still sent Tania things once in a while, Demilade had more works to do. Luckily for both of them, Demilade loved working. In her father’s absence, she had regularly demanded her fair share of the house chore but her mother wouldn’t listen to such arrant nonsense.
‘Tania’, her mother called from the sitting room. She hurried out of the room. She looked about her and was surprised at the happiness that radiated from her mother’s eyes. Truth be told, her mother always loved her father’s presence just as she did.
‘Ma’, she repeated as she entered the sitting room.
‘Get me…’, her mum said and stopped. She glanced at her own hand and was stunned for reasons Tania couldn’t fathom. ‘Oh! The money!’
The moment her mother ran into the room, she caught sight of the pictures her mother was staring at when she returned from school. Quickly, she ran over to the table where they were still placed side by side, making it easy for her to grab them both. She was stunned by the sight that beheld her.
Why was her mother staring at a picture of her and Tania? They were both beautiful and that allowed her to compare their features to be sure she looked like her mother as Ayo had once said.
‘What are you doing?’ Her mother asked. She was behind the curtain to her room.
Tania didn’t hear her coming. Quickly, she dropped the pictures, shook her head and scrambled far from her mother’s reach. Could it be that she was seeing a smile in her mother’s eyes or her fear was playing a trick on her?
But her mother’s smile spread like wildfire to every part of her face, scaring Tania. She wondered why her mother was suddenly acting sweeter than before. It rattled her.
‘I said, you were to get me these items’, her mother said as she sat comfortably on the cushion. She had written them in paper because she always believed Tania was forgetful, whereas she had always been forgetful one.
The paper danced in Tania’s hand as she left the house. Her mind wandered to those days her mother would tell her to buy something but upon returning she had wanted something else. Tania knew she didn’t forget anything. She would proceed to swear by everything she could to prove her innocence. Her mother, irked by curse, especially from a child, would swat the swearing from Tania’s mouth with a stinging slap.
‘Tania’, Segun called. She turned to see him looking weak. He was a street mate, with whom she used to fetch water at their public borehole before her father eventually drilled his water.
‘Come and give me ten naira’, Segun pleaded.
She shook her head. The money she had was the money her mother gave her.
‘I’ve not eaten since yesterday’, Segun cried. She stared at him.
‘Your mummy is not at home?’ Tania asked.
‘She’s…She wanted to beat me. So, I slept outside the house’, he replied. His eyes wandered about the street as he looked ready to run.
‘Go home’.
‘She’s there. She will kill me. Wo! She threw hot plate of soup at me. I escaped her’, Segun lamented.
‘Does she wants to kill you?’
‘Leave my mother o. Give me ten naira. I will use it to buy kuli kuli and sugar’, he said. She swallowed hard as she stared at the money with her.
‘What will you use it to eat?’ She asked.
‘I will collect garri from Iya Ayo’.
Iya Ayo was Segun’s neighbour. She was always apathetic towards his case and had always been his major help against his mother. She hated children’s maltreatment as she called it. Many of the parents in the area, however, still used her as a negative lesson for their children. They claimed that her children were spoilt. Tania would have loved it there because she enjoyed the fun in the way she related with her children. Nothing scared them. Can she ever enjoy such life?
‘Will she give you?’ Tania asked.
He nodded and rubbed his body. Tania couldn’t help but gasps as she sighted the plethora of mosquito bites on his fair body. The bites popped out from different parts of his body, staring at her, calling to her to never live outside her home or run away.
‘She came to me in the night when my mother was sleeping and told me to sleep at her place’, Segun said and scratched his body.
‘Why didn’t you go?’
Segun’s eye shone in desperation as if he had seen a ghost. He was gripped by the same fear that always grip her whenever she was in the presence of her mother. He was short and had several welts of cane on his slender body. If his mother were given the chance, she would keep flogging him for every single mistake.
Tania witnessed the day he was trying to pour kerosene from a bottle without using funnel. Her mother would have yelled her head off.
‘Are you drunk? Ah! I’ve given birth to a fool’, Segun’s mother bellowed.
Tania glanced up that day from the beans she was helping him to pick. She had gone there to play with him but eventually helped pick the grain of beans from a large tray. As his mother shouted, Tania glanced from person to another, wondering what was wrong. Had she done something wrong?
‘He’s still looking’, chipped in one of his neighbours. Tania frowned. Nosy neighbours had caused more harm than good when parents were correcting their children At that point, Tania was happy that their home was theirs. She couldn’t bear the thought of neighbours fuelling her mother’s anger.
Segun was also surprised that he glanced at her, confused. Thus, she yelled. ‘Where’s the funnel?’
Immediately Segun understood her, he upturned the big grey keg of kerosene, hoping to pour the kerosene into the bottle. The bottle had a smaller mouth. The kerosene, therefore, streamed to the ground, making his mother scream louder. Tania just knew he would in trouble.
So, as he stood before her that moment, hoping to get ten naira for food, she knew she had to help him.
Hurriedly, she calculated where she would buy things. One of the women selling it always sold hers at a relatively low price. Although her mother preferred that she bought things from another woman, she would know how to go about it. She gave Segun ten naira.
‘Segun’, someone shouted from afar. ‘Is that you? Mummy Segun… I have found your son’.
‘Ah!! Amebo’, Segun whispered as he grabbed the ten naira from Tania and raced off, raising dust. Tania coughed and watched him leave. Even if he would face his consequences later, he deserved to be fed.
She hurried off and eventually got home to meet her mother dozing. Her mother’s countenance didn’t change even when her father left and they were restored to the way. In the night, she fed Tania well.
‘Mummy, why are we getting two meats and we are…’, Junior asked.
‘Shut up!’
At that point, she remembered a story her father told her about how one should not make an animal fear death before it saw it death. It would reduce the sweetness of the meat. He stold he read it in a book.
Tania couldn’t concentrate. Her mother was acting like that because her father told her about the letter. If he didn’t tell her, he must have corrected her in a way Tania would know he made that happen.
Sensing this Tania ensured she went to bed with her peace of mind. The cane was well hidden, the belts were nowhere near where they used to be, and there was nothing she could do than to believe her mother was changing towards her.
Before they slept, the whole family watched their best television series ‘Everyday people’. As the Tv show ended, her mother gleefully sang the song of the show. Before she knew it, she was singing along and they all sang other songs into the night. Tears welled in Tania’s eyes. She had been punished too much by life and her mother that singing felt odd. If not for the many insidious looks from her mother, she might have be bold about her dancing skills. It would be extremely unwise to dance there.
If she danced, would she be punished? She wondered. Singing with her mother in a long time was something she cherished and wanted to hold on to. So, she won’t ruin it by dancing. The night and their neighbours might have been disturbed by their songs and she wouldn’t want to let go of that feeling.
‘Tania, sleep in your room’, her mother said.
Her eyes bubbled with joy. She still preferred her mat to the big bed, but it felt good to know her mother wanted her on bed for the first time in a long time. Although she hadn’t bed wet in a long while, she still felt the need to use the toilet before sleeping. It was merely the right thing to do.
She nodded. Smiles from Demilade elicited her own. Tania couldn’t hold the enormous smile that crept from her face to her body, waking every part of her to the newfound joy.
As they went to their different rooms, Demilade came nearer and held her hands tighter and smiled at her. Tania landed on the bed and slept off like a baby. Nothing, however, lasts.
Her sleep was suddenly disrupted by suddenly swooping of cane on her body. She yelled and sprung off the bed. Her eyes roamed the room for somewhere safe. That wasn’t the sitting room and her presence there would be the ruin of her.
At once, she remembered she didn’t use the toilet before sleeping. She glanced at the bed. A lash of cane followed her amidst the flood of light that almost blinded her. She looked up and wondered what was wrong.
‘What did I do?’ She cried.
‘You ungrateful bastard. You sent a letter to your dad’, her mother yelled and flogged her. She wondered.
Even as her mother shouted and flogged, she wondered why she didn’t know that he would show his mother.
‘Thank God I saw it first. You, this bastard. You want to ruin my marriage. My God will make it hard for you. Witch! If he had seen it, what would have happened to me now?’
The next day, the only thing that soothed her pain was the song from Bidemi’s mouth. He wouldn’t even know she was there as she danced her pain away. Her steps moved her and she preferred it to every other thing in her life.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 5:50pm On Apr 04
Chapter 8
The Peeled Hands
Bidemi walked home in a hurry, hungry, clutching a twenty naira note. His mother’s phone number was still neatly written in the paper in the side pocket of his bag. Despite knowing it offhand, he had to take a peek at his aunt’s phone when she was using the bathroom. If she had caught him, he would have been left with his trousers on fire.
‘I want to make a phone call’, he said to the woman seated at the end of the street. He refused to return to the first lady he used the other day as he didn’t want to be delayed and abused by the young girl he met there.
This woman hurried up and fiddled with her bag. Her plate of food was left unattended, but she didn’t mind.
‘Call the number, let me help’. She was enthusiastic that Bidemi had to promise himself to always return to her. The woman stared absentmindedly between him and the tip of the umbrella that was blown by the wind while the phone was clasped to her ear.
‘It’s ringing’, she said and pointed the small phone to him.
He clasped it to his head. ‘Hello, mummy. Hello…’
‘Who’s this?’ His mother said. ‘Bidemi?’
‘Mum. Thank God. I’m happy to hear from you after all these while…’
‘Yes. I always wanted to come visit you, but your dad won’t allow me. How are you? Are you fine? Hope Shola is treating you well…?’
The phone beeped.
‘No, ma. I’m…’
The phone beeped twice. Bidemi removed it from his ear to glance at it to see if it was still reading. The screen was blank.
‘It’s not… There’s nothing here’, Bidemi called.
The woman rose and checked it. ‘Oh! This girl had played with this phone. Can you wait while I charge it?’
‘No…’ Bidemi said and gave her the twenty naira note.
‘Wait. You would still have some parts of it’, the woman called. ‘The charging will not be more than ten minutes’.
Aunt Teju would be waiting for him. Bidemi glanced at her and shook his head as he hurried home. As expected, she was sat in the parlour, swinging her leg profusely.
‘Why are you late?’ Aunt Teju asked.
‘I’m not late…’
‘Shut the yap and change after you’ve eaten’.
When he was done, he carried the wares about. He didn’t make many sales, but who was he to force people to buy the things he was selling? If he didn’t go, it might be a problem for him. With this, he could return to tell her there weren’t enough sales. He walked about and saw some of the boys playing football. They fascinated him. He stood with his wares and watched them excitedly.
‘Let me keep for you’, he offered when one of the team lost because their keeper was poor. The street was the next to his house, and he shouldn’t even play because someone might see him. However, when the team offered him the post, he couldn’t resist the offer.
Every one of them praised his goalkeeping ability, and he enjoyed it. The ball was getting exciting until the owner of the ball felt cheated.
‘I’m no longer playing’, the owner shouted and picked the ball.
The other boys were stunned, Bidemi especially.
‘Come and play in our team…’ Bidemi suggested. The boy stopped in his track and turned towards the winning team, brandishing a big smile. The other boys were ready to accept him. But to do that, Bidemi’s team had to send someone else to the other side. After several considerations, they picked the smallest boy, who had been falling over the ball since they started.
The other team rejected him and were ready to play without a full team. The short boy’s best friend, however, was the bully of the field. Seeing that his friend was off the pitch aggravated him.
‘If you want to go, go. Take your ball away. We don’t want again…’ He shouted. His dark, sweaty skin glinted in the setting sun as he walked towards the team, rejecting his friend.
‘But there’s no other ball…’ Another boy replied to him from the other end of the field.
‘Ehn! Everybody should go home’, the bully shouted. There was a bit of argument between them and in a few minutes, he had scattered the small stones set as goalposts. Another stubborn boy, in retaliation, tried to reset the posts. The bully picked a plank of wood and chased him off the field. In the same anger, he ran back into the field to pursue those that tried resetting the post.
Bidemi was angry that he had just lost another opportunity to enjoy a good football match. So, he took his wares and returned home. His aunt was waiting for him at the door. The moment he dropped his ware, she smacked him across his face. He batted his eyes repeatedly.
‘You are an idiot. You left my own wares on the floor to do rubbish’.
He held on to his face and wondered when she saw him. But the slap was enough to make him remain fixed to the position.
‘No food for you tonight. And there’s no money for you to school tomorrow…’
‘But…’ Bidemi stuttered as he tried to explain to her that he was already returning home when he stumbled on the footballers.
‘Those in the other house will come to give you the money you ever wanted and the care. You had the right to call home again after I have warned you against it. They will send money for food to you. Nincompoop’.
The thought of that made him angry. Why was she beating for calling his mother? He assumed he could go on without the food and refused to beg her. If food deprivation were what would help him to get out of that place, he wouldn’t mind going hungry. In fact, he would go on a hunger strike. His aunt raved around the house, scattering and un-scattering things.
Bidemi went over to his bag to pick his assignments. Nothing excited him than knowing that he would get better marks than beat any of those girls- Grace or Racheal. They were both good, but he was better.
As he continued working on the assignment, his stomach rumbled. Hunger pinched every part of his stomach, tickling the noisy worms there. At first, he waved off the feeling, but when it disturbed him the more, he looked around. Just at the same moment, his aunt rushed into the room with the pot of rice. This excited him.
The scent was enough to make him hungrier. Just as she rushed out to pick something, he clambered off the ground and tried to eat the few grains of rice on the big spoon atop the pot. As if she had been waiting for this, his aunt sprung back into the room and clamped his hand.
‘You want to be a thief, right?’ She yelled.
‘No, aunt Teju…’
‘Shut up!’ She yelled and dragged his hands. ‘I will show you why you shouldn’t steal anymore in your life’.
‘No, aunt Teju’, he shouted and tried to pull himself away, but she was fiercer than an angry animal.
She pressed the back of his hands on the pot. Bidemi had never experienced such pain before. He yelled with all his might and wriggled, but she was adamant and fierce. Her yell outdid his Their neighbours heard the commotion and ran into the room. By the time they finally forced his hands out of hers, his hands were sore, and his aunt was in tears.
‘He must learn not to steal anymore!’ She managed to say as she moved back as if she was shocked at herself, tears dripping down her face. ‘He wants to be a thief’.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 6:08pm On Apr 04
Chapter 9
The Dance of Pain

Tania found solace in school and the class she danced always. As she danced away at Bidemi’s song, she didn’t notice that the voice had drawn nearer. Her mind wandered off to the night before and how she had also escaped another cane from her mother that morning. The next option for her was to make sure she gave her Dad the letter himself.
When her mother told her friend what Tania did, the woman abused Tania and talked to her in such a way that Tania’s mother wouldn’t have even spoken to her. Almost immediately, her mind flipped back to the end of the year’s party. She wondered if she would still be allowed to join the dance group because graduating students were spared from the stressful activities of the party.
‘Oh! You’re terrific’, Bidemi said.
His hand was covered in a bandage. She glanced from him to his hand. Despite seeing it that morning, she hadn’t been able to look at it up close.
‘Thank you…’ She said. He smiled and turned to leave. ‘You are good too… I mean you are a good singer’.
He smiled at her and walked away.
‘I dance here every day’, she said again.
That caught his attention. ‘I sing in the other room every day’.
She smiled at him. She wanted to hold those painful hands and treat them as she had seen her mother treat her brother.
‘Can I sing for you again? You can really dance’, Bidemi asked as they both became silent for a few seconds.
She nodded. He sat on the window frame and sang different songs. He started from a cultural dance song, Oweleke, to the reigning secular songs, Psquare’s song, and shuffled to different genres. Immediately he changed his songs, she would also change her dance style. This excited her the more. She spun in the air excitedly.
They would have remained there if the bell wasn’t rung. In fact, she might have urged him to continue, but their teachers would walk about to be sure everyone was in their class, and anyone caught outside the class would be flogged or asked to crawl to their class.
For days, they would meet there to sing and dance. Sometimes, she would forget to eat before going over. Luckily, he too didn’t bring food to school anymore. So, she didn’t always feel bad whenever she was there without anything to eat. Most of the afternoons were spent learning new dance styles to different songs. Some of the boys complained about Bidemi’s absence from the field, making Tania happy she was the cause of his absence.
One Friday, she was to sweep the classroom. Every other person had gone home. The only people left were the few students cleaning their classrooms, the few boys playing football, the girls waiting for them, and their security man also in his black and yellow uniform.
When she was done sweeping, she picked her bag to leave. A little book laid on the floor outside the gate. She had always wanted to buy one too. It was a book where all the popular songs were written. She tore off the first page that had the name of one of the students on it. The next day seemed to be a drag as she expected.
Luckily for her, Bidemi was excited about the book. They sang from it. As they were making merry, Bidemi noticed a mark of a stripe on her hand.
‘What happened to you here?’ He asked.
She refused to tell him. But after a little pestering, she told him about the way her mother flogged her for everything, every time, with everything possible. Bidemi, then took a turn, to tell Tania different stories and soon, the two of them began to share sad stories over their dance and songs. It almost became a competition between them about who had the most disturbing story.
‘Ah! Your own is not bad. What of the day she told me to sit on a hot bowl of water…?’ Bidemi said.
‘Oh! Your own is better’, Tania replied as she stopped herself from crying. ‘My mom… She told me to crawl on sand…’
They must have talked for a while before she realised something.
‘One day, I will leave home…’
‘I don’t understand you?’
‘I will run away’.
‘Oh! Good choice but not too good. I ran away once. I suffered under the bridge. That same time, I met Aunty Omo. She used to come to our school to teach us about being good. When she saw me, she took me to her house’.
‘Eh! What if she kidnapped you?’ Tania asked.
He shook his head. ‘She wanted to return me, but I told her I will run away. So, she took me to another school. It was fun. I met my friend that ran away…’
‘Ah, ah! She likes to help people’.
‘Yes. She gave me a big bed. Even my parents don’t have that type of bed. The food we ate was one in a kind. We sometimes ate Jollof rice. She buys cookies and ice cream for us…’
‘When I see those people that sell it, I always wish I have ten naira with me…’
‘No. The ones from ‘Tori Kitchen’. That big ice cream plate’.
‘Wow! I want to go to her place’.
Bidemi sighed. Tania stared at him in wonder.
‘She’s dead. She committed suicide’.
‘Ehya! I hate suicide’.
‘Me too’.
Tania was afraid with all the stories he had told her that he might want to consider committing suicide. She turned to him and stared into his eyes.
‘Promise me you will not kill yourself’.
He looked stunned. ‘I can run away but to kill myself. No.’
‘Good! I will have no one to sing like you again’, she said and held his hands.
‘What are you two doing?’ Grace asked. Tania dropped Bidemi’s hand and turned hurriedly. Bidemi didn’t look too stunned.
‘Grace’, Tania replied. ‘Nothing…’
‘I want to join you. I’m tired of Rachael. She has been reading and running and winning everything. She thinks everyone wants to win her’.
‘What’s this one saying?’ Bidemi said and walked away.
‘Bidemi, I’m Grace. My name is not this one’.
‘Okay. Grace Not this one’, Bidemi shouted.
Tania had to stop herself from giggling. Grace was taller and the most beautiful girl in their class, but she was happy that Bidemi loved her over Grace.
For days, they both discussed how they would escape. Bidemi was against what she wanted to do.
‘You have nowhere you will go. I will go to my mum. Where will you go?’
‘I can’t let you go…’ Bidemi said.
‘But I have my own choice and right’, Tania said.
‘You’re still a child. People kill children and do all kind of things to them’.
‘Then, that’s good. Are you not a child too? It’s better than living with my mother’, she said and walked away. Through that week, she planned ahead on how to escape.
‘There’s nothing that will stop me from running from home tomorrow. My aunt is always coming back late from the shop. I will quickly escape’.
Tania loved that idea. ‘I will also follow you…’
‘You have nowhere to go.’
‘I want to go anywhere but home. I don’t want to go back home. I sleep in the parlour on the floor’.
‘Some people don’t have anything’.
‘Shut up your mouth! If you don’t want to help me, tell me…’
‘You too shut up! Get out of here’, Bidemi shouted as he rose to leave.
‘You too leave. This was my place before you came from the other room to invade this place’.
‘You’re talking as if you don’t think’.
‘Bidemi, don’t you ever tell me I don’t think in your life again. Are you saying I’m an idiot?’.
‘Shut up! Get off’ Bidemi shouted and walked off.
Tania was tired. The only person that loved her was angry at her. She needed to leave immediately, that night. As she got home, she hurriedly packed her clothes and dumped them in the bag. Then, she wondered what she would eat and what she would do when she was out of the house. That struck her mind. She decided to go back and wait till night after she had eaten.
As she got to the parlour, she met her mom, who was busy playing a puzzle. When she noticed Tania’s presence, she looked up and stared for a few seconds at the bags Tania carried.
‘What’s this?’
‘I saw a rat in the room’.
‘Oh! You have started harbouring things that will bring rats into the house, right?’ She said and knocked her head.
Tania shook her head. After that night’s food, she was definitely going. When she took the last morsel of Eba and vegetable soup, mixed with a lot of dry fish and crayfish, she wondered what she would eat the next day if she left. She didn’t have enough money.
So, she decided to endure at her mother’s place till she had made enough money. When she got to school, their teachers announced that they were going for an excursion. She was glad and glanced at Bidemi.
‘Will you go?’ He asked as they returned to the class.
She shrugged. ‘I don’t know…’
‘Me too… But I can’t run away again. My aunt caught me and have told some people always to ask me where I was going whenever they see me with bags’
Tania told him her own story. Bidemi couldn’t stop laughing while she was torn between crying for her failure and laughing at the way the story sounded from her mouth.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by germaphobe(m): 11:24pm On Apr 07
another banger, thanks for coming through with this one. EXPECTING another update sooner than the normal time
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 3:54am On Apr 08
another banger, thanks for coming through with this one. EXPECTING another update sooner than the normal time

Thanks a lot boss. Will do that now sef.... I've been busy with some other money matters.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 4:04am On Apr 08
Chapter 10
Excursion Day

Grace hissed when she saw the two of them passing a book from one end to another. She hated that Tania, the shortest girl, in the class was eventually getting the attention of the boy she loved. She brought out her drawing book as they awaited the presence of their CRS teacher. She was always late, and Grace used that opportunity to draw.
Her pencil gracefully dashed lines across the book as she couldn't stop drawing Bidemi. Any time some other thing crept into her thought, she would push them aside. The one she detested most was the thought of her mother.
'You're doing it again', Racheal said.
She looked up and hurriedly closed her drawing book. Rachael sighed and drank from her bottle of coffee.
'You know I still have the drawing you gave me. Draw other things', Rachael mumbled.
'It's enough. Face your books or winning or something that's not about me', Grace snapped and looked away.
'All these are for you. You need to enjoy other things. I used to see flowers and everything in your book', Racheal said.
Grace sighed. She wished she could do something to ward off Rachael. Almost the same time, Ayo, the class captain clambered into the classroom with a sheet of paper and a notebook.
'They said I should call out the names of the people that have paid their excursion money'.
The class remained in composed disarray as she raised the sheet of paper containing their names. Then, she reeled out several names of the people that have paid. Grace was surprised that Bidemi's name wasn't among those called. She would wait until their break time to ask him. When Ayo was done calling them names, she brought out a note from under her armpit.
'CRS teacher gave us two notes to copy, and I will start it'.
'Let me write it for you', Isabel, a tall, slender girl requested. It wasn't news that Isabel loved to write such note before anyone because she had the most elegant handwriting in the class and was the tallest. For this reason, she always had reasons to copy the notes into her notebook before any other person. Not only that, but she also wrote the notes for the next lessons before their teachers authorise them.
Ayo gave the note to Isabel Bolawole. Seizing the opportunity, Grace faced the board and didn't heed Rachael again. Luckily for her, Rachael was bent on being the first to finish the note. So, she was free. Grace wouldn't have been concerned if she hadn't noticed the intensity with which Rachael stared at the board.
'Ah! Must you be the best in everything?' Grace murmured.
Rachael shrugged. 'Big mummy said we are the best. I'm just trying to make it happen'.
Grace hissed. When it was break time, she faced her drawing book. She had tried severally to get Bidemi's attention once more, but her effort was futile. He wouldn't listen to her. And whenever he answered, it was offhanded.
Other students noticed this and teased her about it. Bidemi seemed to hate the fact that they were using him and her to tease each other, but he didn't fight it. He was only focused on the book Tania gave him.
She decided to get the books the two of them were passing between themselves. During break time, she followed them to the place they danced and watched them from afar. Her food flask was with her. So, she munched the noodles Madam Flourish dished for them. Once in a while, she would watch several people enjoy their games on the field and wish to be with them. But her mind was focused on these two. Racheal would disapprove.
What does she know than to be the first? Grace wondered.
When she returned her food flask to the class, some of the other girls wanted her to play 'change your style' with them, but her mind was on the two people singing and dancing in the unused room.
Not comfortable, she sneaked to a class beside the one they were singing. After a while, they stopped singing and began discussing the excursion.
'I'm not sure I'm going', Bidemi said. 'Since my aunt has said that she couldn't pay for it and if my parents pay for it, she won't give me the money'.
'Did you tell them that we will go to the bar beach too?' Tania asked.
'Yes. She said the river will carry me away', Bidemi replied.
Tania laughed hard. But Grace couldn't take such from her. At least, she should encourage him instead of making jest of him.
'It's not like I'll enjoy it. My parents want me to watch over my siblings. So, there's nothing I will do than just to go where we…' Tania said.
'Let's sing and dance…' Bidemi suggested.
As they were singing and dancing, Grace knew that she could be a part of the team by singing too. She had a good voice but didn't take it seriously. She might leave her drawing for a while because it was worth the pain.
She peered down the field at the boys playing about, making her wonder why they keep chasing a single round leather object just to shout when it entered the goalposts. She looked elsewhere and saw Rachael trying to win again in all the races.
The other girls all rallied around her like the cup they win at the end of the school's inter-house sport. People were already pitching her for the house she would pick. Grace hated that she couldn't do anything than to draw things. Nobody loved her. They didn't like her drawings.
She can sing, but she loved drawing above singing. She can run but not that fast. She can dance but not well enough for the school dance group. Nobody wanted her skills. She didn't even know if she would be great in the future. She's not the best in everything. Bidemi chose short Tania over her, and she hated it.
'Pay up your excursion fee', their teachers kept shouting as the days drew nearer. Grace wished Bidemi would go.
'I'm not going anymore', Grace told Madam Flourish some days to their excursion day.
'Of course, you're going. Unless you want to stay at your mother's place', Madam Flourish replied without looking at her.
'I can stay in school', Grace said.
Madam Flourish glanced at her and back at what she was calculating. Then, she peered at her. 'Are you sure you're fine?'
Grace refused to answer and looked elsewhere. Madam Flourish turned to Rachael. 'What's wrong with her?'
Rachael only made a face.
'Oh! You too! That's good. I'm breeding dumb ladies in this house', Madam Flourish said, dropped her calculator, removed her glasses, and clapped repeatedly. None of the girls replied her.
'Okay. Rachael, come here. I'll eat beans tomorrow'.
Rachael looked up and smiled. 'It's easy… Beans will make you better. It has protein. Do you know that?'
'Do you mean that?'
'Yes…. It has… Wait! Are you joking? Oh! You're joking', Rachael said and frowned as Madam Flourish burst into laughter.
'Rachael, I have a meeting tomorrow. I can't be running up and down from one toilet to another. At least, I have given you enough chances to cook and enjoy beans as long as you want'.
'You need it...'
'I know. What's wrong with Grace…?'
'I don't know'.
Grace sighed.
'But I think it's because of Bidemi… Bidemi Adeoti. He doesn't have money to pay for the excursion', Rachael replied.
'Oh! His parents', Madam Flourish said. 'Is he your friend?'
Rachael rose and clapped her hands. 'Thank you ooo'.
That aggravated Grace. 'What's your problem with whom I like?'
'Well, like Miss Angelina', Rachael replied, and Madam Flourish accented her statement.
Grace became angry. 'I hate you all'.
'That's a wrong tone, young lady. Now, change it'.
Grace puffed as she remembered Miss Angelina, whom she still missed. She was a beautiful lady that was also a lesbian. She loved women than men. When they were in Dekleye, she wanted to force Grace to act like a man to her. Grace hated that ordeal. If it was possible, she wished she could scrape it off her memory. But since it was there now, she had to learn to shut it up.
'She's always drawing Bidemi in her book', Rachael said.
'Oh! Like that your teacher', Madam Flourish said.
'Yes. Like Miss Angelina', Rachael agreed.
Grace flared up. 'I drew you. I drew everyone. I drew animals. Flowers. I drew thing'.
'You always do that when you like people a lot, and it's a bad habit. You will draw them even when they are sleeping', Rachael said.
'Like she's stalking them. So, what with this boy?' Madam Flourish asked.
'He's not going, and now she doesn't want to go', Rachael replied and avoided Grace's eyes.
'Who will take care of Rachael if something happens to her?' Madam Flourish queried.
Rachael nodded. Grace knew Rachael hated such a statement, but she didn't mind that day.
'I'm going to my drawing room', Grace mumbled as she rose
'No. I saw the adverts of Paloma and Diego. They should start soon', Rachael said.
Grace blinked as she wondered if she should stay there.
'Oh! I also need to watch that opera. I've heard a lot of people talk about it this period. What's it all about?'
'Mummy, you're really missing', Rachael said and sat upright to explain the storyline. Grace was forced to input some things when Rachael was getting it wrong.
On their excursion day, Madam Flourish gave them a lot of money for their upkeep. They were both excited. Ayo too bragged about bringing a lot of money.
Tania, however, didn't have enough money. Ayo, who was still angry at her since the last time they fought and had always wanted reasons for them to fight, seized that opportunity to abuse her about having a wicked money. Tania couldn't buy some of the things the other students were buying. Grace played with different people and was so concerned with the different things in Fortune City Museum that she ensured a lot of pictures with the artefacts.
'Again?' Rachael lamented as she had to take pictures with her too.
When Ayo's jibe was becoming too much for Rachael, she divided her money into two and gave Tania a part. Grace had never seen someone that happy before. She wished she wasn't angry at Tania, and she would have given her more money. She disliked Ayo's behaviour but preferred to be her friend than Tania's.
Tania took several pictures too and was so happy. She gave some parts of the money to those in the junior classes that didn't have money. Grace was angry at the wastage, but she couldn't do anything.
When they were done, their school wanted them to cross over to the larger part of Nigeria, but those at the port authority wanted a form of signed documents by their parents. Since the school authority didn't have it, they had to return to a beach.
As they got out of her bus, upon arrival at school, Tania told someone. 'I will show Bidemi this'.
Grace hated that Tania would be the one to show Bidemi.
'Why did you even give her the money?' Grace asked as they got to the gate of their home.
Rachael glanced at her. 'It's my money'.
'Mummy gave us'.
They argued till they got into their rooms.
Re: Easy Child! Take One More Stroke (Fortune City Series) - Akintayo Akinjide by Divepen1(m): 9:39am On Apr 09
Chapter 11
The Street Fight

Since the day Bidemi saw that field, he became a part of the street team. One of those days, Grace saw him and came over to watch. She cheered him on. Nothing felt wrong to her.
She regularly came around to watch their match. He couldn’t tell to leave because coming it was her choice.
On one such day, as they were playing, one of the other boys pushed him and got him injured. Some boys rallied round him. Grace rushed over to him to help just as some of the boys poured sand his injured big toe.
‘That’s wrong. It can cause tetanus’, Grace shrieked.
‘What does this one know?’ One of the boys countered.
‘She’s right’, Rachael interfered.
Bidemi glanced at her. He had noticed her there, but he didn’t expect her to stay that long.
As usual, Rachael was with another storybook. She loved moving about with a book and a bag that contained her bottle. All the teachers wouldn’t talk whenever she did that. When some of the other students tried it, however, they flogged them.
‘Did the doctor ask you to drink from your bottle too?’ Asked Mr Ade, their maths teacher, whenever he flogged the offenders.
Grace dusted the sand off Bidemi’s wound, making him groan. The huge boy that countered her before pushed her away immediately. Bidemi yelled at him for being stupid.
Rachael rushed over and smacked the boy across the head.
‘Are you out of your sense?’ She yelled.
The boy was stunned. He spun around. ‘Ah! A girl slapped my head. I’m dead. I will finish you today’.
Rachael looked at him, calmly and smiled. Grace was fast to hurry to her side.
‘Don’t… Rachael. Remember what you promised Mummy…’ Grace said as she held Rachael back.
Rachael nodded and groaned, ‘I just want to teach somebody a lesson’.
Rachael removed her bag. As if she anticipated it, as the boy rushed towards her to slap her, she stepped aside and hit him again, harder this time. This infuriated the boy, he yelled amidst the chuckles of the other boys and rushed back in a bid to beat her, but she flung him to the ground.
‘Hey! You two! Stop immediately!’ A man shouted just as Rachael sat on him.
Bidemi didn’t know an adult was around. Rachael stopped. But the boy wouldn’t listen, the man raised his hand to let him know he would beat him.
‘You can’t come here and act like a god. I must beat this girl’, the boy shouted as he edged towards Rachael.
‘Now, a wise child whose parents have trained well will do well to show his home training to others’, the man said and gestured at Grace and Rachael to leave. Bidemi felt it was high time he left too. He was glad the two girls came to his rescue.
‘I think I have seen that man before….’ Rachael said when they had gone far from the field.
‘I’m not sure…’
‘Do you remember the man that separated us when I use to beat you’, Rachael said.
Grace stared into space for a while and nodded, surprised. ‘That’s him o. You know we saw him some days ago.’
‘Do you remember that he wears suits too?’ Rachael said.
‘But maybe he’s not the one’, Bidemi added.
‘I’m afraid…’
Rachael kept describing the man until they got to a crossroad.
‘Till Monday’, Bidemi said.
The girls murmured their responses
Bidemi watched them discuss as they left for their houses. The only thing on his head was to find a way to hide the wound or find a suitable explanation for his aunt.

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