We arrive my block at a quarter after five. My bones are weary, and I am drained of any motivation. The block I deserted and I wonder at how much could have happened in such a short period of time. How life and death has changed everything.
Pastor magnanimously wait for me to pack my bags. I look at the food Bisi brought last night, now sour, and tears gather in my eyes.
“God, please help her. Help Bisi.”
I throw the food away, and wash the bowls. Then I tidy the room and rush back to Pastor.
Close to 6p.m I finally enter Pastor’s house. It’s my first time there. His wife, a frail-looking woman who serves in the prayer department of the church welcomes me. I am taken to the room Jang used, which I discover is being used by three other young men from the village, stewards in the church.
The parsonage is a small modern bungalow, painted blue inside but left plastered alone outside, and situated at the back of the church building.
I find Pastor seated outside the house with his wife. “I need to go and see Bisi’s family, sir.”
Pastor’s wife looks at me. “Food is almost ready.”
“I will eat when I return, ma. Thank you.”
I walk to the hut at the backside of the village. Everywhere is quiet.
“Knock knock.” I call out. “Who is in, please?”
Bisi’s father steps out. I have seen him only a few times and from a distance. He looks in his fifties but today, like thirty years has been added. I respect him. From the tales Ajao told me, his father has fought many wars to marry his wife and keep his home.
“Tisha, welcome,” he says in a low gruff voice.
I prostrate in the cultural manner. “Good evening, sir.”
He pulls up a low bench and sits. “They say my daughter killed the two Tishas.”
I sit beside him. “She did not, Papa.”
“Ajao has gone to Ife. To the big brother. To look for her.”
My heart bleeds. “She—”
“She is a precious baby. When I met her mother, they were living in the forest. Her grandmother gave birth to a white baby and was thrown out of the village.” He sighs. “I fell in love with her the first time. She was just the way Bisi looks now. Even prettier.”
Bisi’s mother comes out with a bowl of water. “Good evening, Tisha.”
I bow. “Good evening, ma. Thank you for the food you sent to me yesterday.”
“My son, thank you.” She mumbles something to her husband. He grunts.
She exits and returns with food, which she places in front of us. I protest but Bisi’s father will have none of it.
“Eat, Tisha. Even if it is small. We are not rich but we are good people.”
I open the bowl. I should have brought the bowls they used the day before but I forgot. The bowls contain the same soup of yesterday and a mound of garri. I cut a small morsel, and eat slowly.
“I know you like Bisi. I see the way you look at her.”
I nearly choke and take a quick sip of water from the cup in front of me. I feel shy to take any more food.
“I want her to have a good man. Like you.” He nods. “I told you earlier that she’s special. I had my first son and ten years later before Bisi came. And she opened the way for Ajao and the other girls.”
“She’s very special, sir,” I say, for want of what else to say.
He sobs. “Ajao say they lock her up like a criminal.”
His sudden outburst takes what little is left of my appetite. “I will get her out of there, sir.”
“Please, please do.”
He bends over and covers his head. I stand quietly, distraught. I walk out into the night. I don’t know what to do with Bisi now. Pastor doesn’t seem interested in getting involved. The barrister, I don’t know. I can’t leave her in police custody and there’s no way to get her out without the services of a lawyer.
Many thoughts cross my mind, and the final one leads me to the last place a sane mind will advise.
The Abagboro clan head lives in the largest compound in the village. The main house, a bungalow surrounded by a thick mud wall fence is surrounded by three smaller bungalows where I’d presumed his wives and children lived. When we first arrived, Mr. Akande had taken Toro and I to visit the old man in his palace.
At the time, we had been expected and a guard had waited outside to take us in. Now, I’m alone and the surrounding is deserted.
I stand before a wooden gate painted green and contemplate if it’s not rude to bang on it. I may enter the palace, and end up in trouble. I don’t want that. I walk around the mud hut but meet no one and my intuition advised I leave.
I feel broken inside out, helpless, frustrated. What can I do? My mind zigzags toward thoughts of the worst possible outcome. If Bisi never gets out of prison. But my resolve takes me back to what I must do even if it costs me my life.
I consider visiting Mr. Akande or Iya Elemu but doubt it will be of any use at this time. Maybe tomorrow morning I can convince Pastor to take me to Ade’s father. Ade has to come out and own up to what he did.
I return to Pastor’s residence at about midnight. I have not slept in close to twenty-four hours. When I lay on the bed, a few words run through my mind and I grab my diary.
I see, you have taken me over
I hear, you are a jewel and a prize
I know, I will never find joy
Unless I find it with you