“Driver wetin na” an unknown voice cried out. The driver pretended not to hear and continued sleeping.
“Ok, where is the spare tire? I can do it” another person called out. The driver got down with such agility they didn’t know he had. In the next twenty minutes, they were on their way. Everyone was tired and fell asleep except Chibuzo. He missed his foster family and friends. He should have known it wouldn’t last and make the most of it. Tears started flowing down his cheeks, and he faced the window so that Madam Cecilia wouldn’t see it. While looking out, he saw the sign ‘WELCOME TO ABAKALIKI’ glowing in the night. He was right. The place didn’t look half like Abuja.
His tears flowed the more. After about thirty minutes, they reached their destination. The compound they entered was so old that he could perceive smells that obviously came from a public toilet somewhere. Madam Cecilia opened a door, and they entered. Nobody was home. Her children obviously lived in dormitories. It was a one room apartment, and it looked like her children occupied it. He didn’t know where to drop his bag and was afraid to ask. He saw a photograph on a wall and went to examine it. It was of a boy and girl. They were twins. The boy was smiling while the girl was scowling at the camera. She looked so much like her mother. He shivered.
“There is no room for you as you can see, so you will be sleeping on the balcony. Just drop your bag inside the room” she said.
“But how can I sleep on a balcony ma? I will catch pneumonia. Please let me sleep on a chair in here” he begged.
“I have told you where you should be sleep now move. My children will come back tomorrow from my sister’s house. Make sure you don’t annoy them” she said looking angry for no just cause. Chibuzo went to do as he was told. Immediately he lay down; he fell asleep.
“Get up,”Someone said kicking him on the sides. He woke up rubbing his aching ribs. He looked up and saw the girl in the photograph with her brother beside her. They looked like they were at least four years older than he was. He got up and immediately greeted them. The boy smiled at him and turned to say something, but his sister pushed him into the house. After dusting himself, he looked around the environment and felt like vomiting. Even his village was better than this. It looked like some kind of slum. He entered the house and what he saw was too hard for him to endure. All his clothes were on the floor, and the girl was putting on his varsity jacket even though it wasn’t made for girls. He rushed and started packing his things. He was boiling in anger but chose not to say anything.
“Leave the clothes,” Madam Cecilia said looking bored.
“But they are mine,” he said a little too loud.
“I know that, but since I couldn’t buy them anything, they are now theirs. And hand over the watch you hid. Give it to Kamsy” she said looking at the boy who stood uncertainly by the corner observing everything.
“No! It was a gift from my daddy” he shouted
“Did I hear you say, daddy? Is he or his proud wife related to you? You make me laugh” she said and laughed. Now give it to him unless you want me to whip you. Chibuzo remained where he was, and Madam Cecilia told her son to go and take it by force. The boy refused, and his sister volunteered to take it on his behalf. She approached him, and he charged. No girl no matter how old is going to touch, he said to himself. The girl kicked him so fast that he didn’t have time to block it and he fell. It was so painful that he didn’t know when she took the watch. She threw the watch in her brother’s direction, and he caught it. He didn’t like it that his sister was always violent. The boy did nothing to them, yet his sister hated him so much. He put the watch on but was determined to return it later. Chibuzo stood up. He was still in pain. She had kicked him between the legs.
“Now that we’ve settled that let me introduce you. This is my twin babies Kosy and Kamsy” she said pointing first and the girl and later at the boy. No wonder the boy looks timid, Chibuzo thought.
“This is Chibuzo, your new servant,” She said and laughed.
“What?” Shouted Chibuzo. “He said you should take care of me and not turn me into your servant” he fumed
“Don’t you get it?” She asked
“They are not coming back; he is wanted by the EFCC.”
“What does that mean? He asked
“He converted public fund to his personal use” she replied looking exasperated. No thought Chibuzo. He won’t do that. There must be an explanation. They promised to come for me. No, I don’t believe it. She’s making it up.
“It’s not true ma. I don’t believe this” Chibuzo told her with tears. She went into the room and came out with a newspaper and threw it at him.
“Read it” Chibuzo picked it up and saw the heading, ‘THE PA TO THE VICE PRESIDENT WANTED BY THE EFCC’ he read the body and dropped it. She’s right but how can that be? He is a good man. He wouldn’t do such a thing. So they aren’t coming for me. He started crying. My future is over.
“Now that you have gotten the message, it is time for you to come back to your senses. Even if they manage to sneak back which won’t be anytime soon, they won’t find you. They don’t know where I reside. It wasn’t in my application form. You have enjoyed enough as it is. Go and wash all the dirty clothes of my children and I. When you are through, you will eat and continue the other chores I will give you.”
“Yes ma,” he said and went outside to wait for the clothes to be brought. While outside, he remembered the picture he put inside his pocket and took it out. They looked like a family. Why did they have to lie to me? When he heard footsteps, he immediately folded it and put it back. It was kosy with the biggest pile of clothes he had ever seen. She rudely dumped them on the floor beside him and retreated into the house. He exhaled and began to wash. The girl creeps me out.
A year and six months later, Chibuzo who was now fourteen and some months old had not resumed school. Madam Cecilia always said that he would start when she got money. The Honourable had been sending her money as he promised for Chibuzo’s education but he didn’t know this. Due to this, she preferred staying at home instead of investing it into a business.