Yesterday Lives – Chapter 2

Ayorinde and Ayotunde ran towards the dark alley just opposite the bridge. When they got to their regular spot, Ayotunde handed over the mobile phone to Ayorinde before throwing out all the contents of the bag on the ground. She picked out the wallet and opened it. It was filled with one thousand naira notes and she whistled. Ayorinde was already taking out the sim card from the phone and fixing the back cover of the phone into its place. Ayotunde started counting the notes. She counted six notes. She nudged her brother and smiled. It was going to be a good day for them. She handed over the notes to Ayorinde who put them in the back pocket of the jeans he was wearing. He dropped his shirt which looked two sizes bigger and made sure his back pocket was well covered.

Ayotunde bent down and started rummaging through the items she had thrown on the ground. A make-up bag, some chocolates in a Ziploc bag and a hand sanitizer. She opened the wallet again and found two ATM cards. She took them out and dropped them on the ground. She was about putting the wallet back into the bag when Ayorinde stopped her.

‘Drop the wallet. You can’t take it.’

‘But why? It’s a beautiful wallet.’ Ayotunde asked.

‘It may put us in trouble. Leave it and take any other thing you want in there. I will get you a wallet if you want one.’

‘Thank you.’ Ayotunde smiled as she put back the items she had initially thrown on the ground into the bag except the wallet and the ATM cards.

She trusted her brother’s judgment and would dare not go against whatever he said.

Ayorinde turned the phone to the right and to the left. The silver lining on the phone glistered in the dark. ‘Let’s go home and eat first. We would sort this out tomorrow morning.’ He said to his sister.

She nodded her response.

He stretched out his hand and she took it as they passed through the dark alley and crossed over to the shanties behind.

As they edged closer to their abode, they heard a woman screaming. ‘You go kill me today oh. You go kill me.’

Ayorinde and Ayotunde looked at each other. Tears gathered in Ayotunde’s eyes but Ayorinde signaled a no with a wave of his fore finger and head.

She nodded as she looked at her brother with admiration. He always knew how to handle any situation.

Ayorinde took a detour and avoided the entrance of their house. He went towards the back of the house and led his sister in.

The voice of the screaming woman rose above the night breaking the peace and quiet of the environment.

Ayotunde put her hands on her ears trying to block the vulgar words spewing out of the woman’s mouth from filtering into her ears. Ayorinde noticed and hugged his sister. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. ‘I have told you not to cry. It will soon be over.’ He reassured her.

Ayotunde sniffed as she wiped the tears that were now spilling onto her cheeks. Even though she was just twelve, she understood everything that was going on around her. Her brother, who was five years older than her, was her only source of comfort in the crazy world that she lived in.

At the age of seven, she was about to be sold into prostitution but for the timely intervention of her brother, Ayorinde. He had overheard the conversation between his mother and the prospective buyer; Madam Something Nice. Everyone knew Madam Something Nice bought girls from their parents and flew them out of the country to prostitute but their mother had been indifferent. She had always told Ayotunde that she was her cheque out of poverty. She always sang it into her daughter’s ears that she was the one to take her out of the valley of wretchedness which their father had thrown them into. Ayotunde never really understood but she always nodded and smiled anytime her mother said so. At a very young age, she believed she would get her family out of poverty.

The night she was to be sold, Madam Something Nice had come knocking on the door of their room in the decrepit face to face apartment where they lived. Their father was out on night shift where he worked. Kevwe had jumped up immediately she heard the taps on the door. She had instructed Madam Something Nice to tap three times so as not to wake her children up. Kevwe opened the door quietly and stepped outside. She spoke in a whisper to Madam Something Nice asking her if she came with her bodyguard as agreed. His job was to carry her daughter while she slept. Madam Something Nice had confirmed in the affirmative. Kevwe asked for her initial deposit and Madam Something Nice had told her she needed to see her daughter first before she could make any payment.

The whispers from outside the door had roused Ayorinde from sleep and he had listened intently to the conversation. When he realized what his mother was about to do, he had woken Ayotunde up. She was still groggy and he told her she needed to go pee. She had only nodded as her brother half-carried her. As Kevwe opened the door to reveal her daughter to Madam Something Nice, she was shocked to see Ayorinde fully awake with his sister half-asleep. Ayorinde’s arms were wrapped around his sister as he dragged her up. Kevwe asked where he was taking his sister to and Ayorinde said Ayotunde woke him up saying she wanted to pee. Kevwe had no reason to doubt her son and she told him to make it quick.

Five minutes later, when Ayorinde and Ayotunde refused to emerge from the bathroom down the hall, Madam Something Nice became impatient. Kevwe pleaded with her to hold on as she would go check on them. Kevwe got to the stalls down the hall and knocked on the stall that was occupied. She called her son’s name and he answered her. She asked what was taking them so long. Ayorinde responded that his sister had decided to poo. Kevwe became edgy and asked him to get his sister to hurry with her toilet business. She walked back to Madam Something Nice to apologize to her but Madam Something Nice would have none of that. She told her she had other places to go to and if she was truly ready, she would have to bring her daughter herself. Kevwe knew this was near impossible as Madam Something Nice was hardly in the country. She only travelled home when she needed more girls.

Ayorinde came out of the stall a few minutes later to confirm if his sister’s abductors had gone. When he noticed the coast was clear, he called Ayotunde out of the stall and warned her never to go anywhere with their mother alone. He told her that going forward, they had to stick together.

Kevwe had been furious with Ayorinde when he came back from the bathroom with his sister. She slapped her son and asked him why it took him so long to make his sister use the bathroom. Out of anger, Ayorinde had spoken up. He asked his mother what Madam Something Nice was doing in front of their door at that time of the night. He asked his mother what business she had with Madam Something Nice as everyone knew her reputation. Kevwe had been shocked as Madam Something Nice had hidden in the dark and she did not realize that her son knew she had a visitor. She had been lost for words and unable to gather her thoughts together after the accusation.

She had not envisaged that she would be caught in her act. She had everything planned out or so she thought. Their father, Ayo would leave home for work where he worked as a security guard attached to a service company. He would go for the night shift at 6:00pm as usual. The kids would have dinner at 7:00pm and by 8:30pm, they would be in bed. By 11:00pm, they would be fast asleep and Madam Something Nice would come with her bodyguard, carry Ayotunde to their car while she slept and be gone before anyone noticed.

Ayo would be back at 1:00pm the next day and would ask about his daughter. She would respond that her cousin, Ejiro had arrived very early from Ghana that morning and taken Ayotunde with her so she could enroll her in school and also take care of her. Her husband would have believed her and would have been happy because even though he longed for his children to be educated, he couldn’t afford to send them to school right now.

Everything would have worked out as premeditated but all her plans had been thrown into disarray by Ayorinde. She looked at her son with anger blazing in her eyes. Ayotunde crouched behind her elder brother as he stood chin-up to his mother daring her to answer his question. When she refused to give him an answer, he took his sister’s hand and led her back into the room. He lay on the bed and hugged his sister just in case his mother tried to play a fast one on him while they were asleep.

Kewve refused to go back into the room immediately. She stood outside the door as she deliberated on the night’s event. What if Ayorinde related what had transpired to his father? No, he won’t. She thought. He wouldn’t dare. He knew what she was capable of doing. But what if he did? She sighed. It would be his words against hers. She would never own up to wanting to sell her daughter. She opened the door quietly and lay on her side of the bed. She looked at Ayorinde who was already asleep but had his arms wrapped around his sister. She turned towards the wall as she bit her lips. She wasn’t a bad mother, she just wanted the best for herself and her family; she thought as she drifted off to sleep.

The story continues…

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