Candice’s life changed the day she went to live with her paternal uncle. After the untimely death of her father who had died in an auto-crash on his way to Kebbi State where he worked as a principal of a school which he had built since Lagos was so competitive. She and her siblings had lived in Kebbi with him for a few years when they were much younger before they had had to return to Lagos to attend a boarding school. During her stay with her father in the north, she had picked interest in Hausa and had learnt to speak the language, although not fluently. Her father however hailed from kogi state but Candice had never been to her state before until her father’s unfortunate demise.
She was in SS2 when her father passed away and she and her siblings were withdrawn from boarding school and taken back home by their grieving mother. After the funeral, it was obvious that her mother would not be able to take care of the three of them after she learnt that one of her husband’s brothers had quickly travelled down to Kebbi to sell off her father’s school to a Hausa man while the little savings her husband had in his account was also withdrawn and split amongst his brothers since her husband had obviously forgotten to change his next of kin which was his younger brother and whom he had been using as a next of kin ever since his bachelorhood.
Candice and her family were helpless and could barely survive. Soon, her mother had no choice than to split the children up by giving Candice who was 15 and also the eldest over to her paternal uncle in Kogi state, gave Ben who was 12 and the second born to his paternal aunt who resided in Onitsha while she kept Vera, 9, the youngest child with her. In as much as Candice’s mother hated parting with her children, she had no choice and hoped that her children would be well cared for.
When Candice got to Kogi, she was taken to her uncle’s house who welcomed her like a father. Candice sat down in the living room while a girl probably around her own age came out from the kitchen and offered her some cabin biscuits and a cold bottle of mirinda. While her uncle spoke with the person whom had brought her to his house outside, Candice noticed that the other girl was standing a few feet away from her and scrutinizing her with a sly smile.
“What’s your name?” The girl finally spoke in a strong accent.
Candice hesitated as she hesitantly reached for another biscuit even though such snack could not cure her appetite. “Candice.” She murmured. The girl was tall and slim but she seemed so bold and intimidating. She had her very long natural hair plaited downwards to the back of her skull and had such white eyes that it matched her shining smile, since she had white teeth to go with. The girl was chocolate in complexion but her boobs seemed too big for her structure compared to Candice’s which were just maturing.
The girl scoffed. “What kind of name is that? Candice?” She pronounced the name as if testing the sound of it on her tongue and the intonation was woeful. “That’s oyibo name na… Who gave you that kain name?”
“My mum.” Candice answered not comfortable with the topic. All she wanted was to be left alone.
“Your mum? Don’t you have a native name?” The girl pressed.
Candice slowly shook her head then the girl shrugged and said, “My name is Oiza. How old are you?” She suddenly blurted out her next question as if on an investigative mission.
“It means I senior you be that. I am seventeen.” Just then a little boy of four years came into the room crying with bubbles of mucus expelling from one of his nostrils. He looked dirty and it was obvious that he must have been playing with sand at the back of the house. He complained in ibira language to the girl who quickly scooped her up into her arms, placed him on her hip then walked out of the room, petting him in their dialect. With Oiza gone, Candice could breathe more freely now and she took this time of being alone to examine the house she was going to spend most of her life in until her mum could come for her. She realized that where she sat was not really a living room but part of the big one room which had been demarcated with curtains which protected the bedroom from the view of visitors.
Not only was the room jam-packed, it was also not well-arranged, for there were stacks and stacks of luggages in different corners, not to mention the clothes and other properties that carelessly laid about . In the small living room was also an old TV on a vintage cupboard and a worn-out wooden centre table. A part of the ceiling had fallen out Candice could see the pan roof from that gap through the thick cobwebs that had already amassed there. Candice’s scrutiny was cut short when her uncle came into the supposed living room and smiled at her. He was a man in his early forties and had few traces of grey hair on his head and beard. He was clad in an old off-white singlet whose colour was gradually fading from frequent usage and he had a wrapper tied from his waist down.
“Welcome my daughter. Hope Oiza has entertained you?” He asked and Candice nodded. “That’s good. Well, welcome to Kogi and from now on, this is your home and I’m now your father so regard me as one, you hear?”
Candice nodded again and her uncle left her and vanished into the other part hidden by the curtains. Everything went smoothly until night came and Candice was given a wrapper to sleep on one of the old sofa in the living room while the four year old boy whom Candice was yet to know anything about slept on the floor next to Oiza and this made Candice assume that the boy was probably Oiza’s brother. Her uncle bid them goodnight and retired into the inner room while Oiza dimmed the lantern before lying on her side beside the boy.
They all lived that way and as the days slowly progressed, Candice gradually got used to this strange family. During her stay there, she discovered that her Uncle’s name was Omeza while the little boy’s name was mafo. She also discovered that her uncle’s wife was late; she had passed away six years ago. Candice also discovered that Oiza was the only daughter and was also a school dropout but what made Candice uncomfortable was the weird relationship between her uncle and his daughter. It was strange that whenever there was a visitor or they were in public, Oiza addressed her father by his name but whenever they were alone or within the compound, she called her father “Atam” which meant father. Nothing was out of the ordinary as the days progressed and soon Candice felt a bit comfortable with her new family especially after her uncle had promised to register her in the village government school as soon as the school break was over in september which was just three weeks to come.
One fateful night, Candice woke up because she was pressed. As she sat up to slip her feet into her slippers, she discovered that Oiza was no where to be found except the boy who was still sound asleep on the spot he shared with Oiza. Confused and squeezing her thighs together to keep the urine at bay as she wondered where Oiza could have gone to, Candice’s attention was suddenly drawn to sounds coming from the other room behind the curtain. When she listened closely by cocking her head towards that direction, she realized that she could hear soft sounds of moans and the soft rhythmic squeaking sound of the vintage spring bed which was later followed by a soft female voice whispering in ibira language,
“Atam, oweyi-oweyi… (Baba, small small…)” These words were immediately followed by a slow hiss of pain while the squeaking sound of the bed continued without pause. Even though Candice could not understand Ibira, she knew that Atam meant father, for she had heard Oiza call her father that on several occasions, so the word had stuck to her memory. Candice was however confused about what to do. It was obvious that the copulating couple in the inner room didn’t want to wake those in the living room up, but that didn’t stop Candice from wondering where Oiza was. Was Oiza aware that her father had snuck in another woman while they were asleep and was actually having sex with her right under their noses? Where could Oiza have gone to?
To Be Continued…
Please don’t forget to click the like button and leave your comments, thank you.
To help yourself to my other works, simply visit www.amazon.com/author/angelaokoduwa
© Angela Okoduwa