Three Ijesha Men (Episode 2)

Episode 2: Secrets

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let thy blood, for sinners spill
Set my conscience free from guilt

Reverend Mother, Francesca Zakure hated clutter and dirt; and clearing out the Convent now and then was almost out of routine rather than a duty and the sisters struggled to stifle a grumble every now and then at the incessant house cleaning activities.
Sister Marie-Claire, on the contrary found it amusing seeing her shove the poor sisters around and being second-in-command to her, she had to ensure instructions were carried out to the letter. At the end of morning mass, everyone knew it was that time of the week where they would have to scrub and polish the already clean environment, but Mother Francesca was the gentle-spirited, compassionate but firm leader, who was a stickler to squeaky clean surroundings. She picked each word she spoke very carefully and each of them came out as if they had rolled out of the hands of the hands of a master chef, her gait was flawless and mannerisms; angelic.
“Mother! Miss Osigwe is on the phone for you”, Sister Beatrice fluttered past the scrubbing and polishing sisters, almost colliding with one of them. Mother Francesca’s ensuing frown told her she disapproved of her clumsiness, but hearing Lekita’s name made her heart leap. As she moved quickly to her office to pick up the phone, she felt butterflies in her stomach.
“Hello my darling, I hope it is that time when I deserve to hear the bells ringing-’’
“Mother, I need therapy” If Francesca had seen a ghost that shock would pale to the one she was going through right now. Even after she hung up and summoned the mission driver into her office, her face still bore the effect of those words.
“Boniface, prepare the car. We are going to Lagos”

***
Everything came to her memory like it had been yesterday. The images that kept appearing and disappearing to her as she made her way to Lekita’s Ikoyi apartment were not pretty. Her mind kept going back to the day and way she found her, when the Lord brought that bundle of joy into her life. The mission had pulled all strings to allow her travel, they all knew whenever Reverend Mother Francesca asked for a break, it was really important. Her repulsion to clutter had mentally prepared her for an immediate evacuation of dirt on her arrival at Lekita’s house. Poor soul, she had no idea what state she would meet her in just like that solemn day, ten years ago. She was her baby, her project, God’s project. There was no visible item out of place at Lekita’s cream and lemon green themed apartment. Everything was perfect, pristine and polished just like she had taught her, everything except the host; the agony in her eyes was a deep contrast to the order around her.
“I don’t know what I was thinking by bringing you here, Mother” dragging herself towards the woman who had saved her life and genuflecting in greeting.
“Child, come into my arms”
“I have made my decision, it’s the curse, mother. I need help” she said as Francesca held her close to her bosom, Weeping.
****
Two weeks earlier
“This is probably the kind of food that almost killed Snow White” Lekita blurted out almost choking at the laughter that interrupted her observation. Bankole was not spared from her infectious laughter and the face she made as her taste buds recognized a badly made dessert. He was infatuated by her, he was certain no one in the world knew her like he did her. It was hard to imagine that a posh restaurant like Crater’s could fall short in standard, with much displeasure he signaled for the waitress. With one stern stare, she dispelled any attempt to complain to the waitress or take it further.
“Itohan, you know I can’t stop thinking about you, when I am with you; time flies”
“Well, you are an engineer. Build some mechanism to slow it down” she quipped, giggling innocently at him.
He look intently at her, “I am serious. I cannot just stop thinking about you. I am madly in love with you” Her lips formed a complete ‘O’, then an almost straight line, then a sigh and a chuckle.
“Was that why you brought me here? For Christ’s sakes, Banks, you are married! Are you kidding me? Are you crazy?” the questions continued.
“I know, I just had to tell you what I have been going through. I can’t help it. I want you”, Bankole stuttered
“Well, it is doable, abi?”
“Bankole Aderinsoye, I take you as brother. Please, don’t you dare put me on the spot.”

She was seething already, and was reciting a few Hail Marys quietly. Just then her phone began to ring. It was Jumai. Her anger turned to disgust; she couldn’t bear to listen to her paranoia at this time. She let it vibrate peacefully before pushing it into her bag. Just then, a wave of nausea hit her, with one hand clutching her stomach, the other grabbed her bag.
“Itohan… Are you alright? It is the dessert, right? Let me give you that kiss of life”, he teased her, trying to make light of the moment.
“My name is Lekita, Banks. For all your millions in the bank, get used to it”, rolling her eyes at him and picking her handbag to leave. The phone had begun to vibrate again, before she could finish rummaging through her bag to pick the call, the caller had hung up. There was a loud crashing noise behind her and people were rushing towards the scene. To her dismay and shock, Bankole was sprawled all over the ground, still.
*****

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