Clement and Henry were summoned before the elders and the village head (Henry’s father). They sat opposite on the mat facing each other. Solomon and Gognaje sat close to each other; they were the father of Clement and Patience. Shedrack his younger brother sat close to him. Patience couldn’t come for she had fallen ill that morning- it was few weeks to her delivery.
Village head: “we have summoned the two of you, Henry and Clement because of the childish act the two have put up in recent times! I mean, two grown men fighting like children for something that can be resolved through negotiation. Fighting like enemies when you’re brothers.”
The statement “for something that can be resolved through negotiation” irked Clement. Negotiate for what? What is there to negotiate, eh? He thought.
The village head continued, “We even heard that Clement you chased Henry with a loaded gun and fired at him! What if you had killed him? Did you think of that?”
Clement was really angry,
Clement: “well that would have saved a lot!”he chimed in.
All eyes fell on me but he didn’t care for he was presented a gun at that moment he would shoot Henry over and over again and presents his body as breakfast to the dogs.
Solomon: “Clay, show some respect!”
Clement looking away apologized,
Clement: “I’m sorry.”
The village head sighed, Henry on the other hand sat with shoulder raised high looking at Clement in a very cocky way.
Village head: “We aren’t here to apportion blames but to put an end to this once for a whole but before we do that we would want to hear from all parties unfortunately the lady in question isn’t present.”
Henry: “He is with my wife. She is ill!” All I want is.. Give me my Child. Do not steal my child from me
Clement: What Child? The moment the Child is born, the baby will be in her custody, not yours
Village Head: Quieeetttt!!!!
Clement cuts in..
Clement: Patience, the woman of the Child should have the baby, since she brought the baby into this world, considering the pain and labour alone.
The Village head turned to Henry, checking if he had something to say
Henry: “My lord ..I have a question, …. you know in the western world, when you insert your ATM card into the ATM machine and the money comes out does the money belong to you or the machine…..”?
That got Shedrack into uncontrollable laughs… Clements replied quickly
Clement: Not until you raped her. She was an innocent girl
Everyone was shocked.
Village head: Did you just say ‘Rape’… “Okay! So, Clement go first and explain what you mean “rape”!”
Clement: “Thank you your highness. I was in school with plans of coming back home after school and getting married to my heart rob. A union everyone in this village knew of and envied only for me to hear that my own cousin, Henry…” he gawked at Henry, “…has put her in a family way and not considering how I’d feel. I mean who does that?” he heaved, “when I returned to the village I avoided Patience but she came looking for me and told me the truth behind how she got pregnant. It was painful because no one cared to give her a fair hearing but to force her on Henry!”
Patience’s father couldn’t control his anger and disappointment. He was angry that Patience had brought scorn upon him for it was the prides of every man in Knayigbana to have his daughter go to her husband’s house a virgin. And Patience was until the rape incidence.
Gognaje: “fair hearing? Did anyone force her to open her legs to get pregnant?”
Village Head: “Gognaje, this isn’t the time to display anger, please. Clay, Is that all?”
Clement: “No! She told me of how this son of a devil raped her!”
Everyone’s eyes moved from Clement to Henry, who was fast to defend himself,
Henry: “That’s a blatant lie! She brought herself to me. We had fun!”
Clement charged at him but Shedrack held him and Henry ran behind one of the elders.
Gognaje couldn’t believe his ears. His daughter was raped? How true was that? Or it was just a false accusation by a lover to hit at the one who snatched his lover? He sat mute with his hands holding his cheeks.
Clement was panting; he was really vexed. The idiot is trying to deny? He thought.
The village sat quiet until peace was restored,
Village head: “Clay, you know if the accusation you’re making is false you know tradition states that you’d be banished from the village!”
Solomon jumped in,
Solomon: “my king, just ignore Clay’s accusation you know how one who is hurt can be?”
Clement: “My accusation is false? She told me herself! “
Village head: “What if she was just saying it to get your sympathy so you wouldn’t mad at her again?”
Clement: “I know Patience like the back of my hand. She doesn’t lie!”
Tears twirled with Gognaje’s eyes. It was true, his daughter could be accused of anything ooo but not lies. She doesn’t lie. Why did he consider all these before chasing her out?
Gognaje: “what if Henry is guilty what would happen?”
The village head sighed,
Village head: “Then he’d dance to the music of tradition and I’d disown him!”
That took Henry aback. What had he gotten himself into , “ that is if he is guilty but if Clay is lying then he’d be banished from this land and his father, my brother, would be forced to disown him!”
Silence strolled in whispering into the ears of everyone present.
The punishment for rape in Knayigbana was that the victim would be paraded naked around the village as the village masquerade; “Dawiya” the fierce one would flog the person.
Henry wasn’t himself,
Henry: “I can’t stand being disgraced oo!” he thought.
Village head broke the silence,
Village head: “Now this is it, we give two days to hear the truth; if Henry is guilty he should come and confess to his crime and if Clay is accusing falsely he should come with the truth. That’s it for today!”
Everyone seemed please with the verdict but it unsettled Henry.
The news of Bala been on a death row had gone round the village. It was announced on the radio; Kyauta was in tears since she heard the news. She sat under the tree in front of the house looking unkempt, ruffled hair and unwashed face.
Kyauta: “I can’t sit and watch my lover been killed for a crime he didn’t do. I’ll take myself to the captain. I’ll go and plead with him!”
She quickly rushed in, washed her face and ran down to the district office. Captain Nwanze was standing by the window of the office when he saw Kyauta running towards his office; his eyes were feasted on the juggling breast,
Captain Nwanze: “that’s right!” he licked the lips and kept on watching her approach.
There was a knock on the door, “yes!” One of his men came in and saluted before he could say a word Captain Nwanze chimed in, “the girl right? Let her in!”
Kyauta came in panting,
Kyauta: “Good morning sir!” she said sober.
He smiled at her,
Captain Nwanze: “To what do I owe this surprise? The village beauty herself coming to see me? No one wonder the clouds are heavy!” he smiled but she didn’t instead she dropped her head down, “have your seat!”
She drew a chair and sat,
Kyauta: “Thank you!”
He stood up from his chair with his eyes feasting on her breast and sat on the table very close to her. With her head his coming close made her crawl into her shell, it made her feel very uncomfortable. He tried touching her hair but she jumped out of the chair panting.
Captain Nwanze: “Relax! I’m not planning to eat you! Come and sit,”he returned back to his seat, “you see?”
She crawled to the chair, “so what brings you here, angel?” he licked his lips.
Kyauta stylishly smiled to melt his heart
Kyauta: “Please, I want you to make them release Bala,please! I know you’re good man with a good heart,” she tried patronizing him.
Captain Nwanze: “Release? You think that is possible! I cannot. It isn’t in my powers anymore. And besides the crime he committed is too heinous to be forgiven!”
She fell to her knees,
Kyauta: “please, because of God!”
Captain Nwanze he heaved,
Captain Nwanze: “But I warned him. Told him to tread with caution but he dared me,” he stood up, “and no one dares the viper without getting a taste of its venom!”
Kyauta held his legs crying,
Kyauta: “I know! I’m sorry, sir. I beg of you to tamper justice with mercy. Forgive him please!”
He helped to her chair,
Captain Nwanze: “Sit and let’s talk. Who knows I might be able to plead for him and he’ll be freed! wipe your tears!” she wiped her tears sniffing, “ So it’s going to be a case of scratch my back and I scratch yours. Ehm, “he sat on the table close to her as she stole looks, “my proposal is simple!”
“Warm my bed in exchange for his freedom,” he stroked her cheeks and she jumped out of the chair again almost crashing into the door.
She shook her head,
Kyauta: “Nooooo! I can’t sleep with you! I can’t cheat on my Bala! Noooo!” she said shivering, “my body belongs to just him. It’s just for him alone!” as he walked towards her she made for the door but it was bolted. She shut her eyes as he pressed her to the door, “Please, don’t do anything stupid, please!”
Captain Nwanze: “I want to really have you with delight forcing myself on you would spoil the fun!” still pressing her to the door he twitched the key opening the door, “think about it but don’t be too long if not the head of your lover would be an art work on the wall of my office, “he returned to his chair cackling.
She remained glued to the door sobbing and cursing him in her heart.
He lit his tobacco and puffed it out laughing, “The ball is in your court,baby!”
She ran out crying,
Kyauta: “I can’t sleep with that pig!’ she said to herself.
Captain Nwanze sat with satisfaction,
Captain Nwanze: “She’ll come around I know, “he beat his chest no one ever plays with Nwanze the commander, the viper!” he puffed out the smoke from his mouth in grandeur.
Diana whose stomach had grown big was returning from her mother’s place. She had refused to move from Bala’s house,
Diana:”I must give birth in that house,” she vowed, “all I know the child is Bala’s!”
Timothy accosted her; she jerked when she saw him,
Timothy: “Oh, you think you can run or hide from me, right?”
Diana: “You imbecile, what is it you want?”
Timothy: “I want to take responsibility of my child! Is that too much to ask?”
Diana: “what child?”
He pointed to the big tummy,
Timothy: “this of course!”
Diana: “You must be a joker!” she hissed and walked away.
Timothy in a crying tone,
Timothy: “I’m just watching you. That’s my child! In my family we have strong genes our children always steal our looks,” he cried, “why is Diana mean? I’m waiting until the child is born and I’m denied my right as a father that’s when they would know who I am, really!”
What do you advice Kyauta to do? Should she sleep with Captain Nwanze? Should Diana have a re-think before it’s too late?
To be continued… In exactly 24hrs from now a new episode will be published on the website, if you want to read it, follow the link attached to this story to read it or wait for me to share which I can’t guarantee to share it tomorrow on WhatsApp due to my tight schedule. Thank you for understanding.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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