Alhaji intercepted hajiya at the corridor before she entered her room.
Alhaji: “Listen to me, I am not sure that Salma killed our son, I only wanted to scare her”.
Hajiya Hauwa: “I don’t care if you are sure or not. I am going to the Police, they will have to interrogate her”.
Alhaji: “If you do such foolish thing, I will divorce you. Do you know the negative effect that will have on my political career? Besides, I have divorced her, what more do you want?”
Hajiya Hauwa: “Twenty million naira, alhaji and a brand new car. Remember that it is my child we are talking about here”.
Alhaji: “Fine, you have it. I am doing all these just to ensure that no scandal causes me to lose out in the forthcoming elections some months to come”.
As soon as the van carrying Justina got to the Force Headquarters, a policeman led her to the interrogation room where the investigator was already waiting. As soon as she saw him, Justina began to weep.
Justina: “I swear, I didn’t kill him. You have to believe me. This is a conspiracy against me”.
Idoko: “Hey, calm down. You don’t have to go hysterical. Sit down”, he ordered Justina who obeyed immediately. She had heard and watched movies about how criminals were tortured to reveal the truth and she made up her mind to start talking even before they began to torture her.
The investigator got up and walked round the table where she was seated. He came back and sat on his chair directly opposite her and stared at her in the eye.
Idoko: “Tell me what you know about the death of Yusuf and I will let you go”.
Idoko: “Hold on, let me make myself clear. I do not have the patience to listen to liars. You called me this morning and wanted to give me vital information until someone interrupted you. I wasn’t there but I know how these things work. The only way I can get you to say what you know before the person who interrupted you harms you thereby distorting our investigation is to get you out of that house. That is why I sent men to feign your arrest. Now, tell me everything you know and you will go scot free. I am at the tip of unraveling this murder, I am afraid that hiding anything no matter how grievous it is won’t help you. So, start talking”.
Justina clears her throat and began to sob.
Idoko who is beginning to run out of patience hits the table, startling her. “Are you ready to talk or do you want me to force you to talk?” He roared.
Justina: “I will talk! I will!”
Justina: “I did not kill Yusuf. I couldn’t have killed my own biological son”.
Idoko: “Tell me who killed him if you didn’t. Wait a minute. Did you say your biological son?”
Justina: “Yes, Yusuf was my biological son”.
Idoko: “How is that possible? I thought he is alhaji’s only son by his first wife?”
Justina: “So the world thinks. Hajiya found me when I was pregnant with Yusuf and homeless. I ran away from home because I didn’t want to marry Achema, the man responsible for my pregnancy. Hajiya and I made a deal that she will shoulder my financial responsibilities and those of the unborn child. She deceived Alhaji that she was pregnant, left the country and after I gave birth, she collected the child and took him home as hers while she brought me in as her personal maid. All went well until I made enough money and wanted to leave with my son. She threatened to deal with me if I ever reveal the child’s identify. We were on this when Achema, showed up in the house demanding to leave with his child. My son was murdered that same night”.
Idoko: “What! The heart of a woman; who can understand. How can Hajiya deceive her husband this much for all these years? And you had the heart to hide all these from your son after these years?”
Justina: “Every day I wake up with the determination to tell him but the blood oath I had with Hajiya prevented me. Hajiya made us take a blood oath that should I ever reveal the identity of the child to anyone, I will be barren forever”.
Idoko: “Oh, that is bullshit. Where is the Achema now? I want to believe that he knows something about the murderer that is if he is not the murderer that we seek”.
Justina: “I don’t know where he is. The last time I saw him was when I told him to wait till the next morning to speak with hajiya on the fateful day that Yusuf was killed. But I know that he didn’t kill Yusuf, Achema cannot harm his only child having searched for him all these years”.
Idoko: “I am turning my searchlight on hajiya. I am sure she has something to hide. I will release you to go back to the house. I am going to give you a wristwatch to wear, a smart one that will record your conversation with her. Make sure you get hajiya to talk about the deal you had with her years ago. Threaten her that you will disclose everything to the police if she doesn’t pay you ten million, I want to observe her reaction so that I can know how guilty she is. I will be here tracking your conversation with the help of this wrist watch”.
Disguised as a woman to confuse those trailing him, Achema made his way to the Force Headquarters and demanded to see the officer in charge of the case involving the murder of Alhaji’s son. He was taken to the office of the investigator who was preparing to go out.
Idoko: “Yes, how may I help you? As you can see, I was on my way out before you came in”.
Achema: “I have vital information concerning the murder of Yusuf”.
Idoko: “Go ahead and spill it”.
Achema: “My name is Achema…”
Idoko: “Oh, the strange guest that we have been searching for. I thought you are a man, why are you dressed like this? You did well to turn yourself over to the Police. Are you ready to confess now?”
Achema: “I had to disguise myself so that I can get here alive. I did not kill Yusuf but I know who did”.
Idoko: “Very well then, we can start from there. Go ahead”.
Achema: “Like I said earlier, my name is Achema and I am the father of the deceased. Justina was my girlfriend back then in the village. One thing led to the other and I made her pregnant and she ran away from the house. I searched for her and my child for several years until I found her in alhaji’s house where she works as a maid. I asked her about my son and she told me he died at infancy. However, when I saw Yusuf, I knew that my blood flows in his veins. I accosted her and she and hajiya tried to cover it up. There and then, I became suspicious. I slept over in the house because I didn’t want to leave my son behind anymore. I couldn’t sleep that night as I was restless. At about 2am, I tip toed out of my room to go and speak to my child in his room while everyone was asleep and I saw hajiya Hauwa hurrying out of Yusuf’s room hiding a gun in her wrappers. I peeped into Yusuf’s room and I saw him in the pool of his own blood. Early the next morning, when everyone including the security guards ran into Yusuf’s room to see what happened, I escaped from the house because I thought she would try to frame me up for the murder. Her agent has been trailing me since then and that is why I had to disguise as a woman to come here”.
Idoko who has been listening keenly heaved a sigh of relief. Are you sure of what you are saying? Can you write what you just told me now and append your signature to it?”
Achema: “I am very sure. That boy was my son whom I have wasted the productive years of my life searching for. I am ready to do anything to see that hajiya pays for her crime”.
Justina armed with the recording device hidden in her body went into hajiya’s room.
Hajiya Hauwa: “Are you back? I thought the Police detained you. Have you produced your murderer of a boyfriend?”
Justina: “The Police couldn’t detain me because they do not have any evidence against me. I need ten million naira, hajiya”.
Hajiya Hauwa: “Ten million what! What do you need that kind of money from and where will you get it?”
Justina: “I will get it from you. I need it if you want me to shut my mouth about the parents of Yusuf. The Investigator will soon be here, if you do not accept to give me the money, I will tell him all that I know about you and of course that will land you into trouble with alhaji who may even divorce you for deceiving him all these years. So, will you give me ten million out of the hundreds of millions wasting in your account or should I spill the beans?”
Hajiya Hauwa: “But you took an oath not to…”
Justina: “To hell with the oath. Desperate situations demand desperate actions. Ten million or?”
Hajiya Hauwa: “Okay. You have it. I will do a mobile transfer of ten million into your account right away. Make sure you never demand for anything again or…”
“Or you murder her in cold blood like you murdered Yusuf?” the investigator who had been eavesdropping on their conversation behind the door asked causing hajiya to turn pale.
Hajiya Hauwa: “And what do you mean by that?”
Idoko: “Your cup is full, hajiya. Cut the pretence. You are the murderer that we seek. You shot Yusuf while everyone was asleep and you misled us by insinuating that Achema is the killer. You sent someone to kill Achema but he was arrested by our men and he confessed that he supplied you the gun with which you killed Yusuf”.
Hajiya Hauwa: “You are just bluffing. You don’t know what you are saying”.
Achema walked in at the snap of the investigator’s finger. Alhaji and other members of the household were already gathered in hajiya’s room.
Achema: “I saw you live, hajiya when you left Yusuf’s room after shooting him. I was there watching him but you didn’t see me”.
Hajiya bowed her head in shame.
Alhaji: “So, it was you who killed our child? After making me pay you twenty million naira so that you won’t tell the Police that Salma threatened to kill Yusuf?”
Hajiya Hauwa: “I wanted to divert attention to Salma having listened to when she threatened to kill Yusuf. I never wanted anyone to suspect me, I was dsperate to make another person pay for the crime”.
Idoko: “I am sad to inform you, alhaji that Yusuf was never your son nor hers”.
Alhaji: “Wayo! What do you mean?”
Idoko: “Hajiya here will explain better”.
Hajiya Hauwa: “I have been found out, there is no point hiding anything anymore”. She narrated the story of how she met Justina pregnant and how she lied to alhaji that Yusuf was the baby she had in the USA. Alhaji and other members of the household stared at her open mouthed.
Alhaji: “What! This is unbelievable. You have the heart to give me another man’s child as my own?”
Idoko: “Hajiya, what did the little boy do to deserve your murdering him? A boy who saw you as his biological mother?”
Hajiya Hauwa: “I had no option than to kill him. That was the only way I could keep this away from my husband. Justina was threatening to tell alhaji the truth, as if that is not enough, Achema showed up claiming the child and threatening to disclose everything if he is not given the child. Luckily enough for me, my doctor confirmed to me a day before I murdered him that I am two months pregnant. Since I was going to have my own child, I decided to take Yusuf away because I couldn’t bear to see another man’s child becoming more influential in this house than my own biological child. I was afraid of alhaji carrying out a DNA test on Yusuf if Achema speaks with him, the only option was to kill Yusuf”.
Justina: “So, because you are going to have your biological child, you have killed my own. My God will punish you for doing this. You will never go free”.
Alhaji: “Hauwa, you cease to be my wife from this day. I give you sakiukwu”. Turning to Idoko, he said. “Take her away and do with her what you do to murderers. I forbid her from using my name in whatever she does”. Turning to Justina, he said. “You liar and deceiver, you knew all these and you kept it away from me. To even think that I wanted to make you my wife, pack your things and leave my house, your services are no longer needed”.
Hajiya Hauwa: “Forgive me for the sake of Allah, alhaji. For the sake of your child growing in me, have mercy on me”. She was handcuffed and laid away.
Justina packed her belongings and when she came out of alhaji’s compound, she saw Achema on his knees.
“Justina, will you be my wife? Together we can make other children, I know that I am still the poor village carpenter that you ran away from years ago but I believe that the future is bright. Will you marry me?
Justina is astonished not knowing what to do. She knew that she didn’t have any other place to stay in the city and she couldn’t go back to her parents for shame but marrying Achema would have solved all those problem but would he still want to marry her when she tells him about the blood oath that would stop her from having children all her life?
Question: Should Justina tell Achema about the blood covenant she had with hajiya? Will Achema still want to marry her? Where will she go if he changes his mind?
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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