“Do you feel guilty? Like at all? ‘’
“I don’t have time to feel guilty and neither do you.’’
“But we …”
“We what? We did what had to be done. Just promise me that you’ll never bring this up ever.”
“OK! Whatever,” Chinedu said. His hands were shaking, his heart pounding and the heavy breathing didn’t do much to help. He felt like he would use the bathroom, again, for the 5th time.
“In the name of God the merciful, we commit the body of Onyancha to the peace of the grave.” The priest took three handfuls of sand and let them fall onto the coffin saying, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return. Jesus Christ will raise you up on the last day.” These words made her ponder. Was it just a formality said during funerals or would Jesus really raise people up on the last day?
Chinedu had been Kerubo’s best friend since the admission at the state university. 10 years down the line and they were still the best of friends. They worked in different law firms but this didn’t hinder their friendship. Kerubo thought of how far they had come just to distract her from the current situation. She had always hated funerals. Funerals, to her, just reminded one how short life was and she hated the feeling. And the food, ugh!! A mountain of rice, one big potato, two peas and a spoon of meat soup.
A week ago, Chinedu had been the most peaceful person. Now, he had never been able to sleep again since the incident. He knew he needed to talk with someone but whom? Kerubo was so adamant on speaking about it. He didn’t trust any of his friends for the fear they would rat him out to the cops just as soon as he had finished telling the story. He had been toying with the idea of going to therapy but he had always believed that was a white people thing. They had made all kind of jokes about people who went to therapy. I mean, there are better ways to deal with your feelings: food, anger, food again and the list was endless.
He remembered how Kerubo had pulled up to his workplace’s driveway a week ago and told him to come down because apparently, something had come up.
“Hey, what’s up with the new wheels?” he asked looking all excited and anxious.
“Ah! Nothing big really. Just that I have a bank robbery in like 30 minutes and who wants to use their car in a robbery?” Kerubo replied jokingly as they got inside the car.
“No biggies. As long as you let me drive on the way back.” He replied as he eased himself on the plush leather seats of the car.
“Anyway, it’s about my dad. I’ll tell you on the way up there. Just fasten your seatbelt.”
Chinedu regretted why he had not probed before he got inside that car.
“I have been working on this case for like the last 6 months and it got me thinking. The client is accused of sexually abusing his female workers but I can tell you he’s guilty as sin. He pays handsomely but, what about the justice of all those women he has abused? ‘’
“Is this one of your mini-stories or what has this got to do with your dad?”
“I want to make peace with my old man,” began Kerubo, “He did some pretty nasty stuff to us back then. He is the reason I became a lawyer. To defend the weak, to ensure justice. See, what he did to us cut us deeply. I am not proud to call him papa. I hated him for it. Still,..” she took a sharp deep breath and shuddered.
“He lost his job, and then he lost his humanity and his family too. When he was laid off his job he started coming home drunk every night. Mama tried to encourage him and support him to make something new for himself but he had given up all hope. One day, late into the night I heard them argue. It had never been that bad before. Mom sounded so hysterical. Suddenly she was screaming. Dad was beating her. After that it only became worse and worse till one day mom found him on top of Nyakerario, our house help. He was raping her and had been caught red-handed. Nyakerario could never afford a lawyer, so she had nothing on him. Mom was furious and filed for a divorce right away. She however withdrew when his folks said they would talk to him. They never did. He drew his last straw when one day he…-sic- sob- sob, when he…” Kerubo was stuck, she couldn’t continue. Chinedu wanted to tell her to pull over but he couldn’t move his lips. He stared at her face, big fat tears rolled down her cheeks. More welled up inside her eyes.
Kerubo gathered up herself as she focused straight on at the unfolding tarmac before her. “One day me and my friend Truphena were doing homework at our house, we were in class 7. The schools had just closed for holiday. He came home and it was just the two of us. My mama was still at work. He took a knife and ordered us to remove our clothes…” more tears now, it was getting harder for Kerubo to see. She couldn’t back out now, she had to finish. “…and not to produce a sound, or else he would chop us to bits. We were scared. He took some rope and tied me and stuffed one of his smelly socks inside my mouth. He pulled his pants down and forced himself on Truphena. How she cried and screamed, but he had his hand firmly on her mouth. There was blood everywhere. After a while, he was done. He was laughing maniaclly. Truphena was too weak to even move. From his coat, he got a brown bottle of whisky, took a gulp, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then advanced on to me. I tried to scream but no sound came out. He forced himself in me. It was so painful. I passed out because I woke up to find my mother screaming over me.
Our house was full of people and our feeble minds were still trying to make sense of what had happened. Mom separated from dad and moved us away halfway across the country. We had to shift schools go through counselling and I lost all of my friends. They could never associate with me ever again. When I finally had the strength to move on, I decided I would be lawyer, wear my wig like a cape and be a hero to any others with a fate similar to mine and Truphena’s. But this case, it brought up all sorts of feelings inside me. I need closure. I am going to see dad. Its time he faced justice of his own too.”
Chinedu was shell shocked. He would never have guessed that Kerubo had seen so much hell in her lifetime. And the way she said the word ‘justice’, so ominous. He had not even realized that he had sat in that same position for 4 hours listening to Kerubo. She pulled up into the parking lot, just outside a fenced path that led to the dilapidated building that had withstood the test of time. Most neighboring houses were empty, in ruins or on sale. They climbed out of the car and slowly walked towards the house. Kerubo’s heart was beating furiously but she soldiered on. Chinedu was with her. He was her best friend. He would help her when it came to it. The house stank of whisky and cigarette smoke. Perhaps even a few dead rodents. The paint had peeled off, the furniture was in disarray and a thick layer of dust coated the windows. No sane soul could possibly be living here. On the couch, lay a disheveled man in his late fifties. His clothes were dirty, grime clinging to him like a babe on its mother’s breasts. This was Onyancha. He opened up his red blood shot eyes and demanded to know who had dared awoken him from his mighty slumber. Kerubo could never believe this man had fathered her. She loathed him. She knew the world must be purged from people like him. His madness was a disease to the world. She needed to contain the situation. She pulled out the gun and pointed it to him.
Onyancha stared at the gun and the woman before her. He didn’t fear death. He knew it was long due. The man behind the woman was tall and thin, with a round head, like a praying mantis. He would make fine firewood, he mused. He wasn’t sorry for anything. He could never care less if the person standing in front of him was his daughter or Mary mother of Jesus. He knew she would come to do this. It was a matter of time. His family had been cursed. Sooner or later, at a certain point, they all succumbed to their dark urges. Like it was genetic. This was their inheritance. He had long come to accept that the dark side was irresistible. His daughter had come to take her first step. Just like all the others, take on the mantle. He knew the woman in front of him was going to hurt many people, and what is more is that she would enjoy it. He looked at the gun again. He smiled like he had been called to the light. He heard Kerubo say “Goodbye papa!” as she pulled the trigger. She had taken her first step.
“Kerubo, what have you done…?”
Kerubo was numb. She couldn’t believe she had done it at last. This mission had kept her awake for many nights, like it was something imperative, something she must really do. She let the cold black .42 colt clatter to the floor. She was however, a woman of strong resolve. That’s how she had gotten here after all.