Finding Peace |Tawfique Soboyejo | Fiction

When Ade lost her husband and her two children in a car crash, life became void and living became meaningless.

The moon had far risen into the sky when Ade made up her mind to leave the world. She wrote a suicide note, paid off her debts, and scheduled mails to her friends who stood by her. She also freed the birds in her cage and watched them fly free into the world.

A world she was about to leave.

She took one last look at her surroundings; the walkway, the bridge deck, the water waves merging into one another, the speeding cars behind her, the filthy stench emanating from the pile of refuse running across every inch of the walkway, and walked into the deep of the night.

She had walked several hours, to nowhere in particular, when something caught her attention. It was first the legs, tiny, just like that of her daughter, Sola. At first, she thought it was one of the hallucinations she got from the hard drugs she’d been taking.

Since the death of her husband and daughter, she had been on drugs. It was her newly found way of numbing the pain she felt and the aggressive voices in her head. But this time around, it was not the drugs or the voices, a little child sat upright, more visible this time, and there was something peculiar about this child.

Her face looked familiar. She looked closely and saw a prominent scar at the bottom of her chin. She was the child from the TV and the many Twitter threads she had come across. She had been lost for more than a month. Her parents were found dead in a car crash and her body had not been found. They had declared her missing.

Ignore her, the voices in Ade’s head pleaded. The child locked eyes with Ade, her every being was pleading for help. Ade shook her head. The child will have to find another person to help her, she must go now.

But the child stared on, her eyes begging to be rescued. There was so much turmoil going on within Ade’s head. Memories of her dead children washed over her and fear of the unknown gripped her heart. The little girl whispered “Don’t leave me” and tears flooded down her lids. Like a pack of cards, Ade’s resolve to walk away crumpled. 

She knew she needed to help this child. Else her tears and pain were the last memories she was going to have before leaving the world.

She climbed down from the ledge, held the kid in her arms and covered her with a jacket. Then she switched on her phone and ordered a ride home.

ADE

We got home by 5:45 am and the gateman was not responding, despite incessant knocking. Exhausted, Peace and I sat on the pavement outside the gate.

I live alone and there was no one else to call. It reminded me of the days when Akin, my husband, used to spend late nights and I had to stay up on most days waiting for him. If only my last memory of him wasn’t that of nagging at him specifically about that.

 After about 30 minutes, he popped out his head and asked, “na who be that?

“It’s me, Ibrahim, na madam,” I responded.

He looked at me weirdly because of the child that was with me, but he let me in irrespective.

I took the child in, gave her a warm bath, and changed her clothes to that of my daughter’s. I moisturized her skin and combed her hair.

Her eyes were really piercing, inquisitive and pitiful. There was a way she stared at me, as though the child knew what I was planning to do before I met her and she was sorry for me.

I took her picture and searched for the twitter post where she was declared missing. I tweeted that I had found her and she’s being taken care of. If anyone knew where her guardians were, I would hand her over to them.

A few hours later, someone sent me a DM saying he was her uncle, and he’d been searching for her since the very first day, but to no avail. He indicated that he was out of the country and he would be coming back in three weeks’ time.

He gave me his number, and we spoke on the phone extensively. He seemed like a genuine person and over time; he began to earn my trust.

Twitter chats developed into text messages. Texts grew into audio calls. Audio calls strengthened into video meetings. On many occasions, I found myself blushing furiously and getting warm inside of me. I looked forward to his calls, his voice a sweet melody that played repeatedly in my head.

I hate that he is gradually growing on me. These feelings are so wrong. Not here. Not now.

I was jolted out of this thought one day when Peace asked, “Where’s my mummy and daddy?”I stood still for a moment, befuddled and unsure of how to answer her.

“They’re in heaven,” I responded.     

“When can I see them?”

“One day, don’t worry.”

_

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been with Peace, conversing with her, taking care of her, and learning about her life before the tragedy. Three weeks of bliss and consuming love.

It is also three weeks of soberness. No alcohol, no drugs, no self-destructive thoughts or self-sabotaging behaviours. I’ve been writing, and it has been liberating.

But today, she was going home to her uncle, Stephen.

He was the only family Peace had left. He was responsible for the TV broadcasts and posts circulating on Social media and now he’s back to finally take her away from me.

As my clenched knuckles tapped on the door, I could feel my heart breaking all over again. The anxiety and depression I had buried in the pit of my belly reared their heads. Whispers of the voices I used to hear grew louder. I shivered, scared of the aftermath of Peace’s absence.

As I stepped into Stephen’s apartment, the architecture and decoration stunned me. Beautiful paintings and sculptures were arranged at the entrance of his home. The living room was a rich colour of black, dark and alluring. Lush wallpapers covered the right side, and the sun that poured into the living room through the window bounced off the left wall. The chandelier was rotating slightly, sprinkling little lights into the dark room.

I was drinking in the sight when Peace’s uncle approached. He was far more handsome than he was in the pictures he sent me. My insides warmed up, and I brushed again, embarrassed at the raunchy thoughts that filled my head. 

When he said “Hi, I’m Stephen”, I was doubly embarrassed and then angry at myself for developing these feelings.

I smiled back at them both and said, “Is this where I leave?”

“Why not spend some time with us?”

I nodded silently. Scared to betray my late husband by saying yes, and scared to lose Stephen by saying no.

He stared at me for a while. Then he nodded in understanding and squeezed my hand in reassurance.

 _

When he said he loved me, I stopped breathing for many seconds.

“We could be together and take care of Peace as a team.” He paused for a few seconds, “As a family.”

I was silent for a while, my heart pounding hard against my ribs.

Thoughts rushed into my head. How do I reciprocate his love for me? I do not have a heart anymore, how can I love him right? Will my ex-husband turn in his grave? Will my late daughter forgive me?

“We could take it slow,” he said.

I sighed in relief, releasing air slowly from my mouth.

We arrived at a conclusion, he would wait for as long as it took for me to heal, resolve and clarify the feelings I had for him.

Darkness had fallen over the earth when I decided to leave Peace and Stephen.

With tears in her eyes, Peace whispered like she did on the day I rescued her “Don’t leave me” I wiped her tears and promised her I’d be back, unsure if I was supposed to be making a promise about something I was uncertain about.

I held her in my arms. Warmth filling me up again. I prayed to have the strength to come back to this beautiful little soul who saved my life, gave me multiple reasons to live and a future to look forward to.

For the second time, I walked into the night.

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Bio:

Taofik Soboyejo is a graduate of microbiology, digital marketer, storyteller, digital publisher and a Copywriter.

Founder Book cracks book club and co-founder of CircleFame.

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