Hey everyone. Please forgive the late update. I promise to not do it again. ?. So, here we go.
Chapter 8 (a)
Valerie stood, fixed in her spot. Was it shock, or disbelief that rendered her voice temporarily useless? She didn’t know the answer.
If she was really Rodah, as he called her, and he Aaron, why then didn’t he behave like a man who would miss his woman?
“So long, Valerie”, that was all he said. No hugs, no pecks, let alone farewell kisses. He was definitely mad at her for treating him badly this past month. But she wasn’t accepting that.
Why would he be mad at her? Why wouldn’t he go after her, doing everything to get her back in his arms, just as men in the outside world did to ladies, especially when they wanted to get in her pants?
Regaining herself, Valerie walked out of the study, into the sitting room and towards to exit. She was going to follow them wherever they were going. She didn’t care if they liked it or not. What was the worse that could happen? They’ll cancel the trip. Good for her.
Last month she cared about Omo’s feelings for Okis. But the girl still beat her into blankness, she refused to forgive her and wouldn’t let her see little Ansa, not even a peek at the master’s son.
Anyway, this was a new month and if Okis was really interested in her, then he deserved her attention, at least, a little bit, while she took her time to understand what history stood between both of them, and the couple in her dreams.
Stepping out into the veranda, Valerie was in time to see Andrew shutting the gate.
“Andrew”, she called out, quickly getting off the veranda and running towards the gatekeeper, “please don’t shut it. I want to go with them”.
“You what?” He frowned at first. But as realization hit him, he quickly bolted the gates and pinned the padlock, then turned around in time to face her, “sorry Miss Valerie, you cannot go with them”,
“Why”, she tried snatching the keys from his hands, “Omo is with him. I have every right to be with him”, she argued. Somehow, she discovered she was restless and angry. The thought of Omo with Mr. Okis, fueled a jealousy she never thought she had.
The only remedy was to stop the duo from this senseless journey, or at least be with them and do everything in her power to ensure sex never happened.
She’d beg him. Kneel, if she had to and never insult him again or turn him away when he approach her.
Not for the first time, she wondered why she turned him away and why she suddenly wanted him back. Or was it because she felt she was in a competition with Omo?”
“Miss Valerie, please”, Andrew begged.” Besides, it is dangerous in the forest.
“Dangerous?” She scuffed, “Oh, so Omo can face danger with Mr. Okis, and I can’t?”
“No. You cannot. You do not understand a lot of things and Omo wouldn’t think twice about ripping you apart”.
“She hates me. I know. But I’ll rip her in shreds before she even gets to touch me”,
Andrew drew back, silent, looking at her intently. His eyes traveled over her disheveled appearance, and then fell on the diary in her hand.
“That diary”, he pointed, “please ensure you read it”.
She looked down at the book; a book Okis was sure had some kind of answers she wasn’t sure she’ll understand. When she looked up again, all she saw was Andrew’s retreating back.
“Please don’t leave me like this. I need to go with Mr. Okis”, she begged, following him.
“You shouldn’t”, Andrew called from over his shoulders, “just go in and read that book”, he stopped and turned around to face her again. His expression was grave, “if the master doesn’t return after 3 days…”, he sighed, and then looked away, “just read that book, Valerie, and save us more stress, and more suffering”.
“So you know something about this too?”, she raised the diary.
“Only what I need to know”, he replied
“And you can’t tell me what you know, just like Mr. Okis”.
“EXACTLY, like Mr. Okis”, he stressed
Valerie rubbed her tempo, trying to ease the ache she was feeling there. Her day had been very busy. She never expected it to end with a drama.
“Are you all tied to the dreams I’ve had since I got here?” She had to ask, she had to know. If She had a connection with Rodah, and Okis with Aaron, who did Andrew connect with? And if Omo and Ms. Grace were tied to her dreams too, who did they connect with?
“I have come to love you, Valerie, as I did a very long time ago. I regret threatening you the first day you showed up at the gate with Mr. Okis. I wish I can take back my words. But all of it will be for nothing, if you don’t play your part. That is all I can say. The choice is yours”, he turned, and walked away.
Valerie couldn’t stop him from leaving. She looked at the diary, one time, then marched into the house and into the kitchen, fuming.
Ms. Grace looked up from the neatly cut set of ice fishes she was spicing up for frying.
“And what’s the matter, Valerie?” She asked, one brow raised.
“Mr. Okis left with Omo!” Valerie almost cried.
“And why should that bother you? Are you jealous, girl?” The elderly woman remained indifferent.
“Laugh at me all you want, ma. Mr. Okis shouldn’t try to make me jealous by taking a trip with another woman, all because I told him..I… Told him….” The words died on her lips.
“Because you told him not to touch you or even get close to you again”, Ms. Grace finished for her.
Valerie looked away. “How did you know I said those things to him?”
“Mr. Okis confides in me and Andrew a lot. He told me”, she left what she was doing and came to stand in front of her, “Valerie, your pushing him away has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with taking a trip with Omo. It is something he cannot avoid, unless you do what you have to do”.
“You too?” Valerie’s brows shot up. Frustration replaced anger.
“Yes. Me too,” she nodded, “you have to take action. Okis explained things to me the night you two made out in the library. If you don’t read that book, Valerie, in 3 days, we…”, she paused, then sighed deeply, “We will all,….”, she paused again, fear in her eyes, “I can’t say anything more. I am not permitted to say”, her eyes traveled to the diary in the young lady’s hand, then back to her face, “leave the chores for me. You do what you have to do”. She returned to spicing up the fishes.
Valerie sat by the library window, looking out across the river and into the forest from where she had come. She had hoped to catch sight of the duo. But she didn’t. They were far away already.
She sighed, and returned to Okis’ chair. The chair he had sat on the night he interviewed her. There was a small picture frame on the table. Face down. Valerie picked it up. She gasp. It was a picture of Rodah, the woman that had become dominant in her dreams.
It was the first time she was seeing a picture of her. So Rodah was real? Or had been real? She reached for the drawers and pulled them back. She searched and found a few more pictures of Rodah and Aaron. In one picture, Rodah carried a baby boy. Her own child. Valerie guessed.
“Or is he the one the witch took?” She asked out loud, remembering her dream again. Then she sighed, “they want me to read a diary and know something? So be it. Let me be done with this once and for all”.
She put the pictures aside, pushed the drawer shut and faced the diary on the table. She picked it up, with one open palm running on the blue leather back. It had Unilever Nigeria, 1962, written in bold letters.
She opened the first page. It had a calendar in it, and important events were marked on it. Subsequent pages were of companies and their location. And then a map of Africa.
It was on page 15 she saw the bold inscription in blue ink, “The Strange Man In Iri”.
“Hmmm”, she adjusted in her seat. There was a particular dream she had early in the new month; something about a strange man in something. Definitely it was Iri, now that she saw it in the diary.
A caricature image of a man was drawn beneath the bold writing. He looked like he was dancing and smiling. Valerie chuckled softly. What a drawing. She thought.
At the other side of the page, it read: I am Rodah Akiri, only child of Chief and Mrs. Reuben Akiri. Ese Eru is my best friend, and only child too of her mother, the village’s medicine doctor.
We live in Iri, a village located in Bendel state, south south Nigeria.
10th October 1962 was an unusual day. Ese didn’t return from the market early. And when she finally did, she wouldn’t stop talking about a new stranger in our village.
I have always loved Ese, like a sister. And she loved me the same way. We shared everything together, we played together, and we were almost inseparable. Almost. Until this stranger visited our village…
To be continued…
©Karo Oforofuo. July 2017. All rights reserved
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