I was surprised to see the amount of people gathered outside my home when I came back from the cybercafé where I went to print out my admission letter. I have just been admitted into Lagos State University to study Performing Arts.
Slowly, I strode towards the crowd with sad expressions on their faces. Something wasn’t right! Something was definitely wrong! My parents weren’t the type to receive too many visitors at a time, I pondered as my eyes did a slow crawl on the people sitting around, dressed in black outfits, wailing as if someone had died.
What? My heartbeat rapidly at the thought and I began to say a fast silent prayer. “Oh Lord, don’t let it be!” I chanted the words which I hadn’t said in a while now.
I raced into my family home only to meet people inside too. Three women and my two male younger siblings sat with my mom, they were consoling her. My gaze shifted from them to something covered up in white linen at the centre of the room.
“Bimpe o!” my mom screamed.
“Mom, what’s happening?” I asked breathlessly.
“Your father is dead o!” she sobbed.
It was as if my heart stopped beating after her words “your father is dead!” Her words echoed in my mind. I screamed out when I opened the lifeless body of my father wrapped in white linen.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! No!” I wailed as two people grabbed me. I fought vigorously for them to let me go.
It was really hard to believe that the man who prayed for me at 5:00am was dead; the man who gave me a hug this morning was dead; the one who had been so full of excitement about getting a managerial work at a filling station was now dead.
“No! This can’t be happening.” I continued speaking of how he had promised to give us a good life; how he spoke about the things he would get for me whenever I was leaving for school.
I thought that his getting the job would change everything and indeed give us a better life that we deserved.
“What happened? How did he end up dead?” I cried out.
“Adebimpe, your father just complained of stomachache when he came back from Mr Badejo’s house. Then he went into the toilet only for me to hear a loud thud and when I got there he was lying on the floor. He stopped breathing before I could call the doctor,” she seeped bitterly.
“Just like that!” I exclaimed.
“Yes o, Your father is dead!”
I kept questioning God. I told him it shouldn’t have been my dad as some men came around to carry his body away.
Why must it be my father? If death was thirsty then he should have drank from another family and not mine. I voiced out my pain as I watched them lay my father to rest in our compound.
I was lying on my bed and staring at the white ceiling in my room as I was deeply lost in thought. Moments with my father flooded my mind. His image, smile, everything about him which amazed me filled my mind’s eye.
“Is this really the end?” I sobbed quietly. It was hard to believe that I won’t be seeing him for the rest of my life.
“I wish things didn’t turn out this way,” I mumbled.
How am I going to make it into the university without my father’s help? My mom was just a hairdresser who owned a mini shop in front of our home. The little she made wouldn’t just be enough to feed us, not to talk of paying for me and my siblings’ tuition. All I could do was cry at the thought of not furthering my education into the university and all my dream of becoming an actress and scriptwriter would be dashed … just like that!
Several hours passed in tears before I finally drifted off to sleep, wishing that I could see my dad again … maybe just once again.
I woke up to find myself on a long bridge with so many people standing around. They stood in two’s, engrossed in conversations I couldn’t hear. No one cared about my presence as they all minded their business.
I was confused by the dresses they had on. We were all clothed in white linens. Then I began my walk in the unknown bridge. Perhaps is this the way to Heaven? I wondered.
“Please where am I?” I asked an old woman who sat alone but she gave no response. She just looked away and continued staring into space.
“Adebimpe!” a familiar voice called me and I turned to look at the person who I suspected owned the voice.
“Daddy!” I shouted but my voice echoed into the air.
A familiar tinge of happiness stirred within me as he smiled back at me. I made my way towards him, hoping for a hug but he vanished immediately.
“Dad! Dad! Dad! Where are you?!” I searched for him but he was nowhere to be found.
Almost at the verge of tears when I heard him again. “Adebimpe …” He appeared few steps away from me.
“Daddy!” He stopped me.
“Don’t come closer,” he cautioned me.
“We dwell in separate worlds now.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look around, what do you see?”
I looked around. “I see humans like me,” I answered.
He shook his head in disagreement. “They are not like you. I am not like you, too.”
“What are you saying?”
“You’re dead?” He nodded. “But am I dead too?”
“No, you are alive that why I can’t let you touch me.”
So this is it. I begged God to let me see my dad again and he answered my prayers.
“Is this the home for the dead, like Heaven? But why am I here?”
“The bridge leads to the home of the dead. It is a place where the dead get a chance to say farewell to someone they loved on earth.”
Once again I looked around. “But why are we all dressed the same way?”
“The living outfit is different.” He pointed to my dress and I could see a blue star badge on it. “You’re alive.”
“So we’ll never really get to see you again,” I said in a sad tone.
“Adebimpe, there’s no time to feel sad. I begged one of the keepers to let me see you before heading home.”
“Yes, there are keepers guarding the dead.” I heard a loud sound in the air as if someone just blew a trumpet.
“We’ll all disappear by the third sound.”
“What sound is that?” I asked.
“It almost time to head home but I have alot to say——”
“What do you have to say?”
“Badejo is responsible for my death,” he blurted out.
My jaw dropped completely. “What?”
“Yes, Badejo killed me.”
I was shocked. “Why? How? But mom said you had stomachache and then fell in the toilet,” I explained.
“Yes, but Badejo poisoned me!” he said in anger. “How could he do such a thing to me? We were best friends.” I could see the deep pain in his eyes.
Yes, they were best friends! They’ve been together for ages even before dad met mom.
“Why did he poison you?”
“We had this business deal that involved millions of naira.”
“But he helped you secure a job at the filling station.”
The trumpet sounded again. “I lied to your mom. Everything I said about the filling station was a lie.”
“Badejo and I sold my land and invested it in the business. Things really worked out fine until Badejo demanded 50% after we already agreed to 60-40% because it was my money.”
“Then when you didn’t agree, he poisoned you.”
“But..why did you lie to us?”
“I didn’t want to involve anyone. Listen, I used my share to buy a filling station before Badejo poisoned me. The keeper showed me how he poisoned the drink he gave me after I paid the owner of the filling station.”
I could hardly believe my ears when the sound came the third time.
“It’s time to leave. Listen, Badejo has my money and files to the filling station. Make sure you tell your mommy everything. Olori Ebi will take it up, okay?” He rushed out his words. “Adebimpe, I believe you’ll be great. And when that happens take good care of your mom and siblings!”
Everything started fading away in a fast move until they all vanished. I was left alone on the bridge.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I screamed but no one answered. This was really a big secret! I had to tell mom, so Mr Badejo would be punished for his crimes.
“Adebimpe! Adebimpe! Adebimpe!” a sharp slap on my thighs jolted me up from sleep.
“Adebimpe!” another hit me and my sleep faded quickly. My eyes widened when I saw my mom looking at me with an angry expression.
Angry mom? Trying to make a hit? No? She should be sad about dad’s death, right?
“Today is Monday and you are still in bed by this time! Aren’t you supposed to be the first to wake up?!’ she spat angrily.
I still didn’t understand what was going on.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” my innervoice chanted.
“Daddy!” I hopped out of bed quickly and made my way out of my room at a close run.
“Adebimpe! Adebimpe!” my mom shouted behind me but I didn’t stop.
And to my surprise, I met my dad talking on the phone.
“Yes Badejo, I will meet up with you soon.”
What? Badejo? Meeting soon?
“Sister Adebimpe, why are you looking as if you have just seen a ghost?” Ademola asked.
“Adebimpe, didn’t you hear me calling you?” my mom scolded me.
“Daddy is alive?” That was all I could say as everything began to make sense to me.
My dad didn’t die, it was just a nightmare.
“Yes, yes, dad.” I sat on the couch slowly.
“Are you alright?”
I heaved a sigh of relief. “Where are you going?”
“I am going out to see my friend, Badejo.”
“What? Mr Badejo again?”
“Yes, remember today is the day to sign our deal.”
“No, no, no, you can’t go. You have to stay away from Mr Badejo. He’s going to poison you … and then you’ll die and we’ll be left with nothing!” I rushed out my words.
My family stared at me with confusion on their expressions. “What are you talking about?” Daddy asked in a concerned tone.
“Thank God it was just a nightmare.”
“Yes dad … I … I … had a very bad dream.” I narrated my nightmare to them.
“Sister Adebimpe the prophetess,” Adebimpe said in a tone of mockery.
“Will you keep quiet! Why do you always joke even at serious moments?” Mom scolded him.
“Well it is true that Badejo wants 60% of the deal.” My dad said.
“What? But you agreed 50/50.”
“Yes o, but he also said that he was the one who brought the deal.”
“But you invested a lot of your money in the business.”
Daddy shook his head. “Oh my God! What a greedy fellow! And why did you tell me he is asking for 60%?” Mom spat angrily.
“I didn’t want you to get involved, you know as per friendship level,” Dad answered.
I was aware of the business deal with Mr Badejo. They’ve been working on it since the last six months and it has finally worked out.
“This is some sort of warning!” my mom mumbled.
“Yes, and we all know that Sister Adebimpe’s dream always comes to pass,” Ademola added.
“See, I don’t want to be a widow at this stage of my life o! It is better you just let him have the 60% before he will succeed in killing you.”
“I am not going to let him have 60%. It is my money!”
“Please stubbornness won’t solve this issue! Just let him have whatever he wants. God will reward him. And I know God doesn’t disappoint his people too. He will bring a bigger deal for you!” she said loudly. “Imagine! How can a child dream of your best friend killing you and then you’re also going to see him this morning!”
“Nothing is going to happen to me. Badejo can’t do such a thing.”
“See, leave friendship out of it. We are taking about millions of naira here. So leave trust out of this issue o!” Mom said, annoyance in her home.
“Daddy, we need to be careful,” I said.
“Yes, I know.”
“Let’s just thank God it is just a nightmare,” Adewale added.
“As a matter of fact, I am going with you to see Mr Badejo,” Mom blurted out.
“Ahn ahn, why?”
“Don’t ask me—” she stood up. “Adebimpe go and get dressed so we can drop by at the cybercafé to check your admission after seeing Mr Badejo.”
“Honey, it hasn’t gotten—”
“If Badejo wants to poison you, then he should poison all of us so we can all die together.”
“God forbid!” we all said in unison.
“Ademola, Adewale, oya, go and grab your things so we can drop you at school too.”
We knew that was the final, Mom wouldn’t let Daddy meet Mr Badejo alone.
The first thing I did when I got to my room was pray to God for showing me such a dream.
And all of a sudden it occurred to me that I had written something like this. I went to my book shelf where I kept the stories I have written in exercise books then I saw it: SUENO, meaning the nightmare; the story of a girl who was asked to make a wish. So she asked the fairy to take her to the land of the dead so she could get to see her dead lover. She went but only for her to return and start seeing ghosts.
“Adebimpe, don’t stay too long in that room!” My mom banged on my door.
I strode towards the bathroom to shower and get ready to leave home. I prayed to God for my admission to work just like how it had been in my dream so I wouldn’t have to spend another year at home.