Thursday, 9 August 2018

Bring Him Back (Part 7)


Click Here for Part 6

4.30am saw us shuttling out of Lagos towards Cotonou and a new life in the one of the inter-country buses of a popular transport company.

For most part of the journey, I kept stealing glances at my wife and son in the seat beside me, Bosun’s slumbering form seated on Folake’s laps. I felt a tenderness in my heart at this sight of my wife serenely watching her son sleep, a veritable scene of a Madonna and child. So beautiful and touching.

The sight melted away any regret on what we had done. It was worth it to have him back; to have this look of peaceful satisfaction on Folake’s face; to have our family almost back to what it had been before Bosun’s unfortunate death.

Folake had done her best to clean up Bosun’s face, as soon as we had left the Priest’s house. With the aid of many thick wads of tissue, she had cleaned up every bit of the disgusting goo-ish mixture of blood and candle wax from the ritual. Now he looked presentable, almost completely like his old self, though there was still a dull, paleness to his skin. Light-skinned and chubby-cheeked, he was a handsome little dude with a striking resemblance to his beautiful Mum. One day, he would grow to be a tall and very handsome chap.

We soon arrived at Cotonou. As we disembarked, Bosun suddenly jerked awake and let out a loud shriek and began struggling against Folake’s hold like a trapped animal, drawing the other passengers’ attention to us. I was worried they would think we were kidnappers with this behavior of his.

“It’s okay, darling,” my wife calmly soothed him, like she used to do when he threw tantrums in the past, running her hand gently up and down his back till his shrieks dissolved to whimpers and till he finally calmed down.

“The Priest said things like this will happen, remember?” she whispered to me.

I nodded. We moved out of the bus terminus without any more drama as Bosun had slipped off into sleep again.

It was easy for us to find a suitable hotel to lodge in, but checking in turned out to be a bit difficult, as communication was paralyzed by our inability to speak French and their inability to understand more than a few words in English. Finally, after ten minutes of intense gesticulations on the side of both parties, we were checked in, but not into their largest room like I had been trying to explain all along. The one we got was not too bad though, so I had to be satisfied with it.

It was a good thing it wasn’t our plan to settle down in Benin Republic. Ghana was our destination and Cotonou just a brief stop-over.

Folake and I freshened up and changed into clean clothes out of the ones she had packed. When it was Bosun’s turn to have a bath, he woke up again and re-hatched the same act he had performed in the bus, this time more pronounced as he struggled and shrieked in the tub as though Folake was trying to drown him and not just bath him.

It took both of us to subdue him this time, and what a struggle it was. I really hoped this phase would pass quickly.

When we were done and the boy was soothed to sleep again, we ordered some food. But when the food arrived we were both too tired, both by the ordeal of the past night and the struggle bathing Bosun, to touch it. We ended up sleeping off, sprawled on the bed with Bosun between us, just like we used to back home, on nights he couldn’t sleep on his own for one reason or the other.

When we woke up, I was surprised to see it was 10am the next morning already.

Folake announced that she needed to go shopping in the hotel premises, after we ate a bit of the now very cold food we had ordered the night before.

“I saw a boutique and convenience store when we were at the reception. We need a lot of things, especially for him,” she tossed her head merrily in the direction of her still sleeping son.

Refreshed by the bath and sleep and with her hair neatly arranged now, Folake was the picture of happiness and contentment and looked even more beautiful than ever.

We were back! Not only was Bosun back, my family was too!
I was happy too, and completely shelved what we had done the previous night to the back of my mind.

After Folake left, I turned on my laptop, and was pleased to see that the hotel had very fast Wi-Fi. I checked my email and saw that there were a few new messages in my inbox, many of business nature, one a newsletter and the last a message from my friend and family doctor, Dockie. He wanted to know where I was, telling me that everyone had been trying to reach me. He hoped Folake and I were safe and asked that I reach out to him once I got the mail.

I stared at read email for a full five minutes, tempted to respond to it, but decided against that. How could I explain to him mine and Folake’s sudden disappearance along with our son’s corpse?

I logged out of my inbox and began browsing through online news sites. I was shocked when I saw a news piece on us on the website of the most popular Nigerian newspapers. “Man, wife and dead son missing” the headline said. There was a brief narration on how one Jide Aregbe and his wife Folake Aregbe had gone missing with the body of their son who had just died, then a call that whoever had information on the missing couple and their dead son please reach out to a number which I recognized as my brother’s, or send an email to the newspaper.

I was amused and a bit impressed. Since my people had gone to the press already in their search for us, there was no doubt that the police would already be searching for us all over Lagos. Well, they won’t find us.

I shut down the laptop and fell back on the bed. I was sorry it had had to come to this, knowing how badly my parents must be taking the sudden disappearance of their son and his family. I was especially worried for my Mum. I would just have to call them, to let them know I was safe and Folake too, just to put their minds at rest.

Folake on her own part, had no parents alive, having lost them while still in the university and was an only child, so she would have no need to reach out to anybody.

I would tell my parents we had given Bosun a befitting burial and had to leave Nigeria because Folake could not stand being in that house which was full of memories of her son. I would tell them, also, that we planned on adopting a child where we were while still trying to have ours and would return home when Folake felt better again. Yes, that was a good idea. The more I thought of it, the more I loved it, especially as it meant I would be able to go back home sometime. The thought of never seeing my folks again was unbearable.

A small movement beside me broke off my thoughts. I sat up to see Bosun had awakened and was sitting up on the bed.
For a moment, we both sat there, just staring at each other in awkward silence. Like strangers. Then I finally, tentatively, said, “Bosun.” The word rolled off my tongue awkwardly, unnaturally. The usual Bosun would have launched himself at me like a boisterous little ball of five-year-old energy, and the usual me would have proceeded to tickle him till he almost choked with laughter. But it was not the usual him, therefore not the usual me.

Soon, I promised myself, soon, it will all be completely as it used to be.

Folake chose that very moment to return with two large nylon bags of shopping, a gay smile on her face and a quick hug for Bosun and me. She tumbled the content of the bags on the ceramic-tiled floor. Most of them were food, clothes and toys for Bosun.

“Come and see what I bought for you, Bosun-pie,” she beckoned.

Hesitantly, he got to his feet and went over. He ignored the toys and clothes, and began picking up as many candy and biscuits as he could. Folake laughed indulgently and sat back to watch him greedily cram handfuls of chocolate and biscuit into his mouth. He soon had thick chocolate smears all across his mouth and face and continued stuffing himself more and more, like he was on mission to finish it all up at the shortest possible time.

Folake had to take the rest of the biscuits and candy from him and began to clean him up with tissue. An angry Bosun petulantly pulled himself away from her and retired to a corner of the room.

Folake gave a surprised exclamation. “Are you sucking your tongue? When did you pick up that habit? Look, Jide.” I did and saw that Bosun’s lips were partially parted with a chunk of his little tongue visible through the parting, and I could see the slow, almost undetectable pulsing motion of his tongue as he sucked on it.

I had never seen him do that before. He had a few bad habits, had even sucked on his thumb as a toddler before my mother succeeded in taking the habit away from him, but never this.

“How disgusting. Where did he learn this rubbish? The netherworld?” Folake chuckled a bit at her own joke, then proceeded to flick sharply at the errant tongue with her forefinger. Bosun responded with a whimper, and fearing a tantrum, Folake pulled him to her bosom and began petting him.

I returned to my laptop, noting I had not heard Bosun utter a word since… since he returned from the dead. I did not put this thought in words though, not wanting to alarm Folake. Besides the old man had said he would do somehow for some time right? I just had to be patient, soon my son would be his old bubbly self again. Right?

The Story Continues>>>Click Here for the final part


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