At The End Of The Tunnel – Episode 5
© Jennipher Duru
Mama Stella had failed to sleep the whole night. She lay down on her bed with her two children. Nadia gave her some food to eat but she refused. She however, managed to convince her children to eat. Catherine and her husband left around midnight. Some mourners still remained in the house.
The following day, Brian’s parents and sisters arrived. They all wept bitterly. “What took you there my son? Why did death have to take you in such a cruel way? We cannot even see your body? You have not done well my son” Brian’s mother cried. Mama Stella had gone to join them in the living room. When they were able to talk, Mama Stella explained everything that the Director had told them.
Nadia and some neighbors prepared lunch for the mourners. They were all eating when suddenly they heard someone shouting “Where is my brother? Brian cannot leave this world like this! No, no, no!” It was Godwin. Nadia stood up and stared at him. Her heart was beating fast. She wondered what to do, whether to chase him out, call the police or just leave him. She thought of her fiancé who had come to mourn with the family, she looked at Mama Stella who looked so weak. “I can’t create a scandal now. For the sake of the respect I have for this family, I’d rather be quiet for now” she thought to herself.
Godwin threw himself on the floor. He cried like a little child. Nadia was now feeling sorry for him regardless of what he had done. Mama Stella wept and also wondered how Godwin knew about his brother’s death. Godwin’s mother held his hand and asked him to calm down. “Calm down Godwin, calm down. Be strong for us. You are a man” she said. Godwin shouted “I will not calm down. I want to know what happened to my brother. Brian cannot just die like this”. The whole crowd looked at him and felt sorry for him. People shook their heads in sympathy. After a while, he calmed down.
“Nadia, please serve him some food to eat” Mama Stella said. Godwin looked at Nadia. She was now a beautiful young woman. Nadia went into the kitchen and brought him some food. He kept looking at her, but Nadia did not waste time. She gave him the food and pretended like he was a total stranger to her. Mama Stella was watching from a distance. She was happy that Nadia was mature enough not to create problems. The whole family sat together as they discussed the way forward.
“More people will be coming from the village and neighboring towns. We will have to wait till the day after tomorrow in order to carry out the burial” Brian’s father said.
Mama Stella was quiet all along and simply just listened to what they were saying. She finally dozed off, as she was very tired. Florence took a blanket and covered her. Nadia left the kitchen and went to her room. Godwin, who had been spying on her, followed her immediately. “What the hell are you doing in my room? Please get out before I forcefully push you out” Nadia said when Godwin entered the room
Godwin sat down on the bed and fixed his eyes on her. He kept quiet for a while before he finally spoke
Godwin: Nadia. I know that you must hate me with pure hatred because of what I did and I do not blame you. But I hope you will at least listen to my own version of the story before you throw me out
Nadia: Your own version of the story? You mean you want to explain exactly how you planned to kill my child and myself by poisoning us? Or you want to explain how you brought shame and pain in my life?
Godwin: I am really sorry. I never meant to do that. I was confused and didn’t know what to do. I was just starting to live my life when this whole thing started. I didn’t think I could handle it at that time. Please forgive me. I can see that you are alright now and I hope you have put everything behind you.
Nadia: Because of you, my chances of having another child have been reduced to less than 20%. But you know what? I have moved on with my life because you are not worth it. I can’t continue to live in pain because of a heartless person like you. I am about to get married soon, so you can be rest assured that I have moved on. Now please if you can excuse me, I have so many important things to do. My fiancé is here, so I wouldn’t want him to see me with someone like you
Nadia opened the door with force and left. Godwin looked at her and laughed “Ugly b***tch” he said to himself. The Director from Brian’s place of work arrived with a group of colleagues including Catherine’s husband. Florence woke Mama Stella up.
Director: Good day Mama Stella. I can see that you are very tired. We are really sorry to disturb you and please also know that the passing on of your husband is a great loss to our Company. Brian was a hardworking and peaceful man. We are all sad to witness this day today.
Mama Stella: Thank you sir.
Director: We have come because we understand that there is need for a burial ceremony to be carried out. My colleague right here is Charles. He is the one that went with Brian to Somalia. He had just stepped out of the building when the attack happened. He flew back the following day and I personally decided to bring him here to see you and have a chat with you
Mama Stella fixed her eyes on the man and, with the little strength she had, cried “Please sir, tell me what exactly happened to my Brian”
Charles found it hard to explain. Tears ran down his cheeks as he began to talk “I am really sorry for your loss Madam. Brian was indeed a good colleague. We had had breakfast and lunch together that day. We later went to the shops and all he could buy were items for you and your children. We were in the hotel when we both received calls from the Plant Manager that there was a machine that was faulty. So we decided to go there. Brian was actually trying to call you as he entered the plant but the network was bad. I left him inside the plant as I had to go and get some more equipment from the warehouse which is located at the main Office. The driver and I had just left for about 2 minutes when we heard a huge blast and then gunshots. We could see that there were a lot of men wearing black masks who exchanged gunshots with the local security guards. This went on for close to an hour before another blast was heard, this time around, it came from the main plant where I had left Brian. Some terrorists managed to escape while others were shot down. After thorough search, we were told that about 15 lives of workers were lost, including Brian. Unfortunately, bodes were burnt and dissembled beyond recognition. Please take this. These are Brian’s clothes and other things as well as all the things he bought for you and your children”
Mama Stella slowly took the suit case and opened it. The first thing she saw was his T-shirt which she had made for him during their wedding anniversary. It had their picture with the words “Together forever”. Mama Stella could not hold herself anymore. She cried loudly “Brian you promised that we would be together forever. You lied to me honey. You lied to me” Florence and Austin cried with her, while the others tried to comfort them. Charles felt very bad. The Director handed them an envelope with a sum of about 1,500 Dollars to help with the burial. Austin collected the money and the colleagues left.
The day of the burial arrived and they all left to the burial site. Since Brian’s body was not found, they had only put some of his clothes and his picture in the coffin. The burial took place with a lot of mourning and wailing. It was hard for anyone to comfort Mama Stella and her kids. Brian’s father wept bitterly for the first time as he now realized that his son was really gone. After the burial they all headed back home.
The following day, the whole family gathered together for a discussion. Brian’s father was the first one to talk “My dear family, I thank each and every one of you for attending the burial of our late beloved son. Brian is gone and we will not see him again. But one thing I know is that wherever he is, he would like to see us honor him by being strong for ourselves and even his children and wife. We all know that my son was privileged to have some fortune which he gained through his hard work and sweat. And with that, he acquired quite a number of properties for himself. As far as I know, he already has three houses, one in the village, another one in the neighboring city and of course the one his wife and children are presently living in. I honestly feel it is the right of the wife and children to continue staying in this house and …..”
Godwin interrupted him “Dad please stop all these things! No one has the right to this house except Brian himself. And since he is no more, I am the one to delegate power over any property because I am his immediate younger brother” he shouted
Mama Stella and her children were shocked. They could not believe what they have just heard “Excuse me, what did you just say? And who gave you the right to decide on behalf of your brother? Don’t you know that he had a wife and children? She said, trembling
Godwin stood up and shouted “Which wife? You mean you can call yourself a wife after killing my brother with your witchcraft! You prostitute!”
Mama Stella stood up to fight him, but she was held by Brian’s mother. Austin had also stood up and tried to hit Godwin, but Godwin held his hand and pushed him so hard that he fell down. Florence screamed. There was chaos in the house. One of their uncles took Godwin to the room and sat him down to talk to him. Mama Stella was panting and crying “You called me a witch and prostitute after all that my husband and I have done to you?” she said
After a while, the discussion continued. This time around, Brian’s mother started talking
“I totally agree with my son Godwin. Brian was not just a husband or father, but he was also a son and brother. Before he married his wife, he was in our care. My husband and I took care of him until he became a man. So we equally have the right to partake of his inheritance. According to what his wife said some few days back, all properties are in Brian’s name and it will only be fair that we share them equally. I for one think that it is important for us to follow our tradition which states that the only thing that belongs to the wife is the house which my son built in the village. I suggest we sell the two houses in the city and share the money, then Stella and the children can go to live in the house that their father built in the village without anyone disturbing them” she said
Mama Stella started crying. She shook her head in despair. “How heartless! We just buried my husband yesterday and all you can think about is the sharing of his properties. Are you not worried about the future of his children? Everything that Brian worked for was for his children. Before he left, he was planning to put all the properties in the names of his children” she said
“Yes, that is why the earth could not allow him to live anymore, because he was about to make a stupid mistake. But I don’t blame him. You had bewitched him” Godwin said.
Austin went towards him again to hit him. Godwin held his hand and gave him a punch on his nose. Austin fell on the ground. He was bleeding. Mama Stella and Florence went to hold him. Nadia could not control herself anymore. She stood before Godwin and shouted “you idiot! You criminal! I need to report you to the police finally for the crimes you have been committing”
“Get out of my way you ugly idiot. What proof do you have against me? You will be wasting your time because no one will believe you” Godwin shouted back.
Mama Stella stood up and asked her children to follow her to her bedroom, but Godwin stopped them and locked the bedroom door “No one enters my brother’s room without my permission anymore. This is now my property and I decide who goes where” he said
To be continued
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