AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
Jake made some calls and was able to hire a lawyer to help with his case. The problem was that it was a case of murder and there was overwhelming evidence. The girl in question was barely fifteen but he didn’t know. An autopsy was conducted and it was discovered she died from asphyxiation which is a medical term for strangulation. The other two girls stated that he choked her when he was having intercourse with her. His first offence, the girl was underaged while the second, he strangled her to death. It was a big mess that finally got NGOs involved. There was no bribing anyone.
Jake had the opportunity to make calls. He called Baba. He told Baba what happened. Baba was shocked. He asked him to call back in ten minutes so he could consult. When Jake called back, Baba sounded confused.
“What I am seeing here is total darkness. There is no way for you. This is punishment for what you have done. If you are not careful they might kill you. What happened? They said you know what happened. Did you have intercourse with your wife before this trip?”
“I did. I had intercourse with her. The transaction went very well. I sent her money. But she is ungrateful.”
“Ah! Jake, what have you done? Jake, you have annoyed the witches and they have refused to tell me what you did. They want to destroy you completely. They are white witches and I can appeal to them to be lenient but if I do not know what you did, how will I know what will appease them?” Jake confessed to Baba. He told him how he forced himself on Esther and locked her up in the house. “Jake, why couldn’t you be content with that woman? How many men find a wife who brings them enormous wealth? They are one in a billion, very rare. Some women bring good fortune, favour, and blessings but yours brought you what every man dreams of. Why couldn’t you honour her? Why couldn’t you love her? Now you have angered the witches supporting her. She is the only one who can beg for leniency. Not forgiveness but at least you won’t be put to death.”
“How do I do that, Baba? Please help me.”
“I will go to your house tomorrow and beg her to help but you have to set her free after I have spoken to her.”
“Ok. But don’t tell her I have been arrested. I don’t want her to know what I did and where I am.”
“She will find out eventually. I will be there tomorrow.”
Baba made it to Esther the next day. She came down to meet him. The fear and respect she had for him had all disappeared. She greeted him and asked him how she can help him. She was not fussing around ordering them to make food for him. She was bitter and it made him understand why her ‘people’ were angry.
“Your husband offended you and he called me to confess. I came here to check if you are ok and beg for his forgiveness. That he is wrong is not in question, it is your forgiveness we desire.”
“Baba, Jake locked me in this house. I didn’t have access to anyone including my children. He raped me, Jake raped me and then imprisoned me. I can’t forgive him?”
“My daughter, you have to. Greatness is in you so avoid any form of bitterness. I have never sided with Jake when he offends you, you know that. This time, he is sorry. He is begging for your forgiveness. He is ready to make amends.”
“I am not interested in making amends, I don’t want the marriage anymore. I want to leave with my children. I would have taken action against him but I haven’t because of the business he decided to do. I don’t want to be roped in.”
“I need you to do something for Jake and I promise he will allow you to go.”
“What should I do for him?”
“If you do it from your heart, I promise he will set you free.”
“Baba, Jake will not release me. He wants to keep me in this sham of marriage by force. If he is serious, he should release me first and then I will do whatever he says.”
“Ok. He will talk to you later today and you will leave this house with me when I am going tomorrow. No one will stop you. That is if you will do whatever I ask you to do tonight from your heart.”
Jake called and spoke with Esther. He asked for her forgiveness and also said she was free to leave the house or stay whichever she wished. Esther was not comfortable with the conversation. He sounded subdued and defeated. She asked him if there was a problem but he cut the call instead. She became worried, very worried. She asked Baba if Jake was in any kind of trouble. Baba could not hide the truth from Esther otherwise the sacrifice will not work. He told her the truth.
Esther was shocked. This was not how she wanted Jake to end up and she felt terrible. She was couldn’t believe Jake was having sex with underaged girls and was also choking them. What was wrong with him? Fifteen-year-old girl? And he was doing drugs with them. Jake was an addict already; he was selling and using. She needed time to process what she had just learnt. Baba gave her time. He told her as per their agreement, she would do something for Jake so he is not killed but he will serve his punishment.
“How long is his punishment?”
“It will be long but he will divorce you. You will be free.”
“And he won’t come for me when he comes out?”
“He won’t. He might want to see his children but they will be adults by then.”
“Are you being honest with me?”
“I need something from you to help him, I am sure. Have I ever lied to you?”
“Ok. I will do whatever I need to do to help him. I just want him to leave me alone after this. What country is he in?”
“What is he doing in Brazil? Ok.”
Esther went back into her room. She used her normal phone to call uncle Tobi. She related everything to him and asked him to help her investigate urgently. She wanted to be sure of what she was getting herself into before she helped him. She believed Baba but she wanted to be convinced it was true. She didn’t believe Jake could be that stupid.
Uncle Tobi made some calls. He gave them all of Jake’s information which Esther had forwarded to him. They found Kake. Uncle Tobi got all the information about his offence and the status as of then. It took almost six hours but he finally knew what was up. He called Esther and told her. “They want to execute him for having sex with a minor, drugging her and then strangling her. The evidence is overwhelming and I promise you it doesn’t look good for him. I have appealed to the people I know not to allow it to go public yet. If he can prove he didn’t know the girl’s age and that they brought the drugs when they came to the room, it will help his case. It will make them believe it was the drugs that made him choke her that hard. His lawyer is useless and the cartel has distanced itself. I suspect they arranged the girls though.”
“What do I do?”
“Nothing. You wanted out and this is the opportunity you have been waiting for. They are not looking into the drug cartel, solely this issue. They said he came to Brazil to have sex with underage girls. It is dirty and can stain your name and reputation too.”
“I have his uncle here who has asked me to help so he will divorce me and set me free for good.”
“Do you trust the man?”
“He told me the truth, I trust him”
“He should ensure you are free and then we will help. Once he signs an uncontested divorce, I will try to get him a reduced sentence. We have to work with the cartel; they know the corrupt judges and can intimidate the witnesses to change their story.”
“Why? Why intimidate them? A family lost a child.”
“Jake will compensate them heavily and they will change their story. Once you give me the go ahead, I will do the work.”
At almost midnight, Baba knocked on Esther’s door. He gave her a red cloth to tie and follow him outside. They had to face east. He gave her a calabash and said, “Your spirit beings are angry with your husband. What he is facing is a lesson from them. He deserves to be punished for what he did to you but I beg of you let them have mercy on him and be lenient. That is all I ask. There is a pole tied with white clothe along the road opposite your house. Drop this calabash there. Do not look back after dropping it and do not say a word until you see me. I will be here. Do not be afraid; you are a powerful being too. Do this for Jake and he will be unbound from you forever.”
Esther carried the sacrifice as instructed. She walked back without fear. She didn’t say a word to anyone until she saw Baba. There was a bucket of water placed at the back of the house. He gave her a sponge and soap in a calabash to bathe. Esther bathed with it. She tied the red cloth and entered back into the house.
“I have finished the assignment. You are a good woman, you did not ask me questions or challenge what I asked of you. Thank you for honouring me. You saw that you could leave the house without anyone holding you back. He will sign the divorce papers too. Jake did not listen to me. If he had been content with only you he would have been the richest man alive. Your constant misunderstandings reduced his wealth. Anyman you meet, tell him to go if he cannot be faithful because he will be very rich. I bless you, my child.”
Jake called as he said he would. He apologised for all he had done to Esther and asked for her forgiveness. When she assured him she had forgiven him, he asked for her help. She told him about the divorce.
“Because I have a problem you want to leave me?” he asked.
“I wanted to leave years ago. I don’t know how long you will go away for but I need to live my life too. I want to be free to be with who I want to be with. Do you understand?”
“Help me get out of here and I will grant it to you.”
“I will give you what you want. You will not be killed but you must sign the uncontested divorce papers first before that.”
They agreed on terms and she related them to uncle Tobi. He got his people in Brazil to start work. Jake spent a lot of money settling the girl’s family and the other two girls to change their story. The new lawyer uncle Tobi hired for Jake had a connection with the cartel. They used that connection to get to the judge. When it was looking like everything will be ok, the lawyer gave Jake the divorce papers to sign. He didn’t have a choice but to sign it. He allowed Esther to take the properties, cars and businesses. All he wanted was for her to take good care of the children and allow them to speak to him as often as he could call. He was giving her everything for them. At last, Jake remembered he had children.
His court case didn’t take time. He pleaded guilty and struck a deal with the prosecutor. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. This was a far cry from the death penalty and life imprisonment. He enjoyed favours and was sent to a prison that gave him privileges of comfort.
When Jake had settled into his new life, it dawned on him how he had messed up his life. He wondered what Esther would be doing. He never found out about her lover and he was ready to do so now. He didn’t want her to fall into wrong hands. He planned to stalk her but you can only stalk someone if you know their whereabouts.
When Jake was sentenced, Esther felt free at last. He deserved what he got. She had sold off most of the businesses he gave to her. She divided it into five places, as advised by uncle Tobi. She took three portions, two for her children and one portion for herself. One portion was for Jake to keep in trust and the last was for his mother and siblings. They received monthly stipends from the money.
She left the house for him so he could have something to come back to when he is released. She moved out of the house and out of that life. First, she left Nigeria but she didn’t do it directly. She didn’t want Jake to ever find her. She told uncle Tobi. He relocated her and her children by land and got them the nationality of another country. They travelled using the documents of the country to the United States. She looked for a place to settle down where she would not be found. They relocated to Boston and chose a suburban town so they wouldn’t stand out. Uncle Tobi helped her buy a house (it was not in her name) and helped her settle in. She wanted to live a simple life. She went to get a job, but she didn’t last three months before she had to leave. She started a business instead. She opened a neighbourhood store that sold everything.
She didn’t want to live off her wealth from Nigeria, she wanted to make something for herself. She worked hard in her store and built it over the months. She lost contact with everyone for that period so Jake would never know where they were. Uncle Tobi felt she was paranoid but she was deeply worried. It took a year for her to realise Jake was not coming back anytime soon. She relaxed and started relating again. She brought her parents to the US to visit for some months and then went back. It was one o the best times she had. She shipped her children to her elder sister who also lived in America to spend the summer with her family.
Read – Sisterhood episode 82
When she was settled, she felt lonely. She feared Efe had married Rachel. What would then happen? She could stay alone, she had been alone for over a year now. But she missed Efe’s touch. Just the thought of both of them together made her excited. She wanted him. Now the children were away, she would call him and invite him over. Even if it was for a weekend.
She communicated with Efe. He was surprised to hear from her. She had stopped communicating as she had done in the past. He was tired of this back and forth. He didn’t jump in excitement to pick up her call. He was home so he said he was going for a walk. He walked a distance from the house before he called Esther back.
“Hello Esther, it is me.”
“How have you been?”
“Fine. And you?”
“So much has happened. Are you busy this weekend?”
“What’s happening this weekend?”
“I wanted us to talk. It has been a while.”
“Whatever you want to say, we can say it here and now.”
“I’m in America. I’m in Boston.”
“Ok. That’s good. Are you visiting friends or family?”
“I relocated here.”
There was silence from Efe. He suspected she was pulling his legs. He didn’t respond to her prompting hellos. He ended the call. He resumed his walk as his mind was racing. She was in America. She had relocated and chose to be close to him. He was tired of the back and forth between them. He wanted to see her. He wanted to be with her. He knew there was more to this.
He chatted her up and asked for an address and direct number. She sent them. He came back to the house. He told Rachel he had to travel the next day. She never asked questions. He hated doing this to her but he had to follow his heart. His heart ached for Esther. The more she used and rejected him, the more he craved her. What was wrong with him?
He was in Boston the next day. He rescheduled all his physical meetings so he could spend some time with Esther. He got to the address she gave him. The house looked nice but no one was home. He called her. She asked him to wait, she was coming back. She didn’t expect him to arrive so soon. She met him in a rental car waiting. She drove in with her SUV. She came down from the vehicle. She hadn’t changed much. She smiled at him and then opened the door to her house.
“It is good to see you again, Efe,” Esther said to him as they both sat down.
“Why do you keep doing this to me? I am here now. Your toy you play around with is here. What’s happening now? Did Jake allow you to relocate?”
“It is a long story. I came here with my kids myself. Jake had no choice but to let me go.”
Esther told him what happened. Efe was in shock hearing the details. At one point she broke down. She told him every damn thing that happened. As she talked to him, she felt a weight lifted from her. Efe was beside her and then he held her close. When she was composed, she said, “I know I have messed things up many times by not taking a stand. It’s probably too late for you. I just had to let you know what was going on. He signed for an uncontested divorce. I am free.”
“I became serious with Rachel and I honestly don’t want to break her heart. She has done so much for me.”
“I know. And I am sorry. I shouldn’t have called you.”
“Then why did you call?”
“I have had no other lover. It’s just you and Jake.”
Efe watched her. She was different. He observed she was calmer and more humble. She had a lovely house but she didn’t dress to impress. She was simple. He didn’t mind this but he also liked that brazen girl who knew what she wanted and would get it. He was turned on just talking to her. He got turned on before he got to her house. That was what she did to him.
“Can I get you a cold drink?” she asked and he nodded in response.
He joined her in the kitchen and then asked her, “Where are the children?”
“They are at my sister’s. I needed a break from them. The store needed more attention.”
“So why did you call me? Tell me. If the store could give you what you craved, why call me?”
Esther knew where the conversation was heading. She wanted to know if this was going to be what they had before or if he wanted something else. She turned to face him and he was standing right in front of her. He pulled her to him and kissed her. She didn’t remember what she wanted to ask him. It had been so long. They started from the kitchen to the sitting room and then to the bedroom. They couldn’t have enough of each other.
Later that night, Esther had to go to the store to supervise the handover and keep the cash they had collected in the safe. She couldn’t cook so she picked up some food for them and then came back home.
“This feels good. There is no rush for me to leave or for you to go back to your husband.”
“But you have Rachel. Did you marry her?”
“She refused. She doesn’t want to have children and she wants to walk out when she feels it isn’t working.”
“Well, the kids love her. They prefer her to their mum. Their mum gets along with her and works out the child custody schedule with her. She runs the home perfectly. Why she refused to marry me I would never understand. I will not disrupt the children’s lives when I am not sure of what we have.”
“You don’t have to. She sounds like someone I can’t compete with. I have always been business focused so my stepmother, nannies and maids helped with the children. I played my part too but they helped most of the time. I understand.”
“Ok. So, what are we doing now? Still the same?”
“For now until I get involved with someone.”
“You want to get involved with someone?”
“I don’t want to hold you down. You have a good life with Rachel and I don’t want to spoil that. I plan on remarrying before Jake gets released from prison. I don’t want to ever be available for him to consider a settlement. Do you get me?”
“So what you are trying to say is that if Rachel doesn’t go we can’t be together?”
“I am saying we can be together until I get serious with a partner.”
“You refused to leave Jake and I was there for you but now the reverse is the case you are talking about getting with someone else.”
“I don’t want to disrupt….”
“You are smart. I keep forgetting how you get what you want. You wanted me and here I am like your puppet. Esther, did it ever occur to you that it is not the sex I want but to be close to you? We have great sex but after the sex, I just want to be with you. I want you for you. I love your body but I love your whole self more. I can’t kick Rachel out but we can have a full-blown relationship without interfering with our private lives.”
“So you want to have sex with Rachel but you don’t want me to have sex with anyone else?”
“I did it for you and now you will do it for me.”
“Ok. I will try. I won’t call you except you call me. I will create boundaries. If it doesn’t work, we can go back to the status quo.”
“It will work. We are two busy people. Let us make this work.”
“I want to be married before Jake is released. Have that at the back of your mind.”
Jake spent an entire week with Esther. He worked from her home while she went to the store. She started cooking for him and he loved to watch her cook. They talked and played a lot. She spoke with her children every night, they were having a blast. Jake spoke with his children during the day. It worked out.
When the week was over, he left. It ached his heart he had to leave her. They kissed at the airport and she allowed him to go. Esther cried in the car. She missed Efe already. She wanted to be with him but she couldn’t push him to make a decision. She didn’t want to sound desperate.
That night as she lay in bed, she waited for him to call or send a message. He didn’t. She felt terrible. She wanted to talk to him. As she was about to close her eyes, she got a notification. It was a message from Efe.
Efe: Rushed into a meeting when I arrived. Got a new client, and it was quite surprising as we never prospected them. Spent hours in the office. Got home not too long ago. I’m still working but I can’t stop thinking about you. I had an amazing time with you as I always do.
Esther: Thanks for the message. I’m happy for you. The house misses your presence.
Efe: And you don’t?
Esther: I miss your more.
Efe smiled. He knew he had gotten her where he wanted her. She was relaxed around him. He wondered what was so special about him that Esther could not get from other men. Why did she keep choosing him? He had to decide when he would see her again. Once her kids come back, it had to be in hotels. He didn’t also like the fact that they will be sneaking around. He wanted to know if it was for real before he made drastic changes.