“You do know that you have to deal with this issue real quick do you?” Fehintola asked a she slid her suit onto the rack.
Ola took a seat.
“… you know you are just dragging this whole issue. Are you guilty or not? Say and help your lawyer.”
“What then am I paying him for? To send me to jail?” he frowned.
Fehintola took a seat. “You see what happened back there, it was just a tip of the iceberg. Many others would turn their backs not because they know what you did or didn’t do but because they don’t.”
“then they are fools!”
“See Ola, I don’t know what matters most to you… you or your person… this, all this is your person, it’s what makes the world recognise you, without all this, your just another common man on the streets. As a very good friend I’d advice that you don’t guard you at the expense of your person.”
Ola was once again blank. It was as though her words pierced his soul. Ola knew his importance at the firms. If he left, the whole thing would crumble.
“I did it.”
Fehintola was shocked to the last nerve.
“I raped the girl.”
“You’re pulling my legs right?”
Ola sighed. “I always have had this wrong feeling towards girls… a very perverse one, I tried to control it by giving to them. I just thought it was about me just liking cute small girls but I just didn’t know what came on me.”
“Just stop talking already okay!” Fehintola cut in. that was obviously one hard one to take… who would have thought? Ola, the fact that he did it was now not the problem but how to keep him from a jail term.
“We should tell your lawyer.”
“So that he could?”
“At least he’d know what he’s in for… it’ll be totally unfair to him.”
Ola stood to take his leave. “No one else hears this.”
The wind was strong, really strong such that the road had been blocked by a fallen tree branch. Traffic had built and the cold had started to warm up for a major entry. It was as though a snow storm was headed to Nigeria as well as a whirlwind or a tsunami along the coast that borders the Atlantic.
This was the perfect night for the day for Ola. He walked along the shores close to the calm water of the lagoon. His muffler greatly disturbed by the hard blowing wind that made it difficult to even listen well to the person right next to you. Ola wasn’t affected by that… no one was there.
He had been walking for about an hour as the wind continued to blow… just as the first drops of rain began to fall, he stopped at the exact spot he was looking for. He turned and gazed far into the lagoon over the Atlantic Ocean. The tears began to flow down his cheeks as he remembered the events that occurred the last time he was there.
Ola’s parents used to be fishers… growing up, he was trained in the art of fishing and at the age of 8, he would venture as far as a day’s journey off shore alone just to get fish. Like all great fishermen know, the best time to catch fish is in the night when surface water temperatures are cool. That night, his dad and brother had ventured in to the lagoon just before the rain and didn’t return as the storm increased in intensity. After a day and a half, his mother had taken the onus upon herself to check for them but never returned as well. He and his younger brother had to live through their noses to survive. After he had gotten over all that happened to him, he had made a vow never to eat any seafood or even get on a boat ever in his life.
That very night, he was to break his vow.
Some men just returned from a trip off shore and amongst them was one person Ola could never mistake.
The young man didn’t recognise whoever it was that called his name. Ola took careful paces towards him as he offloaded his canoe.
“Musa! It’s Ola.”
The man took a closer look, one wouldn’t blame him. Living in the riverine areas makes one susceptible to night blindness… loss of accommodation power as well affected his sight till a bright light shone on Ola’s face from the third mainland bridge not too far away from them.
“Ola!” he screamed in joy. “You’re still alive! Gracious goodness… Alhamdulillah.”
Ola was sort of dazed. “Did you get news that I died?”
“Please come to our house…” he said and dragged him along with the catch for the night to the little wood house.
They took a seat.
“The way you left without saying anything… we all thought you went to commit suicide…”
“What brings you… you’ve changed a lot since I last saw you.”
“Rather, a lot has changed since we last saw but that’s not what brings me. Our house has been destroyed right?”
Musa nodded the affirmative.
“What of our boats and equipment?”
“We sold the equipment that was left but the boat is still available. We use it when anyone has a faulty boat.”
“Where is it now?”
Musa paused. “With Taribo just across there.”
“Thanks… I’ll see you.” Ola stood to take his leave, he paused, looked at the bowl of soup he was served and picked out the fish and left.
Musa followed him from afar and watched with curiosity as Ola retrieved the boat from Taribo. He watched as Ola set sail and ventured into the deep. He knew Ola had to be insane.
He was there while Ola made the vow… he witnessed Ola keep it for 3 years before he ‘escaped’. Ola would get charity fish from Musa’s parents but would walk the long distance to the market only to exchange for a not equivalent amount of beef or egg or sometimes money. The closest distance Ola kept with a water body was the distance between his house and the water body. A lot had truly changed but the manner of this change aroused suspicions.
Musa had wanted to head in behind him but the rain had become quite heavy and wind storm wouldn’t just be lighter let alone go away. Ola lost his parents to a storm and close to 20 years later, he decides to want to follow in their footsteps?
He unanchored his canoe and followed doggedly behind the not-so conscious Ola.
Ola had never taken any chance to see again the waters where his parents died- or at least left him. Now he was ready. He had moved quite far… he still remembered the rule… the limit of his travel was almost upon him. He stopped.
“I miss you mom!”
He took a couple of deep breaths as the water streamed from his head.
“Why didn’t you come back dad?”
Now the tears were entering the mix… but they were obviously invisible because of the rain… this was what Ola needed… the time to go back in time and sort it all out from the beginning.
He just sat there for about 30 minutes. Musa watched him the whole time. By now, the rain had begun to subside, calm was returning and so it was for Ola… A ferry was making its way across the lagoon as well. Ola decided it was time to go.
He started the engine and made the turn to the shores. The ferry was in high speed and collided with Ola’s boat. Almost immediately about 4 men from the ferry dived in after Ola forcing Musa to stop his motion in the water. He watched as they dregged him onto their ferry, hit him hard three times and cuffed him to the rails. Next they navigated towards his canoe and inspected it for a while. He ducked inside the water and made for the capsized canoe. He watched them leave and then made for the shore.