I had a couple of theories on what Ayo planned on discussing with Susan but I still was not exactly sure of which way she would go.
Susan had walked into the room and from how she sat on the edge of the chair, she was clearly nervous and that was understandable because I would have been nervous if I was in her shoes.
“Hello Susan, my name is Ayo. I’m her friend,” she said, pointing at me. “And I’m sure you know she is Greg’s elder sister, right?”
Susan nodded in response.
“Before I go any further, how old are you?” Ayo asked pacing round the chair Susan sat on.
“Sixteen plus,” Susan replied.
“Oh! I see. And which class are you?”
“Good,” she replied and leaned on the chair Susan was sitting on from the back, “So what the hell are you doing with a thirteen years old kid?” She asked.
Susan kept her quiet for a while, staring at me as if she expected me to intervene or something but even I wanted to know the answer to this question.
“I asked you a question!” Ayo said as she had not gotten a reply.
“Nothing, he is just my friend,” she finally replied.
“So you could not find any of you age mate to be friends with?” I asked standing up and starting to pace too.
Susan had a confused look on her face.
“We just moved into the neighbourhood not quite long ago so I don’t have any friends yet,” Susan replied.
“Funmi, is that answer fair enough?” Ayo asked me.
I reason her reply and it makes some sense but I still have some reservations.
“Greg is not around right now so I’m going to let you go but I’m going to be blunt with you,” I started to say, “I don’t like you being around my brother so I’ll advice you keep away,” I said so calmly it sounded sinister.
“And consider that a warning, you might not get another one. Am I understood?” Ayo asked.
Already visibly shaking, Susan nodded rather furiously. I feared her head would fall off.
“Good! Now run back to your house!” Ayo yelled.
Susan quickly bolted out of the house in a flash. I was sure she would not be a problem anymore.
Once she bangs the door behind her, both I and Ayo starts to laugh uncontrollably.
I love going to church. Not just any church but my family church which had been our preferred place of worship since my birth.
I would not bullshit you and tell you my love is as a result of how well the pastor preaches because I frankly don’t care about that but my love is simply because I get to see my friends once again.
Growing up, if you needed to see me you should check my school first but if I’m not there then you go straight to my church and I bet you’ll find me there.
Spending so much time in church was all thanks to my mother who was a chorister, the leader of the girls brigade and a regular volunteer of the cleaners committee. So if she was not singing, she was marching or sweeping, either ways, we were almost always at church.
After spending so much time in the church vicinity, I naturally started making friends with other kids that were in the same shoes as mine.
They say twenty friends cannot play together for twenty years. So as time went by, these friends grew up and for several reasons either stopped being my friend or stopped attending the church. This continued happening until my long list of friends was cut down to just two people, Daniel and Dora.
As customary, dad woke me up by 4am to start preparing for a church service which was to begin by 7am. He never joked with his punctuality. He always claimed that the two most important segment of the service were the opening prayers and the closing prayers.
Due to this fact and to avoid missing the opening prayer, we got to church that Sunday morning so early that Ayo had to ask, “Abeg, na your papa dey hold the church key?”
Even though she whispered it, my mum who we did not notice was at our back as we walked to the chapel from the car park heard it and chuckled.
“Don’t let him hear you oh,” she said smiling as she walked passed up.
“Your mum is so cool,” Ayo said after she was sure no one was around.
“Yea, she could be at times but when she gives you tonnes of chores to do every day you might reconsider your stand,” I replied.
We got into the chapel and of course sat at the very last seat at the back. The church was almost empty safe for my family and a lady who was dusting the altar.
I and Ayo did not have much so chat about so after I told her about Maxwell’s text message and she teasing me about how she knew something else had motivated me to rush back to school we were quiet until the service started.
“In the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit,” the priest started to say from the altar as we all stood up. The chapel was almost filled with people by now.
As the service progressed I was finally relieved to see when both Daniel and Dora walked into the church through the back door because in my attempt to surprise them I had purposely not called either of them to inform them of my presence.
I had to wave furiously before Daniel eventually turned and spotted me. His initial sober face turned into a wide smile. He tapped Dora who was looking around for a place to sit and without any hesitation they both walked to where I was and sat down by my side.
“When did you get home from school?” Daniel asked excitedly.
“Just on Friday,” I replied.
“And you did not think calling me would have been smart abi?” Dora asked, she found that rather offensive.
“Anhan, calm down na, I only wanted to surprise you guys,” I explained.
“You know how I feel about surprises, I’ve warned you specifically not to try and surprise me,” she replied. I actually did know she did not like surprise and there is a story behind it but that’s a story for another day.
“Dora, it’s not fight na,” Daniel replied, “Oya Funmi tell her sorry.”
“I’m sorry, you know I would never offend you knowingly,” I apologized.
“It’s cool,” she replied and then smiled and turn to me, “So what did you bring for us na?”
I laughed, “So you expect me that is coming from school that is basically filled with stress and suffer to bring something for you that has been at home flexing?”
“As far as I am concerned you travelled and when someone travels they bring something for the people they left at home,” Dora said.
“Firstly my school is still in this same Lagos so that doesn’t classify as travel but if you still insist, I brought book for you?”
Daniel laughed as he heard this, “wetin you wan make we do with your book na?”
“I expect you to read and acquire knowledge,” I said with a smile.
An usher who was passing by at that moment ask us to keep quiet so our focus turns back to the sermon that was being preached.
The preacher was talking about the only thing they seemed to be always talking about these days, wealth creation through divine means. The entire church was spell bound by his word with everyone taking notes as he preached.
By the time the service was over, I was woken up by Ayo. I did not even know when I slept off. I just found the sermon boring as I had heard so many different versions of it, same old ‘You shall be rich in Jesus name!’ and the usual roar of ‘Amen!’ as if they expected that the person with the loudest amen would receive the most money.
As we walked out of the church paired in twos, I and Ayo, Dora and Maxwell, I noticed that Dora hand was entwined in Daniel’s own.
“Are you guys together now?” I asked with the intention to tease them but the reply was quite shocking.
“Are we that obvious?” Dora asked as she turned around to face me.
My mouth was open, “You are kidding me right?”
“We were going to tell you soon but couldn’t find the perfect timing,” Daniel replied.
“Wow!” I exclaimed.
It was shocking because Daniel had always had a crush on me since childhood and had expressed himself to me but I just did not feel same way for him, but he had promised that he would wait till whenever I was ready. Dora all along had always teased us about it and here they were, admitting they were an item now.
I know I had no right to be angry or jealous but deep within me I felt a bit sad and I could not understand why.
“I’m sorry Funmi,” Dora said as she figured what I was thinking.
“Sorry for what? I’m happy for you guys,” I lied. I really felt jealous.
“Phew! You don’t know how relieved I am to hear that,” Daniel replied. “Let’s go to that store at the front of the church and maybe grab some drinks,” he suggested.
“Nah, I need to go home and get ready for school,” I declined. Although getting ready for school was important, I really just wanted to leave their presence.
They reluctantly had to let me go as my excuse was perfect and I went home using public transport because my dad had left by that time. You notice how dad always forced me to come to church but don’t bother to take me back home, right? Maybe one of these days when the wires in my head touch, I would fight such injustice.
Henry is a big fool. He is being investigated for a murder which he is guilty of and the fool is there fooling around with some random chick. Why does it seem like I am the only one that is really worried about the possibility of being caught and convicted?
As I arrived at the gate of my house I heard someone call my name from behind, so on turning around I saw Mary-Anne walking towards me holding a nylon bag, I gathered she was just coming from the market.
“What’s up na, you just left me at the lounge yesterday,” she said as she got close enough.
I had forgotten all about that. “Oh! I’m so sorry dear, I left with some guy like that and you know we both had quite a few drinks,” I replied walking into the house.
“It’s okay. Anyway I saw that handsome guy you left with,” she winked at me.
I force a smile, “You did?”
“Yea I did. What his deal anyway?” she asked.
I became a little defensive as I don’t want to even remember what the ‘handsome guy’ had requested I did for him.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I’m just curious to know more about the guy that made you leave me at the lounge without even saying goodbye.”
“Nothing happened between us if that’s what you what you want to hear,” I replied. I thought about telling her about the whole incident starting from the very beginning hoping maybe she would be able to advise me on how to go about the issue but since she had nothing to do with the whole case, I hold back the thought.
“So you left me all for nothing?” she asked.
She was starting to get pushy and I was starting to get suspicious.
“If there is anything you want to tell me, start talking,” I replied her as attempt to open my door with the key.
She paused as I asked the question.
“What makes you think there is something I would want to tell you?” she asked.
“Madam what’s up with you, if you want to talk, talk, if you don’t want to, no wahala” I yelled a little too loudly.
“Calm down jhur, I’m just asking because you are now my good friend and I don’t want you to get hurt,” she said.
My interest was piqued. “What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“He approached me this morning,” she vaguely replied.
“What did he want?”
“Something about the death of Agbaya.”
As soon as I heard this, I realize that maybe she have something to do with the whole case after all. I decided it was time to involve someone else that is not more concerned with getting laid than being arrested.
“Come in,” I said and let her walk through my door.
That was the beginning of the end.
TO BE CONTINUED