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Auchi, Saturday, June 2, 1962
There is something terrifying about the night. The far-reaching darkness. The thickness of nothingness and the pure weight of cold fear. One could touch it if one but stretched out his hands. The unending stretch of blackness, the absolute stillness of silence and unsettling tension in expectation of pure evil.
Then at first ray of light, the hope of life is restored. Hope replaces fear, and man would roam the earth as one who ruled completely, one without fear – for twelve hours. Alas, darkness descends again and if one thought about it deep enough, one might discover that the earth recreated itself in 24hours.
A repeated cycle starts with these altering words – Let there be light.
It was on such a terrifying night that Agnes Ohiemi, wife of dedicated choir master, Kimi Ohiemi, after 19 hours of labor gave birth to two beautiful girls. These identical twins would grow to hate themselves and wish the other was never born. No two human beings could be any more different than these two.
The first, a rather small bundle, with a loud aggressive wail came out the moment the minute hand clocked 3: 00 am. The three women from the church shouted praises as they held the feisty baby and severed the placenta from the mother not paying attention to the weak Agnes who was fast losing strength and blood. The pastor’s wife who doubled as the official midwife of her parish began the bloody task of cleaning the exhausted Agnes when she noticed movement in the bowels of the mother.
“There is another baby coming” the pastor’s wife proclaimed and the old prayer warrior among the women broke into spiritual tongues that sounded like confused clash of vowels and Greek alphabets. The task to birth the second child proved more difficult than any other birthing they had witnessed while the mother slipped in and out of consciousness.
“Let us take her to the hospital” Sister Pamela, the new convert weakly suggested only to be rebuked hotly and told to continue in supplication for the life of their dear sister.
The thing was, the church forbade orthodox medicine and believed strongly in fruits to cure diseases ranging from prostate cancer to HIV/AIDs. As dedicated and core believers, Kimi and his wife decided to follow the church mandate and all through her difficult pregnancy refused to go to the hospital. Instead they believed in the word of God and the holy unfailing words of the prophet while taking fruits, vegetables and the Holy Communion after they broke fast daily. While Agnes had not completed the 40 days of dry fasting and prayer as required, she was severely malnourished and weak.
The battle to give birth to the baby girl turned spiritual as they began praying and singing praises like Paul and Silas, speaking in holy tongues while the old prayer warrior continued to force the baby out.
After another 3 hours, just at the first ray of light, the second baby girl glided out, pale and still. The mother, almost gone now urged the women to make her baby cry. And when she gave her first cry after a weak cough, the beautiful young woman smiled and laid down comfortably, closing her eyes with a smile, welcoming the sweet relief as her ravaged body allowed her breathe escape and her gentle spirit ease out into that place of permanent darkness.
She had finished her purpose, so the pastor said the next day in a powerful sermon in church while the distraught husband led the choir. Weakness was of the enemy and only show of strength could drive the devil far away.
The first girl would later be named Josephine and her quiet and frail sister, Florence.
Kimi didn’t mourn his wife, in fact after eight months, he got married to a dedicated sister in the choir. It was necessary because a man was not meant to be without a wife, temptations abound and this man had new born babies – two beautiful identical girls who up until the shabby wedding were with his mother in the village.
It was this new woman, this desperate repentant prostitute Eunice, that would raise the girls up in a wicked way, fueling the jealousy and hatred in their little hearts. It gave her pleasure when they fought, she always instigated it because it calmed her heart. She could not bear children because she had lost her womb several years ago after an unsuccessful attempt in aborting a child that was as a result of rape she had continuously endured in the hands of her sister’s husband.
It was only human that her sister threw her out into the streets and from where she sold her barren womb for money until she met the lord and accepted Him as her lord and personal Savior. She was a new being and she ate more vegetables and fruits than were necessary. Perhaps, at the scent of rain, her dead womb would sprout forth. It never did.
Kimi fathered a son outside his home 3 years later but it was forgivable in the sight of God and the church. A man needed an heir, and like his father Abraham, he had found himself a Hagar – Eunice’s best friend – and his Ishmael became the responsibility of Eunice.
It was this dysfunctional home that Josephine, Florence and Kenneth (Ishmael) had their childhood. Josephine, born several hours before Florence, was arrogant, selfish, intelligent, covetous and utterly wicked. She wanted everything for herself and couldn’t stand the fact that another being had her exact flawless pretty features. It became too much when Florence, quiet,brilliant, reserved and vengeful grew more beautiful. Her eyes shone bright when she smiled and her breasts stood proudly, framing her hourglass figure that stood on impossibly long straight legs. Florence despised Josephine for one reason only – her ability to take what was rightfully hers and get away with it.
From the first day they could walk and talk, they stayed away from each other like one would avoid a leper. Kenneth got into trouble at school for removing panties of his female classmates and would later lose his life as he tried to escape a robbery where he had gotten carried away and raped his principal’s daughter who teased senior boys in school.
The principal who overpowered the trio, forced their locally made guns from their hands and shot at their heads one by one.
He was a member of the Kimi Ohiemi’s church. That was the last day Kimi went to church.
Florence first memories of Josephine’s covetousness went back to their clothes, plates, school bags and boys. From the moment boys became a steady diet in their days, Josephine was perpetually on the lookout for the latest boy that Florence was dating and within days deceived them into thinking she was Florence. At the beginning, Florence threw a storm and burnt all her clothes but their step-mother had sided with Josephine and asked Josephine to burn hers in return. Kimi was far too gone in liquor to care about the fire in his home. That had been the last time Florence retaliated actively. Instead she poured purgative in Josephine meal, tore her notebooks and misplaced her assignments. Once she poured wata pia-pai inside Josephine’s plate of Ogbono soup but had a change of heart and threw away the food before she got to taste it. Florence figured she had to find a way to get rid of her sister, rat poison would be too easy. In years to come, Florence would greatly regret this.
Josephine couldn’t care less. She enjoyed the thrill of stealing whatever belonged to Florence and most especially the boys. They should be coming for her, she was the oldest and so naturally, she should have the handsome boys, loveliest of clothes and the attention of everyone, including their pastor who had since been ministering to her behind locked doors.
At 18, Florence got admitted into the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study Architecture and was thrilled at finally leaving home to chart a new path away from her twin, however, it was one of those dreams one had before mid-day, short, believable and abrupt. The next year, Josephine transferred herself from Nsukka to Zaria School of Nursing and became a torn in Florence’s flesh once more.
It was at this time that Badmus Bello entered their lives. It was at this time that they became mortal enemies.
Zaria, October, 1981
Badmus Bello, son of Otunba Falaye Bello, exporter of cotton, groundnut and tomatoes was known across Northern part of the country. Otunba Funtua, as fondly called by the locals had considerably amassed a good name, great influence and intimidating net worth. Badmus was funny as he was intelligent and rich on campus. Popular, handsome and domineering, it was inevitable that females flocked around him and him, having more than enough females to go round would share with his friends.
He was a Mechanical Engineering student and was in his 3rd year at the University with a lot of females vying for his attention. Life of the party, one did not host a party and didn’t invite him. His friend Abba, an equally egoistic territorial animal was hosting a party and Godiya, Florence’s new friend was invited to attend the hottest party of the semester. She absolutely had to go and needed a wing. Florence would be that reluctant wing. After several weeks of non-stop pestering, Florence gave up and was forced into a pair of tight flamboyant trousers and blouse that pressed against her breasts like rubber band. She hated herself and Godiya even more.
The teaming house with equally tight clothed females and randy males irritated Florence to no end. It was everything that she knew it would be and more. She finally snuck out of the building the moment Abba had taken Godiya to the dance floor. Practically escaping out of the big house, she stepped out just in time to see a male student hit a female few meters away from the gate of the big house in the Government Residential Area, in glare of loiters who were drunk and fooling around. Angered, Florence watched him slap her again moved swiftly where they stood and removed her high heels in quick succession before slamming him on the back of his head with all the strength in her tiny limbs and heaving chest that was beating furiously. The impact left him in deep pain as he turned to find the source of the attack.
He turned with a stunned look on his face. Speechless as he stared down at the slim pretty girl with flashing eyes and heaving chest. It did no go good that her firm breasts pressing against her blouse revealed her tight nipples.
“How does it feel now? You don’t slap her around like some slave because you can” she said in a hiss and watched him stare at her as she walked past them and found her way out of the compound, eyes of bystanders following her out.
The next morning, he was waiting in front of the hostel for her.
“You think I won’t find you?” he asked as soon as he saw her stop in mid steps, regarding him carefully. Tall, domineering and a little intimidating, Badmus Bello watched her eyes regard him coldly before matching past him in a hurry. Now that she wasn’t angry and irritated, Florence was afraid of the male leaning against his car.
“I don’t know you” she answered as he caught up with her, stopping her from breaking into a run. She was heading to her class to finish an assignment. It was a Saturday.
Florence at this time was in her second year but she was dedicated to graduating with a first class for a scholarship that would take her out of the country and forever away from her evil sister and her fragmented family.
“Sure you do. I have you to thank for this” he said removing his face cap and Florence drew in her breath. His head where she had used her shoe had a blood soaked cotton wool sticking to it.
“I am so sorry. I didn’t know I hit you that hard” she apologized, looking at the red soaked cotton wool and looking away, ashamed of her anger, afraid of what he’d do to her now or if he would ask that she pay for the treatment. She couldn’t afford that.
“I thought you said you didn’t know me?” Bello asked, trying so hard to keep a straight face. He was intrigued by the constant change of her facial expressions and the biting of her lower lips, eyes framed by long natural lashes hiding her beautiful eyeballs. She was a fine thing and he wanted her.
“Look, I am sorry. You had no right to slap her like that and I got carried away” she said as she decided to go back to her room. She didn’t feel safe standing with him while he looked down at her.
At 5ft 5 inches, she was petite as he stood at 6ft 4inches of pure maleness. In the daylight, she noticed his good looks and for a moment looked at him straight in the eyes that registered an awareness that would be the beginning of their relationship.
“I had no right. I was fuming mad at her but I know I crossed the line and I am sorry” he apologized with a half-moon smile dancing on his lips while he peeled off the red cotton wool on his head.
“You tricked me!” was all she said in a laugh as she noticed that there was nothing wrong with his head. He joined in the laugh too.
“You deserved it” was his playful reply. It was a go.
The two were inseparable after then. It would be the first time Florence would give herself to a man completely. Bello, instead of Badmus, as people called him, was her first, and her last.
She had screamed and bitten him the first time he pushed into her wetness on his firm mattress where he had taken other girls but this time, he didn’t understand his need to consume her, remain embedded in her warmness and tightness. He couldn’t even remember his name as he spilled his seed and murmured her name again and again. She was shaking like a lone leaf in harmattan and wanted nothing more than his warmth. Her heart beat so fast she counted numbers to slow down the rate at which her heart pounded against her rib cage.
The next time he saw her, after a week of trying to ignore her on campus, he felt drawn to her, like moth to flame. He couldn’t stay away and ached when she did as much as smile or laugh at something a male friend of hers said. He had taken to randomly visiting her department building in hopes of seeing her but actually telling himself he was checking on his young brother, Sule.
“I thought we were done” she said bravely as she sat in his car as they took an early evening drive outside the school. She knew the moment she left him the day he had taken her virginity that he had gotten what he wanted and was not surprised when he stopped coming by her hostel and class.
Now here he was, looking at her and smiling, occasionally shaking his head.
“I thought so too. Apparently, I can’t get over you as I have with other girls” he said easily with a light laugh. He felt the opposite. He was afraid of his true feelings. He couldn’t come to terms with the fact that he had been caught in the proverbial web of love as his friend Garba had the previous year and had gotten married to Laila, his second cousin who was barely a teenager. He just couldn’t be falling into love with this Eastern girl, he couldn’t. But he was and it terrified him that he knew the end of his free days were here.
“Look, I am not other girls and certainly won’t die for you like they do” she spat almost too forcefully. She lied, she liked him terribly and hurt every day he didn’t come around to see her.
“I don’t want you to die for me. I just want you to be mine only” he said as he parked in a secondary school football field several kilometers away from the University.
“That’s not possible” she said, her heart singing for joy at his demand.
“It is. You just have to make it possible. Right now, I want to see you behind the wheel” he said in a laugh and got down for her to take over the steering wheel.
That was the start of their exclusive relationship.
He couldn’t wait to see her in school, have lunch or cook dinner with her. The moment he wasn’t with her, he wondered what she was doing. Was she with another man? Did she want him as much as he wanted her? Did she love him as he did? Bello had finally bitten the love bug and his friends teased him sore.
Then one Sunday night, he saw her in the arms of another boy at the Nursing department and was so mad that he charged across the hall and hurled the boy away from her.
He demanded an explanation and for a moment, a blank stare replied him before a smile broke out knowingly on the same lips that he had fallen in love with for the last 5 months. Only that, the girl who stood before him was not Florence but her twin sister, Josephine.
The moment Josephine knew that Florence had deceived her into thinking she was going out with Obinna, the boy who had been hurled off her, she dropped the confused boy like hot nail and moved on to Bello in a heartbeat.
“I was just telling him to let me be” Josephine impersonated Florence’s smooth small voice when she wanted to clear up a situation. Nothing gave Josephine satisfaction like seeing Florence heartbroken or sad because one of her handsome boyfriends had fallen into her trap again. This time, it was the big catch. Who didn’t know bad boy Badmus Bello.
Bello stopped at the voice and watched as she came over to take his hand. Florence wasn’t this forward but he let her hold him anyways. He felt the disconnection but it didn’t help that she kept trying to explain what he just saw and was apologizing as he drove her to her hostel.
“Where are we going?” Josephine asked, fearful at the direction they were going. She didn’t want to go to her sister’s hostel.
“To your room” he answered quietly.
“But I don’t want to go to my room now. Let’s go to your place” she cooed.
“You have to study for tomorrow’s paper” he reminded her.
“I am done” Josephine lied.
Bello, eager to show her who she belonged to did not waste time and took her straight to his house. He was on her the moment she had her leg in the door, tearing off her skirt and blouse, ripping her bra and pushing her against the wall.
“I told you, you belong to me. No man else. I want you to know that, do you understand that?” he asked hotly as he pounded away, too hot to bother about the difference in the feeling. She wasn’t snug and tight like Florence, she didn’t hold him and clinch the tip of his maleness with her clitoral muscle as she normally did.
Bello was in bed with the wrong sister and like it would always happen, Florence who was indeed done with her studying decided to go surprise him. It had been a long time without him and she missed having his arms around her when she slept.
Florence opened his front door with her key and walked quietly to his room. What she saw that night broke her spirit. Her twin sister had won again. Lying in each other’s arm, naked and blissfully asleep, she stood and wept noiselessly, sniffing and crying all over again.
She stood there for a couple of hours before Bello felt presence in his room and switched on his light to find Florence standing in front of his bed, tears and catarrh running down her nose.
For a moment, he was confused but skipped out of bed when the hand splayed across his broad chest moved. There was another Florence on his bed.
“What is this? Who are you?” he asked Florence, putting on his discarded boxers hurriedly. Florence watched Josephine wake up and curl comfortably without bothering to cover herself. The rush of pure hatred that filled her that the day was like none she had experienced over the years. She was in love for the first time and Josephine had destroyed it.
“You just had sex with my twin sister Josephine. I am Florence. Goodbye Bello” she said slowly, stemming her rage as she pointed at Josephine with dead eyes before rushing out of the house. A dumbfounded Bello stood looking at the girl on his bed, seeing no difference, he followed his heart out a minute too late. She was gone.
Josephine, shaken by the look Florence had given her knew this was the last straw. She knew it was never going to get any better than this and knew instinctively if she did not act now, Florence was going to get even. How? She didn’t want to find out. She had to get rid of her mirror image. It was settled.
Florence left Zaria to Auchi two days later, after her last paper and avoided Bello like a plague. She had found out she was pregnant the following day after the horrible night at the student clinic and was afraid of what she was going to do about it now that it was over between them. It would be the last time she would see Bello.
Over the holiday in Auchi, an attempt would be made on Florence’s life that left Josephine, family and church members to believe she was dead. The burial had taken place days after finding a faceless body that had been sacrificed to a deity and thrown on the bush path.
What nobody knew was that Josephine had sold her supposedly virgin sister to some group of boys who needed virgins because she was sure Florence was one. What she didn’t know was that Florence was pregnant and the deity rejected her because it could not take a new life, or so the native doctor said when his ige told him the girl was pregnant.
Florence, weak and spaced-out, was left in the thick forest to die. However, a new convert of the terrible gang returned for her at nightfall and rescued her. He told her days after she recovered from her state not to return home because her sister had staged her kidnap and would try to get rid of her by paying his leader who she had been sold to.
Afraid for her life and the Bello’s baby, she fled with the new convert to Osogbo.
The body belonging to an actual virgin that looked like Florence’s was left as arranged. Josephine was ecstatic. Her mirror image was gone forever.
In far north, Josephine took over Florence’s course, friends and forgave Bello, as was intended. No one was any wiser of the switch. Josephine, an intelligent girl, graduated in Florence’s stead and after another three years graduated as Josephine.
Bello, still in love, proposed and took Josephine home to meet his parents.
Later, Josephine would convert to Islam to impress Badmus father who wanted his son to follow his faith. That singular act endeared her to Otunba and not long after their wedding, she became Alhaja Kudirat Bello, wife of Chief Badmus Bello.
If life wasn’t for those who took it by force, who else’s would it be?
But this was not the end, this would only be the beginning.
M.O.T.I.V.E.S is written by;
Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger on Amazon.com
See new book Love on the 25th on Okadabooks http://goo.gl/hmsKnv
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