Days stretched into weeks and months and years. No leads to finding Bianca were given to Idris and Victoria, and all access Idris had to Captain was blocked. Idris had paid more than a few good private investigators to look for Bianca, but nothing good came out of the search. The couple of times Victoria visited Captain to demand Bianca’s whereabouts, Captain demanded for sexual favors in exchange for information.
Victoria was now a woman who controlled Idris’ empire, a phoenix that had risen from the death of the simpleton she once used to be. Ambitious and ruthless, she had taken over the operations of the Bahago Farms after coming into a mutual agreement with Idris, to help expand the business across Africa. She had learned a thing or two from her past and had become steely in her deals. It was believed that she had made people disappear who stood in her way, but no one had proof of such allegations. Hence, when Captain presented her with a moral dilemma over information on Bianca, her refusal was not because she was faithful to Idris; it was because she felt that knowing where Bianca was located wasn’t much a worthy trade-off for her body. She was content to watch Idris struggle with the loss of his favorite child. It made him more focused in his pursuits and hard-nosed in business. And she told Luke this, earning a smile from his face, and later on, a package from him with a handwritten note that said: for being a constant feature in my wet dreams…
When she opened the package, she found pictures of Bianca, now a twelve year-old. The child looked well and strong. Victoria fell to the floor of her office and wept in relief. She made a trip to Taraba state where Idris was neck deep in one of his farms and showed him the pictures. And just like her, he wept.
“She looks like her mother,” he whispered.
“She took your height and eyes.”
“Do you think she remembers us?”’
“She can never forget,” Victoria answered. He fought with his tears. Victoria smiled, watching him.
“Your baby will be fine,” she assured.
Idris made dinner later. It was tuwo and miyan kuka, which was his favorite. They sat together at the backyard of his house. The building was on his most spacious property, stretching out to acres of wheat, corn, millet, sorghum and barley on one side, and a cattle ranch on the other.
“Muna has been disturbing my ears with wanting a horse,” Victoria mentioned.
Idris laughed. It had been a while she had seen him genuinely laugh. She had missed the way in which his shoulders shook and his eyes twinkled like a little child’s.
“Why would a twelve year-old want a horse for heaven’s sake?” she commented.
“Muna wants a polo pony specifically.”
“A polo pony? There’s a difference between them and normal horses?”
“That’s what they are called.”
“I blame you for taking her to the polo tournament.”
“Yohan was playing for the first time.”
“It’s no place for a girl. Don’t they call it the sport of kings?”
“For a woman who stands shoulder high with men, this is rather disappointing coming from you, Vicky. My daughters would go anywhere and everywhere men go. They would not be restricted by their gender.”
“I agree with you on that one. But Muna wanting a horse just because she knows you’ll give her one is what I don’t like. Please, don’t indulge her.”
“She will get one on her thirteenth birthday. A fine Argentinian breed and Yohan will teach her how to ride it.”
“We don’t have the space for that or even a stable.”
“Then we’ll get a bigger house and build a stable.”
“Idris, you spoil that girl too much. She throws tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants. I had to get out of character and slap her the other day because she flung something at Polo when he asked her to take off her shoes in the sitting room. She had such a mouth on her that I had to slap her.”
“You shouldn’t have. A simple word with her would have sufficed.”
“We are beyond words now, Id. Stop indulging the child. You are spoiling her.”
“Take away some of her privileges.”
“I do that already. I feel you need to step up with discipline too. The boys are well-behaved. Well, except for Yohan who keeps jumping from one girl to another.”
“But seriously, we need to handle Muna better, as a team.”
“She’ll be fine.”
The dinner progressed in silence, and when they were done, they went into the kitchen to wash the dishes. Victoria did the washing while Idris slipped a hand underneath her blouse to find her breasts.
“Still firm after four children. Still scrumptious.”
They hadn’t been intimate since Bianca’s disappearance, largely due to Idris’ cold attitude towards everyone asides his children. Victoria hadn’t bothered much about not being in his circle of warmth. She had had other men in his absence and had been satisfied by them. But now as she felt his hands on her body, she realized how much she had missed and still wanted him.
They sought for privacy in his room and had passionate sex. Afterwards, she told him she was getting married.
“Married?” He looked at her, turning away from disposing off a condom she had brought along and insisted on using.
“But you said you were done with men…”
“And yet, here I am with you.”
“No wonder, the condom.”
“Id, this is a business thing for me. He’s in the oil and gas sector. I’m already breaking into that sphere.”
Idris shook his head. “It’s always about the money, Vicky. You have everything you need with the Bahago Farms. What are you looking for again?”
“This isn’t just about money. It’s about name and prestige. When I get connected to that world, imagine what it would do for the Bahago name. Take Yohanna, for example. He’s not the best polo player out there. In fact, he’s just a kid, but he got into that team because of the name…”
“Power intoxicates, Vicky.”
“Yes, I know, and I love the high. The moment I get married to Labode…”
“Labode? Labode Soyombo? The idiot who enjoys wasting his money on vacations and bragging about all the places he’s been in the world?”
“Yes, that idiot. Seems like he lost his mind after the passing of his wife. I’m entering his life, not to fix him, but to help him manage all that money since he doesn’t know what to do with it. The moment I marry him, I get a stake in his company and make myself known in that circle by throwing a couple of fundraising parties for some decent causes. I’ll stay with him awhile and then we get divorced. By then, I would be carrying his child.”
“Do you have to marry him to get all of that?”
“I suppose that is a rhetorical question, Idris. We’re almost in the twenty-first century, yet, a woman can hardly make a mark for herself without the help of a man.”
“That, and if she is of noble birth. And I am not. But I am a vessel of nobility. I birth noble children.”
Idris smiled in the dark. “I can’t even be upset with you, Vicky. You are ridiculous,” he drawled, pulling her close, “and I guess I have to accept you like that. But I want to know where I would fit in once you’re married.”
She spread open her legs. “Right where you want me, Bahago.”
He chuckled quietly as his hand found the pleasure she was offering him. “I love you, Vicky. So much. And I want us back.”
She placed a finger on his lips. “Shhh… Not now.”
They made love one more time, and again, when the sun came up. Afterwards she left. Weeks later, she sent him a postcard from Cook Islands where she had just quietly gotten married to her oil and gas mogul. The next time they communicated was via the phone when she called to tell him she was pregnant for her husband.
“You’re sure the baby’s not mine?”
“As sure as the condoms that trapped your seed that night. This baby is not another Muna. I need him to secure my place in his father’s world.”
“Noble birth, I recall.”
“And how do you know it’s a boy?”
“I know these things.” She rubbed her tummy and added, “I’ve missed you. Bode is…” She sighed. “Boring would be too kind a word to describe him. He’s not here at all, and even when he is, he’s in and out in five seconds.”
Idris snorted mockingly.
“I know, it’s my cross to bear, but I’m pregnant, Id. And I desperately need you. Can you fly over today?”
Idris was ringing her house in the next three hours. When one of her maids informed her that she had a phone call, she knew it was him. She picked the receiver from her end.
“Sheraton. Hurry up.”
She spent the night with him in his hotel room, and many nights after that, each time he dropped into town. Her husband began to grow suspicious, making accusations without proof. Victoria didn’t care. She was beginning to love Idris again. Somehow, what she felt for him had the quality of disappearing and appearing as it so wished. For this moment, she wanted Idris and no one else. Fortunately, she had followed up on her plans. She now had a new clique of friends and business acquaintances added to her circle. Documents with her name on it were signed, and as it were, she was done with the marriage. But she waited to be caught, leaving breadcrumbs for her husband to find. And when he did, he sought for a quick divorce which she acceded to. She was eight months pregnant then. The following month, she remarried Idris in their Lagos home, with their children and domestic staff in attendance, just days before Jethro was born.
The Bahago empire continued to expand, the kids grew and the bond between Victoria and Idris was strengthened, made deeper by Bianca’s reappearance a short while after she turned sixteen. Unlike Tanko’s return, Bianca had snuck into the house before sunrise and sat quietly in the living room. It was the insomniac, Victoria, who saw her first when she came downstairs to start her day. She stared at her through squinted eyes. Bianca was grown, with a figure much like the one her mother had possessed, which Victoria had seen in photos. The girl had Idris’ height already, a slim frame that was not so skinny that it didn’t bear curves.
“Mommy?” Bianca called.
Victoria peered harder into the dark, looking closely at the teenage girl she could hardly recognize.
“Mommy, it’s me. Bibi.”
Wordless, Victoria continued to stare, until Bianca walked over to her and put her arms around her. It was from that moment the tears began in the Bahago mansion. Victoria must have touched her face a thousand times and kissed her forehead just as much. She asked her no questions; just took her hand and led her upstairs to where her father still soundly slept. Idris stirred when the door opened, but didn’t wake up.
“Go.” Victoria urged Bianca towards him. “Go on.”
Bianca went to her father with measured steps. She sat on the bed and laid a hand on him.
He stirred again, and turned, eyes shielded in sleep. It took more than a couple of seconds for him to recognize Bianca. When he did, he sprang up from his lying position, eyes bulging out in disbelief.
“Is this a dream?” He looked at her and Victoria. Both ladies shook their heads. “You’re back?”
Bianca nodded, sniffling. His shoulders lurched forward. A hand flew to his mouth as his eyes twinkled with tears. He stretched out both hands to her.
“Come here, baby.”
Bianca threw herself in his embrace where she remained for a long time. It was Idris whom Victoria had expected to be moved emotionally, but it was Bianca who wept as though she had just lost everyone she held dear. The scene gave Victoria reason to worry. Had Captain lied to them about her wellbeing? Had he not treated her kindly as he had told them?
After the tears and hugs, three of them sat down to have a talk about where Bianca had been.
“You can talk to us,” Victoria urged gently. “Tell us everything.”
Bianca’s head wobbled strongly, her face showing terror. “I don’t want to remember. They made me do things. Please don’t make me remember. Please, don’t.”
“You don’t have to.” Idris held her hand. “Relax.”
And she burst into tears again, clinging to Idris.
“Are you hungry?” Victoria inquired, rising up. “Thirsty? I haven’t stopped making ginger kunu. Your favorite. We have a fresh bottle in the fridge.”
“I’m not hungry. I just want to sleep.”
“By all means.” Idris moved away and let her into the bed while Victoria went downstairs. Idris stayed with his daughter until her eyes shut and she was snoring quietly.
He joined Victoria in the kitchen. She served him a glass of kunu.
“I just asked the guards at the gate where they were when Bibi came in,” Victoria said.
“They said they were awake. She didn’t come in through the gates. They don’t know how she got in.”
“They’re probably lying.”
“Either way, I’m firing them. They’re incompetent.”
Victoria filled a glass of kunu for herself. “But doesn’t it bother you that she actually entered this house without anyone knowing?”
“It more than bothers me. I am elated that she’s back. Very happy. But the whole thing is worrying, especially now, even more than when she was taken. My daughter has muscles like a boy. Her eyes are cold and lost. What did they do to her, Vicky?” he asked in a whisper.
“She seems fine to me.”
“She disappears for eight years and comes back…”
Victoria rested a hand on his back. “Now, calm down, Id. Calm down, mai gida. Your daughter is back, healthy and alive and in one piece.”
“I will kill Captain.”
“Not today. Today is a good day. Today we smile and shed happy tears and throw a party because the daughter who was once lost is now found.”
“He shouldn’t have taken her.”
“I know.” Victoria pressed her lips on his head which was now going bald. “I know, Daddy.”
Idris accepted the peace Victoria sent into him. He kissed her fragile arm that was wrapped around his neck. “I love you, you know that?”
“So, how do we break the news to her siblings? They’ll ask questions, especially Muna. What do we say?”
“She was kidnapped by bad people who hated us. We had thought her dead, but have been doing everything to get her back since she was abducted. We finally found her and negotiated terms for her release.”
“And you think they’ll believe us?”
“People will believe anything you tell them, Idris. The story is never the problem. The storyteller is. Allow me weave my magic into them.”
“Of course, magic weaver.” He looked at her with a proud smile. “Light of my world.”
“Bianca, you mean?”
“Yes, that one too.”
Victoria began preparing for a surprise family party for Bianca with the help of her maids. When the other children woke up and came downstairs, she kept the news from them. They all had school and their jobs to attend to. Her plan was to surprise them in the evening when they got back. But Muna would not give her rest with her characteristic nosy attitude.
“You’re baking a cake? What are we celebrating?”
“Nothing,” her mother replied.
“But we eat cake only on birthdays. Aren’t we doing healthy eating again?”
“We still are,” Victoria answered. “But who says we can’t indulge?”
Tanko walked into the kitchen. It was only seven in the morning and he already had a chocolate bar between his lips. “Who said something about cake?”
Muna rolled her eyes. “Can you just help yourself and stop eating and growing fat?”
Victoria who had been stirring a bowl of cake mixture, lifted her head and gave her daughter a stern glare. She dropped the wooden ladle in her hand and smacked off the lipstick Muna was applying to her lips.
“No makeup to school. I remember telling you that yesterday.”
“And the day before that, and the day before that day,” Tanko added in a comeback.
“Go and roll off a hill of donuts,” Muna retorted.
“And I don’t recall your school uniform being this short,” Victoria scolded. “Don’t push me into getting you a longer one.”
Another rolling of the eyes.
“Set breakfast for everybody,” Victoria ordered.
“Why me every time?”
“Because you are a woman and you will have to take care of your husband and kids.”
“Why though? When I can have maids do the job.”
“Well, pray you marry a man like your father who cooks his own meals and doesn’t mind if some strange woman out there cooks them for him.”
Idris smiled secretly at Victoria’s veiled accusation.
“Exactly. My husband will cook for me and do everything I ask him to do.”
“Young lady, go and set the table. Breakfast is ready.”
Yohan entered the kitchen next. He was on his phone, a Nokia 3310. With one look at him, Victoria was certain he was texting a girl. Like Tanko, he was done with the university, but they both held entry positions in the Bahago Milling Company. Idris’ soft hands on his daughters did not extend to the boys. He was strict with them, especially with Yohan who had become something of a chick magnet because of his polo career which he started at the age of nineteen. Girls were constantly all over him, and he didn’t have the skills to keep them away. The family had already paid heavy for an abortion and to buy the silence of his ex whom he had impregnated.
“Good morning, Dad. Mom?”
Victoria and Idris nodded at the same time.
“I’ll not be coming home tonight,” he announced.
“A friend is having this party and I sort of got invited…”
“This friend doesn’t have a name?”
“Hassan?” Idris asked. “The president’s son?”
“And how many times have we talked about not hanging out with that lost cause?”
“He’s my friend.”
“Yes, I understand that birds of a feather would always fuck together.”
Victoria chuckled, drawing a frown from Yohan.
“I already see the headlines tomorrow. Hassan Bamaiyi and friends waste taxpayers’ hard-earned cash on prostitutes in a hotel.”
“Mom says we always have to network.”
“No, honey,” Victoria answered. “Not this time. I need you home tonight. Alone. Don’t bring anyone.”
“Is anything happening?”
“No. We just want to spend time as a family.”
“And what are we doing now?”
“Just do as your mother says.”
“Yes, sir,” Yohan replied.
“Go and get breakfast.”
He began to walk away, but stopped. “I got the perfect house, Mom. You said I should tell you before I pay for it. It’s a bit pricey though. I don’t have enough cash.”
“We’ll talk about it tonight.”
Yohan left the kitchen.
“You told him to get a house for himself?” Idris asked.
“He’s twenty-three, Id.”
“He’s a dog.”
“He’s my son, and I won’t have you call him that name.”
“He is not ready to live alone. He’ll run bills and throw orgies.”
Victoria smacked her husband lightly. “Stop it.”
“It’s the truth.”
“Well, he’s working and earning cash. This is the best way to teach him responsibility. Besides, the twist is that Tanko will live with him.”
“So he can always report him to you.”
“Yes.” She smiled.
“But on a serious note, your boy is getting fatter. He should watch it.”
“We love him chubby like that. Leave my baby alone.”
“Your baby, if you haven’t noticed, is in love…”
Victoria paused. “With who?”
“The last time he was in Kaduna, he was besotted by my driver’s daughter, Tsakani.”
“Tsakani? The pretty girl that acts like she can’t hurt a fly?”
“Such girls scare me.”
“I’m thinking that we should encourage whatever buds between them.”
“No. She’s a commoner.”
“So were you, and I, if I recall.”
“My son is nobility.”
“And brilliant and with the guts of ten men. He has a good heart too. He deserves better.”
Idris gave no rebuttal. “He’s your boy, after all.”
Polo walked in, quietly like a mouse, but eyes observing everything and everyone in the kitchen. He gesticulated to greet both parents. Victoria had a warm smile. She was thankful that she allowed him get fully involved with his father’s family. The Yoruba blood was in him. Sometimes he even had hints of the ‘H’ factor in his speech, beneath an American accent which was gotten from spending his entire high school years in the States. He was the most refined of the brothers, thanks to his father’s influence on him. He had also become spiritual lately.
“I had a dream about Bianca today,” he said, taking a jug of apple cider from the fridge. Normally, an uneasy silence would follow each time Bianca was mentioned. But the parents simply looked at him.
“It was a good dream though. I was in class and she came and sat beside me. We didn’t talk to each other. We just kept smiling. I miss her.”
“Maybe this morning, we should all pray….”
Jethro made his presence known by crashing into the kitchen from the backdoor with his bicycle. Just four years-old, he was already a handful. Victoria sometimes felt like she was his grandmother, for the reason that she had rested from childbearing before getting pregnant with him. She had given birth to him via elective cesarean section; she had claimed that she was too tired to push one more child into the world. Idris had been there with her. Jethro’s father, despite the evidence of a positive DNA result after he was born, and the fact that he was his only son, had refused to acknowledge him. Nevertheless, he took care of him financially.
“Jet,” Victoria called patiently. “You are not dressed for school. Why aren’t you dressed for school, baby? Who is responsible for this?” Victoria’s voice went higher at each question. “Maimuna!” she called out to one of the maids.
A voice answered from somewhere within the house.
“Why is Jet not ready for school?!” she asked in Hausa.
“No school for me today,” Jet replied.
“I’m supposed to go and get my vaccilation. Remember?”
“Oh.” Victoria smacked her head. “I forgot. And it’s vaccination, not vaccilation. Take that bike outside.”
“You want me to help you take him to the hospital?” Polo asked.
“No, darling. You have lectures.”
“Just one by ten. And another by three. I’ll be happy to get him off your hands for a while.”
“Really? Aww, thank you, handsome.”
“The girls in class will like him.” He smiled something of a wink while Victoria gave him a teasing grin.
“Come on, Jet,” Polo called. “Come and shower.”
“I can do that by myself, thank you.”
Polo ignored him and picked him up, causing him to squeal in laughter as they made their exit .When they were gone, Idris made a comment about wondering if Polo was gay.
“Following Jesus is now gay?”
“I don’t know.”
“Stop asking me if he is.”
“He’s my son. I need to know. Things are changing so fast in our world these days, especially for someone who lived in America.”
“I don’t want surprises. I need to know. He hasn’t brought any girl home. Or hinted that he has a girlfriend.”
“He is not gay. He’s a Jesus boy.”
“Well, the apple fell very far from the tree.”
“Go upstairs, Idris,” Victoria ordered, laughing. Idris got up and gave a her kiss on the cheek. Just as he was leaving the kitchen, they heard a scream that came from upstairs.
“Muna?” Idris called.
The scream continued and soon the sound of footsteps heading downstairs was heard.
“She found Bianca,” Victoria stated. Muna burst into the kitchen, panting.
“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy…” She held her chest. “Bianca. Bianca. I saw her in your room. She’s on your bed. Bianca.”
Her eyes were wet.
“Bianca,” she began to sob. “Bibi….”
“Yanka?” Yohan poked his head in, but Tanko had already taken the stairs to verify Muna’s claims. “Is your head correct, Munachi? Stop joking abeg.”
“I’m not joking! Bibi is upstairs! Go and see!”
“Calm down.” Idris held his daughter.
“Mommy, is it true?” Polo asked.
Victoria gave a nod. “Your sister is back. We wanted to throw you guys a surprise party this evening.”
“Yanka is back?” Yohan asked. “How?”
And Victoria gave the explanation she already rehearsed, chocked with tears and theatrical gestures for full effects.
“There she is,” Polo, who had kept his eyes on the stairs, declared. They filed out of the kitchen and looked upwards at the staircase. Tanko had cradled Bianca’s hand in his, accompanying her down.
“Wow,” Yohan repeated.
“I knew my dream meant something,” Polo muttered.
A perplexed Jet clung to his mother, eyes studying Bianca curiously. Victoria massaged her son’s shoulder absentmindedly as she watched Bianca get a warm homecoming from her siblings.
Nobody left the house that day. They each wanted a piece of Bianca, including Jethro who was just meeting her.
“You have muscles. Can you fight Kung Fu?” he asked, seated at her feet, looking up at her in fascination. The day had worn on. It was now evening and the family sat in the living room watching a movie.
Bianca laughed at Jet’s question. “No, I can’t fight Kung Fu.”
“Do you know how to ride a bicycle?”
“How about a plane?”
“Me too, but I’ll learn. Daddy says I can be anything I want to be.”
“And what do you want to be?”
“And a farmer like daddy, and a polo player like Uncle Yohan.”
“You have to choose one.”
“No. Daddy says I can be anything I want to be,” he repeated, scowling.
“I think that’s good.”
“And a soldier too. I want to be shooting people. Pooh-pooh-pooh-pooh! Pa-pa-pa!”
Bianca laughed again.
“Can you shoot a gun?”
Bianca’s lips lifted in a smile which Victoria noticed was hiding something. “No.”
“Daddy, when will you buy me that gun na?” Jet demanded of Idris.
“When your mommy brings you to Kaduna.”
Idris’ words were an accusation. Victoria was always lazy to fly the children over to see him at his base.
“By a show of hands, who wants to spend Easter in Kaduna?” he asked.
Tanko and Polo had their hands up. Bianca and Jethro as well.
“The hands have it!”
Bianca was finally home and all seemed well with the Bahago clan. It was now about building a solid family unit and a business that would last through generations. Idris’ former fraternity was growing strong again, years after Captain struck them. Funom had been the worst hit. Captain had launched a personal vendetta on him for the sole reason that he had been under the employ of the government at that time, which was specifically military-controlled, and he had dared to run criminal activites. Unbeknownst to Victoria, Idris had been in contact with Funom. He had repaid him for his kindness by providing financial aid at his most dire moment. Now, Funom wanted Idris back in. They needed his wealth and influence for the furtherance of the society.
“You people hate me,” Idris reminded Funom. “How many times have you tried to kill me?”
“Yes, certain people hate you, because you left us when we were down. But I can still bring you back in.”
Idris was contemplative on the matter for a long time. With the affluence and clout he wielded he was sure that he was his own personal army and he needed no one. Still, he kept a cordial hand with members of the fraternity. When they began planning a coordinated attack on the Igwe family, led by the Kentoro-Abassis, Idris had known beforehand. But he had kept the information to himself, eager to see Captain suffer. He was pleased to know that the man had lost two of his sons in the attack, his most trusted companion, a niece, a sister-in-law and other relatives. Had Victoria not insisted that they pay him a condolence visit, Idris would have been fine not visiting him at all.
Captain welcomed them cordially to his home. For someone who had lost so much, he bore a demeanor that was too calm. The Bahagos were invited to sit with him in his living room. He didn’t talk about his loss, instead he pointed out to Idris that he was a Judas and a murderer.
“You’ve been in bed with the enemy,” he accused.
Captain burnished him with a collection of photo evidence of him and Funom at various times and places, shocking Victoria.
“This means nothing. He’s my friend. He needed money and I gave him, just as he helped me in my time of need. Was I to turn him down? Even I, I’m a man of honor.”
Captain’s eyes turned dark, like a black cloud had come from nowhere and snatched the light out of his eyes. Idris would always be haunted by the stare he received that evening. He could not decipher how a human being could carry that much darkness within him that it showed on the outside, a shadowy form hovering over him.
Funom visited Idris some days after, demanding to know if he had had a hand in the deaths of the family heads in their fraternity.
“This is a strange question, Funom,” Idris replied. “Didn’t you people already jump into the conclusion that I did? Why asking me now?”
“I need to know.”
“No, I did not kill anyone. How could I? My father was killed too.”
“And how am I supposed to believe that you didn’t kill your father too? After all, he was already dying. You gave him an easy death.”
“What are you insinuating? And who told you these lies?”
“It doesn’t matter. But everything makes sense now. We got struck and you became richer. You got connected to the Igwe circle. It all makes sense.”
“Funom, you have to believe me.” Idris rose as his friend did. He held his arm. “I’m innocent. Somebody is framing me up. The connection to the Igwes was through Victoria. I did not kill anybody.”
Funom delivered a venomous stare. He snatched his arm off Idris’ hold.
“I may believe you, but not the others. And pray to your God that they spare your life. Your so-called Captain wasn’t spared their wrath. You’ll burn as well.”
Idris told Victoria about Funom’s visit that night as they prepared for bed.
“Relax. We have Captain’s protection,” she guaranteed. “Nothing will happen to any of us.”
But Tanko happened. He disappeared one afternoon, leaving the Bahagos devastated, wondering who it was that took him. Was it Captain or the fraternity?
“I’ve taken what I want from you, Bahago,” Captain reiterated. “I took her and returned her.”
“She’s still yours to toy with, Luke. The long absences? The solitude life away from home? That is not Bianca. That is a product of your doing. And now, you have my son.”
“I did not take your son, Bahago. What I’ve simply done is remove my protection from you, following your betrayal. You’re all on your own. I’ll advise that you get bodyguards.”
Idris believed him, for whatever strange reason it was.
“Was it you who told on me?” he asked.
“Told on you?”
“Funom said that there was evidence that I was involved in the deaths of the family heads. You did that, didn’t you?”
Idris was sure Captain was lying, but he was exhausted from looking further into the matter. All he wanted was to see his son again. He carried out investigations, paying the most expensive private eyes in the country to find Tanko, hoping desperately for a clue; if not for himself, for Victoria who had almost lost her mind after Tanko left. Nothing, however, came of it. It was Victoria who wanted the curtains dropped after a whole year and a half had passed without any leads.
“I don’t want to keep digging and then find a dead body. And even if we do, he would be all bones now.” Her voice shook.
“Don’t be pessimistic. There’s still hope.”
“No, Id. Let’s close this chapter of our lives and say goodbye to our son and our past.”
They were at a beach that morning. An unusual place for her to be, but Victoria had said she had gone there every other day to ease the pain in her heart. Today, she was bleeding out Tanko completely.
Her tears came in torrents. She was holding a baby basket of some of Tanko’s favorite things from his toddler to the day he disappeared. She placed it on the shore and waited for one of the strong waves to come for it. For a while it seemed nothing would happen, but then it did, sweeping the bassinet away angrily and making it dance over the waves. Victoria couldn’t stand to watch it go away, so she buried herself in Idris’ body and wept. At his funeral, she sat stone-faced in her black regalia, dry-eyed, gazing into the distance.
“Come back to me, Tanko. Please, come back,” she said when his empty coffin was lowered into the earth. Her wish was, at best, a dream; and at worst, the unrealistic hope of a mad woman.
But Tanko returned, just as she had wished, five years after he had gone, restoring her joy, and also reminding her that their enemies were not yet done with them. If Tanko had died, the book of revenge would have been closed. But they had set him free, and sent him back to them.
It was a strong, clear message. They were coming back for more.
Thanks for reading! Biyankavitch continues next week. You’ll get to meet Kashimu again and other interesting new characters. Does Archie end up with Muna? Does the Black Winch ignore Lanre and Captain’s orders and make an appearance again?