Amerley ran to lied down again on the bed and quickly covered herself up with a cloth. She’d heard footsteps on the porch. It was hard forcing herself to breathe in deeply. Her husband could smell her fake-sleeping a mile away. This, however, wasn’t the night for it.
Narteh entered the room to check on her. He was surprised she hadn’t come out to join them but was still gratified that she hadn’t. What he hated was her inquisitive nose poking into people’s business. He’d known about that side of her before marrying her. It was a cross he’d been willing to carry but now he hated the pitying glances from the people she gossiped about. She’d done that for months before he had finally moved back to the family house with her. He’d have preferred renting his own place again but pressure from his mum had made him change his mind.
He wondered if anyone had called the old woman to tell her what had happened. He went back outside without seeing the clothes tossed from the wardrobe unto the floor.
WOEDEM JOINED KWEI at the front of the house.
Kwei turned at his approach, “are you ready?”
“Hope you’re okay,” his brother enquired quietly.
Woedem looked at him for a second before answering. Kwei was the silent one. The one who hardly spoke but made so much sense when he did. He was not one to make chit chat so to ask how he was faring meant he was affected by all that had happened. They all were.
“I will be okay when we find Nuku’s child. The worst thing that can happen is to lose her too.”
“We won’t,” Kwei assured him. “Let’s check the houses on top of the hill. We can have a look behind them to see if she’s hiding there.”
Woedem nodded and followed him uphill.
Asor who had been unintentionally eavesdropping behind them heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw Nukunu standing there smiling into her eyes. Her eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. She opened her mouth to speak but could only utter a croak like a hungry toad and quickly losing consciousness, fainted.
Paa Adjei’s mouth opened in horror as Asor turned to look into his eyes and fainted. He quickly grabbed her but was too late. He could only hold her head as her stomach hit the hard floor. Narteh who had been coming to ask him about calling their mother saw her fall and quickly went to help him. He grabbed her legs, Papa Adjei her hands, and with a heave lifted her and took her back in.
Two brothers who had been quiet all throughout the evening’s events were Odartey and Nii Moi. They were perhaps the loudest among all the siblings but tonight, they were uncharacteristically quiet and it was strange that no one seemed to notice it.
Odartey was leading the two of them down the road when Nii Moi finally spoke out.
“So who poisoned Nukunu’s food?”
Odartey stared quietly at his brother. He wasn’t surprised that Moi was pondering the same thing as he was. Being born 11 months apart had made them have near-telepathic tendencies, not unlike twins.
“Brother, you’ve asked a very good question. Everyone is so focused on Nuku’s death and now the disappearance of his little girl that they have forgotten to ask the most important question; why did he die after eating the food?”
“Hmmmm. His wife cooked and served the food oh” Nii Moi said
“But to be fair to her, the food was left unguarded for some time.”
“Apart from the kids, who else was at home? All of us went to the farm didn’t we?”
“All of us except for our sister and sister in law.”
This made them fall into a deep contemplative silence. Odartey walked off and Nii Moi followed after him.
AMERLEY WENT TO peek out again. The coast was clear. She’d just opened the door to step out when her husband and Papa Adjei rushed in with Asor. She quickly ran in to grab a cloth to wrap around her dress. She needed to hide what she was wearing but stopped for a second as a thought ran through her head. Would her husband agree to her going to help? Could she help out and through that get to ingratiate herself into his family? At least in the midst of this tragedy, he wouldn’t mind, would he?
She opened the door and watched as Naa Dei rushed out of her room. Without conscious thought, Amerley grabbed a pail from a table near the door, fetched some water from a barrel on the porch and ran to help her sister in law.
Nuna wanted to shout for help but was scared that the spirits will come to where she was or maybe a wild animal. Because it was dark, it was best she wait till morning and try to find the path back home. Hmmm. Waiting till morning. Easier said than done.
PAPA ADJEI WAS trying to wake up Asor by calling her by name but she wasn’t responding. In his mind, Nukunu was calling her to follow him to asamando and he didn’t want to have any of that. He wished he could enter the spirit world and tell his brother to leave her alone. She had to live…she shouldn’t die.
Woedem was trying hard not to cry. He told himself not to with each step he took.
‘Woedem don’t cry,’ was the mantra accompanying each step he took.
Every step which took him away from the house reminded him of how his brother had been taken away, never to return alive. He had spoken to him this morning. Because his farm was 6 kilometers away, he always had to wake up early. Nuku who went to the office around 7 am would always come to knock on his door at 5 am and exchange pleasantries before he left. He used to complain that his brother didn’t have to but Nuku would always laugh and say, “you know you’re the closest person I have. To talk to you is like talking to myself so why shouldn’t I?”
How could he die? Who would poison him and for what reason?
Nuku was a gentle soul who was very hardworking and made a lot of money to take care of his family…Woedem stopped suddenly.
Kwei who had been walking some steps behind him nearly bumped into him.
“Woedem what is it?”
NARTEH HELPED HIS brother put Asor on a bench near her door. Too much fuss over his brother’s death. What sort of family had Nukunu raised that his death will literally cause chaos within hours of his demise? Narteh’s two kids were in a boarding school. They had to be taught discipline and the need to put emotions aside while concentrating on school. His wife had gone to threaten his beautiful friend and so had to be taught that she shouldn’t talk to anybody about him when he is the one she should talk to.
He watched his sister sniveling like a baby and just rolled his eyes. Water fell on the hand he’d used to prop her head up, he raised his head up and got so angry. Amerley was poking her nose into something which didn’t concern her as usual.
AMERLEY SPRINKLED WATER onto Asor’s face. She knew her husband would be angry by now but decided not to say anything. She wouldn’t even look at him. Not when she knew she would end up quaking at the anger on his face.
She sprinkled water on her face again and Asor spluttered awake.
Papa Adjei nearly grabbed her in a hug but had to restrain himself. He wished he could easily do that. To hold her near and give her kisses to let her know how much he felt for her especially now that everything seemed to be going wrong in her life.
He turned to Amerley. He was grateful for her quick thinking
“Thanks my sister for helping out.”
“You’re welcome my brother,” she said quietly. She stole a quick look at her husband’s face and nearly let go of her pail. If anger could paint a person’s face his would be bright red.
“Thank you for your timely intervention Amerley,” he snarled softly. “Come,” he commanded softly. Amerley didn’t want to but had no option than to follow him some steps away.
ASOR WISHED SHE hadn’t woken up. She had felt weightless and carefree in a world of mists and shadows. The shadows hadn’t been scary bad, they had been scary good. The kind of shadows you wanted to slip in during a hide and seek game or when you wanted to be in the dark to watch TV. It was a welcome shadow. The type of darkness she and Nukunu had always used to make love in.
Yet, here she was, back in the world and remembering how she’ll never feel his hands on her or the deep rumble of his chest when she touched him a certain way. She burst into loud tears. They were the gut wrenching tears of someone who had lost everything and having the last tiny bit of hope also squashed. Her Nukunu was dead!
NARTEH LISTENED TO Amerley’s footsteps and felt a silken satisfaction at the fact that she was following him like an obedient puppy. She had to be trained to respect him.
“Who told you to come out here?” he asked as soon as he turned to face her.
She flinched. He watched her from in between his brows, feeling a deep satisfaction over the effect he was having on her.
“I asked you a question,” he thundered softly cognizant of the fact that they weren’t far away from the trio.
“No one please.”
“So why did you come there?”
“I just wanted to help,” she hang her head. Asor’s loud tears made her raise it up to turn in her direction. Narteh looked at her for a second and walked back towards his brother. Amerley watched him for a moment. Making a rapid decision, she edged towards the compound door and walked swiftly out still holding the pail.
She stood on the road wondering which side she should go to. To her left and right was the main road. Behind her were houses and across the road was the forest. Maybe, Nuna had gone there. She removed the torchlight she’d hidden in her trouser pocket and switching it on entered the bush. She was unaware of the two silhouettes running towards the house.
TO BE CONTINUED…