“Mrs Katherine, we sincerely appreciate you and your husband for the invitation and
reception in your home.” Tobi acknowledged on his feet.

“Please sit Tobi.” Katherine was casually dressed simply and was beside her husband on a three-sitter couch. They had made their familiar strangers comfortable in one of the sitting rooms in the mansion and they served them with freshly made juice, homemade cookies and water. Kelvin had insisted they all tasted something before any conversation.

“You all had to fly over mountains, hills, valleys, nations and so on to be here, considering the faces before me, I’m inquisitive.” She pursed her lips. “I’m inquisitive to know what the family of the man who killed my brother and indirectly killed my father and rendered me without a family leaving me with hell as a major option is willing to say to me.”

The Yerimas lowered their gaze and the women exhaled.

She narrowed her brows and glanced in the direction of her uncles and their wives. “I’m also inquisitive to know what some so called uncles has to say when could have prevented the death of their nephew and their elder half-brother who gave them love, education and a better life.” She grimaced. “You did killed them before they died in reality. And then you placed your niece in hell.”

Tears dropped down Ezinne’s eyes and she hastily wiped them off. Ngozi had not being married when Katherine was sent out of her father’s property but she
seen enough photographs and heard enough stories. She knew her husband built an admirable mansion in which they lived where her late brother-in-law and family used to live. She hadn’t bother to ask about the girl. If her husband wasn’t bothered who was she
to?

“Since your offences are equal on my scale, any side can go first.” She raised an index
finger thoughtful. “What’s the name of the monster that killed my brother?” Her eyes were fixed on Aishat.

“Moshud Yekini.” The weight of the reality of the penalty of what her family, generation and generations to come will face had taken its toll on the once outspoken, tall, plumb, fair skinned and beautiful Aisha. The very one who had being the envy of most women because she had being the best jewelleries seller in the country in so much that the crème de la crème in the country had patronized her when
she was in business. There she sat, void of make-up and jewelleries which she couldn’t do without before.

“Say that again.”

“Moshud Yekini.”

“Go ahead.” Katherine sat back.

Kelvin studied all of their faces, the tension was palpable.

“At first, we thought it was ordinary,” Yerima began. “A dark cloud that was soon to give way for dawn. We are a bonded family and cherished every fellowship and celebration. One of such occurred many years back and we were there to grace the birthday party of the son of my eldest sister, Shakirat. He was hale and healthy but a week later, he went to take his bath. He had just stepped into the bath tub and had not turned on the shower. In fact, he still had his towel around him.”

“Suddenly, I heard a shriek, worse than anything I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”
Tobi, the husband to Shakirat continued. “By the time I got to the bathroom from my
sturdy, Prince’s body was motionless and without a trace of injury or blood oozing from any part. I rushed him to the hospital but it was more like an effort to prove him clinically dead.” He swallowed.

Shakirat eyes were filled with tears. “I couldn’t believe it…I just couldn’t comprehend why death would snuff life out of my son, a ten year old.” Though it’s been close to a couple of decade, the pain was still evident in her voice. “I just couldn’t believe he was gone.”

“It was like a mirage to me because I spoke to him the night before.’ Yerima shrugged. “The announcement of his death by the doctor gave my father a daze he never recovered from.”

Katherine exchanged glance with her husband.

“Are you trying to tell my wife and me that Moshud is dead?”

“Yes sir.” Yerima replied.

Katherine almost laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” She raised a palm and dropped it. “That’s not possible.”

They all stared at her bewildered.

“Dear darl, you don’t believe them, do you?” She gave a short laugh and a glance at
Kelvin.

Kelvin knew it was a rhetorical question so he only smiled.

“Come on you all!” She beamed as she adjusted to the edge of the sofa. “Don’t tell me he’s somewhere six feet below. That’s ridiculous!” She opened a palm and bobbed her head from side to side with her eyes gleaming. “If this information is some kind of strategy, you all have to go back to the drawing board.” Her brows furrowed.

Yerima cringed.

“I remembered a crowd gathered and begged, I remembered my brother prostrating on a dirty and dusty road, I was on my knees too, all pleading with this one man to no avail.” She paused and glared at them. “So, I drew my conclusion, who wouldn’t anyway?” She laughed heartily.

Her uncles panicked at her choice of humour knowing it was going to be difficult, very difficult.

Suddenly, Katherine shook her head and her brows darkened. “You can’t come along and tell me he is prone and subjected to the inevitable of all humans because at sixteen it was clear, it was succinct, I saw a monster, a supposedly superman…a god.”
Katherine waited as though thoughtful before giving them a scrutinizing glance, “No–no, are you sure you did not bury him alive?” She looked so doubtful that the Yekinis couldn’t help but nod.

She clapped her hands in glee. “Wonders shall never really cease from under the sun. Come to think of it…how could I have forgotten, ha!’ Katherine had a convinced
expression. “I get it! He did not get back up from the police, air force and family and most importantly, his gun wasn’t with him that’s why death took him.”

They stared stunned.

“Talk to me.” She demanded. “I really need to know.”

“We don’t know.” Basirat blurted.

“Oh! They – don’t – know, can you hear that sweetheart?”

“Yeah.” He said calmly.

“How did he die?” She sat back and entwined her arms.

“He fell off the stairs and became unconscious after receiving the news of his grandson’s death.” Aisha began. “He was in intensive care afterwards but his condition
deteriorated that he had to depend on some medical devices to carry
out metabolic activities. Three days later,” She paused momentarily. “He died.”

They had expected Katherine to react but she just looked on blankly.

“We mourned the dead and took it with a –God gives and God takes kind of attitude. A year later, just a week to the birthday party of my niece, the daughter of my sister, Basirat. Binta was her name,” Yerima sighed and rubbed his palms together as if drawing strength from the act. “She became unusually quiet.” ‘From the time she became six, her countdown to her birthday party was a month before. She practically planned her parties- how she wanted it, who would be invited and
all.” Her eyes gleamed as a smile formed on her lips. “She was an orderly child. Just like Yerima was saying, when no interest was forth coming about her birthday, I had to go remind her and she told me she wasn’t interested in celebrating and wouldn’t like to hear talks about it.” Basirat exhaled. “I thought she was joking, which child doesn’t
like to celebrate his or her birthday, so I tried convincing her to no avail. I was shocked but my husband and I went ahead with plans for the celebration hoping she would change her mind.” Her eyes got clouded. “I should have known… I should have known, what was the big deal about celebrating birthday anyways?” She lamented and shook her head. “On the D day, my husband and I came to her room to wish her a happy birthday…” She heaved and her tears flowed.

Habeeb, her husband bowed his head as he tried unsuccessfully to fight back tears as
the memories of her face padded with towel came to mind.

“She loved to draw and make paper decorations. That morning, she was standing on a high stool and hanging some decorations.” Basirat bit her lower lips and
her body shook. “After we gave the announcement, Binta jumped straight up to the mercy of the blades of the ceiling fan.”

Ngozi gasped and the rest of the Ezeugos were wide eyed.

Katherine squinted her eyes while Kelvin frowned.

“She landed with blood oozing from various part of her head, it was so bloody and gory nothing could be done to save her, her body jerked for a few minutes before it became still.” Basirat shook her head sobbed as quietly as she could afraid to offend their host and hostess.

Habeeb told them about the triplets and the lost of his wife’s womb. He narrated how the triplets had been sickly, so bad that three ofthem had being admitted on several occasions despite all of them having the genotype AA.

They all listened with rapt attention.

“Three dead loved ones, it was hard to recover and then I receive my share, though not death.” Yerima went ahead to narrate ordeal of his fiancée who left, returned his engagement ring and claimed she would have died if she had married him.

“We moved on with our lives but peace eluded us, the happiness, bond we used to share begin to wane.” Yerima cough to clear his voice and reached out to sip water. “Time passed to become years and the turbulent water seemed to be still. Then came the day for my younger sister, Kafayat who is not present here today to be married. She was to be married to the man she loved and he, adored her. They had been childhood friends.”

His family members were shaking their head and Aisha was sobbing with no one attempting to comfort her.

“Her fiancé’s father was a formal inspector general of police and my dad’s bestie. It was rather unfortunate, that on his way to the church for the wedding ceremony, he was
involved in a road traffic accident that claimed his life.”

Katherine could have exclaimed but she restrained herself and uncrossed her legs. Something struck her at the information Yerima provided about the deceased father.
“When my baby sister heard the news she was devastated. Even till today, she is on psychotic drugs to keep her mentally balanced. The…”

“Who did you say the guy’s father was?”

“An ex I G of police in Nigeria.”

“An IG during the period my brother was murdered, when your father was at his peak in the air force. He helped in sending your father into the thick cloud after his crime.”

Yerima couldn’t help but meet her gaze at her bluntness. He nodded, there was no need to deny.

Kelvin shook his head and tap his feet on the rugged floor baffled.

With eyes closed, Katherine listened to the rest of the conversation.

“Fear gripped our heart, we knew something was wrong but we couldn’t fathom neither could we place it.” Aisha blew her nose into a hanky. “I wept for my children and
grandchildren, the trauma and all. The heat became so blazing hot that we had to search for solution.”

“I’ll like to hear from my familiar strangers now.” Katherine eyes were still closed.

“Pardon me ma’am but I think we should…” Shakirat began but stopped short when Katherine opened her eyes and glared at her.

Her husband had pinch her in rebuke. Half expecting an outburst, she decided to apologise first. “I’m very sorry.”

“It’s okay.” She wave a hand dismissively. “We’ll get back to you again.” She smiled
reassuring at the older woman before she looked in the direction of her uncles. ‘Ticktock, ticktock …” She drawled.

“Katherine, I…I know sincerely that we don’t deserve this privilege because we’ve wronged you deeply and I honestly…” Marcus began heartily palm in palm.

“I’ve a mind-set of you and you.” She pointed at both uncles. ‘The only thing you can achieve with your coaxing is to aggravate me.”

Azubuike flinched.

Marcus shifted to the edge of the sofa deciding to cut to the chase. “I… I thought I was smart, I felt superior when I did what I did to you. I felt power and loved it.” He shook his head slowly in sheer regret. “I didn’t care. After all, I had what I ever wanted and dreamt of, I had become the envy of my peers. Many years later, wealth bloomed but we weren’t satisfy because …my wife and I’ve been unable to have a child.”

“Huh?” Katherine couldn’t mask her surprise. They had been married when she was still in high school.

Ezinne wept with her head bowed.

“We waited for God’s time to no avail. She was never pregnant talk more of a miscarriage. Having done all we could medically, happiness went very far away from us. Fear and panicked set in as we felt unfortunate. We resolved to prayer houses and native doctors, we spent but all we got were complications. Medically, we were sound. It’s almost same problem with Azubuike.” He glanced at his brother after which he buried his face in his palms.

“For many years, Ngozi didn’t conceive and I was disappointed. Eventually she did, we had a daughter.” He heaved and tears rolled down his face.

With both hands clasped over her mouth, Ngozi sobbed.

“When she was two years plus, my wife and I went for an occasion only to return to find her in her room, lifeless, her gown stained with blood and the male house help nowhere to be found. She had being raped to death.” He wiped his nose with a hanky and sniffed.

Aisha, Shakirat and Basirat were astonished.

Katherine shook her head while her husband sat back and shut his eyes.

“We were… we were devastated and other attempt to have children were fruitless. Marcus and I set out and began to look for solution, childlessness had never been in our linage and we were not about to let it start with us. At first, we did everything we were asked to do but they all proved abortive. Then one day…”

“I’ve heard enough Azubuike.” Katherine stood with a bottled water in hand and went to stand behind cushion.

Kelvin began to pray for his wife in his mind. He knew she was healed but she need God’s wisdom to deal with all that had been laid on the table.

She gulped down water. “The Yerimas can go on now.”

Ezinne hugged herself and prayed in her mind. In fact all of them did.

“We ran out of patience, we couldn’t deny the fact that something was badly wrong. Like we stated earlier we spent money going to various places seeking for solution until we met a man of God that said we had a bloody mark shadowing us as a result of the sin of our father and it cannot be erased nor wiped off until we find the surviving blood of the man who my father murdered and ask for forgiveness. We got detectives, consult media houses and it took two years to find you.” He clasped his palms.
“Katherine…we’re here to ask the impossible, we desperately need you to forgive us.”

Kelvin exhaled.

“We met a pastor who told us we have incurred curses for ourselves and the only solution was to seek your forgiveness. In the course of our search for you, we met the Yerima and we decided to come together.” Azubuike said and tears filled his eyes. “Katherine, we know we’ve wronged you so much and we don’t deserve to ask but please…do forgive us, please Adanne.”

Katherine placed a palm on her chest, “Oh God, I’m so touched…” She sobbed. ‘The whole thing, It’s too much…” Her eyes became filled with tears. “It’s just too much na, ha…” She heaved and rounded the cushion to sit on the only empty sofa away from her husband. “How could this have gone so far ehen…?”

The yerimas and Ezeugos exchanges glances enthusiastic.

Kelvin knew his wife was acting.

She sighed and then wiped her tears. Suddenly, she burst into bouts of laughter, it was hard and long. If one didn’t know her so well, they would think she was manic.

All of those present save her husband had tears in their eyes, most were shivering because the thin rope of hope they had become shredded.

She was ventilating, expressing her gratitude to the Almighty with a joyful noise.

Kelvin got worried and went to perch on her seat. “Sweetie, are you all right?”

“Yea baby, I’m fine.” She cooed, laughed some more and then some more. “Oh God…” She stood, shut her eyes and raise both hands. “I never knew you would fight my battle this way.” She heaved. “I never knew you would honour the path I chose. Look what you’ve done…” Tears flowed down her cheeks.

Kelvin nodded with a heart filled with gratitude to God.

“You’ve me made me lie down in green pastures. You’ve made me an epitome of the Scriptures that says, rejoice not o my enemies, when I fall I shall rise again.” She nobbed. “Who is like unto thee o Lord, my Father, my Creator? Hmmm…” She wiped her tears and then sat.

She leaned close and kissed her husband on the lips. “Thank you so much my love.”

Kelvin nodded overwhelmed with the happening of the day.

“I’m not won over, I’m not touched, I don’t have the littlest pity and I’m not sorry for you but just for those children whose lives turned out to be recompense of the sin of their father and family members.” Her look was blank even at the bewildered expression on their faces.

It was as though the earth beneath just rumbled.

‘Mothers, I don’t see why you should be all emotional when you contributed to terminating their destiny. Go ahead,” She crossed her legs. “I can’t see it in your facial expression, feel free to ask me how, I love to inform and I’m not going to stop now.”

“How?” Tobi managed to find his voice.

“Moshud did something only heartless people do. If he wasn’t used to being wicked, he wouldn’t have pulled a trigger so easily. He was a high ranked uniformed man, one who should abide by law and order hook, line and sinker but he publicly shot an undergraduate when his defence wasn’t even threatened.
I’m sure when the minister said you’re suffering for the sin of your father, nobody stammered –“What? What… what did he do?” Even while the nemesis was in progress, it might have crossed your minds.” She beamed.

None dared to look at her.

“You commiserated with him, you advised, you used your connection, money and everything in your power to throw weight around sending him to the cloud, probably prayed that the federal law agencies didn’t intervene.” Katherine closed her palms before her and made to pray. “Dear God, please let this storm pass. We can’t be who we are in the society and achieve all we need to with our father in prison, for what? An okada man.” She grimaced.

Her wisdom baffled him, always.

She opened her eyes and directed them to the Yekinis. “Very well, you must have watched my interview and read every newsprint that carried the story until the dust died, please do deny it.” She implored.

They were hypnotized to silence by their conscience than her words.

“Yerima, that guy that would have married your sister, why did he die?” Katherine waited momentarily. “He was innocent, he might not have not being aware of what his dad did but he died simply because even if his father did not pull the trigger, he aided and abated the crime of murder, a bloody one, one in which the victim was a vibrant young man.” She clasped her hands on her lap. “You joined hands to cover your father sin and by doing so, your hands got soiled in blood and your children paid and hence, everything you’ve lost.”

Aishat wiped her tears but another set fell off her eyes immediately.

“So you were sent to ask for forgiveness from whom, who were you sent to?”

“You…” Shakirat said with a shaky voice, “Katherine Sylvester.”

“Katherine Sylvester.” She repeated strangely. “Hmmm…” she muttered. “As far as I can recall, Katherine was pushed out to the street hopeless, homeless, without a family and penniless. I’m not the one whom ye seek. The lady you’re looking for should be in Nigeria,” She position a finger at a side of her face. “Being a girl of sixteen who had been dealt a tragic blow, she should be somewhere training on how to launch a physical pay back or in a brothel having being emotional battered or under one of the many bridges in Nigeria or just maybe, she might have committed suicide or have been used for ritual. I’m sure with your wealth and connection, it won’t pose so much of a problem to find her. I wish you well.’ Katherine stood.

‘My daughter please…” Aisha managed with a voice hoarse from emotions.

“Hold it!” She cautioned as anger stirred. “You’re not my mother and you can never be my mother. My mother was a mother, a virtuous woman and my father cannot do with your husband did.” Her eyes flashed in anger. “Even if my father did, my mum would have seek for the bereaved family and asked for ways to make amends.”

“I’m so sorry… please.” Aisha wailed with her head lowered with fresh of guilt. She had been nonchalant and it turned out costly.

Kelvin exhaled but decided not to interfere.

“Please ma’am, please, forgive us.” Tobi pleaded with open palms.

Still on her feet, “I’m Katherine – Sylvester – Sigismund.” A smile tucked her lips and her facial expression relaxed. “I’m not that sixteen year old anymore that your confessions and apologies would make a difference to and probably touch a soft spot. I’ve a mind of you, everything I’ve ever suffered is past and there is an irreconcilable gap between. I’ve a great husband and two adorable children. I’ve an awesome God in heaven.”

“Please, I beg of you… please do have mercy.” Sharikat eyes had become red from weeping.

“Mercy?” She pressed her palms against her temple. “Which will you prefer, mercy for my brother’s death or mercy for my father’s death?”

Yerima exchanged quick glances with his sisters who equally looked perplexed. “We…we don’t understand.”

“I’ll be taken aback if you did, my father died three months after my brother passed on. His demise killed my father.”

The new information left them sore.

“Katherine please…please.” Marcus looked at her.

‘The Ezeugos,” She beamed as took two steps towards them. “I’m not surprised with the way things turned out for you. You refused to identify with a family that embraced you with both arms because of your status quo. Can you place your present level beside mine?”

That was a question that needed no answer. They themselves were still awed of her present position.

“Definitely not. I myself don’t want to identify with you because I’m ashamed. I can never identify with men who want to have coitus with their niece. Those days, I couldn’t help but wonder if you really share same blood with my dad but if…” she raised an index finger. “If that’s true that can only mean my dad was fed with breast milk while you two were fed with warm water from that stream in the village alongside the end product of palm kernel!”

It dropped like a bomb and they all knew she was furious.

Ezinne and Ngozi sobbed.

Their husband shuddered.

“How could you forget so soon how you were the very first day, you appeared at the door step of my father’s house? You marvel me a great deal even to my very marrow.” She was exasperated. “Have you forgotten how the destitute would have been on same scale with you?” She sat back. “It’s really amazing how people commit outrageous offences and expect that once they say the magic word-sorry, all offences fade. Have you thought for a moment the potentials the world lost due to his death?
You abandoned your niece for how many years and if it wasn’t for affliction, you won’t have bothered. You didn’t care and you made it resounding.”

“Kathy I…I  asked of you.’ Ezinne said with eyes welled with tears.

“I’m in no mood for a dry joke, you that stopped visiting before your husband. For all I know, you could the brain behind husband action.”

“Ha…Katherine please…” Her lips trembled.

Abi, what do you want me to say? Why would you be asking of me from another when you knew my address before your husband and his brother took possession of the house?”

Ezinne got down on her knees. “I’ve been so foolish Nne, biko, please…I’m a disappointment to womanhood. Your mother treated more like a sister, please find a place in your heart to forgive me.” She burst into tears.

All went down on their knees and they had tears in their eyes.

“We can never make our wrong right no matter what we do but our story can change generations to come. Please Katherine, forgive us, and don’t send us away. Don’t send us away.” Yerima sniffed and dabbed his eyes.

She glanced at her husband who nodded.

She went down on her knees before them and bow her head. “God, what will you have me do?’ She whispered.

The response was immediate in her head.

“Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let me not be confounded: Let them be dismayed but let me not be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with a double destruction.”

The destruction was more than double, it was from generation to generations. She answered in her mind.

“Hands joined in hands, the wicked shall not go unpunished.”

They didn’t go unpunished. She mused.

Vengeance is belongeth into me, I will recompense.”

She heaved and shut her eyes.

A great woman shows her greatness by the way she treat little men, forgive them my princess for it means more blessing for your generations.

For a moment, she felt the presence of her father and heard his unmistakable voice.

Her eyes fluttered open. “Every one stand please.”

They obeyed and she stood likewise. She beckoned to her husband who came to stand beside her.

“I can forgive you but it will make no difference without surrendering your life to Christ.”

“We surrender our lives until him, everything we are.” With tears rolling down his face, Marcus raised his hands towards heaven.

“We believe in him, the impartial God and surrender our lives to him.” Habeeb declared.

They all nodded.

“I forgive you for everything you’ve done with all my heart. Let’s join hands please to break generational chain.’

They formed a cycle holding hands.

With tears coursing down her face, Katherine prayed for them.

The embrace began afterwards.

Kelvin fetched two bottles of wine while Katherine brought tumblers and ordered for food to be delivered at their home.

Marcus handed over the documents of her father’s property to Katherine.

 

***

 

It was the night of that same day, Katherine had her head rested on her husband’s chest.

“Sweetie, what’s on your mind?” She looked up at him.

“Your story would be a good story for Marigold to write.” He traced the frame of her face with a finger.

She beamed. “I agree with you love.”

 

***The End***

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Read Previous Episodes: HERE

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Hello everyone, I am so happy that we have successfully come to the end of this amazing story. I hope you all found it amazing as I did while writing it.

I thank everyone who followed and most of all, everyone who commented. It was a pleasure reading your thoughts on the story.

I would like to take this chance to announce the publishing of my first eBooks: The Last Sacrifice Substance In Her Corpse. They are both coming out on 25 December 2017. I am looking forward to them and I hope you will be too.

I will keep you posted about the publishing.

Thank you again for reading and remember I blog at exceptionalstar.wordpress.com. Hope to see you there.

Thank you.