By Segun Durowaiye - Nigeria
Two young people, Labake and Ogidan were fond of each other. Without mincing words they were lovers. In the African tradition, particularly the Yoruba culture, such a relationship is wrong and abominable because they were stepsister and stepbrother respectively. The two lovers were unmindful of what neighbours might say as they were deep in their amorous affair. They were ready to even dare the gods in this ungodly relationship. Cupid's arrow had struck the hearts of the duo. They didn't mind the fact that tongues had started wagging in the neighbourhood regarding their relationship. Labake was in her early 20s while Ogidan was in his mid 20s. Ogidan's dad, Mr. Okikiola got married to Labake's mum after his former wife left him unceremoniously. Mr. Okikiola already had six children from his former wife. The Okikiolas lived in a one-room apartment in Agege, on the outskirts of Lagos. Labake was a factory worker while Ogidan was a technician. Truly, Labake was beautiful, with a charming and enchanting frame. And she was loose, so loose it seemed the word was
created because of her promiscuous lifestyle. Ogidan led a rugged, raw, bawdy and contemptuous way of life. He was a hemp smoker and drug addict. Woe betide you if you should fall for his ruse and give him a job! He had an unrepentant habit of duping his customers of their hard-earned money. He was all things bad! Mr. Okikiola was aware of the existing love relationship between his son and his stepdaughter but he pretended as if nothing bad was happening, ditto for Labake's mum who turned deaf ears to rumours of the love affair. Labake dated other men despite her love relationship with Ogidan, and this always made him (Ogidan) angry but he always complained of such blatant betrayal of love. It was a crazy, frenzied and infatuated kind of love with dangerous and gloomy cloud looming behind. Ogidan, most times monitored Labake when he became suspicious that she was seeing other men.
Mr. Okikiola was a chronic drunk, who had been beffudled and besotted with drinks for the past 30 years, this was one of the reasons why his former wife left him and eloped with another man. It was a plain and open fact that all the young men, and even older men in the neighbourhood had tasted the forbidden apple of Labake to further confirm her legendary status in the world of prostitution.
One particular Friday evening, Labake came back from her working place and a bizarre drama ensued. Ogidan was fuming with uncontrolled anger.
"And where are you coming from around this time?" he asked, with a scowl. He was spoiling for a fight.
"From my place of work of course, or where else could I be coming from?" she snapped.
"You're an idiot, Labake! My mind tells me you're dating that supervisor at your working place. I swear by Ogun, the god of iron that the man is your lover too and I'll show you how mean and bad I am! Come here let me see your underwear to know if there's semen in it!" he sputtered.
"Let me tell you, Ogidan, I have my life to live," she retorted, "you can't order me around. The fact that we're lovers doesn't make me your slave. I'll use my womanhood the way I like."
"No woman ever addresses Ogidan like that! You'll pay with your blood, you whore!" he replied, while clenching his iron-like fists. The foul smell of hemp and alcohol was oozing all over him. Ogidan had a physique like that of a bouncer or thug. He had strange tattoos all over his body. And he plaits his hairs in the fashion of a rastaman. Before one could say Ogidan, the young man pounced on Labake and beat the living daylight out of her. The whole neighbourhood were all out to placate and plead on behalf of the young girl but Ogidan was really furious and angry that he continued bashing her face, not minding the pleas and entreaties of people. All hell was let loose that eventful day. The battering and assault continued unabated. Ogidan was still pummeling the girl when their parents came back from their outing but there was absolutely nothing they could do. The fiery battle raged on and on. Labake suffered deep cuts on her face and she bled profusely. Ogidan's clothes were torn like a mad man's apparel. Indeed, he was a mad man. When neighbours tried fruitlessly to stop the raging madness that was taking place they quickly contacted the police to quell the situation. The police arrived the scene about 15 minutes later to avoid calamity because of the dangerous drift of the fight. When the police got to the scene they promptly arrested Ogidan for assault, took him to the station and beat him black and blue. He was put in police custody for three days. After meting out the deserved punishment on him he was told to write a statement to be of good behaviour and not to lay a finger on Labake again.
"If you dare touch the girl again we'll skin you alive!" the bespectacled Inspector warned the social miscreant, "Is that right?"
"Yes sir," he answered in a guttural voice sounding like a gorilla.
When Ogidan got home that day another strange event took place. Labake sighted him but they didn't speak to each other. Something evil was definitely in the offing.
Labake came out of the room, clutching something in her right hand. She headed for the kitchen. Like a flash Labake opened a small tin in her hand and emptied the content in her mouth. She had swallowed a shaving cream which was poisonous. She wanted to kill herself by her action. Disaster, calamity and chaos suddenly enveloped the whole house as Labake staggered out of the kitchen in a fainting fit and collapsed right in front of her parent's room. It was like the whole house was on fire! The uproar was indescribable.
"Help! Help! Help! Neighbours help me!" screamed Labake's mum. Mr. Okikiola ran out of the room too in total confusion. There was an unmistakable air of disorder in the environment. Labake started foaming through her mouth. Neighbours and other sympathizers scurried here and there. In a jiffy the young girl was rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention. She was gasping for breath at interval on their way to the hospital. The medical team at Moonbrow Hospital was swift in action as she was rushed to the emergency ward. Drips were passed to her body and other medical treatments were administered to save the girl from dying. For three agonizing days the girl was on danger list. She was in complete coma. The fourth day when she recovered slightly, she told her mum the reason why she decided to kill herself.
"Mama, I want to tell you a secret." Labake said to her mum.
"What's it my daughter?" she asked.
"I'm pregnant for Ogidan. That's the real reason why I wanted to kill myself." Labake said while coughing and hiccupping between her sentences.
"Oh, my God Labake!" her mum exclaimed, "You shouldn't have done that. Actually that kind of relationship is wrong. He's your stepbrother. How are you feeling now?" The tears welled up in her eyes.
"I'm not getting any better mama... I don't feel good." She replied, shaking her head in a sorrowful manner.
Just then the young girl had a seismic and painful surge in her stomach.
"Doctor! Doctor! Doctor!" her mum screamed. Unfortunately before the doctor rushed to the scene Labake gave up the ghost. When the doctor arrived the ward Labake's mum was shedding tears of sorrow.
"My daughter is dead, doctor..." she wailed.
"I'm very sorry about that Mrs. Okikiola," the doctor said, "we tried our best, the damage was severe. Her colon and heart had been affected."
Three days later Labake was buried. Ogidan heard about the death of Labake and didn't say a word or feel remorseful for the sudden loss. Another strange development arose in the family of the Okikiolas. Ogidan left home and headed for the burial ground six days later. On arriving at the place, Ogidan stood there for 15 odd minutes staring at her tomb. Then suddenly he drew out a sharp dagger from his inner pocket and stabbed himself on the chest. He collapsed instantly on the tomb and died screaming the name of Labake till he took his last breath.
It's better we live our lives in an honourable and morally upright way to avoid disastrous consequences that would sadden us and put tears on our faces. May the good Lord help us.