They really fared well as a family and at the end of the service year, they moved to the capital city, where Ade set up a small architectural practice and Julia got a nursing job. It was their 2nd relocation in a series of relocations that saw them move around the country and although the plan was to eventually relocate out of the country, they never actually got to it.
She was absolutely uncooperative, unable to see that her being hysterical was doing more harm than good, the airport security staff had no idea what to do with this hysterical woman, one of them had actually rifled through her bag, retrieved her passport and quickly ran a check, she came up with nothing and came back to inform her supervisor who stood ready to grab this highly irrational woman
Teniola was beyond caring, her only hope of getting her twins back was taking flight right before her eyes and she wasn’t going to have it. The airport security staff however were as uncooperative as possible, staunch in their belief that even though this young woman in their custody was very well dressed, she was mentally unstable. Teni did not help matters with her hysterics and her spurious attempts to run out of the holding room. The two fierce looking men dressed in military fatigues, who stood shoulder to shoulder at the entrance, were at their wits end. Every so often, she would run at them, hitting their chests and shoulders over and over as she tried to get past them, they tried blocking her as best they could without actually laying hands on her, and would wait patiently till the their female counterparts managed to subdue her. They were all careful not to rough handle her – this was one Nigeria and if you rough handle the wrong person’s ward, you could get into a lot of trouble.
Teniola had no idea how long she was detained for, but absolute clarity came to her when her dad walked into the holding room, her mum in tow. She felt weak as she watched them walk in, her father with confident strides and a thoroughly baffled look on his face, her mum with more tentative steps and looking like her face would dissolve in tears at any moment. At that moment, Teniola felt like she was an absolute failure as a daughter to her parents. Her dad stared briefly at her and then addressed the nearest officer “Who is in charge here please?”. One of the bulky men who had stood guard indicated that he was and her dad moved over and handed over his complimentary card. The man glanced at it, and greeted him once again as though he had not already done so. He then waited for the older man to speak.
He took a deep breath, stared at his daughter for a long while took another deep breath before finally speaking. He was at home with his wife, waiting for Philip; his driver and trusted aide of many years to return with Teniola from the airport but when Philip finally arrived, he returned alone. He was flustered but chose his words carefully, he had waited a while at the entrance of the arrival lounge and when it became apparent that Teni wasn’t forthcoming, he walked into the arrival lounge and it was while searching for her through the milling crowd that he had accidentally spotted her being hustled away by the airport security operatives. He took off, running as fast as he could, trying to reach her before she was taken away. He actually made it in time to catch up but lost his courage before he could actually reach her. It occurred to him that her offence could be drug related. This was Nigeria and you heard stories about people being roped in all the time. He could end up spending more time in detention than even Teniola if he identified with her before the security operatives. There was no indication that her offence was drug related but what other offence could one commit on the airport premises? He wondered and eventually decided it was better to rush back home and inform his boss. He would certainly know what to do. When he got back to the his boss’s residence, he couldn’t bring himself to voice his thoughts. How could he tell Chief that his daughter had been arrested with drugs? What if they got back to the airport and he was wrong what then? So he simply narrated the events that had unfolded before him, keeping his opinion to himself. His boss and the wife repeatedly asked what Teniola had done wrong and he insisted that he did not know and when asked why he did not make enquiries, he simply kept mute.
“Public disturbance sir” the burly man simply stated
“I was only making enquiries” Teni actually yelled “and you people were absolutely uncooperative.”
Her dad spun around and cut her off with an angry look. Her mum also beseeched her with her eyes, really baffled, wondering what had gone wrong with her daughter and knowing her husband would blame it on her for coercing him to let Teniola go abroad for her schooling.
“What enquiries was she making please?” her dad continued speaking with the man.
“It’s nothing important dad” she was a lot more subdued in her speech this time but her dad pointedly ignored her and asked the security operative if they could go talk outside the room. The latter nodded in agreement and they walked out. This time he spoke before being spoken to.
“Sir, we are absolutely baffled, we got a report that she was at one of the check in counters causing a scene making enquiries about some passengers, she was absolutely uncooperative, throwing things off the attendants desk. We were called in, and all she has done is yell and push my officers around.”
Chief Emiola shook his head, he had no idea what this was about, but he was certain he would get to the bottom of it. He just had to deal with getting her out of here first.
“I’ll take care of this I assure you, who do I need to talk to, what do I need to do?”
“About what sir?”
“About getting her release to me”
“Oh she’s not under arrest sir, I can release her to you” There was a near smile on his face, and if you were not Nigerian, you would probably miss it or not know what it meant. Chief Emiola saw it and knew what it meant, he also realised that the man standing before him could have made the process more cumbersome. He ordinarily would not yield to the Nigerian factor, but he had more pressing issues at hand, like finding out what had possessed his daughter into such behaviour. He dipped his hand into the pocket of his and came up with a wad of fifty Naira notes, this was the highest denomination of the currency at the time. He did not bother to hide the exchange of cash, there was no need to; no one arrested anyone for such gratification.
The ride home felt longer than the flights to and from Abuja combined, Teniola sat in front of the car with Philip while her parents sat behind her in stony silence. Teniola did not try to offer an explanation, she frantically searched for an explanation to give her parents for her behavior, as they neared home and she came up with nothing, she decided to tell them part of what really happened but keep most of the story to herself; a plan that collapsed once she started speaking.
The visit went smooth initially, Claire stood against a wall staring at her mother’s back for a while, gathering the courage to walk over to her, the boys hovered by the door unsure of what was expected of them. The doctor stood patiently beside Claire, not urging her on, not pressuring her to move forward. The gentle giant of an orderly padded softly up to Teniola, an air of absolute confidence about him. You could tell he did this all the time.
“Teni” he called softly and waited till she raised her head to acknowledge his presence and then continued.
“You have guests, your daughter” he paused to glance at the chart he was holding “Claire is here”If there was any indication that she understood what was being said, Neither the twins nor Claire could tell, her head remained inclined towards the orderly. He signaled at Claire to come forward, she in turn looked at the twins beseeching them to come with her. They followed, each having the same thought “We have already come this far.”
They inched towards her until the orderly signaled at the boys to stop and beckoned on Claire to come closer. They were just out of the field of her vision and watched as Claire tried to strike up a conversation with her mum. Tai looked on thinking how beautiful this woman looked even with her spaced out , drug addled eyes. Kenny felt something much deeper, something he could not place. “Hello mum” Claire waved timidly even though she stood within reach of her mum.
“Claire” Teni stated simply yet Claire’s heart leapt for joy. She recognised her, called her name, she was recovering, she would be out of here soon and that hideous woman would be out of their home for good. Her joy at that moment knew no bounds. The rest of the conversation however was a pain to watch. Teniola was absolutely uncoordinated in her speech and would spend long moments just staring at nothing, not responding to anything her daughter said, but Claire carried on the mostly one sided conversation courageously. She responded to simple enquiries like “how are you?” and “Are they taking good care of you?” With a “fine” and a “yes”. She even smiled a little, but once the sentences got longer, she simply lost interest and stared at her fingers, pulled at the fabric of her hand woven cardigan or stretched out a foot to stare at a sandal. She sometimes responded with long sentences which had no bearing of what was being discussed and then once she told Claire a story about how she was born and how happy her dad had been, how he had insisted on holding her in his arms all night on her first day at home from the hospital and then she promptly trailed off, talking about how the world was such an “evil evil evil place and God is going to punish all humans by sending them to hell!”
Claire remained brave, keeping a calm front, she was going to remember only the good parts of the time spent here, she promised herself. Then Tai moved to sit on a nearby stool and all hell was let loose. She glanced in the direction of the movement, squinting to see Tai’s face and then screeched “You bastard!” Taking off from her chair with the agility of a rabid monkey.
Episode 25 will be available to read next week Friday. Subscribe to get a notification.
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