Hey guys, sorry I didn’t post this on Wednesday as I should have. I was in a Masterclass (Story Story) organized by my Oga/Mentor/Teacher/the only person I really listen to where my work is concerned LOL.
But I have now written and I have brought it for you people to read. Lol. This is the second to the last episode I will be posting on Scribespad(last episode comes up tomorrow). The remaining part of the story, which will be in an Ebook will be available for download on Sunday by 6pm. It will be on Okadabooks and it will be for N100 only (Subscribe if you haven’t, so when I share the link here you can see). See as I am reasonable? Lol. I am giving you for almost free. I will be rewriting, editing and ensuring everything is okay and see initial loopholes I might have overlooked and then, fix. So don’t think all you will be getting is the last part of the book.
I am already working on the sequel to SQUADI: The Originals, called SQUADI: The Fall Of Ajerun. The Fall Of Ajerun is the first in the SQUADI series that came to me. But too many things happened before that, one of which is the formation of the Squad and I had to deal with that first. Hence, SQUADI: The Originals. My Oga, the one I mentioned earlier, Chris Ihidero is working with me on this one, and, if you know him, you will know he is an OG of storytelling. So, y’all better be ready for The Fall Of Ajerun when it drops late next month (I hope).
PS: Since SQUADI: The Originals is basically over, SDC continues on Monday.
PPS: This is the first book I am selling in my life, your support means everything. Thank you for your support, it has always meant and will always mean everything.
“We should ask ourselves, are we fair in our perception of every human or are we guilty of generalizations, even to our friends?”
She stirred, her lips pursed, a small smile appearing at the corners of her mouth before she resumed her sleep.
He sat at the foot of the bed, watching her, his eyes unable to settle on anything else because he wanted to watch her; eyes on her while she slept peacefully and beautifully like a little child.
The funeral had come and gone and she was slowly adjusting to the reality of her mother’s death. Now she made little jokes about how she had suddenly become a mother to her siblings and how she’d slave to ensure they got better lives than she currently had.
That somehow relieved him. He had been worried sick for her in the days that followed her mother’s death. But now, he felt quite better that things seemed to be returning to normal, even though this new reality was not her normal but it at least was her new normal and she was slowly getting used to it.
Her eyes slowly opened, after adjusting to the morning sun that streaked the curtains that shielded the window in the room, she found him staring at her.
He smiled, she managed a smile back.
“You’re still here”
He nodded. He had passed the night in that room with her.
“I told you to go. You said you were going to go” she said, sitting up now.
“Philip left, it felt like the right thing to stay”
“Even my boyfriend left, you should have left too”
“I’m not your boyfriend, I don’t leave” he replied, the night before replaying in his mind. Philip had found an excuse to leave the house after his second visit to the house post funeral. He clearly was not a fan of his and Hakeem knew if he had his way, he’d stop him from visiting. But he did not have his way.
Ekanem’s eyes caught the Clock on the wall, “It’s 11am!” she shouted and hurried out of bed. “Pearl is supposed to be in school”
“I dropped her off” he muttered as she neared the door. She stopped, turned to face him and frowned.
“You dropped her off”
He nodded, “Is there a problem with that?”
Minutes passed without any response from her and he was certain she was never going to respond to that. However, when she found her way back to the bed, she faced him squarely.
“Why are you being nice?”
“I am a nice person”
She scoffed, “You’re Hakeem Rasaq, nice isn’t your forte. You want something, don’t you?”
That stung him. He was not one to go out for people; actually, until he met the entire Squadi crew and they became friends, he’d never done anything extra for anyone in his life.
He’d lived without caring about the next person. He’d gone through life being the selfish rich kid who felt he owed no one anything because he didn’t have anyone.
It was what he liked to believe, it was the truth he chose to live.
However, to say he was not nice was unfair. He had gone out of his way too many times for Ekanem and the crew in the recent past to get that statement coming from her.
Miffed, he stood, “That’s not true” he said
“I’m not?” he asked, then continued, “How many people would do what I have done for you in the past month alone?”
He could see the shock in her eyes, “You did those things so you can boast about them?”
“I am not boasting. I am asking a simple question since you say I am not nice”
“It’s not a big deal, what you did. Stop looking for Medals”
“If it is not a big deal, why didn’t anyone else do it for you?”
She eyed him, walked towards the window and looked out through it. “This is exactly why I cannot stand rich people, they do something for you and expect you to wipe their feet forever with your mouth”
“I can’t remember asking for that. We are here because you think I am not nice, when actually, I have been the nicest person to you since you can remember!” he’d tried not to raise his voice but she had pushed him. He never even spoke about things he did for her but somehow, she had disgusted him with that statement.
“Other people would have done the same.”
“Then why didn’t they do it?”
There was silence for a while, the only noise coming from a bunch of Teenagers playing football somewhere nearby. Ekanem’s hands gripped the iron bars that protected the Window.
“I don’t do shit for people expecting an award ceremony, and I didn’t do anything for you because I wanted anything back. I did it because I couldn’t bear you going through everything you were going through without helping when I could have.” He grabbed his phone and laptop lying beneath the Bed. “Have a nice day, Ekanem” he said and strode out of the room.
He was not his Father’s son.
Knowing him was begging for him to be a certain way, a way he never was and could never be.
She remembered seeing him on trips to the Salon when she worked for his stepmother, Martha. He was that rich kid who reeked of wealth, trustfund and a secure future.
The kid you desperately wanted to be proud and one you wanted desperately to hate because he had things you might never have.
However, knowing him revealed another side of him one would never have seen coming in a hundred years.
He was kindhearted, a good man and one of the best people anyone could meet.
But somehow, she found herself wishing he was not different from the man she had expected.
The man she desperately wanted him to be. The man he wasn’t but whom she wanted him to be so that hating him and his family and people like him would forever be justified.
The sound of his car leaving the premises echoed in the empty room and she wished she had been nicer to him.
He’d refused to leave her side since her mother’s death; abandoning the plans the crew had and ignoring his father’s calls whenever he called to know where he was.
But she could not bring herself to be nice to him, couldn’t bring herself to thank him for every effortless effort he had put into helping her live through her mother’s inevitable but sudden death.
She was in love with him, in a way she never loved Bashir or Philip or any other man, and in a way she knew she’d never love any man again.
And that scared her shitless.
Loving Hakeem was never going to be easy. It was never going to be those type of love one saw in movies or the ones that became beautiful because it was meant to be.
It was going to be painful. It was going to be hard. It was going to be extremely tough.
She fought back the urge to shed the tears gathering in her eyes. This was not the life she’d asked for, yet somehow, the forces that controlled the world had handed it to her on a platter.
Turning towards the door, she slipped her bare feet into a pair of Slippers and made for the Kitchen. Emem and Pearl had cleaned the whole place up, even plates they had used for the Porridge she found sitting in the Pot had been washed.
She reached for a box of matches, struck it and turned on the gas cooker. Placing the pot of Porridge on it, she waited for it to heat the food enough for her to eat.
Her mind went back to Hakeem, easily. She appreciated his efforts, she just couldn’t handle the emotions.
She vaguely wondered if he’d gotten his father’s password and when they were leaving for Ghana.
Her current predicament reminded her of how much she needed the money initially promised her now.
Her siblings’ fates were dependent on her now, fuck her if she allowed them have lives as bad as hers. Turning down the heat, she dished herself a plate of porridge, turned off the Cooker completely and headed out of the Kitchen.
She picked her phone then, dialed Alhaji and said to him when he spoke, “Alhaji, good morning. I was wondering if we could meet so I can say sorry for the other day”
She listened to him as he gave her an appointment for later that day.
He had been checking out the course online for some months now. It was a course on advanced computer technology, something he could never get in any school in Nigeria but that he could take via the Internet.
The money was a lot but he was willing to take the course and be a better version of himself.
That, and the fact that he wanted to learn the rules and break it so he could get away with things most computer gurus in Nigeria couldn’t get away with. Currently, he was trying to get away with scam.
After the whole scam was over, he was going to try and get away with murder.
Whoever killed Lerato was going down too. Yede had told him how unrecognizable and badly burnt her corpse had been when they found it somewhere in front of the Hotel she’d been lodged in – the hotel he’d last seen here and where they’d made love.
“Even Ileya Ram cannot be burnt like that because there won’t be meat to eat. The people that did it are wicked o” Yede had said when he had insisted on details surrounding the discovery of the corpse and in what condition it was when they found it. “They burnt it and now left ID Card on her so people can recognize her. The hotel people called my Oga to ask if she was the one because he had been looking for her for days and they (the hotel) hadn’t seen her too. But they just saw it one morning as the Manager of the Hotel was resuming for work”
AJ had painfully taken the details in.
Lerato, the only woman he had been in awe of for as long as he could remember was dead, brutally murdered by someone who was callous enough to display her body in that manner.
But he was not going to leave things be, he was going to haunt them down and kill them too.
He was no murderer but the anger in him was enough to pay hired killers to kill the Murderers as brutally as they had killed his friend.
But to haunt them and kill them, he first had to know who they were.
So he was going to take this course, know more about hacking into anything Lerato owned so he could get certain details and then, go on a mission to find the killers.
Hakeem strolled in, he looked exhausted, a bottle of Wine firmly held under his arms. He slumped into the Sofa closest to him and shut his eyes tightly.
“Are you okay?” AJ asked
He was silent for a long time before he suddenly asked him, “AJ, do you think I am nice?”
AJ shook his head reflexively.
“Why do you think that?”
And that was when he tried to think of the reason he had shaken his head when asked the question. The truth was, he hadn’t thought about it. He had responded to his question with the answer he gave because for some reason, it felt like the correct answer.
“Actually, thinking about it, you’re not not nice…” he shrugged, “you get my point”
“But why was it reflex for you to say I am not nice?”
AJ wanted to ask why he was suddenly obsessed with the way he was seen by others but the genuine look on his face told him he honestly wanted to know.
Looking away from his computer, AJ tried to understand why his immediate response had been to shake his head. Was it because he expected people like Hakeem not to be nice? Or was it because Hakeem did not look nice?
The latter made no sense, because nobody “looked nice”. You couldn’t base someone’s heart, emotions, feelings or behavior towards others simply because of what they looked like or who they were related to.
He remembered some guy in his neighborhood in Ibadan, Henry they called him. He was tall, arms and legs built like the Iroko tree that sat in his late grandmother’s compound in Ijebu and his face had a permanent scowl that ensured his face didn’t soften even when he laughed.
However, Henry was nothing like his looks. He had a good heart, would be the first to help anyone in distress in the neighborhood and was always willing to lend a hand.
As towering as he seemed, he was one of the nicest people AJ knew.
That should have taught him that it was unfair to judge anyone simply by what they looked like.
“I’m sorry. It just came to my head”
“Why? Because rich kids are not expected to be nice?”
AJ muttered another apology before explaining to him that he was not thinking.
“You know, it’s not my fault we were all born differently. I just wish everyone would stop seeing me like a bad person”
AJ returned his gaze to the Laptop in front of him. Hakeem’s question seemed deeply rooted in something and as much as he wanted to ask what it was, he knew it was not the best time for it. Whatever it was pained him and it was going to open doors to more issues.
And that, was what he wasn’t ready for.
Yellow strolled into the sitting room, his phone clutched to his ear. He eyed Hakeem as he spoke on the phone.
“Hakeem, why you allow Ekanem go meet your papa na?” He asked Hakeem the moment he got off the phone.
“Excuse me?” Hakeem asked with a frown, “What are you talking about?”
He had called Ekanem to check on her, know how she was doing since they last saw at her mother’s funeral.
Her refusal to pick on time had worried him, fueled his need to see if she was okay.
She had finally texted him, telling him she was in a Bus. When she called him back, she’d told him where she was and where she was headed.
He had been stunned.
The last time she spoke of Alhaji’s behavior to her, he had been upset and highly disgusted. And as much as he knew the role she was playing in the crew’s operation involved getting the password to Alhaji’s account, the one that housed Hakeem’s inheritance, he had vowed to convince the team to find another way to secure that.
And since Hakeem promised to do it himself, he’d been relieved.
Now, hearing she was going to Alhaji’s to do the exact opposite was not only shocking but annoying.
Had Hakeem gone all the way to hers, stayed all those days and nights by her side so he could convince her or as it were, guilt her into doing his bid?
“You told her it was fine to get the password from your father?”
“Last I checked Mr Yellow, we were all here when I told her I would do that by myself.” Hakeem replied
“So why is she on her way to meet your father?”
“I don’t know!” he yelled, “I do not fucking know!” he stood, “Why in the world does everyone think the worst of me? I haven’t done anything worse than anyone here, in fact I have tried to prove myself worthy of whatever bullshit friendship there is. Except of course, that friendship is only in my head.” He shook his head and stormed towards the door.
“This operation is over, guys. You’re free. Go home. I will take it from here.” Then, he strolled out of the house.
When Yellow turned towards AJ, the latter was staring at him, “What did you do that for?”
“I was only asking him…”
“You were accusing him.”
AJ slammed his laptop shut. “Now that the operation has been cancelled, I guess it’s time to say goodbye”
“I dey go my house.” AJ replied before he said anything more and like Hakeem, he strolled out of the House.
– SQUADI: The Originals
Tomilola Coco Adeyemo