Murdered in Cold Blood

I was just about to take the last bite of my supper when the lights in the kitchen were turned on. I immediately abandoned the food and run as fast as my legs could carry me. I did not even look back to see whether Pee, my brother had followed. Pee is braver than I am. He is also a glutton and will never abandon his food to run no matter the danger. Someway, somehow, he manages to be lucky all the time. He boasts about how well he can dance around Mr. Owusu-Takyi without being killed like our other siblings.

Our siblings…It’s always sad when I think about how each one of them have been murdered by members of this horrible family we currently stay with. We were a family of 12. Mum, Dad and 10 children. Right now, we are just 4. Mum and Dad have been away for a while and left us at the mercy of the Owusu-Takyis alone. I think I have only survived because I am such a coward. Pee on the other hand because he is so brave. It’s been such a horrible time living with them these last 9 months. Yes, I have lost 8 siblings in nine months. It’s been so painful.

I remember the day my youngest sister, Tee was killed. I warned her that day to follow me whenever danger approached. But no, she chose to stay with Pee. He escaped as usual but she wasn’t lucky. Her death was so painful to watch because unlike my other siblings who were killed with some kind of poisonous substance, she was burnt. Can you imagine how it felt to watch my youngest sister burnt to death? The murder was carried out by Mrs. Owusu-Takyi. Phoebe, the youngest child in the family saw Tee and Pee but ignored them. It appears she is the only one who has a soft spot for us, but I am not sure if I can trust her though. When Pee realised it was Pheobe who had entered the kitchen that day, he continued to dance around and enjoy his meal. Tee foolishly stayed behind. I could see the fear in her eyes but somehow, she wanted to be like Pee. He had always been her role model. A few minutes later, Mrs. Owusu-Takyi walked in the kitchen and screamed at Phoebe for ignoring Tee and Pee. Phoebe rolled her eyes at her mum asking her why she hated us so much. “They will make you sick!” she said. The next thing I knew, she picked up a huge piece of hot charcoal from the coalpot Phoebe had just lit and dropped it on my sister. I was in so much shock I couldn’t scream. Once again, Tee escaped unscathed. That was the first time I saw fear in his eyes. You will think that day would have changed him, but no. It made him even braver.

When I finally squeezed myself into my usual hiding place, I looked out to see how Tee would escape today. I froze. Tee lay motionless on the floor. I couldn’t believe it. Tee had been killed. Tears run down my eyes. I had never imagined this could happen to Tee. My head hurt with all the anger in me as I heard Mr. Owusu-Takyi tell his wife with pride that he had finally killed the stubborn one.

My family has been homeless all my life. I was born on the streets. In those days, we lived near a rubbish dump. I really miss that place. The only negative side about living there was having to compete with other families over the available food but we were far safer. Mum and Dad promised to get us a better life. They sought for a new place for us and finally settled on the Owusu-Takyis’ . In fact, they were a very welcoming family. Their rooms were cozy, but best of all, there was an abundance of leftovers for us every single day.

We were there for barely 3 days when Mrs. Owusu-Takyi first saw Ree, my second brother. She screamed as though she had not expected him around. I always wondered how they could leave so much leftovers in the kitchen – on the floor, counter, everywhere and yet be surprised to find us there. Was this some kind of trick?

And that’s when the murders began. One by one, my siblings were killed. After 4 deaths, our parents left to find a new home for us. I have not seen them since. The 6 of us were left to fend for ourselves. It’s been a struggle each day. The rations of food have reduced and the Owusu-Takyis have been more keen on getting rid of us.

I always ask myself why they kill us. The only reason I have heard is what Mrs. Owusu-Takyi said the day Tee died. Apparently, we will make them sick. But my question is, why create such a conducive environment for us and kill us after we arrive? Is this fair to us? We will never have gone to a house that had a spotless kitchen because we would have starved to death. We need the leftover food to survive.

Suddenly, my life feels so meaningless. I have no urge to live anymore.

These wicked humans. Do they kill us just because we are cockroaches? Then why don’t they just keep their homes neat so we don’t come there to start with?

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Different!

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I paid off the ‘kayayoo’. I had slept very late the previous night but had no other choice than to come to the market to shop for myself and my family. Deciding not to come would have meant my mother taking up the responsibility, but at her age, I did not deem it appropriate for her to be taking frequent trips to the market. I was just about to put my keys into my car door when I heard from behind me:-
“The woman who broke my heart!”
I know that voice somewhere, I said to myself. Oh of course! Kwaku, my ex.
“Gina!” he called out probably assuming I had not heard him. I rolled my eyes as I turned around and managed a weak smile.
“Hey there,” I said trying hard to sound excited.
“Ei! Just a hey? Not even a hug? What at all makes your boyfriend better than me?”
Here we go again. We never meet without him asking that question in one way or the other. Without thinking about my words, I said, “I have never said he is better than you. He is just a better match for me than you are.”
“And what is the difference? Well, I’m not going to fight for you oh. When you break up, I know you would come back to me.”
When? Not even if? I wanted to retort. But I was not in the mood to pick up a fight. Instead I said as calmly as possible, “It’s been three years, Kwaku. Move on.”
“Three years cannot take my love anywhere,” he smiled and drew closer for a peck he never gets. I raised my eyebrow as though I didn’t know what he wanted.
Just then, the driver of the car I had parked behind honked. Thank God! I nearly screamed out loud.
“Gotta go! Kwaku. Bye!”
“Bye, sweetheart! We would surely meet at some odd place like we always do.” He winked.
He was right about that. We always meet at places where I least expect to see him. I started the car and pulled out into the road.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the answer I gave to Kwaku popped into my mind. “I have never said he is better than you. He is just a better match for me than you are.”
I had honestly not thought about what I had said before I said it but somehow, I realised how true it was. Kwaku Baiden is a very great person. He is just not the man for me. I wish I had seen that earlier, that way, I would have still enjoyed the benefits of a great friendship that ended when the relationship ended. I would have willingly remained friends with him but I realised that he was not interested in just friendship with me anymore. It is true opposites attract, but Kwaku and I are extreme opposites! He is on the North Pole and I am on the South. Kwaku is a loud, popular excited man. He loves large gatherings, loves to be the center of attention, and loves to be with his uncountable number of friends. He loves anything but quiet. I, on the hand, am very quiet. I love being home, coiled in a corner with a good book and some fruit juice. Initially, I thought our relationship would be a great opportunity to bring me outside a bit and send him inside a bit too. Was I wrong! It meant I had to be outside with him all the time! It was very frustrating having to attend parties, large parties with hundreds of people every weekend. What even made it more annoying was he hardly spent time with me at those parties. I always sat alone as I watched him jump from corner to corner telling story after story. I was frustrated, yes, but I was determined to make the relationship work. I must say it wasn’t this difference that pulled us apart, but rather a similarity. See, I met Kwaku at a very challenging point in my Christian journey. I needed someone who would journey with me as I strived to draw back to God after pulling away and becoming a mere church-goer due to some disappointments in my life. Kwaku however was more of a church-goer than a Christian. After a month of the relationship, I realised it would be difficult to think he would journey with me. It looked like I had to pull him up. It would have been easier if he was just a friend. Well, that is what I believed. So, taking the firmest decision I have probably ever taken in my life, I invited him over, carefully told him everything I admired about him and everything beautiful the relationship holds. Then I went on to make it clear how much my relationship with God meant to me, especially at that point. And then I dropped the bombshell. I wanted us to break up. He laughed. He laughed that day and has taken our break up as a joke for the last three years. When he heard last year that I had stepped into a relationship, he laughed even harder. I do not know if he is waiting for the day I exchange my marriage vows with Yao, my current boyfriend before he would accept that we have no future.
I know I love Yao very much, but I cannot say I would definitely marry him. I wish I would someday, but life presents us with surprises each day so I would not speak with any certainty. If I want to attach any percentages though, I would say I am 90% sure I would marry Yao. My certainty of not going back to Kwaku is however very high. Let me give that 99.9%!
I spent that two years that followed our relationship discovering more of myself and I have come to realise that yes, opposites attract. But extreme opposites are totally unmatched! That is my candid opinion. I am patiently waiting for a research psychologist to tell me otherwise.

This story first appeared in 16 Secrets I Learnt From My Ex by Bernard Kelvin Clive, an Amazon bestseller. Do download the full book here for free!

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Buried in Guilt – Comments from the Author

Dear Faithful Readers!

Thanks so much for following Buried in Guilt to the very end! It’s been great knowing that I would always have you to read each post of my story.

I was moved to write this story when I pondered about the countless number of people (including me :-)) who are crippled by their past in one way or the other, whether over a small or grave issue. We feel so much buried in our guilt that we struggle to make the future better. My prayer is that this story has inspired you in one way or the other to make that bold decision to let go of the past and look into the future. Remember, it is the decision that is most important.

As this is my first published story, I would love to hear from you! Keep your comments coming so that you would always love reading from adesabe.

Sean-Isaac Addo-Mensah, a friend I just reconnected with deserves great thanks! His blog inspired me to begin my blog. Thanks Sean. (Sean blogs here http://qwamenah.wordpress.com/. Do visit!)

Martina Awo Johnson, my doctor in the making, also helped a lot with the final post. These medical terms are…:-). Thanks Martina!

Thanks you all once again. Keep reading!!!

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Buried in Guilt – Final

Petrina and Laudina quietly did the dishes in the kitchen. Within the three days she had been home, Petrina could actually count the number of words that her parents and sister had spoken to her. Laudina seemed to make the effort to carry on a conversation but Petrina noticed that she struggled a lot with it. Her parents on the other hand would not speak to her unless it was absolutely necessary to. It was very hard to deal with the pain of the silent treatment but after what she had put her family through, she knew she deserved it. Harry in his innocence was the only one who chatted endlessly with her.

The police had been told she ran away from the house for personal reasons and they were consequently carrying out their investigations. Jacob was still around, assisting the police. She was glad that her dad had been kind enough to allow him to stay in their boy’s quarters. She hoped that Jacob would not be in any form of trouble at the end of the investigations. He continued to be a great source of company to her as opposed to the cold treatment from her family. One thing that everyone especially Petrina did not understand was the disappearance of Gerald. She had taken the trouble to go to his house but it was empty. His phone was permanently off. All his friends knew nothing of his whereabouts. She wondered what could be wrong with him. She was constantly worried.

Just then, Laudina’s phone rang. She dried her hands with a napkin and reached into her pocket for the phone. Petrina hoped it was Benjamin and that Laudina would actually pick up the call this time around. She was very sad to know that Laudina and her fiancé were having trouble because of her disappearance. Anytime she thought over the events of the last few weeks, she wondered if she would have been better off staying at home in her shame. She doubted that her parents and Laudina would have been as disappointed and angry as they were now.

Her attention was turned to the phone call when she heard her sister say, “Yes, this is Laudina.”

Her sister was quiet for a few seconds then said, “Yes, I know Gerald Van-Lare.”

At the mention of his name, Petrina’s heart skipped a beat. She wished she could collect the phone at the moment to listen to the other end of the conversation. She watched as Laudina’s expression changed from one of confusion to sadness and then to worry. The call lasted for a few more minutes and then she Laudina said, “Thank you very much. We would be there soon.”

She ended the call and even before Petrina could ask any questions, Laudina reported to her, “That was Hubert, Gerald’s brother.”

“Okay.” Petrina managed to say, panting as though she had just run a long distance race. “What is wrong with him?”

“Gerald is…Gerald is in intensive care unit…”

“In what?” Petrina cut in.

“ICU at St. Luke’s Hospital,” she replied quietly, still stunned by the news. “He’s been in a coma for about a week but came round only yesterday.”

“What? How?”

“I don’t know, Pet. I told Hubert we would be there soon.”

“And how come he called you?”

“Don’t ask too many questions, Petrina. I don’t feel well about all this. He just said he noticed several missed calls from my number in Gerald’s call log.”

“And how…” Petrina stopped herself mid-sentence. She went to her room to change her clothes and put on her sandals. She came back to see Laudina had also changed and had grabbed her car keys.

“Let’s leave Harry with Jacob. I’m not sure how soon mum and dad would be back.”

Petrina sighed. Her parents had left to her uncle’s place to ‘catch some air’ earlier in the day. She had deliberately decided not to ponder too much about it. She stepped out to inform Jacob about the new developments. He was very excited that finally the mystery of Gerald’s whereabouts had been solved. She ushered him into the house and pointed out Harry’s lunch to him. Harry was asleep by then.

With all that accomplished, the two sisters sat in Laudina’s pale blue Opel Astra and drove as fast as they could to St. Luke’s Hospital.

“Gerald Van-Lare, please.” Petrina said at the reception.

“Room 23 of the male ward. He was moved there only this morning. Take the first right down the corridor right behind me.”

“Thank you very much,” Petrina replied as they walked briskly to the ward.

On reaching there, they met Hubert at the door.

“Please be quiet. He is still recovering,” He paused and smiled. “Glad to see you again, Petrina.”

“Erm..okay,” she answered as she dashed inside with Laudina.

Gerald was lying on the only bed in the room. He looked very pale and his eyes were barely open. Several medical instruments surrounded him. He struggled to lift himself up a bit when he noticed that he had visitors. Sensing that he could not see them clearly, they drew nearer to him.

They sat on the stool beside him. When he finally recognized them, they noticed him struggling to smile. Petrina held his hand and smiled although deep in her heart, she felt like crying. Petrina thought deeply once again about what she had done and the effects it had had on those around her. Her parents could barely speak to her. Harry had lost a lot of weight because of his irregular eating pattern while she was missing. Laudina and Benjamin seemed to have broken up. Gerald was barely recovering in the hospital. She felt so terrible about everything. By running away, she had thought only about how she felt without thinking about her loved ones. She tried hard to keep the words Jacob spoke to her every day in her heart.

Do not keep your mind focused on the mistakes you have made in the past. Let go of them, ask for forgiveness from God and then go on to strive to do things better. You won’t achieve it overnight. The most important thing however is to make the decision to begin.

She sighed. About ten minutes later, a nurse came in and asked them to excuse her.

When they stepped out, Petrina released the tears she had been holding. Laudina put her arm around her and turned to Hubert.

“So, what exactly happened to him?” she asked in a disturbed tone.

Hubert took in a deep breath before speaking. “He was attacked…”

“Attacked?” Petrina cut in and began to cry even harder.

“Yes,” he took in a deep breath again. “He was stabbed in the thigh and also had a very terrible wound in his head which I suspect came as a result of a fall. The doctors said he lost a lot of blood resulting in a condition known as hypo…hypoperfusion.” He concluded, checking a piece of paper in his pocket obviously for the right word.

“So would he be okay?” Laudina asked.

Hubert took in a deep breath again. “The doctors say the worst is over. He is actually recovering now. They stated that he went into a hypo…hypovo…” He paused and smiled. “These medical terms are crazy!”

Petrina and Laudina managed to smile back.

Making reference to his piece of paper again, he continued, “He went into a hypovolemic shock and subsequently, a coma. According to them however, once he has come round, he would be fine. It would take some time though for him to fully recover.”

Just then, the nurse came out of the ward. “You may go in,” she said to them. “But please allow him a lot of time to rest.”

The trio nodded at her quietly entered the ward. Gerald was asleep. They sat at his bedside as noiselessly as possible.

Petrina looked at Gerald and tried hard to hold back her tears. She prayed silently in her heart that she would soon forgive herself.

The End

Check out the next post for comments on the story from the author. 🙂

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Buried in Guilt – XVIX

Faithful readers, sorry for the unannounced break. Thanks though for coming back once again! Enjoy the last few posts of Buried in Guilt and do keep your comments coming!!!

-tdzifa

The silence continued for a few more minutes. Finally, Mr. Bannerman spoke up.

“I guess we ought to sit down and get talking. There is certainly a lot to say, I believe.”

“Certainly is,” Mrs. Bannerman agreed, her voice was very shaky. “I think we should invite the police to hear the story first hand,” she added, picking up her cell phone from the couch.

“No! No police! Please,” Petrina exclaimed with a very alarmed tone. Everyone stared at her.

“I’m sorry,” she continued. “I don’t know what to say. I really am. I’m sorry. But please don’t call the police!” She run her fingers through her hair as tears began to drop from her eyes.

Mrs. Bannerman was very confused by the way Petrina was reacting to her statement.

“Very well, then. I guess we can hold on to the call for now.” She sat down at the edge of the chair as though she was expecting some bad news.

Laudina sensed the conversation would not be friendly to Harry’s ears. She held his hand and announced, “I’m going to put Harry to bed.”

“No!” he protested before anyone else could comment. “I want to talk to Petty!”

There was a brief moment of silence again.

“Er..Harry,” Petrina broke the silence, trying hard to force a smile. “I’d come talk to you first thing tomorrow morning.” She patted his back.

“You sure?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Yes, I am, Harry.”

“Good! I would sleep with a smile today. Tomorrow, we would go cycling. I can finally learn to ride my bike. Thanks for coming home!” he gave her a big embrace again. “Okay, off we go, Laudy!”

It was hard not to smile. The innocence of the little boy was yearned for by everyone instead of the current mood in the house.

“Well,” Mr. Bannerman said after they had left. “Can we sit and talk?” He moved towards the couch and sat down.

Jacob and Petrina followed him. The uncomfortable silence returned. Laudina returned within a few minutes and joined them.

“Well, I guess I can set the ball rolling since I am the neutral person here.” Jacob began. “I am Jacob Gaisie, as I said earlier. I met Petrina on a bus a little over a month ago.”

“On a bus? What kind of bus? And where was the bus heading to? How did you meet her?” Mr. Bannerman’s questions seemed endless.

Jacob exchanged a glance with Petrina. “The bus was bound for Tamale. We were both passengers on the bus.”

“Passengers to Tamale?” Mrs. Bannerman asked, very astonished. “How?”

“I ran away, mum,” Petrina said quietly, bowing her head shamefully. Tears continued to drop down her face.

“Ran away?!!!” Mr. Bannerman barked. “Is that the best story the kidnappers asked you to come up with?”

Petrina shook her head. Jacob spoke on her behalf, realizing that she was struggling to speak.

“There were no kidnappers, sir.”

“So what happened?” he stood up as raised his voice even louder.

“Daddy, I just ran away,” Petrina said between sobs.

“I am failing to comprehend that! What do you mean by ran away?”

“Russell,” Mrs. Bannerman said, sounding distressed but determined to remain calm. “Let’s calm down and listen to them.”

“Calm down? Calm down? Calm down for what? When that Gerald boy whom you treat as a son arranged for my daughter to be kidnapped and she suddenly reappears with a cock and bull story, you expect me to be calm? You expect me to, Yolande?”

“Russell, yes. We can only know the truth if we remain calm.” She got up and put her arm around him as she spoke.

Mr. Bannerman pouted and glared at Petrina and Jacob. Laudina turned to her sister.

“Please tell us something.”

“I don’t know what to say. I’m  I’m…”

“Just tell us what those hired kidnappers did!” Mr. Bannerman bellowed again, ignoring his wife.

“Daddy, there were no kidnappers. Gerald hired no one. I ran away dad, I ran away.”

Mr. Bannerman narrowed his eyes and sat down. He finally seemed ready to listen to the story.

“Please let Jacob tell the story. I do not think I can do that.”

“You can’t speak but you can run away?” he retorted.

“Daddy, please.” Laudina said.

“Fine!” He turned to Jacob.

With all eyes on him, Jacob began the story of the last few weeks.

The story is drawing to a gradual close…don’t miss out yet! Keep reading!!!

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Buried in Guilt – XVIII

Petrina looked over at Jacob who was comfortably sleeping in the seat next to her. Although she had hardly slept the whole night, she could not fall asleep then either. She felt so many emotions within her all at once. She was scared, worried, and anxious. Surprisingly, she did have some happiness within her.

Things had happened very fast that day. When she finally got out of her room, she saw a pick-up parked in front of their apartment. Jacob was taking breakfast with a man she did not know. He smiled when he noticed her presence and introduced him as Mr. Debuo, a friend of his in the city. She exchanged pleasantries with him and went back inside her room, thinking she needed to give them some privacy. Shortly after, Jacob came knocking. When she opened the door, he seemed surprised to see her still in her casual clothes.

“Aren’t you going to get dressed?” he had asked.

“Dressed for what?” she had replied. She had been very confused.

“Dressed for what? We are going to Accra, remember?”

Her expression had changed completely then. Jacob had immediately spoken up when he noticed this.

“We do not have to go if you have changed your mind. Mr. Debuo would understand.”

“Understand what?” she had asked, feeling even more confused.

“You know no public transport moves out of Soma today so I called Mr. Debuo so he would take us to the city.”

“But…” her voice had trailed off.

“It’s okay, Petrina. I’ve told you already that you do not have to go if you have changed your mind.”

“Did I ever make up my mind, Jacob?”

“I thought you did.”

“I didn’t, Jacob.”

“Then I’m very sorry, Petrina. It seemed to me that you had agreed.”

“I didn’t,” she had replied, feeling very distressed. “I told you I would think about it.”

“Really? I was probably feeling tired then and I had misinterpreted what you said. I’m very sorry. Let me speak to Mr. Debuo now then.”

Somehow, Jacob’s desire not to force her to go to Accra against her will had rather made her feel like she had to make a decision to go. She thought about how he had gone through the trouble of inviting his friend over. She considered the journey from the city to Soma and thought about how terrible it would be for Mr. Debuo to have driven all the way to Soma and drive back without accomplishing what he had come there to do.

“Wait,” she had said.

“Don’t worry, Petrina. Just take your time.”

“It’s okay, Jacob.” She had taken in a deep breath as she considered what she was about to say. “I would go.”

“You would?” he had asked, looking surprised. “I don’t want you doing this against your will, dear.”

“I know, Jacob. But I think I should go. After all, I would eventually have to go back. Why do I have to wait any longer?”

He had started to speak again then but she had assured him that she was not making the decision against her will.

She looked out of the window, and then turned back to Jacob. She was going to miss him. She had really learnt a lot from him. And she knew for sure that he would stand solidly behind her no matter what everyone else back at home said to her about the wrong she had done. Realizing her thoughts were going back to feelings of regret, she closed her eyes and tried very hard to fall asleep.

*************************************************************************************

“Petty!” Harry screamed. For the first time in the last few weeks, he sounded very excited. They were all surprised as they turned to look at him.

“She would come soon, ok.” Laudina said, not believing the words herself.

“I know, I know! I saw her from the window.”

“From the window?” Laudina and Mrs. Bannerman asked together.

“Yes! Yes! The window! Right now!”

Laudina and her mother looked at each other. It was true someone who was out on the street could be seen through one of the windows in the hall but they were certain he had not seen Petrina. They were all praying for her to be found but they were very convinced that she would not just appear in the house. They did not know how to explain that to Harry.

“Harry, Petrina would come soon but not today,” Mr. Bannerman said attempting to pick him up.

“But I saw her!” he said, avoiding the grasp of his father. “She is coming now! Let me go and open the gate so that you would see!”

Mr. Bannerman picked him up despite his struggle and exchanged a worried glance with Mrs. Bannerman.

The last few days had been another tough time for the family. Although adverts were now in the newspapers and the police had assured them that they would soon find Petrina, the family was still anxious. What even made the situation more difficult was the sudden disappearance of Gerald after he had given them the information about where he believed Petrina would be. It was very strange that after that text message, he never picked any of Laudina’s calls. His phone was now permanently off. He also did not come by the house as he usually did. Mr. Bannerman remained convinced that Gerald was behind Petrina’s disappearance. Mrs. Bannerman was gradually beginning to side with her husband. Laudina on the other hand was not ready to accept that. It was true that his sudden change in behaviour was very strange. She however was not willing to connect it to him having a hand in Petrina’s disappearance. She simply did not understand why she felt that way but she was convinced that Gerald had nothing to do her sister’s absence. She turned to see Harry squirming in their father’s arms still insisting that he had to open the gate. She wondered what had suddenly gotten into him too.

*************************************************************************************

“We’ve spent enough time at this gate already, Petrina.” Jacob said giving her a pleading look. “Let’s gather up some courage and enter the house.”

“I’m scared, Jacob. What would they say to me? What would they do?”

“Petrina, we would only know when we get inside. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I don’t even know!” she sighed as she run her hand through her hair. “Okay, I’d open the gate for you so you take the lead.”

“Take the lead? And tell them what? I have not even met them before.”

“Just say something, Jacob. Please.” She opened the door then and pushed him inside. “Go,” she whispered.

*************************************************************************************

The family was startled when they heard the gate open. They wondered if they had actually not locked it. That would be very strange, especially considering that it was already dark. Sure enough, the next thing they knew, there was a knock on the door.

“I told you so!” Harry screamed finally managing to get out of the grips of Mr. Bannerman. He run toward the door.

“Hey!” Mrs. Bannerman shouted. “We do not know who is there. Do not open it!”

It was however too late. He had already opened the door. There stood a young man they had never met. Realizing that it was not Petrina, Harry immediately sat on the floor and began to cry.

Everyone else stared at the young man.

“Good evening,” he said.

“Hello, young man.” Mr. Bannerman said with a grim expression. “You seem to have broken into our compound because our gate is usually locked.”

“Er…well…no…” he looked very confused and seemed not to know what to say. “I’m Jacob Gaisie.” He finally said.

“Thank you for your name, Mr. Gaisie but you have not answered me.”

 “Well…I’m not sure what to say…” his voice trailed off as someone appeared behind him. The women were startled.

Is this some kind of robbery? Laudina thought.

There was an uncomfortable period of silence and then the second person finally appeared in full view. The whole family was utterly stunned to see Petrina standing behind the stranger with a very scared look on her face. Harry was the first to break the silence.

“Petty!!!!” he screamed as he run to her. He gave her a big embrace. “I told you I saw her!” He said as he turned to the rest of his family.

They remained speechless.

 

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Buried in Guilt – XVII

Jacob studied Susan carefully as he spoke those words. She still seemed very worried but was beginning to look as though he had defeated her.

“I told him not to get the police involved!” she finally said, sitting down with a very loud sigh. He sat beside her as he smiled in his head.

Finally, she is going to tell me her story.

“Who is he?”

“Nobody!” she turned away once again.

“Susan, please. We have come too far for you to turn away.”

“That’s exactly what we thought! And now look at me!” she buried her head in her hands and began sobbing. He patted her back.

“What did you think?”

She did not answer, but continued to sob. He decided to be patient with her. After almost ten minutes of silence, she got up suddenly.

“I have to go to my room.”

“Your room?” he couldn’t help smiling.

“Yes, my room. I need to think.”

“But that’s not fair, Pe…Susan. If you had allowed me to go to my room, we would not be having this conversation by now.”

“Life is not fair, Jacob.”

“Not at all, I know. But we can try to make it a bit fair.”

“Jacob, I don’t know…” she began crying again and held him in a tight embrace.

Jacob wished this night had been different. Susan was showing more affection to him that day than she ever had in the entire period they had known each other. If only this news had not come up, if only it were not true, it would have been a strong indication that she felt the same way about him too. For now, she seemed to be using him as an anchor for the inner struggle she seemed to be facing. Nonetheless, even if she felt the same way about him, there was no way he would selfishly keep her in Soma when he knew her family was looking for her. That would be the most unloving thing for him to do.

“Jacob, I’m sorry,” she said, interrupting his thoughts. She was still hugging him.

“I know you are, dear.”

Uh-oh! Did I just call her that? 

“Oh Jacob! What am I going to do now?”

He felt relieved when she did not comment on how he had addressed her. “I can only help you if you tell me what is going on,” he said softly to her.

She stepped back from him and sat down. She suddenly noticed the pan she had left on the coal pot.  “Oh!” she yelled, taking the pan off. She opened it and they both realised the stew was completely burnt.

“Don’t worry about it,” Jacob quickly said before she could say anything. She gave a brief smile.

“Jacob, why is life so unfair?”

“I don’t know, Susan.”

“Don’t call me Susan!”

Jacob opened his mouth to make a comment but he closed it again. She was obviously struggling a lot within her.

“I know, I know. I’m confusing you. I’m sorry.” She paused and turned away. “Call me Petrina,” she said in a low voice. “I’m Petrina Bannerman.”

Jacob’s heart tightened suddenly. Hearing her confirm it was painful although it was already obvious that was the truth.

“So, what happened to you, Petrina?” He tried very hard to keep his voice as neutral as possible.

“I do not even know where to start from…” she sighed.

 

************************************************************************************

It was already past midnight but Petrina was still struggling to fall asleep. She had gone over the events of the night several times. She could hardly attach an emotion to how she felt about how things had unfolded. After staying in Soma for more than a month, she had finally been convinced that she could settle down and start a new life there. She just could not fathom how she had been found at just the same time.

Her thoughts went back to the point where she told Jacob her story. She told him about how she and Gerald were very staunch Christians and had desired to please God with every bit of their relationship. Unfortunately, as time progressed, they began putting God aside and focusing on only themselves. That was when it became harder and harder to resist each other. They kept lowering the bar, till that night, the night she run away. They had broken their virginity that night. Petrina had felt very broken afterwards and she knew she could not stay home after what she had done. When she was just beginning her teen years, she had vowed to herself that if she ever broke her virginity before she got married, she would run away from home that very day. It was something she had always kept in her heart but had never thought it would happen. Even when she realised the level of physical intimacy that she shared with Gerald kept increasing day after day, she had still managed to convince herself that it would not happen.

She sobbed.  Her eyes hurt from all the crying she had done that night but she just could not stop the tears from coming down again. Her life had become so complicated just by that mistake she had made. She chided herself for being so stupid. Then she remembered everything Jacob had said to her that night.

“…remember the story of the woman who committed adultery in John 8? Indeed, Christ acknowledged that she had sinned but he did not condemn her. Instead, he let her go and charged her not to sin again. Jesus is more interested in your future success than your past sins. He allows you to feel guilty so that you can recognize that you have fallen, but after that no longer must you allow yourself to be buried in guilt and shame. He beckons you at that point to come back to Him. He calls you once again and affirms His love for you. Jesus has died the most perfect death for your sins so you need not kill yourself inwardly when you fall into sin. All you need to do is run to Him so that He would cleanse you with the blood that was shed and take you on to a fresh start…”

He had said so many other things to her but that was the point that had captured her heart. After speaking for a very long time, he told them they would have to go back to Accra the following day. She immediately did not agree. It was just so sudden. But he had insisted. So she finally told him she would think about it and give him an answer in the morning.

She checked her watch again

12:48 am. She still had not made a decision.

 

Keep reading….

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Buried in Guilt – XVI

It was a pretty dark and cool night. Jacob had finally arrived in Soma. His head however felt anything but cool. He had thought very deeply about whether Susan was Petrina or Petrina was Susan. He did not even know what difference it made. He was simply confused. Much as he wanted to convince himself that it was just a mere coincidence, it was very easy to add things up and realise that there was some relationship between the missing lady and the lady he had fallen in love with. He tongue felt dry. He did not feel hungry although he had hardly eaten anything the whole day. His head felt so heavy that it seemed as though it would fall off any moment soon. He struggled to hold back his tears but he was already crying in his heart. He was devastated! Falling in love with someone who was not who she said she was seemed like he had fallen in love with a ghost. He sighed. He told himself to calm down until he finally confirmed all that was happening from Susan. He did not even know how he was going to bring up the topic.

He finally reached their apartment. There was Susan fanning the coal pot, obviously preparing supper as is she usually did around that time.

“Good evening.” He muttered when he got to her.

“Hey there, Jacob! For once, I actually kind of missed you!” She laughed. “Any goodies from the city?”

His heart skipped a bit at her cheerful greeting. He thought about his earlier intention to let her know how he felt about her. Her present tone would have made it so easy. But that was before he saw the notice in the papers and his world had suddenly turned upside down.

“Just some provisions.” He muttered again, handing her one of the bags he was carrying. “I’m going to my room.”

“Your room? Why, that is unusual of you! Wouldn’t you come and tell me those lovely stories of yours as I cook? Besides, I’m preparing your favourite dish: Yam and palava sauce.”

“Never mind, I’m not hungry.”

“Not hungry?!” she suddenly gave him a concerned look. His heart jumped again when her caring eyes met his. “Are you okay?”

She dropped the fan, got up and stood beside him.

“I just need to get to my room, okay.”

“No, Jacob. Tell me something.”

He shook his head. “My room would be just fine for me.”

She held his hand gently, “Oh, Jacob, I’ve never seen you like this. What is wrong?”

“Petrina, please, just leave me to…”

He stopped mid-sentence. He looked up at her. The brightness in her eyes had suddenly disappeared. It had been replaced with shock and anxiety. There were beads of sweat forming on her forward. Her hands which were still holding his were now cold.

“Wait, what did I just call you?”

She shook her head.

“So it’s true then?”

“What is true?” she asked as she stiffened up.

“Susan or Petrina, which one is your real identity?”

“Who is Petrina?” she tried to ask innocently but he sensed how shaky her voice had become.

“Who is Petrina? Probably you!”

“Why are you suddenly calling me Petrina? I’m Susan, okay. You are home now. Forget about whatever happened in town.”

He looked straight into her eye and lowered his voice. “Please tell me the truth. Please do.”

“What truth? I’m confused.” She turned her face away from him.

He placed his hand gently on her cheek and turned her head back to face him. “ You’ve been a pretty good actress in the last month or so but your act is failing you tonight. It’s obvious you know something about what I am saying.”

“No, I don’t,” she said, raising her voice and yanking her hand away from his.

He shook his head and took the newspaper, opening it to the page with the notice.

“There.” He said, handing her the paper.

He studied her carefully as she read the notice. He observed that she turned even paler and was shaking even more. She took longer than she should have to read the notice. She was probably trying to absorb it fully.

“What has that notice got to do with me?” her voice was very defensive.

“Petrina…”

“Stop calling me by that name!” She yelled. “Do you think I am the person in the notice? Why should you think so? Do I look like someone who can run away from home?”

“No you don’t. Which is why I want you to explain to me why you did, Petrina.”

She glared at him at the mention of the name and began walking off. He held her hand.

“You can’t walk off this time. If I have to call you Susan to calm you down, fair enough, I would. But please tell me the truth today.”

“What truth, Jacob? What truth?” she now sounded like she was about to cry.

“The truth that you have hidden in your heart. You can run your whole life, but you can never run away from the truth.”

 

Is the truth about to come out?

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Buried in Guilt – XV

Jacob was walking towards the station in Tamale to join a car to Soma. He had come to Tamale as he usually did every other week to buy items for his upkeep. Susan was on his mind as he walked. In the last few weeks, he always had her in mind. There was just something about her. Susan was so hardworking and so dedicated to her work. She had a way with kids that marveled him. Often times, he stood at a distance and simply admired her as she taught with so much uniqueness. He remembered the week they had spent in another village, Maklayiri. Soma was a remote village but indeed Maklayiri was a remote Soma. The children there were far more disadvantaged. They had been invited by the headmaster to spend a week there to assist the pupils in Primary 6 who were preparing to take their final examinations that would enable them to continue their education to the Junior High School level. Maklayiri had only one school and it was only a primary school. For many in the village therefore, primary 6 was the end of their education and they never put any efforts into their final examinations. The headmaster was determined that year to have at least five pupils make it to the Junior High School. When they got to the school, Jacob was immediately discouraged. The children did not look like they had any sense of hope. Susan on the other hand was so zealous about motivating them. By the end of the week, he had really seen a change in a good number of the students. Susan did not believe she had done anything special.

“I’ve only done what God sent me to do,” she had said.

That was another beautiful thing about Susan. She attributed all her abilities to God. Yet, in spite of all these, there were a lot of mysterious things surrounding her life. First of all, Jacob had called several friends of his who were to start their national service that year but they all told him the postings were not yet out. He found that a bit confusing. When he asked Susan about it, she had said she was part of the few people that had an early posting. Early posting? He had never heard about that before. Then he asked her about her registration and she said she had been informed that she could only register when all her other colleagues were posted. He found that strange too. The most mysterious part was about her life apart from school. All he knew about her was that she was Susan Van-Lare and she was from Accra. Where in Accra? She wouldn’t say. What school did she attend? She told him he was prying too much. He had tried hard not to make reference again to the fact that she never called home. He however could not hold back any longer and had asked her about it.

“Is it any of your business?” she had snapped.

And that was it. Susan was very great to talk with until a personal question was asked. She always stiffened at that point, snapped at him and walked off. He had tried to use different ways of getting to know her better but to no avail. Jacob personally believed she might be hiding something. Often times though, he felt he just had not won her trust yet. His desire to know her better coupled with her wonderful qualities had moved his admiration to strong attraction for her. He always wondered what to do about how he felt. Two days ago, he had decided to let her know how he felt. He hoped if she also felt the same and they became committed to each other, it would encourage her to open up to him.

When he arrived at the station, he stopped by the newsstand to purchase the dailies. He never missed the chance at getting the newspapers since he hardly heard any news in Soma. He paused for a few seconds to ensure that he had bought everything he had planned to after which he sat in the Soma-bound vehicle. He knew it was going to be quite a long wait since the bus was virtually empty. He decided to go through the papers as he waited. He loved these moments because it made him feel part of what was happening in the country anytime he read the papers. After going reading the Daily Guide from cover to cover, he looked up and realised only four extra people had entered the car.

I must as well read the Daily Graphic.

He read through the various news articles and then the pages with advertisements followed. He turned to the page which contained notices and was immediately stunned. There was Susan with her beautiful smile staring back at him! The heading “Missing” was boldly above her picture. He was confused.

What is Susan doing in here?

He went on to read the notice. The paper referred to her as Petrina Bannerman and she had been missing for a little over a month. She had left her house on…wait! The date quoted was the day after he met Susan. The general public was being asked to report any knowledge about her whereabouts.

Jacob put his head in his hands. This was all so confusing. Could Susan really be Petrina? But how possible? On the other hand, it could not be a mere coincidence that this lady who looked just like Susan was last seen the day after he met Susan. His heart began to beat faster. Had Susan been lying to him all this while? It just couldn’t be. She was such a sweet person he just couldn’t think she could be capable of running away from home or lying to him for such a long time. He thought about how mysterious she was. He thought about the fact that she was the only person that he personally knew had gotten an ‘early’ National Service posting. It all made sense. It made so much sense to him now that she was so secretive and she had no reason to call home. He shook his head.

It can’t be true. It just can’t.

For the first time in a very long time, he felt so broken within him. He felt like crying. How could Susan have lied to him? He had fallen in love with someone who was not really who she said she was. What was he going to do?

 

What is Jacob going to do?

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Buried in Guilt – XIV

Laudina kept thinking about Gerald’s text message as she dialed his number once again. The call went through but he did not pick up. She wondered why he was refusing to pick up her calls. She just did not understand his message and she only wanted him to explain it better to her. She sighed. She walked to the hall to tell her parents about his message. She knew they would want more understanding but alas, she had no explanation to give.

She got there to meet a miserable Harry and her parents who looked very worried. Over the last month, Harry had hardly eaten a full meal. He occasionally took a bite or two out of snacks.  He cried almost every day and stated very firmly that he would only eat if they showed him where Petrina was. He had been taken to the hospital but even the doctors and nurses could not convince him any better. The 4-year old was looking thinner by the day; he was so weak he could not go to school. She walked over to him first of all and picked up a cracker on a plate in front of him.

“Harry, please take this,” she said as she held it up to him, knowing very well that he was going to refuse it.

“I said no!” he said firmly. “I want Petty.” He got up and walked out of the hall.

“Laudina, what are we going to do about your brother?” her mother asked between sobs. “Isn’t it enough that we do not know where Petrina is? Does he want us to lose him too?” She dropped her head on the table and wept harder. Her dad patted her on the back.

Laudina was glad that although her parents occasional argued blaming each other for the disappearance of Petrina, more often than not, they were there for each other. They consoled each other in a very loving way.

“Hmmm,” Laudina started. “I think we have some new information for the police.”

“We do?” her father asked, raising his eyebrows. “Why do u say so?”

“Gerald sent me a message a short while ago. All he said was that he is convinced she is in the Northern Region. He did not say where specifically, neither did he say why he suddenly thinks so.”

“So call him and ask!” her father retorted.

“I have, dad but he is not picking up his calls.”

There was a long pause then he suddenly stood up and shouted, “I knew it! I knew that boy was behind all this! Now that he has had the guts to confess wherever he sent her to, he is refusing to pick up his calls. He would pay for this!”

“Dad, no. Gerald has not done anything. He…”

“Why are you defending him young lady? How dare you defend a man who has harmed your sister?”

“Russell, calm down,” Mrs. Bannerman said sitting up. “Gerald has been of so much help to us during this time. I do not think he is behind this.”

“You too, Yolande? You dare defend him too? You suddenly love a stranger more than your daughter?”

“Russell, no. Please don’t say that. I am very certain Gerald has done nothing…”

“And I am very certain that that man is behind this! Sit here and defend him! I’m off to the police station. He needs to be caught this very moment before he escapes!”

“Russell, you can’t do that.”

“Oh, yes, I can!” He put on his slippers and grabbed his car keys. “I cannot believe you are suddenly rejecting Petrina. Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves!”

“Russell, you cannot talk like that! You know how much we all love Petrina. And that includes Gerald. He wouldn’t harm her.”

“Why do you trust that man so much? Why should you? I know for sure that he has caused us this pain and I am telling the police about this right now!”

“Russell!” Mrs. Bannerman stood up and held his arm. “What proof do you have? Besides, why don’t you wait till morning so that we can go to the police station? It’s awfully late.”

“Late? Why do you think police station is open for 24 hours? I am leaving and I am leaving now!”

“Daddy!”

“Laudina, leave him to go. He knows how he would prove his speculations to the police,” Mrs. Bannerman said sounding angry.

Her change in tone seemed to have an effect on Mr. Bannerman. He paused and looked back at them. Then, regaining his firm look, he walked out of the door.

Mrs. Bannerman and Laudina looked at each other and then embraced. They could not blame their husband and father. The disappearance was very hard on each one of them.

 

Would the police take any action after Mr. Bannerman’s report?

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