Chapter Twenty-Five: Tell the Tale

“Probed” is a science fiction concept with a Nigerian setting about five extraordinary children trying to live ordinary lives. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I love writing it!

Hey guys I know it’s been a while, but i’m actually on a new learning phase in my life (i really should have paid more attention in school).

I’m learning quite a lot, and I’m psyched that I’m on my twenty-fifth chapter here. To all those who spurred me and followed me through this journey with the Ogunbades, I am truly grateful.

Hmmmm… twenty-five. Let’s see if we can make it to fifty shall we? Hahaha

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Ronke sat on her bed wide eyed, staring at Muyiwa with a raised eyebrow.

“If you didn’t want to tell me, you should have just insisted.” She said blankly. “It’s much better than making a fool of me with this your sci-fi mumbo jumbo.”

Muyiwa gave her a look and hissed, much to his surprise. When she said so he thought he would appeal to her to believe him, but instead he found himself repulsed by her response. He rose to his feet.

“You know the best thing about this?” he said with a sneer. “No one would believe you if you told them either, so spare yourself the embarrassment you hear?”

As he tried to leave Ronke grabbed his arm and tried to draw him close, but he wouldn’t budge.

“If I detach myself from your grip with force, your joints would pop out from their elbows.”

The lethality in Muyiwa’s voice made Ronke recoil from him, but he refused to look at her.

“I will be twenty-two in a couple of days, and I have never in my life told anyone my secret.” Muyiwa said, clenching his fists as he spoke. “April 28th… it’s not even my real birthday.”

Ronke put a hand to her mouth. Muyiwa was trembling violently.

“All I remember… is being on a bus… and being waylaid by robbers… and being bounded off to the facility… to hell on earth. If not for mama I swear—.”

Instead of completing his statement he clutched at his shirt as if he wanted to remove it, but stopped himself. With a chuckle he turned to look at Ronke, and to her surprise he had tears in his eyes. She had never seen him cry until now.

“Have you ever looked closely at my body before?” he asked softly this time with a small smile. “I know you’re stubborn, no matter what I tell you.”

Ronke understood what he meant. At the beginning of their relationship whenever they were together Muyiwa acted really strange, like he was repulsed by her touching him. He was so mechanical with her, like pleasing her was a point of duty and not a thing of mutual benefit. It frustrated her and even made her feel insecure at first, the way he would frown before he even kissed her, or how she always had to make the first move even for a display of affection. But she also remembered when she first tried to talk about it. He explained that he wasn’t used to what she had to give him… to making love or even holding hands. At the back of her mind she used to believe he meant that he was only into flings, but she never asked so she wouldn’t hurt herself further. She instead held on the belief that he meant it when he said he had never fallen in love with anyone before… until she came along. Eventually he eased up and became the most romantic man he knew, never ashamed to let people know how much he loved and cared about her. She had seen a couple of scars on his body, but she assumed it was from all the dangerous things that he had done that he hid from her, so she never bothered to inspect closely. Besides, Muyiwa was always alert at the slightest sound or touch that she wondered if he really ever slept.

“All those marks… those incisions and scars you see all over me are not from fights or whatever as you would think.” He said, shaking his head slowly for emphasis. “There are incisions and holes where I had been cut open and drilled into for enhancement.”

Ronke let out a gasp before she could stop herself. Muyiwa still had the soft smile on his face.

“These scars are nothing compared to the psychological and emotional ones left in us, embedded through the years.”

“Us… you mean you and your siblings?”

Muyiwa nodded. “We all went through the same thing. The love of the Ogunbades healed us all, but it nothing can take away those scars. I will always be who I am, the man with a dangerous secret.”

Ronke’s heart was beating furiously. It was too surreal to believe… like those series she was so addicted to watching that Muyiwa never really liked. She could understand why he disliked them now.

“Did… did your sister do something to me back there?” she found herself asking. Muyiwa nodded.

“She healed your post surgery wounds.”

“Wait… you told them about the abortion?”

“We never hide things from each other… it’s always been how we lived, and we can’t stop it now.” He smacked his forehead. “They are going to cream me for telling you our secret… I just hope they don’t tell mum and dad in their fury or I’d be in even more trouble.”

With this Ronke rose to her feet and took his hand his hers, and he made no move to recoil this time. “I promise I won’t let them know that I know.”

“This is not about you… I can’t keep anything from my siblings. I have to tell at least one of them, and this is too big for anyone I tell to keep to themselves.”

Ronke leaned against his back and wrapped her arms around him from behind, something she did when he needed to calm down. He was still tensed.

“I’m sorry I asked.” She muttered quietly, and Muyiwa chuckled.

“You know… I used to have an older sibling once… who spilled our personal secrets to some scientist he fell in love with back at the facility. Mustapha and I had already given him options on how he would like to die, and who he would want to kill him.”

He felt Ronke stiffen behind him, and he chuckled again.

“I understand it all… how love can be your downfall if you fall for the wrong person.”

“Did you kill him? Did she become his downfall?”

“No babe. They gave both their lives to save ours instead.”

 

Mustapha and Nneka found their mother in the kitchen when they got back. She was pulling out the foodstuff she had gotten from the market. Nneka rushed in to help after they had greeted her.

“Thank you darling. You’re just in time to help me make egusi soup.” Lillian beamed. Mustapha pumped his fist in the air in excitement, making Nneka roll her eyes.

“Can I help?” he asked, rubbing his hands with glee.

“No o! You will eat all the fish and meat before the soup is done… see what I mean?!”

Mustapha had grabbed a piece of smoked fish from the counter and was already pulling it apart.

“Haba my son that’s bad manners.” Lillian said sharply, but with a smile on her face. Mustapha lowered his head and apologized in a small voice.

“If you’re really sorry then return the fish.” Nneka said, and Mustapha was gone in a flash. Lillian laughed heartily and put an arm around her daughter.

“You all bring light into my life.” she said, and Nneka stopped being upset.

“So you guys escorted Muyiwa to school yeah?”

Nneka had started running water to wash the vegetable. “Not exactly. We went to visit his girlfriend Ronke… she was a little under the weather.”

“Oh really… Muyiwa didn’t tell me.” Lillian said with a frown.

“He probably didn’t want to bother you. Besides he was quite disoriented since this was the first time she would be hospitalized.”

Lillian’s eyes widened. “It was that serious?”

Nneka nodded in response, a little heavy in her heart that she couldn’t tell her mother the complete truth, though she had felt it necessary to tell her that Ronke was at least hospitalized. “I think it was typhoid or malaria… but she was discharged today.”

“Thank God for that.” Lillian said, putting a hand to her chest in relief.

Suddenly there was a small gust of wind, and the refrigerator opened and shut quickly. Lillian and Nneka exchanged a look, and burst out laughing.

 

Mustapha stopped abruptly with the pack of juice in his hand at the sight of Aisha sitting on the back of a black panther. He gave them a once over and grinned.

“A black panther eh? That’s new.”

“Yeah… I’m reliving the jungle book story.” Aisha said with glee, patting the panther by the side. “I’m trying to understand the deep connection of Mowgli and Bageerah from their close physical association past his obligation to the boy as guardian. Turning Abiye into a bear would have been too rowdy and besides, a panther is sleek and shiny when it’s not potentially dangerous.”

“Aisha has gotten fatter. Mowgli was quite skinny.” Abiye whined, and Aisha hopped off him immediately.

“I’m not fat!” Aisha said, her eyes brimming with tears as she rushed back to her room. Abiye turned back to himself and stared at Mustapha confusedly.

“I just said she was getting fatter… not that she was fat.” He said with a shrug.

“Girls don’t like that word. It spurs their negative emotions.”

“I mean, we were all skinny before we left the facility… and despite how we’ve been eating we haven’t seemed to get anywhere close to overweight.”

“I can’t get any fatter even if I tried.” Mustapha said with a laugh. “That’s why I don’t bother with cardio workouts.”

“I should go apologize.” Abiye said, gesturing towards Aisha’s room. “Or clear the air, at least.”

“Yea. You should.”

 

“You what?”

“What do you mean? I think it was better this way…” Nneka said with a frown, although her big brother could not see it. “I told her that she was admitted for typhoid or malaria.”

“I understand. At least you had a cover story.”

“Anyway that is not why I called. If you have plans this weekend, cancel.”

“Why?”

“Because—”

“Mama let me call you back… mummy is calling me.”

“Okay.”

Muyiwa hung up Nneka’s call promptly. “Hello mummy.”

“How are you dear?”

“I’m fine ma.”

“Nneka told me about Ronke. I hope she’s fine now.”

“Yes she is ma. We’re back in school.”

“That’s good to hear… which means she’ll be strong enough to come around on Saturday with your friends.”

“Err… mummy I don’t understand.” Muyiwa said, puzzled.

“Your first birthday with us… we’re throwing a party.” Lillian said briskly, like she didn’t want Muyiwa to argue. “You guys never bring your friends over, but they are all invited for the party. Or do you want us to rent a venue?”

Muyiwa relaxed into a smile. He wasn’t expecting a birthday party, but he knew nothing he would say would convince his mother otherwise— her mind was made up.

“Yes ma. We’ll be there.”

“Good. I thought for a minute there that you were going to say there was no need.”

“You’re the best mummy.”

 

 

 

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