THE VISITOR Episode 2
Rena was in her room when she heard a knock on the door. Her tears had dried even though twitching pain was still pounding in her heart. Her face was worn out like a sprinter who just crossed the finishing line of a marathon race. As the knock persisted, she lifted herself lazily from the chair and walked towards the living room to know who was at the door. She was alone in the house. Everybody has left her. Including her best friend, Sara. And Caro, her trusted maid. Who then could be knocking?
‘Is anyone home?’
She heard the voice asking from the door. It was sure a very familiar voice. A voice that made her hasten her steps towards the door. She just recalled she didn’t see her present in the church during Junior’s dedication.
‘Maria.’ She called out upon opening the door. ‘Please come inside.’
‘Good afternoon auntie.’
Rena locked the door. Though she didn’t know exactly what Maria, the dreamer came for, she felt something walking in her inside. Something she could barely explain.
‘What happened today?’ Maria asked. ‘I went to the church and met nothing but disaster. Where is Junior? Where is Uncle Zack, your husband? Where is Auntie Mabel? Was Pastor Caleb in church today? What happened?’
Rena had struggled to take off the pictorial pains of the calamity that visited her household. But here was a fifteen year old girl bringing memories back to her eyes. Alive.
‘I had a terrible dream auntie.’ Maria said again.
She wasn’t surprised. She was alone in the house with a strange girl. A girl whose strangeness no one can decipher its cause. Having dreams almost every night with the reality following in quick succession. She had once dreamed of a man in the street that was slaughtered by assassins. As small as she was, she went to meet with him to tell him how careful he needed to be if his life must remain with him. But the man had laughed at her in unbelief telling her expressly that he doesn’t believe in dreams. He certainly didn’t live beyond that week. He was murdered gruesomely just at the gate of his house.
Another case was a man who in her dream was warned by his wife not to go to work on a certain day. He stubbornly went to the office so as not to miss an examination for promotion. Of course, no man in his shoes would want to be absent. But rather than returning home to his family with good news about the test, his briefcase was returned to his house accompanied by sad news of his death.
Maria had faced some difficulty in tracing the man. But when on a certain Sunday, she saw the man in the church, she had run up to him to share her dreams. She sternly asked him not to go to work the following day. But the man dismissed her warnings. News was however, brought to the church the following Sunday that he was poisoned in his office by some group of conspirators.
That was who Maria was.
Everybody knew her with her special gifting with dreams. Nothing ever came out from the vision of her eyes and returned void. But Rena didn’t understand why her case was different. Maria came late as much as she knew because whatever dream it was she had has manifested.
‘You’re not saying anything auntie.’ Maria said, breaking her thoughts.
‘What do you want me to say?’ Rena asked almost immediately with quiet tears calling back at her eyes. ‘Isn’t it obvious that things have gone wrong? Can’t you feel the emptiness in my house? Is there any sign of joy in my abode as a woman who was supposed to be rejoicing for having a child after twenty years? I thought you have eyes to see beyond the ordinary.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘You came late.’ Rena shouted and burst into tears. ‘You came very late Maria. Things have already fallen apart. Your mother left my house some minutes ago. Mabel just left for the Police Station. With Junior’s corpse.’
Rena sat on the floor again and began to cry. Maria stood transfixed for some time with her gaze fixed in the air. Did she just say Junior was dead? That his corpse has already been taken away to the Police Station by Mabel?
‘No!’ She blurted out. ‘It can’t be true. Auntie we need to get to the Police Station now.’
Rena was astonished. What was she talking about?
‘Junior can’t be dead.’ She reaffirmed. ‘Yes, I saw him dead in my dream. But he ought not to have died so quickly. It has never happened before. Dreams are given by God so that his creations will take caution. Junior can’t be dead. Not so soon.’
‘But he was cold in my arms.’ Rena said tearfully. ‘I felt the chillness of his body after the Bishop prayed for him and handed him over to me.’
‘Something is wrong somewhere.’ Maria insisted. ‘I’m saying this from the depth of my spirit. I can feel a foul play somewhere. And the earlier you make a step, the better for you.’
There was silence for a moment.
‘By the way’ Maria continued ‘did any Bishop George Walter visit the church during the service?’
‘Bishop George Walter?’ Rena asked and received a nod from her. ‘No. It was our General Overseer that came. Bishop Sam Clef. Big Daddy as he is popularly called.’
‘I know. But in my dream, his name was George Walter.’
‘That’s not important now.’
‘It is.’ Maria interrupted sharply. ‘I’m seeing the case of fake identity here.’
Rena was still for some time.
‘Even Pastor Caleb flagged himself off as Pastor Mavis in my dream.’
‘What on earth are you talking about?’
‘In the dream, everybody addressed your husband as Fred.’
‘That has been his name.’ Rena said. ‘Known only to a few persons.’
‘What about you?’
‘Are you Clara? That was your name in my dream.’
Rena was instantly swept off balance. Cold shivers ran down her spines. She stared silently into Maria’s eyes trying to find her words.
‘Auntie Rena,’ Maria stopped her thoughts short ‘you are at the centre of every event here.’
‘What tale do you have to tell? What do you know no one else knows?’
Hot tears trickled down Rena’s cheeks. Was that the right moment for her to open up? Saying there was no story to tell would only amount to cheap lies. She knew what her problem was. But saying it to a third party was a mountain she wasn’t sure she would be able to climb. At least not when the choking oath she took was still unbroken.
‘You can talk to me.’ Maria said. ‘I am here to help you. With the gift of my eyes, I shall help you see the future. The unknown that you may know what step to take.’
Rena kept staring at her.
‘I might appear a child in your eyes. A child who might not understand the ordeals of an adult. But I can feel your pains. Looking into the windows of your soul, I see a woman with a heartbreaking tale to tell. Just one tale and the day will be saved.’
‘The day is destroyed already.’ Rena broke out in tears. ‘Everything is shattered already. You came late Maria.’
‘The day might seem destroyed. But not completely I can assure you. If only you can open up on that which you know, we might be able to save the remaining part of the destroyed day. No matter how small.’
A knock came on the door. Maria stood quickly to open.
‘Maria you’re here?’ Sara said and walked inside. ‘I’ve looked for you virtually everywhere.’
‘You left me and went to church this morning.’
‘Just listen to yourself.’ Sara said. ‘You were snoring heavily when I walked into your room.’
Maria was mute, with a feeling a resentment sweeping through her soul at the mention of her night weakness. Snoring. Especially when she’s in deep dreams.
‘I’ve heard everything that happened.’
‘By your snores, I quickly understood you were dreaming.’
‘Can you just stop mum?’
‘I didn’t think that your dream might be in relation to Junior’s dedication today.’
‘I saw everything.’ Maria interrupted. ‘Every damn thing in my dream. I know who is responsible for all the woes.’
‘And who could that be?’ Rena asked curiously.
‘They are many. So many of them. Even though they are working for just one man. One man who…’
‘Keep quiet!’ Sara barked.
Both Rena and Maria got startled.
‘You should have woken up when I was calling on you earlier. Why saying them now that everything has gone wrong?’
‘Save your explanations.’ Sara cut immediately and stood. ‘Let’s go home.’
‘Why?’ Maria and Rena asked simultaneously.
‘You are travelling to Calabar right away.’
Maria was shocked all the more. What journey was that which her mother didn’t discuss with her?
‘I called by at my house after going to the church to verify the news Mabel brought.’ She tried to explain.
‘Eh en…’ Rena asked for more explanation.
‘The news was true. The church is in ruins as Mabel rightly said.’
‘I know about that.’ Rena said. ‘I’m asking for why Maria has to travel.’
‘My younger brother is in the house. He came in from Calabar and he wants Maria to go with him for a brief holiday.’
Nobody talked for a short while. Rena felt broken within. She had concluded that with Maria’s presence, things will be easier for her. But what was her best friend saying?
‘But you know I need her now.’ Rena cried.
‘I don’t understand.’
‘You heard her say that she knows who and who have a hand in these ruins.’
‘And it’s for that purpose I’m consenting to my brother’s appeal to have her go to Calabar.’
‘I must confess my misunderstandings.’ Rena said.
‘I’m not going to stay alive and watch my only daughter say things she’s not sure about.’
‘I’m very sure about them mum.’
‘Keep quiet!’ Sara roared. ‘You ought to be standing by now as I’m talking and get close to the door.’
Maria knew her mother too well. Her anger was growing. The next thing would be a terrible slap on her face if she fails to comply. She was so autocratic that her young opinions do not matter much. Especially in crucial cases as this. She stood up quietly and walked to the door. With her eyes fixed on Rena. She meant to tell her that no matter how her mother wanted to stop her from helping her, she would come back. But she wouldn’t say that to her. Not while her mother was standing next to her. She opened the door and left.
‘I’m sorry.’ Sara apologized.
‘I don’t need your apology.’ Rena blurted out.
‘I do not blame you for your words.’ Sara continued. ‘I only blame life and its irony.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Was it not you that asked me never to allow my daughter meet people with her dreams?’
Rena was called back to reality.
‘Have you forgotten the last two incidents that almost took her to jail if not that she was still under aged? How she told a woman that she would go to the market and not return. And truly the woman didn’t return. Her daughter brought the relatives of the deceased to my house saying that my daughter is a prophetess of doom.’
Rena breathed down heavily.
‘She also told a school boy that he would be bitten by a snake.’
‘Stop!’ Rena said impatiently.
‘Allow me to say them.’ Sara insisted. ‘Did that boy not die two days later of snakebite?’
‘It’s ok Sara.’
‘And the news went everywhere that my daughter is a witch. That she is an Ogbanje. Possessed by demons. And then you advised me to ensure that her dreams die with her.’
‘I give up Sara.’
‘Now, you want her to act on her dreams because you’re involved. That’s selfishness Rena.’
‘Choose your words Sara. I’m in pains already.’
‘I care about that Rena. But your act just showed me the selfish part of you which I never saw all the years of our friendship.’
‘I’m sorry.’ She apologized. ‘Forgive me and let it go. You are the last person I want to have problems with.’
Sara was cold with pity. Her words were so piercing.
‘Everybody has deserted me.’ Rena continued. ‘Will you join them? By turning your back against me?’
They were both surrounded by silence for a long while. Rena recoiled to herself waiting impatiently for her friend.
‘It’s ok!’ Sara said and drew closer to her. ‘Please, forgive my words. I am very sorry.’
Rena didn’t utter another word. Staying like a child under her arms was enough for her.
‘I guess I overreacted.’ Sara said apologetically. ‘You’re my friend and I’m never going to leave you. I will stay with you especially now that Junior is gone.’
‘Maria said he’s still alive.’ Rena said.
‘Did she say she saw him?’
‘Are you for real?’
‘In her dream.’
Sara exhaled in disappointment.
‘Dreams again.’ She said.
‘I think I’m beginning to believe in Maria’s dreams. She said something that touched me before you walked in.’
‘I really do not know what sort of a daughter I gave birth to.’ Sara said. ‘I’m sometimes scared.’
The two women were silent. Their thoughts were on one issue. Maria and her dreams. It was really something to worry about.
‘Is your husband back?’
‘I’m still waiting for his return.’
‘It’s ok then. I want to get to Pastor Caleb’s house. My spirit is leading me to something.’
‘I can’t say exactly. But until I get there, my spirit won’t be at peace.’ She said and rose.
‘You’re supposed to be with me. I’m all alone in the house.’
‘I understand.’ Sara said remorsefully. ‘I shall come back as soon as I get done with him. That reminds me, I haven’t seen Caro anywhere around.’
‘I asked her to make me pepper soup. She went to a nearby market to get some condiments.’
‘It’s ok.’ Sara echoed. ‘Let me run along.’
She left Rena to her world. The downcast woman saw her off to the door and then went back to find solace in one of the cushioned chair beautifully positioned in the living room. But something kept racing through her mind.
Why did Caleb stay away from church when he knew he was the only pastor to dedicate her baby?
Episode 3 will explain better.
Story by: Martins Samuel