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He started removing his trousers but Kunle who was not ready to give up quickly grabbed him and a fight ensued between them. They rolled on the floor with each of them trying to get a better angle in order to deal the best blow. Kunle, remembering the knife in his pocket drew it out and stabbed him in the stomach. He fell back clutching his stomach with a look of pain and surprise on his face. He fell his back as blood gushed out from the cut. Kunle watched as he squirmed and squirmed then went still with eyes still wide open. He went closer to him, bent down and tapped him but he did not respond, he put his ears closer to his mouth and realised he wasn’t breathing anymore, he fell back and started shivering.

Kunle: “Oh God! I just killed him, I just killed my friend” he muttered under his breath. Just then Annie started wailing due to the effect of the sun directly shining unto her face. She was so loud that Kunle thought of taking to his heels and leaving her there but changed his mind. “I must finish what I started. It is a must that I finish it” he said looking around frantically just to be sure no one was within earshot or watching him. He went closer to her, removed her pampers which was already filled with faeces and threw it away, he removed her top and used it to clean her up then proceeded to unzipping his fly.

Dickson and his two friends were on the Lagos-Ibadan express when he got pressed and had to ease himself. Paul stopped the car and turned the ignition off while Dickson climbed down and started walking to the bush.
Paul: “Where are you going to you this guy? Why must you enter the bush when you can even do it right from inside the car?” he asked impatiently.
Dickson: “It’s none of your business man. Just leave me alone. You can leave without me if you want to” he said still walking.

Paul: “Ralph have you see how the jerk is trying to waste our time when we are supposed to be at the wedding already?” he turned to their other friend who was the only quiet one among them.
Ralph: “Leave him now. I am sure it wouldn’t take him more than five minutes. Just chill guy!” he said playfully and just then Dickson came running back, panting breathlessly.
Dickson: “Guys! Guys!! Come down now and follow me” he said and turned back. The two looked at each other confusedly and open their doors at the same time and ran after him. They paused when they got to where he was, hiding behind a large tree.

Ralph: “What was that commotion about?”
Dickson: “Shhhhh!” he shushed him and pointed to where Bayo and Kunle were, fighting vigorously. Ralph looked down, saw the baby on the floor and made to run into the opening where they were at but his two friends held him down.
Paul: “Don’t do anything stupid, let’s watch and see what is going to happen” he said in a hushed tone just then, they saw the flash of a blade and in the twinkle of an eye, the other guy was down, bleeding profusely.

Ralph: “Shit! We have to save that baby fast” he said but the other two still hushed him down.
Paul: “I need to know what he is trying to do with that baby. We will pounce on him when he makes his move and anyone with a phone please?”
Dickson brought out his phone from his hip pocket and started taking snapshots of all of the guy’s moves. They got confused when he removed her pampers and used her cloth to wipe off the mess on her, they thought he was probably helping her until he started unzipping his trousers.

Ralph: “Damnit!” he said in between clenched teeth and sprinted to where Kunle was while the other two followed suite. He jumped on him and pinned him down while Paul kicked the knife out of his reach.
Kunle: “Oh God! You people are making a terrible mistake, leave me alone now…I will kill you all” he issued pointless threats.

Dickson: “You son of a bitch! You were trying to rape this innocent baby? For what?” he said as he scooped Annie up, removed his danshiki and used it to wrap the baby warmly as she stopped crying and smiled at him. “Oh my! Can you imagine how beautiful she is?” he said smiling back at her like a teenager.
They bundled Kunle up and turned back to Ibadan, since Ibadan was closer than both Ogun state and Lagos from where they were.

They took him straight to the police station and filed a report. Kunle was detained while they were asked to take care of the baby till her parents come to claim her since no one had filed a missing child report just yet. The police did not want extra burden in their hands.
Just as they were about driving out of the gate, they spotted Sammy walking with such a drooling shoulder that was almost touching the ground. Richard was so relieved that without turning off the ignition, he opened the door and ran to his son who got startled out of his wits when he was scooped up all of a sudden. He struggled to go down until he saw that it was his dad.

Sammy: “Daddy! Daddy!!” he could not get the words out of his mouth.
Ophelia: “Richie…lets go inside, people are staring at us” she said placing her hand gently on his shoulder.
Richard: “Yeah yeah we should. Please can you help me bring the car in please?”
Ophelia: “Yeah sure”
When they got inside, Richard noticed for the first time that his son reeked of sweat and tears. his eyes was bloodshot and yeah he was alone.

Richard: “Where is Annie?” he asked gently holding him at arm’s length.
Sammie: “Daddy it was my fault. I am not a good brother. Mum will never forgive me” the tears flowed freely from his face, his dad was confused and scared.
Richard: “Sammie what happened to your sister?”

Sammie: “Last night, when we were waiting for you to come back home, Annie started crying because she was hungry and my hand could not reach the shelf. I decided to go and wait for you outside the gate but as soon as we stepped out, some men on okada came and snatched Annie from my hand and ran away. Daddy I don’t know what to do, I prayed to God to bring her back to me but He didn’t since she hasn’t being returned yet.

I have walked around searching for the men, asking people but no one know them. Daddy please get my sister back for me” he disengaged from his dad and knelt down as tears and sweat mingled together on his face.
It was like a terrible lightening had struck Richard, he sat unmoving staring into thin air. Ophelia noticed this and walked up to them slowly. She place her hand on his shoulder again…
Ophelia: “Richie are you okay?” she asked with a quivering voice.

Richard: “My daughter is gone and you are asking if I am okay? Tell me how I can be okay, how? This is my fault, I should have been home but I got whisked off to jail disgracefully leaving my children unprotected. Tell me what kind of father I am?” he stood up and started pacing around.
Ophelia: “Let’s get to the police station, this requires urgency. We must act fast” she said urging him to follow her.
Richard: “I swear I will never going to forgive the man who got me arrested. I wish I even got to see him or got to know his name. But I will find him, I swear on my dead wife that I will find him” he gritted his teeth.

Ophelia: “Then you don’t even know the reason you got arrested?”
Richard: “I don’t! Can you imagine that? He instructed them not to tell me”
Ophelia : “Oh Thank God!” she heaved a sigh of relief. “Okay let’s go dear”
Sammy: “I am going with you dad. I must be among those to search for her, I promise to do my best”
Richard: “It is too risky so just stay here okay?”
Ophelia: “You want to leave him all alone again? Let him come with us at least we will be able to keep an eye on him. I am just afraid to even leave him alone” she said wryly.
Ralph and his friends were at a loss as to what to do with Annie. The three of them lived together in a three bedroom flat at Oluyole Estate in Ibadan. They met at an MTN internship program in Abuja when they were first seeking for job, they were all picked and assigned to the same branch in Ibadan. They got the apartment together, took a room each and used the living room together.

They did everything together and nowhere will one of them be found that the other two would not be found there also.
Paul: “What do we do with this baby whose name we don’t even know? I am really not good with babies and that’s why I asked my last girlfriend to have an abortion when she told me she was pregnant”
Dickson: “Let’s take her back to the police station and tell them we cannot keep her”
Paul: “You want to go through police wahala bah?”
Dickson: “Okay should we take her to the orphanage? I really don’t have money to waste on another person’s baby. I already have enough responsibility as it is”

Ralph: “Let’s keep her. Let’s help this helpless baby at least it’s just for the main time, her parents will soon come for her. Please guys? Just look at how innocent and beautiful she looks. She reminds me of my little sister whom we lost to small pox back then” he said pleadingly.
*_To be Continue


Ralph: “Let’s keep her. Let’s help this helpless baby at least it’s just for the main time, her parents will soon come for her. Please guys? Just look at how innocent and beautiful she looks. She reminds me of my little sister whom we lost to small pox back then” he said pleadingly.
Paul: “No way! We cannot keep her. Where will we find the time to stay with her from? She has not even started sitting up yet. Seriously guy, use your head now”

Dickson: “I strongly agree with Paul. We are bachelors and none of my girlfriends will want to help out. We will be on our own”
Ralph: “So which orphanage do we take her to?” he asked resigning to fate.
Paul: “we will ask around for any orphanage in town. Then we will drop her with a matron there. Very simple”
Ralph: “Okay then. Let’s do that”
They bought new cloths for her, bathed her and dressed her up in a pink gown with head band to match. Ralph could not help but fall in love with that little cutie. Her smile could lit up a whole dark room and he wondered who could be the parent of such a lovely baby and how much they must be searching for her at the moment. He shook his head as he watched Paul take snapshots with her, throwing her in the air and hugging her tightly.

They all took it in turn to take snapshots with her and finally set out in their car. They went from one orphanage to another but none of them accepted her. Each time they heard police was involved, they become uncomfortable and start cooking up excuses. By the time they got back home, they had visited all the orphanages google had to offer within the vicinity and yet they still went back home with Annie.
Ralph: “Imagine how much fuel we have wasted today?”
Paul: “What do we do now? Look at the way she is sleeping, even she is tired. But to think of it, she is really gentle or she is trying to bribe us into letting her stay here?”

Ralph: “Seriously, I am in love with this baby. Can’t we just let her stay with us? When we are going to work in the morning, we will take her to the day-care centre down the road and besides we do night sometimes too so we can still have time to take care of her. Imagine having a baby girl in this house? Its intriguing friends” the excitement on his face could not be mistaken.
Dickson: “Well, what can I say? The orphanage rejected her and we cannot throw her away like that. Let’s just keep her till her parents come for her”
Paul: “Okay. Then we have to give her a name? What should we call her?” he said looking from one to the other.
Dickson: “Kemi”

Ralph: “Kemi ko, komi ni, let’s give her a nice English name jare”
Dickson: “Uhnnnnn! What of Nikita? I love that movie ehn?”
Paul: “I am really shaking my head for you. That’s why you want to name her Nikita? I don’t want Nikita. Think before you suggest again o”
Ralph: “What of Annabelle?”
Paul: “What does it mean?”
Ralph: “It means ‘beautiful’” he said pleased with himself.
Dickson: “Well I like it. We can call her Anna or Annie for short”
Paul: “Yeah! It is Lovely. Where is Annie baby? Annie” he mimicked calling out her name.
Ralph: “Wake her up you hear? Annie…” he jeered at him.
Weeks passed into months and all of their efforts to find Annie proved abortive. They had gone from one police station to another, even Radio and Television stations yet there was nothing from anyone. No one called to say they had seen a baby looking like her, people only called to sympathize and pray for them. Richard started having a phobia of losing people he loved.

He was more afraid of losing Sam and Ophelia who became the centre of his world. He was sacked at the firm he worked at with his wife but then got another job at bank as an accountant. It took him months to land himself that job and it was thanks to his colleagues who had friends in that bank.
He and Ophelia sat at home that Saturday afternoon, talking…
Ophelia: “Haven’t you noticed how Sammy behaves ever since Annie’s disappearance?”

Richard: “I did! Losing a sibling whom you love so much is not that easy. I know how much he loved her. He basically lived for her and now she was snatched right from his hands. Who would be able to live with such guilt?”
Ophelia: “I just hope he wouldn’t do anything silly to himself. I think you need another nanny Richie. I am afraid I will have to get a job soon and that might limit my coming here a lot” she said remorsefully.

Richard: “Or you are looking for an excuse to stop coming here?”
Ophelia: “well you read me quite well. I think I have done my part now, I have been waiting for you to make a move but seems you are waiting for me to go on my knees and propose to you again which I am not going to do”
Richard: “Please don’t leave dear. We still need you here…”he rose up, dipped his hands into his pocket, brought out a small box tied with a pink ribbon, went on his knees, opened the box and said “Will you marry me?”

Ophelia: “Oh my God! Yes I will marry you” she said with relief sweeping over her. “What took you so long Richie?” she asked as he slipped the ring into her fourth finger.
Richard: “Was waiting for the right moment” he said smiling, he rose up and swept her off her feet in a tight embrace. “Thanks for being here baby” he said and kissed her and she kissed him back. He led her by the hand into the bedroom and locked the door….
He slide out of her gently and embraced her so tightly.

Richard: “Thank you honey. I enjoyed every bits of it. Thank you” he said again and placed a lingering kiss on her forehead as she smiled weakly.
Two months later, they got married at the Lagos Mainland Marriage Registry and their marital journey began in earnest. She missed Gloria whom she hadn’t seen for months. She started cooking up every form of excuses in order to avoid having sex with Richard, at first he thought she was just not used to having sex and would get used to it with time but as days went by, her dislike for it kept growing to the extent that he found himself nursing the thoughts of forcing her.

Sammy noticed his dad was becoming unhappier every passing day. He disliked Ophelia with Passion, the way she looked at him made him uneasy. She seemed to be nursing a bad thought in her mind. He tried as much as possible to avoid her anytime they were at home alone.
That evening when he came back from school, as soon as he had stepped in, he heard voices emanating from the bedroom and paused to listen.

He could not hear any words in particular so he decided to check. He opened the door slightly and his step mum and another lady kissing passionately and caressing each other’s …, he quickly closed the door but that made them aware that someone had seen them. She quickly dressed up and went to check who it was. When she found out that it was only Sam at home, she heaved a sigh of relief and went over to him.

Ophelia: “How are you Sammy?” she said forcing a smile but he said nothing. “Aren’t you the one I am talking to?”
Sammy: “I saw what you and that pregnant woman were doing and I am only waiting for my dad so I can tell him. Don’t talk to me because no matter what you say I will still tell him” he said folding his arms across his chest contumaciously.
Ophelia: “You will not dare it!” she started yelling but checked herself. “But what exactly do you think you saw?”

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