It had been months after Igwe Okelue lifted the quit notice on Ndubisi’s property. He and his family had heard nothing of Hon Eke, his lawyer, whistle-blowers and touts. There was no court sourmons, no objections – it was as if nothing happened in the first place.

“Where is Eke, Ndu?” Mama peered above her glasses to look at Ndubisi who sat on the arm of her special sofa watching her crotcheting a yellow shawl.

Mama was worried that Hon. Eke had not reacted against the quit notice removal by the LPBA. She had wanted the reaction to come so that the matter would be settle properly. Silence could be deadly and she felt the matter was hanging in the air and so was her heart.

“I don’t know mama. I guess he’s out of the country on a business trip.” Ndubisi said.

“He probably is but I also think he’s up to some mischief.” she paused to focus on what Ndubisi had to say.

“Whatever he’s up to shouldn’t bother us, mama. The land issue belongs to Igwe now. So whatever he decides to do, he should be up against His Royal Highness, Igwe Okelue.” Ndubisi tapped mama on the shoulder and stood up. The last thing he wanted to listen to was a forgotten issue. Hon. Eke was a forgotten issue.

“Do not go to sleep Ndu. Be careful with that man, Eke. Something tells me he’s is up to some other plan. You need to plan too. Don’t go to sleep.” She said resuming her work.

“Mama, nothing is going to happen. Don’t worry. I’m sure of what I’m saying. Igwe is in charge.”

“I insist you go back to Igwe and suggest that he prepares for Eke.”

“I will mama. First thing tomorrow morning.” He said and escaped to the library. He didn’t want his peaceful evening to be worry ladened. He planned to see the Iqwe but not for such suggestion. He supposed Igwe should know how to fight for what belonged to him.

~~~~~~~~

Ndubisi slept without a single care in the world that early morning in a chilling December, he and his wife Chinwe were under a warm maroon duvet and it seemed they had either shirked their early morning obligations or forgotten it’s a workday and the kids should be dropped off at school before 7 am. They could have lost so many sleep nights to Eke to bother.

Chinedu woke up since 4:30 am and had been glued to his wooden desk and chair racing against the time.

He needed to complete his English assignment before school so his rigid and nutty English teacher, Mr Okri would be pleased enough not to kick him out of his class.

He had told them as they all looked at his moderate afro hair, to either bring their completed assignments to school or stay at home to suck on their feeding bottles and have their mamas change their nappies. The entire class were amused except Chinedu, he thought the 47-year-old man actually knew how his mother had been pampering him ever since her dream to have another male child got dashed.

Chinedu paused his writing briefly every few seconds to think and listen to his father snoring. He many times, how his mother could sleep close to such noisy vibration all through the night. Her ears must have grown fond of it, with constant exposure.

When he wrote the last word in his English assignment notebook , he dropped his pen inbetween the pages and stood up.

He walked to the door and unbolted it. He peeped into the hallway, first to the right and then to the left – the horror movie he watched with his mother the previous came came alive in his head each time, sending a chill all over him. But he was a brave boy. Confident to a fault.

He walked down to the maid’s room. At the door, he raised his hand to knock but thought against it.

At 15, he should take some responsibilities in the house even though his mother never gave him a chance to get to do anything around the house.

He had overheard her exchanging words with his grandma over his pampering and had heard her say he was the one eye that was a debtor of the blind. He knew it was because he was the only son.

Chinedu had always felt pity for the maid for taking all the work including doing his laundry and cleaning his room.

He turned and started walking to his sisters’ room, to wake them up.

He lingered at his parent’s bedroom which was directly opposite girls’ room and glared at the timber door. It was slightly opened to reveal a tiny part of the rose painting on the wall which his mother cherished so much.

He was torn between waking his father up to end his snoring and walking into his sisters room. A Few seconds of thoughtfulness passed before he went to his sisters room.

Waking the three girls could be a hard task. Chima slept deeper than the others. Her deep sleeping scared Chinedu. He had felt her chest area whenever she slept in his room to make sure she still breathed.

” Shout her name close to each of her ears. Then move her entire body from side to side. Waking that girl is like waking a corpse. I’ve never seen such a deep sleep in my entire 41 years of existence.” His mother had said one morning when the maid couldn’t wake her up. Aunty Oge had tried again and again but had failed.

Their mother had hastened to the room and had dragged Chima up to her feet and smacked her back three fleeting times. It took her two magical seconds to bring her to her feet and moving.

Chima hardly cried when woken. At 7 Ogechukwu, the oldest sister still cried and it annoyed him more than it did when Chidiomimi – the second to the last and the sweetest of them all cried.

~~~~~~~

When they all got to their feet, they walked to the household devotion room. It’s a small room with twelve people capacity. It had four three seater pews facing the alter with an isle in between them. A narrow red floor carpet occupied the space between the alter and the the entrance. Two high glass windows were on the either sides of the pew.

The alter is set on a high wooden table which had an ivory lace spread on it. Leaning on the wall were a framed picture of monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament and a framed picture of Divine Mercy Lord.

Two candle stands stood on either sides of small golden cross, a white statue of Blessed Virgin Mary and a big Goodness Bible.

The alter was introduced, planned, equipped and maintained by Mama – Ndubisi’s mother who was already seated in her special chair close to the alter looking at the flaming candle as though God was in in the flame waiting too.

She had waited since 5 am paying the rosary. She had stopped waking them up for morning devotion when she woke Ndubisi and Chinwe by 3 am for devotion and they screamed its 3 am.

They joined her by 5:30.

‘If this happens next time, I’ll start waking you up again.’ She thinned and nagged.

“Please don’t mama. It won’t happen again,” Chinwe smiled.

“It’s cold and this is the time sleep is the sweetest, ” Ndubisi said and motioned her mother to start the prayer as they all knelt on the kneeler.

Mama started the rosary but Ndubisi intercepted her and made a short prayer during which mama nudged him on the arm several times not to speed up his prayers. Such prayer could fly past God’s ears without attracting any attention.

When the fever associated with house morning rush ended with breakfast of oatmeal and scrambled eggs, they all walked quietly to the car and Mdubisi drove off.

The maid went back to the house to put the house in order while mama went back to bed to get her beauty sleep.