The Choice (chapter 31)

The following seven days moved at snail speed, seeming never to end. Sarah lived with Baba Fagbami in the main building, in front of the hut.

She did the cooking, tidied the environment, and warmed Baba Fagbami's bed every night. It was always the request of the gods, as Baba Fagbami claimed. And once a while, if Baba stared at her too much during the day, the gods would request daylight entertainment as well. Sarah mellowed and did all Baba Fagbami told her to. She performed all the rituals he listed, and Joseph had many baths with different mixtures Baba called soaps. Baba Fagbami promised to fortify Sarah and her son. He bragged that no one would ever be able to hurt them.

Even death would disappear at their appearance, he said. Sarah patiently awaited the end of her stay in Baba Fagbami's house. Baba Fagbami did all he knew how to do to wade off whatever sickness was afflicting Joseph's normal growth and functioning. He bathed him in water from seven seas and three streams. He gave him different concoctions and herbal preparation to drink, and even his mother was not left out in partaking in the preparations. Baba Fagbami liked Sarah. He desired her every minute. She pleased him in all. The thought of taking Sarah permanently crossed his mind, but he discarded it. He knew Sarah's in-laws wouldn't be happy with it. They respected him too much to be so hurt. Although Baba Fagbami could do it if he wanted, he chose not to. Instead, he would find a way of bringing Sarah to himself whenever he wanted her, he concluded mentally.

♣♣♣

Sarah stepped out of the house. The light was beginning to return to her eyes. It had been nine days since she arrived at Baba Fagbami's abode. It was finally time to return home. Mama Faronbi took Joseph from Sarah and placed him on her back. She strapped the child to her back with a wrapper. Sarah went into the house and came out with her bag. She adjusted her blouse, ready to leave for home. Baba Fagbami ambled out of the hut and walked toward them. Mama Faronbi sighted him. Her lips parted, and she exposed her teeth in a full grin. "My daughter! Good afternoon,” Baba Fagbami said.

Mama Faronbi bent her knees. "Baba Fagbami, three men in one, the one who foresees thunder and yet stands in its way. I hail you. The man who dines with the gods." "Well said, my daughter. The gods will honor and bless you. How're you and your husband?" Baba Fagbami said, smiling. Mama Faronbi smiled. "We're fine. All thanks to you and the gods of our fathers." Sarah moved away from Baba Fagbami's path and sat on the bench, her legs crossed and her eyes fixed on her toes. She had nothing to contribute to the talk. She was just tired of the environment. Her heart longed for home. For her husband.

Baba Fagbami hit the metallic staff in his hand against the floor thrice. "The gods have heard your praise of them. They just told me they would bless you. More than ever before." Mama Faronbi threw her hands in the air in excitement. "Amen. I receive their blessings with gratitude. I have come with a gift for the gods as well." "Oh, really?" "Yes!" Mama Faronbi pointed to the ash-colored sack she had brought. "I have brought yams, palm oil, dry fish—the type you prefer, roasted bush meat, and melon seeds." "Ah! All of that for the gods?" "Yes, Baba. The gods have been good to us. We simply wanted to express our gratitude. Those things I have brought do not compare to how much my family and I appreciate you.

Thanks so much, Baba," Mama Faronbi said, sincerity dancing in her eyes. Sarah cast her mother-in-law a glower before shifting her focus to Baba Fagbami. Gratitude? Was that word befitting after all she had been through in the hands of the monster her mother-in-law so revered? "Thank you, my daughter. My gods will bless you. You haven't seen anything yet. The gods will fill your mouth with praises of them," Baba Fagbami said and smiled. Mama Faronbi rubbed her palms against each other. "Amen. Er. Baba, I have come to take your children home with your permission. Shall I?" Sarah shot Baba Fagbami a long, knowing look, anticipating his response. Baba Fagbami had told her he loved her. What if he said the rituals weren't over with yet? What if he insisted that she wait a week more or a month?

Sarah knew her mother-in-law was gullible enough to support Baba without reasoning twice. If that happened, what would Sarah say or do? How would she get out of Baba's captivity? She wondered. Baba Fagbami cleared his throat. "Hmm. About that, the gods have spoken," he said and paused. Sarah's heart thumped. The gods again? Spoken? What had they said this time around? They had better not lengthen her stay here. She was done. Done now and forever. Her son was healthy now. She had reaped the fruit of her hard labor in Baba's house. But she wanted to labor no more. "Okay, Baba. Your daughter is attentive. What have the gods declared?" Mama Faronbi said. Baba Fagbami continued talking. "As I earlier said, the gods have spoken. They said Fatele had come to stay.

They said your sacrifices had been accepted. You can now take them home. All is well with them."Mama Faronbi knelt on a knee. "Thank you so much, Baba. I'm grateful. May the gods never forsake you." "Amen. Thank you, my daughter. There's a 'but' anyway." Mama Faronbi nodded. "Okay, Baba. What must we do?" "The gods may invite Fatele to come to see them once in a while.

And this will require his mother lighting lamps for the gods. Will she obey?" Mama Faronbi laughed. "That is not a problem at all. Why won't she come? Fatele is a friend of the gods. I'm sure she's aware of that as well." She turned to Sarah. "Do you disagree?" Sarah turned her face away. She would answer no question. "Baba, don't worry. Anytime the gods want to see them both, just inform me. They'll be here," Mama Faronbi said." Sarah shook her head and flared her nostrils. That would only happen in her mother-in-law's dream. As far as Joseph was healthy, she had nothing to do with Baba Fagbami anymore. "Alright, my daughter. That was all the gods told me," Baba Fagbami said. Mama Faronbi thanked and eulogized Baba Fagbami for a while before she left with Joseph and his mother.

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