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(Faded Feelings)
Final Episode. (Episode 22)
Written by Author Nath
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow because they know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt just like Eniola doubted Claude’s sudden behavior because she loves and believes in their love.

It is said that love does not last, that it is just a momentary spell cast upon your soul by some higher power, or a small trick of the mind. If this were all true, there would be no story to tell, there would be no happy ending, there would be no doubt of a lover’s sudden change of character like Eniola detected inside their living room where her mother and Gbenga sat down hopelessly. Ayomide leaned back on the cushion with a hand placed on the side of her head, while Gbenga rested his both arms on his staff. He was really out of words. Opposite them was Eniola who stood up.

“I’m sorry to say, but something is wrong with Claude. I can feel it and I know it.” she broke the silence.

The mother had to release her hand from her head. She glanced at Gbenga before sitting up on the cushion. “Eniola, I’ve had enough of Claude’s palava for years. Is time you forget him just as he has forgotten you.” she objected.

“I wish is that easy, mother.”

“Shut up!” The mother’s voice startled her. “You nearly took your own life because of him!!”

“And his mother is already dead because of me and our love!”

“Hopeless and useless love!”

Eniola became heartbroken by her mother’s last statement. Therefore both remained quiet which returned the ghost-mood in the living room. Meanwhile, Gbenga had not shook his body in reaction to their statements.

“Papa Gbenga?” Eniola walked towards him. “There’s something wrong somewhere. I doubt if Claude is in his right senses.” she said very pleasingly.

Gbenga exhaled and cleared his throat. “Doubt is an illness that comes from knowledge and leads to madness. I never thought I would say this; Let Claude go, my daughter.”

“No, papa. Doubt brings out the truth about something. If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” Eniola objected.

“For so many years I lived in constant terror of myself. Doubt had married my fear and moved into my mind, where it built castles and ruled kingdoms and reigned over me, bowing my will to its whispers until I was little more than an acquiescing peon, too terrified to disobey, too terrified to disagree. I had been shackled, a prisoner in my own mind.” Gbenga sadly retorted. He was actually talking about his late wife.

“So sad, but you’re getting it wrong here, papa. That’s why I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess.” She turned to her mother. “Please, mother, give me the opportunity to clear my doubt.” she requested.

Ayomide looked at Gbenga who exhaled as an afterthought….
On the other hand, Chloe, Adewoyin, Nnanna and Guillaume sat Claude down in the royal house. It was certain to them that Claude must be in some kind of insane for denying ever knowing Eniola. So Chloe broke the silence saying, “Your highness, we all know how close you and Eniola are. It is strange to deny ever knowing her. She’s someone your mother died for.”

“Dude, back then in Ghana, you always told me how much you love her. She’s the reason why you’re back in Nigeria. Just yesterday you told me you’re afraid to subject her to another pain. How come you don’t know her anymore?” Nnanna supported.

“She ended her marriage because of you.” Guillaume chipped in too.

Meanwhile, Adewoyin stayed observant of their statements and reactions especially Claude’s. He wore his funny hat and jacket. In his feet were big shoes.

“I wish I can remember all this.” Claude stood up. “I’m trying so hard to recall but it’s not working. I’m sorry.” he walked out of the house.

Everybody began to look at one another. Just then, Nnanna said, “This is not the friend I know. Something happened before we received the call about his mother’s death.” Hearing that, more attention was given to him as he continued. “We were attacked by thieves, well I wouldn’t call them thieves because they never stole anything!” he spread his hand.

“What happened then?” Chloe asked.

“I was knocked out. I woke up and found my friend unconscious!”

“He must have hit his head on something and lost his memory.” Guillaume suggested.

“How can it be only Eniola he doesn’t remember?” Chloe rhetorically quried. Silence returned to the room. She turned to Adewoyin. “You haven’t said anything.” she told him.

Adewoyin straightened up. “One who has been bitten by a snake is afraid of an earthworm.” he began while Chloe rolled her eyes in a way to say: NOT AGAIN WITH PROVERBS. “The cause of Claude’s illness might result to his death and I’m afraid….”

Shout and screams from outside interrupted him. They all ran out to see Claude lying at a distance and clustered by a few people who shouted and screamed terrifyingly. Blood had started gushing out from Claude’s nose and ears as he laid on the floor.

“What happened to him!?” Guillaume asked.

“I saw him drinking from the river after which he slumped on his way back.” One of them explained.

“Could it be that the water killed him?” Nnanna asked.

“He is not dead!” Chloe rebuked him. “Moreover, we have been drinking from this river ever since we came here.”

“I’m sorry.” Nnanna apologized.

Critically and rhetorically, Adewoyin asked, “A river water? This is what I was trying to explain. Claude is under the spell of ‘derugo’.

“Derugo?” Guillaume repeated because he had a knowledge of the spell.

“Yes, and a victim of derugo doesn’t drink from rivers.”

“He only drinks rainwater.” Guillaume completed.

“But who could do this?” Chloe asked.

“You remember the lady that came to our house and got some powerful ingredients. Many of them were derugo related. Probably she’s Claude’s enemy.” Adewoyin clarified.

Quickly, Nnanna slid his cell phone and brought out Ogechi’s image. He positioned it to them like a police officer flexing his badge. “Is this the lady?” he asked.

Looking at the image, Chloe shouted, “Oh, my God! She’s the one.”

“She’s Chief’s daughter.” Nnanna put back his phone into his pocket.

“Now it’s all makes sense.” Chloe concluded.

“If something isn’t done in the next five hours, he will die.” Adewoyin warned.

“You’re from Demili. You should have all it takes to fix this problem.” Guillaume looked up at him from where he held Claude in his arms. “Please, don’t allow his mother’s death to be in vain. Fix this problem!” he added.

“A witch does not need to fix problems. She fixes the energy around problems. Then the problems fix themselves. But in this case I’m afraid is not something I can do. It’s difficult and risky to break the spell. It’s something my master would have done, not me.” Adewoyin fearfully stepped back.

“Are you afraid?” Chloe became surprise.

“The anteater says that anything he sees and runs from, there must be something extraordinary about it.” Adewoyin kept moving backward.

“Is better to try than to allow him die, please.” Nnanna begged.

After some silence, Adewoyin exhaled. “Take him inside. Let me go see if I will bring something.” he briskly began to walk out from the land followed by Chloe. Nnanna helped Guillaume carry Claude up. On their way to the royal house, they sighted Eniola running to them. She met them inside the house to see Claude lying unconscious on the floor.

“Oh, my God! What’s wrong with him?” She asked, breathing hastily.

“He’s under the spell of Ogechi. He has not less than 5hours to live.” Nnanna explained more than he had said. Already, Claude was on Eniola’s arms. The poor girl began shedding tears again, though was happy that her doubt came out positively. Four hours later, Adewoyin came back with Chloe. In the presence of others including Eniola, he lit candles around Claude, marked his forehead with a disgusting liquid from a bottle then opened a voluminous book. Before he proceeds, he looked at them.

“They are three things that might happen here now,” he broke the silence. “Either I die while Claude lives or he dies while I live or we both live.” he explained

“I like the third one.” Nnanna concurred.

All swallowed hard as Adewoyin opened the book and began to read in French.

“Wait!” Nnanna interrupted him. All stared at him. “Will something happen to Ogechi if it works?” he asked.

“Does it really matter? What of my own life which is at stake here?!” Adewoyin replied angrily.

“I’m sorry. Is just that… I’m.. i… you know… that feelings you get when you know your crush could be in danger.” his voice lowly trailed in the silent room.

Adewoyin read the book for several minutes, but nothing happened. He repeatedly shrieked a particular paragraph, yet Claude laid unconscious on the floor. Nnanna glanced at his wristwatch. Obviously, they had no more time which brought about tension in the living room. One could see Adewoyin breathing heavily and sweating profusely. For the last time, he swallowed hard and began to read again. The weather clouded with a strong wind, the candle light went off and thunder strock, yet he never stopped reading. Suddenly, he fell on the floor in Claude’s position. They all anticipated between both who will wake up first. However, the weather had cleared and the thunder stopped. Within some few minutes, Adewoyin coughed awake. Chloe helped him up.

“Are you okay?” she asked him.

Already Eniola had turned to the floor, placed Claude’s head on her thighs. She looked up to others as tears had engulfed her eyes. “Nothing has happened.” she said.

Adewoyin bent down and observed him. He straightened up sadly. “He is gone. I’m sorry.” he announced.

“No, you lied! Claude can’t be died. No!!” The tears finally began to drop from her eyes. As she carried, she remembered the very first time she saw him. They shared true love, but circumstances of life hit them. Her heart broke into two and her lips quivered. Oh, what an agony. To experience real agony is something hard to write about, impossible to understand while it grips you; you’re frightened out of your wits, can’t sit still, move, or even go decently insane. Truly there are different kinds of pain. But the most agonizing is the pain of regret, for which there is no lasting relief and no remedy. You can imagine Eniola’s pains as she cried with the love of her life lying dead in her arms. Others had started shedding tears too except Adewoyin and Guillaume. Though their heart couldn’t bear the weight of their tears.

“Even as a deaf and dumb he loved me.” Eniola looked up at Adewoyin. She totally stood up to him and said, “He always put me first. He sacrificed a lot just to be with me. He cannot just die please, do something. I can’t go on without him, I beg you in the name of God” She cried. Just then, Chloe embraced her, feeling her pains.

“Why do you cry, Eni, my love?” a voice came from the floor.

Eniola recognized it to be Claude’s. So she swiftly turned to see him standing up! Happily, she rushed and kissed him passionately then hugged him. “Thank God you’re alive!” she said on his shoulder.

“Was I dead?” Claude asked, but nobody replied him. All smiled happily for being victorious at last. “Why would I be dead without taking you along, Eni?” he added jokingly, while Eniola gave him a friendly punch at the back. She was more than happy.
Months Later
Ogachi had fallen strange ill that only Adewoyin can cure. She was yet to understand that. Meanwhile, Claude, being financially ready knocked at Gbenga’s door. The old man opened it and returned to his seat. He tied a wrapper with a white singlet. In his mouth was a chewing stick. There were grey beards on his jaw too. Claude kept standing, waiting for him to offer him a seat, but the old man did like he never observed him.

“Papa, won’t you offer me a seat?” Claude asked him.

Gbenga spat out some stick particles. “The one who came to the toad’s house and told the toad to bring him a chair–did he see the one that the toad was sitting on?” he replied with a proverb then smiled. “Sit down my son.” he gestured at a seat opposite him.

Claude offered him a hot drink and said, “I came to tell you that I’m prepared to marry Eniola but..” He bent his head and looked up again. “I’m afraid she might turn down my proposal.”

Gbenga laughed. “If a young woman says no to marriage just wait until her breasts sag.” he replied hilariously. Claude found himself laughing too. “Don’t worry my son, the raining days are over. You both share true love. She will accept your proposal. A man in love is incomplete until he has married.” he concluded.

Claude left.

That evening, Eniola came out from a cap. She wore a black leggings over a fitted gown. In her hands were some books which shows that she was just coming back from school. When she opens Claude’s door, everywhere was very dark.

“Hmm.. Claude, what’s wrong with the light?” She asked. Just then, the living room illuminated with a bright light. She saw her mother, Gbenga, Chloe, Adewoyin, Guillaume, Nnanna and some other Hugos with Claude at the center kneeling with a wedding ring in his hands. “Oh, my God!” the book fell from her hand.

“Please, Eniola, will you be the mother….”

“Yes, I’ll mother as many children as you want.” she interrupted Claude.

“Alapa!” Gbebga exclaimed. He watched Claude placed the ring in her hand followed by a thunderous clap. Eniola kissed him warmly with a leg up.

“Listen oh,” Gbenga began. “Marriage is not easy oh but is beautiful. Did you know the “ring finger” actually has some real meaning behind it?” he rhetorically asked while everyone turned to him with smiling faces. “The ring is worn on the fourth finger on the left hand because it’s said that this particular finger has a vein that directly leads to your heart.” he clarified while everybody laughed.

He continued. “The tradition behind brides wearing veils stems all the way back from ancient Greek and Roman times when it was believed to protect the bride from evil spirits.”

They laughed again. “You said you’ll lecture me about marriage, papa Gbenga.” Claude reminded him.

“I think he doesn’t have strength for that.” Ayomide objected.

“No, no, no, a man’s first wife never complains of neglect from the penis. We’ve been in this game of marriage. This is the right time for both of them to learn.” The old man found a seat and began. “Marriage is like a groundnut: you have to crack them to see what is inside. Some women view marriage as a matter of life and death but some men view it as a matter of wife and debt.”

“Oh, my God! This is hilarious!” Nnanna laughed with others while Ayomide also took a seat, smiling happily.

Gbenga continued. “In marriage, the husband is the tie and the wife is the parcel; when the tie breaks, the parcel loosens. It is the habit that a child forms at home that follows them to their marriage. Train your children well. Claude?” he called.

“Yes, papa.” he replied amusingly.

” If you are wise, look after your house, love your wife without alloy. If a friend hurts you, run to your wife.”

“Like seriously!!” Claude couldn’t believe it.

“A good woman handles issue better than a man. Happy the marriage where the husband is the head and the wife the heart. Marriage is a lottery in which men stake their liberty and women their happiness. Marriage is the only war in which you sleep with the enemy.”

“This man is bursting my brain!” Nnanna shouted.

Gbenga continued. “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgets them. Claude?” he called again.

“Yes, sir.” he replied.

“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he’s not the man she married?” Gbenga asked him.

“Hmm… because it’s in the nature of women to complain.”

“No! It’s because no one is perfect. Hence, you must have endurance and tolerance. A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time. It is not marriage that fails; it is people that fail. All that marriage does is to show people up. Love is blind, but marriage restores its sight. The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast. Let me stop here.” he concluded while they clapped for him. “Come, let me bless you both.”

Claude and Eniola knelt before him while the old man laid hands on them.

Adewoyin healed Ogachi who reconciled with them and left the country.

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