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Twerking Cruxes and a Cloaked Visage
by Kemka Ezinwo   (Author)
Read First Three Chapters

CHAPTER ONE

The crispy august wind smacked Matthew Udoh. He could barely see through the fog, let alone, find the aluminium bucket. He hated the harmattan season; his skin would shrivel like the smoked mackerel his mother bought for dinner and he would itch for hours. Should he open his mouth, his already chapped lips would tear; the last one took two weeks to heal. He trembled at the thought of pouring cold water over his body. The sun wasn’t out. The escaping moon casted its reflection on the surface of the water in the bucket, reminding him of its icy coldness. He shuddered. Lifting a bowl full of water, he held his breath and threw the water over himself. The water landed on the ground with a light thud, splinters of it touching his feet. He shifted before the water came down. His mother’s voice echoed, rekindling the courage he needed.
I really need oil on my skin. He winced and touched his cheeks as the memory came back - chirping around his head where the same birds that circled around ‘tom’s head in the Tom and Jerry cartoon; they watched it at Ette Okon’s house, - after Eka Effiong’s mean and brutal hands gave him the beating of his life for using part of her groundnut oil. He never understood how such a frail looking woman could lash out such huge pain. I’ll never take what doesn’t belong to me again! He smiled. Tom and Jerry! Ette Okon would never have discovered how rats started getting into his house, if Livinus, that stupid boy, had not gone bragging to his sisters.
His skin had started to itch and his clothes were too tight to get his hands through.
“Matty.” his mother shouted from the back of the house. He could tell she was coming out of the bathroom from the sound of the zinc door.
“Have you eaten your food?” she asked in Ibibio.
She always brought a smile to his face. She was the only family he had and she was easy to talk to. He was once told that his mum was the belle of the village, that she stood tall among her peers – still did, with her long, black glossy hair. The superstitious thought she was a ‘mammy water’. She was slender and her dark skin glowed. Her eyes were shaped like cat’s, stamped with hazel-coloured pupils. She had a small pointed nose and her lips were small, all neatly tucked in an oval shaped face. Nobody understood what she saw in his father - One minute he was in a good mood and then another he was in a bad mood; no one knew about bipolar disorder then. Matthew was told he took his mother’s looks, though he didn’t see how.
His skin started itching again. He rushed to where his food was and his eyes lighted. It was garri and palm kernel. His jaws hurt as he chewed, but he didn’t care. It was like eating rice and chicken on Christmas day. He hurriedly ate his food as he didn’t want his friends to see him soaking garri. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help waiting for the garri to swell. Matty - she was so called rather than Eka Matty - watched her son eat with relish and smiled, thank you Jesus! For weeks they’ve been eating cooked unripe pawpaw. She knew he ate it to please her. He didn’t beg, which often surprised her. She turned towards the door she was leaning on to hide her tears and pray. Please God, look not on my sins but on the faith I have you and take my son away from this misery. Please don’t let him grow up in poverty.
“Mummy, I have finished eating.” Matthew wiped his mouth.
She wiped her eyes, smiling, “I have a surprise for you.” Then she pulled one end of her wrapper, loosening the tip. She brought out money and gave it to him. She opened the door to withdraw something in a black cellophane bag: it was a pair of slippers. The money was from the sale of palm kernel: it wasn’t enough to cover his school fees and a pair of sandals. Matthew jumped up and down, and then wiggled his waist and jumped on his mother who started laughing. He was glad to be paying his fees on the first day of school; something that had never happened before. The earliest was the day before their mid-term break and that was three years ago.
His friends, Livinus Orhiunu and Ambrose Livingstone arrived just as he was putting the money into his pocket. Livinus was talkative and chubby in an intimidating way; even the senior prefects feared to flog him when they were late. His father suspected him of stealing food, and he was. His father kept watch at night but he did it in the afternoon.
Ambrose on the other hand was lanky, reserved and taller than most people his age with four brothers of which, three were now late, and seven sisters. His mother and Matthew’s mother got along but weren’t friends, which was expected as his mother was old enough to be Matthew’s grandmother.
Mr. Kalabor, the duty Master was at the entrance of the school with his cane; it was called koboko. He brought it with him from the north. Both staff and students feared the cane but they could do nothing because Mr. Kalabor was related to the Headmaster. The teachers protected their own children and played the ‘mind-your-business’ game.
“Why are you always late, I let you pass yesterday but that is not happening today.” Mr. Kalabor shook his head vigorously, “Kneel down!”
Matthew was already shaking like a leaf that was under a heavy rain. He gave everyone six strokes of his cane but when it got to Matthew’s turn, he frowned, maybe because he was afraid the boy would die. He quickly thought of a way to protect his reputation.
“You, come with me!” Mr. Kalabor hissed.
Matthew followed.
When they got to the staffroom his frown was replaced with concern.
“Sit down. Are you all right?” he asked quietly.
Matthew’s reply was inaudible. His eyes glazed, his mouth watered as the different aromas of displayed food hit him. A staff on maternity leave had sent food from the celebration of the safe delivery of her first son. Mr. Kalabor noticed how the little boy’s eyes danced from one dish to another, offered to get him some food. Matthew refused.
“I won’t tell if you won’t.” Mr. Kalabor whispered.
Before Mr. Kalabor could say a word Matthew was slurping and gulping away with such speed that the star-nosed mole would envy and a grass cutter would relish. He had just finished eating and was wiping his mouth with the back of his hand when a light-skinned girl was pulled by the ear into the room. Her skin shone like Ette Okon’s Sunday shoes after it had been waxed with the Kiwi shoe polish he claimed was a souvenir. She was so thin it looked like a feather could knock her out, with her nose as pointed as the cones they were told to make in class last term, and her hair was brown and curly. Matthew stared at her. He only realized his mouth had been open when he accidentally swallowed something: saliva, a fly?
She giggled, covering her mouth to muffle the sound. He remembered he had seen her with Mfon when he went with his mother to sell palm kernels. She must be the new girl that Livinus’ sisters were talking about yesterday; I can almost swear they were jealous.
The Labour Master came in, saw Matthew and grunted. “Don’t you have a class you should be in?”
Before the teacher could say another word Matthew ran as fast as his wobbling legs could carry him. He couldn’t understand why his legs were wobbly.
From where she was standing she could see him run to his class. It was her class too she must have realized, then twisted her mouth dispassionately as she tried to clean her teeth with her tongue. Very white teeth for a village boy!
Annette got into the class just as Miss Boyd called out her name.
“Present!” Annette answered.
The Form teacher, Miss Boyd, looked up and noticed that Annette was standing. Not caring for whatever reason Annette might have had for her being between the desk - even though she knew that Annette wasn’t late for school - she gave her two strokes of the cane. Annette wanted to explain to the teacher that someone was on her seat. Through the tears, she pleaded with Livinus to give up her seat, but he simply looked at her like she was stupid. Matthew beckoned her over. She picked up her bag which had been dislodged, dusted it and went over two desks to sit with Matthew. Livinus was furious, but said nothing. The teacher left the class five minutes before break.
Ambrose’s twin sister walked over to Matthew’s desk and struck her chest, “My name is Miebi! I know your name is Annette, this is Mfon!”
“We have already met.” Mfon retorted, irritated.
“Oh, okay. Well I’m going to ease myself.” Miebi stamped her feet and she walked briskly.
Mfon watched Miebi leave and almost hissed then turned her attention to Annette. They talked for a while and Mfon realized that Annette hated school and was living with Miss Boyd, her mother’s sister. Mfon made a personal declaration to make school a little bit bearable for her. Annette was a bit distracted in their conversation; her focus was on Matthew who was playing football with his friends. She found him weird. He dragged his feet when he walked, though he stood tall. He drooled when he spoke, and his head looked droopy like her Uncle’s own did anytime he had a fight with his female friends. She loved the way he sounded like he was counting his words unlike her father who sounded like gurgling water.
Livinus wanted to get back at Matthew for stealing his chance of talking to Annette. He kicked the ball hard towards Matthew who deftly dodged it, and it went flying towards the direction of the girls. The ball splashed Annette’s food all over her white uniform.
Mfon reprimanded Livinus and hushed Annette when she started to whimper.
Livinus ran towards them, then came to a halt a few meters from them in case one of them would lash out like his sisters usually did.
“I am really sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
They didn’t believe him, not after his action in the classroom. He looked gloomy with his slumped shoulders. They sneered at him and sniffed when he passed. Livinus prayed that the rest of the day would pass quickly. He was the first out of the class when school was over, but the last in the line for devotion. As they sang, ‘Now the day is over…’ he looked at Matthew scornfully. As soon as devotion was over and Livinus brought out a baseball cap from his school bag as they headed home.
“What do you think?” he asked Ambrose who was more interested in the dispersing crowd than Livinus’ new scheme.
“The sun is very hot o!” Livinus said to make sure his friend saw the cap.
“It is,” Ambrose said casually, looked at Livinus, and shook his head. “Where did you get that cap from?”
“Why? You like it eh! ” Livinus grinned sheepishly. “Don’t you?”
“That is not the answer I was expecting.” Ambrose retorted.
“What is wrong with you? Question here, question there, can’t you see and not talk? Eh?” Livinus readjusted the cap furiously.
“I will talk. You know why? Because you are always doing things that get us into trouble, not you, not all of us, but -”.
“Okay, okay, okay!” Livinus said trying to shut him up.
Ambrose pretended not to get the message and continued with mouth twisted, glaring, eyebrow raised. “So where did you get that cap?”
“Meshi ōnu!” Livinus retorted with irritation.
Ambrose gave him a querying look, wondering what he said. They heard girls giggling and as their footsteps drew closer, Livinus looked back and caught sight of Miebi. Miebi was walking in front of Annette and Mfon as they came towards Livinus and Ambrose and veered to the left side of the path that led to the church. Livinus stared at Annette with hands knotted behind him, not knowing what to say.
“Do as if you did not see me o! You hear! Do as if you did not see me!” he called out to his sister a minute later. Miebi said something inaudible to the girls and they started giggling. This infuriated Livinus. Ambrose called out to them
“Please wait. Have any of you seen Matthew? We’ve been waiting for him.”
Livinus jabbed him.
“Oh, I saw him go back to the staffroom.” Miebi said to Ambrose, twisting her hair and blinking at Livinus.
“Master, you sent for me,” Matthew said quietly.
“Yes. Sit down.” he replied gently and was deliberately slow in stacking the files.
Matthew sat for several minutes. Mr. Kalabor had ducked into the Headmaster’s office with some of the files tucked under his arm. The clamour of diverse pupils had gradually gone extinct, leaving the school compound with the silence of the cemetery that was behind it. Matthew shifted from one buttock to another on the seat and kept peering out of the only open window.
“Master!” he called out. There was no response until the fourth time when Mr. Kalabor’s head jutted out of the door that was now ajar.
“Yes, Matthew, I told you to wait. I want you to go somewhere with me but I need to finish this first,” he said, showing him some more files.
Matthew scratched his head, “But, but Master my mother… she is expecting me to come and do some chores for her after school. I cannot be late!” He could tell something was wrong deep in his stomach but he didn’t know what to do. “Master let me go and tell her that I’m with you and I will come back right away.”
“No!” Mr. Kalabor said in a loud voice which resonated in the room startling Matthew. When he noticed the boy was shaking he added quietly, “I’ll go with you to your mother and tell her. You just wait a while. Okay?”
Both Mr. Kalabor and Matthew knew that Matthew’s friends would be waiting for him Mr. Kalabor thought of the part of the fence that was broken. His cousin, the Principal had discussed it with the bricklayers who were to repair it the following day. Meanwhile, Matthew had run out of ideas. He considered running, but the man was fast. He had seen him on inter-house sports day. If he shouted, no one will hear him so he shrugged and waited. By the time Mr. Kalabor had finished with the files he was working with it was almost dark. Matthew followed him.
“Who goes there?” someone shouted.
Mr. Kalabor almost jumped out of his skin and instinctively covered Matthew’s mouth. The person drew closer until he saw Mr. Kalabor, then sighed with relief. It was the gateman.
“Sorry O! I think it those small small tiff, you know, the ones wen broke the fence.”
“Oh, I understand.” Mr. Kalabor answered nonchalantly as he twisted his wrist to check the time
“You don see them abi? Your brother is a catch one them tiff yesterday.”
“Eh...I’m running late,” Mr. Kalabor said. Good night.”
Mfon was close to the main gate, she had come back to pick up her homework book, which she forgot while cleaning the class. She had been holding her breath for a while. She thought the gateman had caught her. From where she squatted, she could see all of them, and couldn’t make sense of what Mr. Kalabor and the gateman were saying or why Matthew was standing behind Mr. Kalabor. She just needed to get out of there, especially as the insects had climbed up her thighs.
“It is late and Matthew is never this late!”
Matty’s instinct was to go out and look for him when he was just an hour late but decided against it. For all she knew, he could be playing with Livinus again. When he hadn’t returned after dark she knew something was definitely wrong, and went to every house he had ever visited, but he wasn’t found. She even promised Livinus sweets but he didn’t have an answer for her. Mfon would have told her what she saw if her mother hadn’t threatened her. She went to Mma Tonye’s house to look for Ambrose.
“The Social Prefect gave him punishment for not wearing the right shoes, but he should have finished it since. We waited until we were tired and left,” Ambrose said.
Mma Tonye, Ambrose’s mother joined Matty to search for Matthew “Mma Tonye, you just recovered. Go and rest I can manage.”
“I’ll hear of no such thing!” The older woman said sternly as she impatiently pulled the slippers from her son’s feet.
She knew better than to argue with Mma Tonye so they searched everywhere even the school. When they went to Mfon’s house, Mfon couldn’t speak as her mother kept giving her warning looks. It was clear that the mother didn’t want to be involved in another police wahala. Besides, she never liked Matty and she never hesitated to show it. The problem was that Matty never noticed Eka Effiong’s wild gestures, twisted looks and never listened to gossip.
When both women got to the Police station they were advised to wait for twenty-four hours before they could make a missing person’s report.
Mfon’s elder sister Udeme, better known as Eka because she was her mother’s first daughter, took on herself the role of an investigator so she could to catch her fiancé cheating. In order to catch him in the act, she had to go to the roadside restaurant at eight thirty, following a tip from a reliable source. The reliable source was Mrs. Naakie the village gossip and more compelling evidence from nosy neighbours and pusillanimous, covetous friends. She had confronted him on several occasions, but he denied it every single time with the precision of a spirited liar. She didn’t care much about him, but felt she wasn’t getting any younger but the last time she almost caught him was a year and three weeks ago; she knew if she caught him again that would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
She sat down in the dimly lit part of the restaurant to see him without her being noticed, it was like a VIP area for married men who ventured to sidestep long enough to cheat on their wives. She whirled the content of the bottle of Coca-cola as she waited. Two men came in and sat on the table adjacent to her. They were hard to ignore. They were both thin with - one wearing a green shirt decorated with geometric designs and trousers that just about covered his ankles, the second man with a waistline that was as robust as that of a Japanese wrestler. He wore agbada that looked twice his size. The one in green shifted in his seat looking around while the other one ordered placed their order.
“Annie, I have found a boy like we discussed,” The man in green said.
“Is he clean?”
Udeme felt like puking; Homosexuals!
“Yes and no one will miss him.”
Poor boy!
“You’re sure?” Annie asked through a mouthful of roasted tilapia.
“Yes, I am sure.” The man in green spat.
“I don’t intend to offend you, but I don’t want any of this to get back to me. You know I am a man of repute and – “
“Aren’t I equally a man of repute? I succumbed to teaching in that God forsaken school just because I needed the required object for a new start. What I need to know is, will this work for me as it did for you?”
Annie smiled broadly, delicately pulling down the sleeves of his agbada and pulled it back up, and said proudly, “Of course, Baba has been good. Eh! But you don’t want it to come back to haunt you, you know it’s blood.”
At least not physically! hehehe!
“You need not worry about that. His father died a few years ago. His mother sells coconut and palm kernel. She cannot put up a fight or even afford to go through the right channels.”
“Can’t afford to?”
“She no go school nawh!” the man in green said, with irritation and anger in his voice.
Annie cleared his throat but it sounded like something between a choke and cough.
“Say it abeg, what is it?” he said, eyeing Annie suspiciously.
“Nothing really,” Annie paused and added quietly, “It’s just that the boy must be a virgin for the thing to work o!”
“Is that all?” The man sniggered. “He is.”
“Yes, that sounds good, where is he?”
The man in green tilted his head in the direction the boy was. Udeme couldn’t help herself. The profile of the mother was quite familiar. When he indicated were the boy sat, she took a look. It was like iced cold water had run down her spine, the hair on her skin stood straight and the hidden hair areas started to itch. It was Matthew. He was sitting at a table towards the left side of her fiancé who was now fondling a light-skinned girl. She was torn between confronting her fiancé, and sending the boy away. She got up, but her legs crumbled, and she leaned on the chair for support and then rooted to a spot, her legs began to shake. She summoned up the courage she needed to take the boy away; she could not leave him there not after his mother had stood by her all these years.
She went inside and tugged Matthew out through the exit meant only for the staff of the restaurant, gave him all of the money she had on her, one naira and twenty-five kobo. She instructed him to run as fast as he could to anywhere but here. Her hands were still shaking, and the itching had increased. She didn’t have enough time to comport herself by the time she got inside; her fiancé was holding his head in his hand, blood pouring down his left side. She was about to ask him what happened when he started to stagger. Apparently, the light-skinned girl had a fiancé; ironically, her fiancé had heard rumours that she was philandering, and decided to find out the cause of her distraction. It was unfortunate that Udeme’s fiancé was the distraction that day.
Udeme felt like laughing and crying at the same time. She was overwhelmed with emotion. Most of the people in the restaurant left quickly at the first sight of blood, not because they could or couldn’t help, but because they didn’t want to bear witness to what happened when the police arrived at the scene. She finally got help from the restaurant owner’s husband when he came in and helped Udeme to carry her fiancé into the motor, a 1966 Chevrolet pickup truck. It had been a gift from his late boss. The car belched all the way to the hospital.

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Product Details
Author: Kemka Ezinwo
Publication date: 2012
Pages: 263
Product dimensions: 362 x 599
More About This eBook
Overview
Matthew has a new identity following an accident then is unwittingly left with a broken heart. Fate strikes a few weeks to his ordination coupled with the intermittent interceptions of his friends: Ambrose, Livinus and Mfon. Will he choose the love of many over the love of one in his struggle to untangle his shrouded past?
Mathilda has refused to give up hope of finding her son as she did her family. Meanwhile, Father Bernard takes in a stray whereas he battles to discover himself. Separated from their family as children and in need of closure they go back to where it all began.
Will it be an epitome of tranquillity or a classical culmination of vested interest, who will unmask the cloaked visage?
Editorial Reviews
About Author
KEMKA EZINWO is an undergraduate with The University of Buckingham, United Kingdom. She hails from Rivers State in Nigeria. She had always wanted to write but was reluctant to do so until a friend dumped a creative writing book on her. She entered a few competitions which boosted her confidence to write a book on a plot she had come up with a few years ago. Her first book Twerking Cruxes and a Cloaked Visage was published in 2013 and has received 5star reviews on amazon websites.
Her second novel Something New was highly commended in the 2013 Winchester Writing competition.
We hope to see more of her books very soon.
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