Accommodation at the place on the card was on Banana Island! The family had never heard of it but the driver exclaimed and talked about it till they arrived at a huge fenced compound with two detached duplexes.
“Ah, una no no Banana Island? Pastor, ah. Na the richest people in the world live here o.” He went on. “So you get person wey fit lodge you for here? Banana Island? You sabi how much rent dey cost here?” He didn’t say though.
The name on the card was Ajua. Pastor Kent found her behind a reception island, and explained why he’d come.
Ajua had a flat face, and despite being neatly made-up, lacked beauty or enthusiasm. At least she didn’t put up an air.
She batted artificial eyelashes. “Welcome. Where’s your luggage?”
Pastor Kent told her and she instructed him to bring it in. With the J5 driver, the family took the suitcases and bags to a first-floor apartment. Ajua gave Kent a set of keys, and excused herself.
The driver slapped his head. “Kai! I don enter house for Banana Island.”
“This house is ny-ceee.” Edidiong looked around. “Wow.”
“Huh, thank you so much.” Kent looked at the driver.
With the new development, he couldn’t send the man away empty. He rolled the bills he’d originally thought he’d give for the trip to Uyo, and handed them to him. The man paused his amazement at the beautiful parlour, and gasped.
“Pastor! Thank you.” He grinned. “Let me come and go.” He pushed the money into his pocket and went off humming.
“That man got his reward right away,” Annie said. She sighed heavily. “What now?”
Her question got everyone’s attention. Kent looked at each person before he spoke. “We’ll sleep tonight, and pray. Let’s see if the woman who sent us here will show. If she doesn’t, I’ll call the driver to pick us the day after tomorrow.” He shrugged. “We’ll have to go back to original plan.”
Eno burst into tears, shocking all. Annie glared at her. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m tired.” She stomped her feet. “I’m just tired.”
Chioma dropped into a soft leather seat and moaned. “At least we have beds for one more night, thank you God.”
“As in.” Ima chuckled. “I was just thinking of how I will sleep inside that horrible bus.”
Edidiong clapped. “Well, let’s find the beds.”
He walked toward a door, and disappeared inside. The other children followed. Chioma took Eno’s shoulder and patted it as they trailed the younger ones.
Their parents heard a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” but couldn’t rejoice. Annie looked around the perfect finish of the décor, the beautiful marble walls and floor. Asian rug, and marching blinds. The leather upholstery which matched the glass dining set at one side of the room.
“I think they are playing with us. The man says go, the wife says don’t go.”
Kent scratched his neck. “You don’t know if that woman is the wife.”
Freke ran into the parlour. “Mummy, come. Come. This house is very nice. They have water bed.” She pulled Annie’s hand. “There are four rooms and all are very big.”
Edidiong strolled in. “I’m taking a room to myself.”
Freke gasped. “What of Idara?”
Edidiong laughed. “I don’t know. He’ll sleep with you girls.”
“Take the bags inside,” Kent said. “Freke, call the others.”
Annie shuddered. “Let me find the kitchen. Hopefully they have a kettle or something.”
She opened a door close to the dining, and indeed it was the kitchen. For a moment, she stood rooted to the floor, stupefied by how big and modern it was. She walked slowly to a 2-door French-door refrigerator, and opened it. There was water, soft drinks, and some fruits, butter, and jam.
She clasped her hand over her mouth to curb her vocal explosion, and inspected the cabinets, and a small pantry she discovered by the corner.
When she returned to the parlour, no one was there. On legs as weak as cooked noodles, she found her family in one of the big rooms, chattering excitedly.
“There is plenty of food and water.” Tears gathered in her eyes. “I’m—oh thank you God.” The children shouted with joy.
Kent waved. “Go and eat. Chioma, coordinate them.” He walked to his wife, and pulled her into a hug.
“Why are you crying? Everything will be alright.”
Annie gripped his shirt front. “Ah Kentoro, what are we doing here? What have we gotten ourselves into?” She shook him. “Let’s go back while we still can.”
He cupped her face. “God is a great storyteller, and I think he’s telling one great story right now.” He kissed her nose. “I won’t want to leave the scene when the suspense is so high.”
“This suspense is too much. Who was that woman? And why would she send us here?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t care. Tonight, I want to enjoy my wife.”
She shoved him. “Enjoy under high tension like this.”
“Food is served,” Eno said and left before her parents could turn to her.
Annie pushed out of Kent’s embrace. “I’m hungry, please. The food I saw looks too good.”
She left the room, and Kent smiled. “After you eat, then what?” He followed her out.