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Mrs Phillips cast sidelong glances at her grand daughter and great grand daughter as they each sit lost in thought and bouncing softly as the car's wheels encountered potholes. They are on their way to Lokoja to bury her daughter Yejide. It had taken nothing short of the threat of her dying to get Titi to come back home to Nigeria to honor her late mother. In her eighty years of existence, Mrs Phillips has learnt that every of life's choices carries a price tag, and that people will always pay for their choices in their life time. As she dozes off, she reminisces about some of her life's choices and the prices she'd had to pay. She remembers how for years after marriage she had been without a child. How her in-laws had made her life miserable. She remembers crying to bed every night in despair. She remembers getting on her husbands' nerves as he insisted that it was him she was married to and he married her because he loved her and not just to bear kids. She remembers following her friend Keji to Iya Efun. Iya Efun assured her that everything would be fine and prescribed a sacrifice to the river goddess. She remembers the sacrifice; one guinea fowl, one mirror, and a bowl of honey. Then there was the strange dream afterwards. She'd been at the pool and some lady had tried to pull her under. They'd struggled a while but somehow it'd ended on a friendly note. Her "friend" told her she would have a child but she had to promise to share her. She had flippantly agreed but forgot the dream as soon as she'd woken up. It wasn't until ten years later when her daughter Yejide had gotten missing on a trip to the beach that she'd remembered. It was a picnic, the parents were sitting in the shade keeping an eye on the kids who were picking shells. When it was time to leave, all the children were accounted for but Yejide. For the next three days, Mrs Phillips was inconsolable as they searched high and low without any sign of Yejide. On the third day, groggy from sedation, she'd heard screams and had rushed out to see a beaming Yejide fly into her arms. After several hours of grilling all they could get from Yejide was that a nice,beautiful lady had seen her lost and had taken her in. This was met with mixed feelings as they all wondered why said "nice" lady hadn't tried to contact them since Yejide's picture had been on TV from the very next day. When they probed further, Yejide became extremely agitated. They returned to the beach and combed the shore looking for "nice" lady's house to no avail. They returned home and resolved to forget the incident just glad that Yejide was back home. A day after the shore search,Yejide came out to meet Mrs Phillips in the garden, the story that she told her chilled Mrs Phillips' to the bone. The story was for her ears alone and no one else was ever to hear it as Yeye had instructed. According to her, she'd been playing with a turtle when the nice beautiful lady had called her into the water. She'd asked her to call her Yeye and told her that she was also friends with her mother. She had been taken on a tour of the sea and it had been so much fun. Yeye had given her a white peacock but had promised to take care of it for her until she was old enough. She told her mum that she hadn't been there more than thirty minutes and was surprised that they said she'd been gone three days. Mrs Phillips was sweating profusely by the time Yejide was done. she remembered her dream right after the sacrifice, right before she took in.
"What have I done"?
She thought fearfully.
Strangely enough when she approached her again a few days later to retell her story, it seemed like Yejide's memory of the event had been wiped clean. She couldn't remember anything.
Twenty years ago, Yejide had again answered Yeye's call. Unlike her first disappearance, Mrs Phillips knew her child was alive. While everyone worried themselves sick, she waited. She waited for three months then one day a letter came; It was from Yejide. Despite her express wish to be left alone, Mr Phillips made them make the trip to Lokoja to "bring back his child". That it was futile was evident as soon as they set eyes on her in the shrine amidst her peacocks. Mr Phillips returned home broken hearted. Titi, Yejide's daughter never forgave her for abandoning her.
Elaine can't sit still from excitement. They are in Lokoja for her grandmothers funeral but they have been sitting in the car for almost an hour. The twelve year old is getting restless. Suddenly she finds herself out of the car and sitting in front of the bamboo shack, she'd been staring at from the car window a moment ago. Her grand mother is sitting on a stool across from her and smiling at her. She recognizes her from her pictures. They are surrounded by peacocks. Cradled in her grand mothers arms, is an albino peacock which she stretches out to Elaine. Elaine accepts the peacock but thrusts it back into her grand mothers arms quickly. It is as cold as ice. Yejide looks disappointed as she shakes her head questioningly at Elaine. Elaine shakes her head in confirmation and immediately wakes up.
Yejide died on the morning of her fifty first birthday. Devotees had come to meet her sitting among her peacocks, in her customary white and blue cotton iro and buba. Her head was leaned on a bamboo pole as though only dozing. She was stone cold dead, with a serene smile on her face. All efforts to get her to the cemetery had failed. No car would start with her body in it but the same car would, when she was taken out. Eventually devotees attempted to carry her in a donkey drawn hearse. As soon as her body was placed in the hearse, the donkey slumped and died. It became obvious that she did not want to be moved. They tried to put her body in the water but it seemed like the water didn't want it either. Eventually Baba Dupe the fisherman was contacted from his hospital bed in the UK. He told them to get in touch with her daughter, that she would know what to do. Initially Titi had refused to return but Mrs Phillip knew the buttons to press, the most efficient being Gerald, Titi's white husband.
Titi is right upset about sitting at the side of the road in a strange town for close to two hours while her mother's corpse refused to be moved. She had no clue as to Baba Dupes' claims about knowing what to do but here she was. Suddenly Elaine jumps out of the car and races towards her grand mothers bamboo shrine. Titi screams in horror and chases after her but she is no match for the twelve year old's speed. She stops short and watches with the crowd of devotees as Elaine fearlessly picks up an albino peacock from the group of peacocks and sets it in the water. The crowd watch in shock as the peacock swims a little way off like a duck then dips its head into the water and is submerged. As Elaine returns to her mother, the car with Yejide's body starts and the funeral procession drive straight to the cemetery.