The butterfly effect

A butterfly flaps its wings in Jalingo and there’s a hurricane in Gbagada. A butterfly flaps its wings in Bariga and there’s a typhoon in Kafanchan.

The butterfly effect

She stood at the door of their home watching him get into the car with their son, who he was going to drop off at school. She rubbed her neck where he had strangled her the night before and managed a weak smile and a wave, more for the benefit of her neighbours than for her son because, even though Biyi was nine years old, he had touched a bruise on her back one day and said, "Mummy, one day Daddy is going to kill you."


It wasn't as if she hadn't tried to escape; she had once, and he had caught them at the airport on their way to her parents in Abuja. He knew she would never leave without her son and now he made sure Biyi was always with him, driving him to and from school and even leaving strict instructions that he was the only one allowed to pick him up. Now, every day he went to work, she would stay at home, nurse her bruises and await whatever nighttime torture he had planned for her. She knew she had to speak up, but to whom? She waved to her neighbour, Mrs Kasali, whose house was across from theirs before hurriedly entering the house before the other woman saw her black eye.




Mrs Kasali waved back at her neighbour and saw her entering her house. She got into her car and drove to work, her own kids having gone by school bus.


Poor Mummy Biyi, always wrapping scarves and coats around her body so that no one could see the injuries that her husband regularly inflicted on her. She didn't know that one day the wind had blown her scarf aside and revealed one of those purple shiners that could not have been explained away as an accident.


Maybe she should do something to help her, but what? Counsel her to leave? These women never do, becoming prisoners of their own minds as well as their husband's will.


She genuinely felt sorry for her, but she lacked the courage to get involved in another person's life. Her job as a banker was consuming and every day she got to work, she would forget about Mummy Biyi until she saw her again.


A car suddenly appeared in front of her and she slammed her brakes, hitting her chest on the steering wheel. The driver in the other car gave her the finger. That's what she got for bothering about someone else's issues other than her own. No more worrying about Mummy Biyi, not for today.




Tokunbo gave the finger to the silly-looking woman driving the Toyota who couldn't be bothered to use her indicator light. Silly women drivers. They were the worst. 

The shock of her car almost hitting him early on Monday morning was the last straw. He had had enough with being in Nigeria. No electricity for two months! His home and the club running on diesel generators! How could anyone hope to break even? The sweltering heat was permeating through the car vents. It was time to head back to the States. Enough of this B.S.




Kola hated working in a Psychiatric hospital but this was just his day gig until the club really took off. The Admin job was boring but the worst part of it was the paperwork, including this; filling out the names of the patients cleared for discharge from the Nurses' list to the Admin list.


The sound of a phone call broke his concentration. He looked at the Caller ID, his brother Kayode. "I told you we shouldn't do business with that Aje-butter snob, he said he's leaving Nigeria today, he wants to get his money out, he's at the club and he brought a truck to move everything!"


Kola broke into a cold sweat. "Get his money out ke, he can't do that, stall him, I'm coming,". Kola hurriedly finished the list with minimal concentration, accidentally writing the name Kayode Akin instead of Kayode Akinola. He submitted the list to the nearest nurse and ran out of the hospital.




"Kayode Akin, pack your things. You are up for discharge today," the nurse said. She looked at her chart and double-checked to be sure she had said the right name. Kayode Akin, the paranoid schizophrenic patient with the history of poor drug compliance shouldn't be discharged after just two days on admission?


Double-checking it with the Matron would take an extra ten minutes, better to trust the Admin clearance list so she could get back to watching Telemundo on the TV at the Nurses' station.


"Kayode, grab your things."




Kayode couldn't believe his luck. He had thought he was stuck in the hospital for another four weeks like the last time. He walked out of the hospital and headed to the nearest field. He saw one just beyond a brick fence and climbed over the fence into it. This was definitely fate giving him the opportunity to test his theory that grass tasted as sweet as chicken.


Mummy Biyi heard a car stop outside the house and looked out of the window, it was the school bus from her son's school. It was filled with kids and Biyi hopped off it with a teacher.


The teacher looked apologetic, "Sorry we had to bring your son back in the middle of the day but there has been an incident at the school. A madman climbed into the field and when we tried to remove him, he said he would set off the bomb he had planted there. We had to evacuate all the children for safety while we verify if the threat is real."


Mummy Biyi looked shocked. "Does my husband know you are here?"

"No, we kept trying his phone but he didn't pick up." She was already inside the house before the teacher finished her sentence. "Biyi go to your room, take two toys only."

She packed only the essentials. The sound of her heartbeat filled her ears until they were in a taxi on their way to freedom. 



After his morning meeting, Kola saw the eight missed calls from Biyi's school. A quick phone call to them confirmed his worst fears. The bitch had his son and a thirty-minute head start. He mumbled some excuse at work and ran to his car. He drove like a madman towards the house. They would be in a taxi. All he had to do was look at every taxi coming from the direction of their house. It was Biyi's colourful school bag that gave them away. He saw it easily through the window of the taxi.


He made a U-turn and started following the taxi until he was just behind it. He rammed into it from behind, bringing it to a stop. The taxi driver started shouting at him about how he was going to pay for the damaged car bumper, but he silenced him with a wad of money. He opened the taxi door and dragged the bitch and his son by their ears into his car. He was going to make her pay.




Sergeant Lawal was angry at being called with his men to drag a madman of a field. Now everyone who claimed to have a bomb was a terror threat. All he wanted was to get back into the barracks and continue reading his newspaper, but now their truck had been blocked by a car that hit a taxi. He saw the owner of the car get out and drag a woman and a child from inside the taxi. The man reminded him of his own father.


He quickly came down and walked up to the man's car before he could drive off. He looked at the terrified woman and child in the car. "Madam, is this man disturbing you?"

She looked at him with tears in her eyes.

"Madam, you are safe. Tell me, is this man disturbing you?" He watched the woman swallow saliva.

"Please sir, help me. If he takes me home, he will beat me to death."


"Step out of your car, sir, and into our truck. Madam, you are free to go." Mummy Biyi thanked the soldiers. She and Biyi got out of her husband's car and into another taxi. This time, they were really on their way to freedom.


"You have no right to stop me," Kola shouted," I am a lawyer, my father is a Judge, you can't detain me on hear-say, I will deal with you, I will take away your job, who are you to stand in my way, I will sue you for every penny you have." Sergeant Lawal smiled, "That is fine sir but first, please come with me so my boys and I give you the same treatment you have been giving your wife."


Abidemi Abudu is an avid reader and part-time writer of short stories.

Copyright © Abidemi Abudu, 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form on by an electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author/Alolitmag.


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