“Nana, come out, and let’s have breakfast with Daddy,” Mahirah’s voice reached Nana, who was sitting on her bed, lost in thought. Just five minutes ago, she had ventured out to the dining room, only to have a confrontation with her mother’s pet snake. She had hastily retreated to her room, trying to escape the horrifying sight. This wasn’t the first time such an incident had occurred. The day she first laid eyes on the snake coiled in her mother’s arms, she had almost fainted from fear. Her mother had reassured her, explaining that the snake was harmless, just a pet. A pet snake, like the ones found in the wild. Since they had moved into this house, there were no cats or dogs, but a snake was the chosen pet.

The three of them sat outside the dining room. Today was one of the rare occasions when the Governor forced himself to have breakfast with his children. Being with his children was the only solace he found in his life these days.

Mahira made an attempt to coax Nana to join them, but she still hesitated to come out. As Mahira left, the Governor observed Junior, who was absentmindedly playing with his food. The boy seemed listless and devoid of the joy he once had.

“My son,” the Governor began gently, but instead of asserting that he wasn’t his father, Junior didn’t even lift his gaze, let alone rebuke him.

The Governor reached out and held Junior’s hand, saying, “Sa’ad Junior.” Before Junior could respond, he added, “Junior, no snake, okay? Mommy won’t bring the snake.”

The Governor pulled Junior closer, embracing him tightly and patting his back. The snake that Bilkisu had brought into their home had been on his mind, but he hadn’t found the right time to discuss it with her.

Meanwhile, Mahirah knocked on Nana’s bedroom door repeatedly for more than two minutes before Nana finally mustered the strength to open it.

“Why did you lock the door?… Nana, did you see it?… Did you cry?”

Nana remained silent but burst into tears once again.

“Nana, what’s wrong?” Mahirah asked, her eyes welling up too.

“M-Mommy… Mommy’s snake,” Nana barely managed to utter.

“Where did you see it? Mommy took it out the other day.”

Nana remained silent, struggling to speak, leaving Mahirah puzzled. Had Nana seen the snake before their mother took it out, or after it had returned?

“Don’t worry; nothing will happen to you. Come, let’s join Daddy for breakfast. You know we don’t get to see him often,” Mahirah assured her, and Nana reluctantly agreed, so they both headed downstairs. There, they found their Daddy trying to convince Junior.

“Daddy, for God’s sake, ask Mommy to stop bringing that snake around. It’s not that I don’t like it, but Nana and Junior always get scared when they see it. Please, Daddy, do something about it,” Mahirah pleaded.

“Let’s calm down; I’ll talk to her,” the Governor assured her.

In the morning, they went through the motions of eating their breakfast, but nobody truly enjoyed their meal.


Nana and Mahirah hurriedly packed their belongings. They didn’t want their mother to return and find them in the house. It had been three days since Daddy promised to talk to Mommy, but nothing had changed. Even that morning, Mommy had taken her snake out. The day before, when Mommy was home, Nana had been too afraid to come out of her room, fearing that the snake might slither between her room and the ground floor.

When they finished packing, they came downstairs with their boxes, only to hear the sound of sirens.

“Mommy,” Nana uttered fearfully.

“Where’s Daddy?”

“Mommy’s coming,” Mahirah said, revealing the impending arrival of their mother.

Nana and Mahirah stood there, clutching their boxes. Bilkisu Kachallah, accompanied by two imposing women who served as her personal bodyguards, walked in. These bodyguards, regardless of their origin, certainly didn’t look like Nigerians. They resembled black Americans, with muscular builds and six-pack abs that could rival a famous boxer like The Rock. They were clad in all-black outfits, complete with shirts, pants, and sunglasses that concealed their eyes. Their faces were stern, showing no signs of cheerfulness whatsoever.

“Is everything alright here?” Bilkisu inquired.

Nana took a step back behind Mahirah, her fear of the snake making her apprehensive even though it wasn’t in Bilkisu’s hands.

Mahirah, though fearful, tried to stand her ground. “Yes, we were getting ready to move our things.”

Bilkisu was taken aback by Mahirah’s boldness. The girl who rarely spoke up had now found the courage to raise her voice. She had reached a point where no one, not her parents, not her husband, and especially not her own children, could silence her, let alone outsiders.

Bilkisu gestured to her guards, named Vayentha and Mistica, who immediately left the hall. After they departed, she fixed her gaze on Mahirah and said, “You’re raising your voice, Aisha. Are you out of your mind?” She slapped Mahirah, causing the girl to fall.

“No one raises their voice at me. No one.”

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