I became a celebrity after the article was published five days after I had sent it to Punch newspaper editor. Different magazine reporters pursued me up and down Accra for an interview. They wanted to know more about the Machismo; they wanted to know if I was a disgruntled member who cooked up the story because they said it was too gruesome to be true; some wanted to hear more about the rituals at the graveyard, about the initiate.
While all these were going on, the Machismo-Buccaneers war broke out. Scores of people were killed in LAUTECH. The indigenes were not left out of the killings as many of them were bystanders in the public massacres that had come to reign over the affairs of students. It was until when LAUTECH was closed down by its senate, and the students given a month compulsory break that the newspapers in Ghana carried the news.
I knew I had caused turmoil, and it wouldn’t be long before the effect bounced back to me. The effect bounced sooner than I expected.
1st July, 2014
In a hideout at Orita-Naira, Ogbomoso.
The Kapol walked restlessly up and down the room with a semi-automatic pistol in this right hand. The room was empty save a wooden chair and table. The aluminium made window was slid shut, and a brown stripped curtain covered it. The Kapol would periodically shift the curtain a bit and peeped out, looking for irregularities in the ambiance.
Suddenly, there was a rap of knock at the door.
“Who is it?” the Kapol barked.
The Kapol removed the safety of the pistol and aimed it at the door while he opened it slowly. Feeling assured it was only Whizzy; he opened it wider and allowed him in.
“What’s up? Any latest?” he asked, his eyes widen.
Dare heaved out. “There is good and bad news.”
“You know my principle; the bad news first.”
“Big Lanre is dead. He was popped at the front of Mama number one canteen. You know his weakness is food, and he wouldn’t joke with any food, not to mention Mama number one’s food.”
“The good,” the Kapol voice was sharp.
“I’m not done with bad. Shizzy too was shot at, but he isn’t dead. He was able to escape but not without a bullet lounged in his thigh. Docki is helping him remove the bullet as I speak.”
“That’s all,” Whizzy replied, “The good news is that I’ve located that journalist. He is in Ghana.”
“Ghana!” the Kapol exclaimed
“Yes Ghana. I learnt that ran there for safety after our attempted hit at the hospital. I’ve even gotten his residential address, and I’ve made plans for a hit.”
“Good Job Whizzy. He is the reason behind this war, and he must receive his own piece. Get me Tunde and Wale. Tell them they have an assignment and they should meet me here. Go now,”
Whizzy left the room the room shaking his head.
I knew there was trouble. Mama too knew. She had read the newspapers in Lagos and had seen the issue of the “aftermath” resurrect. Uninvited, she visited.
I was seated alone in the sitting room watching one of those Bollywood dub Ghanaian movies. I can’t remember the title now. John Dumelo was reprising the role of Amir Khan in Ghajini, and I was getting annoyed at every scene because it showed how uncreative Ghanaians are.
Unexpectedly, I heard a loud bang on the door. Like armed robbers trying to gain entrance. My heart jolted. Armed robbers? I went through a spell of seconds as I stood still. My eyes darted round the room looking for an exit.
“Open. It’s me, Mrs Chalibury,” a voice rang out.
With a speed of lightening, it hit me; the voice- mama’s.
I sprang up from my seat and moved towards the door. “I’m coming,” I replied as I unlocked the door.
When I opened the door, hardly had I said mama- when she dropped her luggage and ran past me toward the bathroom. I smiled, no wonder she banged the door like a gangster. I carried her luggage inside and I closed the door.
“That is him, the guy who opened the door.” The black skinned boy whispered, pointing to the door that was now closing.
“Good,” Wale praised. “Who is that woman, the one that just entered?”
The boy shook his head sideways, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen her before. I’m just seeing her for the first time,” he answered, his ‘just’ sounding like ‘jest’
“Do you know if they have any dogs?” it was the Kapol that asked him now.
“Yes Chico, one old Alsatian dog. But it died last month.”
“Thank you,” The Kapol counted eight cedi from his wallet. “Here, use this to buy kele wele.” The boy collected the money and raced down the street towards the kele wele stall.
The Kapol set his gaze on Wale.
“You will lead the assault. Let me do the talking.” He moved his gaze to Tunde, “Check for alternate exit out the house and man it.”
I began to ransack mama’s luggage, checking for the snacks she must have bought from Nigeria. I might be nineteen, but I was still mama’s pet, after all, I was her only child. I could hear mama’s bowel as they trumpeted from the bathroom; she must have ate something bad, I thought.
I heard footsteps, like kids playing hide and seek in the compound.
It must be Kwesi and the other kids.
I continued ransacking, but I felt uneasy.
It’s 11:00am. Kwesi must be in school, after all, it’s Monday.
I couldn’t hear mama’s bowels making noise again. All I heard was my heart beats. The nervousness of my body upsurge the sounds of my heart beats that they sounded like a loudspeaker in my ears. I removed my hands from mama’s luggage and I moved slowly towards the window near the front door. I shifted the curtain a bit and peeped. The ambiance was normal. I was about to move away when I saw a boot. A big black left foot. Then I knew I was done.
I was moving away from the window when I heard bangs from the front door, very similar to the one mama made. Except this time, I was sure it wasn’t a friendly. It must be the Machismo, I thought. I froze on the spot. I could hear the flushing noise from the toilet. Mama must be through.
My brains sprang to action, thinking of a way out. There wasn’t Tega here to help me out; just me, mama. Mrs Nelson, whom I was staying with, had gone to work.
Mama shifted the curtain, “Evhoma, who are those knocking like barbarians.”
I put my right index finger on my lips and hushed her to silence. Barbarians, as if your knock was better.
“Who called us barbarians,” a voice asked from outside. The voice was thick, like a marijuana smoker.
Shivering met my perplexed state, and I couldn’t think straight. Open the door, no don’t open; run, no hide, no call a friend… call the police.
I moved to the chair and picked my phone, a Blackberry Bold 5. I quickly pressed and dialled 767. It took few seconds before I got a response. The response wasn’t from 767, but the computerised voice of Glo customer care agent saying,
“The number you are dialling does not exist on the Glo network. Please check the number you dialled.”
I removed the phone from my ear and starred at the number. Then it hit me. I was in Ghana. The number I dialled was the Lagos emergency number!
Suddenly, the wooden door gave in almost immediately as its latch was shot. Two men entered. They were both cladded in a body hog T-shirt, and a jean trouser with timberland boots. They were almost the same height and they had similar athletically built body. One of them was welding a semi-automatic pistol, while the other was holding an AK 47 rifle. There was a star shaped tattoo on their neck, and it shone like a moon on a cloudless night because they were fair skinned. I couldn’t doubt it now. This was Machismo for real.
“Hey, stand there,” the one holding the pistol barked at me, beckoning to the one-seater cushion with his pistol.
I dawdled towards the one-seater chair shivering. Mama quickly moved to my front, shielding me.
“You will have to kill me before you kill him,” mama protested.
“So be it,” the guy holding the pistol said.
Within a twinkle of an eye, I saw mama jump, and I heard a gunshot. Mama was on the floor, I saw blood slowly seeping from her body. I bent down screaming, “Mama… Mama…”
“Hey, stand up and put your hands behind your head. If you make any funny move, I’ll kill you. Your mama just confirmed that for me. I’m not a comedian.”
I swiftly put my hands behind my head. “Please don’t kill me,” I begged with a shaky voice.
“You know we will kill you in the end. The only thing you can pray for is time to say your prayers. I will give you five seconds,”
“Emm… I don’t deny that I will die, but it will be fairer if you let me know why you want to kill me,” I asked, pretending that I didn’t know why. Meanwhile I searched the room with my eyeballs for anything that can help me pull a trick.
“You don’t know what!” the guy holding AK47 barked, “about four of my brothers are dead because of your stupid article. You have caused us trouble since the night we caught you spying us in the graveyard. But tonight, we will end it all.”
My eyes caught a stood near the door that led to the kitchen. Human are gullible, use that as a weapon
I raised my hands.
“I have money. If you kill me, you won’t get it. It’s about—”
“Money,” the one with the pistol barked at me. He then whispered into the ear of his partner. The other nodded in agreement. “Okay, lead us to the money.”
“It’s inside the room,” I replied, with tinge of excitement in my voice. Mama still lay on the floor, lifeless. The blood had stopped flowing and were starting to dry.
The one wielding the pistol beckoned me move. “Oya stand and lead me to the money. If you try any funny move, I will shoot you. You see we are damn serious.”
I trembled as I walked towards my room aware of pistol pointed at me at my back. I hadn’t come up with a plan, so my brains worked like the tireless hands of a clock. I eyes darted round, looking for the slightest thing I could use as a weapon. I found none.
We entered my room. I hadn’t still found a weapon. I was running out of time and I knew it.
“Where is the money?” he shouted.
“Em… it is,”
He interrupted, “There is no money abi. You want to buy time thinking the police will come here in time. I pity your instincts. The Ghanaian police are just like their Nigerian counterpart, they lack patriotism.”
“I’m not buying time,” I lied, “It is under the bed. I will need you to help me lift the bed,”
The guy dropped his pistol on the floor and he helped me lift the bed. See how gullible he is, so money can make one this stupid. He was busy carrying the bed on one side while I carried it on the other side. Well timed, I pushed the bed and the guy staggered backwards falling on the ground. I rushed to his side, and delivered several blows to his face. Satisfied he was weak; I stood up and took his pistol. I wanted to shoot when it occurred to me the gunshot would alert the guy holding the rifle. I rolled the guy over with his face towards the ground, and I hit his hind brain with the butt of the pistol. He passed out.
I hadn’t handled a pistol before, but I had seen how Sylvester Stallone shoots in his movies. I used my left hand to support my right hand which was on the pistol’s cartridge. My finger was on the trigger. Slowly like a navy seal performing a stealth mission, I moved towards the sitting room where the guy with the rifle was.
I peeped behind the curtain. The guy with the rifle was restless. He moved up and down the room muttering. Then he stopped. Perfect for a kill. I aimed at his head, and I was pretty convinced of getting a deadly shot. Unexpectedly, he turned. I pulled the trigger. All I heard was a click sound. The smart chap had put the safety on!
Bullets sailed in my direction. I fell flat on the floor and moved backwards. Luckily, the bullets didn’t hit me. I continued moving till I entered my room. By now, it was as if there was a movie score playing in the ambiance. My heart throbbed. I checked the pistol and turned off the safety. I was about to think of the next move when the door blew open. I rolled on the floor. Immediately I stopped, I fired two bullets without aiming. I continued rolling till I reached the wall. My eyes saw blood. I stood up.
The guy with the rifle had fallen down, and blood was seeping from his head. My bullet must have hit him! I have killed him. A miracle. It was unbelievable that I stood still like a statue and I stared at this corpse. i was still feeling pity when mama came to my mind.
I rushed the sitting room, dropped the pistol on the floor and held mama in my arms. The police siren was now wailing outside.
“Mama,” I screamed, “I’m sorry.” Tears dropped from my eyes and it hit her face, “I’m really sorry I caused all this…”
The police in their black khaki uniforms entered. The arrested the whole situation and they were able to arrest a fleeing Machismo member. I was still carrying mama in my hands, crying. I couldn’t believe what had happened. Luck hasn’t really been on my side. First it was Tega, now mama. The ambulance came, and I helped them carry mama on a stretcher.
“She doesn’t have a pulse,” one of the paramedic announced sadly.
My heart sank on hearing the words. Mama dead! I prayed for a miracle. A miracle I had never believed: resurrection.
I was still holding mama’s hand as the stretcher was being lifted into the back of the ambulance. Unexpectedly, I felt a hand tighten around my hand. It was Mama’s.