The Snatch

Sitted very close to the window, something happening beside me in a bus I entered yesterday afternoon, made me restless. There was this guy who sat next to my right shoulder. He kept nudging me with his own shoulder, time after time, possibly to shift, meanwhile we had enough space between us already. Why was he making me uncomfortable then? I wondered. That was when it awoke my suspicion. Slowly, I withdrew my concentration from the music playing through my ear plugs and decided to channel it to what was happening beside me.
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Now aware of the energies around me, I felt a thug on my right pocket where my wallet was. It was noticeable. At first, I disregarded it. I had to be sure. Few seconds later, I felt it again, then again, and it dawned on me. I realized who I was dealing with. A pick pocket. A hustler who was trying to hustle me. Through the corner of my right eye, I stared at him closely and continued to feign ignorance. The thought of him actually succeeding made me chuckle. Normally, I would react at once having noticed what was happening, but this one didn’t awaken my emotions. Mba. It was just funny. Clearly, this guy must be new to the snatch business as most of his attempts were either clumsy nor noticeable. Licking my lips with relish, I told myself he has chosen the wrong pocket to pick.
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My mind became busy. I began to think hard on how this whole already-begun drama was going to end, and finally, like a light bulb moment, an idea kindled. One voice quietly whispered, “set a trap for him”. Twice. I took a deep breath and decided to play it into his hands. No one in the bus knew what was going on, and it would be wrong to accuse him without any evidence. So until I had one, I played along. I brought out my wallet, took out my bus fare, and deliberately fixed it back, a little loosed this time.
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I monitored him. I noticed him relax seeing a part of my wallet edge out of my pocket. His eyes twinkled. As expected, he went for the snatch, but somehow, he had trouble with it. Pocket was tight. All these while, his beady and shifty eyes alternated between the conductor who was facing him and my pocket. Nothing else mattered at that moment. His mind was set on a kill. To make him relax the more, I acted as if I was dancing to the sound from my white ear plugs. I moved my head accordingly, humming along. I was sure he became convinced that I was oblivious of what was happening.
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Stretching my hand to pay the conductor, my wallet came out the more. His left long fingers snaked in carefully, clipped the tip of the brown wallet and “wiff”, it was gone. I felt the painful departure of my wallet, yet I maintained calm. He hurriedly fixed it in his back pocket and took a deep breath. Finally, it was mission accomplished. He became a little relaxed. I noticed it. From the the driver, I counted the number of male passengers in the bus just to be sure we had enough hands to beat the dark craft out of him. They were eight of them. I slowly removed my ear phone, put it inside the front pocket of my shirt, removed my wristwatch, folded my black long sleeve and waited for the defining moment of everything. All through this, this slim, bone faced, goaty beared, dark complexioned acclaimed sharp guy, never noticed my behaviourial change. How dumb? Suddenly, there was that urgent need to get off the bus. From the backseat, he called out.
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“Ogapu!” but neither the conductor nor driver heard him. Through the corner of his left eye, he shot one quick look at me, somehow restless. His conscience had begun to prick him. “Ka opuo!!” He shouted the second time, hitting the roof repeatedly. I chuckled and jejely fixed my phone inside my pocket.
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Hearing the loud request, the driver rolled over to the side and parked. Before the bus came to its final stop, thief man was already forcing his way out, and everyone in his way, accorded him passage with frown on their faces due to his aggression. He was hurrying out. Before he could reach the exit, I stretched my right hand, latched unto his belt, and pulled him back.
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“Give me my wallet” I demanded with a chilled calm, my mean, soft eyes steadfast on his scarred face. Five seconds without a blink. I saw the guilt on his face at once. The expression on his face was a meld of shock and surprise. He knew I had him pegged, so no need to deny. But a thief will always act like one. This time, he rolled his last dice.
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“See me see wahala oo. Ehh, who carry your wallet?! He shouted at me wideyed, pointing his fore finger in warning. I had trouble breathing afterwards. Apart from the strong stench that oozed from his mouth, he decorated my face with spit balls. Meanwhile a hint of curiosity had overcome the bus.
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“You say wetin?!” The conductor provoked from the door. “Person thief inside my motor?! Lai, lai! That one no dey happen!” He raged on. “Oya, come down, come down!!” he continued, hitting the top of his bus repeatedly. By now, we had earned the full attention of every passenger on board. Even the driver. He killed his engine, stepped down and joined the conductor by the door.
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Within a minute, everyone came down, their neck stretched towards us, impatiently waiting to know who the thief was. To make sure he didn’t drop the wallet, I closed in on him, followed closely until we came down.
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“Oya, raise your hand!, the conductor shouted at the guy as soon as he touched down, while every other passengers watched on, some of the guys ready to leave another scar on his face. The look on their faces, told me all I needed to know. They were beginning to grow impatient.
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“You deaf?! Dem say make you raise your hand!.” the driver added from the door, pushing him. By now, the drama had earned more clusters and rage.
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Reeling from the effect of the push, the conductor reached into his back pocket and brought out my wallet.

“Na your wallet be this?!” conductor asked me. And I nodded, collecting it. Tempers flared afterwards and this guy went down on his four immediately and began to plead for mercy. He launched into a litany of “Abeg, bikonu, abeg, bikonu, mabinu, mbok, any ‘please’ phrase he knew then, came tumbling out of his mouth. With eyes lifted, he kept turning around begging every face available. He began to shed tears. Even before anyone touched him. Emotional blackmail. But the gathered crowd knew better.

“Make una leave this boi make him carry him wahala dey go” a woman said from the back.

“Go where?! another passenger countered, charging at him.
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Hands and legs instantly came upon him. Every part of his lean body felt the kind of pain and wrath meant for people like him. He kept screaming, shouting, but the beatings didn’t let up. In the midst of the lynching, some people narrated their painful ordeal from his kind and the beating continued unabated.

Already, his green polo had been ripped to shreds, same could said about his trouser which was already torn around both knees. His footwear? Had no idea where it was. Other bus drivers and conductors stopped to take a peek at the mob wrath. It was a typical scene of an unlucky pick pocket recieving what he asked for.
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From where I stood, all I felt was detached, yet I could not leave the scene. Something kept asking me to let him go. Everything was in my hand. I knew it. Seeing blood on his face, I became soft. I waded in at once and pleaded with them to ease their storm and let him go. It took a while, but they finally calmed down, still aiming hurtful words at him.
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From where he sat, you could tell he was dealing with a lot of pain. Throes of agony. Swollen eyes and chin, bleeding nose and lips.
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Raising his head, and our eyes met. He held the gaze for a while, tilted his neck to the side and pleaded I let him go, meanwhile, the gathered crowd persisted, they still had some pain left for him.
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“Dey Go” I told him, my hands stretched, trying to stop anyone from hitting him. He stood up, but it took him some visible effort to use those legs again.

“Thank you bros. God bless you” was all he could muster before wobling off in pain.



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