It all started one beautiful Evening, I was on my way back from work the day is still as real as ever in my heart. That evening will be one I will never forget.
’Ojota, Ketu, Mile12, Ogolonto, Garage’ so shouted the Bus conductor who spoke as if he was being rushed by an unseen spirit. He stood just by the car door ushering passengers inside. He wore a dirty colored singlet and a black short. His hair was long but unkempt and brown, his face gloomy and decorated with tribal marks. I looked at him very well and concluded that he must be from the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria.
’How much to Agric?’ I shouted back at the conductor
’150 Naira’ he barked bark in an unusual Yoruba accent, his face frowned.
Short for his age, he must be around 28 years.
As if in a haste, I hopped in and sat at the edge of the car seat near the driver’s seat.
’A dull person cannot succeed in Lagos’ I said to myself.
There I am dressed in a blue body-fitted shirt, a navy collar tie to match my navy colored trouser and a B&H black shoe. My hair is stylishly carved and I am still looking sweet and handsome. The car has about 3-seat rows, on each seat sat four persons. Some were traders, school children, pregnant women, young boys and girls who have earphones to the ear. It was a crowded Bus to say the least. At the front, the Driver sat with two other occupants, a local Radio station played on the rustic stereo just opposite the gear selector. From my view, I could see that the driver’s seat belt ain’t in a good working condition because it was used to tie a piece of cloth.
It took us many hours to get to Agric Bus stop. The traffic was something else. Cluster of cars lined up bumper to bumper, stretched in three lanes made movement as slow as a snail.
We waited for more than two hours as people cursed, shouted, barked and complained while some kept mum as they quietly patronized the night hawkers who risked their lives to sell food items, beverages and other products on the highway.
It was really terrible, the heat and sweat did not help matters. It was late at night when I arrived the street that led to my house. I was relieved at last that home was at sight, but it wasn’t to be.
The last time I saw two street urchins fight, it was spectacular. Now seeing it again was awesome. Two able-body men, stark naked engaging in a violent fist-cuff drew my interest. People gathered and cheered as they bruised each other with punches and kicks. Even biting was allowed, a game of no rule. The spectacular drama was their naked and sweat-filled bodies. Shamelessly, their manhood dangled in the midst of punches, dragging and kicking. People laughed, some jeered while others used their phone camera to capture the ugly incident. I was ashamed to say the least. When I looked at their puffed up faces and bloody eyes, I felt like going to stop the fight but I dared not. The crowd enjoyed the show after all.
’ unless I want to be lynched, then I better mind my own business’ a voice barked in my head
Later that day, I heard one of the street fighters died. He slipped on the wet floor and landed his forehead on an iron pole which gushed his brain out. That was when the crowd dispersed running away from the Police. I prayed never to hear such a horrific story let alone witness it again. It was really a sad morning.
Now am coming back from work after a stressful day when suddenly an uneasiness befell me, one that left my heart pounding like that of a cheating wife caught in the act.
There in the dark, near the abandoned building a muffled voice mumbled. First, I ignored it but when I heard it a second time, I knew what to do. Quietly,
I approached the building, that was when I discovered that the sound came from the boot of a Mercedes 190 model parked at the front of the abandoned building. I took another look at the building, fear gripped me because everywhere was surrounded by thick bush. It was an abandoned bushy part of the street.
Quietly, I approached the abandoned building from the back following the bush path, praying that my luck wouldn’t run out. From the window of the abandoned building, I heard about three voices. Though incoherent but my nose told me they were smoking marijuana. The smoke was visible and I imagined they must be seated on the floor smoking and drinking while the AK 47 gun hung by their shoulders.
’What are they doing inside the abandoned building’ my mind queried
’Are they waiting for someone’ I pondered within myself
Even though fear was getting the better part of me, I swore to make the right call even if it involved losing my life in the process.
Fast like the speed of light, I found myself trying to unlock the car boot. With no luck by my side, my heart was racing like a speed boat, sweat covering my face and body . I was looking up and down like a child that wants to steal meat from the pot. Then a thought crept into my mind. Door by door I tried opening the car but still no luck when I nearly gave up, the last door pulled. ’Wahoooooooo!’ I shouted in my heart. I jumped inside the car and went straight to the driver’s seat, bent under the steering and unhooked the boot handle.
Mercedes was not new to me, Papa owned one that gave him trouble all the time. We even advised him to dash it out because of the embarrassment but he wouldn’t. Even after he bought a new car, he still drove his Mercedes. It was his favorite car. Everything about the car was on my palm because I knew it inside-out. Yeah, Papa taught me. After opening the boot, I opened the car hood (bonnet) and disconnected the plug and deflected the car tyres. Then I half-closed the hood (bonnet) back quietly.
The lady at the boot of the car was silent all the while. I gestured her to remain like that if we are to escape alive. She obliged, so I thought. I helped her out of the boot and immediately removed the small piece of cloth that gagged her mouth. Just then, she shouted at the top of her voice. In my confused state, I saw the scorpion that had nestled on her chest making its way on the floor.
’Did it bite you?’ I asked in a sorry voice
The sound of thumping feet and runners was enough to alert us. Three men ran down from the second floor of the abandoned building. I was afraid of my life.
’What if they shoot us now? Who will find us? Is this how I will die?’ I pondered unconsciously in my mind.
’Run, run, run’ I shouted at the fair girl.
Even the kun-fu skills I had learnt as part of my training in the Police Force did not even give me hope. I waited for them to bring out gun and shoot but none came. Then I realized that they must be amateur kidnappers. At that point, my confidence grew and I was about taking the girl by the hand when I looked far in the distance, she was already running for her dear life. Like Usain Bolt, I bolted and caught her by the hand. We ran some meters with the kidnappers hot on our heels. In the shelter of a thick bush, I planned the next strategy. The girl was breathing heavily and in tears. I felt so sorry for her. She must be 19years, had a brazillian hair, blue eyes, soft hands and a beautiful face. She spoke in a tiny voice, average in height Α̲̅πϑ looking more matured for her age.
’If I am to be a man, I must do this right!’ I assured myself. As my thoughts dislocated from her ’features’
The last time I was on duty some years ago as a Police officer, I watched helplessly as an arm-robber’s bullet ripped an innocent heart. I was helpless then because the arm-robber escaped. I vowed never to allow such happen again. It is 5years since that incident and I have done everything possible to wipe that incident off my memory. Sadly, I still can’t.
’It will never happen again’ I mumbled within myself
Like a Superhero, I clutched a big log of wood waiting for the kidnappers. But surprisingly one of them came running he had nothing but a small kitchen knife.
’What kind of stupid kidnappers are these?’ I queried myself even though I was relieved that he was not well armed as I had earlier thought.
Like a spirit, I appeared and clubbed him from behind. The log struck his back and he let out a loud painful scream. As he tried to face me, the log found his face and he kissed the floor writhing in pain. I was elated as I pinned him to the floor. I barked and cursed his ego as anger engulfed me. He begged but I gripped his throat so strong that suffocation was nearly complete when a blow landed on my face.
’Oh gush!’ I screamed in pain as I jumped up from the ground facing two ugly looking guys. Then my fighting spirit kicked in and like a wounded Gorilla I rushed the fair guy with a big head and gave him a fisted-jaw and face combo. One leg on the ground, the other raised to form a V, I gave him a brutal shadow kick that sent him to the floor. Unfortunately or fortunately, his head smashed on a big rock as he fell unconscious. The remaining kidnapper took to his heels as he ran the race of a coward.
I saw the girl pursuing him cursing and ranting, I laughed in my heart even though exhausted.
’That was how I saved the girl that came to be your mother’ I said to my seven year old daughter Abigail.
’Sweetheart, can you sleep now’ I begged her she was sitting on her bed and it was almost 9:30 pm.
’No Daddy, what happened later’ she queried
’Swerrie, you will wake up tomorrow late for school’ I begged my blue-eyed daughter. She is the carbon-copy of her mother.
’No Daddy, what happened to Mama’ she asked
I was already crying, then I remembered how it all ended.
But I couldn’t tell her maybe someday she will know but I want to be the one to tell her. What happened to Rose still hurt even till today.
Rose’s father was the richest man in the city. He owned many companies and after I saved Rose from the kidnappers, the Police later arrested Paul, their family driver who planned with the three hoodlums to kidnap Rose for a ransom. Even before I fell in love with Rose, she was already in love with me. Her father Chief Omega appointed me the Managing Director of his Oil company in Lekki, Lagos. Rose was an only child and she made my life a bed of roses, I was blessed and life was on cruise control. We married the following year even though I was just 24years and she was 20years. For 9years, we couldn’t have a child, numerous occasions of miscarriage made my Rose a worried woman. On the 10th year of our marriage anniversary, she took in and it finally appeared that God was going to answer our prayers. Right there at the hospital, I was mad, cried like a baby when the Doctor told me she didn’t make it. She left behind a photocopy of herself in Abigail.
’Dad, why are you crying?’ I heard Abigail say. Then I realized that I have been telling the story in my heart. I looked at her blue-eyes and saw Rose my beautiful wife.
‘Nothing honey’ I said turning my face while wiping the tears with my left palm.
’Go to bed, hun’ I said to her. Even before I finished, she was already dozing in her sleep. I gave her a kiss, switched off the reading light and went to my room.
Even though an accomplished man, the tears refused to stop. That night, I remembered my vow to make Abigail my life and never to re-marry no matter what.