I’m way out of my league on this one. I thought and I was right. My mouth was parched dry, my heart pumping so hard and loud I was looking round just to be sure people weren’t hearing it pound in her cage. My heart’s a woman after all, she’s cowardly. My mum always said she wanted a girl, well she got one only in a male body. However she-heart or not, I’ve been pushed over the edge lately. They say a woman scorned has more fury than hell, everyone had better steer clear. It’s better to be on the devil’s side than to be in her path. In the meantime, I Was out of Ideas. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I think at all? Yes I got through the security door with the gun, banks these days are so lax about the metal detection thingy. Once there’s a crowd they let everyone through.
Now In the crowded banking hall, for the first time I stopped to think about my tomfoolery. I was angry and stomped out of my house, took a bus ride halfway across the city to rob a bank. The doctor’s call was urgent, resolute and grim. Half payment by the end of the day or no treatment. So I walked out of the house with every reason to be angry but not enough to leave my reasoning behind. Walked to the only criminal friend I had ever known, and by God he had a gun to lend me. Rented it to me was more what he did. So I already owed two thousand Naira for this thoughtless and fruitless buffoonery.
I looked around to make sure my silliness was neatly tucked in my head, everyone was too busy to notice me anyway. Turns out sweat actually gets heavy on the face and in the armpits when produced profusely. I walked towards the exit. It was crowded at the exit so we were made to enter the metal detecting doors in pairs. A silly woman allowed her toddler in with me as she waited till the door opened again. It would take at least a minute after the creepy door set us free before she finally got out of the bank, I could easily kidnap her son or so I thought, or maybe I wasn’t thinking again. I just got a new idea-Kidnapping. Definitely not this kid or his mother though. It’s mothers like her that put their kids on flights just for the compensation for plane crash victims.
Jude was calling, he had been curious about what I needed the gun for. I just told him it was personal. Then he started the speech about me all grown up, growing balls and other gibberish. It’s crazy how lowlifes and criminals were quick to equate crime to bravery or some bravado. Scaring unarmed people with guns is one of the most cowardly acts in my book. One that I must now resort to. I had always opined that anyone that felt too” brave” to live with civilians should join the military.
“never been happier to hear your voice man” Jude hollered so loudly I thought i put him on speaker
“yeah” I replied limply
“How did it go”
“still working on it” I lied, I hadn’t even begun yet
I couldn’t tell him about my silly idea to rob the bank else the “balls” he cultivated for me would wither and die instantly
“okay, don’t just forget the payment”
He hung up.
Quietly I walked down the road away from the bank without looking back, the weight of my sweat and the gun on my waist wearing me out as I walked. Maybe it was the fact that I had not eaten in two days. Every penny in the last few weeks had to be accounted for now I had to spend another bucket load of cash to buy sachet water.
Drowned the bag in a few gulps, I felt better right away. I smiled lightly too when I wondered what I would have sounded like if I tried to rob the bank with my parched throat. I didn’t even have a catch phrase, -Hands up! or Your Money or your life! or please help I need cash! I hadn’t watched enough movies to know the right thing to say.
As I amused myself I noticed the mini-mart just adjacent from here I was sipping my second sachet water. Only one guard in blue uniform guarded the place, he was more of a greeter and a door opener than a guard. He definitely wasn’t carrying a weapon. If both our hearts were taken out, I would probably beat him in a hand to hand fight. So why not rob the damned place?
So I squeezed the last drops of water into my mouth and walked across the road into the mart, I had just seven hundred naira in my pocket out of which I must but food for my ill mother and transport myself to her hospital so I definitely wasn’t shopping for anything. I was pretty much the only customer in the store. Good news because it would be an easy robbery, it was bad news because it meant there would be little or no money in the cash registry.
It started about six months ago when she would complain constantly about sore throats, poor people would try putting salt in warm water or breathing into cracks in the wall, stupid beliefs that were incredulously believed. Well, my mother did both. The sore throats persisted so we upgraded to tomtom sweets and “baba blue”. Then we up scaled to strepsils and dequadin and vitamin c, she took the minty things till her tongue, gums and palate were bleached. Eating became an arduous task. She lost a lot of weight then came the cough, it was terrible, multiple cough syrups were drowned like bowl soups.
Church, that was usually the next poor people’s option, after all miracles were free. Fasting came naturally to us, we were doing long before there was need. Fast and pray sounded a lot like breathe and pray. The cough got worse, she was always tired. She couldn’t sleep unless we propped up three or four pillows behind her back. The cough increased so did the pillows it was only a matter of time before she had to sleep erect. Her breathing got worse and heavier, and then we did what the average earners do-We took her to the hospital. After multiple scans and diagnosis, the doctor invited me to his office and spoke to me firmly but calmly. Pointing at the “map” of a heart in his office explaining that my mother had a heart condition that needed to be operated immediately. He pointed the item that needed to be replaced on his map, the triscupid valve. if only I could only wish i could get one at shoprite, I thought. Then he went on to explain in gibberrish how it was a streptococcal infection, a vegetation of bacterial that infected the valve and how it could be replaced with a plastic valve. Finally he spoke some English, the procedure would cost eight hundred thousand naira. It was time to do what the rich folks do- pay.
There was no way in the world I would get eight hundred thousand dollars in cash in a mini-mart, what was I thinking? Was I thinking? When or if I get over this, my excuse for being so stupid would be the weight of the burden I bore. I still had to pay for the gun nonetheless so why not rob the store anyway, besides I had to eat.
The two attendants at the store were busy watching a local movie on the T.V. and arguing about how many kids majid michael had. Two or three? That was about the number of bullets Jude lent me, two attendants and a guard. Surely I wasn’t planning on killing anyone but if my threats were to be convincing, they had to be true. They were too engrossed to notice my confusion.
I could easily subdue the two girls but i still had to worry about the guard outside. He’d see me through the glass door if I held the girls at gunpoint and I had no idea what he’ll do.
The girls got too loud watching the movie and their laughter suckered the guard in. He was curious to see the source of excitement so he walked into the store. The gods favour me. In that instant I pulled out my gun and walked straight to the guard and said in a calm cold voice
“Get on your knees”
I almost smiled when he got down on his knees without a fuss. It was the first time ever and the best feeling ever. Sovereignty! The two girls were already whimpering in their seats.
“get over here” I yelled at the guard with renewed confidence.
He obediently groveled towards me like a trained dog, if he was bold enough to look up he must have spotted the wry smile on my face. I didn’t let him get too close, couldn’t take the risk.
“Open the cash drawer” I yelled at the girls
One of them wobbly walked to the cash drawer, the wry smile was on my face again, this time broader.
Four thousand Naira! Four measly thousand naira, I bemoaned as I walked away from the store.
“We never sell today” the girl had pleaded
It wasn’t worth the my impugning.
I walked slowly down the road, I didn’t expect anyone to harass me over stealing four grand.
However, I had locked the guard and the girls in the mart’s bathroom I could still feel the key in my pocket. I left them with a phone though. It was only a matter of time before they called someone to help. I had to get the heck outta the street, I hailed the nearest okada.
Hospitals all have the same sickening smell, sickening sights, bandages, blood, tears, human trellises and of course Insolence. Mother doesn’t know her condition or what it will cost to be operated, The doctor and I had agreed it was best that way for now. If she knew the cost, she’d lose hope and ask to be taken home. Well I’m not resigning her fate just yet, I even bought her favourite dish.
I instantly recognized the doctor’s voice, it’s been just two days but the voice of hope is always distinct. He invited me into his office. The pounding began again, he wouldn’t speak to me as I walked silently behind him, My knees began to wobble.
“Doctor Patrick” I called out to him weakly, He bore my name but by no means bore my burden. I wondered how many people he had seen die over the years, he must have been void of emotions by now, same with serial killers I must imagine. If you’ve witnessed multiple deaths, you must have run out of tears, I think?
“Doctor Patrick, Is anything the matter?” I asked again
He managed to look back at me just before opening his office door.
“Just come with me”
Didn’t know what the words meant, my brain froze.
I couldn’t imagine what I’d do it the worst had happened, no idea what I’d become but I knew it wouldn’t be pleasant. What’s the point of living right if the righteous ones like mother were helpless?
He offered me a seat, the bad signs kept escalating. Surely it was over.
A doctor told me to sit once before too, Just before announcing father’s demise just two years back, well I wasn’t taking a seat today. I was grinding my jaws, I wouldn’t cry but first thing I’d beg the doc to do is carve out the girl heart I had and replace it with Hitler’s. It’ll be just dumb to keep living on my knees begging the doc, begging the banks, begging for help. There’s got to be another way, there had to. I would never be in this situation again ever I vowed silently as I waited for the bomb.
“Just tell me what is doc”
Then he took a deep breath and began.