We left the hospital that moment as Boma ordered. Even if for a reason, I felt he behaved a bit too vulgar with the way he reacted towards the elderly woman and I, I also felt he was doing it for my protection. I understood how he must have felt losing me for three straight days. I couldn’t expect less from him!
Outside the hospital, a black van awaited us there. I was asked to take the last row of the seats, while Boma sat at my right hand side, and Simon at my left. Then we took off!
• • •
It was a silent drive back home all through the time we were on the road. We were about eight or more people in the van, yet, it remained as silent as night. I was getting uncomfortable with their unusual silence and their persistent stares on me, so I became prompted to ask, “What is going on here?”
“I asked you before, who did this to you?” Boma inquired, rubbing the bruises on my hand.
“I was kidnapped…” I answered.
Immediately I said that, everyone’s stare glued to me. Bomaʼs expression changed to an angered frown on his face as he directed his gaze to Simon.
“You see am? Shey I no tell you?” he asked, yelling out to Simon.
“I no tell you say make we waste that idiot last time abi? You don see am now shey?” Boma continued, almost shouting this time. He looked really angry.
“Guy calm down abeg,” a guy said from the front row.
“Your father!” Boma cursed, “You don blind, abi you no see wetin dem do my babe body so?”
All of a sudden, Bauchi who sat a row before us, suddenly turned back and held Bomaʼs shoulder with force.
“Boss man,” he said, looking at Bomaʼs eyes directly, “just try calm down small abeg. We know how painful it is, but no be only you the thing pain. We dey feel am too badly,” he tried comforting Boma. At those words, Bomaʼs anger seemed to reduce gradually.
“Big Tiny did this to you, didn’t he?” Simon who had been quiet all along, finally talked, referring to me. I instantly nodded in response.
“How do you know him?” I asked, a bit confused.
“I know the idiot,” he answered, “he killed one of our men this same way he kidnapped you. We caught him once and gave him a brutal beating, but I later spared him to go. I had hoped he would deliver a message to whoever sent him, but I regret taking that action now!”
“But why don’t we report to the police?” I suggested.
At that statement, all their gazes fell on me like I had said something stupid.
“Police?” Simon repeated. I nodded.
“Even the so-called police are in line with these people. I don’t think you know who these guys are… They have connections everywhere!” he explained.
“So what do we do now?”
“First of all, you need adequate treatment for your wounds,” Boma interrupted, “And secondly, you can’t return home,” he finalized. I turned to face him abruptly.
“I can’t return home?” I repeated. He nodded.
“But I need to warn my friend, Miracle, she stays with me!” I argued.
“Don’t worry, we’ll do that for you.” Simon assured
“I need to see her myself!” I persisted.
“Okay, weʼll take you there, but not now!” Boma agreed.
“Where are we headed to now?” I asked.
Nobody answered me.
• • •
We had spent two whole hours on the road, yet, we hadn’t gotten to wherever it was that I was being taken to. I kept demanding for our destination but none of them replied me, including Boma.
However, I noticed we had driven into a vast under-developed area with thick bushes and trees around. We passed some houses and took a route that led to an inner, bushy road. Suddenly, the vehicle stopped.
“Get down!” Boma said, holding my hand as everyone stepped out of the van. I came down and looked around, observing the area.
“Where is this place?” I asked. He ignored my question and held tightly onto my hand as we walked along the narrow, bushy path.
We kept walking for some time until we got to a huge black gate with fenced walls and broken bottles at the top.
A guy amongst us whistled three times and made a strange gestured knock on the gate, slowly. Immediately, the gate opened up and a dark-skinned lady stood there behind the gate, with a machete in her hand. She hailed the guys one after the other as we walked in, and then her face changed to a frown on sighting me.
“Who be this one?” she asked ridiculously, looking at me from head to toe. Boma turned to face her with an angered look and, after that, we kept walking.
Inside of this gate, there was a two storey building painted brown and a small car parked there. It seemed like people lived there from the clothes I could see, spreaded on the wires.
As we walked along the corridor that led to the house, a funny, strong scent of alcohol and smoke scintilated the air, as well as ashes of cigarette littered the ground.
When we got into the house, just as I expected, I saw people inside with alcohol bottles on the table, including females; talking, laughing and drinking altogether. When they noticed our presence, they all became quiet and directed their gazes at us, particularly on me.
“This is your new home,” Boma said as I looked at him, disgusted by the appearance of what I had just seen.
“Nancy, Rita, you guys should meet us at my room… Bring your equipments along,” he called out to the two ladies seated. Then, I was directed upstairs to a room as he followed behind me.
Unlike the corridor and the parlour downstairs, this room was different and well furnished. It had a similar scent to the way he smelt, as well as his cologne filled the air.
“I know this is all new to you, but with time you’ll get used to it.” Boma said as we settled on his bed, still holding my hand.
“Is this where you live?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered, “Don’t be afraid, I’ll make sure nothing happens to you. We are not bad people here,” he assured softly.
Shortly after, there was a knock at the door. Boma asked the person to come in, and then it opened up, with the two ladies I had earlier seen came in. One was with a first-aid kit, and the other held a stainless plate and what looked like juice in the other hand.
“Iʼll leave you alone now,” Boma said as he stood up and released his hold from my hand.
“Just eat, have a shower and if possible, sleep to your satisfaction. When itʼs evening I’ll wake you up and take you to your friend as I promised, okay?”
“Okay,” I nodded with a slight smile.
“Rita, after stitching her, make sure you find something for her to change into. Do you concur?”
“No problem, boss man!” the lady replied.
Finally, he winked at me and left the room.
• • •
I woke up to feel a figure by my side, tapping me repeatedly.
“Aunty wake up, boss man dey call you” The person said, still tapping me.
I opened my eyes clearly to see one of the ladies who had earlier stitched and treated my wounds beside me.
“Did I sleep off?”
“Yeah, immediately you finished eating. It’s been three hours now,” she said.
“Please spare me a minute,” I excused myself from her to use the bathroom.
After easing myself, I followed her as she led me downstairs, out of the compound, and then outside the gate. There, a small car was parked with all its glasses tinted closed. She opened the back seat door and asked me to get in as I obliged, then she shut it from behind.
The first thing to hit me was the carʼs air conditioner. Sitting beside me was Boma; Simon sat at the driverʼs seat, while Bauchi sat at the front seat beside him. I exchanged pleasantries with all of them as they asked about my health and well-being in turn. Thereafter, Simon started the engine and reversed the car as we hit the road.
• • •
Bauchi entertained us with his jokes all through the drive. In a short while, we arrived at my area where I gave them directions to my place.
Eventually, we arrived there, directly in front of my gate.
“Why don’t you just call her outside?” Boma suggested. I gave it a thought and heeded to his suggestion. I dialled Mimiʼs line repeatedly with Boma’s phone, but she wasn’t picking up.
“Itʼs not going through,” I exclaimed.
“Is it ringing?” Simon asked.
“Yes, but she isn’t picking up. I’m sure she is inside now, let me just go in.”
“Do you need me to accompany you?” Boma offered.
“No, Iʼm fine.” I assured.
I opened the back seat door and came out, and then I went into the compound. When I got to my doorstep, Mimiʼs slippers were outside, which similarly meant she would be inside. I tried to open the door but it was locked, so I called her name repeatedly as I knocked.
Out of frustration, I pushed the door with all the force I could muster as it jerked open, almost tripping me down. Instantly, I shivered from what I saw.
I bulged my eyes in shock, and before I knew it… a loud scream escaped my mouth.
Lying in her own pool of blood was the lifeless body of my friend, Miracle. Tons of cuts and wounds filled many areas of her body, especially her face. She seemed to have been raped and killed brutally in the process, telling from the excess blood that flowed from her private areas.I covered my mouth with my hands to suppress the scream as tears gushed down my face, as I ran away, out of the room…
I cried my eyes out that night; I could remember vividly well.
In a matter of days, in a very short time, like a twinkle of an eye, my whole life was in shambles. I had lost everything… everyone!
A week passed by, yet, the incident of that day repeated itself continuously in my head. Her memories clouded my mind repeatedly. I cried and cried till I couldn’t cry anymore. I had to move on.
• • •
In a matter of time, I had gotten used to the people I lived with in the new place I called ‘home’. Contrary to my first negative thoughts about them, they were all nice, welcoming people with good hearts and a simple lifestyle. In fact, I concluded how nice they were from the way they shared in my period of mourning and their endless efforts to console me with words of encouragement.
The ladies especially, Nancy and Rita, were like sisters to me. Even though they smoked all sort of cigarettes, drank all sort of alcohol and spoke all sort of pidgin slangs, a part of them still had human feelings. I felt like family with them.
However, I was restricted from contacting my family, due to ‘security reasons’ as Boma had put it. I was warned to stay clear of making or receiving calls from anyone throughout that period. Although, I had lost my phone when I got kidnapped, I still retained my fatherʼs numbers in my head. I had the urge to call him, at least to know how he fared and how he was coping, but I couldnʼt. I couldnʼt take the risk!
• • •
On a certain Tuesday, I was summoned to meet the rest of the house for a gathering downstairs. I had wasted a bit of time to freshen up, so when I finally came down, the whole place was crowded with almost all the seats taken. I apologized for the delay and took a seat too.
“Guys, una well done…” Simon began as he looked around, clearing his throat.
“As we all know,” he continued, “we have someone new among us. I won’t refer to her as a guest, neither is she a stranger, but rather as a family,” he stopped, and then continued, “I am delighted by the hospitality you have all shown her, and I hope it goes on that way. I wouldn’t want us fighting over unnecessary things with each other, or quarreling, or having enemity and holding grudges either. I would like us to act like a family that we are, and by that way, I believe we would live in peace altogether,” he finalized.
“I have a question,” a guy among us spoke up with a raised hand.
“Yes?” Simon answered.
“Itʼs about these ladies and Telemundo. I don’t just understand anymore. I mean, Iʼm fed up! Each time we come to the sitting room to watch a soccer match, you would meet about three to four of them already there. I can’t take it again. Help us look into the matter abeg baba, na beg I dey beg,” he pleaded jokingly. We all cracked up with laughter at his silly joke.
“I think say na better thing the fool wan talk.” Bauchi chipped in, still laughing.
“He has a point though, I’m fed up too!” Eagle said.
“Anyway, that aside for now, letʼs face the real issues at hand. As we are all aware, Fifi lost a dear friend of hers to a cold-blooded death a week ago,” Simon interrupted, sending a wave of silence through the room.
“May her soul rest in peace!”
“Amen!” We all chorused.
“I believe that wherever she is now, her blood would cry from the depth of the earth for vengeance. Itʼs high time we start reacting to these peopleʼs threats, fire for fire, blood for blood!” Simon exclaimed, raising his voice a bit.
“Naso baba! If them bring am to us, we go give them double!” Eagle exclaimed, raising his voice too.
“But guys wait,” Boma interrupted, “we don’t have any plans; we don’t know who they work for; we don’t know how to go about it, as well as we also know they are well equipped with connections almost everywhere. Itʼs suicidal to proceed without caution. I suggest we table a plan down.”
“I agree with him!” Nancy, one of my lady friends, spoke up.
“But how do we go about it, thatʼs the problem…” Bauchi interjected.
“Iʼve seen him once,” I spoke up. Everyoneʼs attention turned to me.
“How do you mean?” Simon asked, confusion evident on his face.
“I mean the Senator in question who these guys work for, Iʼve seen his face once,” I explained.
• • •
The macho guy behind me lit a stick of cigarette and handed it to him. He inhaled it deeply and then puffed it to my face. I choked from the smoke.
“So it’s you.” He simply said, with a bass pitched voice, slightly laughing.
“Untie her!” He said next. The macho guy behind me loosened the ropes on my hands and legs, and then unwrapped the seal on my mouth. For the first time that moment, I felt comfortable. Yet, I wondered why I was let loose.
“I want us to reason like humans,” he said, inhaling deeply into the cigarette with an avid stare on me. Thereafter, he threw it down and mashed it roughly under his feet.
“Like humans?” I repeated. He nodded.
“Like humans, yet you kidnapped me, tied me up and held me hostage here? What kind of human are you?”
At this, the guy behind me raised a hand to hit me, but the Senator gave him a sign to be calm.
“I gave you a chance. You had the chance, and you blew it up,” the Senator said, and continued, “I still offered you money. I gave you gifts, and I was willing to give even more, but yet, you had the guts to tell me to take my money and bundle myself to hell, isn’t it?”
I remained silent.
“Well, I am a man of patience. I forgive you for that,” he said, and added, “But, it also depends on how you cooperate with us henceforth.”
• • •
End of flashback.
“He told me that if I cooperated with them against you guys, he might consider letting me go, but I didn’t budge. I spat at his face and it angered him immensely, and he slapped me, and after that I was asked to be beaten brutally. I was held there for three days until I managed to escape with a boyʼs help whose name goes by Emeka. Emeka got gunned down while we ran but I carried on and managed to escape. I don’t know who this Senator is, but I know him to be a short, fat pot-bellied man with an obese feature and a chubby figure,” I explained, examining how eager they listened with keen interest.
“If you see his face anywhere, would you still remember him?” Boma asked.
“Of course, I would!”
Instantly, Boma dipped his hand into his pocket and took out his phone. He tapped a few clicks and stretched it to me.
“Is that the person?”
I glanced down at the phone and, as if by coincidence, the exact picture of the Senator was what stared back at me.
“I swear, this is him! Heʼs the one!” I exclaimed curtly.
“Are you sure?” Boma asked. I nodded with certainty.
Boma stretched the phone to Simon, who in turn gave it to Bauchi as they passed it round to take a view of the image.
“I thought as much! That Bastard!” Boma snapped, fuming gradually.
“Isnʼt this Senator Randy Ogbonna, the contesting Governor who claims to be humble and meek during interviews? You mean he is the one behind all of this?” Rita exclaimed, looking shocked as she passed the phone on.
“Don’t be deceived, my dear. Them no dey write am for face!” Nancy answered Rita as she shook her head in utter disbelief.
Suddenly, there was a honk from the gate outside the corridor. Bauchi stood up along with Nancy to answer it. Shortly after they had opened the gate for the car to drive in, they returned inside with a guy who lived in the same apartment with us.
“Baba yawa don gas o!” The guy said in panick as he rushed in.
“Wetin happen?” Simon asked, alarmed.
“See wetin I see baba,” he said as he handed an envelope to Simon. Simon collected it and, instantly, his countenance changed on looking at the content. He turned his gaze towards me and kept on looking at me weirdly.
“What is it?” I asked, confused.
Simon stretched the envelope from its content and handed the content to me. Everyoneʼs focus glued on me as I opened the paper to see what it contained. Immediately I did, I bulged my eyes in shock as I saw what made Simon look at me the way he did.
I had been rusticated from school.
TO BE CONTINUED…