After I had walked some distance away from the park, I got hungry and stopped by a local restaurant to refresh myself.
“Madam, wetin you get?”
“I get Egusi, I get Dror soup, Oha and Bitter Leaf. I also get Stew-Rice, Ofe Akpu and Pepper Soup. Which one should I brought for you?”
“Give me Bitter Leaf.”
“Garri or Akpu?”
“Make I put how many meat?”
“A plate with one meat how much?”
“Ha! Madam ee too cost oo.”
“My son ee no cost oo. Ee go bellefull you well-well.”
“The meat na today meat?”
“Na today meat nah. We no dey do carry over for here oo.”
“Okay oo, oya bring am nah.”
“Okay my son.”
“(Soliloquizing) Inside IMT campus, a plate of food was ₦150 back in 2008. I don’t know if it has increased by now oo. No matter the increment, if at all there is any, it won’t be up to ₦400. For what? Is that how much I’ll be spending on food? ₦800 for two meals a day? From tomorrow, I’ll be eating inside campus. And I’ll still patronize that my 2008 madam. At least she knew more than embarrassing me by asking how many meats I wanted because she know say I no dey chop meat.”
After eating, I stayed back to watch television until it was closing time and I left. I joined a bus that was going to New Heaven, with no exact destination in mind. When the bus got to Otigba junction I told to conductor to stop. I stopped because it is always very lively there and remains so till the next morning. What made that place lively were the hookers that normally hung around there waiting to be picked up by customers. I located a nearby bar and ordered for bottle water, sat there sipping the water little by little while feeding my eyes. That became a normal routine for me. During the day I would go to a valley by Ebano tunnel where water constantly flowed through an opening on the surface of the rock to have my bath. That place was more like a stream for the guys. Girls were only permitted fetch water and leave, and that only happened when no guy was bathing. If any guy was bathing, a girl that wants to fetch water would have to wait some distance away till the guy is through before being allowed to step in and fetch. The wonderful thing about that place was that there had never been a rape case there, even though the environment was conducive enough for that. Sometimes, there could be up to 20 guys bathing and just one girl waiting to fetch, yet, no guy would harass her. Besides that, every other thing you could think of happened there, from weed smoking to ritual sacrifice all went on there.
Meanwhile, I had not forgotten the purpose for which I embarked on a journey to Enugu in the first place, so I was busy trying to find what to do before I ran out of money since a place to freshen up and a place to spend my nights had been settled. One day I stumbled into a little café with some inexperienced workers. From the look of things, the café was struggling to stand and could not afford paying for the services of capable hands. I took advantage of that and offered to render professional service for whatever amount they could pay. They doubted my capabilities at first and brought out a typing project with they had at hand and told me to type. They offered to pay me ₦50 for each page I typed, and that motivated me a lot. Omor come see typing! After my JSSCE exams, my mother had enrolled me in computer institute, and out of all I learnt, typing without looking at the keyboard was the lesson I was most passionate about because I watched American actors do so in the movies and I so loved it. So when I had the opportunity to learn about computer, I took it upon myself to study and master typing. I became a very fast at typing, and as soon as I had learnt how to type, I stopped going for the computer lessons. Eventually, I worked with a computer firm where I acquired the rest of the basic knowledge of computer. So when I was given this very project to type, I shone very well. I typed 50 pages within 90 minutes and got ₦2,500 for it. Oh, what a wonderful day! They asked me to come again the next day, as there was still so much to me typed. The typing lasted for 12 days, after which I was employed as a full time staff with a monthly pay of ₦5,000 only. How I wish there was always something to type. That way, I would make more money to rent an apartment. Well, no problems. Half bread is better than none.
One of those days I did a lot at work and was so exhausted. After dinner I went to my normal spot and bought a bottle of water. I started sipping the water and feeding my eyes, but before long, I fell asleep on the chair I sat on. I felt a very soft hand tapping me on the shoulder. I could tell that whoever had the soft hand was trying to wake me up, but the softness of the hand made it seem like a massage to me, so I lay back and enjoyed it while it lasted. If that hand had continue to try waking me up in the same manner it started with, there would have been no end to my slumber. But after a while of trying to wake me up unsuccessfully, I heard a slap on my left chick and the soft tone of a gentle voice screaming; WAKE UP! Immediately, I woke up. I noticed everyone running helter-skelter. It seemed like there was chaos, and I started weeping. LORD, PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON ME! HAVE MERCY ON ME DEAR LORD! DON’T LEAVE ME HERE WITH THE ANTI-CHRIST. PLEASE I WILL GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME. JUST GIVE ME ON MORE CHANCE.
“What’s wrong with you? The gentle voice which woke me up asked.”
I didn’t even pay attention to it. I thought the RAPTURE had taken place. I was still weeping deeply and asking the Lord for mercy, and then the soft hand that had slapped me before did so again. Then I noticed that it belonged to a very pretty damsel who was squatting beside me as though hiding from something or someone.
“What is wrong with you? She asked again.”
“Can’t you see that the world has come to an end? I replied. The saints have been taken up to heaven by the Lord and the sinners have been left behind. Now we will have to suffer for not paying attention the commandments of the Lord.”
“I can see that you had so much to drink today. That’s the only reasonable explanation to this drama, said the girl.”
“What do you mean by drama? I asked. Or are you so ignorant that you don’t even have a clue what’s going on?”
“I should be asking you that, she said. The police are here arresting people and there you are, pleading for mercy and begging for a second chance. Better keep your head low before we are spotted and arrested too.”
“You mean it is not the rapture?” I asked with much excitement. “So it’s the police? Thank God!!!”
There was a great relieve within me that I even forgot the police were on operation and nearly screamed but the pretty damsel stretched out her arm and covered my mouth with her palm.
“Are you crazy? She asked. Do you want to be arrested? Well if you want to, I don’t, she said. Just wait till I’m out of here before calling such attention to you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. And suddenly, my courage, which seemed to have left me temporarily returned, and I remembered everything I had forgotten.
“What is your name?” I asked her, smiling.
“Seriously?!” She exclaimed. “Do you really think this is a nice place for that? We are caught up in the middle of a mess and all you can do is ask my name? Are you really that drunk? I bet the next thing you’ll ask for is my number. Crazy dude!”
“Don’t take my wanting to know your name the wrong way,” I said. “I’ve got a perfect idea of how we could get out of here unnoticed by the police. You know if we keep hiding here long enough, they will find us.”
“Really? Okay, my name is Ogechi”
“Now ogechi here’s what will happen…”
I devised a means by which we escaped to a nearby hotel where we hurriedly checked into a room.
TO BE CONTINUED…