I gasped continously as we sped off. For the first time, I knew how the fear of death felt like. I kept looking back through the taxiʼs rear mirror to see if we had lost track of him.
If not for the taxi manʼs help, I wondered what wouldʼve been my fate at that moment. I thanked him immensely as he dropped me at my place, right in front of my gate. I hardly even checked the amount I handed to him to show my gratitude.
I explained the whole thing to Mimi when I got in and secured the locks. I fastened it with a padlock and closed the curtains. I also made sure the lights were off. Mimi asked for the details of what happened as I narrated to her. She advised we called the police to report, but I decided against it since we didn’t know what or whom we were dealing with yet. She further advised I call Boma to inform him, but I decided against that too.
We had to sleep with one eye open and half eye closed that night.
Somehow, we managed to pass the night peacefully even if I hardly slept, Mimi did. She seemed to be less bothered about the issue, probably because she wasn’t the one at the receiving end.
Unlike most mornings when she usually disturbed and woke me up with her prayers, I was the one who woke her this time. She stretched and yawned as she sat up.
“Fifi, you are awake!” She stuttered weakly, struggling to keep her eyes open. I nodded and pecked her cheek as we usually did in our own way of greeting.
“Good morning,” she greeted. “Did you sleep at all?”
“I did, just a little.” I answered.
She heaved a sigh and yawned loudly, stretching her arms in the process.
“Did you later call Boma to inform him?”
“No, it wasn’t necessary.” I answered.
“But if you had died you would have called him abi?” She hissed.
Just then, a call came through my phone. It was Akosua, my sister. She hardly called for just anything unless she needs money or wanted something. I cut the call and called her back.
“Hello Sister Fifi, good morning,” her voice sounded shaky.
“Good morning, dear. Howʼre you doing?”
“I’m fine,” she sounded more odd.
“Whatʼs the matter, dear? You are sounding unusual.”
“He told me not to tell you but I had no choice. I had to let you know…”
“I donʼt get you. Who is it?”
“It’s Daddy, Sister Fifi! Heʼs not feeling too well.”
“My goodness! What happened?”
“He had his usual stroke attack after having dinner last night. He started grunting and holding his chest until he collapsed. I was helped by some neighbours to rush him to a hospital and since then we have been here. He only regained consciousness this morning and fell back asleep after eating a bit. I donʼt know what to do!”
“Hold on, who cooked the food he ate?”
“I wasn’t the one. He came back with a plastic take-away and had it for dinner, even after I insisted that I had prepared something for him to eat already, he didn’t listen to me. Now see where he has landed us,” she sobbed.
“Calm down, Akosua. Donʼt panic,” I tried to console her a bit. After she had regained herself, I continued…
“Is there anyone I can talk to there, maybe the doctor?”
“I just left the hospital not too long… Iʼm at the bank now, trying to withdraw some money. It’s not up to what they asked to commence full treatment on him but it can go a long way.”
“How much is it?”
“A sum of thirty thousand in total, but I have ten with me. Iʼm thinking of calling a friend to lend me anything she has immediately I drop this call.”
“You know what? Don’t call anyone! Iʼll get back to you in a moment, okay?”
“Okay,” she said.
I cut the call and heaved a sigh.
“Whatʼs the matter?” Mimi asked, looking concerned.
“It’s my dad,” I said without even looking at her. I paced about the room, thinking of what to do.
“What happened to him?” She asked.
“It’s his usual stroke attack,” I answered.
“Oh my God! Stroke?” She whimpered. I nodded in response, pacing about the room.
“Is it that critical?” She asked.
“It is much more than that,” I replied, “and the fact that they haven’t even commenced full treatment on him is what is making me bothered.”
“You mean they haven’t started treatment on him? Why?”
“You are doing as if you don’t know this our Nigerian hospitals. If you haven’t settled them, they won’t look at you twice.”
“That’s true. So what do you have in mind?”
“I’m thinking of squeezing out something from the package,” I said, moving closer to my wardrobe. “Itʼs the only way I can balance it up!”
“You mean you want to take out of that blood money?” her eyes bulged open.
“Mimi don’t start abeg, it’s too early for this,” I hissed and took down the nylon from my wardrobe. I opened the envelope and counted the bundled pile of cash as Mimi sat aside, watching intensely to see me disappear.
Our eyes met several times as I counted, like she really wanted something bad to happen. To her surprise, I counted it all without disappearing, fainting or dying like she had expected.
“It’s a total of 300K,” I gasped in shock.
“You don’t mean it!” Mimi said, edging closer. She held a bundle of the money and felt it, as if to see if it was real.
“Babe this money is real o!”
“Didn’t I tell you?” I scoffed.
I felt this pang of happiness deep within me. It was more than enough of what I needed to clear the hospitalʼs bill. Without even thinking twice, I placed a call through to Akosua and asked her to send the details of her account number and that of my dad.
I counted a certain sum from the money and splitted it aside as Mimi watched.
“What is that huge amount for?”
“Itʼs just 50K,” I answered.
“Haba! Don’t you think it’s too much?”
“This is my dad’s life at stake here, Mimi.”
“I know and I’m not arguing about that, but what would you tell him when he asks of your source of income?”
“Leave that to me,” I said.
In a brief moment, we had our morning routine and prepared as the time was already far spent. Mimi accompanied me to the bank to deposit the money while we followed there to school. I had transferred 40K into my dad’s account while the remaining 10K went into Akosuaʼs. I was sure she would see it, so I switched off my phone to avoid her calling me back to ask unnecessary questions.
When we got to school, the lecture hall was already filled up. I found it hard to cope as my mind wasn’t fully in the examination but my dad’s health.
Immediately after we concluded the last paper for that day and everyone trooped out of the exam hall, I switched on my phone and called Akosua to get updated of any progress. She picked up and sounded extremely gleeful as she narrated to me how she got the money, paid the bill and watched them commence adequate treatment on my dad. I had to put up an excuse that I had a flat battery when she asked why my line wasn’t reachable after I deposited the money.
“But Sister Fifi, don’t you think that amount you sent is too much?” she said, sounding suspicious.
“Do you mean daddyʼs life is less than N50 thousand?”
“No, I don’t mean it that way, but you sef look at the amount you sent naa. It’s too big, how come?”
“So according to you, I’m too small to have that amount, is that what you mean?”
“No, no, you are getting me wrong. I mean…”
“Is daddy there?” I interrupted, trying to divert the topic.
“Yes, he is, but he hasn’t woken up yet,” she said.
“When he does, tell him I would like to speak with him. Give me a call.” I said.
“I will. But Sister Fifi, thereʼs this gown I saw at the mall yesterday sha! One very fine gown like that.”
“So what do I do?” I said and hung up immediately before she could start her demands.
Just then, another call came in. It was an unsaved number this time. I figured it was probably Akosua disguising herself, so I shunned it. It kept ringing persistently till the point that I was prompted to take the call.
“Hello Akosua, behave yourself!” I said bluntly.
The caller stayed silent.
“I’m not Akosua. Meet me outside your schoolʼs gate now,” the caller said. It sounded masculine.
“Who are you?”
“It doesn’t matter. I can see you from where I am; and make sure you come alone,” he repeated and hung up. I looked around to clarify if the environment was safe. Everything looked normal as usual as nothing seemed unusual.
I was encouraged by the serene surrounding to proceed towards the gate where I met a tall, lanky guy leaning on an electric pole outside. He waved at me and gave a signal for me to get into the car close to him.
“Why should I get in?”
“Sheʼs in the car,” he said.
“Whoʼs in the car?”
“Don’t ask questions. Just get in!” He flared up. I was taken aback by his rudeness.
“What if I don’t, what happens?” I tried to stand my ground. He gave a short laugh and moved closer to me, opened his jacket and whispered in my ears, “Can you see that?”
I was shocked to realize he had a pistol on him. I almost screamed out till he got a hold of me, opened the back seat and pushed me inside.
To my surprise, the fair lady I had once met at the restaurant was the one inside. She sat at the back seat while there was a driver at the front on face cap. The glasses of the car were tinted black from the outside view, but the interior was transparent.
“If you had just complied with him, he wouldn’t have forced you that way,” she said. I ignored her remark and tried to open the door with all the force I could muster, but it proved futile; all to no avail.
“It’s locked already, don’t bother yourself,” she said.
“What do you want from me!” I yelled angrily.
“Try to calm down and behave yourself first, then maybe we can talk properly,” she said with a smile, acting like the whole scenario was cool.
“You are holding me down at gunpoint and you expect me to calm down?” I asked irritably. She kept mute and smiled with her avid focus on me. I was forced to fold my hands and act cool to give her the impression that I was calm, whereas I just tried to play along.
“Straight to the point,” she began, “I am aware of the fact that you have the package we delivered to you some few days ago, donʼt you?” she asked. I stayed silent, gazing into thin air.
“That package was from the Senator I told you about,” she continued, “and he intends to know how far we have gone with the election process. We told him we have high hopes of winning with you on our side to support us, and he seems to buy the idea. Heʼs also placing his hopes on you full time and says heʼll do anything you so wish for, as long as you assist us against our rival…”
“But I told you I wasn’t interested, didn’t I?” I interrupted, cutting her short.
“You don’t have a choice,” she said.
I laughed hysterically.
“Do you know I can sue you and this so-called Senator for allegedly forcing me to aid you illegally?” I threatened.
The moment I said that, she and the man on face cap erupted into laughter.
“Do you know who this Senator is? You don’t stand the slightest chance at all,” she said.
“Stay away from me… This is your final warning!” I threatened. She laughed aloud and called the driver.
“Biggie, open the door for her please.”
The carʼs lock came open and I stepped out of the car. The lady winged down the glass from the inside and stretched an envelope to me.
“Have this! It’s another token from the Senator,” she said.
“Tell your Senator to take his money and bundle himself to hell!” I hissed and walked away confidently.
TO BE CONTINUED…