The feeling of sitting at the back seat of a cab while another person drove was very strange. I could barely look away from the road as it felt like I was the one driving. It took mild distractions, well, not so mild, from Kassy to get me to look her way. She moved in closer to me and laid her head on my thighs. She looked up smiling at me and I looked down at her with the thought of a new life ahead of us floating in my mind. Kassy tried to seize the moment like she always did, she moved up and closed in to kiss me. As our lips met, I thought to myself, something here isn’t right. Everything really. Kassy and I cozy in the backseat of a cab with 9 million Naira stashed in a box in the boot of the car – No.
I shook my head and woke up from my thoughts. Kassy was standing right next to me. So close I could feel her breathing – heavily.
I’m sorry Kassy, I can’t.
As I said those words, I noticed the shock that took over Kassy. It was almost as if she was absolutely sure I was going to say yes. She didn’t say a word in response. She walked back to seat on one of the chairs, almost falling in the process. I stood where I was and waited… for what, I wasn’t sure. I really wouldn’t have been bothered if she decided not to pay me. Being around her was enough trouble; I really just needed to leave. I took one more look at her and as I turned to leave, she called out to me – A-Zed…
I turned back and then she threw about eight bundles of the one thousand Naira notes at me. Both bundles didn’t make it to me. Kassy just seemed so weak and disappointed; she could barely look at me when she said…
That’s your money. Please take it and leave.
I looked at the scattered packets on the floor and before I could think, Mama’s image came to my mind and I instantly picked up the money. Without taking another look at Kassy, I turned around and left. I stashed the money in the pigeonhole of the car, I couldn’t help but take another look at Princess’ test result. It was just then I noticed the name of the hospital. It was one of the best, if not the best in the country. I knew this because the doctors at Mama’s clinic had recommended it as a possible location for Mama’s surgery. It made sense for someone like Princess to only use that kind of hospital. I replaced the result and got on my way, it was still only about 2am. I figured I could make it back to school by 3 and see if I could still get some reading done before morning.
I went through Agege and as I approached Ikeja, I saw a police check point ahead. There was a car ahead of me. They didn’t stop it. Good. I was glad they weren’t stopping all cars. As I got closer, I noticed one of the policemen waving me down. How unlucky I thought, maybe I should just give them what they want before they ask – I thought to myself. I got to the checkpoint, cleared to the side and parked.
Officers, well done o
Yes, where are you coming from at this time?
Officer, I just go drop my sister for her house oh I say make I quick run back go school
Sister? At this time?
I tried to laugh and make a joke out of it) Ehn.. na one small emergency dey…
The policeman looked away and spoke to the one on the other side, I knew he was calling him to come over. Two to one, I was out numbered. I had to give up something. I immediately took out my key and dropped it at the side of my seat and then got out some money from my pocket. When the other officer turned to look at me, he asked me to come out of the car:
Officer, abeg, all this one no necessary. Just take this one use manage this night. ( I held out the money I had taken out to him – it was a N500 note)
The police officer looked at me and I felt as his countenance changed.
Are you trying to bribe a police officer of the federal republic of Nigeria?
Will you get out of that car, you this bloody thief (he said yelling even as he reached for the handle of my door)
By then, the other officer had gotten there. They were both armed and I couldn’t risk putting back my key in the ignition and driving off. I opened my door and the moment I got out, the second officer dragged me aside while the first officer began to search the car. He looked everywhere, almost as if he was looking for something in particular. He then tried to open the pigeonhole and he noticed it was locked.
Where is the key? (He shouted)
I don’t have the key.. it’s my madam
WHAM!!!! I felt a heavy slap on my face from the second police officer.
I say where is the key to that place. (this time, he yelled louder despite the fact that he stood inches away from me and almost bathed me in saliva.
It was then I perceived the heavy smell of alcohol in his breath) Fear took hold of me instantly. I had heard several stories of how people got shot and even got killed by drunk policemen and now I was standing face to face with two of them. What was I going to do. Tell them where the key was and risk losing Mamas money as well as getting killed or stick to my decision.
Growing up, I had my stubborn moments, but largely, I was never one of those ridiculously stubborn children who always frustrated their parents. Infact, Mama often said I needed to be manlier about certain things. Was this one of those things? The odds certainly didn’t favour me but for some reason I still can’t explain, I decided to stick with my initial position.
Oga, I don’t know where the key is. I left the key in the car before I got out.
I felt the cold rush of water dripping on my face.
It hurt. Everything everywhere was hurting. I tried hard to open my eyes and I could only manage to open one. My vision was blurry but I could make out two towering figures standing on either side of me. Just then, I felt the cold harsh pain of my bare back on concrete. I tried to move again but I couldn’t. The cold water began poring on my face again…
I heard laughter in the background even as my vision finally stabilized. I looked up to see two men standing beside me, one on each side. The one on my left side was remarkably dark. He was about five feet six inches tall and very dark. His brown teeth, which glared down at me from his grin were the brightest things on him. And he was stark naked. His member standing erect pointed at the man on my right side who was almost like a complete opposite of the first man. Tall, light-skinned but also not fully closed. He had on a pair or trousers made out of guinea material. The waist rope was long and untied, dangling just above me. I noticed a sachet of pure water in the hands of the taller man.
He squeezed the pure water sachet again, more water on my face. I still couldn’t open my right eye. I tried to get up again and this time, I was able to turn my body sideways. Excruciating spasms of pain ran through my body even as I tried to take in the pain.
Omo ghetto …. ounje ti set…
Sere, abo ri nkan. B’olorun oba ma se ‘n pese fun awon ti e niyen o.. jeje la kuku jo sibi, tati ro pe, a ma gbe gbogbo wahala yen wo new year
(Sere, can’t you see, we only just sat here peacefully thinking we’ll take all our troubles into the new year, see how God provides for his own)
Ghetto, bawo lose ma ro be. Wo freeeeesh fish ti Olorun pese fun wa… ko nipe jina
(Ghetto, how will you think like that. Look at the fresh fish God has provided for us. It’s almost ready to eat)
Minutes later, I felt hands pulling me up. It was then I looked down and realized I was only wearing my boxers. I couldn’t make out where I was but it was poorly lit and hollow with a strong smell of something like urine. With my single eye, I looked at the walls and saw several inscriptions…
Ajala waz ere ’07………
Fashola, obo tinubu……
To God be tha glory……
There was one section that had so many writings, it almost looked like a mural. The thoughts began to come back, the policemen, the checkpoint, my car, the money. I managed to open my right eye then and it was then I saw the metal bars. We were in what looked like the courtyard of a cell. There were doors all around that led to this open space. Two gutters ran across the yard stinking seriously. I turned my attention back to the hands that were moving me. They belonged to the tall light man. The other man lingered behind, still beaming heavily.
I was in so much pain, I just couldn’t move any more and even my Samaritan noticed and proceeded to heave me onto his shoulder. As he walked towards one of the seemingly dark rooms, I heard a voice call out:
Mathew kilode… kilode now.
Sere’s voice was a huge contrast to his figure. If anything at all, he sounded like a mouse and somewhere in my thoughts, I managed a laugh.
Mathew, we don warn you make you no dey chook your mouth for our business oh, the other man said. His voice sounded like that of a veteran Agbero.
I heard locks being opened and as Sere dropped me, I realized Mathew was a police officer and he had come into the courtyard with two other officers.
Eyin boys, ema binu, eleyi ti lo. Oga ni kin gbe wa. (Boys, don’t be angry, this one has gone. Oga said I should bring him)
Amidst shouts and murmurs of displeasure, the other two policemen dragged me out of the coutyard with Mathew trailing behind.
We moved into an office area. It was also poorly lit, the walls looked like they had been painted by the inmates – green glossy paint over unevenly plastered walls. On the wall were portraits of the president, state governor and current I.G of police. I didn’t recognize his voice immediately but it didn’t take long for me to. Standing by the counter was Senior. He was having a word with one other police officer was looked well dressed in the blue and black ceremonial uniform. They shook hands and then Mathew dropped some clothes in front of me. They were mine. I felt some strength return to me out of nowhere. Maybe it was the thought of almost being free. I managed to wear my clothes with help from Mathew and a few minutes later, I, Senior and Mathew were in a car with one other police man.
It was bright outside, I checked Senior’s watch and noticed it was almost 1pm. I had been knocked out and in this mess for over 6 hours I thought to myself. Incredible. The policeman drove us to the checkpoint I had stopped at earlier. I and Senior got off and then he drove off.
Where is the key, Senior asked?
I hobbled to the car, opened the door and stretched my hand to the side of the drivers seat. I felt the key almost immediately. I pulled it out and Senior came to me and took it.
Go and sit.
I went round to the passenger’s side in front and got into the car. Without a word, Senior started the engine and began to drive. I wanted to ask where we were heading, how he knew where I was and a lot of questions but I was too weak to talk. My eyes fluttered and then shut again. I woke up to sounds of my name.
It was Senior – how did he know my name? How… I was drowsy. I looked round and noticed we were in front of my hostel. How did he……… I couldn’t think.
I’ll drop the car off at Princess’ house. You can get the key from her help.
I got out of the car and Senior zoomed off. I dragged myself into my room and all I wanted to do was take something for the ragging pain in my head. I got into my room and as I shut the door, I caught a reflection of my face in the mirror behind it. WOW. I noticed a huge black patch on the right side of my face. That explained the pain. I took off my clothes then and looked round my body for other cuts or bruises, I didn’t see any. I needed rest. I looked through my locker looking for a painkiller. I noticed my watch then and I saw it read the day as TUE instead of MON… I was hallucinating. I needed sleep. I found some panadol extra, got pure water, took it and somehow found my way to the bed.
I woke up the next morning to sounds coming from my stomach – hunger. I managed to get out of bed. The pain had subsided in some parts of my body and I could open both of my eyes even though it still hurt a lot. I had barely began wondering where to start my haunt for food when I saw a nylon bag right beside my bed. It was from an eatery. I opened it and found a pack of food, fruits, a phone and some drugs. The sane part of me would have questioned this but I was too hungry to think. I assumed Senior had come back to drop it and so I began eating the food. I finished it all in a matter of minutes and proceeded to take the drugs in the bag.
I knew I had to get out of my room and move around if I wanted to heal quickly enough. I managed to fetch a bucket of water. The hostel was almost completely empty. Few days to Christmas, everyone had left school except some serious efikos. I brought my bucket to the room and heated it with Dares boiling ring. I then went and took my bath. I returned to the room feeling much better. I tried to move around and though I felt pain, I was able to.
I got dressed then and it wasn’t until I wore my clothes that I thought about the phone. I picked it up realized my old sim card was placed in it. I had all my numbers stored in it and I had a couple of messages from Fadeke. She was just checking up on me and wondering what I had been up to except reading. I had a missed call from Uncle Mufu and that was it. I had too many questions on my mind but even thinking hurt at that point. I thought about Uncle Mufu and how I had promised to spend time with him and his family during the break. I decided to go there. Uncle Mufus house wasn’t far. He lived in Abule Oja even though he had several other houses in highbrow areas of Lagos. I walked out of my room after checking to make sure I had a decent enough lie to cover for the ring around my eye. I got out of school and bought shades for my eyes before stopping a bike. I got to Uncle Mufus house in minutes and met him outside getting ready to leave.
Ahh… Azeez… Ibo lo ma n so phone e si now … mo de call call call
(where do you always throw your phone. I’ve been calling you)
E ma binu Sir, mo ni accident die ni
(Don’t be angry Sir, I had a little accident)
I took off my shades and showed him my eye… He moved closer and tilted my face with his hand. He gave me a look that said “accident indeed” and then he said…
Pele, sha ma rora (Sorry, just take it easy)
Ese sir (Thank you Sir).
Oya wole sinu motor, mo fe ka jo de ibi kan
(get into the car, I want you to come somewhere with me)
I was surprised. He acted as if he was expecting me. I had no choice, I got into the passenger side in front and thought about offering to drive but I knew I was not exactly in the right condition. That aside, Uncle Mufu hardly allowed any other person drive him. I hope we weren’t going far because I didn’t even know what to say to my uncle. Luckily, the journey was short. We drove into LUTH a few minutes after and I imagined he was stopping by to visit a friend.
Uncle Mufu said little, he just asked about school and that was it. We went into the hospital and after talking to a few people, he came back to get me from where I sat. A nurse walked ahead of us and we followed. I wondered what we had come to do, who we had come to see and my mind was still wondering when the nurse opened the door to one of the admission rooms and there she was – Mama.
Mama, I almost shouted.
I looked at Uncle Mufu and then the nurse and back to Mama. Was she ok? What was she doing here? How did she get here? Why?
Easy. Easy. Don’t wake her oh. Don’t worry, everything is well. Iyabo is better treated here. I know you need her close so I moved her.
I couldn’t explain how happy I was. I was ecstatic. This was indeed a Christmas miracle. I held onto Uncle Mufus hands and thanked him profusely.
No no no… no need to thank me, he said as he held my shoulder. Azeez, you know you are like son to me. I want you to be happy all the time.
I didn’t know what to say or how to respond to him, I looked at Mama then and out of nowhere, a smile appeared on her face.