I felt a sense of foreboding as soon as I stepped out of the house to buy bread that morning, even before I met the pandemonium on the street.
I asked one of the passersby the cause of the chaos and was told that a young man had just committed suicide at Mama Emeka’s shop.
I didn’t want to go, but a disembodied voice kept prompting me to go and see things for myself.
It was a Saturday and so I had all the time in the world to go and have a glimpse of the young man who had abbreviated his life for reasons best known to him.
I walked down the street and snaked through the crowd that had formed around the corpse, and as expected in this technological age, I notice that some people were using their phones to snap the helpless dead body which lay in a distorted position with the whitish foam he had spewed from his mouth.
I finally got to catch a glimpse of him and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. He was dressed the same he was barely 24 hours ago.
I felt my world tilt and my legs felt like rubber as I looked for a place to sit down; the whole thing had hit me square in the chest and I was finding it hard to breathe.
If only I knew he was going to take his own life…
It was only yesterday that I sat down at the park with a copy of The Famished Road by Ben Okri. I was so engrossed in the book that I didn’t notice when he sat beside me.
There were few people at the park because it was a Friday – a weekday. The park would have been filled with fun-seekers if it were a Saturday or Sunday.
I would have been at work, too, but I was on leave and decided to go to the amusement park – a serene environment- to savour the pages of my novel.
I perceived his noisome smell before I noticed his presence – He clearly did not have a bath for days.
I instantly noticed that he was jumpy and he kept casting furtive glances as if he was looking out for something.
I didn’t appreciate the fact that he interrupted my reading and so I didn’t bother to hide my disdain when I looked up at him.
Then he said something that made me froze and that was all I could do.
“He won’t let me rest. I shouldn’t have killed him. The money got me into all this mess”
I thought my ears were playing pranks on me and what I wanted to do was to bolt out of the park before I become the next victim.
As if he read my mind, he gently placed his hand on my laps, his way of reassuring me that he wasn’t dangerous.
I looked at him closely – he should be in his late 20s or early 30s. I could tell that he was handsome even with the aviator shades and the face mask he had on. He looked 6-inch-plus tall and was well built with a body to show that he had spent a lot of time in the gym or had been lifting something heavy.
He didn’t ask for my name neither did he offer to tell me his name of which wasn’t a problem to me.
It was obvious that he needed to talk to someone; preferably a stranger and I happened to be at the park at the moment.
I didn’t know whether to thank or be angry with the custodians of fate for letting me be there at that time.
He then launched into a spooky tale that made me almost pass out right there on the park bench.
“He was innocent and wasn’t supposed to be killed. I should have spared him. I shouldn’t have even accepted to do the job.”
I shot him a bewildered look and was too stunned to say a word as my tongue was glued to my mouth and all I could think of was the fact that I was sitting beside a killer.
Then he reeled out the story of how he was in his final year in the university and needed money badly to finance his school project.
His life had been a difficult one with a jobless widowed mother and four younger siblings. He had to do menial jobs just to pay his school fees.
He has always had this intimating structure that a lot of people thought he was a cultist, even in school.
He was on his own, broke as usual, and was planning on the next menial job to do so that he could get the money to finish his final year project when a guy approached him one evening on his way to the class to read for the night.
The guy told him about a very rich man that had a job for him – a very easy one- that would earn him a whopping 3 million Naira! It sounded like a dream to him, the kind of dream he didn’t just want to wake up from.
He had never owned even a hundred thousand Naira, and now, he only needed to do a job to join the millionaires’ league. He felt like he had been to heaven and back.
They arranged for the guy to pick him up the next day. He felt something was not right when he was told they would leave for the man’s house at 2 A.M, but the promise of the money made him forget how eerie the whole thing sounded.
He was blindfolded and taken to the man’s place, he didn’t know the route they took, but he knew that the drive took nothing less than two hours.
He opened his eyes to behold his latest employer sitting in a beautiful throne-like chair in an opulent sitting room when the blindfold was finally taken off.
He thought he had seen the face before, it then struck him instantly that it Mr. Yakub Maroon, a renowned wealthy man in the state.
Of course, he had seen Mr. Maroon on TV several times and knew that he was a philanthropist and a man who was loved by many.
Mr. Maroon showed him a picture of a beautiful woman and gave him the address of the woman. He was to find his way into her premises, hide and wait for her to return home in the evening and then he kills her quietly and leaves.
He told me of how he asked Mr. Maroon why he wanted the woman dead, and Mr. Maroon barked at him to stay on his lane. His job was to eliminate her and get paid, nothing else. The little he knew, the better for him because knowing too much might endanger his own life, too.
He was blindfolded and taken back to his humble abode where he was left to plan and execute his task meticulously.
He had watched the woman’s movement for a week and knew her schedule. He then went to her house one evening and told the lanky gateman that he was a plumber who madam had sent to check the plumbing before she returned in thirty minutes.
He had planned on how he was going to kill her silently – not with a gun – and then walk away undetected. But several minutes into his waiting, he heard the gateman alerting the police that there was a suspicious-looking man in the house after confirming from the madam that she wasn’t expecting any plumber.
He quickly stabbed the gateman, left him in the pool of his blood, and ran away before the police got there.
It’s been several days since the incident and he hasn’t been able to eat nor sleep. He kept hearing “Why did you kill me?” And then when he tried to sleep, he saw the gateman with the same knife he stabbed him with trying to kill him, too. He told me how he was fast losing his mind and sees the face of the security guy on every face.
I sat down there unable to move and before I could say a word, his face changes as if he had seen a ghost and he fled the scene quickly looking over his shoulders while he kept running.
Then in what seemed like a string of fortuitous events, he had ended up in my neighborhood. I heard onlookers saying he deceived Mama Emeke into giving him a bottle of sniper (an insecticide) which he gulped down before anyone could stop him.
He didn’t even live to spend the money, nor even complete his school project like he would have wanted, I thought to myself as I made my way home.
I even didn’t know if he was even paid at all.
Roselyn Sho – Olajide works with an Audit Firm in Jos, Plateau State. She loves reading and writing and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org