Light, very fulgent!
Rays of light pierced my eyelids and hit my eyeballs. I tightened my brow. I heard a voice, a soft one and very faint as though the person was whispering. I gazed at the direction where the voice came. Nothing. Pitch Darkness. I cleared my throat and I tried to shout, Instead air left my lung. I gazed at the bulb again, it hung from a dirty lamp holder that was fixed to the thatch ceiling and a gecko glued to the brown thatch shook its little head as it tried to catch a spider.
The room was in darkness, save for the bed I was sleeping on that was illuminated by the small bulb. The smell of urine hung in the air and I pinched my nose, trying to suppress the urge to puke. The brown walls of the room was cracked and the sound of the crickets, like faint whistles, filled the room. Where am I ?
I closed my eyes and tried to reach for the archives of my mind, to picture how I got here, but I couldn’t remember. The bulb over my head shook as if it was pushed by an Invisible hand. The gecko fell and it landed on my lap. I cringed and tried to raise my leg, but I couldn’t. A spike of pain surged from my leg and spread through my body. I clenched my fist and gnashed my teeth. Then I saw it.
My left leg was wrapped with a bandage. It was caked with blood and the wound behind it’s tiny threads was a round hole. I let out a scream. The gecko scurried off into the darkness. I crawled on my back, trying to prop myself against the brown wall when the door opened. I fixed my gaze on the door, expecting the owner of the house. Nobody came in. Then my gaze caught something feral close to the base of the door and I felt a tight squeeze on my heart.
A cat crawled to the side of the bed and my heart lurched. I tried to scare it away, but it didn’t bulge as though it was oblivious of my presence. It crawled under my bed and dragged a sauce pan from under it. I felt a sensation on my chin, something airy was crawling towards my lip. I slapped it and it fell off. Startled by the sound, the cat mewed loudly and fell on it’s side.
“Rat”, a soft voice called from the direction of the door. The cat crawled away and disappeared behind the door. After a while it came back, this time with a tall girl who had her hair done in long corn rows. She had three tribal marks carved on the either, corners of her lips like small spears.
“You don wake ba?”, She said and bent to pick the saucepan. She poured the content of the bottle she was holding into the pan and set it down for the cat. She walked towards me and sat close on the edge of my bed.
“He dey pain you abi, Kai Sule no do this thing good”, she said and reached for my left leg. I tried to stop her, but she yanked my hand away. She pulled at the knots of the bandage and started to loose it. Spasms surged through my body and the skin around the wound seemed to be peeling as she pull the bandage.
“Please I don’t know you?” I said and glared at her. She raised her head and shot me a look that said: Stay put.
She stretched the bandage and set it on the wound and wrapped it with the ease and care of an herbalist separating the midribs of a leave. After she was done, she picked up the saucepan and pushed it under the bed.
“Rat”, She called and the rat crawled to her. She picked it up and set it on her lap. Her left hand held it and the right caressed the fur. She fixed her gaze on me, and I looked away. I squeezed my eyes and tried to picture an accident, but I couldn’t. How did I get here?
“Sule go bring stick for you ”, She said and sniffed. “ Sule!”
The cat flinched and fell from her lap. She reached for it quickly and rubbed it’s side. The door opened and a short ebony boy came in, he had wooden crutches in his hand.
“Gi me your hand”, The girl said. I reached for her outstretched hands. “Oya, put your leg for ground”
I lifted the leg slowly and set it on the ground. A vibrating sensation shot through me. The ebony boy came closer with crutches. The girl helped me to my feet and held me in place, while the boy raised my arms and had each of the crutches set under them and I leaned on it.
“Oya, waka”, She said.
“How?” I asked.
“You put am for front, waka meet am, put am for front” She said and walked out of the room, the Cat crawled after her.
“Please, where are we going” I asked.
“Go chop, go chop” He said and walked to my bed. He picked the pillow and spread a cloth on it. He turned and shook his head.
“Chop, go Chop” He said and shifted the pillow to the left.
“Where?” I asked.
“Which house?” I asked and leaned on my right crutch properly. A mosquito buzzed past my ear and landed on my neck. I shook my head, trying to shake it off, but it buzzed away .
The girl came in again , holding a polythene bag. “ Sule, she chop?”
“She nefa chop” He answered and left the bed.
“ You no want chop”, the girl asked. She dipped her right hand into the nylon and took out a phone.
“You wan talk?” She asked.
I gawked at her quizzically, tired of everything. I can’t remember anything, I asked you, you didn’t answer. Now you ask me to speak to someone I nearly know.
“You talk to Abdul?” She asked.
“Who is Abdul”, I asked.
“Our Oga”, Sule answered and led me out of the room.
The room was filled with people seating on the floor and some on chairs pushed against the walls, with plates in their hand. A tall ebony lady was spooning food into their plates. A yellow girl stood and came closer with her plate. The tall lady stared at it for a while and spat into it.
“Go sit!” She shouted. “ your pepul no pay, you wan Chop”
“Sit for chair”, Sule said and held me till I sat comfortably on the chair.
“Fatima, bring chop ” , Sule said and left the room.
Fatima dropped the ladle she was using to serve the food and walked to the table close to the only window in the room. She picked a plate and spooned food into it, set into a tray and took a bottle of water from a pack close by.
I wondered why she served my food inside a plate and a tray to go with it and others had their food in enamel plates, save the three of us on chairs. A girl seating on the chair close by, leaned forward, her gaze fixed on me.
“Aunty Beatrice, how is your leg?” She asked.
Aunty Beatrice? How did she know my name?
“Please who are you?” I asked. Fatima dropped the tray on my table and returned to the food she was serving earlier.
She squeezed her face as though she was stung by a bee. She smacked her lip and slapped her lap, perhaps to kill and insect.
“Haha, Aunty Beatrice, Stop this play. How is your leg?”
“I’m fine”, I answered and picked the spoon close to my plate. The dish was yam and fried egg. The aroma made my mouth water and despite the gaze of the good Samaritan seating close to me exploring my body, I gobbled the food.
After I finished eating, I was led back to my room. All through the night, I was thinking about the words Abdul told me when The girl with the cat brought the phone.
He told me I was abducted all alongside my church members from our Church and my people had started negotiations already. I searched my mind for the piece, the last piece of the jigsaw, but the more searched, the more I got confused and angry. Why can’t I remember anything? Who is the girl I met in the main room?
I pondered on these questions till the late hours of the night before I fell asleep.
I was jarred from my sleep by the sound of gunshots. At first, I thought the police were here to liberate us. My heart was filled with Joy and I pictured Sule walking into the black Maria, his hands in cuffs behind him.
“Who is there”, I asked.
“Fatima”, the soft voice replied.
I reached for my crutches and made for the door.
“Suliya call you”, She said and left.
I couldn’t help but wonder why these guys acted as though they were Robots, always making half and meaningless sentences as though they were programmed to say less.
This was the first time, I entered the main part of the compound. Birds were twittering from among the trees that grew close to the tall fences that had barb wires fixed on them like thorny crowns. Under one of the trees was the crowd who formed a ring, facing the tree, their backs turned to me. What happened?
When I got there, two bodies lying in the pool of their blood were on the floor. Fatima stood close to Suliya who had back against the tree. Sule had a Rifle in his hand and a another man I had never seen before the previous night, clinched a Cutlass in his left hand.
“Ehen, She don come, Your people, they wan escape. We kill them, come speak to Abdul”, She said and gave Fatima the phone she was holding.
My people? Streams of pictures flashed through my mind. A girl holding a mic, a boy playing drums. My heart lurched. The memories were forming slowly. Though I couldn’t recall who they were exactly, I knew I had something to do with them.
“Aunty Beatrice!” Someone screamed behind me. It was the girl I met at the dinner. “They have killed Rose and Dave o.” She knelt close to the bodies and tugged at their clothes as she wept.
“We were conducting the second service when they stormed the church. They opened fire on the helpless people at the last pew close to the main entrance. You dropped your mic and made for the dressing the room and I ran after you. We laid on our chest while the guns kept going off. After a while Dave and Rose joined us, their boy smeared with blood. You held the crucifix and kept on praying silently. I was too scared to pray. Then the guns ceased to fire and I thought they had left. We waited for some minutes and after a while, I tip-toed to the door to check then I heard his voice: Kai! ” She paused and sniffed. Another piece of the jigsaw fell into place. I offered her apiece of Yam, but she refused.
“You ran towards the back door trying to open it when I heard the shot and you fell against the door, hitting your head on it. I thought you were dead until I saw you in your room yesterday. I am Kehinde, Aunty Beatrice, I knew you would have a concussion from hitting your head against the door. That was why I was asking you those questions yesterday”
Tears gathered in my eyes. I tried to picture, now the memories formed quickly.
“So aside you, who is left?” I asked.
Kehinde looked away and pulled a wisp of her braid from her face.
“Just I and you” She replied and tears trickled down her chin.
“Don’t worry, don’t cry. They will release us very soon.”
“They said my parents are not responding. We called them almost twelve times yesterday”
“Ha, why are they not picking now?” I said and dropped my plate on the bed.
“I don’t know, they said if my parents don’t respond before tomorrow afternoon they would kill me,” Kehinde said and began to weep. I drew her into my embrace and comforted her in my mystery. What can l I do? How can solve this?
“Can we escape?” I asked.
Kehinde cringed and released herself from my embrace.
“Ha, Aunty Beatrice. Dave and Rose told me the same thing yesterday, today they are dead. Ha, I can do that one o. Maybe they will call us before tomorrow” Kehinde said and scratched her chin.
“What if they don’t call?”
Kehinde came to my room, a few minutes to twelve, before lunch was served. I hid her under the bed, armed with a knife, I got from the cutlery. I had noticed yesterday that Suliya and Fatima— Abdul’s sisters kept all keys with Sule before they drive away to God-knows-where every afternoon. So when we heard I heard the gate clank after it was closed, I walked to my door with my crutches. Dropped the crutch supporting my right leg on the ground and screamed.
Almost that second, Sule ran into my room. I fell forward and landed on my knees. Spasms surged through me, but I embraced the pain.
“Why you fall, “ Sule asked me.
“My leg, my leg. Help me up please” I said.
He came to back and held my shoulder and he was about to lift me to a standing position when I screamed: Now!
“Aah!” Sule screamed and fell to the ground. I fell to the ground and rolled on my side. Kehinde bent over Sule who was still gasping for breath and writhing in the pull of his blood. Kehinde sent the knife into his chest muttering under her breath: This is for Dave and Rose. She was about to stab him again when stopped her.
“Let’s find a way to release the others. Take the keys and give me the phone. We don’t have time.”
We searched his body for his phone and found a small android phone and a bunch of keys with tags: Room 1,2, and 3&9.
Kehinde took the key and ran to the room opposite my room, I switched on the phone and dialed the distress number.
“Hello, how may I help you”
I told him.
“Can you describe your location”
“I don’t have any idea of where we are. Can’t you track this phone?”
“Let me check if it has a Gps. Let me…”
About the Writer