I opened my eyes when I heard the thud of my body hitting the hard ground. I had to stifle a loud moan as the pain shot through my back. I had decided landing on my feet was a bad idea since if I couldn’t run I would still get killed. I tried to get up and winced at the pain. I had definitely dislocated something. I looked up and the distance didn’t look as far as it seemed when I was looking down. I steadied myself on my feet grinding my teeth together as jolts of pain shot through my back, left arm and left leg. I dragged myself away from the house as fast as I could silently praying I wouldn’t be caught. I must have walked for 20 minutes, it seemed longer. It had gotten dark and I was still surrounded by bushes. I saw a car parked up ahead and a man leaning on the car and my heart began to pound. Was he a good guy or an evil killer? There was no way I could avoid him seeing me unless I stopped walking and laid flat on my belly in the bush, I glanced at the soldier ants dancing haphazardly on the ground and dismissed the idea. I was injured and I was tired and I wasn’t about to spend the night in the middle of nowhere not far enough from those men. What if Samsudeen decided to tell on me or something or even worse come after me himself if he hadn’t been killed already? This man was my only hope. I prayed he wouldn’t be the death of me.
“Good evening sir, please help me…I take God beg you”
I immediately knelt down and cried out in pain as my stiff injured limb was bent out of shape. The man jumped both startled and alarmed. He could see I was in pain.
“Who are you? Why are you here? Get in, you need to see a doctor immediately”
Seeing as I struggled to get off my feet, he helped me and I looked up to heaven thankful for the help…
His name was Hussein and 24 hours later I was home with a white cast on my leg and a sling on my arm. Hussein was so helpful. He was such a gentleman. I lied to him that I was a corporate affairs manager at a private company and I had taken time off work. I know I had made a lot of promises to God about turning my life around but I couldn’t tell Hussein what I really was. He was nice and seemed straight-laced. It was nothing short of a miracle that he had gone there to inspect some property for a client and had been standing where I had found him at that precise moment. He checked in on me often and soon it became quite obvious that he shared the fondness I had for him. I knew I was taking a big risk, if Alhaji met another man at my apartment there would be blood. I considered ending things with Alhaji but he would have my neck if I tried and would probably find and torture Hussein. Many nights I would dream of Samsudeen. I wondered in my waking moments why he would want to kill me and what sort of scary shit he had gotten himself mixed up with. He was supposed to be a devout Muslim not a hoodlum. It didn’t make sense.
I was getting used to my idyllic existence with Hussein and being thoroughly spoiled when my life was thrown into yet another turmoil. I was visited by a man in a black suit. He looked like he was trouble and introduced himself as Detective Adeyemi Bello. If I wasn’t so full of secrets I would have taken the time to admire his physique and clean cut looks. I didn’t realize the Nigerian police force had any correct guys, to me they were all a bunch of riff-raffs. Guess those who handled high profile cases had to be the better looking, more learned ones. The problem however was that what he was asking me made absolutely no sense. He was telling me Alhaji was dead and that I was a suspect- was he mad? How could a big man like Alhaji be dead and he’d be asking small me? He said they had found an envelope in a car that had pictures and they couldn’t tie any one of the people in the pictures to Alhaji except me. Even though I was eager to forget the recent occurrences the thought of even being arrested as a suspect had me determined to makesure it never became a reality. Detective Bello thankfully, believed my story but despite that I was still invited to the station and asked to repeat it countless times. They suspected that Samsudeen was a member of a rogue gang probably hired by some top shot Nigerian. They also didn’t believe he was the killer they sought, not after telling them what transpired but he was still listed as a wanted man. That was his bloody business, I didn’t beg him to follow bad people. After a couple of days, the police grew bored with me and stopped pestering me seeing as I had no new info.
The only good thing that came out of it was my not being labelled a murderer, really there was nothing else good about this incidence. Hussein had left me after he had been called in for questioning. They must have really brought him up to speed about everything and I mean everything cos the dude couldn’t even look me in the eye when he mumbled something about needing space and not wanting to get mixed up in police wahala. I tried to hug him and he acted as if he had just found out I had HIV. Thankfully Alhaji did not die of the dreaded disease. Speaking of Alhaji, his death had brought me plenty prayer points. I had bumped into his wife on one occasion accompanied by his unscrupulous son, the one I met at the club. Omo see curses the woman rained on me! As far as she was concerned, I had killed her husband. Trust her son to add pepper, he had been about to greet me with that air of familiarity and perhaps ask why I never picked his calls when his mum started cursing my ancestors, he was dumbstruck and when he finally gathered his wits was sputtering and cursing and asking me over and over whether it was his inheritance I had been wasting up and down. Chei! My fear now was that Alhaji’s family would track me down and strip me of all I had. That scared me shitless. I prayed daily like I never had before.
Weeks after, the dust seemed to be settling. My fears had thankfully not become a reality. I hadn’t attended Alhaji’s burial because I didn’t want to remind his family about my existence. In my waking moments I imagined that Alhaji would have left me something in his will. He was really fond of me and despite the odds we actually were friends. I missed his quirky laugh and the way he called me yarinya even though we both knew I was one of many. I felt lonely. I had never made friends with the other Lagos big girls and had never been welcomed into their circle despite my obvious flaunting of Alhaji’s wealth. They seemed to be able to see right though me and right now I was tired of forming on the social scene anyway. Every once in a while I would think of Samsudeen wondering if he had been caught and what had become of him. He did save my life, once I even imagined how our lives would have turned out if I had given him a chance. Poor! That was for sure. But better poor than dead or in jail right? I contemplated getting a job, staying at home everyday doing nothing made my loneliness more evident. I could hear it in the empty rooms, in the kitchen, sitting beside me on the sofa, whispering and taunting. The song was always the same;
“Nobody likes you, everybody hates you, better go eat a cockroach, tear off the head and eat the yamayama cos that’s all you are good for…”
Once I could have sworn I saw a cockroach run past at precisely that moment. The song Mr Loneliness was singing was one I had heard once or twice as a child but it had been mixed with Yoruba verses then, and now definitely remixed by my mind. I needed friends, I needed a man, I needed change. I was on a mission! If I continued like this I would either lose my mind and commit suicide or die a lonely spinster or something. Every night for the past 3 weeks I had considered going out and experiencing Lagos night life like old times but ask any one who has ever been kidnapped, outside the confines of your home, the world takes on a new foreboding with imagined danger lurking on every corner. Loneliness eventually drove me out of my house. I was a Lagos big girl after all, we were built to fight! I had worked my way up from the bottom. Sleeping with bus drivers and artisans after I ran away from Charles’ house to sleeping with bigger boys and men I met gatecrashing carefully selected owambes. Alhaji had been by far the most generous which was why I had agreed to be his special babe but now I needed to get my A-game back. I had been given a chance at a new life. I was rich well not fabulously wealthy but at least I had managed to enter upper class status and I had 2 cars and a house and money in the bank. It was time to get myself a life and maybe make a name for myself. It was time to think smart, act right and make mama proud. Not many women had the kind of opportunity I had to set things right. I needed a new identity one that would be so far removed from my past. I needed-
I was broken out of my reverie by an urgent knock on my door. I froze. Could it be the police or that handsome detective with more questions? Could it be Alhaji’s family here to take what was legally theirs or Hussein returning to grovel and beseech me to marry him? The knocking continued with increased fervor. The television was on and quite loud so I couldn’t pretend like I wasn’t home. My heart was pounding as I walked towards the door. As I unlocked the door fearing the worst, I looked into the eyes of my late night visitor and screamed….
………………To be continued……….