“… Tomiwa !” Hannah shouted him back from his state of reverie to the present, he was complrtely lost in his fear and totally oblivious of his surroundings.
“What are you thinking about now?” Hannah asked gently as she perched on one side of the bed. Tomiwa smiled, if only she knew what was going through his mind.
“It is well my dear wife.” He said, failing to assure his wife that the statement was, indeed, true.
“Hmmm, Tomiwa, I am your wife o, you’ve been in this hospital for eight days now because of wounds that the doctor said were deliberately inflicted on you, yet, you say, it is well, I know I act silly sometimes but I know fear when I see or hear it. You are my husband and we’ve been together for so long so it’s only natural for me to know you like the back of my palm and that is why I know you disturbed, Tomiwa, I know you are scared of something you don’t want me to know, this is a marriage, some things are not meant to be hidden.” Tomiwa sighed deeply, he was tempted to tell her the truth but decided it was safer for her to have as little information as possible.
“Hannah, all you need to know is that I am in trouble, I mean big trouble, but I didn’t steal, I didn’t lie neither did I kill but my greed has dragged me into this, I wanted a shortcut to success and now I am facing the music (pause) see, I have two-fifty thousand in the bank, I want you and the children to move out of that house, rent a place far from here and move in with my mother.
“If I survive this with my life intact then I’ll join you, if not, teach our children not to be greedy like me, teach them to be as hardworking as you are, teach them how to be responsible, please let Korede continue his art because he’s really good at it, tell Yejide to keep up with her hardwork in school, maybe she’ll even win a university scholarship so you won’t have to worry about her education, please let…”
Hannah had had enough, her husband was evidently desperate for life but he wasn’t sure he’d get it, she wanted to help but he was shutting her out, she watched as his tears rolled, freely, down his cheeks, he was trying to man up to everything but some things were just too big to be handled alone. Hannah hugged himtight and he did the same, the couple embraced for a few minutes, communicating only with their tears.
When Hannah had cried enough, she disengaged from the embrace, she never allowed herself to be drowned in self-pity and she wouldn’t start now, she is a fighter, sometimes, she could feel down but she always bounced back. She stood and walked the length of the bed, for Tomiwa to talk about death, it meant the situation was really serious and since he wasn’t ready to talk to her, she had the perfect idea of who he could talk to.
“Tomiwa…” she began “… if you’re so afraid to talk to me, why don’t you talk to the police, Baba has some olopa (police) friends, they can handle this case for us and I promise you that all will be well.” Tomiwa jerked upright on the bed, he stared wide eyed at Hannah, she was definitely out of her mind for even thinking of the police and most likely she’d lost her mind and brain for even suggesting that, he eyed her and smiled, she loved him, she was only watching out for him so he couldn’t blame her but this was beyond the police because a good number of them are affiliated with this deadly gang, talking to the police at this juncture would only mean he was signing his death certificate. He shook his head and Hannah looked at him with confused eyes.
“Tomiwa, talk now.” She pleaded.
“Hannah, you don’t understand, this is beyond the police, my life is at stake, most likely yours, those after me have even contacted the police, what I need to do now is to lie low for some time then hopefully God will see me through, I don’t…”
“Ah, oh God, Tomiwa you’re beginning to annoy me with this talk about life and death, you don’t have to be such a man every time now, I can help, just let me, baami (my father) can help too, Tomiwa just give me a chance, please.”
“Hannah, just obey me for once now, okay, you can help in any other way but please, not the police, and nobody must know that you’re my wife well that’s if they don’t already know be…”
“They, they, they, they this, they that, who is the ‘they’, just tell me who they are, please.” At this point Tomiwa had to give in to his wife’s persistence, he knew she’d continue pestering him until he told her the truth so he summarized the whole scenario to her. At the end of his tale, Hannah was teary eyed, she placed both hands on her head, she wasn’t going to condemn her husband, she was touched at the amount of love he had for her and the family in general, this was no time to tongue lash him, the situation needed urgent attention, she couldn’t blame him for his actions, she knew her nagging, sturbbornness and bad mouth were part of the factors that had driven him to this extreme, now she knew the gravity of what could befall them, her whole lineage could be wiped out in a matter of hours, she made up her mind to talk to her mother, she was determined to save her family with or without Tomiwa’s permission.
Hannah was panicky, what if things didn’t work out as planned, what if somebody was careless and made a mistake that would blow up the whole thing, what if Tomiwa found out and got angry with her, worse still, what if he refused her help and ordered her to stop, she smacked herself mentally, she had to be optimistic, she couldn’t let her fear get the better of her at this stage. It had been two days since Tomiwa was discharged from the hospital, the children had moved in with her parents, she’d briefed her mother on the situation and had even talked to her dad’s best friend and long-time neighbour, Mr Agbabiaka popularly known as officer Suleman, a now retired police officer. He’d promised to help since he still had ‘trusted links’ (in his words) in the police force. Hannah was a bit sceptical at the beginning, she wasn’t sure if what she was doing was right or endangering her family the more, she’d even disobeyed Tomiwa when he told her to move in with her parents because she wasn’t ready to give up on him just yet, at least, marriage meant she and Tomiwa were one and the same so whatever happened to him invariably happened to her, but daddy (as she usually called officer Suleman) had advised that she obey her husband and further assured her that everything would work out fine.
“Hannah.” She heard her name and sat upright, it was daddy flanked by two younger men, one looked about her age and the other looked younger, if it wasn’t for officer Suleman’s assurance, she would have changed her mind and walked away right there and then, one look at the officers (because she was sure they are) and her countenance fell, she had next to nothing to offer them and she knew they’d jump at the next big offer if it came from the other side.
“These are my boys…” daddy said smiling, “… I trained these two and I trust them the most at the station, they are detectives Wale and Segun.” He said pointing at them respectively. After formalities, Hannah explained all she knew and put her in words; after the short meeting, ninety percent of Hannah’s fear had been dispelled, the rest they say is history.
Tomiwa continued to live like a fugitive for the succeeding two weeks after he was discharged, he left home really early before day break and only returned under the cover of darkness. One fateful evening, the unexpected happened, Tomiwa could swear he never anticipated such a move but as I said, it was a ‘FATEFUL’ evening.
He’d been alone in the room, preparing to go out when he heard a gentle knock on the door, he thought it was a neighbour but still armed himself with his new best friend, the pocket knife he’d just purchased as a self-defence tool. He hadn’t flicked the knife open because he thought he wouldn’t be needing it but he still approached the door cautiously.
“Who is there?” he asked as the knock sounded again.
“It is me.”
“Ahahn, baba Yejide, yo no know my voice again? Na me iya Lati.” Tomiwa rolled his eyes and hissed, what did she want, it would be worse if he ignored her, he was sure she wouldn’t go away and that would draw so much attention, why was she so nosey, she most likely wanted to question him on the whereabouts of his wife and children since school was still in session. He put the knife back in his pocket and unlocked the door. The blow that followed his opening the door sent him reeling backwards, it was the typed that blinded you immediately, he didn’t even have enough time to recover before he felt a hard kick in his stomach, the pain was raw and uncensored, he clutched his stomach as though to stop the pain from spreading but his hands were wrenched away and bound by a rope, then he was blindfolded and dragged out of the house; iya Lati had been by the door all the while, observing in horror but not daring to make a move as a knife was at her throat. When the ordeal was over, she was shoved aside and she scrambled to her feet immediately after they left, it was short and noiseless, if iya Lati had not been unfortunate to be outside at the time they came, nobody in the house might have noticed Tomiwa’s disappearance, well not like they’d take up any action since that had been his routine for quite a while.
“Eh, what is happening, baba Yejide is a gentle and kind man, na who come do him this kain thing? Abi they don do mistake ni?” iya Lati said to her feet as she went back to her room, her husband, being a night watchman, was not at home and she couldn’t go to anybody’s room as it was still quite early, she locked her door and windows out of fear then decided to call ‘iya Yejide’ to inform her.
“Wake up jare.” The man shouted followed by a kick and Tomiwa stirred, a hard slap landed on his face; he closed his eyes briefly from the pain but opened immediately to look at his attacker. The man was heavily built, his biceps were really intimidating but he wasn’t the only one in the room, there was a fat, pot-bellied man sitting on a wooden chair in front of him. Tomiwa looked at both faces but there was no familiar one, this weren’t Scorpion’s boys, something was terribly wrong, if Scorpion wanted to kidnap him, why didn’t he come himself instead of sending unfamiliar faces and killing him with curiosity.
“Oga Ade! You don wake?” a voice sounded from behind him, he hadn’t noticed that one before, he’d been too weak to turn his neck but now, he knew better than to look. His hands were still tied to his back but his legs were free. He was ordered to stand but realising he couldn’t balance himself, the guy behind him dragged him up, he’d lost track of time but he guessed it was day break already.
“Young ma, you either cooperate with us and live or you do strong head and die.” The first guy said. Tomiwa swallowed hard, this was the end of the line for him, it would take a miracle to save him now. He looked straight at the over-fed, pot-bellied man in an expensive lace attire, maybe he was Scorpion’s boss but he was just an insignificant driver, why would the boss bother with him? He thought.
…to be continued