Just then, the man spoke.
“Tomiwa, abi is that not your name? (Tomiwa nodded) I don’t need too much from you, I just need you to tell me who sent you, I understand that you’re just a mere driver and I’m sure nobody will notice that you’re gone so it will be in your best interest to cooperate with my boys so who sent you and those guys that came to my house, don’t worry, I’ll compensate you and you can even leave them and work for me, I’ll pay double of whatever they pay.” ‘wait, did he just say ‘sent me’?’ Tomiwa asked himself. This must be a practical joke or maybe they’d mistaken him for someone else, what kind of wahala is this now, he thought.
“Sir, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” That was a terrible reply Tomiwa gave and he only realised that when two slaps landed on his face in quick succession and he lost his balance but was roughly dragged up by the guy behind him.
“You no understand yet you dey carry knife waka, abi normal human being go dey keep knife for pocket ni.” The first guy said.
“Tomiwa, don’t play dumb, just help us to help you, were you not the one that drove those touts that came to attack me two months ago? Were you not the one that drove those idiots that came to molest a whole me Chief Aregbeyo? Answer me now! Maybe you have forgotten because I’m sure you went on many more missions like that.” The pot-bellied man boomed. Hot tears ran down Tomiwa’s face, this was a typical and practical definition of what the Yoruba’s call AKOBA (implication).
“Sir, I don’t know anything about that sir, I am just a keke rider, I just drive those people once in a while, I don’t even know what they do, I don’t know who they work for, I swear sir, I swear to God sir, if I knew anything, I’d have told you sir, I swear to Almighty God sir, I don’t know who sent them sir, please spare me for…” Tomiwa was saying before blow landed in the pit of his stomach mid-sentence, he bent double unable to clutch his stomach, the guy behind hi tightened his grip and held him in place for the second blow leaving no room for recovery. Tears flowed freely, the things greed had caused Tomiwa, I as the observer felt sorry for Tomiwa when I saw the attacker raise his hands for a third blow and was only grateful for the timely intervention of the fat man when he raised his hand to signal an end to that session of torture.
“Sir, please sir, I swear sir, plea…”
“Just shut up jare…” the attacker shouted. “… I tell you say this guy no go talk, I tell you now we no go fit leave am since he don see our face…” Tomiwa screamed, he remembered his pastor’s favorite phrase when it was prayer time -‘a closed mouth is a closed destiny’- so he raised is plea, even if he was going to die, at least he tried to beg his way to life.
“Please sir, I don’t know anything, I don’t know anybody, please sir, I swear I won’t talk, I can lead you to those I drive, sir you can get your information there, please sir, I swear sir, I promise sir, I will do anything you want, please spare my life…” Tomiwa pleaded amid tears and sobs.
The fat chief appeared to be thinking about what Tomiwa had just said then he stood.
“Leave him for now and come back in the evening, by then, if he still doesn’t talk, I’ll tell you what to do.” He said and left the room.
“My hand still dey scratch me to blow you.” Tomiwa’s attacker said and gave him one final blow in the stomach. He slumped to the ground and was grateful for the warm embrace of the cold concrete floor as his face touched it. This is the end- he thought to himself and closed his eyes, giving up on everything, hope was useless at this point, he close his eyes one final time and said goodbye to consciousness.
Hannah was in a frenzy, she was disoriented, her thoughts were scattered, her husband had been kidnapped while she was snoring, if only she’d been there, she would have fought them off. She’d hung up on iya Lati when she started asking too many questions, she checked the time on the wall clock, just a few minutes to seven AM but it was still too early to go to officer Suleman, strangely, her father had shown concern about her situation and she was grateful for that.
“Hannah, o ba se suuru, Olorun a wa pelu Tomiwa, se suuru omo mi, baba Agbabiaka o ti le ji bayii, ni suuru omo mi, ti iwo ba n se bayii, kilo fe ki awon omo e wa se ehn, jo ni suuru (Hannah, be patient, God will be with Tomiwa, baba Agbabiaka won’t be awake by now, be patient my child, if you’re acting this way, what do you want you children to do, please be patient.)” iya Hannah said since Hannah had been pacing up and down the living room, Hannah eyed her mother for a while then looked away, just then, Yejide and Korede walked in fully dressed in their school uniforms, they knew something was wrong because first, their mum had received a call, then second, screamed and had been restless since then.
“Maami… (My mother)” Yejide said referring to her grandmother
“… awa ti fe ma lo o, owo moto nko? (We’re about to leave, where is our transport fare?)” she asked.
“Lo wo lori bedside niyara mi (it’s on the bedside table in my room)” iya Hannah replied and Yejide disappeared then came back holding a five hundred naira note, thanked her grandmother and left for school with her brother.
“Maami, daddy (officer Suleman) would be awake by now, he’s not a late sleeper, plese let me go and talk to him.” Hannah said and her mother nodded her agreement, not that she could do otherwise since Hannah was already by the door.
Hannah walked quickly to ‘daddy’s’ hose, certain that he’d be awake and she was right, she met walking round his house as he usually did, inspecting the house in case any of his tenants had done any damage, so typical of a landlord who lived in the same compound with his tenants.
“Daddy, e kaaro sir (Good morning sir)” Hannah greeted on her knees.
“Hannah, my dear, stand up, good morning, how are you?”
“I’m not fine sir, I received a call from my neighbour informing me that two guys came to beat up my husband and they even took him away, daddy what are you boys doing, shebi they are supposed to be protecting him, how come they opened their eyes and didn’t do anything when he was attacked to the extent that he was kidnapped ehn, I am tired o, are you sure these boys are working at all abi is it because I don’t have money ehn, they…”
“HA-NNAH! Be patient, my boys are aware of everything, they even called to inform me a while ago, I reacted the same way but this is a blessing in disguise, at least this would lead them to the culprits.” Hannah clapped her hands thrice and laughed a bitter laugh.
“Ehehn, so my husband should be suffering because some useless detectives don’t know their jobs? Okay, thank you daddy, tell them to rescue my husband, I am not doing again, I’m no longer interested in their services, God will fight for us.” Hannah said and walked out of the house while officer Suleman shook his head in pity.
“Hannah sha, she’s never patient, I’m certain she’ll come back.”
“But me I believe the guy o, you know say person like am go just be like recruit wey them go dey use con find small change for am, hin go happy.”
“That one no too consine me, my hand just dey scratch to kill person.”
“Guy, nawa for you o, na so so violence you dey like.”
“See you, na the work wey we do do n aim be this, so na you gat to man up, I see as you dey look when I clear that Tomiwa guy.”
“Buh you no suppose finish am like that, you just waste the innocent guy for nothing.”
“Guy, look, a man gat to do what he gat to do, if chief come now con talk say make we kill am nko, shey you go open eye for am? So abeg no dey open eye dey strong bone for me.” He concluded and walked away. That was the conversation between the two men that had kidnapped Tomiwa.
Meanwhile, Tomiwa still lay in the room where he’d been kept, slipping in and out of consciousness with his hands still tied. He wished for death, he was tired, he just couldn’t muster enough strength to hope, he just lay, wishing death would stop cat walking and hurry to take him in his arms. At a point, he thought he was dead; everywhere had been so bright and white, he’d seen his family smiling at him with outstretched arms, well they were not the family he knew, these ones were long dead but somehow he’d recognised them. He’d taken two steps forward to meet them but was held back by a force, so strong that he wanted to look at what it was but ‘the family’ beckoned on him, they kept urging him to come forward, they looked so peaceful. Alas! His curiosity had the upper hand and he looked back just like Lot’s wife had done only, that he didn’t turn to a pillar of salt, and he saw, first, his children then Hannah and his mother looking at him but somehow they couldn’t see him. His heart was torn between the two families, he really wanted to join ‘the family’ because they seemed and looked really happy and at peace and yet he wanted to be with his wife and children. His dilemma was put on hold when the ground started shaking and the distance between him and both families increased rapidly, earthquake ke! He thought but stood rooted to a spot.
In real life, there was no earthquake, one of the kidnapperswas only trying to wake Tomiwa.
“Abi him don die true true?” the other asked with a confused look.
“I no too sure again o.”
“Abeg, no kobalise my career, shake am wella, no be him chest they move so, him go still they breathe.”
“Go carry water come abeg, I no dey ready for chief wahala.” And the other guy rushed the get the water, from the look of their faces, one could easily deduce that they were afraid.
“He don wake jare.” One of them said as Tomiwa stirred but that didn’t stop them from pouring the the bowl of cold water on Tomiwa’s head and he became fully awake. He looked round and wondered why the environment had suddenly changed, why he wasn’t dead already, he wasn’t ready for any kind of torture but he resigned to fate when he saw one of the guys produce a knife from his pocket.
…to be continued