“Eh!” Hannah exclaimed “… thank God o, I hope you’re not hurt anywhere?”
“Not at all my dear, you should be thanking God that I’m alive (pause) hmmm, I’ve never seen the type of guns I saw today in my entire life, hmmm, if not that God had planned that I’ll still be alive now, who knows the story we’d have been telling now, wo (see) let’s just thank God.” Tomiwa replied. Hannah’s heart was full of so much gratitude for her husband’s safety that she started dancing, it couldn’t have been anyone else but God.
“Oluwa oshey o, Emi mimo modupe o, meta lokan mo yin o o (God thank you o, Holy Spirit I’m grateful, I glorify the trinity) thank you Jesus.” She praised God on her knees for another three minutes while Tomiwa watched.
“My husband, it is well, I was worried o, so worried that I even called mummy to ask if you were with her but she…”
“Ahahn! Ah! Hannah, you shouldn’t have now, you know she’ll be worried and you also know how panicky she can get, let me call her now.” He said then switched on his phone. After speaking to his mother for about six minutes, he ended the call and told Hannah to get his bath water ready. He was mentally drained, he needed to clear his head to enable him think straight, so he decided to stay at home, having no other option of recovery, while Hannah went about her business.
“Mummy, my maths teacher said she’ll flog me if I don’t come with my textbook to the next class.”
“Ye-ji-de ahahn! Are you the only one in the class? I know your teacher didn’t mention your name.”
“Ehn but mummy, that doesn’t mean I should be among the seventy out of ninety students that don’t have the textbook na.”
“Motigbo (I’ve heard) how much is it?”
“One thousand two hundred.”
“Okay ma, remind me before you go to school tomorrow.”
“Thank you ma.” Yejide said and skated off to a nearby stall where her friends’ mother sold ‘okirika’ clothes, leaving her mother and sleeping brother. Hannah sighed, Tomiwa had become a shadow of himself, his relationship with her and the family in general had taken a down turn, he still bought gifts for them and gave them money whenever they needed it but it ended there, he barely smiled and was never in the right frame of mind for anything. She’d informed her pastor’s wife about the situation and she’d only encouraged prayer; Tomiwa had even stopped attending Sunday service like before, recently, she’d found out that he had a bank account with one hundred and twenty five thousand naira in it, she was yet to confront him though because she just hadn’t found the right time.
Minutes turned into hours and it was time to go home, Hannah packed up for the day and left the market with her children, she’d bought fish, meat and some vegetables for the family’s dinner, Tomiwa barely had appetite for food, she was worried of the sudden change in his behaviour, it had hit her hard, without warning. She no longer talked back at him the way she wanted because he was more aggressive these days and so she’d calmed her temperament too, she was sure the kids were happy about her change. She heaved a deep, sad sigh as she unlocked the door, the sight that met her made her scream.
Tomiwa lay on the floor covered in his own blood, he looked dead, Yejide and Korede screamed too, at the sight of their father as Hannah threw down everything in her hands and rushed to her husbands’ side.
“Tomiwa! Tomiwa!! Tomiwa!!! Dide, laju e (stand up, open your eyes), please, Tomiwa wake up, say something…” she pleaded shaking the almost lifeless body vigorously in between sobs, sniffs and free flowing tears; Yejide was crying by her side too, that seemed like the most reasonable thing to do but Korede thought otherwise, he rushed forward and felt his father’s inner wrist for a pulse then checked his beat, it was very slow but he still had a pulse; he ran out of the room to Mr Badejo’s house (he lived with his family in the next house) teary-eyed.
“Good afternoon sir, please…” he said and broke down in tears.
“Korede, talk to me, what’s the matter? Why are you crying?” the alarmed Badejo asked.
“My, m-my daddy, blood, plenty blood, pl-ple-p-please come…” he stuttered but Badejo immediately rushed out of the house to see what was happening then came back to get his car keys before going back to help Hannah carry Tomiwa into back seat of the car then sped off to the general hospital with Hannah desperately holding unto her husband, the other tenants in the house had come out by now and were full of sympathy for the family but Korede wasn’t ready for that so he half dragged his sister back to the room and locked the door. He got to work immediately and started cleaning the blood stains while Yejide sat in a corner and cried.
FIFTEEN HOURS LATER.
His head was aching, more like a competition of the best yam ‘pounder’ was taking place right in the centre of his skull, few inches away from his brain, Tomiwa tried to sit up but her strong hand gently pushed him back. ‘Who is this one’ he thought and ‘why can’t I see?” he asked himself then touched a finger to his eyes, something was covering them, much as he tried, he couldn’t take whatever it was off. He heard voices speaking in low tones followed by a sniff, who are they? Where am I? He thought to himself. He tried to sit up again, glad that there was no restriction this time but his body ached so bad that he groaned deeply from the pain and effort then he heard his name, ‘Tomiwa!’ he’d heard Hannah scream, ‘Am I in danger?’ he asked himself.
“Doctor, what happened?” he heard Hannah ask again, why did she sound scared, he tried to speak but his voice failed him then another question popped in his brain; DOCTOR! ‘Doctor ke! Doctor bawo!! Olorun ma je ki emi rogun doctor laye mi (May God never allow me visit a doctor)’ he said to himself then he heard a tiny voice speak, a sing-song female voice.
“Madam your husband will be okay, he just needs to rest for a few more hours…”
“Few more hours again, doctor yii (this doctor) that’s what you said when we first came o and now, more than ten hours later, he still needs to rest ehn, okay o.” ‘This doctor must be a patient woman o but I’m very sure Hannah has not displayed for her yet’ Tomiwa thought to himself.
“Madam, please be patient (pause) oh good, the nurse is here with his medication, this is the last dose.” The doctor concluded, seconds passed then Tomiwa felt a needle pierce his forearm and gradually, as the liquid flowed through his veins, the pain he felt eased until there was no more pain, just peace, don’t get scared, he’s not dead yet, he just fell into a deep sleep so he can properly recover.
Hannah sat dozing in the waiting room, she was drained, both physically and mentally, she’d been in the hospital all night and all day and now, twenty-six hours after Tomiwa was rushed here, she could only boast of three hours of sleep, not all at once but in bits and pieces. She hadn’t slept not because she wasn’t tired but her worrying mind just wouldn’t let her be. Her phone rang, the caller ID displayed ‘mummy’, that was Tomiwa’s mother calling, Hannah was afraid to answer the call, ‘what does she want, abi somebody has gone to do amebo for her ni’ she thought to herself and decided it was best for her to answer the call and find out for herself.
“Mummy, e kale ma.” (Mummy, good evening ma)
“Aya mi, kale bawo ni o?” (My wife, good evening, how are you)
“Daada ni ma.” (very well ma)
“O kare. Ehn, Tomiwa nko.” (Very good. Ehn what of Tomiwa)
“He’s fine ma.” Hannah replied and iya Tomiwa sighed deeply.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes ma, what’s the matter?” she said trying to mask her emotions.
“Nothing but I’ve just been thinking of him lately.” She said and Hannah laughed.
“Mummy, mummy, I know you’re fond of your only child, Tomiwa is fine.”
“Okay, if you say so. Is he there? Let me speak with him.”
“No o, em, he’s not back yet, maybe he’s in traffic, and his phone is off gan, I’ll tell him to call you when he gets back.”
“Oshey omo mi (thank you my child) my regards to the children abi are they there, let me talk to them.”
“Em, no, I, the thing is that me, I’m not at home, I rushed out to buy salt while Yejide is checking the food on fire.” Iya Tomiwa sighed deeply.
“Okay then, give them my blessings.”
“Thank you so much mummy, God bless you.”
“Amen, please remind Tomiwa to call me o.”
“Yes ma, o dabo (bye)”
“Ehn o.” Iya Tomiwa said finally and ended the call.
Hannah knew mummy would call back if she didn’t hear from Tomiwa soon so she decided to switch off her phone, she’d done enough lying for one night. She stared at the basket of food her children had brought earlier and smiled, they’d persuaded her to eat a few spoons before they left and she’d not bothered to touch it since then, she had no appetite for food, how could she eat when her husband was lying unconscious on a hospital bed. She stood and paced up and down the room, the doctor had said she could go in to see Tomiwa when it was twelve AM.
“Mrs Ogungbe?” she heard a male voice ask and turned immediately to see an older doctor in white overalls with a stethoscope hung across his neck.
“Okay, doctor Nike Oriowo is done with her shift and has handed over your husband’s file to me.”
“I’m doctor Philip Enang.” He said and stretched his arm for a handshake. His grip was firm and professional.
“Thank you doctor, please when is it likely that my husband will be discharged?”
“I can’t say precisely but from doctor Nike’s comments, I see he’s responding well to treatment.”
“Okay sir but please, em, when will the bandages on his head be removed?”
“Oh, on doctor Nike’s instruction, they will be removed first thing in the morning.”
“Em, okay sir.”
“It is my duty ma’am, will that be all for now?” Hannah noticed that the doctor was in a hurry but was also trying his best to be polite.
“Em, I’m sorry if I’m delaying sir, when can I go and see him?”
“Oh, very soon, presently, he’s sleeping, his next observation is in thirty minutes, I’ll have a nurse let you know when it’s okay to go in.”
“Okay thank you sir.”
“It is my duty ma’am, my office is the third from doctor Nike’s, feel free to let me know if you need anything.” He said and left when Hannah nodded.
Hannah’s mind was askance; she’d racked her brain all day but was still at a loss of what could have happened, she had too little information to decipher anything. She knew Tomiwa too much to believe he’d gotten in a fight with someone, he was never a fan of physical combat even if he was pushed, he was too calm for that. She knew something was fishy but couldn’t put a lid to it, she needed answers and fast too.
“Baba, this is rubbish, you should have let me handle it.”
“What do you want me to do, the deed has been done.”
“I know but it could have been avoided, mark my words, I’ll personally deal with Shanawole.” Shadow said angrily.
“We have to be careful, this guy has proven to be a cat with nine lives, if we’re not careful, the police might be on our tail sooner than we expect.” Scorpion chipped in.
“Will you shut your mouth?” Shadow thundered “All thanks to you and that idiot, we all have to look over our shoulders while we walk in the street.” He added now towering over Scorpion.
“Shadow…” Babanla called “… shouting won’t solve anything so please sit.”
“Baba, you’re the cause of all this for trusting such inexperienced fools over me.” The still angry Shadow fired. Scorpion looked away, he was bigger and more hefty in size than Shadow but he knew Shadow had the power to kill him right there and then and nobody would question him. He couldn’t say a word, he knew he’d messed up and had put the gang at risk, he shouldn’t have left Tomiwa to Shanawole knowing fully well that he had a soft spot for him, he should have handled the job himself now he was in trouble with the boss.
“Baba, I accept my fault for this gbege (problem) but please give me one more chance and I’ll clean this up, I promise.” Scorpion pleaded.
“Scorpion, I swear to God, if you say one more word there, I’ll squeeze that useless life out of your worthless body with my bare hands.” Shadow shouted.
“It’s okay boys…” Babanla chided “…Scorpion, you have disappointed me and proven yourself unworthy of jobs like this, there will be no opportunity to redeem yourself on this matter because this is the second time you’ve failed so Shadow will take it up from here and that is final.” He concluded.
“Scorpion, you and Shanawole must see me this evening if you know you don’t want to kiss the earth.” Shadow said.
“Y-y-y-yes-ye-yes-yessir.” Scorpion stammered and Shadow stormed out of the house. Scorpion pleade with Babanla for a while before he took his leave but Baba had no say in the matter, Shadow’s decision was final so Scorpion prepared his mind for the worst but was grateful that his life would be spared.
Back in the hospital, Tomiwa was awake, the bandages on his head had been taken off, he could see better; the doctor had said he was lucky because the knife cut had miraculously missed his optic nerve, Hannah was full of joy but was still sad that her husband hadn’t told her the full details of his calamity.
Tomiwa sat quietly on the hospital bed, watching Hannah pack his things into a bag. He was afraid, the worst was not over, he knew his life, worse still, his family was in danger, he was thinking of where to run to or at least where to hide his family. he remembered the blow he’d received from Scorpion that fateful day he’d been bold enough to tell him he was longer interested in being their chauffer, the blow had sent him reeling backwards then straight to the ground then a fierce kick to his stomach followed. He’d begged but his pleas had fallen on deaf ears. He didn’t know as much as they thought he knew but he was certain that they were drug dealers and political thugs, he knew their boss was wanted by the drug agency and that the secret service was on them for some political crimes, but that was not his business, he just wanted out, he wondered why they wouldn’t leave him alone. Three days after he’d first indicated that he wanted to leave, Shanawole called and he’d agreed to meet him out of fear, he’d promised that he didn’t know much and that he’d never tell a soul the little he knew but Shanawole would have none of that, he’d turned his back and left him at the mercy of three other guys. He was battered, he face was bloodied, his clothes were thorn and blood stained, he’d even lost a tooth but the torture wasn’t over yet, the blood thirsty hounds that had been unleashed on him were not satisfied yet; they carried him back to his house in his semi-conscious state and had left a scar on the right side of his face with a sharp pocket knife, the pain had been excruciating but he’d mustered enough strength not to shout, well, he’d been gagged during the process, he’d watched his blood drip from the knife to the floor before they’d wiped it clean on his already bloodied shirt. The gag was removed and his consciousness was slipping away, the gang left and locked the door behind them, most likely, they’d kept the key with them. He was now afraid that his whole family was in trouble because of his foolishness.
…to be continued