THE ANGEL AND THE FUGITIVE – CHAPTER FOUR PART A
© Reginald Obetta
Rahaman University was full to the brim unusually. Many students that hasn’t been present to receive lectures for months unsurprisingly, turned out to be present, tumultuous crowd tripping to the premises. It was quite expected, owing to the fact that semester exams was around the corner. Registration of students were ongoing, as well as the end of semester assessment. Tafa’s one week absent ended that day. His family situation had made him lose some part of his school activities. His father’s health was above average, his mother had been buried two days ago, even though, he and his sister Fatima had little time for bereavement, the latter, still in shock about the turn of events. Part of Rita’s money was put into use in moving his demise mother away from the morgue. The church was yet to make a decision concerning his request and luckily , his father was still breathing. As of that point, he seemed his prayers were answered. Tranquility was restored partially to his life. He moved one or two paces faster when he noticed a queue at the notice board, students who entered the premises joined the queue. A fellow student called out his name, in a boisterous crowded vicinity, he slowed his pace and then stopped to investigate the direction of the voice. It was at the second call that he envisioned his caller. It was his course mate Ali whom he hadn’t seen for a while. Ali was one of those students who they nicknamed “other students “, a group of students, many considered unserious and nuisance. Like others, he scarcely receives lectures, unless when he deems it fit.
“Tafa, longest time man. I haven’t seen you in a long while, what’s up?
“Family issues guy. I lost my mother during the past week. So, kind of choked up. ”
“Oh, that’s so sad. Sorry for the demise. I will say RIP to her soul.”
“Thanks. Am late already. Are you coming towards my direction? I can see we are walking in contrast. ”
“I just want to pick up something from a friend at the library. Will catch up with you later in class”. He dismissed Tafa and later called his attention to check the notice board where Tafa was originally going. Tafa quickly doubled his pace with fervour. He noticed the crowd looking at him with mockery at his emergence. He wondered the reason for the spurring eyes, the unnecessary attention which made him nervous. He advanced a little, the crowd had adjusted to let him space. He now understood the unusual attention when he checked he wouldn’t partake in the upcoming semester exam, next week. He had an unpaid, outstanding fees from the previous semester, the only student not to. He buried his head in shame and walked away angrily, he couldn’t stomach the mockery and jest, the wicked laughter the crowd pulled, calling him, “Empty president”, “pauper of a Christian “, some said God himself will drop down to pay his fees and write the exams for him Himself and the rest of dehumanizing insults and at the end of each statements, they chuckled as they dispersed. To him, it was ridiculous to think that the people gathered there to despise him, even though his name wasn’t the only one on the list and unethical to publish the names that should have been called privately to withdraw instead of being disgraced publicly. That was his opinion, some students weren’t happy with his evangelism in school, the progress of the increase in the number of Christians was a pain to them, so they seized the perfect opportunity to debase him. Tafa himself had discussed with the bursar concerning payment, which was to give him more time to pay up. That was two weeks before, he opined to reach the bursar’s office to find out his reason for breaching the agreement.
The office of school bursar was in the administrative building, where Tafa stopped at the door. After knocking once, a soft voice ushered him in. The school bursar was a man in his late sixties, vivacious and handsome for his age who could still be attractive to the opposite Sex. His head flooded with grey hairs, round face and broad nose enough to shelter a toddler, a protruded belly which is a common characteristic undoubtedly of African men at that age. It’s significance denotes his wealth and position.
“Good morning Sir”
“Tafa, what brings you to my office”, peeved by his presence.
“Sir, I came in respect to the notice on… ”
“And what about it?” he cuts in.
“Sir, with all due respect, I thought we had a mutual agreement on the… ”
“That agreement has been terminated. I can’t concur to the agreement. No payment, no schooling, no exams”.
“But Sir, I promised to pay up all outstanding debt. My mother died last weekend and my father is in hospital. You have to show me mercy. ”
“Not any more Mr. We operate on the directives of the board. I have a little say in all decision making and you can’t thwart that. Please, go and get the payment ready.”
“Please Sir, I know you still have an iota of pity in you, you can help me once more. ”
“Get out of my office now or I call the security to be your escorts”.
The look of pestilence on his face drove Tafa away. Adding further embarrassment to what he had encountered earlier was what he wanted to avoid. The bursar had always been very kind to him except of course, this exception he needed the most. He couldn’t fathom why he didn’t want to help him out, the board never had a say in his decisions and why now, perhaps, he was in one of those days everything went from bad to ugly. Could it be the bursar was telling the truth? Questions kept popping in his head about the veracity of his statement. He knew something was not right. It didn’t bother him anymore that he couldn’t get help from his regular, he wouldn’t miss his last semester exam for anything and his alternative was to talk to his roommate, Rogers in as much as he despised the idea.
The school bursar hated what he did to Tafa. He gazed at the ceiling after the door was shut, abandoning the paper work he was doing. Sympathy overwhelmed him and he felt his judgement wasn’t fair but he couldn’t change what had already been done, in as much he hated to. The threats he was given to, the previous night by unknown masked men, he conceited were the members of the said popular cultists, group reverberated in his head. It happened on a Sunday, in a cozy and quiet evening where security patrol in the staff quarters was minimum in and outside the entire varsity. Kamal and Almin were completely clad in black sleeveless shirt and trousers, with a pistol, placed on their waist, tucked in. They walked stealthily to a bungalow house, the fourth house from the right hand side of the mosque, distant from the hostels. The varsity bursar was undressing himself inside the sitting room and getting prepared to rest for the night, after the long day at church where he was a worker. He heard a knock sound twice faintly, he wasn’t expecting anyone except his fellow colleague, a lecturer who was away on a visit to his brother who got injured during the recent bomb explosion.
“Yes, who are you? ”
“It’s Dr Aliyu”, came the voice of Almin.
“Oh, you are back finally. Thought you wouldn’t be back till… ” he became dazed at the sight of the masked gun men, each pointing a gun at him.
“Please, don’t kill me”, he kept retracting till he fell on his cushion.
“Please don’t harm me, I will do whatever you ask of me. ”
“Be quiet old man, you won’t be hurt, if you do what I say”.
“Yes, I will, I will”, he said scarily.
“Haha, you don’t need to be scared. Just a simple task for you to do. We know Tafa’s financial in capabilities, he is handicapped at the moment and he is at your clemency of not dropping out if school right? The bursar nodded in confirmation.
“Answer me man, yes or no? ”
“Yes, yes”, he responded in a shiver.
“Good, I want you to act on the pretext of following the directives of the board to disallow him from participating in the forthcoming exams, attending lectures and disallowed to stay within the hostel till his debt is cleared. Am I understood?
“Yes, yes, yes. Perfectly understood. ”
“Failure to comply to these instructions will attract so ugly, it’s own reverberations you wouldn’t want to witness.”
“Yes, I understand “.
“Good. One more thing, this shouldn’t be heard outside the walls of this room, not to anyone. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand “.
“Good old man. Enjoy your beautiful night”. Kamal tapped him on his shoulders and departed with his partner. Mr Lawal let out a deep sigh of relief. Soon, he noticed he was wet underneath, he hadn’t realized he had peed. The fright was overwhelming and he dashed towards his bedroom for a change.