Good weekend I’m sure?
The second installment in the Single Story series is finally here (took me long enough, I know!). If you don’t know about the series, read the intro hereThe Single Story (Intro) and the first installment here The Single Story: My Name Is Asad
Also, follow my articles in Daily Times Nigeria here: Dania on Daily Times.
Now to the story.
Friday, 29th July, 2011.
Chinelo was really irritated. She really didn’t understand why she had to be traveling by road with one fussing baby, an attention seeking 3year old and an errant 6year old in tow. Yes, Millicent the help was with her, but her comfortable oil company job afforded her many luxuries, one of which included being able to afford air travels conveniently. But no. Ebube, her aerophobic husband, would have none of it. Especially when she was travelling with “his” children. Since he got transferred to Lagos, they fought about this whenever she had to make the trip down from Port Harcourt. Usually he would be the one to visit but when she had to make work trips, she would fly and just tell him that the company booked the flight so there was nothing she could do about it. This time though, they were all going to London on vacation and so she and the children had to get to Lagos.
As she struggled to get the children on the luxury bus, she wondered if maybe she had given in too easily. Maybe if she had stuck to her guns he would have backed down and allowed them come by air. But she’d been very tired the night they has argued about it and hadn’t had the energy to really fight him. As a result she was now about to embark on an eight hour long trip with the children. Surely this wasn’t fair.
Sexy was enraged. Shey dey don mad ni? Abi dem chop winch? He took another swig from his fourth bottle of Alombo that day and continued idly picking the tiny warts on his face.
Ah I go show them! Shey na African child and Akenfa dey run dia mouth anyhow abi? Imagine, calling a whole me, Sexy d general, woman? Dem never sabi who den dey follow. Chai, tins don change sha. If nah d time wey Ovoko be general, who born dem? Dem no fit na.
He rolled up another Claro and lit, taking puffs furiously, as if the joint was the cause of his vexation.
E mean say dem no fear me again be dat. I gats do somtin, show them say tif no be tif. If not dey go just grow liver one day com kpai me.
He took a long drawn out puff and threw what was left of the joint to the ground. With one last swig from his bottle, he stood up and barked in an authoritative voice; “Bombay! Warere! Gada d odas, we dey go out this night.”
Chinelo just couldn’t catch a break. If it wasn’t Moses trying to run about the entire bus then it was Amara pointing at something mundane outside the window and asking for its meaning. Just when she’d finally gotten them to sleep and was about to catch a few winks of her own, Kelechi woke up and started screaming, wanting to be fed. She really hated Ebube right now.
E gats be big, Sexy thought to himself as he watched the road from his vantage point just beyond the light bush by its side. E gats be big so dem go begin fear me again. He was momentarily distracted by a soldier ant crawling on his leg. “I be sojah, you too be sojah but sojah pass sojah”, he said out loud, as he squashed the ant with his large palm. He returned his focus back to the road just in time to see the luxury bus in the distance trying to overtake the speeding trailer. The scene reminded him of something he had heard last year. He came out of the bushes, jumped on his Okada and sped off in the direction of the others. He had an idea.
Oh come on! Can I really not catch a break? She had just begun to really get into the sleep and now somebody was causing a ruckus. She opened her eyes grudgingly to see what was… Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesu…
“Come out! Come out now or I blow your head off!” Lie dan dia! Lie dan! If you move, I kill you! Eyss you der, face the ground my fren!”
Sexy stood in the background and allowed the five others to work. They were in no hurry; he had called the commissioner earlier and informed him that they would be operating the road that night. Other road users must have heard what was happening and turned back. His gaze shifted to the bullet riddled body of the trailer driver on the floor a few feet from where his trailer stood blocking off the road. D man wowo sha.
He returned his gaze to the passengers as they filed out of the bus, fear clearly etched on their faces as they lay in a single file on the floor. These ones feared him as they should and by the end of this operation, the boys would too.
The five others quickly but thoroughly searched the passengers and the bus, taking everything valuable. They were an experienced crew and knew exactly what they were doing. When they finished, they gathered all they had collected to the side and looked at Sexy for further instructions. African Child, the most trigger happy of the lot, asked in his usual belligerent manner, “Oga, make we off them? Or make I silence that pikin at least?”
Sexy replied with a look that silenced him. Idiot. See as im blood hot. He moved towards the passengers and then walked along the straight file. When he got to woman with the crying baby, he paused for a minute. And then he continued his walk down the line.
Oh God. Oh God. Chinelo clung to Kelechi with her right hand and her rosary with her left. Moses and Amara were on either side of her. The robbers had taken everything including the N20, 000.00 cash Ebube had insisted she carried with her ‘just in case’. He had never said it to her directly but she’d heard him saying once that it was always good to carry some cash with you on road trips in case you happened on armed robbers because the robbers are less likely to kill you if you had money. Ebube. This was all his stupid fault. He could divorce her if he liked but she was never going on a road trip again. She couldn’t look up to see what was happening but she heard footsteps coming closer and wished Kelechi would stop crying already. The footsteps stopped directly in front of her and she stopped breathing. Dear God. Holy Mary mother of Jesus have mercy. Please I beg you deliver me today. The footsteps continued and she let out a deep breath. Thank you God. Thank you.
Sexy walked to the tanker that blocked the road and climbed in. They key was still in the ignition. This was it. The other incident he had heard about had been an accident. The driver of that truck had refused to stop because he was scared. Well this one wouldn’t be.
He started the engine.
The passengers began shifting uneasily on the floor.
He revved the engine.
One of the women started screaming and some of the others joined her. The other five men still had their guns pointed at them and shouted threats at them.
He started driving towards them with increasing speed. His hands were shaking on the wheel. Omo mehn one Claro no go bad right na.
Two of the passengers, men, got up and made to run but they were gunned down immediately by African Child.
Chinelo put Kelechi under her body and clutched Moses and Amara as tightly as possible to her right side, mentally willing them to enter her body. All four of them were crying uncontrollably. Surely he won’t do it. God, we cannot all die like this biko.
In a brief moment of clarity just before the tires of the trailer connected with the first body, Sexy faltered. He couldn’t get that crying baby out of his head. But his eyes shifted to the left and he saw the sardonic smile that played on African Child’s lips. You no fit. You be woman.
He pushed his leg down on the accelerator.
Chinelo’s last thought as she heard the sickening sound of crunching bones and flesh and screams was, “We should’ve flown. Damn you Ebube, we should’ve flown.”
Big Focus: Sometime last year, the entire country was shocked by the news of robbers who ran over the passengers of a bus with a truck. It was later discovered that the robbers had been robbing the passengers when a truck driver that was passing that route refused to stop out of fear. So that was an ‘accident’. A lot of noise was made about it initially but it died down eventually and to the best of my knowledge, the robbers were never caught. This year again (around July if I remember correctly) a similar case was reported but this time it was no accident. For some reason, this time, there wasn’t much noise about it and again, the perpetrators weren’t caught. Perhaps our desensitization is complete? It could easily have been anyone on that bus. Anyone.