It was 11 am in a bright Sunday morning. The power-filled blissful service had just ended in Saviour church, built with glassy surface material as well as with fine marbles, giving it a radiating appearance from afar. The white building was built on a three to four hectares measurement, up to 100 ft. tall and had a sign of a big golden carved cross at the apex. It’s architectural design was revered by onlookers and added glamour to the street on which it was erected. Each member were slightly engaged in one form of discussion or the other in groups , while some stood outside, bidding farewell to departing members. Tafa and Rita waited behind for their end of the month executive meeting which was slightly encroaching into Tafa’s time. The executive meeting usually took a lot time, several plans and suggestions were laid on how to improve the welfare of the church and members and a lot of review was carried out on how the church had progressed like most churches. Tafa got accompanied by Rita to the check point, the latter needed to remain behind for the new comers meeting while the former excused himself to go see his parents which Rita was ignorant of till he accompanied him to the check point.
“You never told me it was your parents you planned on visiting. I thought it was your home you were going. ”
“ Am sorry, I said home but didn’t demystify that it was my parents’, it has been long I have seen them you know. I think it’s the perfect time to see them, they would be less busy”
“ I think so. Nobody gets so busy on Sundays. So you are going to spend some days with them? ”
“ Yes, maybe two days. I don’t have lectures tomorrow so I can stay for a while”
“ Hmmmm, ” she heaved a sigh.
“ what’s the matter? “, he asked after noticing an oddity on her face.
“ Nothing. It’s fine I presume ”
“ Oh Rita it’s not. You are going to miss me. That’s the feeling you have got”
“ Nothing of such. Well, something like that. You know the praise night programme is huge, the preparation and all that. My hands are tied and I need you to be available to help me out. But I don’t want to be the spoiler in your own plans. ”
“ Hey, it would be fine. It’s just two days and I promise to be back in time to help out. You can have other member of the executive to help out for now”
“ Ok”, her face still unchanged. It was a matter she couldn’t have a say and never had. She had developed a chemistry with Tafa in executing projects in church or in school that she had with no one. Sometimes, she questions her feelings for him and most times resolves that he was still her normal friend with benefits only for the question to pop in her head the next time. She wouldn’t want to be the first to take the ultimate step in succumbing and declaring her romantic feelings with the obsessive fear of ending the friendship abruptly even though it manifests in her expressions continually. Tafa considered her as another sister with the rarest of quality and not romantically inclined to her as she to him.
“ Alright, I will be back tomorrow noon”
“ No, spend time with you family ”
“ It’s ok. My mind is made up. Tomorrow noon.”
“Ok then”, her face was beginning to glow a little but felt guilty at the same time about Tafa’s decision. She must have made him change his mind about spending an extra day which she imagined was selfish of her.
“ You don’t have to feel I forced you into taking that decision. ”
“ And you don’t have to feel guilty either. I have to go now, aurevoir.”
“ Aurevoir, extend my greetings to them”
“ That, I will surely do. Take care of yourself “.
He flanked down a taxi that came by five minutes after Rita had gone back to the church.
“ Pallet junction”
“Ok, before or after the eatery? “, asked the old mean looking driver.
“ After the eatery”
“Three hundred naira is price”
“ This is a Sunday now, I can’t pay you that amount. One hundred and fifty naira. ”
“Hmmmm, Mr, that place is very distant and road, untarred. I can’t take less. Another taxi will charge you more”.
After a bit of haggle, the driver succumbed and ordered Tafa to step in. He wouldn’t want to go home directly, he would, drop by the local market and get some good stuffs before embarking finally.
It took almost two hours to reach, a journey Tafa himself thought was unending prior to when they took off after the buying. It was almost four, the sun still appeared in the sky but was quite harmless unlike few hours before when the earth burned with its emission. From that time, Tafa couldn’t bear staying further in the outside even though, he was in a taxi. He wanted to get home quickly. Each time, he hurried the driver to take shorter routes and drive faster but it wasn’t entirely his fault. Each time, they are met with road blocks and security checkpoints, flooded with military personnel which further delayed their movement. Security situation in Baigari State had deteriorated and deserved rapt attention and that accounts for the heavy deployment of military personnel in the State. Tafa paid the driver as he alighted in front of a tree where motor able road terminated, Tafa would have to take another long walk to his house which was now, a touching distance. It was an underdeveloped vicinity by its look, refuse littering the street and the gutters, stagnant water not drained. A yellow painted bungalow stood in front of him, no elements of a modern house was found in it but was finely built in its own way, compared to the houses found there which were unpainted and oddly built. Tafa knocked twice before hearing the sound of footsteps coming towards the door. A young girl, still in her adolescence opened. It was his younger sister.
“Hey brother! We weren’t expecting you. Welcome home”, helping him gather his luggage.
“It isn’t wrong for a brother to visit home. I wanted to pay you all a surprise visit.”
“ I never said it was wrong brother ”
“Just joking. Where is everybody”
“They are all inside except mama. Oh, papa is here already “.
“ Good evening papa”, he greeted.
“My son, how are you? Such a long time “, asked his father. By his smile, he was a relatively young man who had known suffering and so, his mild face depicted it with wrinkles clouding it. His eyes was as red as a scarlet, probably had just woken up from his sleep and didn’t look as chirpy as he used to.
“Am fine papa. You don’t look radiant today”, observed Tafa.
“Yes, I don’t. I was taking a nap when I heard your voice. I had to get up and see you. You haven’t changed significantly since your last visit.”
“Yes, I haven’t. How can I? It’s a survival game we are all in. The suffering is unbeatably unbearable. I haven’t gotten a pay from my part-time job, so there is no room for enlargement whatsoever Papa.”
“So how did you get to buy all these? ”
“My church has been helpful a bit and God being on my side”
“It’s all a bit a complicated situation we are all in. I assure you, we will survive through this.”.
“I believe we will. You shouldn’t have bothered coming out to see me. I will spend my night here. ”
“It’s ok son. Am happy after all”.
“I was told by Fatima that mama wasn’t around ”
“Oh yes. She left a few minutes ago, shortly before your arrival. She had gone to her friend’s place to get some food items.”
“I assume no one has eaten yet?”
“None, since morning, replied his father, bluntly.
“Hmmmm, Fatima will get it done quickly, never mind”
“lest I forget, how is my beautiful daughter doing? ”
“Who are you referring to papa?”
“The young girl you brought home after the vigil. ”
“Oh, Rita is very fine. She sends her greetings too to you all.”
“That’s so wonderful. Oh poor me, “gazing at the white peeled ceiling, “a destitute, immersed in pauperism, how indigent I am that I cannot provide for my family, and I am still alive. Oh, poor me”, he lamented. He always does anytime he remembers his plight, the way he was relieved of his job during the past tenure, the way he lost all his savings from his diligent service to fraudsters, casting a compelling frustrating figure ever since. He had been living a life of just mere hope.
“It wasn’t your fault you were caught in a scandal that cost you your job, you are the most diligent man I have ever known of. ”
“I am a rabble in the face of everyone. Such a pity”
“Your statements are not good for the ears at all. Today is Sunday, a new day of the week. Optimism is supposed to be the order of the day. ”
A little bit of calm was restored, the movements of Fatima in the kitchen, clinking of the pots and spoon were the only sound that was heard. Tafa had been the source of encouragement to his family, even when it seems to be depressed by the negativity surrounding him, he strives to be there when needed by them. A responsibility that had been inborn in him as the first child of his parents.
“Where is Ibrahim now? How is he doing? ”
“He is still in the local clinic, deteriorating as usual, his constant hallucinations and delusion are progressive. And we can’t afford to get the treatment advanced.”
“What is the cost of the treatment? ”
“Three hundred and fifty thousand naira”
“Hmmmm, that’s a whole lot ”
“It’s not their fault, psychoactive drugs are expensive, the whole treatment is out of our reach at the moment”
“Ibrahim will be alright, we will get the money and treatment will commence immediately “.
Mr. Joshua’s phone began to vibrate on the table, Tafa reached for it and handed it over to his father, the caller ID was unidentified. Mr Joshua never had a strange number calling him. Every number he answers is due to the fact that he had each one of them saved or written in a small-sized diary which he carries about in his pocket. His main reason for this scepticism was the last time he received a strange number, it plunged him into a scandal that got him lose his job. Ever since, he had been living with that phobia of plunging into another trouble that could cause him his entire family. After checking his diary and saw nothing, he instructed Tafa to answer it.
“Hello, please who is this? ”
“This is Gradel hospital calling, am I speaking with Mr Joshua Waziri?”
“No, the son, how may I be of assistance to you”.
“Am sorry, but your mother just had a head collision in an accident along Ramon way. She is right here now. ”
“What? Is she alive?”
“Well, I can’t guarantee that at the moment, she has lost a lot of blood but still breathing. ”
“Ok, we will be there shortly”, he hung up.
“What is the problem son? ”
“Mama just had an accident”
“Oh my God, is she still alive? ”
“I don’t know, she is in a critical state. We should get going now”.
Fatima was ignoramus of what was happening, Mr Joshua called for her and told her to take care of the house. When she decided to inquire what happened, Mr Joshua lied they were both going to a place of importance and that she would be briefed when they gets back. Fatima was insatiable by their statement but never argued. Mr Joshua and Tafa had already gone, involving Fatima will be unwise, she too had been through a lot, it was their own way of protecting a family member from breaking down.
“Excuse me nurse, I would like to see a patient that was brought in some minutes ago”, the ebony looking nurse was busy with sorting the names of other people who had come to identify the casualties that were victims of the accident. It took a moment before they got the attention of the nurse who had dismissed some of them.
“What is the patient’s name? ”
“Oh, the patient that came in unconscious. She was in ward twenty – four. But you should wait to see the doctor on duty, he has requested to see you.
“But we were told to come here immediately “.
“Yes, the patient was taken to ICU, she needed rapt attention and was moved from the ward. You can sit in the hallway or wait in the ward.
“Ok, we will.”
The building was painted white and blue inside, giving it a cool feeling, the same colour on the outside, embellished with some wonderful arts, pictures of past Medical Directors hung in frames on the wall. Gradel hospital was a renowned hospital, the oldest and best in the state. Critical operations and procedures were carried out by doctors with robust knowledge in respective fields, whose expertise could be relied upon. Tafa sat silently and prayed fervently, a contrast to Mr Joshua’s pacing about and mumbles, a normal characteristic of a man whose spouse was absolutely in comatose and had no option but voice his frustrations and anger and impatience in mumbling words and pacing to and fro.
“Papa, everything will be fine. Don’t you think mama will survive this? You are taking it quite unlikely like it is out of reach. ”
“How do you expect me to react? Sit down and imagine a perfect picture of a world without pain and suffering or reach for a candy bar in my pocket like a child, sit in front of a television and watch an animation. Doesn’t it look like it’s getting serious? We have seen nothing, no doctor, or nurse to give us an update and we have spent almost an hour here. Nothing is alright at all. ”
“I understand papa, she has you and me fighting for her here. She will be fine.”
“I don’t think you understand my son. she is in a transition of life and death and I am extremely worried”.
A young doctor finally was spotted coming out of the ICU. His manner suggested something wasn’t right. His look gave a compunction. Tafa and his father raced down the hallway to inquire.
“Doctor, please, how is she. Am her husband, Joshua Waziri ”
“Is my mom alive”
“Am so sorry we couldn’t……… ”
“No, impossible. I can’t lose my wife to the clutches of death. How would my life turn into?
“No, she can’t just die like that”.
“Am sorry, she lost so much blood that we couldn’t replace. She is brain dead and is helped with the aid of a machine to breathe. That’s the painful, obvious truth. Am sorry for your loss”, the doctor said and left.
Tafa was left devastated, resulted in slamming his forehead with his palms. His belief and faith had been dashed away by the unfortunate circumstance, completely dazed at how his mother death had occurred. In the middle of his conscious thinking, Mr Joshua breathed heavily, his heart rate beat abnormally and surreptitiously, he collapsed in the hallway, placing his hand on his chest. Tafa raised an alarm immediately, some nurses came to his aid and carried him on the stretcher. Tafa only prayed it wouldn’t be a negative coincidence, on the same day, losing both parents.
Tafa learnt from the doctor his father suffered from Ischemic apoplexy and had a weak heart the morning of next day. He stayed in the hospital all day, all night. The doctor had done well to contain it so far but a huge bill was slammed on Tafa, who had to take his mother away from the morgue and take care of his dying father, who needed a heart transplant. He sprang to his feet, left the hospital with a ball point pen and a notepad in his left and right pocket of his black trouser, wandered through the street like a vagabond, murmuring to himself as he went by, lost in desperation to find the initial deposit and what to do next. Passers-by fixed their gazes at him and wondered if he was sane or otherwise by walking like that in the morning when everybody was on their way to their respective work places, noticing the eyes of the onlookers following home up, an idea struck his head, he would opt to go and see his employer Mr. P whom he had been working for recently, he still owed him money which he thought, was the right time to collect. Mr. P resided half a mile away from where he was and considered it unnecessary to take a taxi to a place where he could walk. Moreover, he had nothing on him to board one. The sun rays was blazingly hot, as if to burn down the earth. Tafa walked under this hot temperature on a street that people were actually, slowly dispersing as a result of the harsh rays, though on a normal day was one of the busiest street. “Clean street” it was nicknamed even though, it was just quite ironical. Heaps of wastes littered on the side lane. Many had the notion that Mr P only lived here and did business here even when he had the option of doing it elsewhere because he was dirty and stingy. He lived there for ages and wasn’t the nicest of people to deal with when it comes to money. He was a stout man in nature with protruded belly, dark in complexion, a bald hair that could reflect ones image when exposed to the sun. Majority of the kiosks and shops were owned by him and he drafted specific rules even though he does the opposite. Like wearing new clothes everyday and never repeat the next time even when he himself could wear the same clothe for a month. Tafa finally got there after two hours of walking, exhausted and dehydrated. Only a sachet of water was his companion through out the journey which, he bought with his last note. A boy about half his age was present in one of the kiosks, dozing. Tafa hit him softly on his back but was unmoved, instead gave a loud snoring. Tafa knew he was a heavy sleeper and decided to hit him with a stick which, made him Jerk to his feet.
“Oga Tafa, welcome “, recognizing who he was.
“How are you Mujeeb?”
“I dey fine Oga Tafa”, he replied in pidgin English
“Where is Mr.P?”
“Oga Mr. P no dey, him talk say he wan go market. He go come back soon “, he answered.
“Ok, let me wait for him then.”
“Oga Tafa, you go fit wait so, he fit delay small. Go, come back later ”
“I will wait here still. Am coming from a far place, I don’t have the luxury to go and come back”
“Oga Tafa, any problem as hour face come strong like this? You lose person? ”
Tafa didn’t want to respond by telling him his plight. It will only spur him to ask more questions which he wanted to avoid. He was in no mood to play the criminal and Mujeeb, the detective. The latter returned to his seat, not sleeping but now taking a swipe at his phone. Tafa got more infuriated by the delay, his expression, marked by the fact he had no time to while away, the exigency demanded him to be quick. Thirty minutes had gone by, still like a beggar, he had no choice but to wait. A blue truck halted in front of the kiosk, a stout man in nature with protruded belly, dark in complexion, a bald hair that could reflect ones image when exposed to the sun stepped out from the front seat, Mujeeb hurriedly gave a hand, Tafa had been depleted by the long walk and he began to have muscle cramps on his legs. He helped, pack the goods into the kiosk. Mr.P’s vivacious face turned into a fury when his gaze met with Tafa on getting to the entrance, he hadn’t noticed Tafa’s, presence until that time.
“Good afternoon Sir”,
“Tafa, how are you? What are you doing here? It’s not your shift yet. ”
“Sir, I know it isn’t my shift yet, I came to collect my outstanding balance. My father is ill and demands urgent treatment”.
“See Tafa, am sorry for your father’s I’ll health but I have got no money to give you now. You just saw where I came from. The economy is unfavorable, maybe you should come back in the morning tomorrow after working tonight’s shift. ”
“But Mr. P, I…….”,
“Listen, I hate to repeat myself. I will pay you, not just now”. Mr. P, on loaded the last set of cartons, Tafa looked befuddled by the outcome of his long walk under the sun which he summarized as a futile journey, that was his last hope of saving his father. Now he was to bow out without uttering a word when another truck was sighted, thought it was Mr.P’s goods that wanted to be delivered but it stopped abruptly halfway, men fully masked with guns descended and opened fire sporadically, people ran helter skelter, it was the same unknown group people were already guessing as terrorists that had been wrecking havoc in the geopolitical zone. Tafa took to his heels but by then, several bombs had exploded and bullets riddled the bodies on the ground, Mujeeb and Mr. P on the facade, Tafa was hit and fell on his back.
Tafa woke up from his slumber, initially thought he was dead for a while, surprised by his own astonishment that he was alive and well and not in the land of the spirits. He was surrounded by military men who safeguarded the street now and the Emergency Disaster Agency team who carried off the lying bodies. Tafa was fully conscious of where he was, he found himself lying in the refuse after the explosion occurred. His arms and legs were soaked in his blood, dead bodies flanked him as he rose to his feet with groaned pain, several cars and houses had collapsed, he glanced at a distance and his eyes met with the shattered bodies of Mujeeb and his employer, and the burnt truck that transported his goods, his kiosk were all gone. The message was clear, Tafa would never be able to get his pay from Mr.P. He stood transfixed, bereft of what to do next, more Emergency Disaster Unit service personnel pervaded and ambulances drove away, swiftly, an idea struck him which prompted him to reach for his pocket, only to discover that his mobile phone had been smashed as a result of the explosion, after much scrutiny, he found his SIM card too broken. No taxi was available, he wandered a little and found an undamaged motorcycle, the owner was probably a victim of the explosion, the key was lost, he found an astray compass on the floor fortunately, he inserted the pair inside the key hole and it made a zoom sound, he hopped inside and drove off to Rita’s apartment.
Tafa knocked twice on the door, it appeared to him no one was inside, the curtain was not raised and it seemed dark, but then, he guessed Rita was never away by evening on Mondays, she hated it as a result of the security situation going on, any church meeting probably must have ended by then. Rita lived in a bungalow, having opted not to live inside the school’s premises. The fear of cultism in school convinced her into living outside, she considered it irrationally stupid to live among them when she knew the dangers involved. Tafa convinced himself that she wasn’t away, he knocked again, this time fiercely, calling out Rita’s name. He paused for a second, quick footsteps was heard inside, door knob cracked open and Rita, starred him on his bruised face, astonished ;
“Tafa, what the hell happened to you? I have been trying to reach you on the phone,” ushering him inside.
“The bomb blast, I was there when it happened. I lost my phone in the process. ”
“So I heard in the news. I was so scared, that’s why I didn’t respond to your knocks. Am sorry”,
“No, you were protecting yourself. Am also sorry for not helping out with church activities. Things got a little bit nasty”
“It’s ok, am happy that you are alive, that’s what is important. You were badly injured, let me take you to the hospital. ”
“No, don’t bother, I will be fine here. Don’t want to slam any bill on you.”
“Don’t say that, your life is important, you are bleeding”
“The bleeding will stop okay. It’s just that am in a complicated situation right now. ”
“If you insist. I have some medication for you here that will ease your pain but first, you have to eat.”
Tafa said nothing. He had been hungry for days without food. The thoughts of his dead mother, his dying father and the fact that he survived miraculously in a bomb blast, all overwhelmed him, so much that he couldn’t think straight anymore and his appetite, long gone. Rita’s apartment had been his own home of refuge whenever he was in crisis, a comfort zone he cherished. He believes his problems go away whenever he was there, solutions he had never thought of pops up. Rita served him, a plate of fried eggs and plantain. Tafa gobbled it, Rita watched in awe as he left the plate empty.
“I presume you haven’t eaten, by your manner”,
“No, I won’t lie, I haven’t since yesterday, before visiting the hospital “.
“Not to the point of not eating. Why did you go to the hospital by the way?”
There was a sudden change of mood in his face, the call of a hospital once again brought back bad memory of his late mother’s death. He couldn’t help stomaching the thought of being an orphan. In as much as he restrained the formation of tears in his eyes from being released, the downpour finally came.
“What is the problem? Are your parents sick or what? Tell me what happened. “Rita asked inquisitively. Tafa burst out crying heavily.
“Tafa, please, talk to me. We can solve any problem together remember”,
“My mother died yesterday in an accident and my father suffered a cardiac arrest. If I don’t act quickly, my father may die also”,
“Oh my God, your mother died and you didn’t call me, you didn’t inform me of what is going on?”
“It happened so fast that I was befuddled of what to do. Am sorry. ”
“It’s ok. It is well. How much is the bill?”
“five hundred thousand “,
“That is much”
“It is. I don’t know what to do. How do I get the money? Why are all these happening to me? ”
“Don’t complain Tafa. Do you think God isn’t watching what is happening? He will surely see us through. When there is a way, there is a will.
“I have had that same faith all the time. My family is inflicted with one thing or the other. My father lost his job and got duped and now in the hospital, my mother is now late, younger brother has dementia. What can faith possibly solve? ”
“Everything, it can solve all things. Don’t talk like an unbeliever. That is not who you are.”
“Ok, what am I to do now? ”
“We can go to the church for some assistance, then add to it with whatever I have to complete it. ”
“Thank you Rita a million times, I never could have done anything without you. You have always been my backbone. ”
“That is because I love you as a brother. Get some rest, we would be there by tomorrow morning. I will go and prepare where you will lie for the night”. Tafa washed himself of in the bathroom, returned to where his bed was so nicely made, he bid her goodnight and invited her to lie beside him which she reluctantly but gladly accepted.
President Ajuwa Williams stated in a press conference during the seven o’clock hour of the morning that every citizen of Baigari State not to be bothered by the qualms, caused by latest supposed terrorist attack in the state, citing the firm position and commitment of the military and other security agencies in taking absolute control of the situation and the need for quietude. The attack was the third to be launched in the month by the deadly unknown group, who had been in operation since the beginning of the new year. The terrorist group had been a concern to the nation and international organizations and each effort to combat it so far had been futile , the group grew from strength to strength , with each attack, unexpectedly orchestrated. The news was watched by former Minister of Iron and steel extraction, Alhaji Saheed Mohammed under the past administration in his emphatic sitting room, wide enough to host a presidential conference. Pictures of politicians hung on the wall in a frame in a circumference, like every other homes owned by a politician, it’s settee, electrical appliances and gadgets, chandeliers, begonia on the center table added glamour and luxury. He himself was a man in his sixties, grey hairs appeared on his head and had oval glasses on, an ex-convict, convicted of corruption and falsification of figure. He dropped the glass of orange juice he had been sipping on the glass table, reached for the remote to switch of the television, retreated to his seat with murmur and lamentations on his lips.
“Arrant nonsense, sheer class of stupidity, this is the height of ignorance and arrogance. Imagine the pep talks”, he was reacting to the news, the words of the President and mimicking them at the top of his murmur. At the height of his lamentations, one his bodyguard led a man in kaftan after informing Alhaji Saheed of his arrival. Mr Bode Samson was his oldest friend and an eye for him in the present Government. He was a serving minister of infrastructural development. After engaging in each other’s warm embrace and greetings, they finally settled down on the settee.
“Did you watch the news? It seems the Government is taking the last attack too likely. They seem the presence of the military men as a savior ”
“Oh, I just was about to bring the topic up, it’s good for business that they take it likely, the silly things he said, I think he hasn’t realized what I am turning this state into yet. How long does he think the masses will continue to believe in him? In his power to eradicate the impending menace, just like when he put me in prison and some of my colleagues? “.
“Not for long, I assure you. He hasn’t yet and very soon he, would open his eyes to the realization that he has been ousted from the Apex house. ”
“Very true Honourable. Oh, what a series of surprises that awaits this sorry Government. I will launch another attack by and by. I need to keep the media and the Government busy while I continue my plan of endorsing the Vice President. Elections is around the corner you know.
“Don’t you think the next attack is sudden? We should lay low before launching next when they don’t expect ”
“I don’t think so. We will only plan for it and then, relax to see how things pan out. Give some minutes, let me make a call to my loyal servants”, he picked his beside him and dialed the numbers.
A yellow painted building stood some meters away from the campus gate. The inscription, well above it was “Danladi Hostel”, one of the male and oldest hostels building in Rahaman University. It was first class hostel, only the affluent could afford it’s exorbitant fee. In one of the rooms, which was well furnished, embellished with enormous poster of Chelsea football team logo on the left side of the wall, pop artiste logo on the right, a Dolby sound system which produced sound so loud that dominated the room, game console on the center, a medium size refrigerator beside it. Adjacent it was a medium size bed and some upholstery. The room itself was large, maybe the largest of all rooms in the hostel. Reason for choosing the room was obvious, more like a room where meeting was held. More than eight men stayed in or went out frequently. There were four men inside this time, sitting on the edge of the bed, wearing a white vest and black trouser, some where chest nude. Each of them held a lighted cigarette and smoking, another group of three rascals, not as good looking as the former sat on the red rug, each one drank from their bottle of gin and played chess. They unusually maintained silence. Only the loud music was heard and their head which danced to the rhythm. Apparently, they awaited the arrival of another, each time, one of them stood to check the corridor. Then, they stopped the music, suspended their activities when the door knob cracked open, the person they had been waiting finally arrived, he was of a giant and dark complexioned, and had a big scar on his right cheek. He proceeded to the refrigerator and got a beer. These men were the Al-hida terrorist group. They resided in the hostel as students they weren’t and rented a room for themselves to divert public attention and for the purpose of school protection . Campus students misinterpreted them as cultists and endeavored not to associate with them, though there was no substantial proof that they were cultists, It was a general belief they were. Some of them had been graduates of various discipline, but then frustration set in as a result of unemployment, one of the degrading factors of the past administration and then, each of them became a political tool in the hands of a man they never knew was a fulcrum in it. They were made to believe falsely it was a revenge mission they had been enacting on government officials, mainly the President and members of his cabinet whom they also believe has a skeleton in his closet, that transited from the past administration, a punishment for their evilness that they considered just. That common faith bonded them strongly. Rogers had been a member since his first year in school like other first year members, the pay was a factor for joining and had no need, of getting away. Schooling was no longer his priority as the pay. Rogers intelligence and diligence made way for him in the ladder and he was now in the same rank as senior members.
“It was a good job you all did back there, launching two different attacks in two different states at the same time, it was marvelous. Once again, we are on top of our game. We have the government on their knees. Send my greetings to the rest of our members “, he commended them after exchanging greetings. Taking two gulp of his beer, Ruff set out to continue in his thick voice.
“We need more men, our next operation may be demanding “, he continued, “Men who are tired of life, I just don’t mean the ordinary, great thinkers.”
“It is very a tedious task. The preaching’s going about, everyone on campus, one way or the other is inclined to the Christian faith. No one will like to compromise his or hers”, stated Kamal, another member.
“It’s that simple, we tame the neck and the head falls off. Everyone is afraid of us, it shouldn’t be so tedious, “he paused for a while, his subordinates looked lost at what he said. It was nearly impossible to them to bring more.
“The head of their Christian Fellowship is in a terrible mess, a weakness we can use to lure him, the rest follows. Don’t ask me how I knew. Information spreads really fast.”
Rogers seemed ignorant of what was happening, even when Ruff fixed his gaze at him , his mind was far off. Ruff was talking about Tafa to them. The latter was the President of Christian Fellowship Association, a subsidiary of a Pentecostal church outside the University. Campus meetings and weekly fellowship were held on campus and on Sundays, at the main church outside. Ruff understands Rogers more than the rest, obviously taunted as his heir, his earlier gaze at him was giving Rogers, room to expound on his theory. When asked if he was okay, Rogers stated he was absolutely fine. When asked about how his roommate was responding to the call, he stated it wasn’t going well.
“He hasn’t given up yet, he is still stuck hard to his beliefs. I don’t see it changing in the nearest future. ”
“He won’t stick for long. I have plans for him. Tafa is intelligent, his intelligence won’t go for nothing and I pretty much like him. If we are to think ahead, we need him amongst us. Only fate will bring him to us. He would come to us like a stranger looking for comfort and when he comes, we will be worst than we are”. Ruff doesn’t make empty promises, his forecast never for once had failed to come true. Sometimes, he went by the nickname “the prophet”. They chanted in chorus, their sect song.
“Death traps, Death traps, that is what we are called. Death traps, Death traps. “. Ruff’s mobile phone beeped thrice before receiving it.
“Good morning Alhaji “,
“Hope you and the boys are safe”,
“Yes, we are”,
“Good, you have another attack to launch surreptitiously. You and the boys should get prepared, strategize the bombing of cupala square and it’s surroundings. I will tell you the day before the day of the launch. ”
“Yes, Alhaji, we will do as you say.”
“Your pay will be doubled this time, “he hung up.
“We have job to do guys”.
Mr Bode Samson giggled at Alhaji Saheed after replacing his mobile phone, the latter reciprocating . He was always present during his timely call to his “special servants” whenever the needs arises. Alhaji Saheed was his godfather, responsible for putting him into politics. He had been his loyal son ever since and promised to do the impossible to help him on any matter regardless of anything.
“He always respond to your call anytime. They seem to be enjoying their duty”, referring to Tafa.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t they? Money talks and everyone obeys like servants. Do you know how I met Ruff?
“I haven’t gotten the chance to ask and you didn’t have the time to tell me”
“Well, am telling you now. I picked Ruff on the street twenty-four years ago. He was just five, homeless and devastated. I adopted him, became his foster father, took him as my own flesh and blood, educated him and then I knew he will be so pivotal in future. We lost contact at a point, by then he was able to train himself by the business he did. We found ourselves again on the same path, the exact perfect time my first son was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for smuggling drugs. The frustrations of being jobless had gotten to him by that time as a result of our clique, his business collapsed and had no choice but to be the man he is now, to ease his frustrations and believe a ridiculous story of revenge. Interesting isn’t it?
“Very indeed. He must really be indebted to you for the rest of his life. ”
“Absolutely, he is,” he gulped to the last drop of his orange juice in excitement and then in fury when he reminisces the imprisonment of his son, which came after the death of his wife in an auto crash. Few months later, he was imprisoned for corruption, a sad memory he rode on till present.
“I gave him a purpose, something to live for and fight. He got a team, he knows how he got them and then, the belief was enacted”, he took another gulp and continued.
“How can your own people turn their back against you in favour of a man who isn’t their ethnicity, betray you in the process. It’s like a dog who hunts his fellow animals and man’s enemies for the favour of man, their owners. They voted for Ajuwa Williams instead of Mallam Ali Nurudeen. They will suffer for their actions, this government will wear out like a dilapidated structure by and by, I promise, “he swore to himself.
It was apparent, cupala square was chosen because of the next ruling party convention and rally scheduled to hold. The date of event hadn’t been made public yet but there was a certainty that it would be held at the square. It will be crowded to the brim and will be the perfect timing to launch. Ruff finished addressing his guys about their new mission after he hung up, he proceeded to wear his Jean and shirt, which he had removed while relaxing and went out. He needed to have a birds view of the place and run some things personally.
Tafa and Rita stepped out of the taxi at the gate. It was a mild sunny afternoon, the sun was friendly and accommodating. Tafa had a peaceful night for the first time in days, his thoughts were elated and almost forgot he had a place to go as planned till Rita got him to wake up. He wished he could continue to sleep and never wake, if it means his problems going away. A night sleep, his late mother said was by a distance, a nature’s gift too precious, so important to neglect. It washes away your strain and eases your mind from stress, makes you think of your problems lightly, proffers solutions that makes you felicitous. Tafa was feeling this way when he got up, his attitude, easily noticed by Rita. He anticipated a new dawn of hope, that which could save his dying father.
They ran pep Mel to the church building , a synonymous act with a prey, hunted by a predator. The church receptionist and attendant, a young beautiful plumb lady, who was reading her Bible had told them that Pastor Simon, the senior pastor, wasn’t around but his assistant, Pastor James was. Pastor Simon was a young passionate preacher of the Gospel, finished his theological school at a young age. Before becoming senior pastor, he had been evangelizing for a few years, his excellent spirit which was apparently seen by all was the factor that made him climb the ladder of leadership, eventually selected to become the senior pastor, the youngest amongst other pastors. Tafa knocked twice on the door, they could hear him praying inside. They waited briefly before they were ushered in after he ended his prayers.
“Good afternoon pastor, ”
“Good afternoon bro Tafa and sister Rita. How are you all?”
“We thank God, the Creator of everything.”
“May his name be praised forever. Sit down please, to what do I owe this meeting. Bro Tafa, I didn’t see you in the meeting yesterday, what happened? ”
“Pastor forgive me, am sorry to say this but bad things happened to me this past few days. That was our reason for coming to see pastor Simon.”
“What is the problem? “You can tell me.”
Tafa couldn’t disclose the fact. The origin of his pathetic story eluded his thoughts. The sadness clouded his mind so much he didn’t know where to start from. His mouth was wide open, his lips smacking but the words couldn’t come out. Rita on noticing his plight proceeded to tell.
“Pastor, Tafa’s mother is in the morgue, and his father is in dire need of assistance to be flown abroad for a heart transplant. Tafa is in a mess. ”
“Jesus Christ is Lord”, the pastor himself got astonished by the terrible news. Tafa’s survival in a bomb scare wasn’t part of what she wanted to disclose. Pastor James was already bewildered by what he had heard, shook his head sideways displeasure.
“Am sorry for the demise of your mother. It’s very unfortunate to hear what I just heard. God knows why all these are happening, He will give you the fortitude to bear her loss.
“Amen”, both chorused.
“Have you set the burial date already, ”
“Pastor, that is one my reasons for coming with Sister Rita. I need some assistance from the church, loan or anything to save my father. I will repay the church soon.”
“What you are asking for is slightly impossible. The church doesn’t have a provision for treatment of one’s family member. Am sorry”
“Please Pastor, now is the ultimate time to come to our aid. We just need a small amount to add to ours. Am sure Bro Tafa will repay you sooner than expected, “Rita chipped in.
“I understand your plight but am not the senior pastor neither am I the owner of the church. ”
“But you can help us talk to them, talk to the council on our behalf. Pastor, you can please.”
“There are protocol, guidelines to abide by. It will take sometime to prepare the money. ”
Rita and Tafa kept on insisting. Their persistence and demands, all but cut a frustrating figure from the assistant pastor. In as much as it wasn’t in his power, he had the urge to help them one way or the other. He broke the long silence with a question he asked them about how much they needed, when he was told of the huge amount, he exclaimed. He thought for some minutes before giving his final verdict.
“I will see what I can do. I will give you a call later tomorrow, but am not giving you any assurance that it’s going to go well”
“Thank you Pastor. Surely, I know it will go well”, Rita stated confidently.
“We really appreciate your concern ”
“It’s God brethren. Let us pray”.
They closed their and said a short prayer before finally departing.