Fate of a Vicious Tongue

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The alarm from Bawa’s phone woke him up. In a reflex, he raised his head from the pillow in ninety degree and in a flash pushed back his head to take more sleep, but the alarm didn’t allow that as it kept coming up every five minutes. At the third time, Bawa decided to jump out of bed, he didn’t get much sleep, but he had to be on his feet as he faced the task ahead. In a move to get his balance and clear the web on his face, his phone rang. He looked up to the plastic wall clock given to him as a send forth present in his place of primary assignment during his service year in Anambra state.  Now it was just 6:31am. ‘Oh God!’ he exclaimed as he picked the phone which kept on ringing. ‘… and who could be calling me by now? He asked. The number appeared strange. “hello, who is on the line?’ he asked. Hello… helloo… hello…. There wasn’t any human response from the other end except a musical tone playing from a record which he couldn’t recognize.  The room was a bit dark, for a week now, there has not been power supply in the environs. He stood up and walked towards the table to pick up his rechargeable torchlight.  He hit his toe against the table as he couldn’t see clearly. He felt hurt as he grinned /in pain and fell back to the bed. Facing the ceiling, he said to himself, “This is just a signal, today might likely be the worst for me….” 

 

Bawa occupied a room alone in the flat housing three rooms where he shared with other four of his friends, Tolu, Nnena, Ose and Yesuf. Bawa, Nnena and Yusuf met while serving their father land in the eastern part of the country. As a fresh graduate and a new ex-corps member from the mandatory National Youth Service Corps, he decided to start up his life in another form and took the step of staying away from his family who reside in Benin city, where he had been all through his life, his basic education, secondary and university studies. They are three children from his parents, Bawa being the first, Shela, Ochi.  Bawa studied Biochemistry in the prestigious University of Benin where he graduated with a second class, lower division. He participated in active politics as an undergraduate and involved in many of the students unrest in the institution, which gained him the popularity and placed him as the speaker of the student union government house of parliament. Each time he looked at himself at the mirror, he felt satisfied and accomplished as a student in struggle, seeing the bullet wounds he sustained in his shoulder and his sides, during one of the National Association of Nigeria Students fight against government’s unfavorable stands in education. The protest led to students’ riot and tussle with the men of the police force in the middle belt of the country when he was in his final year. The wounds made him stay away from school for six months that he automatically lost a session which denied him graduation in due time. He resumed school nine months later after the students’ unrest in Benue state to sit for his final exams after his supposed mates have graduated. He wasn’t bothered as been a brilliant student. He took him less preparation and less reading before he meet up and wrote his exams, passed, graduated and got his call-up letter to serve in Anambra state. His involvement in several students’ union activities in the country won him a tough mind and a fighting spirit. He hated being oppressed or seeing anyone falling victim to oppression. He detest being ripped off of anything and as a student activist way back in school, he was a controversial being. His friends hardly guess what his next move was. He seem a loner at times as one of his friends, Yusuf whom Bawa followed down to the north in search of the future defined him (Bawa) as an eccentric being, a man of an unusual personality. That is Bawa.

 

Bawa cut down the phone as he snapped towards the bathroom. In a rush to pick his brush, he observed a blood stain and particles of a broken bottle, but didn’t take much notice of the stain on the floor which was extended to the bathtub, since it was still a bit dark. He applied paste on his brush and as usual opened down the tap as he brushed his teeth. He heard his phone rang again and rushed back to the room while his teeth held steadfast to the brush. This time, there was a response from the other end, but it was a lady, screaming and shouting, though the message wasn’t clear as in Bawa’s imagination, the bearer of the voice is under an attack or tensed situation. He sat beside his bed in the room as he tried to figure out whose voice it was. In fixed manner, he stared tensely at the door to figure out things as the toothbrush stayed stagnant in his mouth.   “Whose voice could that be?” he asked himself as words puzzled out of his mouth which was still housing the brush. As if he had got an answer, he rushed back to the bathroom to wash off the foam in his mouth and was still bewildered at the sight of the blood stain around the floor and the bathtub. He called on the other boys in the other rooms and there wasn’t any verbal reaction. Then he became convinced that something is definitely wrong.  Immediately, he dashed outside to find out himself what the problem could be after he grabbed a shirt from the hanger picked a wrist band lying on the table. A black leather wristband attached with two pieces of cowries.  Bawa has always worn this since his days in the university. It used to be something he wore as an ornament. He got used to it that he began to tie most of his luck to the item, after his friends admitted that he could not go out without it.

 

At the door post, Bawa saw the stretch of blood stain like beads scattered on floor and particles from a vomit which as he went closer, he perceived it was a vomit of a drunk.  He traced the blood towards the gate of the compound and observed the stain got to the road. He was now convinced the blood stain should be from one of the flat mates, definitely any of the friends.  

A young girl ran towards him as he stood hand akimbo at the gate staring at the cluster of blood on the un-tarred road. He guessed the wounded person must have been taken to the hospital with anything mobile, taxi or motorcycle.  He waited to hear what the girl, who is now closer to him, had to say. Brother… brother… brother… hasipita… uncle… hasipita…. The young girl tried to nibble words out of her mouth, but couldn’t since she could not explain in English language. She then expressed it in Hausa language, which Bawa as at now got the message clearly, since the girl consistently used the words; uncle and hospital. He concluded that one of his friends who the girl Aminat referred to as uncle has been rushed to the hospital. “Which of the hospitals…?” He asked the young girl, who happened to be the daughter to their neighbor, the family that occupied the other flat in the compound. She pointed at the direction where she was coming from and Bawa walked very fast in tension towards it as the girl followed suit in a run, since she couldn’t meet up with Bawa’s pace. 

 

On the way, his phone rang again, this time it was a male’s voice. “We are with your sister and your family must pay a ransom to get her released”, the voice from the other end said. Bawa stood still at a spot close to the T-junction before the hospital. His hand came down slowly holding tight his phone, with his mouth wide open as in shock. His eyes suddenly became red. His effort to call back the number was abortive. Moving some steps toward the hospital gate, his phone rang again from the same number. He rushed at the call. The caller gave an instruction; “you don’t call us, rather wait for our calls; don’t inform anybody, especially the police or any other forces.” “Can I talk with Shela please?” Bawa demanded. The abductors put his sister online. Fear gripped her as she talked with Bawa. Bawa asked if the parents are aware or any member of the family is aware of the abduction. “No, you are the only person I can remember his number, since I lost my phone at the point where I was forcefully taken at the Ihama road”, she said. Bawa assured her that she shall be free soon, in as much as she corporate with the abductors. “Where is your location now?”  He asked. The phone beeped as the call dropped. Bawa felt dazzled as he presses the number keys on his phone to dial his father’s number.  

 

“Hello dad” bawa forcefully said. After the usual greetings which sounded cold. Bawa asked where the father was as the sounds at the background was unusual. Its weekend and he expected everyone to be at home by that early hour of the day. “I am in the hospital with your mother, she has been ill for three days now. I am sorry we never wanted you to be aware, so that you won’t lose focus. ” This time, Bawa who was already at the entrance to the hospital sighted a bench at the gate keeper stand and slowly sat down, as Aminat stood and stare at him, wandering what happening to brother Bawa. Bawa signaled her to sit as he talked with the dad on phone.  “Don’t border to come home.  Everything shall be taken care of.” The father instructed and assured. The phone beeped as the call dropped. This time, at that early hour, Bawa was already soaked with sweat.   “What is all these about, for Christ sake?” he said rhetorically, as he made a long stare at Aminat. In an effort to stand on his feet, he fell back to the seat and pushed his frame backward to thrust his back to the wall. Almost dozing off, he remembered that he hasn’t informed his dad about the abduction of his sister. He woke up from his slumber and put another call through to the father, but still didn’t tell him about the issue as he wasn’t sure if the abduction was real, since his sister has been known for her cozenages since childhood. He knows his entire sister’s dubious means to get money from his parents.  He looked at his wrist and adjusted the band on it.

 

Bawa gained strength as he took some water he demanded from Babasoho, the gate keeper at the hospital. He walked hastily into the hospital and went straight to the receptionist. “Please do you know of any young man that was brought in this morning in blood all over him?” Bawa asked.  “Hmmm, no, but there is a young man who was brought in at midnight, as written in the record book, but I have not seen him” the young lady receptionist said as she opened the book to confirm the information. “Which of the wards is he?” Bawa demanded as he heard a familiar voice from the corridor to the wards.” Yusuf, yesuf… “, Bawa called as he ran towards Yusuf walking with a young lady in white robe. They stopped as Bawa got closer. I woke up not quite long and…. Yusuf cut him short with an assurance that everything is in control. “What happened and who was admitted?” Bawa asked. With a deplorable tone, and a frigid look, Yusuf told him that Ose and Nnena got engaged in a brawl at midnight after they both returned from the club…. “I shall tell you the story when we going home, meanwhile, meet Doctor Shela ”, Yusuf said as he was interrupted by Aminat’s mother came with some wears for them, Ose and Nnena. The doctor’s name took Bawa back to the thought of his sister.  “Why the two wears?” Bawa asked as he greeted mama Aminat in Hausa language, “ina kwana mama.” “They were both injured badly and needed to be admitted” the young lady who is the doctor in charge of their cases said. “Please come over to the office”, she demanded.  Bawa now in shock laughed out irritably, wandering what could have caused their dispute to the point of using weapons on themselves. At this point, Bawa remembered his sister, which he wasn’t so bordered about, but the parents especially his mother who is sick. He walked behind the doctor and Yesuf as Aminat went with her mother back to the house after her mother has given the cloths to Yesuf.

 

It is now 9:00am, in the doctor’s office. “We shall need about four pants of blood for them. They lost much blood in the fight.” In bemusement, Bawa looked straight to the doctor’s face and later to yesuf in locks. “Four pants of blood? But none of their family stays here, except that of yesuf ”. The doctor assured them that the blood can be gotten here in the hospital, but someone from their family must be here.  “That is not a problem” Bawa and Yesuf said simultaneously.

Still in the office, Bawa brought out his phone to check for any of the family’s number. Luckily, as he scrolled through, he got that of Osa’s sister and Nnena’s mother. There wasn’t enough airtime in his phone. He collected yesuf’s a made the calls respectively. Both families assured to be in the hospital the following day. “Can I see them?” Bawa demanded. The doctor stood up to walk with them back to the hospital wards. They stood up too to walk behind the doctor as yusuf started unfolding the event.  They were both placed in the same room housing four sickbeds. The third bed was occupied by a boy who had an accident from a motorcycle the previous day, while the fourth bed was vacant.  Bawa couldn’t talk with any of his friends as they were still in their unconscious state.

Bawa was hit with dismay at the sight of his friends and began to wonder what sought of devil has pushed them both to this point. “I hope they shall survive this” he said. And the doctor assured that they shall, after all, their cases are not horrible. We just need the families to be here, get the pants of blood and carry out the necessary operation. Moreover, we have started treatment on them. And they are already reacting to the treatment that is the reason they can’t talk to anyone right now, since they are unconscious.

 

“Thank you very much Doctor Shela, hope to see you later in the day.” Bawa said as he walked down the corridor with Yesuf.  Unknowingly to Bawa, that might be the last time he will set his eyes on his friends.

“Have you seen the boy?” a voice from the reception stand asked. “Yes dear, thanks very much.”  Bawa said as he didn’t wait a moment to appreciate the lady for the little information.

So, what happened? Bawa asked as he still looked puzzled about what have just happened in the short period of time. “I was in my room reading one of the books you gave me, A Month and A Day by Ken Saro Wiwa. At about 3:00am, ‘cos I checked the clock then, I heard a knock at the door. The bearer of the voice sounded drunk. At the same time heard other voices at the background. Not sure of the voices, I checked your room and observed you were far asleep since your door was locked from behind.” Bawa nodded in response. “I then checked the other room; it was locked as there was a big padlock on the door. Hurriedly, I moved to the main door to the flat to confirm were at the door. It was Osas and Nnena. Immediately, I opened the door and I was hit by the stench of their breath and body. They were drunk; as they came in with a lady whom I believed one of them picked from the club. Did you see any vomit on the floor, around the door?” Bawa nodded as yusuf continued the narration. “I opened the door and they staggered in. they almost pushed me away. Nnena threw a fist at me; I dodged it as I busted out in laugh because I knew they were extremely drunk. I peeped outside as I was locking the door to see if they had other companies aside the lady, but there was none. I left them and went back to my room to continue my reading. At about 3:30am, I heard them arguing over who saw the lady first, who brought her in and who was going to have an intercourse with her first. As if it was a joke, I laughed as they sounded ridiculous. And I even heard the girl said Osas should meet her first, the Nnena will be the next. That she was ready for both of them. I wasn’t surprised as I shifted towards the wall to eavesdrop. To my amazement, the argument became furious and I wondered if you weren’t hearing them. Because I know if you heard them earlier, all these wouldn’t have happened.  Seems later in the heat of the argument, the lady went to the bathroom to get shower, and they followed her. I then came out to get the situation curbed, but was pushed away by Nnena on getting to the bathroom. You know that Nnena could be very violent.  The girl, who was naked as at the time I went to the bathroom, quickly ran into the room to get dressed. I didn’t border about her as I was so concerned about the duo that might start up something devilish any moment. Nnena ran into the room and brought out a knife, I tried holding him, but was pushed away.

 

Quickly, I knocked at your door again and no response.” “ I am sorry brother, I took pain relief drugs at night so as to have a good sleep. You know I haven’t been sleeping well these few days.” Bawa said “yes I’m aware (yesuf said as he continued). I even think say you dey with woman sef.  So, as I went back to the bathroom, both were already covered in their blood. Osas had some deep cuts on his head, left arm and back while Nnena had deep injury on his head. Osas broke the detergent bottle we keep in the bathroom and rid it into Nnena’s head and hand. ” In a short while, they both cried out and suddenly collapsed. I went back to the room and couldn’t find the girl. Immediately I rushed to the door, it was opened. The lady ran away. I had to call on Bala, Aminat’s father whose car we used to rush them to the hospital at about 4:40 am.”

Bawa and yesuf walked side by side in silence. Each of them in deep thought.

Getting closer to the house, Bawa’s phone rang and he picked. The call was from Osa’s father who asked what the problem was. Bawa only told him Osas was not feeling too well and was therefore admitted. After a long conversation, Bawa assured him that Osas was going to be fine as he resisted the temptation, of telling him what exactly the situation was. Before the call ended, another number was already at the waiting log in the phone. Osa’s father ended the call from his end and Bawa picked the next call simultaneously. It was Nnena’s uncle and guardian. Nnena lost his both parents to the Biafra war at tender age. Story had it that he didn’t grow up to know his parents except in pictures. Bawa, in the same vein didn’t tell the uncle the real story, as he told him the same he told Osa’s father.

As the call ended, Bawa checked the time, and it was already 12:00noon. The sun has begun to surface. He wished to talk with his sister and was moved to call the number, which he did. But there wasn’t any response from the other end. He then called his father to let him know what the situation was with him at the moment and about his sister, Shela.

 

They entered into the compound and went straight into their various rooms. Bawa went to take a nap while Yesuf tried to tidy up the messed atmosphere. Washed the floor and the bathtub, after which, he took his bath and back to his room to sleep.

Later in the day, Bawa woke up from the supposed nap at 5:00pm. “Wow! The time is gone” he said as he moved to the bathroom, took a shower and changed his cloths. He picked up his phone to dial the missed calls. In an effort to call the numbers, he got a massage alert inviting him for a job interview in one of the companies he applied for a position. He interview was scheduled for Monday, which is three days from that fateful day he will live to remember in his life. He got his cloth and a pair of trouser on, and set to go out, so as to ease off the stress he has gone through during the day. He remembered that one of his friends, Shewa invited him for a get-together party. He was set to go, but stopped and went to check Yesuf if they could be there together. Unfortunately, Yesuf wasn’t in the room as Bawa concluded that he must have gone back to the hospital.  So, he left for the party….

 

He got to the T-junction close to the hospital and he decided to check on his friends who were earlier admitted. Getting closer to the gate, he sighted Yesuf leaving the hospital and asked about their present situation. “The same, they are still unconscious, but very much alive”, was the assurance from the doctor on duty. “I shall be going to see my people in Zaria, but not sure if I will return this night.” He told Bawa and suggested Bawa to come with him. He would’ve loved to go with him, but all he needed at that moment was to get himself relieved by being among happy people, which is the get-together. “It’s alright, we shall see tomorrow” Yesuf said as they parted ways.  “Tomorrow….hmmm, hopefully” Bawa thought aloud.

Bawa’s phone rang and it was Shewa’s call to remind him of the programme. He told her he was already on his way to the venue. He stopped a motorcycle and it took him down to Rendezvous hotel, the venue for the party. To his amazement, the party was beyond a mare get-together, but a carnival. He saw Shewa and went to meet her. They greeted each other and went towards the bar to get some drink.  They sat and discussed for a while. Bawa overhead a lady sitting behind him narrating a story similar to that of his friends to what seemed like a cohort or group of her likes. He interrupted her by asking few questions. And the lady demanded if he knew the boys. “Yes, they are my friends, in fact they are in the hospital at this moment” Bawa said. The girl tried to narrate further how the whole issues started.

“It all started from the club, when Osas picked me up after the usual dance….” She was interrupted by the sound of broken bottles in the hall and everywhere immediately got tensed and everyone was in fear. The fight which was later under control was between two rival groups in the hall. Due to fear, the lady narrating what happened to Bawa left the hall and Bawa followed her. Getting behind the hall, Bawa saw a group of five boys trying to rape a lady. He went to rescue her. In an attempt to make the boys leave her, he got a bottle to scare them away, but one of them remained adamant and Bawa used it on him. The boy immediately went into coma. The boy was rushed to the hospital, but died on the way as confirmed by the doctor.   Unknowingly to Bawa, he was recognized by the boys. One of them ran to the police station and reported the case. This time, the girl he was trying to rescue was later confirmed to be the late boy’s girlfriend.

 

Bawa went home. He already knew that was the occasion to wrap up his deplorable day. He got home and said a few prayers. On his kneels beside his bed waiting and praying, he heard a noise outside in Hausa language. The policemen went in. searched the house and got to his room. They met him praying and decided to wait for him to finish his prayers. As he ended his prayers with the popular benediction “The lord is my shepherd…” he stood up and stretched his hands for the handcuff.  As he was being taken outside, Aishat’s mother came outside and Bawa demanded to talk with her, which he was duly granted. “Please help me tell yesuf say make e no call anybody, but make he come straight to the police station when he come back” she nodded in pity. “nagode (thank you)”, he said as he was taken away to the police headquarters.

 

In the cell that night, he thought about all that transpired during the day, which seemed a dream and at that moment, he waited for someone to wake him up from his slumber. Someone actually did, Toshin, popularly known as the Don of the cell. Other cell mates call him Capon. He came closer to question Bawa, but got no response from Bawa who was still lost in his dream.   Bawa thought of his mother in the hospital. His father and the sister which he was yet to confirm if she was actually kidnapped or was just a deceitful means to get money from the family. He thought of his friends lying in the hospital bed, a result of their adventure and intolerance. He thought about yesuf which he was expecting to come in few days time. “I should have followed Yesuf, maybe this would have been prevented, or never had talked with Shewa” he thought. “It wasn’t her fault. I would’ve pretended not to have seen the girl. Oh! The dead boyfriend….”  “Wish my day was blessed… I did curse it”, he remembered his first statement that morning. He then thought about the only good thing about the day. The message alert he got, inviting him for an interview in two days from that moment…. In the cell, he thought about the jail ahead as he covered his nose to the stench and horrible smell in the cell. He said a few words of prayer in silence, “the lord is my Shepherd….”

 

Fate, A piece in me with venom

Fix the me in whole

Set me in the hands of faith

In faith it stays afloat

Fate of a vicious tongue

Things falling in place as said

But never in cocksure when used

Fate fixes by tongue….

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