****** HASTY DECISION******
I yawned and rubbed my eyes as the keke napep I boarded finally stopped.
“Madam, we don reach Bebeji town.” The Hausa man said to me. The journey had taken just 1 hour and another one hour to get to Bebeji by cab before I finally took Keke Napep.
“ Kai, are you coming down or not madam? Me I want to go back to my house.”
I smiled as I gave him some naira notes from my purse. “Keep the change aboki.”
I climbed down from the keke napep with my bag and began to look around.
Everywhere was sunny and dusty but crowded as well. We seemed to have gotten to some kind of market. I could see people whose faces were covered on donkeys many ladies who were buying and selling had their bodies covered from head to toe. Even with the way they were covered, you could tell they are really beautiful.
There were some men biker men who non spotting me started calling to me. Some even climbed down from the bikes to come and meet me.
“Where you dey go madam?”
One of them asked. “Mohammed Alli.” I replied and then followed the one that seemed to know the school.
While on the bike, my phone started vibrating I had forgotten to switch it off in the plane. I took it out only to find 32 missed calls. 10 from my husband, 5 from my therapist and the rest was from Felix. I sighed and then switched off my phone. I needed to digest this beauty of the north and I didn’t want anything to distract me…
“You are welcome to memorial college, Madam Tola, I am Mr Chuks, the school principal. Mrs Kate told me you were coming, I never knew you would come so soon. So how can I help you?”
The principal was Igbo, even though his intonation was quite flawless. He was cleanly shaven, and looked like a man in his late fifties. A lady came in and opened the bottle of pepsi for me while placing a straw inside it carefully with a courtesy before leaving.
“Thank you ma and thank you sir for welcoming me. I am glad you are aware of my coming. My name is Tola as you know and I am from the department of Social sciences of University of Lagos.” I fidgeted with the fake I.D card on my chest so that he could see.
“How was your jouney ma, I hope you like what you have been seeing so far about Kano?”
I smiled. “Kano is a beautiful place. I am honored to have been sent for this generous offer all the way from Lagos.”
The man smiled and leaned forward, placing his arms on the table that was littered with opened files.
“So ,how can we help you, our Lagosian?”
I chuckled. “Well sir, just like I said, I am one of the lecuturers of the school and we just started a project that will be benefial for all Nigerian students through NYSC corp members that have served or still serving. We know that so many people think that the NYSC scheme is just a waste of time, so by rewarding brilliant students through the corpers recommendations, parents, school and students can really benefit from the scheme.”
“Wow! This is really good. But why start with our school, we have bigger schools with more intelligent students.”
I smiled at his humility. “Well sir, the reason is because we have recommendations for your school. A high number of corpers recommended this school because of the great work of the principal in the person of you sir and many great impact of some of your teachers too.”
He leaned back, I could detect a hint of pride on his face.
“Wow! I am so happy to hear these. So when you said reward, what exactly is it? Money or scholarship?”
Well….this plan is working so well…
“Well, it depends sir, for students, we have money and scholarship and for the principal and teachers, we have token for them.”
We both laughed at this and he stood up. “No problem, as long as we also benefit something. So where do we start from?”
“Let’s start from the corpers you had two years ago, let’s see those that had great impact on some of your students.”
“WoW! Thought you would ask for the one for this year. Let me call my secretary.”
I waited patiently as he called his secretary who came in with some files. They both went through it and later separated some files from the rest.
“Madam, these are the files of the corpers we had from the last two years.”
“Alright, please help me look for Corper Henry Benson’s file, he recommended this school.”
At this, the principal’s face lightened up. “Wow! Henry, he was one of my best corpers, here is his file.”
I tried to maintain my emotion as I collected Henry’s file and went through it. There were some pictures of him in his white and green Khaki shirt where he was standing alone and then another with Felix, then the same picture I had seen back at home and then another with a girl and a woman, giving the girl an award. The girl was very fair and exceptionally beautiful. Her hair was packed in a pony tail and it seemed to be reaching her waist. She couldn’t have been more than sixteen years and she was not in the picture at home.
“Please, when was this?”
“Oh, that was last year. When our brightest student was given the state award.”
I had no idea why my heart was beating so fast…
“Please what is her name…?”
“Oh….that is Benita Achinga…” The principal said sadly. “She was our brightest student. She was the best student to win a schorlaship in this school. Benita, the pride of our state.”
The beating of my heart increased and I tried desperately to calm down. What was wrong with me!
“So where is she now?”
Well madam…she died last year….!
My heart sank as I heard the statement.
No, it couldn’t be!
I wanted to talk but it was like something was blocking my throat. Suddenly I felt a little dizzy and I had to hold the chair to maintain my balance.
“Are you okay madam?” Mr chuks asked, reaching out to steady me and I looked down in embarrassment as I let my emotions betray me.
“I am so sorry sir….” I started, clearing my throat which sounded a bit husky as if they were not mine. “I..I just never expected that such a talented girl could die so suddenly. What happened?”
The man sighed regrettably, taking out her picture. ‘Well, she was sick or so I heard. That was shortly after the corpers have left though. She was really sick and that was why she wasn’t in this picture. The sickness lasted for a while as her mother had said.”
“Was she taken to the hospital?”
Mr chuks shrugged slightly. “I thought she was then we found out she wasn’t. It was really a complicated story.”
I sighed as I took another file. I didn’t want it to seem as if I was only interested in Henry. Fortunately, I found that the file was Felix’s.
“Oh, this is Mr Felix. What subject did he teach?”
“Urm,,,it should be in the file. He and Mr Henry were very good with the students. We have other good students that are alive though so that your journey will not be wasted.”
Felix had taught Economics while Henry took political science. They were seen together in all of the pictures except that where Henry had taken a picture with Benita, Felix was not there.”
“Well, she was a brilliant student to have been given an award. Her demise would have created such a great hole in her family.”
“Well that’s for sure.”
“Can you give me her address. I really need to go see the family….”
“Wow! Sure. But you are coming back here right?”
I nodded. Ofcourse.
The house was a little bungalow, moderately furnished. I climbed down from the bike and paid my fare. Then carefully, I walked to the front door and just a I rasied my hand to knock…..I stopped.
Am I really doing this? Am I actually facing my nightmare? Once I knock and the door opens, there is no going back….I said to myself. But I knew I had signed up for this when I had taken a flight to Kano. Just as I wanted to knock again, my phone rang. It was Kate.
She said my husband has given her 24 hours to produce me else she will be arrested for kidnapping. She wanted me to hurry up.
“Thank You. I will get there soon.”
Just as I ended the call, Felix’s call came in. He was worried sick and wanted to know where I was.
“Felix. I will be back soon. I am so sorry for getting you so worried. I will let you know once I’m back…”
He said Henry was worried sick and greatly troubled. He also said he had calmed him down from calling the police. He begged me to call him but I said not yet. I was worried about him the other day, it was his turn now.
I ended the call without disclosing my location. Just as I raised my hand again to knock …the door opened without me touching it.
“ Waye kai?” A female voice shouted at me from within.
“ Waye a wurin?” The voice said again. It sounded like an elderly woman’s voice but I couldn’t understand the language.
“hello, good afternoon ma.”
“Me kake so?”
I sighed. “Please does anyone in here speak English?” I shouted back .
“Yes we do. What do you want?”
At the sound of the manly voice that spoke back, a chill crept up my spine and For some second, I felt as if the ground would give way under me…
I could see a figure approach me and my heart beat faster …when I finally saw his face…I gasped…it was the man that had r@ped me….the one that had taken my v!rginity….
TO BE CONTINUED