Despite my semi-dead tear ducts, drops of saline solution slowly leaked outta my eyes.
I slowly opened my door. First the jam lock on top, then the padlock thingy in the middle and finally the door lock at bottom. I had 3 heavy duty locks on my door and none of them had provided protection when I needed it the most. I walked to my bed in a daze, or rather more like a man in a trance. Violence wasn’t new to me, I’d seen enough of it around me not to be shocked when shii happened to me, but today there was a problem.
Very delicately I lowered myself to the bed. The room was stifling hot, as usual, power was out and I couldn’t even move my self to go open up the windows. I arranged myself more comfortably into the concave my body had left on the mattress in the morning and stared at my favorite spot in the ceiling. Today, I wasn’t missing home or thinking about my friends. Today I was focused on the ringing in my ears and waiting for it to stop. If slapping was an Olympic sport, I’m very sure the dudes that gave me that “loading” in my ear as they called it would be a gold medalists.
The day had started fine, I was now a month old in Uniben and like it or not, I was now in my element. I was now used to the nuances and tune of the entire school. I had made some friends and very slowly, I was coming to terms with the fact that I was stuck here. No going back for a while. I had learnt some things too. Like the fact that you always bring your charger along with you where ever you go, power outlets in class was like cigarettes in prison, brokered, sold to the high bidders and exchanged for favors. I had learnt you never make the mistake of sleeping off in night class with any valuable effects on the table, I had learnt hall 3 boys were vicious and hall 4 boys were prone to farting in class( too much beans and bread I guess) and most importantly, I had learnt some important facts if you wanted to live off- campus and live peacefully.
1). Disguise your American accent as much as possible if you didn’t want to spend the rest of the semester buying crate after crates of beer for some very “VIPs”……..you should hear my yoruba accent, AWESOME.
2). Never make eye contact while walking down home, twas far better to be a bitch nigga than to be a dead bitch nigga.
3). Address every unknown guys as “Bros”, “Chairman”, “Master” or any other flattering palliatives that comes to mind. Always walk with enough money to buy recharge cards for at least 2 dudes.
4). Walk with your phone once it past nine in the evening then its obvious you keenly interested in sowing a seed into the life of a marijuana marinated nigga. You snooze, you lose!
5). And most importantly, if you’re called, whenever, whenever or however you better go answer. Even if you’re not sure you’re being called better to go report yourself and buy the recharge card that to be thought to be forming strong man.
After class I had gone to hang out with some friends of mine. After fulfilling all righteousness and pretending to study for a couple of hours, we had retired to Philip’s room for some R&R. Play station 3 and 3 cans of Star, each. Maybe it was the booze or the soccer or just the fun of being with friends. Whatever it was by the time it occurred to me it was getting late, it was already a quarter past 10. You would think with the many things I just told you I learnt in the past weeks I would stay put and spend the night in Phillips side, but a couple of things tipped the scales in favor of me going home that night. First of was the fact that my laptop and modem were in my hostel and I had promised mom that we’d skype tonight and most importantly was the fact that I hate sleeping with another person on the same bed talk more of a room full of boys.
Philip snored louder than a demented horse.
Seun was a kick boxer in his dreams, he’d beat anyone close to him black and blue.
Victor was shockingly very touchy feely while sleeping. I had made the mistake of sleeping close to him once and let’s just leave it at the point where he grazed his hands over my rump and called me Linda with a sleep-induced croak of a voice.
Add to this awkward montage, Osato tucked in one corner muttering to himself, scribbling in that novel/diary thingy of his and giggling every 2 minutes while Bonna and Chika were the original nocturnal/nightowl/insomniac pair. They’d never sleep and spent the night planning practical jokes to play on us while sleeping. While angry kid Femi was perpetually picking fights over inconsequential things.
I’m very sure you’d see why I voted to go crash at my house that night. Given the fact that the last time I had slept there I had woke up with “666” written on my forehead in red indelible marker which took 2 days to wash off, taking off was the safest bet.
In all honesty I had heard him call me. It was now almost half past 11 and I was already at my junction. Just a couple of houses away was my hostel and safety. So went I heard “guy show!” I had hasten my footstep to the point of almost running, hoping to slip through my gate without them knowing. Well I had quite a run of bad luck coming up. I had discounted fact that these guys were professionals, chairmen at what they do. So when I got to the front of my hostel and a dark figure detached itself from the gloom and stepped right in my path. Surprised was an understatement.
By now I was surrounded by about 4 boys with various levels of the “Badoo” look and I could clearly discern who was boss. He looked so bad….. Like that Chidi Mokeme in those awful Nigerian movies.
“You no hear egbon dey call you” the dude’s voice were like iron being rubbed over concrete. Honed by years of skunk skunking and raw gin drinking. The said egbon was still staring at me without a word. Abruptly he stretched out his hands. “Oya gimme your phone” I wasn’t one to argue and thankfully I was just with my touchlight Nokia phone. I handed over the phone gladly.”How much you get with you?”” Bros, I’m kind of broke please, I just have a few hundred naira with me” egbon stared at me and pointed at the tallest of the guys “Toolsman Search the jew”. The said Toolsman ran his huge hands over me and removed my wallet, opened it and handed the three thousand naira in there to the egbon.
“So I call you and you bone, and you come they lie gimme abi? You know who you dey mess with” Egbon was obviously now very angry,
“I’m very sorry bros, I didn’t hear you and I forgot that I had that much money in my wallet”
Egbon burst in laughter and the rest of the gang faithfully laughed along with him.
“See as the baga dey speak english for me, Toolsman, give am one!”
I didn’t know what “one” meant, but I was awfully sure it wasn’t gonna be good. I turned to plead with egbon not to be given one when I felt the sharpest pain I’ve ever felt in my face.
The hardest I’ve ever been slapped was by Moms when I was younger, and compared to this, that was a love tap. Toolsman hands were hard with calluses and it had some kind of recoil action, so while it had supposedly hit me once, it had felt like twice. Before I could collect myself enough to stop the groaning I was emitting, Egbon was in my face “e ring?” I didn’t understand what he meant so I gave what I thought was the safest answer. I shook my head.
“Toolsman you dey fall my hand oh, abi your talent don dey finish? The guy say e no ring na” egbon said softly. Now I was beginning to get an inkling of what was happening, but my head shake was a personal affront against Toolsman and obviously all he stood for. He launched another vicious assault against my ear. This time the double tap wasn’t imaginary. The dude was like a machine.
It rang quite a lot
Its actually still ringing…..