Tunji was out of Moremi Hall in no time, his feet travelled at a ‘neck breaking’ speed and to no particular distance. He just wanted a quiet place where he can digest the content of Amaka’s letter.
After thirty minutes of aimlessly wandering around campus, he finally settled at the Mainbowl of the school sports ground. School fellowships which usually held there were yet to begin, so it was a cool spot for him to read the letter.
With trembling hands, he opened the letter and the first thing that struck him was the scrambled way it was written. It was evident that the letter was written in a hurry, and he further wondered what could have happened to Amaka that would warrant such a hurry. Without wasting time, he began devouring the content of the letter:
Thanks for your help so far. I can’t appreciate you enough for what you have done for me. I know you are trying to see what you can do to raise the money, but I also know how difficult it would be to raise N500,000 in a week.
I have decided to go to a friend in Osogbo. He might be able to help or lend me the money. I will be back in a week or less. Would give you the full gist when I’m back.
Tunji was already covered in cold sweat by the time he reached the final word in the letter. What he was fighting against had finally happened, it would seem that Amaka is a lost dog whose redemption is far beyond the hunter’s whistle.
He looked at the letter again, and the mention of ‘Osogbo’ brought back to his memory, the day he had to wait for her in the morning in front of her hostel, hoping she was inside, only for her to be dropped by a Jeep; she had come from Osogbo that morning. Tunji believed immediately that Amaka had gone to one of her ‘Uncles’ and if the money would come out ‘in a week or less’, there would be a trade by barter; something like cash for kind. It was suicidal for him to think of what Amaka would do to get the money, but he knew he couldn’t run away from reality.
At that point, he felt it would be best to give up on her. She was a lost cause already. Despite the fact that he loved her, he needed to let go as he was giving too much and getting next to nothing in return. It was time he began to pick up the pieces of his life. He had lost his academic balance, his friendship with Jumoke, and his innocence of cyber crime, in a short space of time. He had to rise from the ashes, and quickly too.
It would be quite easy, he hoped, to get back to his best in class. It won’t be too much of a problem to gain back Jumoke’s heart… But J-boy and Sunky!
“There’s no backing out… I don’t train chicken hearted boys! You mess up with me, I bring you down!” J-boy had made it clear earlier in the day.
“I did this for you, and I’m putting my life on the line for your sake because I’m trusting not to let me down. J-boy is brutal and unforgiving. Think well before you do this” Sunky had warned him too. But the passion to help Amaka was bigger than every other thing, and Tunji’s response in affirmation was quick and sharp. He had confidence in his ability to help Amaka, even if it meant he had to go into crime.
But the girl he did it all for had found a quicker alternative for her self. “Wouldn’t it be wise of me to stop here and not dip myself further into crime” he thought to himself.
He rose up immediately, and with strong determination in his heart, he was hostel bound to tell Sunky he was no longer interested.
“Nne, what’s wrong with you? Why did you run out of the ward like that?” Mama questioned Amaka after finding her under a tree outside the main building of the hospital, worry was written on her face, her daughter’s face was no better.
Amaka kept silent, and buried her head in between her thighs.
“Is anything the matter? Or do you know the young man…I mean The taxi driver.” Mama questioned further, utterly confused. She moved closer to her daughter and sat beside her, placing a timid hand on her back.
“Mama! Why didn’t you tell me you were making other plans of getting the money? Why did you let me go all out to get this money and at the end of it all, it would be useless?” Amaka spoke finally.
“The money is not useless, my daughter. We’ll use it to take care of your father after his operation, and also take care of some important things at home.” Mama sensed Amaka was jealous that her status as the provider was at stake, so she made an attempt to make her feel safe. “Don’t worry about the taxi driver, God only used him to help us. You are still my loving daughter, the one who really works hard to make us survive. Your money is worth more to me than anything the taxi driver brings. Just calm down Nne.” She placated.
Amaka looked at her mother and realized for the first time that her mother was ignorantly pushing her into danger. Mama hardly knew about what her daughter always had to do raise money for the family, and even at that moment, she hadn’t bothered to ask how the N100,000 brought by Amaka was raised, knowing fully well that she was a non-working student.
Mama used her as an instrument to get money without caring about what she gave in return. She was willing to sacrifice her daughter’s dignity as long as money kept coming. Ada, her elder sister had been right all along, Tunji had opened her eyes, and she saw clearly why it was best for her to stop being pushed by her mother.
“Mama, have this money.” She handed over a neatly packaged polythene bag to Mama. “This would be the last time I go out to look for money for you. I’m not working Mama, and you should be bothered about where all the money comes from. I’m going back to school to face my studies. When I graduate from school, and get a good job, I’ll resume my responsibility of providing your needs to the best of my capacity.” She left her Mama under the tree and walked back into the hospital.
Meanwhile, Ada and the taxi driver were deep in discussion inside the ward.
“How can we see your boss, to show gratitude for this great help he has rendered to us?” Ada asked the taxi driver, who by then had finally introduced himself as Uche.
“You won’t be needing that. My boss prefers to be anonymous. All he asks is your prayer.” Uche answered.
Ada’s eyes shot in surprise and she quickly responded, “Hmmm… That’s strange. I never thought people like that still existed on the surface of the earth. Anyway, thank you for reporting our case to him…”
“You are welcome”
Ada paused for a moment, and cleared her throat. “I would love to ask you a question. Please forgive my probing”
“I’m sorry if this question seems a little embarrassing, but does your boss also own the taxi you drive? Are you working with the taxi for him?” Ada asked, looking away and hoping she hadn’t said too much.
Uche smiled, but his reply was interrupted by Amaka’s entrance.
“You look so much like your sister” Uche spoke as he rose for Amaka to sit.
“Oh really?” Amaka replied with a smile. “Thank you… I appreciate your help with my father’s ailment. May God bless you and your family.”
“Amen, and you too.” Uche responded.
Amaka sat by her elder sister and whispered gently to her, “Sister, I have to leave now. I have given Mama the little money I could raise… But I want to tell you something, I don’t mind if your guest can excuse us please.”
Uche took the initiative and left the ward.
“I hope there’s no problem?” Ada frowned with serious concern.
“There might be… And it could be big… Too big for me to handle alone”
Deji did not need any more proof to realize that he shouldn’t take his friend’s case for granted. Gbade wasn’t joking about the strange creatures he claimed to be seeing. Deji sat at the hospital lobby where Gbade was rushed to wondering what next step to take about Gbade. He reached a quick conclusion to take him back home if that’s what would put an end to the strange visions.
“Your friend is okay now, you can go in and see him” the doctor announced.
Deji sighed in relief, “Thank you doctor, I’ll be with you in your office shortly.” Gbade answered and hurriedly made his way into the ward.
“Gbade! Gbade! Gbade! What’s all these about? You are getting me worried o!”
“Deji stop. I almost died back there at the hotel, and this is what you can say? Those evil looking creatures almost strangled me to death…”
“Enough of this nonsense!” Deji looked astonishingly at his friend and wondered if he wasn’t going mad. “How come it’s just you who’s seeing those things, why am I not seeing them?”
“I don’t know. But I’m serious about what I’m seeing.” Gbade took a deep sigh and continued, “I think I know where the problem is coming from… I have to be in Lagos, I have to see my wife, I have to beg her.”
Deji was totally irritated, but he kept his calm. “What does your wife have to do with any of this?”
Gbade threw caution to the wind, he didn’t care if Deji would call him a weakling, he was ready to bare his mind, hoping it would free him from the torment.
“I think my wife is a witch!” He announced.
Deji was shocked beyond words, he is mouth was left open as he looked on at his friend.
Gbade however continued, “shortly before our trip, she offered me a condom and I was surprised at how she knew about my mission. I refused to accept it and I told her not to offer me such gifts again. But my mind has not been at peace since then… And since I passed the night with that girl, I have been seeing those ugly spirits, calling on me to come. I think my wife is haunting me.”
Deji waited a moment, just to be sure his friend was through with his hallucinations. Then he spoke, “you have just confirmed to me that you are running mad. You need psychiatric help, Gbade.”
“Call me whatever you want to. I need to see Juliet and beg her.” Gbade insisted.
“It’s okay, we’ll go to Lagos once the doctor passes you fit to travel. But we’ll stop at Prof’s place on our way.” Deji finally conceded.
“Why do we have to?”, Gbade raised his eyebrows.
“He might have answers to this problem of yours. I would rather have you talk to him, than see u grovelling at your wife’s feet, begging for what’s not real… You might be putting yourself in greater trouble”
Gbade reasoned along with Deji for the first time in many hours, and agreed to go with him. Two hours later, he was discharged and they immediately embarked on the journey back to Lagos.
They stopped at Professor Sagat’s Temple as they agreed to, and they were lucky to meet him just when he was about going out. He however decided to hear them out.
Deji spoke after they had settled down, “Prof, we are sorry to have bothered you. We know the conference isn’t taking place until after another three weeks, but there’s a serious issue at hand which deserves your awareness and urgent attention”
Professor Sagat hardly spoke, so he nodded in response, and signalled Deji to continue, but Gbade took over and presented his case.
“Err… Sir, I went with Deji to Osogbo to have the regular mating ritual, but since I did it, I have been seeing strange creatures calling on my name, asking me to come to them. This morning, they caught up with me and almost strangled me to death. I don’t understand sir, but I’m scared for my life.”
Professor Sagat stared at Gbade for long minutes, shook his head and turned to the wall. He performed some Indian incantations and turned back towards Gbade.
“Who was the lady you had the mating ritual with?” He asked.
Gbade looked at Deji and answered, “she’s just a random girl, a student. I don’t particularly know her. And I paid her off this morning when I started seeing the strange creatures. I didn’t want to get embarrassed in front of her.”
“You remember her name?”
“Ah…” Gbade tried to recall. After some moments of frantic search through his memory, he came up with something, “I think she told me her name is….”
“Don’t think Mr Man! Your life is in danger! You have to act fast else, you will pay the price!” Sagat’s eyes shot wit blood.
Gbade was scared more than ever. He looked at Deji, hoping he could come to his rescue.
Sagat went further, “I told you from the beginning, whoever you’ll do the mating ritual with has to give you her consent. She has to willingly submit her soul to you, that’s the only way you can access her destiny. Apparently, something has gone wrong in this case; it’s either you forced her to bed or she was thinking of another while mating with you”
Deji stepped in after realising the need for urgency, “what can we do, prof?”
“You have to look for that girl and bring her here. We’ll perform some rituals and hopefully, everything will be alright, and your friend might live.” He replied.
Fully aware that they had a life and death situation on their hands, Deji and Gbade knew immediately that they had to return to where they were coming from. They got up in readiness to leave, but Sagat had more to say;
“You have just seven days… Or you’ll pay with your life!”
To be continued next week………