This morning was an early one. At the meeting last night we’d been told there’d be another meeting by 7am this morning. So we went to the meeting and new research topics were shared. The Boss has four conferences to attend this month but he doesn’t have time to do so, so he is sending us there. I looked at my topic one more time and had to suppress laughter. I have not even finished the paper on sacrosanct lyrics and vulgarism, but here is another on theories and philosophies. Your brain will survive even this, I told myself.
It is Thursday, and for a serving corps member that means only one thing: CDS. But for me, it means no writing today. It’s the Sabbath day of NnadiEbube Research Institute… at least for Precious and I. so we went back to sleep off the sleep still on heavy eyes. We slept till about 10am.
At CDS last week, they did nothing. If we’d known, we wouldn’t have gone. So today we were sceptical. I didn’t just want to go today. So we made calls, we asked what was going on. They said nothing. How many people were there, they said 15. We called another person he said he was not around. The third person we called said they had just sang the anthem. So we decided to go. I wish we hadn’t!
My PPA is huge. It has many gates. From where we stay, we usually have to go through three gates to be outside the school. We had just left the gate and entered the major road when a bike stopped a little distance away from us. The passenger alighted the bike and walked toward us. His face was strong… it was scary and ugly and bony and black. His bony hands reached for his shirt which he pulled up, revealing the deadly weapon behind the waist line of the three-quartered shorts he had on. He pulled it out, its dark hole staring blankly at us and motioned with his hand that we made no noise. Then he stretched the hand he’d used to shush us toward me, looking at my phone.
You know how people say their whole lives flash before their eyes in situations such as this? I expected that. In the twinkling of an eye I tried to see my whole life flash before my eyes. But it didn’t. I was blank. I froze. I couldn’t even remember that I was wearing khaki. I felt naked. Empty. Tabularised!
His eyes were deep. They held a depth that told volumes. Not emotions, more like an indifference that sent chills down my spine, into my legs and froze my brain.
There is fear, and there is FEAR. They are not mates. There is intimidation and there is INTIMIDATION. One is the senior of the other. Now imagine a kind of fear that comes from intimidation. Intimidation that thrives on fear, that tells you that your life is worthless and can be taken by one who did not give it.
Am I even making sense?
I handed the phone over to him. By then Enyi had realised what was going on and was running back. It happened so fast. As she made to run away, the thief on the bike rode over to her and blocked her while the thief with the gun ran after her and collected her phone, hopped on the bike and tucked the phones away as the other sped away while we just stared at the bike till it disappeared.
We were transfixed. We couldn’t move. The woman across the street, having just regained her voice screamed, “In broad daylight o. Hei!” The two hawkers beside her, girls between the ages of 12 and 14, just stood there, faces horror-struck, hands on the trays balanced on their heads.
It took a few minutes. A few minutes to realise I am phoneless and standing beside the road like a newly homeless first wife. It took a few minutes. Then I walked over to Enyi who was as taken aback as I was. “Let’s go inside… because I can’t go anywhere like this,” I said, struggling to swallow the bitterness in my throat and the hot tears that threatened to flood my eyes.