I smiled as the jeep reversed back, heading for my direction. For a while, I had wondered if my feminine charm would go to waste on the sterner sex. The sun also was still shining in all its glory even though it’s way past 5 pm adding to my discomfort as I stood by the roadside, a stone’s throw from the university main gate as I prepare to go home at the instance of my dad to refurbish my dwindling resources.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a honky-tonk girl that would jump into any man’s car, but I am not the Sunday school type either that would not seize an opportunity just because it looks inappropriate. I have been standing for a long time. This, coupled with the fury of the scorching sun prompted the decision that would nearly cost me my life.
The three men in the Toyota Land Cruiser seemed pleasant enough and in the course of our funny banter, dropped an invitation to a friend’s birthday party holding that night at the GRA in old Port Harcourt Township. I had readily agreed when they informed a gift in the form of a hefty financial package is in the offing and as the sun began to set, we arrived at our destination.
The house is no architectural marvel, being of the architecture department, I could design better ones but what interested me was the sound coming from the inside. I could hear raucous laughter and suggestive giggles assault the normally serene environment as we were ushered in by attendants whose smiles of welcome appeared slightly forced. There were a lot of girls in the hall, some from the same university as myself. Well, I am here already and prepared to enjoy myself, ignoring the competition since I have been assured of adequate reward for attending.
As the night wore on, I noticed that the girls were disappearing with potential mates and soon the hall was only a quarter full. I had not bargained for this but took it my stride. Anyone foolish enough to wrestle with a lion cannot expect to escape with only a few bruises. I had made this decision and must now see it through. What is more, I had just written a severance letter to my boyfriend of two years and the guilt of betraying him does not arise.
Curiously the men that brought me were nowhere to be found. In vain I asked discreetly but received vague answers as to their whereabouts. It was much later I learnt they were mere errand men to the ‘big boys’ who employ their services to fetch unwary victims.
My search being futile, I turned my attention to enjoying myself for the moment and worry about my payment later. No need making mountains out of molehills or as my dad would say, raising storms in a teacup. I assumed things would sort out themselves.
What I wasn’t sure of though, was a man who turned his whole attention on me, demanding favours that are not only demeaning but inappropriate in the circumstances. I could not dissuade nor dislodge him since no other person asked me for a dance despite the fact that my features are outstanding even in the dimly lit room.
I was saved by nature’s call and asked the way to the ladies. Following directions, I sauntered downstairs where I found myself in a hallway with different doors. The restroom was the second to last on the left and I made a beeline for it as I am pressed. Over my shoulder, I could make out the shadowy outline of someone following me and with the sound of fading music, opened the door.
This led to another hall with a single room. On the door was marked “Ladies” but what caught my attention was a large deep freezer at the corner. I suddenly found I was thirsty, that coupled with my natural curiosity made me to open the refrigerator and then froze at what assailed my eyes. Stacked in untidy heaps are human heads, grotesquely severed from their bodies. Some are still dripping blood while others are starry-eyed in the frozen stare of death. They are all female.
Petrified, I let out a silent scream as the person that had been following me entered the room. “So this is how I am going to die. Oh God, is this how my own will end?” I asked in my local dialect. With that, I turned to face my potential assassin, but there was a questioning look on his face as he approached.
“What did you say?” He asked curiosity etched in his voice.
I pleaded not to be harmed but he insisted on knowing the place of my birth and when I told him just to stall the inevitable, It turned out that we are from the same clan in Abua and indeed not too distant relations. This changed everything as he elected to help me escape from what he termed certain death.
A window led to the courtyard and he half pushed me through it to land in the garden where the air was sweet with the smell of flowers and sun-warmed earth. Following instructions, I switched off my phone, crept my way to a newly dug drain and buried myself in it. The night was as silent as a poor man’s grave but for the sound of nocturnal creatures and light music coming from the house.
In about four minutes, my cousin let out a scream that cut into the night, announcing my escape and that engendered a flurry of activity. The music stopped instantly while a systematic search was made in the compound. Men with torchlight hurriedly scoured the perimeter of the premises and when that proved unsuccessful, they started making arrangements to search the neighborhood. Calls were placed to friends and cohorts explaining the predicament and what it portends, cars were marshaled from outside and when everything was set, they went out like greyhounds in search of an elusive fox.
They were behaving to type as hinted by my new-found cousin. I waited for something close to two hours when they eventually returned. One does not need to listen closely to know how they have fared as their conversation was filled with frustration and tinged with fear. After some hasty discussion of which I wasn’t privy to, they left again.
I waited for another two hours until I could hear the cock crow thrice. From where I was ‘buried’ I could just discern the outline of trees and the lights of solitary vehicles. Morning is approaching and I arose to embark on the next line of instruction.
The fence was low and not barbed. In my heart I thanked my dad who had insisted I become conversant with my mother tongue and also the Governor of the state that had insisted all fences should be see-through and not exceeding a certain height; scaling it turned out to be undignified for a lady but not cumbersome despite my being sore all over. I made my way to the Police Officers Mess in the neighborhood where a team of policemen were on patrol duty at the junction and hysterically reported I had escaped from rapists who were bent on molesting me. My kinsman had indicated if I told that people were after my life, the policemen would bolt.
I remained with them until daybreak and then made my way home where I spent the weekend and the next five days reminiscing about the sequence of events. What had started as an adventure had transited to a terrible nightmare. I had mentioned earlier I am not a bad girl, but I am also not a particularly good one either. It was the mercy of God that delivered me from the valley of death and would be eternally grateful. I am now born again and active in a church where Jesus is preached and his word adhered to.
Oh, and by the way, I nearly forgot to mention I never saw my school mates at the party again; what happened to the rest of the girls is anybody’s guess.
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