Akin called home the moment he arrived Abuja. It was a long journey from home and he was glad there was no hitches whatsoever during the exhaustive journey.
By Tunde Ososanya
The Taxi he boarded from the garage halted in front of the company and a surge of anxiety almost made his heart jump out of his chest. The building was a product of architectural ingenuity, and its lushness held Akin spellbound that he stood gazing at the spectacular building which he believed must have cost a fortune. He satisfied his eyes that gluttonously feasted on the grandiloquent exterior of the company before finally pressing the bell. He hoped, as he was been ushered in without much questioning, that this was where a new chapter of his life would be written.
Buckets of water formed a straight line at the entrance of the bathroom, and their owners queued correspondingly beside their buckets. A neighbour hummed at the current user of the bathroom’s sluggishness in bathing, another cursed beneath his breath and hoped he didn’t get to work late. Kemi was the tenth person on the queue and was behind a neighbour whose body odour almost made her puke.
Baba Biliki appeared from nowhere and drew the stinking neighbour out of the queue. His name was Ejiofor. A slap landed on Ejiofor’s face and threw him off balance, before uttering a word, a more brutal slap descended on the other cheek. The neighbours watched with utmost surprise as Ejiofor threw a punch at Baba Biliki who parried it and launched an offensive punch on his jaw. Ejiofor slumped on the buckets of water and his towel loosened as his manhood glared helplessly at the neighbours. Baba Biliki who had been restrained from pouncing on him recoiled and yelped at the sight of Ejiofor’s manhood. Some female neighbours looked away, and some were carried away with its massive size and they rested their gaze on it.
“What’s the matter, Baba Biliki?” Kemi demanded.
“What has Ejiofor done to deserve this humiliation?” another neighbour asked.
Baba Biliki watched Ejiofor as he stood to his feet with a desire to continue with the fisticuff. A neighbour gripped Ejiofor and prevented him from continuing with the fight. Baba Biliki gave the clincher and wept bitterly.
“Ejiofor has been sleeping with my daughter, Biliki, who’s only thirteen. As if that wasn’t enough, he went as far as impregnating that little girl,” Baba Biliki said.
Silence immediately rented the air after the neighbours exclaimed almost in unison. Ejiofor and Biliki? It was unthinkable, Ejiofor had his own wife and a female child. How could he have taken advantage of little Biliki? This was wickedness, Kemi thought. She felt uneasy and started towards their room. Itunu was still eating her breakfast and was already dressed for school.
“You haven’t bathed, mummy.”
“It hasn’t got to my turn yet,” Kemi said. She now seemed to fear for the future of her daughter on Coal Street. It was imperative to bring her daughter up in a modest neighbourhood, she thought and prayed that God showered them with abundant blessings soon.
Akin recounted the events of the previous weeks. It was exactly five weeks without seeing his wife and Itunu her charming daughter. They knew he now had a job – he had called Kemi immediately he was interviewed and offered a job. He had sent money home once and didn’t fail to call on a daily basis.
He gulped the remaining wine in the glass and put off the Television. He wished he could watch a programme before he left but he could not wait to be in Lagos, and in the arms of Kemi and Itunu. He stood to reach for his bag but quickly picked up his phone that was already ringing.
“Good morning, honey,” he said with a faint smile.
“Good morning, dear. I’m calling to wish you a safe journey back home, may you arrive home safely,” Kemi said from the other end of the phone.
“Amen, thank you so much. Where’s my Jewel?”
“She’s here, let me give her the phone.”
“Daddy, I’ve missed you. Are you on your way home?”
“I’ve missed you too, my baby. I’ll be on my way as soon as I drop the call,” Akin said and wished he could travel by air so as to be in Lagos in an hour’s time. But he needed to enjoy road travel one more time as his subsequent trips would be by air.
He swaggered out of the staff quarters and was lucky enough to see a Taxi whose passenger was already alighting. He stepped in as soon as they both agreed on the fare, and the driver veered the vehicle to the road that led to Nyanya garage. The many thoughts that occasionally crawled into his mind were making another effortless entrance. There was every reason for Akin to be receptive to the thoughts that now dominated his mind – they were laden with fantasies, dreams, and hopes.
Finally, he was going to be the kind of husband and father he had longed to be to his wife and his daughter. He had only worked for a month, and here he was, with a rekindled hope and a grateful heart. The driver increased his speed as though he knew Akin couldn’t wait to be in a Lagos-bound vehicle. Within minutes, they were in the embrace of Nyanya garage.
“Keep the change,” Akin said excitedly as soon as he stepped out of the Taxi after paying the fare.
The only luggage he had was a school bag in which he stuffed a few clothes and two Teddy Bears. There was no need to travel home with a lot of clothes as his stay would only last for a few days, and besides, he could buy more clothes at home. Itunu’s Teddy Bears were the most important things in his bag. He imagined the names his daughter would give her new Teddy Bears and smiled at the thought of her excitement that daddy actually fulfilled his promise.
The vehicle that would convey him to Lagos had only three already-seated passengers, and Akin became irritated with the scanty bus which would accommodate twelve passengers. He wondered when the seats would be occupied, and his disposition made the driver add more vigour to the calling of passengers.
Akin sat rather patiently, the driver’s voice raged on but was soon swallowed in a deafening sound. It was an explosion by a suicide bomber, and the garage was soon thrown into a war-ravaged zone. The passengers, including Akin lay lifeless in the vehicle. The driver’s limbs had went off, and with charred vehicles and several lifeless bodies, an earlier busy garage soon became a graveyard and a place of tears, blood and sorrow as injured persons cried for help while those who were lucky to escape the effect of the explosion, wailed at the sight of the tragedy.