Episode 10 – (SO, SHE DIED)
“Sori dat am telin u dis stuff lately. Maybe u hav heard abt d latest fight, but for d sake of our frndshp I jst hope am d 1st persn u ar hearing it frm. Things got worse & there was a fight, & I rendered Tobias almost useless. I still hav my child, it is a month old plus now, bt I am still confused on what to do. Tonio, u re d only ears dat hav heard about my pregnancy, cos I even lied to dat monster called Tobias. Pls seal it as a secret b/w d both of us, let no other ear hear it. Hope ur exams re going well? I don’t wanna disturb ur reading by askin 4 us 2see be4 we go bak 4 long vac. My last paper wil b nxt 2mao & am supposed 2 go home once I drop my pen, bt my conditn z making it hard 4me 2 decide on wht exactly 2do. Exam success, see u nxt semester dear. #Oge_cares”
I still pondered on Oge’s text message even after I said good night to Helen, and wished her a successful study.
“Lest I forget, can you give me your…”
“No…That’ll be next time we see” Helen said with a smile in the corner of her lips.
“You’re gonna give me your contact now, or I shoot you in the head” I pretended to be serious.
She posed akimbo, saying: “Not until you shoot me, then”
I brought out my gun (my fingers in the shape of a gun), pointed it on her forehead and voiced, “Pow! Pow!”
“Uhm! Yeye-boy like you, comot your finger from my head jari” she brought out her phone and dialled a number. My phone rang and we stared at each other for some time.
I smiled, saying: “So, you have my number?” I was enveloped in surprise and gladness at the same time. “Now, tell me; for how long?” but she didn’t reply me.
For the second time in my life, I felt so special. I slept like an overfed cow that night, forgetting to take off my shoes, which was why I also forgot to call Oge to inquire the seriousness of the fight she texted me about.
The next day, I called Tobias, thinking he would sound harsh but he sounded otherwise. Sincerely speaking, what Tobias said Oge did to him was so amazing that it got me thinking what surged her to do so. I felt for Tobias and told him we would speak later. Although, he insisted that we should see that day. I gave him excuses, saying I was tied down with my exams.
“I’ll get back at Oge, I swear” that was the last thing Tobias said before he hung up the phone.
* * *
Few days later, it remained just one paper for me to say goodbye to hundred level. Therefore, I decided to make peace with God before taking my final paper; and then prepare for my long vacation. Part of my plans that Saturday morning was that after going to confession, I would head to Oge’s house during the day, since her number wasn’t going through.
“Forgive me father for I’ve sinned against you” I said, as I knelt on the kneeler to confess my sins. A Rev. Fr. was behind the kneeler, sitting like the apostle of God who the power to purge or retain sins have been bestowed on, by Jesus Christ. He listened until I was done confessing my sins. One weird thing about this exercise is that in the verge of saying your sins and how many times you did them, there’s this routine-sin that you keep doing to the extent that you don’t even know how many times you’ve done it.
“By the power of the Holy Spirit you’ve been freed from your sins. Go, do your penance solemnly and sin no more” the priest said in a soft voice after he had given me prayers to say as penance.
“Amen” I replied. I was viewing him from the veil which covered a rectangular space in the kneeler, but he couldn’t see me. Not just me, but he never saw whoever came for confession. I said the Act of Contrition as I walked out, and the next person went.
I hadn’t led the kind of life I planned if I got admission, I didn’t absolutely give my soul to Christ like I promised Him that I would do. However, I’d to cleanse myself of my sins, by confessing my inequities to the Lord Almighty, because He is the only One who is right in judging me, who is justified in condemning me. Confessing to an ordained priest is the way Catholics does that.
As I was done with my penance, I felt as if a very gigantic burden had been lifted off my shoulders, as if the wages of my sins were cleansed absolutely, and of course, they really were. Once again, I felt the spirit of the Lord in me. Religion is all about belief and ‘belief’ is a beautiful thing.
My plan was that after confession I’d go to the UBA’s ATM Stand, adjacent to Social Science Faculty and withdraw some cash. It worked as planned. I slotted my card and pressed N5,000 and the next thing I heard was the shuffling sound of currencies inside the machine after which it vomited my cash, and I stashed it into my wallet and left at once – without bothering to count it.
That day, I wanted to surprise Oge by showing her I could actually cook, so I bought noodles, carrots and egg. I am a good cook, my dishes were mouth-watering even to girls, but since I knew Oge, I hadn’t done any tangible thing for her. Therefore, I decided that at such depressive moment of her life, cooking for her and her unborn baby would put a huge smile on her face. Besides, she’d been doing a lot of good to me and I barely returned the favour. I had planned how I would shun her complaints before she could stammer one word, and then I’ll tell her to eat my food first, before telling me about the fight. Since I would cook in her house, I decided to buy fruits and chocolates which we would chomp as we wait for my meal to be done.
I had to pass my lodge before getting to Oge’s, so I decided to branch there and pick one or two things before heading to hers. I never knew what lied in wait for me. I never saw it coming.
* * *
I was highly amazed to see people clustered in front of my lodge. There were a handful of policemen and school security men. I saw Tobias, been dragged by his trouser making one of his legs to hang as if it was taller than the other. His eyes were red and there was a stamp of someone’s palm on his face, I guessed that was a dirty slap from the police or security.
“Sharrap, or I kick you off your feet” the voice of a policeman went. While he pronounced ‘Shut Up’, he allowed the ‘r’ to swallow the sound of ‘t’, making it sound like – ‘Sharrap’. An attitude which security men were known for.
As I wanted to know what was wrong, one of the girls whose eyes were filled with tears sighted me and pointed. She was standing with the policemen and another rich-looking man with white beards. People watched them for they seemed to be the centre of attraction.
“He is one of them, they’re friends” she said with slow motion, bitterly weeping and pointing towards my direction. I followed her finger tips with my eyes just to realise it was pointing right at me. I was amazed. The girl, a born-again Christian, was also a good friend of Oge.
“Are you the so-called Tonio?” one of the policemen thundered.
First of all, I frowned, looked at everybody, touched my chest and said in confusion: “Yes sir, I am”.
“So, as innocent as you look you got involved in this mess?” one of the anti-cult guys echoed. As at that time they were called securities, because the days of cultists have been revamped by them, so we believed there were no cultists in our university. Within me, I was like – ‘What mess?’.
He then asked me if I was actually a friend of Tobias. “Sir, he’s my friend but what’s going on sir, sir please sir, I mean sir…” I was stuttering a thousand ‘sirs’, defending myself, and frowning like a kid in primary school would do when he is alleged of farting in the class.
“Oya come with me” he led me to the ambulance packed outside. The attendant opened a thick blue cloth just for me to behold the corpse of a pretty chocolate skinned girl, her lower part drenched in blood. It was a matter of time, and I learnt that she was murdered in her apartment the previous night. According to the autopsy report, she died of suffocation. It was a sex-murder, therefore whoever killed her or whatever group of persons that killed her; apparently raped and suffocated her thereafter. I guessed the rape was the reason for the blood. There were scars on her body showing signs of struggle. That is, she had struggled to escape the murderers or rather rapists but couldn’t make it at last.
Still startled by the sight of the corpse, the policeman thundered: “Do you know this girl?”
I had never cried in the public, but before I could utter one word, tears flooded from my eyes. I was staring at a young lady who had always been good to me. A girl who gave all she had just to be in love. But the love swallowed her. I was staring at the blood which almost enclosed her down region, and I knew it wasn’t just her blood; it was more of the remains of her child, I was the only one who knew about that though.
“Oge!!!” I screamed. It was one of the most shocking moments of my life and just as I bowed to allow the tears drop, I took sight at the blue sandals she knitted for me, in fact, that was when I flinched the most. Imagine a big boy like me trembling.
I knew Oge to be a good girl, though she was sometimes sassy, was easily provoked (because she was a stammerer) and always raised her voice on guys. Attitudes that were part of her adaptive features. But, no matter how bad she was, there was nothing to justify killing her in anyway. What happened and when did it ever got to such extent?
The day I spoke with Tobias on phone after receiving Oge’s last text message, Tobias said that the morning they broke-up, there was problem in sharing their properties, because they partially lived together, bought things and used them together. Therefore, sharing their properties provoked to a fight, for she denied Tobias of a lot of things he bought. Oge packing her belongings to go live with a boy who wasn’t her husband all in the name of love, was one of the dumbest things she did.
As the fight emerged, he beat her up with the muscle of a man. Two days later, two huge boys bumped into Tobias’ room and beat reds out of him. Those men looked like thugs hired by Oge (according to Tobias’ story). But sincerely, I knew Oge could do something like that, because she had been in enough pains, and she had money and connections too. And she wouldn’t bear it when beaten up with a baby in her stomach. Those thugs made Tobias to vomit virtually everything he had eaten since he entered the university. On Tobias’ sickbed, he swore to get back at Oge, but I never knew getting back at her would be to this extent.
Looking at my knitter’s corpse, I was terrified with my mouth agape. “Oh, Oge, Oge…Oh!”
“’Do you know her’ – Is what you’re asked!!!” another scar-faced security man fired. I nodded and he flipped through the phone in his hand and showed me another person, saying: “Do you know him”
The face was familiar, I thought I’ve met the person somewhere but I wasn’t sure, therefore, I mumbled: “No, sir.”
He gave me a heavy slap and little stars dispersed from my cloudy wet eyes – with slow motion.
…To be continued
We are passengers of life, who came naked from dust and shall return to dust. Beyond HERE is a Paradise for saints and Doom for sinners, but before this train of life transits us, there’s still little time to decide.
© Nwoye T. Anthony 2017
(CHRONICLES OF TONIO LAWREX)