It was a sunny October evening in the eastern heartlands of Enugu State and a long stretch of red dusty road laid ahead of Aniokwu as she got to the final part of the journey to see her aged and ailing grandmother.
She had boarded a vehicle at Ninth Mile and ten minutes into the journey, the car had spluttered to a halt. “Biko, a nam abia…” said the cab driver as he disembarked from car to open the bonnet. The car had stopped at Nsude town but Aniokwu’s hometown was still some twenty minutes away in Obioma village.
She had used the opportunity to stretch her legs from the already long journey from Kaduna. If she had looked further down the road she would have seen the okada rider waving to her and other passengers enquiring if they wanted him to come. Had she looked straight on she would have seen the two young boys sharing a handful of ukpa – her childhood pastime – under the tree on the other side of the road. Her mind was faraway and in several places.
When she boarded the Enugu-bound bus at Kawo garage earlier that morning she could not resist the urge to constantly look over her shoulder for the fear of being followed. Though sleepy-eyed, she could not allow herself the luxury of sleep, not after what had happened earlier that morning.
She was just six years old and playing with Ifeoma, the second daughter of Mazi Azubuike under the big ugba tree. She was holding her mother’s beads in her hands and telling Ifeoma the meaning of each of the beads. She had always been a good storyteller and so each bead had a story that ended on why it was so shaped. She had turned to the sound of her name coming from a distance which seemed to be getting closer and closer. She saw her grandmother beckoning to her to come home. There was something sad about her grandmother’s demeanour; suddenly loud raps of thunder cracked from the skies that jolted her and Ifeoma. Aniokwu was also jolted out of her sleep to realise the loud bangs on her door and calls of Ani (the name she was often called in school). She was sweating profusely; the clock by her roommate’s bedside indicated it was one thirty-nine in the morning.
“Ani, ofen the door or we go break it down!”
Her heart skipped, “Not again!” she said to herself. She could pick out two males voices, none recognisable. She wondered where the night watchman was. The two men continued pushing against the door and it just required one more push for the door to let go of its hinges when one of the two decided to try the window which had only horizontal glass panes. They both then concentrated on the windows. All these while Aniokwu was frozen, stiff on her bed. She did not remember to shout. A blow broke the glass panes and one gained entrance and the other jumped in after him. “Cooferate with us, e go soon done” said the bigger of the two who she realised was obviously of the Hausa extraction by the way he switched the pronounciation of p and f. It was when they grabbed her that she started screaming and fighting. The smaller of the two men closed his palm over her mouth to cover it but later screamed: ”Tanko!!! She don bite me!” Just as they pinned her to the ground and were pulling off her clothes, she mustered all the energy she could to push them off her but was firmly resisted by the weight of Tanko, she found all that energy diverted to her mouth when ”Blood of Jesus” came out loud and shrilling. Suddenly the door they were barging against previously fell in flat on Tanko. The two men couldn’t take it anymore and ran out of the house and disappeared into the darkness. It was one forty-five by the bedside clock.
She couldn’t sleep anymore, Peju her co-worker at Oriental Bank was on leave and in Lagos, her other neighbours in the compound – mostly students of Kaduna Polytechnic – were not back from their night party, there was nowhere else to go and no one to call.
She thought about the preceding dream she had and that was when it dawned on her what she needed to do. She remembered Pastor Patrick Yusuf had said during one of his messages: ”Recurrence of a particular event is evidence of an established order: if a bad thing happens once, it may be an accident. If it happens the second time, it may be a coincidence; but if it happens the third time then take it as enemy action! Fight it! Deliver yourself…”
She needed to go home to see her grandmother…
The story continues…
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