Sometimes You’re Too Boring For Death.
Death is always on the move, lurking in the shadows and hiding between corners — waiting to ambush his next prey.
Sometimes he gets bored of his target and moves on to more interesting people. I know this because he was with me the day before yesterday; we walked together from my house to Ogba where we boarded the same bus going to Ojota.
I was meant to have an exam around Oregun so the plan was simple — get down at Clay bus stop and find the center. He knew about my exam but he wasn’t going to let me write it. He had other interesting plans for me. He stopped our bus around Agidingbi, if you’re familiar with jumping buses in Lagos you know that this is common.
Driver, what is this nonsense?
I get meeting for Ojota oo
You know say your car no good you come carry passenger.
Everyone yelled at the driver and the conductor. Death was pleased with the chaos he had caused, he was by the corner rubbing his palms with an awkward grin.
We changed buses when it looked like the engine had failed. We got in, and soon after I plugged in my earphones and let Cardi B’s lick take over.
They aint like me before, now they bookin’ me
The glow got b!tches so shook at me
They be like “chef cardi b, what you cookin’ B?
Death was next to me laughing at my naivety. He had his palm on his chin watching the events unfold with a slight chuckle. He knew that nothing was wrong with the first bus, he was aware it was all a plot to get us kidnapped and transported to ritualists.
I looked up only when I heard passengers protesting. The driver had turned the bus towards Mobolaji bank Anthony. For those that don’t know, it’s pretty much the opposite direction from where we were headed.
My suspicion pushed me to Whatsapp my location to parents and friends. I stopped when two of the guys in the front seat and the conductor brought out guns. Death was laughing out loud now. He relished all of it.
The lock of guns, the fire in the eyes of the driver and the switch in direction — It was all-clear now.
The fat bellied one brought out a basket that had been under the seat in front and ordered us all to drop our belongings into it. Death chose the right people for this. If kidnappers or ritualists had a look, these ones looked nothing like them. They were all well dressed and spoke softly. Neatly ironed t-shirts, blue jeans and decent slippers.
“We don’t need any of your belongings, we only need you” said the tall one. He spoke with his gun directly in our faces. He laughed as he explained that they needed our bodies and blood and not our bags or phones or money.
“We will burn all your things and take you” said the driver without looking back. The conductor followed this statement with a wicked kind of laughter. The type you’d hear from angry villains on Cartoon Network.
I didn’t have enough courage to scan through their faces, I was paralyzed with terror. We went past Ikorodu road, third mainland bridge, Lekki, Ajah. No idea where we were being taken.
Death was thoroughly enjoying all of this and counting down to when he’d take me. At this point, it felt like he could not wait to drag me with him. I sensed him around my thin frame, hugging me tight and whispering “it’s almost time”.
We finally got to a small close and the guys brought out newspaper bags and asked us to put them over our heads. They did not want us to be able to identify the accurate location of the house we were being taken.
“If una try any nonsense them go shoot” threatened the driver again without looking back. He didn’t turn his head to look at us, not for once.
I heard death yawn and make weird stretch noises. It felt like he was almost getting tired of the back and forths and just wanted real action from the ritualists.
We were moved into a house. Now, this was not the typical Nollywood kidnap scene with uncompleted buildings and boys smoking marijuana or breaking bottles in the corner. This was a house, well furnished, nothing out of the ordinary.
We got ushered into the reception area of the house.
“Make una off una cloth”
“Even you too Alhaja” he said pointing at my hijab.
Nobody asked questions, nobody protested. We all slowly took off our clothes and handed them over, all fourteen of us. When you’re enveloped with fear, the naked person next to you is the least of your worries.
They began calling people in one after the other. I curled up in a fetal position waiting for my fate. I thought about what happened to the people they had called in before me. Were they killed or locked up? My mind was a shivering wreck, emotions here and there.
The woman beside me was pregnant, she had not stopped crying since we got to the house. Death looked at her with disgust. I could tell that her echoing screams made him uncomfortable. I closed my eyes and hoped somehow shutting them tight would block out her wailing. I thought about how I’d die and wished I had the chance to say goodbye to my parents and friends.
Death was visibly jaded now. He had waited so long to take me that baskets could have been filled with water at that time. I watched him debate whether or not to come back another day or hold on a little bit till it was time.
“Alhaja, follow me” said the driver. I got a proper look at him for the first; he had tribal marks on one side of his face. They looked familiar, like something you’d see only on the face of a yoruba man from Ile Ife.
“What is your name?” the man in the other room I had been ushered in to asked. The room was like any other regular room, except that it was empty. The floor was tiled, wall painted in blue and there were three large windows by the corners.
He sat on the floor while I stood, there were no chairs here. He was dark, like coal. And when he spoke he flashed his gap tooth. “My name is Aisha”.
He told a story about how he was to check people before they are used, a brief summary on how he can see the “unseeable”. I nod and nod because my tongue swallowed itself.
“I don’t need you here” he finally ends. “Not your type” he adds.
I stare as he tells the men to give me back all my things. He explains something to them in a language I don’t understand. The quiet one among them brings the basket with our clothes and belongings and asks me to pick mine.
Why did he let me go? Why am I different from his other victims? Was this what my friend Esther meant when she said “God will always come through for you”?
Of course I didn’t ask him all of this. I picked out my clothes and dressed up faster than the flash.
He told two of the men to drop me off somewhere far. “She can’t have an idea where this is”.
The newspaper bag went over my head again and by the time it was off I was being kicked out of a moving car on to the side of the road. I sat on the floor for a while to make sure all my body parts are intact and that I was actually alive.
I clutched my bag, got up and without thinking or knowing where I was I began to run.
I did not stop running.
Death did really get bored of waiting and decided to leave me till another day. I don’t know when next he will show up or how but I hope the condition is more favourable.