‘Welcome to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport…’
Obinna jarred from his sleep at the announcement from a cabin crew. The twelve-hour journey seemed just like an hour! Were he to possess some mystical powers, he thought, he would have redirected the airplane to a different destination.
‘Thank you for flying with ABC Airline…’ the cabin crew continued.
‘I’m finally back to this damn country!’ Obinna fumed under his breath.
How else could he convince himself that his village people weren’t the clog in the wheel of his progress? Just when he was on the verge of securing his papers as a citizen of the ‘God’s own country,’ an immigration officer walked up to him one day with the usual alarming question: ‘identify yourself, please?’ His failure to answer that one-million-dollar question, brought about his immediate repatriation.
God punish the Babalawo behind my ill-luck! He sworn under his breathe. Picking up the bottled water which he had left untouched all through the journey, he started towards the door.
‘Damn, this country!’ he voiced out aloud the moment he alighted from the plane.
‘All we need is good governance,’ Obinna heard a voice behind him, but never bothered to see who it was. The fear of ridicule from his friends he left back in Ajegunle before he travelled out became his major headache. Who would have thought that ‘Go-getter,’ as he was popularly called, would be ‘shipped’ back like a piece of some defective merchandise?
Was the law of karma about to take his pound of flesh from me? he reflected dreadfully.
Viewing the entire scenario from the lens of justice, Andrew, his elder brother is justified if he eventually failed to pick him from the airport. All through his sojourn in America, Obinna had remained incommunicado; only for him to suddenly remember upon repatriation that he has a relative back home in Nigeria!
‘plenty tanker bus everywhere. No moto to enter to come to carry you,’ he read Andrew’s text message as he neared the arrival hall of the airport.
‘Oh, damn it!’ he paced to and fro within the vicinity, fiddling with his phone and scratching his head simultaneously.
‘You look stranded,’ a young lady accosted him on the way.
He turned towards her, and taking in her ravishing beauty, he nodded.
‘Your expression says it all,’ the young lady continued, ‘where are you going to?’
‘Ajegunle,’ Obinna replied, wondering if she an Angel in disguise.
‘You’re such a lucky man!’ the lady smiled, ‘my husband and I are going to Apapa. Do you care to join us?’
‘Sure. Thank you.’
The lady led him towards a black SUV parked some metres away from the airport.
‘Honey, this young man is stranded, and he is going our way,’ she explained to a heavily bearded man at the driver’s seat.
‘That’s no problem; he can come in,’ the man replied.
No sooner had Obinna boarded the car than it zoomed off almost immediately.
While Obinna pondered on the reason behind the unprecedented speed, the lady blew a whitish substance towards him; he sneezed and that was all he remembered throughout the rest of the journey.
‘Bring them in one by one,’ an aged woman ordered a tall hefty man standing beside her.
‘Okay, ma!’ the hefty man replied.
Obinna stared at the long queue before him. He could not guess what time of the day it was; all he knew was that the sun was already going back to its domain. Hungry and tired at the same time, he wondered when he would get his own ration of food…
‘Yeh!’ a loud voice bellowed from a small hut within the forest; several other screams followed.
Obinna, looked around him and rubbing his forehead, his memory suddenly returned…
Yes, he remembered he was stranded at the airport after his deportation back to the country… a good Samaritan came to his rescue…he boarded a car; yes, the car was supposed to take him to Ajegunle, but what was he doing in a thick forest at that time of the day?
‘What am I doing here? He screamed.
‘Will you shut your dirty mouth!’ the aged woman challenged him.
Obinna turned to look at her and noticed that some of her front teeth were missing.
This isn’t funny, Obinna thought. He had heard of stories of kidnappers, but never knew that he would become a victim someday. Now he realized he was in a death roll, and not on the queue for food!
‘Next!’ he heard the voice of the aged woman again, ‘we need a little girl this time around…’
Obinna fought back the tears as a five-year-old girl was whisked into the hut amidst uncontrollable sobbing.
Is this how I’m going to end my life? Obinna shook. Wouldn’t it had been better if I had remained stranded at the airport?
Obinna gnashed his teeth. He couldn’t believe he was a victim of one chance. Granted, he had accepted his fate as a deportee, but must he now die like a chicken? He thought.
‘Nice merchandise!’ a husky voice intruded into his train of thoughts.
Obinna stared at the new entrant, Unlike the other kidnappers, the man appeared robust and neatly dressed.
‘Surplus merchandise you have here!’ the new entrant continued as he gazed at the captives on the queue.
‘Chief, please, don’t go there,’ the aged woman uttered, ‘those merchandise have already been booked. You are contesting for a sensitive position, and the price is very high.’
‘I know,’ Chief replied, ‘I’m equal to the task. Listen, my posters are out already…’
‘That is all for today!’ a voice within the hut announced, ‘take the rest back to the other room!’
The hefty man led the victims like prisoners into a poorly lit dungeon.
Obinna froze. It was a matter of time, and he too would be sacrificed like a chicken. What chances does he have of survival?
‘Trekking from the airport to Ajegunle would have been better than joining that one chance vehicle,’ Obinna, lamented as he landed in the dungeon.
‘Come and see o!’ one of the inmates in the dungeon beckoned to her counterpart.
‘What is it?’ the other hurried towards her.
The former pointed at a young man writhing on the dirty ground, with heavy foam oozing from his mouth.
‘I think the he is suffering from ‘warapa,’ the latter observed.
‘What’s the meaning of that?
‘That’s the Yoruba word for epilepsy…’
The other inmates later gathered around the helpless sick inmate, as he writhed helplessly on the ground.
‘Good riddance to bad rubbish!’ the aged woman fumed the moment she arrived.
‘Take him away immediately,’ she ordered her men.
Two hefty men immediately carried the sick man faraway from the forest, and dumped him beside a refuse heap.
Long after the exit of his captors, Obinna continued wriggling on the ground; the smell from the refuse heap notwithstanding. Although he had been told severally by his friends in school that he would make a good actor, yet he never believed them, until he came face-to-face with death. The only lifeline that came to his mind was to feign epilepsy.
Peee! Peee!! Peee!! Obinna heard an oncoming van. He squinted and saw a refuse collection van driving towards him in full speed.
Acting time over! His reflex alerted him. Struggling to his feet amidst wobbling legs, he supported both hands on the heap and managed to find his way out fast before another horrifying episode.
‘I’m a Danfo driver, suo!
Shebi you be Danfo driver, suo!
Obinna shut the door instantly at the sound of the music blaring from a neighbour’s apartment. Whether he likes it or not, he knew he must realign his mind to the noisy environment after fifteen years. Ajegunle, is no respecter of privacy, he reminded himself.
His miraculous escape, still marvelled him. More so, he was glad that there weren’t much people around when he alighted from the refuse collection van that conveyed him safely home.
Andrew, his only relative in Lagos had not ceased blaming himself for not coming to pick him up at the airport. Obinna, was later to find out that his brother’s major excuse was lack of transportation fare.
‘Na only God save you o,’ his brother’s wife remarked after listening to his ordeal in the hands of the kidnappers.
‘Election, dey come and plenty bad thing dey happen,’ Andrew added.
Obinna listened with rapt attention as the couple went on and on telling all kinds of horrible stories associated with the forthcoming elections. The most pathetic was the case of a missing girl in their neighbour who left home for school, but never returned.
A week later, Obinna summoned the courage to step out of the house. As he walked within the vicinity, a poster of a man in flowing native attire dotted several houses along the street. The man was vying for a senatorial position, with the following manifesto:
For these and many more, the content of the poster continued, ‘vote for Chief SBB, also known as, Mr. Right. If you want the right results, then vote for Mr. Right!’
‘Hmm! Mr. Right,’ Obinna muttered.
And just then, his gaze went back to the picture. He froze. No, this can’t be, he assured himself. The face bore a distinct resemblance with the man he saw in that evil forest during his kidnap.
Resemblance, was an understatement, he thought. The picture belonged to the same man who addressed the inmates on the queue as merchandise!
To further reinforce his conviction, a snippet of the man’s statement flashed through his mind:
‘My posters are already out…’
Can you be wrong and get it right? He shook his head walking away.
The quest for ‘Mr. Right’ is ongoing. Several people are going about it in diverse ways best known to them. Which way do you think is really the best approach in installing the RIGHT MAN for the job?
Join me, every week as I scoop stories happening within our environment (but laced with a touch of fiction).