Darasimi announced her departure.
“I thought you’ll be sleeping over.” Tolani said.
“Yes, I wanted to but I am travelling tomorrow.” Darasimi replied.
“Travelling to where?” Tolani asked. Dolapo was nowhere in the room. She was probably in the bathroom taking her bath.
“Osogbo. My dad wants me home. But I’ll be back by Sunday to get prepared for my exams on Monday.” She explained. Then Dolapo walked into the room dripping wet with a towel tied around her body.
“Who is coming back on Sunday?” She asked picking up her nightie from her own compartment in the wardrobe.
“Dara is travelling home.” Tola replied. Dolapo kept mute and continued pulled the night gown over her head. She straightened the hem that it stood below her knee.
“Don’t tell me you are leaving.”
“I am leaving.” Darasimi replied. This time, all set and ready to leave.
“Don’t you think it is late? Moreso, you can get back to your hostel before seven tomorrow and leave for the park. Why not sleep over.” Dolapo said persuasively. She was half afraid of being attacked on the way, even though a few students were still walking around, those returning from library, those going for night classes, those going to town for their daily business, those returning or just going to a nearby canteen or restaurant for their dinner.
“I have some packings to do. You guys shouldn’t bother seeing me off.” Darasimi replied. Tola exchanged a ‘lets do it’ look and they both stood up.
“You won’t pass through the school gate. Lets take the shortcut, that Tinubu hall.” Tolani explained. She hesitated for a while but her friends were adamant, therefore she gave in after a series of argument.
“This nightie is transparent right?” Dolapo asked her friends.
“I can see through it. What is this?” Tola asked pointing to her chest.
“Ask yourself, shebi you have it too.” Dolapo replied. The three friends laughed before Dolapo got herself a small jacket and wore a tight beneath the nightie. The three friends all got outside the gate and took the right turning towards Tinubu in silence.
Don drove into the school through the west gate, different from the main gate where they took the last time.
“Why not drive in through the first gate?” Deoye asked. This time he could control his lips, he could control what he was saying. But his brain seems to be under influence of something he couldn’t fathom. He knew he had to do something, he was ready to do anything. But his emotion is rushing back, but he won’t let that control him or what he had to do.
“You know, we won’t be able to see their hostel from here.” Another gave a reason why they should drive in through the main gate.
“I understand what you all meant, but this place gives us a better escape. We’ll park behind Tinubu hostel and Deoye can use his legs for the remaining distance.” Don explained.
They all reasoned with him and applauded his suggestion. Even if they can’t really call what they do a job, his wealth of experience has been a plus for the group over the years, since he took the leadership role two years ago.
He brought the car to a halt behind the fence of the popular Tinubu hostel and started dishing out instructions.
Tola and Dolapo had succeded in seeing Darasimi off to where she boarded a cab to her lodge. Its now the two sisters walking in the silent night. Dolapo wanted to bring up a conversation because the silence alone is the reason why she was afraid because she kept picturing ugly attacks against them as they walked on. Tolani on the other hand loved the silence, she was afraid of an enemy hearing their voice if they say something. But how long can they keep mute in the five minute journey.
“Awww!.” Tola winced in pain. She had hit her leg on a very big stick lying on the floor.
“Sorry.” Dolapo said. Tola picked up the stick and they both continued walking.
“What do you intend using the stick for?” Dolapo asked.
“So another person won’t fall victim of hitting their legs against it. I’ll just drop it off into a bush or by the roadside.” She replied. Always wanting to protect someone else. The verse in the bible which says “Be your brother’s keeper,” if written as “Be your sister’s keeper’ Tolani is adhering to the biblical advice.
Tola used that opportunity to explain what went down in class in the afternoon, how she received the note and went after the guy only to see him drving off, but she wrote the number plate.
“Tola, so you are this dangerous? You can kill someone o. You mean you received a life threatening note and you kept quiet?” Dolapo screamed.
“Don’t make noise. I couldn’t trust Darasimi to that extent.”
“Are you with your phone?” Dolapo asked. Tolani shook her head in the negative.
“We’ll call Inspector Clement once we get to the room.” Dolapo said.
Clement drove toward the Lagos state University teaching hospital (LUTH) with total recklessness and carelessness. Even though he was a law enforecer, he found himself breaking the law. He felt he has a role to play in the safety of the girls even though someone else is overseeing the case and another policeman keeping watchful eyes on them. Hearing that one of them was shot is a reason for him to leave where ever he was, even if it was at the dead of the night. He once drove his wife and gateman to the hospital around 1am in the morning, and the time just said 9:02pm, he saw no reason why he shouldn’t drive to the hospital. He has called Mike and the so called Robert who was expected to keep watch over the girls.
He was almost sleeping when his phone rang, it was quite unusual of him to make calls after returning from work, his beautiful wife was sleeping on the bed while he was finding out some things about Khal corp. His wife didn’t know where he went to, and he was quite sure that she’ll be dead worried by the time he returned from the hospital.
Dolapo was outside in the waiting room crying profusely, Tolani’s parents had since arrived and were with one of the doctors while Tola’s boyfriend was consoling Dolapo, telling her everything will be fine.
“Jide, Tolani sacrficed her life for my safety.” She said to him. Jide was his name.
“She’ll be fine, that should be our prayer point.” He said.
He was surprised at his own consoling ability, because he was the shy type that talking to a lady was the most difficult task for him. How he asked Tolani out was still a mystery to him and his friends. Everyone knew they were best of friends, he loved her and she loved him. He wanted to date her but the fear of being rejected and loosing his only friend was the reason why he friend zoned himself.
Tolani on the other hand was head over heel in love with him but the African mentality that a man should always make the first move made her suffer in silence as her heart yearn for his love. Just fresh from a heartbreak then, he managed to ask her out one faithful night, at a friend’s birthday bash.
Over two years now they have been together and they planned of tieing the knot after their service year. Now, everything seemed impossible, even though he assured himself that she’ll be fine. He was not that convinced.
Darasimi was seated on the floor at the far end of the waiting room, her knees were held high up against her chest as she weeped silently. She knew it is only in a matter of hours when she’ll be arrested for questioning by the police. She was being watched for almost two weeks and no one was killed or attacked. Just today that she was released, one of her friends was shot a few minutes after they parted. She wanted to console Dolapo, but she realised that she needed to be consoled herself. No doubt she would fail her final exam. Not with all the happenings around will she pass the exam. Inspector Clement barged into the waiting room still dressed in his pyjamas.
“Dolapo, how did it happen?” He asked. On seeing him, Dolapo bursted into another round of wailing as if his presence fuelled her cries.
“Aunty, you are disturbing other patients.” One of the nurses said rudely.
“You must be very silly for saying that. You should learn to talk to people in subtle manners. She is emotionally down and as a nurse, you ought to know what to do. Or what to say.” Clement said angrily, not minding the crudity of his words or how vulgar they sound. The nurse hissed angrily and was humming.
“You said you already called her parents. Where are they?” Clement asked.
“They are in with the doctor.” Jide replied. Clement opted to go and see the doctor to be sure of the situation of things. Just then he met them at the doorway.
“Doctor Kolade.” Clement said greeting the doctor. He was the one who treated him when he was shot at Mr Ayo Okorie’s residence.
“Inspector Clement. What are you doing here? How is your arm?” Doctor Kolade asked. Clement decided to let the question go by. He faced the two elderly couples standing beside the doctor.
“Are you…?” He asked immediately he noticed the sharp resemblence between Tolani and the woman.
“Tolani’s parents.” Her father replied while her mother bursted into tears. It was now a game of crying, Dolapo was crying, Darasimi cried to God asking why she has to be connected to these deaths one way or the other. Tolani’s mother was crying, no one would want to loose an only daughter. The men were busy consoling the weaker vessels, the women. Jide himself was shedding tears but he had to hide it and be brave.
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She was lost in her own thoughts thinking and imagining how life would be without Tolani in it. She once asked herself how life would be after they had graduated. She won’t mind being posted to serve in the same state and if possible, the same place of primary assignment. Her life after service would be miserable, how she wished they could just live in the same apartment as spinsters. And when they eventually get married, they should be neighbours. If wishes were horses, beggers would ride. But now that wishes were far from being horses, there is nothing anybody can do to change it. It wasn’t as if Tolani was her best friend, but the event of the lst couple of months and weeks has made her sought friendship in Tolani.
Her best friend and sister, Dayo was the first to be killed by Deoye a few days after Hadiza, Deoye’s girlfriend was killed at a party. Everyone believed Deoye was paying them back because they convinced her to follow them to that party where she met her death. Even though she was not a fan of such concluded thoughts. She still considered everything a coincidence.
After Dayo’s death, Chioma took it upon herself to protect the girls and give them a shoulder to cry on. Just when they were all about moving on, Chioma was killed. Tolani took it upon herself to be there for Dolapo, the weakest of the five girls in terms of emotion. Just when the two girls were moving on and looking forward to the day they’ll officially sign out of the school as students, that day when their final paper shall be written.
Two days before the first paper, Tolani was shot. What will become of her? Will Tolani die?
Doctor Kolade walked into the waiting room with saturated eyes.
“Doctor. How is she?” Dolapo asked.
“Am sorry, we tried all we could but we lost her.” Doctor Kolade replied just like every other doctors would say. It seemed that sentence was what they were taught to use if they ever began practicing.
“You did what?” She asked. Then Tolani’s parent walked out smiling like they had just won a lottery. She was surprised, Doctor Kolade who was not related to Tolani was crying while her parents were smiling.
“Daddy, Mummy, is it true?” She asked Tolani’s parent going on her knees and ready to faint. Tolani’s father smiled.
“It is true, God wants her back that’s it. We should be thankful to God.” He said still smiling. Something is not just right. The affected people were smiling, the unaffected person was crying.
“Where is Inspector Clement?” She asked.
“Oh! That man? He is taking her to heaven.” Tolani’s mother replied. And that seemed silly, who goes to heaven and comes back?
“Dolapo.” Someone shook her vigorously. She snapped out of her revierie and came face to face with the three people she saw in her dream in the same waiting room.
“It is not safe for you to live in your hostel, at least for now. I don’t know if you’ll accept passing the night in my place.” Clement said. The three adults in her dream nodded their head.
“Where is Darasimi and Jide?” She asked.
“I asked them to leave.” Clement replied. Her eyes darted towards the wall clock. 10:56pm. Clement conversed with the doctor for a few minutes before he bade him goodnight with the promise of stopping by the following morning. He greeted Tolani’s parent too, before he led Dolapo to his car downstairs.
“How is Tolani?” Dolapo asked.
“She’ll be fine.” Clement replied trying not to sound nervous. Doctor Kolade already told him somethings that he was yet to tell Tolani’s parents or anybody else.
“She’ll be fine or she is fine?” Dolapo asked applying the seat belt.
“She’ll be fine. You know, you wasted time before bringing her here and therefore she lost a lot of blood.” Clement explained.
“I can donate my blood if there is a need for transfusion to be done.” Dolapo said. Clement ignored her and ignited the car, he slowly drove out of the hospital casting occassional glances at Dolapo who cried the whole journey home. He would occassionally hold her hands with his right hand as he drove on with his left hand.
Dolapo didn’t stop crying, but everytime he held her hand, she always felt relaxed only to resume crying immediately he removes his hand.
Clement parked his car in front of the gate and took a few steps towards the iron gate. In a bid not to wake the sleeping neighbours, he decided not to use the horn. He knocked on the gate gently.
“Who be that?” Akpan asked from inside.
“Akpan, na me.” He replied.
“Who you be? Who be ‘me’?” Akpan asked. He unlocked the pedestrian gate and came face to face with his boss. “Oga, so na you?” He asked beads of sweat already forming on his forehead. Clement knew something was not right but he didn’t ask any question.
“Open the gate.” He said as he walked back to his car. He stopped in his tracks when he heard a voice, a feminine voice to be preicise from inside Akpan’s house.
“Baby who is disturbing you outside?” The voice asked. Akpan cursed under his breadth.
“silly girl, na my oga o. You got me fired.” Akpan shouted as her. Clement could hear scramblings from inside the house but he ignored them and entered his car. He drove in. A young girl of about twenty years quickly came out to face with Clement.
“Where are you going?” He asked. The lady froze in fear as she moved backwards.
“I am going home.” She replied.
“Was that your initial plan?” He asked gently as Akpan ignored them and busied himself with locking and unlocking the padlocks on the gate. Dolapo who was already out of the car was laughing as she enjoyed Akpan’s little showings.
“I believed you had plans of passing the night here. Or even spending the weekend.” He continued pointing to the bag she clutched to her chest. The lady nodded in the affirmative.
“I am not sending you away. Its late already, you can leave in the morning.” He said as he beckoned on Dolapo who followed him.
“Akpan.” He called. With a start, Akpan rushed to where he was and knelt down before him.
“I can see we need to change those padlocks.” He said pointing towards the gate. Akpan wanted to say something, but he found himself smiling because his boss was smiling too. “See you in the morning.” Clement said and walked away with Dolapo.
Akpan wanted to scream happily but he knew his boss hated noise or jubilation. Like he would always say, do not celebrate until you have achieved your long time goal.
“Your boss is a very nice person. Who is that girl? His wife?” The lady asked opening the door into akpan’s house.
“No o. Not his wife. I don’t know her.” Akpan replied.
“No wonder.” The girl said.
“What? See, my oga is not that kind of person. I trust him with my life.” Akpan said pushing the girl inside.
“What will you like to eat?” Clement asked her. Dolapo was busy looking around the colourful living room with fascination.
“Is that your wife?” She asked pointing to a photographic frame that stood on top of the small shelf which house the dvd.
“Yeah. Rachel is her name.” He replied.
“She is beautiful.” Clement smiled as he helped himself with a glass of water.
“What will you like to have?” He asked once again.
“I’ll be fine. I only need to sleep.” She replied even though she knew she was going to be sleep eluded.
They said their goodnights after Clement had shown her the kitchen in case she needed anything, he led her to the visitor’s room and showed her the bathroom and toilet attached. He went to his own seperate room to sleep.
As she laid down on the bed trying to find sleep, she couldn’t find any. She turned to the other side of the bed, hoping to catch some sleep, but nothing seemed to be forthcoming. She closed her eyes trying to force herself to sleep. But all she saw was red, she saw blood everywhere. The bed was blood soaked, the room looked like a pool filled with blood. She kept awake all through the night, even though she didn’t know when she was swept off her feet by the strong arms of sleep.
To be continued
Darasimi announced her departure.