Tarasha stood transfixed, temporarily unable to utter any word or move from the spot. The knife in her left hand fell off and blood began to drip down to the floor.
‘Omotara’ Henry called softly as he proceeded forward. ‘We need to talk’ His phone rang out, disrupting the moment. He quickly took it out and silenced it without checking the caller’s ID.
‘Jeffery’ Tarasha’s lips moved repeatedly. The colours in her eyes were changing, it looked like she wanted to cry but there was no tears formed in the eyes. ‘Where did you see him?’ Tarasha asked calmly. She released the knife in her right hand to the ground. Henry’s gaze moved away from her. He took a quick glance at the window at the balcony of the house, someone was opening the curtain to peep.
‘Let’s sit somewhere and talk’ Tarasha inhaled deeply and walked back to the car , she entered back into the front seat she was before. Henry followed her slowly. His phone rang again, he checked the screen this time, it was Agent Dakolo calling. He silenced it again and dipped it into his pocket. He entered and sat in the driver’s seat. He looked at Tarasha’s face, she seemed not to have noticed that he was now in the car with her. Her face had turned pale, her body was right there with him but her mind had journeyed far.
** May 27, 2014 **
Omotara sat on the floor of the bus which was covered with a dirty rug. Still crying, she was feeling so uneasy and dirty in her blood stained clothes. She wiped the tears off her face from time to time but it was still uncontrollable, it kept flowing down like a river. No one could have imagined that such a calamity could befall a happy family like hers, especially on her day of joy. Her parents and two of her brothers were brutally murdered, her virginity was stolen in the most gruesome way and now she and the rest of her siblings were being carried to an unknown place, only God knew where they were taking them to and what they wanted to use them for.
The bus vibrated on getting to a rough side of the road after which the motion was slowed down and finally brought to a stop. Some of their captors went out of the bus and returned two minutes later. They began to lead the youngest group of which Jerry was among, outside. It was very dark, so Omotara could not see where they were being led to.
‘Ahhh!’ She heard a loud groan which she recognized. Her elder brother, Jeffery had fallen to the floor where he was in the bus, a man who was holding a gun was standing over him and looking at him with mean eyes. It seemed as if Jeffery had tried to peep through the window and the man had hit him on the head with the butt of the gun. Her eyes met with her brother’s own , his lips were vibrating, he was trying to say something to her but he was inaudible. His eyes closed slowly and gradually. Omotara’s cry increased, she couldn’t tell if he died or fainted.
‘When we get out of this bus, I’ll make sure his head is cut off’ the man who hit Jeffery said in a warning tone to others. Omotara he felt like getting up to do something like hitting the man furiously until he kills her too but she couldn’t, her bones were so weak that she couldn’t even lift her legs without vibrating.
It wasn’t easy to be forced on several s-x rounds with the evil man whose body weight was four times hers. The main aim of the rapist was actually to molest her till death, but she somehow survived. He had to give up after he had gone several rounds with the innocent girl and she wasn’t showing any signs of dying soon.
Jeffery was still laying down unconsciously when the bus stopped again, that was after another hour of traveling. Some of their captors went out again and returned few minutes later to transfer another group of kids to another bus. Omotara was part of the new group to be transferred. Her peers began to get up and follow the directions given by the men to move out of the bus.
Omotara was too weak to get up, she tried to, but her legs failed her. She was still there with her back rested on the bus wall as she struggled to get up, she noticed a pair of boots stop in front of her, she looked up to see the person. It was the same man who led the group into her house and molested her, she could recognise his mask and color of clothes. He took off his mask gradually, revealing his mean face. He snarled and stared at her wickedly.
‘Didn’t you see your mates going out?’ He barked and landed a thunderous slap on her face. She rolled on the floor with crying aloud. The intensity of her headache increased, her vision was becoming blur. She stared into his face, still weeping before she blacked out.
It was until the next morning she opened her eyes, very hungry she was. She found herself in a forest, laying on grass, clad only in her pant. Her stomach grumbled as she tried to sit up, she could see her peers passing by her side and carrying several logs of wood on their heads, all dressed only in pants also. Something landed on her head softly, a loaf of bread. She picked it up hurriedly and started devouring it like a hungry lion without trying to find the source. A man came to stand in front of her, she looked up at his face. He didn’t look like a Nigerian, but he was African.
‘Eat quickly. You can get water at the river over there’ the man said, pointing in direction of the river. His intonation and pronunciation further confirmed his non Nigerian citizenship. ‘Join your mates immediately you finish, there’s lot of work to do’ he concluded and walked away. She paused a little while and turned around to look, it seemed that the work had begun a long time, all the girls were sweating heavily. Her headache began again.
‘Omotara’ Henry called. She blinked her eyes and turned slowly to him, her eyes looked heavy but there was still no tears in it.
‘Jeffery is dead. How do you claim to have seen him?’ She asked in a threatening voice.
‘He’s not dead, I saw him, he came to me and we spoke. He told me exactly the same story of how your parents were killed, his account was in no way different from yours…’ Henry’s phone interrupted again. He took it out and silenced it after taking a look at the screen, Mr Sylvester was the one calling now. He silenced it permanently and returned it into his pocket.
‘Where did you see him?’ Tarasha asked.
‘He came to look for you and found me’ Henry answered. Tarasha blinked her eyes, she was doubting his answer. ‘You’ve also seen him before’ he quickly added. ‘The man who I saw you with in the Catholic Church premises’ Tarasha paused to think. Jefa’s picture flashed back into her mind. She tried to connect his face with Jeffery’s but she couldn’t find any connection. The man was way older than Jeffery should be. She shook her head in disagreement, mumbling some words to herself.
‘He told me your story, your full name and even showed me one of your childhood pictures. Tarasha shook her head in disbelief, she opened the door and stepped out. She couldn’t take all what he was saying, it couldn’t be true. Jeffery was dead, the man who hit him with the butt of the gun had promised to take off his head. Henry stepped out of the car and turned to join her at the other side.
‘Where is he now?’ She asked him.
‘He’s in town, I have his phone number’ Henry said excitedly, he took out his phone and began to search through his contact details. He dialed Jeffrey immediately he saw it. Unfortunately, the line was switched off. ‘His phone is switched off now’ Henry announced, looking disappointed.
‘Henry, please leave’ Tarasha said with a strict tone and began to walk into the building without looking back.
‘Tara, we still need to talk’ Henry pleaded for her to stop but to no avail. She was done with him already.
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Jefa continued to flip through the pages of the diary. The writings on each day increased as he progressed. He realised that the events of older days were actually recopied into the diary, they were transferred from the previous ones and compiled into that one, it could be seen from the writing and ink of pen used. Their mother must have summarised and removed somethings she considered irrelevances from the older ones because she had about five to ten older days on a page while she had the days which were closer to her death more detailed. Precisely, two months before May 27, 2014 more detailed; each days within that period took at least half a page. But the ones were before that period were very brief, the most brief ones were the ones of the early 2000s, each day contained only a line or even half a line.
His mother could not have recopied it all by herself, she must have paid someone to do it for her. The detailed ones were the only ones written by her, it was evident from the handwriting and neatness of pages. The total writings ended at the third quarter of the book. He finally stopped at some pages after the middle page. March 27, 2014. He began to read.
“Today, my family finally moved from our comfortable duplex in Victoria Island, Lagos state to a hideout in Gwaskara, Borno state. That was the only place we could think of running to since my husband is an indigene of the state. The conspiracy and threats of our enemies had become more serious and it looked like the police could do nothing about it. Even the Inspector’s advice was for us to hide for the main time until they were less angry with us. The house is not that bad, it just doesn’t look as comfortable as our home is. It also needs thorough cleaning and washing. Thank God schools have not resumed yet, I would do the cleaning together with my kids tomorrow.”
Jefa placed a finger on the page and closed the diary. He raised up his head, deep in thoughts. He remembered that Sunday several years ago, a mini van had arrived into their compound as early as 3am, their parents woke them up and asked them to start arranging their clothes and books into bags. Jeffery did not understand what was going on then, all his efforts to get an explanation from his parents failed as they gave him no response. His mother even shouted at him angrily to shut him up, only for her to apologize two days later in the new house and promise to tell him the reason for the movement when he comes of age. He never got that explanation till his parents were sent forcefully out of the land of the living. Who could those enemies be? He thought. Who were those who sent his family out of Lagos to a place of unrest and unsettled security . Except for an instance where he saw his parents discussing with so much tension, he had never heard, seen or suspected that his parents had enemies. He used to think they were loved by everybody due to their generous attitude and their selflessness in carrying out their medical profession.
He opened the diary again and began to flip backwards, scanning through each page briefly. He stopped at February 24, 2014
“Today, the threats against us increased. The Chief once again asked Danjuma to approve the deal but Danjuma refused. The Chief went ahead to give us a deadline of one month to consider it. He promised to take our lives if we do not comply and sign the deal. I’ve never been so confused in my life. My husband is confused too. We’ve reported the situation to the police but no step has been taken to act on our case, I strongly believe that these Chiefs have a very strong backup in the force. May God help us and save us from this terrible thing that is about to befall us”
Jefa closed the diary again, he was more determined now to find out who the Chiefs were. He opened and began to flip backwards. A knock sounded on his door. He paused, looked up and kept quiet to listen well. The knock came again. He quickly got up and returned the diary to its former position. He straightened his clothes and went to the door. The police had come for him as expected, he had explanations to make about the trouble that ensued in his store the last night.