MAN HUNT III
By Engee Mbah (dept Radiography)
My heart was beating so fast, I was scared that it would beat out of my chest. Taking deep breaths, trying to calm myself, as I surveyed the environment with a critical eye. He on the other hand latched onto the spot between my neck and left shoulder. He blew on it, then sucked on it and gave me a bite that bordered on painful, while ripping the bottom half of my shirt open. As he raised his head, I saw my window of opportunity. I took it and caught him on the nose with my palm, exerting as much force as possible. I would have used my fist but experience had taught me that it was more painful. As the hit landed, I heard a ‘crunch’ sound. I hoped that was his nose and not my hand. He reared back as much with pain, as with surprise. Quickly, I rushed to the wine cellar and grabbed a half empty bottle. The street in me was starting to show, as it always did when I felt threatened. I hit the bottle on the wall, causing it to break. With my hand, wrapped around the neck of the bottle, I held on to the part of the broken bottle that I needed.
“What are you doing?” The buffoon asked as he held on to his nose, trying to stop the blood rushing through. I took a threatening step towards him, and he took a cautious one back.
“Nna , e be like say craze dey worry you. Na me you wan use muscle for? O dika i maro na m bu nwa ogbe. If you do anyhow, m dukasia gi isi. I will shatter the remaining part of this bottle on your head.” I yelled. At that point, I was perfectly serious. Growing up in an area that would probably be classified as ‘ghetto’, taught me to take care of myself, to fight dirty.
There was obvious shock in his eyes as he stared at me.
“Move back.” I ordered, gesticulating with the bottle in hand. He was basically standing on the path to the door. I motioned him to move to the other side of the room. With one hand, I gathered my belongings that had scattered on the ground when he flung my bag, and threw them into the bag, while watching him from the corners of my eye, to see if he would try to move. And the idiot did try. He took a quick step forward and I abandoned my bag, giving him my full attention.
“Come any closer and I will burst your belly open.” I threatened, stabbing the bottle into thin air. He moved backwards. I slung my handbag over my shoulders and walked backwards in the direction of the door. As I reached the door, I realised that there was a feeling of discontent or dissatisfaction within me. I wasn’t going to leave like that.
I opened the door behind me wide, then rushed forward swiftly. In a move that he didn’t expect, I landed a kick right on his balls and made a run for it, not bothering to check whether he was in pursuit or on his knees. He was most likely on his knees, because I was sure I hadn’t missed.
As soon as I ran out into the road, I threw the bottle away and kept running. I didn’t even pay attention to the strange looks I was getting from passers by. I must have looked weird, running through the street with my shirt mostly open, though I held the area over my chest with my hand. After running on foot for a short while, I flagged down a taxi.
I jumped into the taxi and it peeled off. Relaxing on the backseat, I tried to calm my breathing. The taxi driver watched me through the rearview mirror.
“Aunty, dem dey pursue you?” He asked, as he took in my appearance. I breathed out heavily through my mouth.
“No.” I replied. “Just take me to ojukwu road.” I told him.
“Two hundred naira.”
“Ah ah! Ojukwu road near round about, here? Abi, it’s because I am in a hurry. I will pay one hundred and fifty, abeg.” I said. He looked at me through the mirror, again.
“Wetin do you? Why your cloth tear tear?” He was curious.
“Nothing.” I answered.
It only took few minutes to get to Ojukwu road. I directed the taxi driver to my street, and pointed out the gate to my house to him. As soon as he stopped, I dug out money from my bag, paid the driver and exited the taxi. I went through the gate and hurried straight to my flat, hoping none of my neighbours would come out of their flat, or notice my appearance.
On getting into the house, I got out my phone, and dialled Perpetua’s number. It rang and rang but she didn’t answer. I tried the number again, then called my mother, as I got out of my ruined shirt and flung it onto a sofa as I sat down.
“Hello.” She answered the call.
“Good evening, mother.” I greeted.
“How did it go?” My mother wanted to know.
“Just fine. I just called to tell you that I have decided to become a lesbian.” I told her. There was a moment of shocked silence.
“Excuse me?” She said.
“And I am not getting married until they legalise same sex marriage in Nigeria.” I continued.
“What are you talking about?” She wanted to know.
“I just wanted you to be the first person to know. You know, as my mother, now.” I said, ignoring her question.
“Good night sha.” I said, ending the call. I tossed the phone onto my sofa and went to take my bath. My phone started ringing as soon as I dropped it. I knew it was probably my mother, so I didn’t pick the call.
“Let her stew.” I thought. Bathing and dressing for bed took me about fifteen minutes. By the time I came back out, I had sixteen missed calls. Just as I touched the phone, it rang. It was Chika calling.
“Hello. Your mother just called, saying something about lesbianism, and you not wanting to marry. What’s going on?” She hauled the question before I could even say hello. Wow, my mother worked fast.
“Nothing is up. She is just being her usual dramatic self.” I replied.
“So, you didn’t tell her you were a lesbian?” She wanted to know.
“I did. But, I really just wanted to scare her. She should stop bugging me, for God’s sake.” I told her. She laughed.
“Okay, then. She was kind of hysterical when she called. I had to promise to call you before she calmed down a little.” She said.
“So, how did the date go?” She inquired.
“Hmm. My dear, that story is better left for another day. It is better told face to face. I will come by tomorrow to properly gist you.” I answered.
“I sense a story here. Come by tomorrow, then.” She said, with a laugh. We said our goodbyes. Just as that call ended, another one came in. It was Osawe.
“Babe, how far?” I greeted, when I picked the call.
“When did you turn into a lesbian?” She inquired. She wasn’t one to waste time on pleasantries.
“After getting assaulted today, I am actually thinking about it.” I informed her.
“Assaulted by who? I thought you had a date with the guy Perpetua hooked you up with, today?” She asked.
“I did.” I answered.
“So, where did you get…” Her voice trailed off, as she put two and two together.
“He didn’t!” Her shock and annoyance was evident in her voice.
“He most definitely did.” I answered.
“What exactly happened?”
“That’s a story for another day.” I replied.
“We need to meet up, tomorrow. I will call up the others.” She said, just before ending the call. Like, I already mentioned, she wasn’t one to waste time and precious airtime on pleasantries.
I turned on my twenty four inches television, and slotted in a movie into my DVD player, to pass the time. As a few minutes, my phone rang and it was my brother. Obviously, my mother had called him up too.
“I am not a lesbian.” I stated, as I picked the call. He laughed.
“I just called to find out why you would scare mother like that.” He said.
“Scare her? She is the one scaring me. She is bugging the life out of me.” I replied.
“I will try and talk to her.” He promised. I thought about about telling him about the events of this evening, but decided against it. There was no need to bother him.
“Biko, talk to her.”
“Alright. Take care.” He ended the call and I went back to the movie that I had already watched more times than I could count. About fifteen minutes later, Perpertua called.
“I am not a lesbian.” I announced, as soon as I picked the call, figuring my mother had called her too.
“What are you talking about?” She wanted to know.
“Didn’t my mother call you?”
“I missed her call. Did anything happen?” She asked.
“Thank God. Are you at home?” She sounded relieved.
“Okay. You didn’t go on the date with Francis?”
“I did. That one is a long story on its own…” Perpetua interrupted me, midsentence.
“Robert got a call a few minutes ago. Francis was attacked in his house.” she informed. Robert was her husband.
“By who?” I asked, thinking that maybe he had cooked up a story about what happened between us.
“No one knows. They found him mutilated and unconscious.” She answered.
“Wow,” was all I could say.
“He was fine when I left.” I added.
“You went to his house?” She asked, surprise evident in her voice.
“Let’s leave that story for tomorrow. What is his condition like?”
“I don’t know, yet. Robert is not back from the hospital. But, we need to see tomorrow, so you can tell me this long story.” She said. I informed her that we, that is all the girls, were meeting tomorrow. We said our good byes.
I slept off on the sofa, mid-movie. The next morning, I woke up on the sofa, and hurriedly prepared for work. I was in the office around ten a.m, when some men came to see me. They identified themselves as men of the Nigerian police force.
“We have some questions for you.” They said. I had an inkling that it might be related to the attack on Francis. I offered them a seat. They declined and invited me to the police station. At that moment, I realised that my troubles just got bigger.