The story of fate and destiny Chapter 8 The Mother Writing in progress. If you
“Some things are only real if you believe in them” Unknown
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The minute Charles stepped out of the banking hall into the daylight, it felt oddly bright, casting the adjoining structures into dark shadows against a sky of palest blue. The sun had taken it’s rightful place in the sky and the day was in full swing.
He asked the same parking assistant, he had seen earlier that morning, if he could recollect seeing the teenager dressed in flowing white robe earlier in the day.
“The boy in satin sutana?” the assistant asked.
“Yes, yes” Charles was glad someone had noticed the boy. At least he wasn’t hallucinating.
“Have you seen the boy before?” Charles probed further.
“Is there a white garment church anywhere around here please?” Charles was starting to sound desperate.
He was directed across the road to some crudely built shacks that lined the inner streets. They were not the kind of shacks that inspired great art in thoughts, because they were made of badly torn, mix matched and badly rusted corrugated metal sheets nailed together in a hurry. They defaced the business area but Charles never took notice, even though he drove past it everyday on his way into the bank six days a week.
He found the church. The pungent smell of urine first assaulted his nostrils, as he carefully stepped across a steady stream of waste water that had been channeled into a roughly carved earthen trough on the ground.
A big-breasted woman was adjusting her sutana after emptying her bladder into the trough. She wasn’t happy the young man walked in on her private moment.
Charles barely noticed.
“Please, I am looking for someone” he started.
“Good morning, or your parents didn’t teach you to greet older people first” she snapped back with her over-sized lips.
If the circumstances were different, Charles would have given this uncouth dirty and disgusting woman a mouthful.
“Good morning” he responded dejectedly.
He asked the lady politely about the teenage boy he had seen that morning, describing his every feature.
“Please do you know him” he held his breath in hope for a positive response.
“We don’t have any such person in our midst. But if you want to see our lady in Christ, you can come inside”
Charles declined the offer and quickly walked away.
“What to do now?” his thoughts darted here and there!
With little to go on with, he dashed back into his office to face the auditor.
At the close of business, he was the first out of the building, scurrying away like a scared cat. It wasn’t dark yet, so it was a safe time, in his opinion.
He wheeled his car out of the office complex and started the journey home. He didn’t bother to turn the radio on as he would normally have. The resounding silence spoke to him. The voices in his head were like those in Dugbe market during the market day. Yet the car stayed silent.
Silence is a fine tailor when your thoughts are silken thread.
He had one goal- to stay alive for 48hours. He had done 8hours already.
Time crawled as though in mockery. His thoughts were heavy with the meeting he had with the auditor that morning. It didn’t go very well. In fact the unpleasant man had insinuated that the bank had concluded on handing the investigations over to the dreaded fraud unit of EFCC.
There was something wrong with his heart. He concluded. It hadn’t stopped beating violently all day, like a nagging housewife.
Just then, an articulated long truck carrying two 40feet container drove next to him, recklessly, as it tried to avoid a pothole right at the center of the road. It swerved so hard and fast that the two unhooked containers swayed on its lowbed dangerously next to his car.
He stepped on the accelerator pedal so fast he almost hit the vehicle right in front of him in panic.
When he looked to his side, the containers had started to overturn. Like in slow-motion.
He could hear the screams and shouts from the pedestrians and onlookers at the other side of the road. They were urging him to hurry past the truck or find a way out.
Fear had blinded his nerves, every cell in his body panicked. He knew he had to do something quickly. He tried to reverse the car, but the bus behind him, full of passengers, had just been abandoned. Men, women and children squeezed out of miniature glass windows doted all round the clanker like toothpaste being ejected from a tube. Yet all the doors to the bus were unopened. They scrambled for their lives.
The road ahead was blocked with a long traffic of steel and flesh. Cars ahead of him inched closer to each other on every conceivable part of the road, like ants on a hill.
He had only the side curb to contend with. It looked higher than what his tires could climb.
But his heart was no longer nestled in his chest. At that moment, if he clenched his teeth, it would be the strong muscles of his heart it would sink into.
That must be it.
He was grateful he survived the biggest scare of his life.
He had survived. Cheated death.
He locked the door to his apartment behind him, before slumping into the soft sofa in his parlor.
His chest heaved up and down as though he had just completed a sprint.
That boy must be right. There was indeed death lurking around him for sure. He imagined the sort of horrific death it would have been if the containers had fallen on his car.
He managed to maneuver the car over the curb. His fenders paid the ultimate price for his life.
“Men, this Nigeria no safe o” he muttered as he walked towards his dinning table swiping through his phone.
Charles hoped that was it. No more drama.
He checked his door handle to be sure it was securely locked. He shut the windows too before turning the air condition on. He pulled the window blinds down.
He then started undressing, knocking his shoes into the centre rug, before tossing his socks into the building heap and then his shirt.
He turned on his Bluetooth music speakers. Some real great music would help. Afterall he had just survived the most intense moment of his entire life.
He was suddenly hungry. He had barely eaten all day.
He remembered his self-imposed fast.
Bimpe had left a bunch of ripe yellow bananas on the dining table.
He peeled one and shoved it all at once into his mouth hurriedly as he danced to Asake’s new single, Organize. He tossed the skin into the small dustbin at the corner of his kitchen mimicking a basketball player’s dunk. He missed.
He missed the second, third and fourth throw before he stopped trying. Leaving everywhere around the bin littered with banana skin.
He started to dance. He thought it would help ease the tension. He hadn’t danced for sometime. But he felt the need to dance and Asake’s upbeat tunes were doing it just for him.
Now, he was also hungry. He decided to order a meal online.
The next morning, Charles had not arrived at the office by 10am for the scheduled follow-up meeting with the auditor. The man was getting irritated and had asked Adams to find the “fraudster” or he would have both of them arrested by the end of the day.
Adams was irritated and pissed. He had been calling Charles’ phone numbers since 7am, for three hours, without respite.
His phone rang unanswered.
“On a Tuesday morning. Haba!” Adams’ frustration showed in his pace.
If he couldn’t reach him by 12 noon, he would have to drive over to his apartment on the other side of town. He hoped he hadn’t skipped town.
Adams stepped out into the parking lot.
“Oga sir, one small boy is here asking after Oga Charlie” the parking assistant spoke hurriedly with relieve as he saw Adams walking towards the parking lot to see if Charles’ car was there.
“What is the problem?” He asked.
Two security men shoved the boy towards Adams in the full glare of the customers waiting in queue into the bank.
The boy, dressed in a flowing white garment looked like he had received a few hot slaps already. His face was littered with puberty pimples, while his right hand clutched what looked like a bible. His dirty feet was half-covered in a beaten pam slippers.
“Please forgive me sir” he started.
“What has he done?”
One of the security guys spoke first.
“We saw him accost a customer, telling him he had one week to live and that the man would die. He has been doing this for a few weeks now. But today, we caught him”
“I am sorry sir. It was a prank. It was just a prank. Please forgive me, I won’t do this again“
This was the least of Adam’s worry. He had to find Charles.
It took Adam’s two hours in the sweltering afternoon heat to get to Charles’ apartment in Ilupeju. His front and back doors were firmly locked. Only that this time, they were locked from inside the house. The windows were shut tight too with the curtains drawn.
Charles was not responding to his name. No one could hear anything if you were inside the house listening to Asake’s “Organize” on repeat.
When Adams forced the door open after two hours, Charles laid contorted in an awkward and twisted position with his two eye open in a deathly stare, right in a pool of his own blood. Dead.
He had been dead for hours!
It appeared that he had slipped on banana peels before hitting and cracking his skull on the sharp edge of the marble dinning table.
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