I had heard stories of people who claimed to have seen the scarred ugly face of death but I just always dismissed them as fanatics who had nothing serious to do with their lives. I never thought that soon, it would be me in their shoes. I never imagined that soon, it would be me, staring at death in the face, tearfully pleading for a last chance at this futile journey. How could I have guessed that death would sniff me out from afar and come for me? How could I have known that of the billions of people in the world, it would decide that I was the lucky one to escort it to Hades.
It was another Sunday night during this whole pandemic lockdown. It was just another Sunday. The day had been filled with sunshine and cheery laughter, but as the sun set, the universe seemed to have a sudden mood swing. There had been rumours and speculations of hefty armed men lurking around in the dark shadows behind my street, but we never gave them much thought. It was about 7pm when my mum called me from my room where I had been gisting with my friend over the phone. If I had known that my obedience to that one call would lead me here, I’d never have answered. Yes, the Bible says “obey your parents that your days may be long” but this one obedience was about to cost me my life. I shouldn’t have answered her.
“Ope!” my mum yelled from her room.
“Ope!” she yelled again. My siblings and I obeyed the three-time rule whenever we felt lazy when our parents summoned us. The three-time rule stated that if they called you just once, then they probably just called the wrong child— so, don’t answer. If they called you twice, then they wanted to show you a “funny video”— don’t answer either except you’re really bored. But if you heard your name three times, then it was an emergency and you had better appear right in front of them.
She had called me only twice and I was on a call. I couldn’t hang up just to see a video.
“Ope!” she called again. Alright. I had to go.
“Ma!” I screamed from my room so she’d know I was on my way.
“Ginika, I’ll call you back. Bye.” I hung up and ran down the stairs to where my mum was, with the whole family watching TV.
“Ma?” I inquired when I had successfully appeared in front of her.
“Ope. Please I need you to help me go to the third street. John’s mum just called me and they really need this medicine. Please hurry and give it to them.” she handed me a small bottle in a white nylon.
I was about to leave when my little brother asked me if he could come with me. Of course, I said no. I preferred to walk alone. Maybe if I had said yes to him, I wouldn’t be in this frightening situation. I headed out the door and I had barely stepped outside when the night’s breeze pulled my gown in every which way. I fought with the gown’s hem for some time before it finally agreed to stay. While I walked down the street, I felt chills and I suddenly shivered. Was it cold? I wasn’t sure. The whole atmosphere was just off. The crickets and frogs kept me company on that dark path. I was a little bit frightened.
To keep the fright away, I began humming a gospel song I had heard while I was a kid. “Why should I fear when the Lord is on my side…? That Destined Kids song was the only thing preventing me from running to my destination. I found that the humming wasn’t really working, so I started singing it out loud. And for a brief while, it seemed like I really had no reason to fear.
Soon, the sound of footsteps, other than mine became the beat drumming to my song. I stopped singing when the footsteps became closer and I took a quick glance backwards. There was no one there. Okay. That wasn’t scary at all. My footsteps quickened in a desperate attempt to just get to my destination. The footsteps behind me quickened too. I looked back again and I saw him. He was in a black hoodie and was apparently following me.
I didn’t think twice. I didn’t think of my asthma. I started running. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me but these legs are nothing to write home about. I had barely gone two blocks when I felt cramps in my legs and I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I had to stop running. I looked back and he was still on my tail. I walked fast, ignoring the pain I felt in my legs. It wasn’t enough, so I continued running. I tried to see if he was still behind me but when I looked, I only saw the shadows of trees. I was about to continue running when I hit a hard surface. I thought it was a wall so I looked up to see what wall would be standing in the middle of the road, when I saw him face-to-face.
His eyes showed no emotions and he had three ugly scars run down his face. I tried to run, but he held me back. His hefty arms tied my hands together and in that moment, I knew today was the last day I’d spend on earth. He lifted me off the ground like I was nothing but a feather, and if it were in different circumstances, why I’d dare to say he swept me off my feet. However, there was nothing romantic about this situation, so I rained blows on his back as he carried me. He didn’t flinch one second, but he just kept moving to his destination. I screamed. I yelled. I cried. But nothing was working.
He got to the uncompleted building I had always paseed on my way to church and he went in. He was going to rape me and dump my lifeless body here. My mouth suddenly tasted bitter and I cried, yelling and fighting even harder. He dropped me on the floor and I landed with a thud. I looked around and I saw more black hoodies. They were about 5 guys. It was going to be a gang rape. I was definitely going to die. The only guy with a mask on his face took one long look at me. I was beyond terrified. I was going to die!
“Tiger, wetin be this na? How you go bring Ope here?” he confronted my kidnapper.
Wait. He knows me?! I looked at him but I really couldn’t recognise him with that mask on. His voice sounded familiar.
“Ope. Turn back and run home. And don’t come out at night!” he barked at me.
My lazy legs took five seconds before they understood that they were urgently needed. I jumped up from the ground, took one last look at my masked saviour and ran back home.