“U sabi Efe Igbinovia?” he asked with furrows of doubt on his face. His voice was hoarse and his Pidgin English was very raw.
“Oga , na my senior brother be dat” I answered with a stammer.
“If na lie you talk eeeh, I go skin you to death and take hand break ya bones now now” he threatened.
“Efe na my brother I swear. If not, make thunder fire me” I cursed as though prayers will work in this hell of a place. With a stern and sneer look, he then asked how Efe looked, the schools he attended and the course he read, etc. At that, my heartbeats quickened since I didn’t know why he asked for such details.
I went on to tell him that my brother Efe was a popular student leader during his undergraduate days at Uniben, where I also graduated from a year ago. I told him how he had an extra year due to victimization by the school authorities, who were uncomfortable with his endless “alutas” on campus. Efe was a fearless unionist who sacrificed his personal freedom to fight the cause of Uniben Students. He ended up graduating with a 3rd class in Business admin though he had a high GPA until his forays into student activism during his second year. Rumours had it that he was sponsored by secret cults since he neither feared any student nor the authorities. There was something eccentric about Efe which I never could fathom, for he was a strong member of the largest campus fellowship of “born agains” unlike me.
There were creases on his forehead as he closed his eyes, then opened them and stared into the ceiling. His hands dropped as he shook his head. I watched his sudden display of emotions from the corners of my eyes. I was as confused as his colleague who looked all the more bewildered. He turned to the second guy.
“Dis bobo na the brother of Efe, my paddy for campus” he said with a twinge of pain on his face. “Efe na nice guy wey help me well well for campus. Even though him know say I be “kapo” for Black axe, the guy still check me for hospital when my niggers and babes fashi me. Him go come dey pray for me and drop Naija papers for me. D guy too good abeg. I no go dey here watch make his brother die. No way Omo dat Efe guy do good to my body. If dis na the only good thing I do for life, at least my record for hell no go too bad now!” he said with a tone of defiance.
“Ol boy, u don dey craze? U wan make big mama fry us alive?” his lieutenant queried referring to the lady I had kissed who called the shots in this enclave of darkness.
“No shaking. Nothing dey happen.E better make I die than see Efe brother die for my own domot. Afterall, I don help big mama kill plenty people. Weda I die now no be ya wahala now. Oya make u waka go prepare the drink for dis people wey we go kill dis night sharp sharp!’ His order was swiftly obeyed by his aide.
He stepped back and spoke in Edo to me. A calabash full of aromatic drink will be passed around when I enter the next chamber. He warned that I should not inhale or drink from it for it contains sedatives. I was to feign the frenzy-like state which the rest who drank the occultic drink experienced. As each one was led into the slaughter coven at dusk, he quickly motioned that I join him in the adjoining room where he bound me, and forced me into a wooly sack. In a thriller-like manner, he and his aide meandered through a tunnel that led to a marshland where a speedboat nestled.
The engine roared to life as we rode through the crest of waves away from the island. When we reached the shoreline, they waded through shallow waters until they reached dry ground. They hauled me out of the speedboat into the boot of a waiting car with my eyes still blindfolded and mouth stuffed. Everything looked like a dream since all I saw was darkness, save for the reality registered by my ears and other sense organs. He acted with the pace of an ace movie star for he needed to get back to the enclave before big mama smells a rat. They recklessly drove through what seemed like an endless labyrinth of a jagged and meandering road. My body ached as it bumped at the sides of the boot repeatedly but I couldn’t cry or scream. I gasped for air desperately like a patient choking from asphyxia.
All of a sudden, the car screeched to a halt and my head banged at the roof of the boot .I heard the doors swing open and their footsteps towards me. The key knob clicked, there was a twist and thus was the boot opened. They hurriedly pulled me out, carried me far into a marshy land where they untied the sack that shrouded me for hours. Then dumped me far from the road side, not far from an abandoned oil rig, and zoomed off. There was no way I could find a clue to retrace my way back to that foreboding haven of ritualists but was gratified that my neck was not guillotined like the hapless inmates that have drank the dregs of that wine of stupor which I evaded courtesy of Efe’s friend. At least, he took the risk to save me, and should luck run out on him, he might go the way of those sacrificial lambs, or rather humans, under the captivity of those merciless ritualists of whom “big mama”, that goddess resplendent with beauty represents.
The travails I went through drained me of all energy that every attempt to stand saw me slump and crash to the dirty and soiled ground. It was in that state of exhaustion that my head grew giddy, and swirled around till all my senses revolted and shot down. I must have fainted and remained in that state all through the night until the merciful rays of the sun roused me back to life the next morning.
With baited lips, and hands folded, my brother, his wife and concerned neighbours could not help but lift their hands in praise. Truly, God is an awesome God who answered their prayers for they had lost hope after the Police search team got no clues about my whereabouts, and all the paid announcements on the radio and TV stations in Port Harcourt yielded no results. For me it was like escaping the fiery flames of a furnace, and a great lesson that I’ll remember all my lifetime.
Never again will I
be carried away by the beauty of a woman, and the words of King Lemuel’s mother in the Book of Proverbs re-echoed again “What my son? And what, the son of my womb? And what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings!”