It was a dark night and the street lights had suddenly grown wane. Chetam had just returned from Georgia, after her first degree in Software Engineering and was yet to acclimatize once again to the Nigerian survival strategies. Even though she had spent her teenage years in Nigeria, her parents still kept highlighting the fact that she needed to be extra careful especially now that her father had made greater waves in the business world.
She remembered smiling at them on skype and reassuring them that they had nothing to worry about. After all, she had spent a greater part of her life in Nigeria. Moreso, she was now an adult! As she scurried down the streets of Lagos, making her way down her neighbourhood, she could swear she heard footsteps.
At first, she fought the temptation of glancing back but when the footsteps persisted, she couldn’t help it. It was at that point that she realized how thick the darkness was. Even though she could see nothing, she kept looking back, not sure what to expect. The confidence she had come into the country with had flown out the window.
She was beginning to question everything she knew. “Maybe my parents were right. Maybe things have actually changed around here.” She was close to tears, her heart pounding like it was about to jump out of her chest. She increased her pace, intermittently running.
“Are you okay?” Came a voice right infront of her. Chetam felt like life had left her. She found herself on the floor with no strength to stand back up.
“Hey, I was only trying to help. Just calm down.” Came the young man as he tried to help her up.
Chetam couldn’t say a thing. One thing was certain: she was in-between the devil and the deep blue sea. It was either she refused the help of the strange young man and face a possible death sentence or she accepted his extended hand and face whatever fate had in stock for her.
She shot her eyes for a second, took a deep breath and walked side by side with the young man. She couldn’t get herself to say a word until he requested for her address so he could walk her home. Chetam just spelt out the address and kept mute. She had never been so terrified in her life.
The smile the young man gave her when they approached her gate set her heart into another phase of summersaulting motion. The palpitations were so loud that she feared he could hear them. It seems you are new in town. A little advice: try not to walk around at night. This is lagos. A hundred and one things can happen to a naive girl like you, walking alone at night, in thick darkness. Maybe you weren’t told but lekki is not save for anyone to walk around at night.
He was out already before Chetam found her voice. She held unto her chest and took a deep breath. “Thank you”, she screamed at the thick darkness. She immediately rushed into her house and locked the gate. She was panting as her mind went through the ordeal, the things that would have happened. She wasn’t sure she would have forgiven herself if anything bad had happened to her. Her parents had worked extremely hard to provide her with the most comfortable environment anyone would ever wish for. Their compound alone was enough to mount a skyscraper! The flowers all around and even the settees strategically located at different parts like a mini restaurant. What more could she ask for?
The weather the next morning was calm, the cool breeze performing its magic on people’s skin. Chetam sat at her favorite spot, a settee, singly located at one part of the compound, a little away from the gate to avoid distractions. The flowers at that part of the compound blossomed everyday. It was always a sight to behold.
The continuous knock at the gate alerted Chetam. She had been engrossed in the stories she was reading. She had recently discovered this website with lots of short stories. She had waved it aside the first time she heard of it. All it took was one story to change her mind. She had been on “Derasstories.com” ever since. The urge to read through the entire Stories had kept her awake most part of the night and she had continued shortly after waking up.
The knock at the gate came again, indicating that the gateman had again left his post to God knows where. She sighed as she made her way to the gate. The shock on her face the moment she saw the young man from the previous night was palpable. She opened her mouth to talk but no words formed.
I know am the last person you expected to see here so I will just go straight to the point: Yesterday was quite scary. You acted like you were about to breathe your last. I just came to make sure you are okay. Now that my mission is accomplished, I will take my leave. Have a nice day!
No! Please come in, let me at least offer you something to drink. You literarily saved my life last night. Thanks a lot. The young man smiled as walked into her compound. He had heard of how magnificent Chief Osondu’s resident was and had even studied and memorized the entire plan yet, he was wowed by the actual sight of the edifice!
“You have a very beautiful house” he couldn’t help complimenting. Chetam simply smiled and went into the house to get him some wine. As he sat down on Chetam’s favorite spot, his eyes immediately went to the camera by the somewhat tall and branched flower close to the gate side. The single source of the entire information they had on Chief Osondu. The plan was cealed. All they needed was someone to get close to Chief’s daughter the moment she came into town to help them gain access into the house.
They had followed and memorized Chief’s schedule. He had come that morning knowing full well that Chetam will be home alone. Judging by how naive she is, he knew it wouldn’t be difficult to get her to invite him into the house. He knew that neither Chief nor his wife will be back before 6pm, so he relaxed as he drank and chatted with Chetam.
Chetam was glad that she had someone to keep her company. They chatted till almost midday before the young man left. Chetam smiled as she went back to her stories. She was tied to that spot till her dad returned from work. The beep of his car got her running like a little girl to embrace him. She immediately ran ahead of him to serve his dinner before he came downstairs.
The scream from her father’s room got her running upstairs to find out what had happened.
“Was someone in my room?” came the unexpected question.
Chetam was confused, she found it difficult to understand what was happening. She was sure they had no visitors except the young man from yesterday. They had no aids either and the gateman, the gateman seemed to have taken a day off as she hadn’t seen him anywhere around the house.
“Did anyone come to the house today?” her father’s voice was shrill.
“Y-ye-yes.” She stammered. “But he didn’t come into the house. I was outside with him the whole time.” She added, obviously terrified.
“Who is he and what did he want?” her dad queeried, not taking it any easy on her.
It was at that moment that Chetam realized that she had been so carried away that she didn’t even find out as little as his name. She practically knew nothing about him! The circumstances surrounding their meeting suddenly flashed back…The young man had appeared from nowhere. “He must have had something to do with that incident too” she said to herself. The expression on her face spelt everything out to her dad.
“I warned you about this place. I warned you about how bad the streets of Lagos had become and how naive young women like you are easy targets. Thank God its just cash they absconded with. I hope you learn from this!” he snapped and walked out of the room, banging the door behind him.
Chetam kept starring at the already closed door. She made up her mind that moment to get to the root of this incident. She wasn’t going to let some guy walk all over her. She knew if she was ever going to get back her father’s trust, she had to do something. She immediately rushed to where they had sat and smiled when she sighted the camera. It was time to get to work!