I couldn’t sleep all through the night, i felt like a little boy on the eve of Christmas. I was excited and at the same time a part of me was sad. Dominique Petroleum was an international company which recruits only the best graduates from prestigious universities. I was browsing the net about two years ago when i came upon their site. As a graduate of Petroleum Engineering i felt i stood a chance so i filled their form online and submitted. A week later i received an email from them and i went for the aptitude test in Port Harcourt. I was hopeful that i would be called back but i didn’t hear from them until now. I didn’t tell Mama i was going for an assessment chat in such a prominent organization because i don’t want to get her hopes up for nothing. I woke up at 5.30 am and by 6 .30 or thereabout i was already out of the house. My phone beeped but i ignored it until i was safely in a bus heading for the island before i slipped it out of my pocket.
‘Knock their socks off’_ My boo
The message brought a surge of hope to my heart and a smile on my dry lips. I was on the island in no time since it was a Tuesday morning and traffic isn’t intense on this day. I brought out my handkerchief and wiped away sweat and dust from my face. I wiped the dust that had collected on the shoe_ the shoe belonged to Chidubem. I walked down the street from the bus stop i alighted to the sky scrapper glass building. I stood in front of the huge gate, day dreaming. I could see myself working there already, I could see my life transforming before my eyes. Traveling all over the world, driving expensive cars, eating good meals and shopping in the most luxurious shops in the world.
“Hey! You there!” A mean looking mopol shouted, walking towards me.
I sighed and adjusted the tight suit i wore. I put on my best smile before walking up to him.” Good Morning sir, i am here for an oral assessment”
“Why you come stand here like dummy?” He barked,” Na here you go do the test? ”
I am sorry sir”
“Come inside!” He shouted.
I walked into the big gate and passed through some security scrutiny before i was let inside the building. The reception area alone was like a scene from western movies, the receptionists were in Italian suits and they actually looked like secret service agents.
“Good morning, how may we help you?” One of the beautiful ladies asked with a bright smile.
“Good morning, i am here for an assessment chat”
” What is your name? ”
“Nwafor Uchenna” i replied.
She typed something into her system, looked up briefly and continued typing.” Fill your data into this card”she said, giving me a small blue card.
I filled it and handed it back to her.
“Fourth floor” she said, giving me a card key.” Slot this card into the second door by your right. Wait there until you are called. ”
“Thank you” i said, before walking towards the elevator.
I waited in the cool air conditioned waiting room, there was only a chair in the room and the chair wasn’t even comfortable. There was no TV in the room and no one else came into the little room except for me. I thought it a little weird that no other applicant had come to join me but the less the better for me. I was expecting them to call me anytime so i prepared myself mentally but no one came to call me until 4: pm. I was beginning to think that they forgot about me but i decided to wait after all the transport fare i used in getting there was already wasted so there was no harm in waiting all day
” Mr. Nwafor,”
I looked up, an elegantly dressed woman in her fifties or thereabout walked in. I stood up and she shook my hand.
” I am Mrs. Solomon,” she said.” I am the head of hr, we are sorry for keeping you waiting all day. Unfortunately, your assessment won’t be taking place today. We will communicate the time and day to you. ”
“Alright Ma’ am” i said, giving her a smile.
I felt like crying, i felt like removing the uncomfortable suit and wrapping it around her long neck.
“Once again, we apologize for inconveniences caused”
“It is not a problem ma’am”
By the time i got home dusk was already setting and the sun had become the color of orange. I was famished and tired. Chinasa and Chinonye were eating when I entered the house, Mama was shelling melon. I greeted her but she only murmured a reply because I did not inform her before leaving the house. I showered and came back to the sitting room for my dinner; dinner was cold Eba with watery oha soup. A knock sounded on the door, Mama asked the person to come in. Ngozi, a young married lady who was our neighbor came in.
“Good evening Mama Uche,” she said.” Bro Uche, good evening”
“Good evening,” I replied.
“Ngo, evening o” Mama said,” hope Ejima is kicking”
The young lady smiled and her hand unconsciously touched her baby bump.” I don’t want twins o”
“What is wrong in having twins?” Nonye asked, licking her fingers.
“Shut up, ” Mama cautioned.” You talk too much”
“Mama Uche, my husband traveled today and I don’t want to be alone. Please can Ejima keep me company tonight?”
” Chinasa should go with you. The two of them will only frustrate you so it is better only one of them goes with you.”
“Awwn, mama please nah.” Chinonye begged. “I promise not to disturb her. I won’t ask too many questions either”
” Nonye, don’t provoke me ooo” Mama said, “Chinasa haven’t you finished eating?”
“I have Mama,” she replied excitedly, washing her hands off with water. She gave her twin the tongue out before walking to Ngozi.
“Thank you ma, Nonye next time you will be the one to keep me company” Ngozi said.
They both went out of the room. I left some portion of my food and meat to Nonye to make up for her being left behind. I went back into my room and dialed Dupe’s number but it wasn’t available. I didn’t know when i drifted off to sleep. A loud banging noise woke me up, i thought i was dreaming but the banging sound persisted. I check the time on my phone and it was 2: 30 am. I got out of bed and gingerly walked into the sitting room, i almost jumped out of my skin when i heard the creaking of a door. Mama and Nonye came out of their rooms looking as scared like a rabbit.
” Uche, I think they are robbers” Mama whispered.” What should we do?”
“Open this door! Open the f*ucking door! If you make me count up to ten, I will break the door down and shoot each one of you!” A coarse male voice shouted, ” We are more than five here and we are all fully armed so don’t even try to play smart with us.”One! ”
Mama and Nonye started whimpering. I was indecisive on what to do, the men continued banging on the door so I opened it and they landed a slap on my face. Mama and Nonye were already laying face down on the ground.
They were six in numbers and they were all masked and aimed to the teeth.
“So na you be dube2 brother abi?” One asked, “answer me!”
“I don’t know…anybody by that name” I choked out
“We are not in a hurry to leave; we shall remind you who bear that name” the man with the hoarse voice who seemed to be the leader of the gang walked toward me and landed me another slap.
Mama and Nonye screamed out in fear but they were shushed by the gang.
“Woman, sit up” coarse voice commanded.
Mama sat up, shivering and whimpering in fear.
“your son! Dubem hurt me! He played on my intelligence and we are here for revenge”
“ Du….Dubem is not here o” Mama cried out, “ Please don’t hurt us,”
“Your son! That small rat! That small boy I took under my wings! I showed him how to make legal money! I taught him hacking for free!” he said, hitting his chest. “Did I do wrong?”
“Boss, shey make we finish them?’’ one asked.
“Relax, Bullet,” the boss said, “ woman, your son stole my money”
Mama started crying and pleading with him.
Nonye was also crying heavily at this point.
“Shut up! “he commanded. “Your son picked up my transaction behind me! He picked up my money from the bank! Do you know how long it took me and what I did before my client sent me that money? Your stupid son picked up my money and I am here for revenge. All of you sit up!”
We all sat up and huddled together. The boss man gave his gun to one of his boys, he walked towards us and pulled Nonye by the hair. He threw her on the floor and tore her nightie in two, exposing her young body. I seethed in anger when I realized his intention.
“Please, please don’t “ I begged, one of them hit me on the head with the butt of the gun and I cried out in pain.
The boss man pushed my baby sister’s legs apart and shucked his trouser. Mama got on her knees pleading with him, he gave the young girl a slap to shut her up.
“I heard the girls are two, where is the second one?” he asked, “Bullet search the house and bring her out for me”
“It is only one daughter I have, biko my sons.
Please for the love of God, please don’t do this.”
Bullet ran into all three rooms and came out. “Nobody else boss” he said.
The gang leader pulled Nonye’s legs further apart while she struggled with him; he gave her several back hand slaps. I tried to get up but Mama la!d a hand on my arm. Her night blouse was drenched with her tears. Nonye screamed in pain as the evil man drove into her. He kept thrusting in and out of her ferociously while he laughed and his boys cheered him on. He rained curses on Dubem while he continued raping our sister and as he was about to c-m, he wrapped his left hand around her neck, choking her. I closed my eyes unable to bear the pain, he got up and wore his trouser.
“Tell Dubem that I know he is in Malaysia. My boys are already there hunting for him but we have only come here to leave a message for him. This is just the tip of the ice berg. Come on guys!”They kicked open the door and walked out.
“Nonye” I called softly, lifting her into my arms. I pulled off the wrapper around Mama’s neck and wrapped it around Nonye’s bloodied form. Mama sat dazed, not blinking and looking into space. “Nonye, can you hear me?”
She m0aned and coughed. I carried her on my back and waited for some long seconds to put some distance between the gang and us before running out of the house with her. She was bleeding profusely and her pulse was faint. Her breathing was also labored. I felt her blood bathing my back as I ran with her into the night.
“Nonye, hold on. We will get to the hospital soon.” I said. “ Sorry, you will be alright”
“Mama” she called in a faint voice.
“Hold on, please” I continued running with her and I could see the hospital from afar. “Nonye we are almost there, Nonye” I got no response from her. I could no longer feel her shallow breath on my back but the blood continued flowing. I shifted her from my back into my arms, I placed my ear against her chest but her heart had gone still.