The tall figure advanced towards me. He turned off the flashlight and then powered the fluorescent bulb immediately.
‘Who are you?’ I trembled.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ the strange man sat on a stool beside my bed, ‘I’m Ken; Nana’s nephew. I flew into the country a couple of days ago.’
While he spoke, my eyes darted around the room in search of the bell Nana told me about. The wall bell was just by my bedside, but before I reached my hand towards it, Ken quickly restrained me.
‘Not so fast, young lady!’ he laughed.
I sprang out of the bed immediately and ran towards the door, but to my chagrin, he had already locked it.
‘Why are you running away from me? Do I appear scary?’ Ken moved closer, ‘we are both adults, there is no need playing this hide-and-seek game.’
‘If you don’t leave this room, I would scream!’ I threatened him merely out of fear.
My heartbeat began to drum wildly like the masquerade beat in my hometown.
Dear Lord, please deliver me!
‘Baby, there is no need to scream,’ he knelt before me passionately as though he was about to make a marriage proposal, ‘I would leave but please, let me have a taste of you.’
‘At the count of five, please leave!’ I ordered in fury.
‘One, two, three, four…’ my heartbeat soared.
He got up immediately and was about leaving but stopped midway, fuming.
‘Do you realise I have the power to influence your employment with my aunt?’
‘Too late, young man! I’ve already collected my employment letter. There is nothing you can do about it.’
‘I would ensure you’re fired if you refuse to dance to my gallery!’ he threatened, ‘are you ready to cooperate?’
‘I would not!’ I insisted.
‘Okay. Let’s see who has the last laugh!’ Ken stormed angrily out of the room.
I watched in utter confusion as he left. Fearing his comeback, I sought for the key of the door, but could not find it. And so in great fright, i kept vigil all through the night.
‘I hope you had a wonderful night rest?’ Nana asked me the next morning.
‘No ma…no…’ I panted unsure of what to say.
‘There…ma…’ my words sounded incoherent.
‘Spare me the details,’ Nana laughed, ‘I saw everything that transpired between you two.’
I was stunned.
‘I watched the entire scene via a CCTV camera,’ Nana continued, ‘Dabira, I orchestrated the entire drama which took place the previous night. I wanted to test you…’ she paused, watching my reaction, ‘but not to worry, you passed the test!’
I was more than dumbfounded. A test! Oh, my God!
‘Ma, what about the threat from Ken?’ I asked.
‘Ken is just a playboy and has no stake in my business,’ Nana assured me, ‘like I told you earlier, that drama was my brainchild.’
I resigned my appointment same day the school vacated for the third term long holidays. i considered it a perfect timing which would enable the school management to hire another Mathematics teacher before the resumption date.
The reaction I received from the Vice principal when she learnt of my exit was not different from that of Adaora; even my pastor in church was not in any way excited.
At some point, I felt virtually the entire world was against me.
‘My success story would definitely change their opinion someday,’ I muttered under my breath as I boarded a bus back to my house.
‘The materialistic nature of most of our young girls these days is responsible for their falling prey to human trafficking,’ an elderly woman who sat in front of me remarked, in response to the group discussion in the bus.
‘Ma, sometimes these girls are innocent,’ a younger lady in the bus replied, ‘they just trust just anybody that promises them a better life abroad…’
The last statement struck me. I felt as though someone had just fired a catapult on me.
‘Innocent?’ the elderly woman shook her head, ‘my dear, these girls are just too in a hurry to ride the best cars in town and also build mansions for their parents; greed is their underlying motive.’
As the conversation progressed, some other passengers made one or two contributions. But the elderly lady’s voice lingered.
‘In my village for instance, recently we lost a very young and promising lady,’ she continued, ‘somebody promised this girl an international job, but it turned out to be…’
My attention shifted to the vibration from my bag. I opened my bag and heard the sound of my phone. The call was from Nana.
‘Hello ma,’ I picked the call.
‘Are you just seeing my calls?’ she answered angrily, ‘I’ve been calling you since ages!’
‘I’m sorry ma,’ I replied, ‘my phone was in my bag.’
‘Young lady, it is called a handset; not a bagset!’ she fumed, ‘going forward, Dabira, always ensure your phone is your closest companion if you must work effectively with me. Do I make myself clear?’
‘Yes, ma,’ I answered.
‘I’ve just transferred some money to your account,’ she continued, ‘please confirm and call me back.’
‘Thank you, ma.’
The moment she hung up, I checked my phone and saw the alert. The amount she credited to my account took my entire breath for a moment!
My heartbeat increased in tempo. What was I going to do with such an amount of money? Speedily, my mind travelled to my hometown; and then it settled on the family land which had laid fallow for over ten years…
And finally, by the time my mind returned from its voyage back to the commercial bus, the driver had already driven past my bus-stop!
TO BE CONTINUED…