I also thought of calling this post ‘How My Earphones Saved My Life’.
For weeks, like a pregnant woman, I’d been craving food from a particular place. First time I went there, it was with a friend. It was unplanned and I wasn’t sure how much money he had so I ordered food like an anorexic bird. This time though, I was returning with a vengeance. The plan was to annihilate the menu.
Google Maps estimated it to be a 58 minutes walk so on Saturday evening, I wore my trainers, stuck my earphones in my ears and set off on my journey. First mistake I made was not leaving early enough. It got dark quickly, but I wasn’t worried. I stuck to major roads which were still very busy and very well lit.
Fast forward almost two hours later, on the walk back home. That’s when the robbery attempt happened…
As usual, I had my earphones in my ears, deaf to the rest of the world [because I would rather be crushed by a speeding trailer than listen to catcalls and stupid lewd comments from construction workers, okada riders, cab drivers and other disrespectful men on the street].
I held my wallet in one hand, and my bag of food in the other. An okada slowed down beside me and I ignored him. At first I thought he was just a regular okada looking for a passenger, but then he continued to trail me. I stopped, turned to him with a scowl and asked, “Wetin? I call you?”
I wasn’t looking for an answer. I saw his lips move but I couldn’t hear him. He was very dark and skinny, his eyes were glassy and droopy. He looked higher than a very high kite. I hissed, turned and walked away.
He rode up just behind me and from the corner of my eye, I saw him signalling to me. I kept my head down, but then lowered the volume of the music and that’s when I heard him shout, “I say will you stop deer!”
Dread filled me. I immediately increased my pace. My heart was beating hard and my mind was racing…
Shit! Is this dude going to rob me for real? With a million people on the other side of the road?
If I run, he will catch up with me. He’s on a bike.
Shit! This side of the road is totally empty. No one will see me being robbed or whisked away on a bike.
Dear God, is this because I didn’t forward that Whatsapp broadcast about Ember months??
Please God! Let him take my wallet. Take my phone. But he should not TOUCH. MY. FOOD!!
I was still brisk walking like an un-robbed diva. I didn’t want to show any signs of fear, if not, I should’ve flung my shoes off my feet and gotten the hell out of there. Suddenly, he stopped his bike, jumped off, and started towards me. Brethren, that was when I RAAAAN! I went from deaf-potential-robbery-victim to Usain real quick. At some point, he gave up chasing me on foot because I glanced over my shoulder and saw him jogging back towards his bike. Seconds later, I could hear the bike’s engine revving behind me so I knew he was close.
I ran till I saw a young man and a girl. The man had huge muscles with tattoos all over his arms. I stopped them and told them what happened. The bike rider was still heading my way, but he had slowed down considerably when he saw me with people.
As I spoke, muscular tattoo guy lit a cigarette and nodded as he puffed and listened intently. He was calm, but the girl with him was freaking out. Turns out that the same bike rider had tried to grab her handbag just minutes ago. She kept saying, “I tok am! I tok am! This man is on a mission!!” She showed me her handbag with one handle ripped off.
I finished narrating my story and muscular guy remained calm, observing the bike rider who was now parked a short distance away. I felt stupid standing beside him, hugging my white nylon bag full of food, and watching him puff on a cigarette. What exactly am I expecting this guy to do? What if these plenty muscles are just for stunting on 2go?
Finally, he said, “Baby, don’t worry. Nothing will happen.”
I was irritated that he had called me ‘baby’, but that was not the time to address the issue. I would’ve responded with, “Ok boo” if it meant not walking home alone.
The bike rider waited, watching us as we watched him. He probably figured that either way, one girl will be left alone. After giving it some thought, muscular tattoo guy walked up to the bike guy. He said something in Hausa and made to grab the bike guy. Bike guy was sleek. He leaned to the side, out of muscular tattoo guy’s grasp, but he leaned so far back that he almost toppled over with his bike.
There was a very short angry exchange during which they yelled at each other in Hausa. The pavement was high and this allowed muscular guy to tower over skinny bike guy. Meanwhile, the girl beside me had her hands on her head and kept repeating, “Hay God o! Chai!”. Finally, bike guy gave up, hopped on his bike and sped off.
Muscular guy came back, stood squarely with his hands on his hips and said, “You can go. Don’t worry ehn? Nothing will happen.”
I said thank you, but I didn’t move. The three of us just sort of stood there awkwardly, looking at each other like something more should’ve happened. Maybe something more dramatic.
He asked, “How will you go? I have to escort her.” The poor guy was obviously torn between two damsels in distress, headed in two opposite directions. I had interrupted him mid-rescue. I said, “I’ll be fine, I’ll jog home. Besides, I need the exercise” and we all laughed.
So if you saw a girl running home with a white food bag on Saturday night, yeah, that was me.