It was late evening before she arrived. They had spent two and a half hours with the robbers. Apparently, normal robbers would have raided the boot and the passengers and they would have been on their way. These ones had brought everybody down and searched them one by one. They seemed not to fear the time unlike other roadside robbers. It was later that they got to know that they had other men around and it was "their area". The vehicle was in chaos afterwards. Somehow, the driver had managed to get everyone together again, but, there was a series of fight and cries then. While some lamented their fate, others fought the driver for passing through "bad road".
"Well, it is because they don't travel with cash!" Someone shouted with anger.
"Didn't you know too that you shouldn't travel with too much money?" The conductor defended.
"You're very stupid! How is that not possible?" "You're crazy!" And words were exchanged.
"Why did you pass that place?" Fury blew all around.
"Where should we have passed? That is the route." Then, tension.
"In their territory?!" The angry passenger yelled.
"They extended territory! Someone tell him they extended territory." "Are you even listening to yourself? Are you the only victim here?" The conductor shouted with equal anger.
"Mr Man, calm down! It happened, it happened. Nobody knew that they extended their territory. Nobody told us. We mistakenly entered it. If we had changed road, you people would complain." That was one of the drivers.
"How will other drivers tell you? From your attitude, it's obvious you're crazy already." The man retorted.
"This man should get out!"
"You'll cover my loss."
"Read our vehicle, Mr Man. You see what is there? We are not liable for any loss. You can read, can't you?"
Seyi watched it all as she sank deeper in her seat. Her money was safe. Thank goodness! And so was her phone. Although, it took a lot of trouble finding it, and the screen was badly cracked but, it was alive. It had switched off though. She had been quiet about her things being safe, hadn't displayed unnecessary joy nor relief. For safety's sake! But she was deeply troubled, almost traumatised. She hadn't expected her escape. And, the thought of her losing her money had been too much to handle. She kept her eyes closed for some time. Half, in prayers of gratitude, and half in recovering from the stress she had just been through.
, this was the room. She thought. It was fairly liveable, not as bad as she had been made to believe. It was a part of a large hostel. They had a shared bathroom and kitchen. It was forty thousand naira per year. And they were two in the room. That made twenty for each. Her roommate wasn't around. So, Seyi just dropped her bags and locked the room. She needed a payphone. Her mother must be very worried. She would have given her a lot of calls. She left the room with the hope that she could find one around. She didn't know the area but she was nervous about there not being any. There are so few ones these days! Who could blame them? She had searched for about fifteen minutes until she finally decided to ask around. It was evening so, there was a medium sized throng of people around. Students, she guessed. She felt a bit nervous. Whom should she ask?
Her mind drew her to a guy who stood lone by a side of the building. He looks sane. She thought. And, he seemed quite unengaged in any activity. She walked towards him. His head was bent over his phone as he leaned carelessly against the wall.
"Excuse me." She called.
He heard her immediately and looked up.
"Is there any pay phone around?" She said quickly, trying not to waste his time.
"You say what?" He asked more as if not hearing her well.
"Pay phone." "Is there anyone available?" She said, much louder now.
The guy shook his head in negative reply. "No."
Seyi sighed in frustration. How was she supposed to reach her mother now? She felt a headache crawling in and she blew a tired puff of air out through dry lips. She was turning to go when someone called her back.
"Is there something you need?"
It was the same guy. Seyi shook her head.
"Thanks, I'm fine. I only wanted to make a phone call."
"Oh." He said plainly. "But you can use my phone if it's urgent." He held his phone in between his fingers. Again, carelessly.
Seyi mentally observed him. She would never willingly use a stranger's phone. The world wasn't safe anymore. And what person would freely give a stranger his phone to call another stranger?
"No, it's okay. Thanks." She said politely. The guy shrugged and she walked away, deeply wishing she could have used the phone. Well, she couldn't now. She had already said no. The strength she still had surprised even herself. She had been through not a little stress that day. But it wasn't like she had other choices than to maintain her balance although, her brain was spinning wildly. She didn't know anyone, she didn't have a working phone...she felt trapped. And the thought that she couldn't think yet it hovered above her head was; Maybe I shouldn't have come. But that wasn't true. She had gone through a lot to come here. Snapping loose and summoning courage, she went back to the guy she had first met. "On second thoughts, could you still let me use your phone?"
Màámi's voice had never been more comforting.
"What happened?" She asked. Seyi could sense how worried she must have been from her voice. Maybe she had even cried a little. Afterall, Seyi herself had been on the verge of that too.
"I'm so sorry, màámi." It was late. Past nine or to ten. Any mother would have gone insane.
"We were attacked-robbed. On the way. And my phone got damaged. I'm so sorry, ma"