We were supposed to have two more lectures before calling it a day but the chaos in school had put all academic activities on hold so I decided going home was the best thing to do since I really needed to sleep as I had not exactly had much sleep for a few days.
So I packed up my books and instructed my course mates, well, the few ones that remained to go home with a promise to inform them of any new development via text message.
I left the lecture hall where we were initially waiting for our next lecture and headed for school gate with my school bag firmly positioned at my back.
As I walked, I noticed that new groups of people were mobilizing to strengthen the riot and on asking what was the reason for the riot, I was informed that it was headlined by the Faculty of Social Sciences students who were pissed by the fact that their lecturers had refused to teach them knowing fully well that examinations were just a few weeks ahead all because of a very corrupt lecturer was murdered. Apparently, they were glad the lecturer was killed as he was very wicked and wanted lectures to continue.
I understood their plight and would have joined in the protest as the spirit on Aluta would have loved but this was not directly my fight to fight and most importantly I needed to sleep really bad… My body aches from head to toe.
About hundred metres before getting to school gate I saw a more aggressive crowd walking through the school gate and approaching me.
They all had at least a green leaf with them, what that signified? I had no idea but some of them held big sticks and different things I believed to be weapons. They sang songs of solidarity as they matched on.
Tomorrow no more!
If I die today!
I would die no more!
The chanted as they approached me. The sight reminded me of scenes from the movie Beast of no Nation and with that in mind I knew things had escalated. I decided to call the few people I really cared about to be sure they were alright.
First I called Amaka but she did not pick, then I Funmi but she also did not pick up and then I was forced to call Henry, not because I was scared that something bad had happened to him because I knew he could take care of him self for sure but to ask if he has any idea of where Funmi was, we all lived in the same building so I figured he might have seen her but then something unexpected happened.
“Who you dey call?” One of the rioters yelled at me as he jogged towards me, brandishing a big stick over his head.
“You dey call police for us shey?” Another asked as he jogged behind the first guy. In a matter of seconds I was surrounded by a bunch of the rioters.
“No o… I no dey…” I tried to say before I was cut short by a slap from a hand I had no idea where it came from.
“C’mon bring that phone!” Someone said and next thing I knew was that someone was trying to drag my phone from me.
“I no dey call any police!” I shouted as I struggled to keep possession of my phone.
Several slaps followed and I was forced to let go of the phone.
“Make we see as you go call police now,” the one with the phone said as he raised another solidarity song and matched on with the crowd following him.
I was dumbfounded. All I wanted to do was to call my loved ones to check if they had suffered any loss in the riot and it turns out I was the one who suffered a loss.
I knew the face of the person who took my phone and was sure I was going to get it back one way or the other so I just picked up my school bag which laid opened on the floor with all its content littered all over, I did not even know when it was pulled from my back.
I was so depressed following what had just happened but I knew crying or standing in the middle of the road would not solve anything so I walked on to school gate and boarded a cab straight to my doorsteps not minding the cost.
Only for me to get to my house and find the last person I wanted to see on this earth standing at the front of my door.
“What the fuck are you doing here?!” I yelled, referring to Mary-Anne.
So many thoughts ran through my head as the uniformed men walked towards Tonia and I. My first thought however was; what had I done that would warrant them coming all the way to school from their station to arrest me? And to that effect I had a few things in mind, the Agbaya incident and the hot pursuit after RayJ’s birthday bash.
Running seemed like an unwise thing to do as they were too close to me already and I did not want to make matters worse by adding Resisting Arrest to my list of my possible offences, so I stayed put and decided to leave matters to fate as I watched the uniformed men pull out their baton as they approached me.
To my greatest surprise the officers got to where we stood and walked passed us in a flash. I turned as I watched them in awe as they walked towards the rioters and grabbed one of them before the others dispersed like dandelion seeds spread by the wind.
“Una papa send una come school to read book but una say na riot una wan riot abi?” One of the officers said in a mean tone as he tightened his grip on his victims belt.
“Agbe no worry, we go teach this one lesson today,” his partner commented and then went on to hit the victim with the baton to show he was not joking.
“Thank God the police has intervened this quickly before we start to hear stories that touch the heart,” Tonia said as we watched the police drag the scape goat towards their car.
I just smiled in response as I took her by her arms and lead the way to the car park.
Tonia probably did not notice my smile was still firmly planted on my face as we boarded a cab because she did not ask any question but deep within me I was so happy to know that things could have gone differently… very differently.
I let the thoughts of what could have been slide about twenty minutes into the journey as the romantic part of me came alive on realising this was my first proper date with Tonia and I had to make sure it was perfect.
“What movie would you like to watch?” I asked her breaking the loud silence.
She turned to me and smiled, “I don’t know really, I usually have a lot of movies I’ll have loved to watch but none comes to mind at the moment,” she replied.
“Well, today is your lucky day as I know just the movie you’ll like,” I announced with all certainty while in reality I had no particular movie in mind but I figured anything romantic coupled with lots of kissing scenes would do, after all is that not the kind of things girls generally like?
“I guess we’ll find out soon enough,” she said gleefully.
Afterwards there was no much conversation except for a few jokes here and there until we got to mall. We got down, I settled the bills and led the way into the mall.
The sudden change of atmosphere hit us with a bang. The sun was in its prime so obviously everywhere outside was very hot but on entering the mall we were welcomed by a cool wave of conditioned air and the faint voice of one of our popular pop stars who passionately sang one of his hit songs through the strategically placed speakers.
The mall was a four storey building which spread on ground I believed to be slightly more than an acre. I could spot several escalators and elevators from the entrance where we stood and it would have been easy for someone to not know which way to take if it was his first time but luckily I had been to this particular mall several times so I knew just the way.
We jumped on the nearest escalator and stopped on the second floor before taking a left towards the corner where I knew the cinema was located.
I grabbed a copy of their schedule and in one quick glance, I knew the perfect movie to watch, “The movie I had in mind starts in about thirty minutes so what do you want to do to burn time?” I asked.
“You are the boss here, I’ll let you decide,” she replied as she grabbed my arm with her two hands before leaning on me in a romantic gesture.
I liked the way things were going, really perfect.
I thought about it for a while but then I had been to this particular mall several times so I knew all the fun spots.
I led her to the nearest elevator and waited a bit for us to get to the top floor. On getting there we went to the gaming section where one could win prizes like teddy bears and stuffs like that.
We approached one of the vendors and decided to a play a game which involved shooting a gun at a screen where a bird flew across continuously. The idea was to aim at the bird and shoot it down. Piece of cake, I had a real gun and knew how to use it pretty well so what challenge can using a toy gun bring? I thought.
I paid the token for a round which involved three consecutive shots and picked up the gun.
“I’ll win two teddies for you,” I said to Tonia before taking my aim and shooting at the bird on the screen.
“Just one would be fine and I promise to do something nice for you if you actually win the teddy for me,” she cheered me on.
I missed the first time but that did not discourage me from trying again. But then I missed the second and the third as well so I had to pay for another round. I was so sure I will definitely hit my target this time.
You know how things almost never really go as planned? That was exactly what happened the second round as I went on to miss my first two attempts. This was no longer funny.
“Guy, you sure say you never adjust this thing?” I asked the game moderator before trying the last time. Tonia would be really disappointed in me, I thought.
“I no adjust anything o, Na you wey no sabi shoot anything,” he replied laughing.
I took my last aim and made a subconscious resolution to give up if I missed this time but just as I was about to pull the trigger, Tonia grabbed my hand and whispered in my ears, “let me try.”
This was my opportunity to save myself from total disgrace and shame so I gladly gave her the gun, I knew she would definitely miss.
Tonia took the gun from my hands and then grabbed it firmly with both hands. She closed one of her eyes and bent her head slightly probably to get a better view. She waited a few seconds before squeezing the trigger.
To my greatest surprise the bird suddenly stopped flying and fell to the bottom of the screen. She had shot it!
“That’s how you shoot,” she said as the moderator handed over to her one of the smaller teddy bears with a grin so wide his lips nearly touched his ears.
“Where did you learn to shoot?” I asked her sounding obviously surprised. She sure did not shoot the bird down by luck.
“My dad works for the Nigerian Navy.”
“You sure are full of surprises,” I said as I pulled her away from the gaming section. “Let’s go buy our movie ticket, the movie would soon start,” I added.
She had replaced the grip on my hands with the teddy bear she literally won for her self and I was not exactly happy by that but what could I do?
We got to the cinema, bought the tickets alongside the biggest bowl of popcorn they had and then entered the viewing room.
I have not mentioned this before and it might be a shameful thing to say but I have never really been to a cinema before. Okay, to avoid any misconceptions let me rephrase, I have never really been into a viewing room before.
I have been to cinema facilities before but have never really felt the urge to sit down in a dark room to watch a movie on a big screen before so each time I somehow find myself in a cinema I end up doing every other thing the cinema has to offer except watch a movie so I was a bit surprised at how big, cold and dark the viewing room was.
I have heard stories of how people had sex and did a lot of other ridiculous things at the cinema but I never actually believed any of them because of obvious reasons but on seeing it now with my very own eyes, I actually for a moment considered the possibility of doing naughty things to Tonia right here.
Who knows? My first time in a viewing room might be more exciting than I had expected.
I smiled mischievously at this thought as she led the way to our seat.
TO BE CONTINUED