Unlike other well-mannered young girls in Nigeria, Stephanie took a bold daring step to visit a friend she met on Facebook, who stays in the northern part of the country.
It was a decision she had thought out for about four months and since she was less busy at home, she gave him a call and they both arranged for the trip. The transport fare was sent to her bank account and directions to her phone.
Early one Thursday morning after a seriously dedicated prayer to God for divine protection and forgiveness in case something goes wrong, she bordered a bus to Kano, which was five hours from home.
She met a young man in the bus who chatted her up and helped ease the tension of traveling to a ‘strange’ place to go see a stranger.
She was glad that eighty percent of the passengers communicated in English, and had convincing reasons for traveling to the north unlike her, who told her mum she was traveling to Abuja.
When she got to Kano, she took another transport to Jigawa which was an additional three hours to the journey. Finally, she got to her destination and gave him a call to come pick her up at the park.
Stephanie overrated him to the extend that when she saw him, she almost took the next available bus back home. She wondered why the camera didn’t capture his big head and bulgy eyes in the pictures she had seen of him on Facebook. However, she had to play cool, unless she wanted to find herself sleeping with the al’majeris that night.
“Finally…” she said when she got into his dusty car.
“Yes oh” he replied trying not to look so pleased.
But deep down, she was sure he was jumping completely naked for joy. Which pretty girl like herself, would leave home just to visit a big headed bulgy-eyed guy in a far northern state? Why didn’t he visit her instead? Common sense was beginning to kick in.
“You lied that it was only four hours to get to this place from home” she broke the silence.
She was yet to discover so many things he had lied about. The oval-faced girl wondered where her senses disappeared to before she made this journey.
“Oh dear! I am sorry about that. You must be so tired” he said, trying to sound sweet.
That didn’t get to Stephanie, she started reflecting on what made her embark on this journey in the first place. Was it so she could find her ‘Mr. Right’, who probably was stuck in a pit? Or was it to escape the boredom at home? Or to raise her bank account to a reasonable level?
She wasn’t able to place the actual reason she was out in a faraway land, with a stranger and with totally no idea of her whereabout by her family members.
If only she knew that the worst was yet to come.
When she remembered that he lived in the staff quarters of the hospital where he works, her heart leaped for joy; at least where he stays would be something to write home about.
He stopped in front of a cemented-roof house with broken doors and windows; at first, she was scared to come out of the car, hoping that it wasn’t the house. She also recalled the picture of a house he claimed to be his which he showed her on Facebook. He lied, again!
“Sweedy, we are here” his voice brought her back to reality.
She alighted from the car like the ground was going to swallow her.
“What the hell are we doing here?” became her constant question.
The manner in which her host jerked the broken door made her feel more pity for the inanimate thing. As they entered the house, they passed a large scanty place which was meant to serve as the sitting room. Then he headed for a door and ushered her into a tiny room with a deflated foam on the ground, one little fridge by the corner and a boxed TV placed on a stool.
“Is this the comfortable life he boasted about?” she asked herself.
Stephanie noticed the air conditioner he usually blabbed about on phone. It seemed almost invisible and she had the feeling it wasn’t functioning.
“Let me show you around”, he offered.
This made Stephanie laugh. What was there to see, apart from broken doors and windows, stained ceiling, terrible cracks on the walls, raunchy and foul smelling bathroom and kitchen.
“I don’t pay for this place. It was given to the staff for free. I live with two other hospital staff, a medical doctor and a lab scientist” he said as he noticed the disappointment on her face.
“Even if you stay for free in this place it doesn’t justify the uncomfortable nature of the house” she quaried inwardly.
“Come and see Fluffy…” he added.
Fluffy was his dog; he talked about it almost all the time and the picture of the dog which Stephanie created in her mind was with furs all over its body.
Her being was foiled when she laid eyes on Fluffy, it was an ‘Ekwuke’ deprived of a healthy dog life, furless and kept in a very dirty place like the whole of Jigawa’s dumping ground.
“Goshhhhh….”, She had to let this one out.
What kind of a person lives in such a damned place and gives no care about it. After the horrifying tour, he said: “The places I showed you are mine…the rest are for the other occupants”.
As they entered the room, she immediately sat on the only and rickety chair in the room and the room had an unpropitious smell.
“God…I hope I survive a night here” she prayed.
How sure was she that he didn’t lie about being a doctor.
Foremost, doctors are known to be clean people but the one in front of her, who just broke the wind right in her presence is a disaster!
“You must be hungry. Let’s go out and eat, then tomorrow you’ll prepare something delicious for us” he smiled.
He had an unapologetic and annoying smile on his face. She checked her time and it was 3:45pm. She was very famished and also needed fresh air!
As they rode to the eatery, he kept opening and closing his mouth on some boring and meaningless issue and Stephanie only sat and wondered if ‘jazz’ was used on her. She thought she was going to die of hunger until she set eyes on the salad that was served; it was made with only lettuces and garden eggs.
“Where did the carrots, cabbages, green peas and other useful veggies used in preparing salad disappear to?” she asked the noisy mouth sitting in front of her.
“People here don’t prepare theirs that way” he answered and kept eating as noisily as before.
She felt embarrass sharing a table with such a person who lacked common decorum.
The thought of going back to that deserted place he called a house sent cold shivers down her spine.
“So what do you think?” he asked, smiling sheepishly.
“About?” Stephanie asked in an uninterested voice.
“Me of course. Was I up to your expectations?”
“Ohhh…you didn’t make up to ten percent…” Too late! It was out already.
“I meant, you were in between; not so much of what I expected and not so little” she added, trying to save her previous statement.
“That’s like keeping me in the dark; be elaborate” he pleaded.
“I don’t plan on telling you more than I already have” she said.
“Okay…” he managed to say still chewing noisily.
He sucked at reading one’s facial expressions. Stephanie’s heart bumped faster when the question, “Are you sure, he is even a human being?” rang in her head like an alarm clock. The thought instantly glued Psalms 23 firmly to her tongue.
Stephanie sneaked into the bathroom when he went out to wash his car, after they had returned from the restaurant. She couldn’t bring herself to look around the place called ‘bathroom’ for fear of an eye lesion. She took her bath as quickly as possible and in no time she was out.
“Sweedy, you’ve taken your bath? That was quick” he said.
“Obviously…” she muttered.
The moment the power went out, he suggested that they go out because he feels bored whenever the light goes out. For once, he read her mind, but she had been bored since the moment she arrived.
Stephanie agreed with all pleasure to the idea. It was past eight, a few minutes after the power went off, and an impatient Stephanie was already waiting at the door for him to meet up.
The place they went to wasn’t conducive, but it was far better than staying in his stuffed and smelly room.
The people he called ‘friends’ were the worst set of individuals the world had ever produced.
One timed himself while talking, not physically but mentally. Another kept complaining about speaking English in public places, saying that it was the problem of those from the eastern part of the country; and the third kept whispering into the ears of the first.
“Jesss! My eyes have seen…” Stephanie thought.
She looked down at her vibrating phone and the number calling made her cry silently. She still couldn’t believe she lied to the caller to be in the company of a stranger.
Stephanie quickly sent a text message to the caller, assuring them of her safety.
“How did you meet our sister here?” the third one asked after discussing on the present government.
She looked at him and discovered he had no answer to the question. He added immediately to avoid looking blank: “She just finished from the university”.
He must be the dumbest person she has ever met.
“Nne ke’ebe isi?” the second one asked in Igbo. Stephanie pretended to be engrossed in playing a game on her phone, until he touched her.
“I am from Enugu state” she answered, while giving him a nasty look.
“Za’a mu n’igbo” he complained.
She shoot him an angry look which made him mute for some minutes.
The ‘calculative talker’ seem to have a lot to ask her but decided to swallow them all. She continued playing with her phone, which was the only meaningful thing to do with her life at that time.
Soon the mosquitoes started feasting on her legs as part of her welcome package to Jigawa. Her host noticed her scratching but continued discussing about everything irrelevant. At 11:34pm sleep was already paying her a visit but she kept fighting it off, wishing she could stay awake till the next morning when she would zoom out of the place.
Finally, after eating more meat than a cannibal, her host decided to leave and they bade the awful set goodnight.
That night, before she went to bed, Stephanie tuck her bible underneath the pillow she laid her head. As an ex-good girl, her bible always traveled with her.
She suggested he slept on the floor since the dying foam couldn’t handle the two of them, but the host complained of having a thick body structure which would result in body ache if he agreed to her suggestion.
It took her about one hour to finally keep her body in the desired position on the bed and she prayed for the angels to take charge over her. She haven’t gone far into the dreamland when mosquitoes started singing in her ears and sapping her blood, she turned to check on him and saw that he was the only one enjoying his sleep perhaps because of the alcohol he took that evening, or because he was used to the mosquitoes.
After chasing the blood-sucking insects away by covering her ears with her wrapper, she was able to sleep for a few minutes. After a while, Stephanie was awoken by a loud chest-exploding sound, only to find out it was coming from the snores of her sleeping partner, and she felt like suffocating him with the pillow.
Her night was indeed terrible, from time to time he rolled from his side of the mattress to hers, almost piercing her against the wall.
The most shocking incident occurred around 5:02am, during one of his rolling sprees. His hands landed on Stephanie and started making their way to her breast, which was safeguarded with a bra (which was something she would gladly take off at night before going to bed, but here, she dared not take that risk).
She opened her eyes when she realized what was about to happen and pushed him away.
“I’m seeing my period…” she said, and it was almost close to the truth because the next day is the due date to see her period.
“Since when?” the supposedly sleeping man he asked.
“Since yesterday evening” she answered, realizing he was now masturbating and pleading she caressed his nipples with her tongue.
Stephanie tried to free lose from his grip which was too strong for her strength and having no option, she started caressing the nipples with the host pleasuring himself even harder and murmuring some dopey words.
Unable to curtail the disgusting feeling she freed herself from his grip and rushed to the chair where she sat and prayed to God for strength to come out unsullied.
When he seemed to have ejaculated, he cleaned his hands with tissue and was making a move to touch Stephanie; who yelled at the top of her voice:
“Don’t you dare touch me!”
Obeying her command he went to bed blowing his trumpet. While sitting on the chair she made a promise that another night won’t meet her in that place and decided to cook up a story that would make her leave but not with her money as transport fare.
She took her bath sharply, around 6:20am. Then she came up with a tale which would have been perceived as a cock and bull story by an intelligent and smart person.
Stephanie set an alarm on her phone to ring as her ringing tone by 7:10am. When the time came, she allowed it to ring to the hearing of the host and gave a loud “Hello” as she picked up the ‘call’.
“Mummy Good morning… I’m fine Ma and you?… Jesus!… When did it happen? Where are you now?… What did the doctor say?… Okay, I will be on my way!”.
After ending the ‘call’, she said to him:
“My baby sister is in the hospital”.
She noticed that he didn’t hear, and she moved closer to tap him.
“Did you hear me?” she asked, repeating herself again.
“Are you serious? How did it happen?”
“Mum said she just slumped this morning, I guess it should be because of the race she participated in yesterday during their inter-house sports” she explained and added:
“My mum wants me back so as possible to take care of her in the hospital since she has so many things to handle at her workplace”.
He shoot a surprising look at her.
“Whoah! I really don’t like urgent situations” he complained to Stephanie, who was already preparing to leave.
“Please take your bathe or better still just put on your clothes and take me to the park” she said, giving him a stern look.
“I don’t have any cash on me right now. We made use of the little I had last night and the banks here won’t be open until 8:30am” he explained.
“I will wait untill 8:30am then” she added, adamant to get the transport fare from him.
“The thing is, I’ve got work at that time and am waiting for some money to be sent to me this weekend”.
“So you can’t withdraw the amount I am to travel with?” She asked, irritated at the lies pumping out of his mouth, and the zeal to leave grew stronger.
She recalled the change of one thousand in her bag and tried to raise the remaining two thousand from him.
“I’m almost late for work” she heard him say as he dropped a one thousand naira note on the table, to get breakfast if she became hungry.
“How much do you have in your wallet even?” She asked, and was relieved to hear “Two thousand naira”.
Why is he not taking her baby sister’s incident serious by the way?
She collected the money and carefully put them in her purse.
Aranging her traveling bag for the last time she said, “Alright, come drop me off at the park”.
“Truly, I don’t understand this your journey and I can’t drop you off. Like I said, I got work to attend to”
He brought out a file filled with papers and he showed it to her; a particular paper which caught her eyes unveiled another lie. It was his certificate from the tertiary institution, the human being lied to have graduated with a 2.1 but she saw a 2.2.
Thank God she was leaving, that would put an end to the lies!
She gladly saw herself off to the place where she could find a bike to the park and heard the host muttering some apologetic words. Although it was a risk to travel on a Friday with the security condition of the country, she had no choice. She can’t stay and face his horrible manners or sleep on the mat he called a bed.
Stephanie needed to quickly leave this part of the region. When she got to the park she completed the number of passengers needed in the Siena bus and off they zoomed; the only prayer on her lips was for God to take her home safely and vowed never to take such risk in the name of visiting a Facebook friend.
In kano, she was dehydrated almost at the edge of fainting, luckily for her she got sachet water from the little hawkers around, in the bid to save her money she didn’t buy anything to eat. She found it very hard to talk due to the hunger in her system. She felt like a prodigal son on his way home.
Her immediate younger sister would wonder why she had to come back so soon; she would laugh at Stephanie no doubt. The only person she told where she was traveling to, was her sister but told her she was going to Kano for shopping with a friend and not to Jigawa.
Her journey from Kano back home was totally depressing. The fat woman she was to share the back seat with had three children which neither sat nor slept well throughout the journey until half way to the junction, where Stephanie was to stop, one of the children threw up in the car some splattered on poor Stephanie’s shoes and the rest all over the little boy’s clothes. She cursed the day she decided to embark on that trip.
Her voice was the loudest, screaming “Jezzz” and “Oh My God!”.
Others were heard saying, “Sorry…yawuri” to the little boy and partially giving attention to Stephanie.
The driver stopped the car so as to clean the affected area and allow the fat woman change her child’s clothes. While waiting for all these to be over, she thought to herself:
“Truly, I deserve all the bullshit coming my way”.
When the driver got to her junction, she just couldn’t wait to fly out of the car. The other passengers felt the speed at which she hopped out, jacking her traveling bag. She was indeed happy to be in her birth place.
What a relief!
There was a huge smile in her mind’s face. At home her siblings welcomed her because courtesy demands so, then afterwards bombarded her with questions.
“Did you fight with the person you went to visit?”
“Were you thrown out?”
“You spent only one night, why?”
“What kind of journey is this one?” her irritated brother asked and this made others laugh.
It was her mother’s turn to ask questions:
“How is your friend in Abuja?”
“Fine ooh, she is managing…the economy is really bad everywhere” Stephanie answered with her face to the ground.
“That is what its suppose to be”, her mum agreed after scanning her daughter’s face.
Stephanie felt so guilty but she can’t tell her mum the actual place she went to, that would break her, it will make her lose trust in her.
“Let this be my secret from her” she thought and gave another thanks to God for journey mercies.
Her sister brought her dinner when she entered her room and said:
“You haven’t really told me what happened in Kano. Where is my own share of the shopping even. Don’t tell me you came back empty handed too?”
“It’s a very long story” and silently she vowed not to call her host ever again nor to let herself be jazzed to an unknown place by an unknown person! With this, she deleted his number and blocked him on Facebook.