First Time –January 27, 2017
It was the last Friday of the month and the last day of my 21-day fast. I was travelling from Abeokuta, where I was serving my fatherland, to Lagos for an anointing service to mark the end of the fast.
I had already asked for permission to be away from work that day. I woke up early to help my sister get her kids ready for school, after which I got ready and left for Kuto Park.
My journey to Lagos was uneventful but rough – no thanks to the driver who kept driving as though he was the Lewis Hamilton of Nigeria.
I slept throughout the ride seeing as I was going to be awake all night – at least, so I thought.
I got to Lagos in good time and made my way to Tafawa Balewa Square, where the annual anointing service was to hold. I think that was my third or fourth attendance –not sure, blame it on STM. Anyway, I broke my fast with a chilled bottle of lemon drink and hot puff-puffs. I walked around the stadium, praying and asking God in His infinite mercies to bless the new year and grant all of my requests in the last 21 days.
I had plans to visit Balogun market after the vigil to restock. I was into sales of natural hair products, hair accessories and jewelry. While the venue of the vigil was being set up, I contemplated withdrawing the money I would need at the market or waiting till I got to the market. Thank goodness I did the latter.
Before the vigil began, I had hot white rice and stew with plantain and titus fish, two bottles of water and a pack of buttery popcorn.
The vigil started with praise and worship. There were prayers, sermons, prophecies, song ministrations and more prayers. Fast forward to sometime around 4am the next day. The vigil was already winding to a close and my eyes were heavy. The bishop asked everyone to bring out their bottles of oil for prayers. I brought out my tiny bottle from my bag. By then, I was very sleepy and dozing off, and I did not trust one hand to hold the bottle firmly, so I held it tightly with both hands.
Less than five minutes after the prayer started, I jolted awake again. It took another two to three minutes before my eyes fully opened and I took in the scene before me.
The vigil had ended already and people had started leaving. I looked at the space between my open legs. It took about five seconds before my brain registered that the cute black handbag my sister dashed me was missing.
“Oh no, no no no, this can’t be happening to me at a world anointing service, no now.”
I searched everywhere and even alerted the security, but it was all to no avail.
I walked to the podium like a girl carrying the problems of the thousands of people who had come for that service on my shoulders. I started rehearsing in my head how I was going to ask people to give me money for transport fare back to Abeokuta, but if it was an audition, I would have failed woefully.
I took my burdens to the Lord – literally – as I went to the altar and cried. On my way back to start my “audition”, a guy approached me. He reeked of local gin, smoke and unshaved armpits. No doubt, he wasn’t one of the worshipers. He asked if I was looking for a small black bag. Ah! A glimmer of hope there. I said yes.
He went on and on about how he saw a guy stealing my bag while I was sleeping, and how he chased him to get the bag back, blah blah blah. All I was thinking was how he had the effrontery to come report himself; I was convinced beyond doubt he was the thief.
He offered to take me to a part of the stadium to confirm if the bag was mine. I followed him. I wasn’t scared because I had nothing else on me that he could steal, save the tiny bottle of olive oil I was still clutching in my hand. I also knew there were too many security guards around for him to attempt raping me. I took the walk of faith with him.
Lo and behold, it was my lost bag! I thanked him and went away.
See ehn, my village people followed me to Lagos that day, but I think I lost them at the entrance of the stadium. I say this because I never travel wearing a dress. I always wear trousers or shorts with pockets, so I can keep money in different parts of my clothes and bag. But that fateful day, I wore a gown with no pocket, so all the money I had on me were in the handbag.
I say I lost the village people at the stadium gate because I had put two N1000 mint notes inside my notepad just before the service began. The thief got away with my two phones and the change in my wallet but missed the money in the notepad. Hallelujah somebody!
Second Time –November 2, 2019
It was a few minutes before 8:30pm. I know because I was listening to Poetry Sessions on City FM when it happened.
Bobo and I went out to get dinner – bread and akara. We had gotten back to the front of my house when I remembered there was no drinking water in the house. Just as we were about to cross to the other side of the road to get a bag of sachet water, a guy jumped down right in front of me from a bike carrying two other passengers. He had in his hand a machete. Another bike with three passengers stopped behind the first. One of them had another machete. I was still smiling about a crazy line from Brymo’s song that was playing on the radio when the first guy with a machete demanded I hand him my phones.
I looked around, thinking it was a prank because I had heard earlier that there was a carnival going on in the street after mine. I stood there looking at him with a smile on my face, waiting for someone to say, “Oya fi omo ye sile jor” (leave the girl alone), followed by laughter celebrating a successful prank.
I knew it wasn’t a joke when he grabbed me and waved the machete, demanding in an angry voice that I give him my phones. I screamed! I was scared he might hurt me. I handed him the phones quickly, holding on to my earpiece.
He jumped on the bike and they zoomed off.
This was right in front of my house, in the middle of the road, with tens of people watching. As soon as they left, I ran into Bobo’s arms. He was worried about me, but honestly, all I was thinking about was missing my friend, @joytothewords_ poetry session on the radio.
You see, I am a radio junkie. I live and breathe radio.
Everyone was worried for me, asking if I was fine, but all I wanted was to get back to my room, pounce on my akara before it got cold and listen to the radio.
Bobo found it weird that I did not react to the lost phones and assault. I thought, it’s gone, why cry over spilt milk?
Lagos nawa! I raise yansh for una o… Una try well well no be small.
Edited by Joy Chime