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Lost in a Shadow - Episode 6


Lost in a Shadow - Episode 6

Written by Chidiogor D-f Nwafor

Dave was finding this exchange of words interesting. He moved closer to see better when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Startled, he looked back quickly and saw his father glaring at him.
"Do you want to miss the bus? It's almost time."

Truly, the bus was almost moving. They quickly got into the bus and the bus sped off.
"What was happening there?" Paul asked.
"I don't know. It seems like the driver wanted the woman to pay additional money for the luggage she was carrying."
"Well Dave, do not poke your nose into people's affairs. What would you have done if they started fighting and then ended up breaking a bottle?"
"I would have run away." Dave defended and Paul smiled.
"In this type of situation, it's mainly the innocent ones that becomes the victim."
"Are you saying that when something interesting like that happens, I shouldn't take a look?"
"Of course you can but don't spend much time there. Many times, occurrences like this are just to gather crowd so as to carry out selfish deeds such as pick pocketing and so on. Many things could happen at that position, you could be arrested, you might get injured or even die. You also stand a chance of losing your bus." Paul said and they both laughed.
"Touche!" Dave said and they laughed again. "It wasn't like I planned for it. it was just that I was bored standing out there and..." Dave paused. "That's true. The girl!" Dave muttered.
"What girl?"
"The girl I was standing with. Chioma was her name. Where's she?" Dave asked, straining his neck in search of the girl.
"If she's not in this bus, then she'd be in the other bus we left behind." Paul explained.
Dave sighed but soon forgot about the girl. Paul had chosen a good seat near the window specifically for Dave so he could see what was happening. As the bus sped, Dave saw alot of people both old and young carrying trays of all sort on their heads. They sold different product like gala, handkerchief, sachet water and many others.

They kept pushing their products under the noses of travellers sitting in the car especially those selling edible substances.

There were also little children hawking and Dave felt extremely sorry for them. Some travellers including Paul bought stuffs from the hawkers. Dave watched as the hawkers ran just to make sure they didn't lose their customers.

Hours later, Dave became bored with watching the road and so decided to sleep for many other travellers were asleep including his father.
★ ★ ★

Dave woke up to the deafening sound that hurt his ears. He rubbed his eyes sleepily as people shouted loudly; some were folding their hands and shaking their heads; some were sobbing while others thanked God and sang praises. This was confusing. The driver was nowhere to be found and the bus was empty except for little children. Dave turned quickly in search of his father but Paul was no where to be found also. Virtually everyone had left the bus. Dave without thinking, quickly ran out of the bus but a hand stopped him immediately.
"Where are you going to?" It was his father.
"Dad, what's happening?"
"There was an accident."
"You know the bus we left behind?" Paul asked and Dave nodded. "It was involved in an accident. I guess the driver ran into a trailer driver and so it was fatal accident. Many travellers died, the rest are injured." Paul informed.

"Do you know I almost got into that bus?" They heard a woman tell another.
"You did?" Came the response.
"Yes o. I just thank God for my life."

Just then, some corpse were taken out. Some injured people were carried out too. Dave watched as the victims cried out in pain.
"My daughter! My daughter!!" An injured woman was yelling helplessly. Her legs seemed broken but she kept yelling and dragging her hair. "It can't be my daughter. No!"

Dave looked at the direction the woman was pointing at and tears filled his eyes. Some group of men were carrying a corpse. The hands of the dead victim hung helplessly. "That must be the woman's daughter." Dave thought but then, the corpse looked familiar. It was a young girl. Dave walked up to the body to view it closely only to see the mutilated face of Chioma; the young girl he had spoken to. He looked at the weeping  mother. She was still screaming.
"My only child. My only child!"

Tears of agony streamed from Dave's face. "Chioma." He muttered again. He tried to touch the body but Paul grabbed him and ordered him to go back into the bus. Dave walked slowly into the bus, head bowed and eyes teary.
"We need to take them to the hospital." A voice called out. Dave held his face and wept for the girl he barely knew.
★ ★ ★

"Dave!" Someone was shaking him softly. He opened his eyes to see his father smiling down at him.
"You must be hungry. It's time to eat."

Dave yawned lazily as he got out of the bus. He looked around and everything looked normal. "Dad! Was there an accident?"
"No! We thank God. Our journey has been smooth so far. We pray it ends well also."
"What about the bus we left behind?"
"What about it? That's the bus over there." Paul chuckled as he pointed.

So it was a nightmare then. Dave was so relieved. The thought of Chioma dying made him shiver.
"Why did you ask?"
"Nothing much. It was just a dream."

Many travellers had alighted and were trudging into the restaurant. After eating, they rushed back into the bus and continued the journey. Dave kept asking his father where they were. "Are we almost there?"
"Dave, let it rest. We're just half way."

Frustrated, Dave drifted back to sleep. He was asleep throughout till they got to their village.

Mrs Okafor was so happy to see them and she danced around when she was told about Dave spending his holiday with her. It had been such a long time since she had seen him and it was only for a day. She was glad that she would spend time with her grandson. She was determined to make his holiday the best he had ever had. Paul spent the night in the village with the hope of returning the next day. After a sumptuous dinner of pounded yam and ofe nsala soup which Mrs Okafor took her time to prepare, Dave went to sleep for he was very exhausted from the journey. Paul too stood up to go also when his mother held his hands and walked him into her private chamber.
"The village is not like the city." She began. "You can never tell who's eavesdropping on you."
"Mama, why did you call me here?"
"My son, you're my only child and I want the best for you. I have made a huge mistake by bringing in that whore into your house for a wife. I can't forgive myself for I believe this opprobrium is my fault. Even that Mazi Ekwe that I felt was a responsible man didn't do anything about his daughter's shameless behaviour."
"Did you meet him?" Paul asked.
"Yes, I did. Do you expect me to sit with my hands folded when something like this happened? No!"
"So what did he say?" Paul asked, totally interested.
"That Ekwe told me that he would pay for the damages his daughter had caused. I asked him if he didn't care about his grandson  and he said that he would leave the boy for you since his daughter was not comfortable living with you. You know he married three wives, so he has a lot of grandchildren unlike me."
"I wasn't going to let him lay his fifthly hands on my son at the first place."
"There's no need to worry. I'm sure he has washed his hands off Dave. I also asked him not to give me any money for his daughter's foolishness. They will regret it. I'm sure of this." She told him and he nodded.
"Besides, I must commend you for the good job you did in raising Dave. He's now a big boy. Thank you my son and I'm sorry for meddling with your life. I just wanted the best for you."
"Mum, don't worry. Look at me! I'm doing good and so is my son. So don't worry about us. We're fine." Paul replied.
"Thank God. Now Paul, I am old and won't live forever. I want you to be bold and courageous so you can fight those village elders who are after your father's properties. You know since your father died, I've been holding the lands which he left behind. When I die, I'm sure those relatives of ours will try to take everything. The cat performing ablution is preparing itself to steal. So my son, be wise and fight your battle. You know I wouldn't be there neither will your father. Take caution, it is a double blessing to deceive the deceiver. God bless you Paul. I just felt I should speak with you one on one."
"I've heard you mama and you wouldn't die anytime soon. Stop saying you're old. You're not." Paul snapped and Mrs Okafor laughed a shaky laugh.
"I must go now so I can wake up early tomorrow." Paul stood up.
"Wait my son, do you plan to marry a second wife?"
"No! I don't want to marry again." Paul replied firmly.
"Alright my son. God be with you as you leave for the city tomorrow." Mrs Okafor blessed.

Paul set out on his journey back to Port Harcourt the next morning. He was sad to leave his son. He couldn't remember the time he had stayed without his son but he knew his son was in good hands. He bade everyone good bye and then set out on his journey.

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