Once Upon Two Robbers
I stood outside my home last night receiving a quick call. Apart from my regular cell-phone, I have a 'mobile' landline, like most Lagosians. A starcomms phone that has a fading signal when calls come through within the concrete enclave called my flat. So I walked out of the apartment, and out of the compound and stood just before the gate, watching passersby as I spoke.
I live in Lagos, so it should surprise no one that the transformer that supplied electricity to my street had been whisked away by power officials about a week before. It had a fault and we have no idea when/if we will get it back.
The noises of generators from all four flats had pushed me to step out of the house and onto the pitch-dark street to carry on my conversation.
There's something about my road, not many houses on it, but it has a bar that attracts all sorts. Three roads lead off the road as well. I love my home, even though I think I pay far too much as rent, the present set of tenants are the first ever to inhabit the practically new house. However, I dislike the road its on, too busy atimes and I know the secluded interior of the compound attracts the attention of those walking by.
So I stood talking by the dark road last night, seeing but not registering the man who stood five metres across the road from me. As I spoke on the phone, it suddenly struck me, that on this dark empty part of the road, the man who had stood casually opposite my gate was only about 2 and half metres away and walking rapidly towards me. A little to his side and behind, there appeared to be another man also approaching me.
I swore into the phone, "f&*%$&g s*&t" (I'm not given to swearing) and without thinking swung to my left in the direction of the bar and walked rapidly towards it and its bright lights calling our hausa security guard who sat with his hausa friend who sells sweets outside the neighbouring house, as I walked. My sudden movement appeared to startle the stranger approaching me and I could see for a few brief moments, he was undecided as what to do. He actually stood in front of our gate, just staring. Alhaji, our guard heard me furiously calling his name and rushed up asking what the matter was. I pointed to the men. By the time Alhaji got there, they had disappeared into the darkness.
What would have happened? I'd have been led into the house, gun pressed into the small of my back. I might have been asked to get my neighbours to open their doors too. Many things could have happened. My friend was robbed like that a couple of years ago, three streets away. Some young men followed someone into his apartment and held them all up at gun-point. My house isn't as accessible to srangers but I won't be so careless again. My brother, Jinta, when on holiday, is always bemused that I study passersby when he and I go around Lagos. You see why now, bro?
The moral of the story? Open your eyes wide no matter where you live. Don't sit in parked cars or stand casually in uncertain areas to make phone calls. And remember, only the paranoid survive.