Fear /fɪə/ noun an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
After my dreamy weekend with Danladi, (yes, I saw him on the Sunday as well, though just for drinks), nothing could spoil my week. I literally skipped out of bed on Monday morning, of course pleased that I would see him again in ‘school’. One would think I’d be tired of spending time with him, that I’d get bored or unimpressed. But noooo. My pulse quickened as I watched him drive into the school gates and my heart raced as he walked towards me in his cool, calm collected way, all northern tallness and handsomeness. He didn’t look too happy that morning, though he managed to interrupt the scowl on his face with a brief lopsided smile for me.
“Hey. You ok?” I asked.
“Hey. I’m fine. Just have stuff on my mind is all.”
“Anything you want to talk about? Or is it stuff you don’t want to share?”
“Not really. It’s nothing to worry your pretty little head about. How was your weekend?”
I look at him and see the twinkle in his eye. I’m aware that he has expertly changed the subject and while I know it’s not really my business what he’s bothered about, I do feel kind of sad that he won’t confide in me.
“My weekend was just there.” I say, playing along.
“Yeah. Spent it doing some not-so-remarkable things with a not-so-remarkable person. To be honest, I might have had a better time doing chores at home.”
“That’s odd.” He says. And he leans closer to me across the table so that no one can overhear him. “I could have sworn you were having a really good time, if your moaning was anything to go by. You know you make the sweetest of sounds. It’s almost like you’re about to cry. I particularly like it when you whimper and then beg me not to stop. You like my tongue to fli… Ouch!”
He starts to laugh. “You don’t have to get violent. No need to kick me. Just ask me to stop. But then again, you never do… ask me to stop that is…”
By this time, I’m properly embarrassed, well aware of the fact that were I a lighter colour, my face would be a deep red. I already have a vivid image in my head of his tongue doing what he was going to say just then and unconsciously, I squeeze my thighs together. I glance nervously at my wristwatch, hoping I could be saved by the bell. There’s still 15 minutes before classes start and I’m wondering whether to make up an excuse and bolt when his phone rings. He looks at the screen and the scowl is back. He says a terse hello, gets up and walks off towards the car park to take the call. I’m sat twiddling my thumbs and going over the weekend’s events again, smiling to myself.
He had enjoyed the meal. Thankfully, the pepper soup wasn’t too spicy – though he described it as borderline and I told him it served him right for refusing to be of any help – and the rice was fantastic; my mother would have been proud. But I think he enjoyed dessert the most. He seemed to derive so much pleasure from eating fruit pieces off of me and I couldn’t even bring myself to think of the mess he made with the yoghurt. Suffice it to say that I could not have put on any clothes after that without a good shower, which he also enjoyed ‘helping’ me with.
I’m startled out of my daydream as people move in for classes to start. Danladi is now out of sight, and still on the phone I assume. I figure I’ll catch up with him during lunch and I go off to class.
I’m half way through my second class when my phone vibrates. It’s a short one, so I know it’s not a phone call. Probably a text or some annoying Facebook notification. So I ignore it and continue to focus on the tutor. But then, it vibrates again. And this time, I sneak a look at it. Just as the screen light starts to fade, I catch a glimpse of the ‘texter’. It’s Danladi. That’s odd, I think. He never texts in the middle of a school day.
I open the texts. The first one reads “Need to speak with you. Can you come downstairs?” The second one sounds even more urgent – “I have to leave now. Please come down for a minute. It’s important!” Now, I’m curious. I excuse myself from the class and make my way downstairs. Danladi is pacing beside his car. As soon as he sees me, he stops. I walk up to him with a questioning look on my face. “What’s wrong?” I ask even before I reach him.
“The person you thought had been following you on Saturday, do you remember what he looked like?”
“Err, not really. I didn’t get that much of a good look at him. He did look mean though and he was wearing a dark suit. I remember thinking it was odd that he was dressed like that on a Saturday, but I figured he was going to a wedding or some other formal event. Why?”
“I think he may have been following you.”
“Who would want to follow…?” my voice trails off as the meaning of the situation dawns on me. “Your wife?” I say, my voice considerably weaker.
“Then who?” This time, I’m really confused.
“Aisha.” He says on a sigh.
“Why would Aisha do that? I don’t understand. I would get it if it was your wife behind this. But Aisha? What are you not telling me Danladi? Is there something I should know? Are you and Aisha still seeing each other or something?” I’m starting to get worked up and he puts a palm on my shoulder to calm me down and holds my gaze.
“Asher, listen to me. Aisha and I are not an item. We were over more than 5 years ago and I wouldn’t dream of having anything else to do with her. But she’s a very vindictive person. And she obviously has resources at her disposal. I just need you to be more careful. Go straight home today after classes are over. And we should limit the amount of time we spend together outside of school during the week. I’ll see you on the weekends to make up for lost time. If she had someone follow you to my place, there’s no telling what she’ll do next.”
“Danladi, you still have not answered my question!” I don’t realize that I’ve raised my voice. “Why the fuck is Aisha having me followed? She’s not the one whose husband I’m seeing!!!”
“Can we talk about this tomorrow? I need to go now. I have to go find her and talk some sense into her. She’s probably lurking around somewhere in Lagos.”
I can tell that I have a stunned or incredulous look on my face but I can’t do anything about it. Everything in me wants to drag him by the collar and shake him until he tells me the full story but I’m also worried that if anyone looked outside their windows, they would see us very clearly. So I turn and start to walk away, saying nothing.
“Asher.” He calls out to me. But I keep walking. “Asher, don’t walk away from me.”
Something about the tone of his voice stops me in my tracks. In that moment, I can clearly see a picture of him giving orders to his subordinates at work. I turn around slowly and stare at him, still refusing to say anything.
“We will talk tomorrow, ok?” he’s obviously expecting a response, so I nod my head once and I head back to class.
The rest of the day is a blur and I’m relieved when it’s finally time to head home. I pick up my bags and go straight to my car. As I drive out on to the main road, I look furtively around, trying to see if I would spot someone who would be tailing me. Every black SUV becomes a suspect and I mentally kick myself for not having paid closer attention to the make of the car I had seen on Saturday. I look in my rear view mirror for the umpteenth time as I join the Third Mainland Bridge. No black SUV in sight. I almost heave a sigh of relief when I see one about 3 to 4 cars back, purposely weaving its way through the lanes and getting closer very fast. I pick up my speed unconsciously before I realize that it just might be someone who’s in a hurry.
Going back to my standard 100km per hour, I keep an eye on the approaching vehicle, almost ready to get out of his way should he want to use my lane. And then WHAM! He clips me on the right end of my rear bumper and I struggle to keep control of the car as it fishtails. Other motorists begin to swerve to avoid me but all I can see is the SUV coming straight at me; a head-on collision seems unavoidable and I can taste my fear. But just before he gets to me, I see a Danfo from the corner of my eye, also careening towards me. The Danfo gets to me first and the last thing I remember is the SUV changing course and heading away from me. And then I black out…