After she had calmed down, we went to the bank together because I had to pay my acceptance fee. While I was on the queue, Omaede went outside to get recharge voucher for her phone. I didn’t mind because I had noticed a pretty girl on the queue, and I figured that if she is on the acceptance fee queue, then we must be heading for the same school. In the course of filling out my teller, I initiated a chat with her. I was right! We were indeed heading for the same school. So I got her name, and phone number.
As I stepped out of the bank’s metal detector, I heard series of gunshots. People ran helter-skelter, and I joined them. If the gunshots were from armed robbers, then going back inside the bank wasn’t a safe choice. I dove behind the public toilet by the wall, only to collide with the bank’s uniformed security man already hiding there. Squeezing into this tight space wasn’t easy but I had no choice. The blaring of the police sirens were followed by rounds of sporadic shooting. The crossfire went on for about five minutes, then the sounds faded. When everything had calmed down, I got out of my hiding place laughing at the security man scrambling behind me. I called Omaede but she didn’t pick up. I knew she must be annoyed with me for leaving her alone. I called her again and she still didn’t pick up. I knew Omaede could be very stubborn sometimes. As I walked down the road past the recharge voucher vendor, I saw Omaede’s bag on the ground. Imagine Omaede ran for safety and left her bag behind. No wonder she didn’t pick my call. I picked up her bag, and asked the sales woman if she saw the girl that owns the bag. The woman screamed and broke into sobs “Yepa… Omolomo!“, placing both hands on her head. Where I come from, this gesture is a terrible sign. I didn’t have to wait for her to answer me. Two men carried Omaede’s body from the ground and placed her on the bench by the bus stop as people started gathering. There was a big red mess around her stomach where the bullet had gone in, and her head hung to the side. I rushed to her side pulling her to myself. “Somebody please help me!” I shouted. I sat on the ground, with Omaede on my chest. With every drop of blood she was losing, her life was bleeding out of her and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The warm flesh that had turned me on a few hours ago, was now cold.
Three days ago, a stray bullet fatally hit Omaede while the police chased down a gang of armed robbers in broad daylight. She was buried today, and I didn’t attend the burial. I am a psychological wreck. I haven’t tasted anything for the past three days, and sleeping has been very difficult. Mother has been very worried and she is sitting beside me on the bed in my room. “Oko mi, jo o. Jo nitori Oloun, jeun. Mo f’ Oloun Oba be e. Wo, ti e je die, Ko fi kan enu“. I was an emotional whirlwind. Grief, love, hate, anger, vengeance, and regret all racing through my seventeen -year old mind. This was too much for me to bear. I broke into tears again for the upteenth time that day. “Why must she die a virgin?” I mumbled. I didn’t know I said it out loud until my confused mother asked, “What do you mean? How did you know she died a virgin?” On a different day, I would have been scared of my mother finding out about what happened between me and Omaede the day she died, but grief has a way of making you careless about such things. I told her everything that happened that day, and I watched my mother’s face undergo a transformation from grief to disbelief, to shock, and to anger. I can imagine what must have been going through her mind, but I really did not care. I knew she would never see me as that innocent son of hers again. I kept thinking, if we had stayed back and had sex together then we wouldn’t have been anywhere near the bank at that time, and Omaede wouldn’t have been hit by a stray bullet. Omaede would still be alive.
The loss of a loved one has a weird way of affecting the mind and the memory. It is funny how I start to refer to things in respect to Omaede. Like when I hear a song now, my mind goes like “the song Omaede loved dancing to”; or I see a nice blue scarf, and my mind goes “the colour Omaede liked wearing on weekends”.
For those of you that are wondering why I called this the first time I did it, I have this for you: Where I come from, if a woman gives birth to a set of twins and one dies at birth, you don’t question the woman if she tells you that the dead baby travelled to America.
Dedicated to Adeola Alao (1985-2009).
For the love you sought, and the love you gave.