As promised, the next one hour met her ready, clad in tight-fitting blue jeans and grey blouse under a thick black sweater. Her feet were covered in stockings and white sneakers. She held a white shopping bag in one hand, containing her outfit for Sofia’s party, along with accessories, and a purse in the other.
Christiana grabbed her car key and exited her apartment almost immediately. She locked up, kept the apartment keys in her small purse and started towards her car packed at the other side of the compound.
The harmattan breeze was everything but friendly, being very dry and very cold. Dry leaves from the only mango tree in the compound, and other flowers planted for decoration, had fallen off in their numbers, littering the place.
Her neighbors had since gone out for their various activities, so she wasn’t surprised to find only her car packed outside. But she was more than surprised to see an unfamiliar face, resting on her black SUV. He was tall. Handsome too. Lanky. And had a cigarette to his lips. His outfit was a casual yellow t-shirt on a blue jeans trouser. His feet were covered in black army boot and a Nigerian army bandana wrapped his head.
She hurried up to him, asking who he was, as she wondered why Yusuf, the gate man, had allowed a total stranger into the compound.
It was against the rules to let just anyone into the compound without first confirming from the occupants of the flats, if they knew the visitor. Now this visitor wasn’t only in the compound, he was resting on her car. Boldly.
Even as she quickened her steps, her instincts told her to slow down, as the man might be dangerous.
“Who are you, and how did you get into this compound?’ She asked, getting closer, “why are you even resting on my car?
The man eyed her closely, before taking out the cigarette to puff out smoke. Afterwards, he dipped one hand in his pocket and took out a small photograph. He looked at it, then back at Christiana. By this time, a million and one voices were screaming in her head, ‘run Christiana’, they said, ‘run. This guy is a kidnapper sent to kidnap you’.
But before she could move, one strong hand got hold of her, bundled her up amidst screams and threw her into the boot of her car, along with her purse and nylon bag. He only took the car key from her, and tied her mouth hands and legs, before shutting the boot.
Through the metal walls of her new prison, she heard his voice. He was talking to someone else, telling the person he had her in the boot. The person had obviously been close by, watching. It wasn’t a phone conversation because she heard the other person speak, saying something about this only being temporary and that she would be alright. His voice made her heart sink, more than his words. Because she knew that voice. She was sure she knew who it belonged to.
With her hands, legs and mouth tied, she could not bang on the boot or scream for help. Christiana’s heartbeat tripled as the car engine roared to life. The car began to move and she was sure, this was it. She was being kidnapped.
Unfortunately, she was an only surviving child of her late parents. They died in a crash. She had uncles and aunties, but there was no real relationship between them. She wondered then who the kidnappers were going to ask for their ransom. Her closest guess was Sofie.
The car moved quickly, and some time later, car horns blared impatiently, typical of Lagos drivers who were in a hurry to drop their passengers and pick up new ones, or those rushing to only God knows where.
Street hawkers announced their wares, repeatedly. Raised voices from agberos fighting each other also greeted Christiana’s ears. And she wished, not for the last time, that she could scream for help. But the cloth tied around her mouth muffled her screams.
The boot was becoming quite stuffy and suffocating. Tears streamed down to the left side of her eyes, as she wasn’t sure she would survive the assault waiting for her wherever she was being taken to.
They were soon past the busy road, Christiana could tell, for the noise had reduced drastically. The car was on top speed when all of a sudden, she felt it descend, like it was going down a hill. It was obviously not a smooth descent as she was roughly thrown all over the boot, hitting her head hard against the metal coverings, and having the heavy items in the boot repeatedly hitting against her fragile form.
She understood then, as the descent continued, that they may have been involved in a terrible accident and were certainly tumbling down a very steep slope
Her tied hands, legs and mouth wouldn’t let her struggle to free herself from the now damaged boot. She had started to pray silently, calling on God and the angels for help, when she heard the loud splash, and then the sinking followed. Water gradually found its way into the boot, filling it up by the seconds.
Christiana, gingered by the fact that she was not ready to meet her creator, began to struggle fruitlessly with her binds, as well as hit her body hard against the boot lid, hoping it would give way. But after so much struggle and nothing happened, she broke down in tears. For all she saw was her end. The more she struggled, the more she was sure, this was it. Water eventually enveloped her.
Christiana battled to breathe but got choked in the process. She gave up the fight, when water found its way into her nose, mouth and ears. And just as her eyes closed, she thought she heard someone struggle to open the damaged boot. Or was it a shark, wanting to get hold of the food locked in the boot? She couldn’t be too sure.
When she woke up at the hospital, connected to a drip and a respiratory machine, Christiana remembered only one thing. Her name. She didn’t know where she was or why her head was wrapped in white clothe. Neither could she understand why her body hurt so badly.
She tried to move. But a whimpering sound escaped her lips, as the pain increased.
Her whimpering must have been a little too loud, for out of the corner of her right eye, she saw movement. She turned slowly to see a young man, handsome, chocolate-brown, sitting on a chair by her side, while his head rested on the bed, close to her arm. A part of him glowed with light. But the other part was dark. Christiana wondered at this.
He stirred a little. Obviously because of her whimpering.
Whoever he was, she appreciated his staying by her side. But where was she? Why was she on a bed, connected to a drip and a machine? As these questions ran through her head, she remembered. A tall lanky man had kidnapped her and thrown her into the boot. Along the way, he drove roughly and ended in a river.
Being in the boot of the damaged car didn’t spare her of the effects. How good Samaritans managed to know there was someone locked in the boot of the damaged car was a mystery. Or, was it someone else, the same lanky man, that rescued her?
She tried to think about what had led to her sudden abduction. But nothing came to mind. She couldn’t remember anything before the abduction. So she just lay there, knowing only that she was kidnapped and ended up in an accident. And now, she was in a hospital. And a stranger rested by her side.
She knew one more thing though. Her name was Christiana. But her surname eluded her.
Christiana sighed at the realization. Weird. She knew only the incident that led to her being in a hospital and her name. Nothing more. She didn’t know who she was.
She thought though, if she went back to sleep, she’d remember more. And though it took a lot of struggle to get back to sleep, she succeeded.
Exactly 4 hours later, she jerked out of sleep, screaming and almost getting hysterical. It took two strong hands and a soothing voice telling her she was safe, to calm her down.
With tear-stained eyes, she looked up at him. He was the handsome stranger sleeping by her side earlier.
“You’re safe”, he said again, cleaning her tears, before hugging her to himself. Her expression was that of fear and he hated himself for not being able to wipe it off. He knew what was happening to her. Being gifted, he saw her dreams and he played his own part in bringing her out of it.
The monsters wouldn’t rest until they had what they wanted. Even on a hospital bed, they still wanted to harm her.
He was still patting her soothingly when the doctor came in. He paused briefly at the sight before him. Then spoke. “She’s finally awake!” A smile plastered his lips.
“Yes”, the man answered, pulling back briefly to look at the doctor, “you’re going to carry out more examinations, yes?”
“Yes”, he moved closer to the bed, “hello young lady. I’m doctor Osas. How are you?”
“I don’t know”, her reply came almost as a whisper.
“Its ok, its ok. I’ll need to carry out some examinations on you. Please help me get the nurse”, his eyes pleaded with the young man, as he took the stool placed at the foot of the bed.
“Sure”, the young man replied. He said a few comforting words to her before leaving. Somehow, as he left, Christina felt a part of her cry out. She felt her security leaving her and wondered at such strange feeling. She didn’t even know the young man. All she knew, he was by her side and he feels like someone sent to protect her.
Her sad and fearful expression was enough to tell the doctor what she was thinking.
“You don’t have to be afraid. I’m not here to hurt you”, he assured her.
Although her nod wasn’t visible, the doctor could see that she was a little relaxed.
3 minutes more, and the man returned with a nurse. She joined the doctor, holding a notepad. Christiana was sure, this nurse was the most beautiful human being she had ever set eyes on. She was angelic, had long brown hair, a radiant smile and a glow of light around her.
“Hello miss. How are you feeling?” She asked, still smiling. Christiana smiled back.
“I feel fine”, she said, her response obviously because she felt she was talking to an Angel. The most beautiful woman ever. But how would she know this was the most beautiful woman she had ever met, since she had no memories of past events in her life.
“We’re only going to examine you”, the doctor cut into her thoughts, “we want to ascertain how much better you are. So no need to fear. Ok?”
“Ok”, Christiana answered, as her companion, still standing by, took her hand and squeezed gently in a manner that made her relaxed, and at the same time created a warmth. If the warmth was for him, or from her, she couldn’t tell. Only that it felt good.
A few minutes of examination passed. It was concluded by the doctor and jotted down by the nurse. Christiana had insomnia. They couldn’t understand though, why she remembered her name and the incidents that occurred just before the accident. But nothing else.
“What does insomnia mean?” She asked the suddenly sad-looking man by her side after the doctor and nurse had left.
“It means you do not remember anything about yourself. At least your past. I never wanted any harm to come to you. I tried”, he swallowed, holding back tears. Christiana was sure she heard sadness in his voice and saw the tears that stung his eyes.
“Who are you, really?” she asked. Her heartbeat doubled. She had to know. The guy before her was trying so hard not to cry over her situation. But it was obvious he was pained.
Was he in love with her? For only a man in love would feel terrible over any bad predicament facing the one he loves. Or was he her brother?
He sat by her side and took her right hand in his, ‘my name is Stanley Odisi. I’m your friend. Probably the only one you have now”.
“Oh… Really?… How?”
“You really don’t have friends. Just acquaintances. Your only other friend, Sofia. I really can’t say if she’s still a friend … or not”.
“Why?” Christiana was even more curious. Sofia was a name that sounded familiar and friendly. She couldn’t tell why though.
“It is not something we can discuss now, my dear. You need to rest, and you need to recover”.
It took some more persuasion from Stanley, before Christiana began to relax. Stanley looked sincere enough. She was surely in good hands. But she couldn’t shake off the feeling though, that all wouldn’t be well in a long time. All she remembered was the man who abducted her, and how he tied her in the boot of her own car. The stuffiness, the smoke and heat, along with the voices she heard as he drove her through the streets of Lagos.
Anything before that time, she couldn’t remember. Not even what this Sofia of a friend looked like. If not that she saw real friendliness and emotions in Stanley’s eyes, she never would have believed he was truly a friend. Besides, his eyes gave him away. He did have feelings for her. She was sure. But even at that, she wondered what their past was like.
Were they just friends, even though he felt something for her, or was there something more between them? She didn’t know the answer to that question. But she was content knowing, he was by her side.
”If the doctor discharges me, where will I go?” Christiana asked, searching his eyes.
“I will take you to my home”, he caressed her hand, “I will do everything to nurture you back to health. I wouldn’t take my eyes off you again. Ever. Not even for a second, until you’re well”.
Christiana smiled lightly, ‘that sound a lot like stalking”.
“If I had stalked you, this accident wouldn’t have happened”, the emotions were back, “you wouldn’t be in this room, this bed, this hospital”, he looked away, unable to meet her eyes. Guilt washed over him and it was her turn to place a comforting hand on his shoulders.
“You’ve done your best”, she whispered, “and even if you were not there to protect me. At least you’re here now, ensuring my safety and comfort. And I appreciate that a lot. It means a lot to me. I would have been very lonely”.
He looked at her. Smiled lightly while nodding, before squeezing her hand. Her memory loss meant two things to him. Relief and sadness.
He was sad, he contributed to her predicament. At the same time, he was relieved she wouldn’t remember the incidents that once separated them. Then there was his little secret. A secret he was sure, if she knew, she would curse him before she walked out, damning all the consequences. His reason for such a secret wouldn’t matter then. Stanley knew Christiana like the back of his hands. He had studied her well enough over time. He knew how she would react to his secret. Forget the fact she was presently incapacitated by her condition, she would react exactly the same way she would, if she was ok.
This was his opportunity to make her understand things from his perspective. He had to ensure he didn’t blow away his opportunity.
“My mother is a nice woman’, he blurted.
“Your mother?” her brows shot up, questioningly,
“When you get discharged, I’m taking you home with me for proper care”.
“Are you going to spoil me?” she grinned now, in a way that made him chuckle.
“Yes. I am. My mother and I. We will spoil you silly. But I just want you to know, you shouldn’t be scared of her. She’s actually a nice woman. She already knows about you, and is looking forward to our home-coming”.
Christiana swallowed, “I’m sure I’ll get along very well with her”.
Stanley smiled in appreciation of her words. He pulled her gently into a warm embrace and whispered in her ear, “you’ll be fine Christiana. This is just for a while”.
For some unknown reason, fear seized her. Not because of the words he said, but because of the tone he said them with. She remembered the tone with those same words, but she did not remember the face who used it and why. All the same, it gave her a very bad feeling.
Christiana decided then, she would accept Stanley’s hospitality and care. But she would never trust him, and neither would she tell him the little details she remembered of the events that led to her being hospitalized and diagnosed with amnesia. Well, until at least, she understood perfectly, why his words and tone made her sad.
To be continued…
Karo Oforofuo. December 2017. All Rights Reserved
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