An unsettling feeling began swelling inside me. It seems there was something wrong in the — but I couldn’t quite tell where or what it was. I felt as though I had entered a house with the gas stove left on; the atmosphere was dense and strange, though apparently invisible to my eyes.
I just received an alert on my phone and it was debit. I’ve been in the hostel since morning after I returned back from the class.
Suddenly, I realized what it was: I’ve just been defrauded.
My heart started pounding at an increasingly rapid pace. I checked my watch, almost noon.
Who could have done this?
My friend and roommates Ola was lying down on his bed playing ‘PES’ on his laptop. I was watching a music video on my phone too before the sound of the alert striked my phone like a thunderstorm.
At first, I thought It was the regular monthly deduction from my bank, but until I checked and I saw the withdrawal amount then I realized my account balance was reading zero.
“Guy, I just receive alert”
“Alert?. Na who send you money?”
“Na debit” I felt a lump in my throat.
“You didn’t go out to make withdraw, did you?” He stared at me with curiosity.
I didn’t know what to say next. I waited and watched him shut down his laptop.
“I think I’ve been attacked. My ATM’s card has been stolen”
“Ewo!! You say?” He yelled.
I turned to look at the window. The trees were still swaying in the wind and the leaves still rustling against the ground. Quickly, I put on my jacket, my shoes, and then rushed downstairs.
I already knew where it came from, but I was so much afraid of being wrong or losing the money to the victimizer.
Ola, who had only his underwear on changed into a T-shirt and a three-quarter Jean too. I was checking the message over and over again to be sure it wasn’t a mistake while he dressed up.
Together, we hurried into the school.
*** *** ***
The previous day, I had to help a guy, Michael who happened to be my former roommate at a time with some cash after he had narrated his painful ordeals to me.
He said his parent haven’t been sending any money to him lately. I wonder what sort of parent would leave a grown up boy in the university for him to wander and survive all by himself until he said he had wronged his father and that was his way of punishing him. It’s kinda unbelievable. I didn’t want to believe his story at first because I knew how he usually squandered money in school whenever he had more than enough. The big restaurant that I wont dare visit is where you’d find Michael and his clique.
He asked me to lend him some money but I was out of cash too at that moment. I learned to keep all my cash at the bank and use the ATM when I need to purchase anything or use the money for some basic stuffs in school so to prevent loosing it to some petty thieves.
I also learnt that I shouldn’t borrow people money that I wouldn’t be able to depart with if they failed to return them. Money could spoil friendship they say.
I had to change my mind to help him. I convinced myself that his plight might be true and not a cock and bull story. I figured that anyone can be broke at any point in time.
After then, I told him to come with me to the bank. He stayed behind me while I operate the machine.
I counted and gave him the three thousand naira cash and we agreed to meet the next day or probably before smokefall to pay me back. The cash already had a purpose it would serve otherwise, I would have asked him to never bother to return it. My philosophy of life is based on selflessness and that’s one thing my friends had known me for in school. If you luckily get some cash from me, you won’t return them anymore, even if you’re willing to return them I wont take them from you.
At evening, he called me so we could meet at the school library for the money. I was amazed at how fast he got the cash. His parents had probably shown him some mercy or what hustle has he done that generate such fast cash.
I decided it’d be a good idea to go with my school books and study afterwards. The library is very far from my hostel block. I thought it would be unwise to trek such long miles to get the money from him and return back to the hostel. YThe exams are on, I’d just sit there and read.
We met at the point of agreement and he ran his hands through his pocket and brought out ‘5K’. He counted three out of it, and dipped it into my hand like he was preventing the guy sitting next to us to see. I had seen the other guy with Michael on different occasions. They’re both in the same department and it suggest he is also on his clique, but why was he hiding from him?
‘Perhaps the other guy had lent him some cash too, and he didn’t want him to know he has some cash with him’
I thought to myself.
Michael was so popular and had lots of friends. You’d hardly see him walking alone, most of the time with girls than with boys. He greeted, shook hands and hugged several girls strolling at the front of the library while I rested on the pavement. This girls are the big girls on campus o. I couldn’t even imagine myself being friends or talking to any of them.
“Bro. I dey go use Hotspot for that IT building. You still dey here?” I asked Michael.
“No o. Let move together” He smiled as he watched me lift my backpack and he followed me.
I had no idea what’s the plan on his agenda. Sometimes I wish one could smell evil from afar and trot as fast as one could.
I didn’t stay long before I returned to the library. Surprisingly, Michael had followed me again.
I turned on my music playlist. I need to listen to some music to aid concentration. I was into my books and simultaneously,I was lost in my little world of rhythm before I realize how much hours I’ve spent.
An hour earlier, Michael told me he wanted to see a friend who stays off campus who had borrowed his bicycle and he’d be back before night fall. He said we’d see later to hang out at the ‘Mai Shai’ spot and he’d be paying for my meals. That was the last time I saw him.
I returned back to the hostel and I slept off until late in the evening.
What I couldn’t really point out was – if he had taken the ATM card before we went out together to the IT building or after we returned. I was so much confused. What about if he wasn’t the one? No, I knew he was behind the act because he was the only one my mind could suspect. My card pin was supposed to be a secret and the only person who would have known it lately was Michael who had followed me to make my last withdrawal.
“So you sure say na Michael tiff am?”
“Baba! na him. Nobody fit sabi my pin na”.
I wish I had a clear evidence to use against him. What if he denies me?
“The guy go hear am today. I hope say e dey house” Ola was furious.
My body felt weak too as we hurriedly walk to his house.
We arrived at his door and we hit on it so loud. I realize Ola had started to feel my pain and he really wanted to fight for me.
He’s a Hausa/Yoruba hefty young man. He is way older than I do but we’re in the same level. I call him ‘Egbon Ola’. We became friends on the first day of school and ever since then, we have been living together.
We knocked for more few minutes before a guy from another room walked briskly to us.
“Na Michael we dey find” Ola roared.
The guy stared at us with irritation like he was about to order someone to get us thrown out of the compound.
To be continued..