The Ghost’s Story

By Julius Topohozin:

Everything happened so fast. Faster than the blink of an eye. The first thing that happened was the screeching of the car, a bang and a sharp pain to my head, ribs and legs. In no time, I was lying prostrate on the floor in my own blood and life was going out of me. Then I felt light, and was floating. I could see my body helpless on the floor with a crowd of people in that early evening.

A man touched my neck to feel my pulse. He said I was still breathing. He stood up and went away.

“What!” I screamed. I was not surprised at his comment but I was shocked because he didn’t say anything about getting an ambulance or calling for good samaritans to save my life. One by one they just kept looking at me as if I was the newest wonder on the earth.

“He is still breathing”, another man said when he saw my eyes dilate only for a fraction of a second. I was losing blood and life at the same time.

“Let’s take him to the hospital”, said another man looking for volunteers among the crowd. No one spoke but they gave a shifty stare at the man. And one after the other, they were trickling down.

“Who is going to foot the bill”, a woman said who was too scared to look. She didn’t wait for any response as she increased her pace.

Another man came, bent low, searched my pockets and brought out my mobile phone.

“Let’s call his people ”, he announced and moved a few steps back. He seemed to be dialing a number on my call log but the impact of the noise around the busy road did not permit a clean call. Or so I thought. Before anyone could say Jack Robinson, the man had run away with my phone. I ran quickly after him. His action was unfair. It is evil to rob the dead. Well, I wasn’t dead yet. I followed the bastard through tunnels of ghetto streets until he entered a particular compound breathing heavily and darting a look behind him to be sure he was not being followed.

I tried to wriggle the phone from him but it was fruitless. My hand passed through his as though I was made of smoke. I tried punching him but the effort was fruitless. So I stood with him until he knocked on a door that took forever to open. Eventually , a sleepy faced man emerged with disdain written all over his face.

“What is it?” he roared at the man. He was obviously angry that his sleep had been disturbed. But as soon he saw the phone, there was elation in his eyes.

“Where did you get this?” he asked, pointing to my phone.

“That’s not important. It is for sale. Are you buying?

“How much?, “the man asked. He collected it and turned it around, slowly checking its functionality.

“30k is my final price”, the thief said.

“What”, I yelled. A phone I bought for 95, 000 naira. Are these people crazy right now? I went on venting my anger in a wild rage but none of them perceived me.

“30k is too much, I will give you 15k”.

“No…no! This is ridiculous”, I said.

“15k is too small, the thief said. This phone is an Android phone and you know how expensive they can be? I will take 25k last”.

“I am not sure I have even up to 17k”, the other man said. He went into his room and came out with cash which he counted and the total was 15,000 naira.

“I can’t take that”, the thief said. Collecting the phone and making it as if to go.

“Wait”, he said, holding him by the hand.

He dipped his hand in his pocket and produced two rumbled 500 naira notes. He added it to what he had in his hand but his counterpart bluntly refused. His price was 25,000 naira and he was not coming down.

“Look, don’t bother yourself. I will find another buyer.”

But the new thief wouldn’t let him go just yet. He went back into the room and came back. The money had increased to 20,000 naira.

“This is all I have with me”, he said

The seller eyed the money and the phone before releasing it.

I waited while the new thief sat by the door and began working on the phone. It wasn’t long when multiple debit alerts came on the phone. The bastard had withdrawn all my money, a total of 1.8 million naira. He then opened the phone, took out my sim and threw it on the floor. I yelled at him but it was a waste of time. I quickly went after the bastard that cheaply sold my phone. He was beside himself with some kind of joy. At intervals, he threw up his hands wordlessly in praise to God. He avoided the street through which we came by, taking another till we arrived at a dirty, noisy market. His first call was at a supermarket. He bought three tins of milk, a packet of diapers, a shawl for babies and a packet of cubed sugar. We exited the supermarket and headed to the market opposite it. He bought pepper, got it blended, bought a good portion of chevon, palm oil and seasoning cubes.

We left the market and headed to his home. The area was a pitiful sight to behold. It is a water logged area and houses are built with wood suspended on long, thick sticks stacked into the water.

We entered his room and it was a replica of extreme poverty. His wife sat with a baby in her laps. She was dozing when we came in until he touched her, a big smile on his ugly, hungry face. His wife is beautiful but the blow of poverty had disfigured her beauty. She opened her mouth in wonder when she saw the bag her husband was holding.

“Okomi, eka bo!”, she greeted. There was life in her voice but she had plenty of questions to ask her husband. She laid her baby carefully on a worn out car seat; the only furniture in the room and one by one, began exhuming the contents of the nylon bags. She would pause after each item was out and do a mini dance. When she had exhumed all the items, she was ready to ask her questions. Her husband had sat down with the sleeping baby on his lap. The baby had woken. I saw its tiny hands stretched in a yawn. Her toothless, pinkish gum reveals she is about a week or so old. I felt my anger melt at that instant. However, it was soon to resurface with the first lie her father told.

“I met an old friend whom I helped a long time ago. He was the one that gave me money when he realized I was suffering too much.”

“That is a lie” I yelled with all my breath.

His wife broke into lengthy prayers for the nonexistent friend till she broke down in tears, turning the prayer into an angry outburst at God who is supposed to be above the ceiling.

“What have we ever done to you that you made us poor? Why have you abandoned us in poverty? Why did you give us a tiny mouth to feed without food nor money”.

“Don’t talk foolishly there, Aina” her husband chided, cuddling the baby who was quietly whispering.

She kept quiet then wiped her eyes with a dirty napkin on the chair.

“Get something prepared for dinner. At least we have what to eat. We should be grateful for that rather than talk foolishly.”

She went out to a wooden platform at the back of the house that serves as their kitchen. It was then I realized I could see through the wall or any form of partition. I watched as Aina went about making dinner. When her baby began to cry, she stopped and fed her. Her husband was already dozing. I felt a sudden electric sensation and I was back at the scene of the accident.

A van had been called and I was carried on the stretcher. As the van exited the scene, a doctor and two nurses were busy passing blood into my vein. At the hospital, my fiancée was beside herself with sorrow. Everyone in the hospital knew we were to be married in a couple of weeks as she explained in tears. She was forcefully dragged out of the entrance to the emergency room. Her tears were deep and genuine. She had suffered five broken engagements before I came along and this sudden setback was to her, a manipulation from her enemies. She assumed I was already dead even when the doctor told her I had more than fifty chances of reviving because I was in a coma.

The doctors gisted while they worked. It was the most tedious and delicate procedure they were doing that night according to them. The ones they had done earlier didn’t take them up to two hours.

“What was he thinking?” One of them asked.”

“Crossing the road in that careless manner? Said another.

The others just smiled as well as the two auxiliary nurses working with them. After about seven hours of operation, my vitals were stable. My fiancée had refused to go home. She sat dejectedly in the visitors area sniffing and crying. The doctors came just then and she rose, hoping to receive the inevitable news.

“His vitals are stable “, they said

“Meaning!” My fiancée asked, looking from one doctor to the next.

“In an hour or two he would wake up”.

She didn’t believe them.

“Are you really sure of what you are saying”, she asked

The two doctors exchanged glances. Their faces rumpled with disdain. They said no more but walked away from her. I moved closer to my fiance but there was nothing I could do but stare.

She went back to sit at the visitors area and after a few minutes she was fast asleep.

Everything was quiet until about 3am when I felt the electric sensation again and this time, with a strong pull. Before I knew it, I was back in my body. I felt nauseous and weak. The erstwhile strength I had was gone. I stared at the room that was as quiet as a grave except for the ceiling fan groaning louder than the breeze it was meant to blow. A nurse passing by peered into my room. When she saw me awake, she nearly dropped the tray in her hands for joy. She ran back the way she had come and behind her were the two doctors and my fiance.

My fiancée became instantly joyous. There were many questions she wanted answered but the doctors put a stop to it because I needed all the rest that I could get.

I was discharged two weeks later. My first mission was to retrieve my sim card and arrest the thieves who robbed me of my money. I told my fiance my experience but she didn’t believe me until I told her everything she did in the hospital.

“I never knew ghosts are real”, she said

“Neither do I but my experience opened my eyes to its reality.”

“How will you now apprend the men involved with your phone?”

“Oh! That is simple. I have a plan. I will just go and pay the men a visit.”

“When?”

“It is now or never”.

“I will come with you.”

“Would that be necessary?”

“I want to see the horror on their faces when you start telling them the things they did”.

I laughed contentedly thinking for the first time that it wouldn’t be funny.

We left the house immediately. It took me a while to locate the route Aina’s husband took until I came right to their door.

“Good evening, we are looking for your husband”, I said when Aina opened the door.

“Who are you and what do you want?”.

“I was the friend that gave your husband the money”, I lied

She immediately courtsied and ushered us into the house. The room had not changed the last time I was there. We sat on the worn out chair. We declined the water she offered us. She never stopped praying for us.

She told us her husband would soon be back. He had gone to get something for their baby who was sleeping peacefully on a mat.

There was a shock in her husband’s face when he came in and saw me.

“How can I help you”, he asked. His behaviour was uneasy.

His wife was shocked.

“Is this the way you address the man that gave you money”

“I don’t know this man”, he said looking everywhere except my eyes.

“How about my phone you took from my pocket and sold for 20,000 naira?”

The shock was noticeable in his eyes and in order to cover up he gave a false anger.

“How can you come to my house to accuse me of what I didn’t do”.

“Let’s begin from the accident scene when you searched my pocket and took my phone. You told the people around you that you wanted to contact my family members about the accident. But you ran with the phone. I saw you and I followed you”.

“You are talking nonsense my friend!”.

“How about the man you sold my phone to?”.

I told him every detail of that night and the things he brought home. I told him the reaction of his wife and how he chided her for talking angrily at God. By the time I narrated the whole story, even his wife sat aghast on the floor looking like she was going to faint. He broke down in tears and acknowledged the truth of my story.

“Oga I am sorry,” he began. I have nothing to present before my family. I felt it was an opportunity to put something for my family. I am sorry.”

“You mean you can be that heartless to steal from a dying man?” my fiance challenged him angrily.

“You will take me to the man you sold my phone to now!”

He couldn’t refuse my request so we left the house for the man in question. We met him outside. Thankfully, my phone was in his hand.

“Have you brought another business for me?”he asked, acknowledging us with a nod of the head.

“I have come for that phone in your hand”, I said when Aina’s husband was taking too long to talk.

“You mean my own phone? Are you okay? Is this some kind of joke? The phone I bought with my own money?”

“That’s true. The same one you bought from this man for 20,000 naira three weeks ago”.

I told him everything that transpired that evening and the transaction he did on my phone. By the time I finished, he wanted to run but an uppercut from me brought him down. I retrieved my phone from him. At my signal the policemen I had earlier contacted came out and arrested him. They took Aina’s husband too because he was an accomplice.

I know you want to know what happened afterward. Well, I got my money back. Aina’s husband and the other man spent six months in prison for their crime.

Julius Topohozin
Julius Topohozin
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