The day was 2nd September 2018, it was a Sunday evening, typically where I live for now in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria had no electricity; that’s just how it went down on Sundays. I went to the local barbershop to charge my phone and laptop. I’ve done this same routine for about 6 months +. On Sunday evenings, I work on my blog post for Monday so I’d be able to meet up with my Monday schedule, often times than not, it worked.
This Sunday wasn’t as typical though, it was different. Things wouldn’t go as planned, predicted or foreseen in my mind’s eye. But not yet, for now, things were still as typical as ever, same faces, same things. The same old skool CD mix always played in the shop and tbh it drove me crazy, it frustrated me. I tried to play music on my phone with the help of one of the familiar faces in the shop. We tried but my phone wouldn’t charge connected to the DVD player’s USB port so I decided to bear the repetitive music. I’ve heard the CD mix play more times than I care to admit to you or myself. I’ve heard it so many times that I knew the whole playlist. The mix contained some songs by DMX, Sisquo, Destiny’s Child, B.I.G., Tupac, Juvenile ft. Lil Wayne and one other (forgotten his name) – Back Dat Azz Up (my favourite!) among a couple other songs, so you can imagine how old the CD must be.
I was writing an article based on a request and it was about making friends (coming soon). Honestly, I was a bit distracted with the texts from my phone but I was doing my work regardless, it was just how I work. Several texts where coming through on my phone and I was replying them when suddenly…(somebody say suddenly).
Suddenly, someone dragged my laptop and instinctively I pulled it back and thought to myself “who dey play this kind rough play with me sef?” (prank) I looked up to see that it wasn’t “rough play” at all, it was real life! I was looking at 3 unmasked guys whom I’d say are in their early 20s or late teens, 2 of them pointed their guns at me and ordered me to give them my laptop and phone without resistance and of course I complied. A gun had never been pointed at me except toys ones but now it wasn’t one real gun, it was two. Out of the two gunmen, one had a small revolver-esque pistol and the other had the same gun but in silver colour. The small size of their guns was comical but the potential bullets inside were no joke at all, and if it was a joke, it wasn’t funny at all, no one was laughing.
The third guy had a machete, it was almost as long as his arm, it was new like he just bought it for the raid. It was so clean that you should see your reflection before being dealt a nasty injury. The blade was so sharp that even a little touch would cut you like a Samurai sword. I didn’t need much convincing of how sharp the machete was, just ask the owner of the shop at the entrance who tried to resist them and his finger paid dearly for it. I later heard that the cut was so deep that his finger was kinda dangling on his now visible bone. But for now I definitely didn’t know that.
The guys made away with all the phones and my laptop in the shop and threw a cupboard to the ground just cause. After they were just outside the shop, they came back in to grab my bag, as if they hadn’t taken enough from me, they were taking a piss. They were in charge and they made sure we knew. As they grabbed my bag, everyone else was on the floor so I did the same so as not to give them an excuse to attack me. This bag, I’ve used it for almost 4 years, if you’ve known me for that long then you’ll know my bag. It was a real companion, it saw every and anywhere with me such as Colchester, London, etc. even Kaduna, Abuja and Port Harcourt (Nigerian cities).
They took the bag but threw the book I was reading on the ground outside. I was reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I was reading it for a second time because I enjoyed it so much the first time and it was giving me some pointers for my upcoming book (watch out for that). I went out of shop because I wanted to drop my remaining stuff at home, I hadn't thought about the book yet, I was still in shock from what just happened. I saw my book on the ground, it was a bit wet because it was raining. The rain wasn't too much to keep people at home so it was perfect to raid three streets full of unsuspecting people in one night.
The barbershop owner who was cut was pissed off, matter of fact, supremely pissed off! He was bleeding everywhere, he said "bring something wey I go use tie my hand sharp sharp". I didn't get a good look at the state of his finger but I knew the cut was pretty deep based on how much blood was dripping to the floor. He then said "find me machete, find me machete" and after tying his fingers with a dirty cloth, he ran into the night to get a machete to chase his assailants, since then I haven't seen him as of the time I'm typing this. He was angry, he was like a wounded lion and those they say are the most dangerous. This night however, that proved to be false. The armed robbers got away, no harm done to them.
I was left with my extension cord, my power bank and my chargers but no phone, laptop or bag. So, under the rain, I took my remaining belongings home. The whole incident was like "film trick" I couldn't believe what just happened. I was bewildered! In less than 10 seconds so many things happened, too much for my brain to immediately comprehend or compute. One can say I reacted too slow but shock can do that to you. It sucks. Actually, IT SUCKS A LOT! All of my files of about 5-6 years from my PC and phone, gone! All those memories and what not gone because they weren't backed up. I may get a small number of stuff back from my iCloud but the memory has been full since 2015 and didn’t wanna pay for more space so you can imagine. But, such is life, at least I can say I'm grateful that I wasn't touched at all, that would’ve been a totally different story.
I went home, it was pitch black, music was playing from my neighbour's beer parlour as usual. I was a bit wet because of the rain but that didn't bother me, it was obviously the least of my problems. I went out again but on my way back to the scene, a man came out of a keke (tricycle used for public transport), he told another keke driver driving toward the scene that "Dimrose dey hot o! Just turn back or park for somewhere." He entered his keke and went the opposite direction of the scene. I overheard everything of course but still I wanted to go a bit closer but the street was dark for the most part except for the headlights of passing vehicles and a few houses who'd put on their generators.
I could hear the voices of some guys just up ahead and I didn't wanna risk it. Being short sighted during the day is bad enough, I can't even recognise people's faces that are just up ahead unless I have my glasses on. In this case, I didn't. The night was dangerous enough, not being able to see who was up ahead was potentially dangerous and your boy definitely didn't wanna risk it.
A few moments later, I heard a gunshot sound, boom! I don't think I'd heard one in real life until that day but definitely in movies, online videos and games like COD or Uncharted. For all I knew, that shot could've been an air shot to scare away wannabe pursuers or they could've actually shot someone, with the look in their eyes, they seemed to be down for whatever. They looked hungry and vicious like we can do this bloodless or bloody anyhow, we no send! (We don’t care).
The gunshot was my cue to turn around and head home so I did. It was still pitch black, music was still playing from the nearby beer parlour, vehicles were still passing by. I took my shirt off as usual and laid in bed like a sack of potatoes.
I was tossing and turning, it was too hot, too cold, not enough leg room on my bed, this and that. The way I tossed and turned, it felt like I was at sea on a boat, waves crashing at the sides of the boat as I rested below deck. Indeed at sea I was, I was in a sea of my thoughts. I was replaying the events in my head, what could I have done differently? I asked myself. Even if there was electricity on Saturday as there usually was but it wasn't the case for the first day of September. I would've still ended up in the barbershop on Sunday doing my usual Sunday evening routine.
Becoming a bit overwhelmed by my thoughts, I looked up to the ceiling and prayed, there was really nowhere else to run than God, the police would be incompetent for sure, it doesn't take a smart person to figure that out, the community people won't do much either, it wasn't the first large scale armed robbery that has happened in the area but at the time I didn't know that either. I made God 3 promises that night but I'll reveal only two, paying my tithe when was business kicks off and no more swearing, the latter has been a bit hard but I'm trying. I couldn't sleep so I switched on the light of my fan and continued reading the book I mentioned earlier.
I thought to myself that on the bright side, all those things I've been putting off I can finally do them. Thoughts like "optimism is the weapon of a winner" also crossed my mind. Some negative thoughts intruded my mind without knocking as they usually do; just like a sea, there were benevolent and malevolent waves but I wasn't gonna let malevolence get the better of me, at least not that night. The thought of me getting depressed came and went, what will I do with my life now? I recently wrote an article,11 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health and subsequently gave a presentation on it which everyone seemed to like. So, tell me, how can I afford to get depressed?
Subsequently, I slept off, then I woke up but I didn't know the time, I don't own a watch or clock so it was always down to my devices to tell me the time. Now, they were no more, in a sense, I was handicapped which is very telling of the 21st century.
Anyway, later on in the day I went to do my NYSC (Nigerian Youths Service Corps) clearance and I told some people what happened to me and they sympathised, some even shared their robbery stories. Later on, I saw a work colleague, told him what happened then used his phone to call another colleague, T. I knew for sure she would've been calling me, it was inevitable because I was with her clearance letter. On the phone she said, “Ofai, what happened? I’ve been calling your number since but it was switched off.” I told her I'd explain everything when we see. I went to the zonal office where I do my clearance and saw my other colleague, R, I was also with her letter. I briefly narrated my story to her.
After our clearance, T,R, and I went to a restaurant to have lunch, I gave them a more detailed account of what happened and they gave me advice on what to do such as retrieving my phone number. After a while, I left them to go do something at the bank which I didn't end up doing. This was about 1 pm 3rd September, it was a bit rowdy, some sort of election campaign was going on, it was like a mini rally, a group of young boys were gathering. I was a bit uneasy, I became more vigilant. I left the bank around say 1.30 and went home. It was raining a little bit once again.
The next day, 4th September, I wake up, read, eat, do some exercise, say my affirmations, bathe, etc. and got ready for work. Meanwhile, the events of Sunday was still playing in my head like a looped Vine video or a gif. As far as Vines go, that could've made the cut, the events of Sunday night felt like 6 seconds!
I came to work and told my other colleague, E what happened, she was shocked and also offered some sympathy. I chose not to tell the staff because too many "I'm sorry"s or "Eh ya"s was gonna be painful and I didn't wanna deal with that. R walks into my office, she said "did you hear what happened to us?" I said no. She said T and her got robbed of their phones just about an hour after I left in broad daylight! Like 2 pm and the on lookers did nothing, they didn't move an inch nor did they say anything or even try to stop the guys who were part of the mini rally, I guess they were legally blind. I was trying not to laugh, it was comical. What are the odds that after narrating my ordeal to them a similar thing would happen to them? I was even going to use her phone to login to Instagram. Well, that was no longer an option, her phone was gone. Gone with the wind. It felt like a series of unfortunate events like the Lemony Snicket novels.
Luckily, T got her phone back, the police said to track her phone was gonna take 2-3 weeks and she had to pay money and then extra money for transport for them to go and pick it up from wherever. The police as usual wasn't a good option. A friend of hers paid the N20,000 ransom for her phone on her behalf.
At work, everyone in our department and some people in other departments heard our story, the "I'm sorry"s and "what happened"s rolled in like tumbleweed on a windy and dry day. It was a crazy experience altogether but one has to thank God for life, last last we go dey alright.
WELL THAT'S IT FROM ME GUYS! NOW...
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!