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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Corper's Diary: My Escapades in Adura Community (6) The final showdown

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Finally, the NYSC was over and I was free to leave Adura for home. I felt bad leaving, not just because I had grown fond of the place but because of my love, Shade. She had wept the previous evening when she had visited me at the lodge for the last time.

 She had only calmed down when we arranged to meet up in Lagos in a week's time.

 As the vehicle drove away from the town, I had the feeling that I was leaving a vital part of me behind, wondering if things would ever be alright for us.

 Back in Lagos, I rested for some time from all the rigours of the programme. Ibim, my girlfriend came to see me but even she could tell I was no longer interested in the relationship before I told her about Shade.

 "You've changed so much, Francis. So, your own National Service is to go and fall in love! Instead of serving your fatherland, it was a girl you were 'servicing!' I'm disappointed in you!" she said harshly.
I tried to hold and reason with her but she rebuffed me.
 "Leave me alone! Don't touch me! Cheat! Idiot! I hope you have a miserable life with her!" she said vehemently before storming out.

 Later, with the help of my mother, I began processing my application for further studies abroad.
My father was not in support of the arrangements, for according to him, 'we have equally good schools in this country where you can do your Masters programme. Why go and spend all that money in another country?'

 I did not understand his grouse as he was not the one footing the bill. My Mum was responsible for everything, so what was his problem, I wondered. As a rich business woman, she made more money from her business in a month than my father's annual salary!

 Shade came down to Lagos to see me about two weeks after my return. It was a happy reunion for us. Her birthday was coming up in a few days and she was planning a little party, to be held in her elder sister's house at Ogba, Lagos where she was staying.

 "I want to use the opportunity to introduce you to my close friends and family," she stated as she discussed her plans for the day. We were in my bedroom in my house. My parents had gone out with my younger sister Ruth and except for the maid, we were alone.

 "Maybe, we should announce our engagement then. What do you think?" she asked as she rested on my chest. 
 "Sounds great," I said. "But, is it not better to wait till the matter with the Prince is resolved first. You are still engaged to him you know," I pointed out.

 "I'm done with him! I told him so when he came to Adura to see me a few days ago," she disclosed.

 "You did? What was his reaction?" I queried.

 She shrugged. 
 "The fool just laughed. He said no man on this earth can take his wife away from him. That I'm his woman for life and nothing can change that. He even threatened to deal with any man 'trespassing' on his territory as he put it," she stated.

 "So, you are now a 'territory'. When did you become a piece of land or country?" I asked teasingly.
 "Francis!" she cried, picking up a pillow and hitting me playfully. I grabbed her hands and pinning her on the bed, said:
 "I think it's time to invade this 'territory'. I've missed you babe. My sweet Shade," I said and began to kiss her...
 Shade's birthday party was a small affair attended by some of her schoolmates and friends. Shola, her elder sister helped to put it together. It was held under a couple of canopies in the courtyard of her house. Later in the party, a nicely decorated birthday cake was brought forward and everyone crowded round for the pictures with the birthday girl.

 As a smiling, radiant looking Shade was about to cut the cake, a group of men entered the compound. They were dressed in all black outfits- black T shirts on black trousers and dark goggles.

  They did not look like party guests, more like goons in an action movie. As if rehearsed, two of them came forward and grabbed Shade and I while the other one brought out a gun which he fired into the air. There were screams and general confusion everywhere.
 "Who are you? What do you want?" I demanded angrily as we were being dragged away. Outside the gate were two cars. I was dragged, struggling inside one of them while Shade was taken to the other one...

 Maybe, I was drugged for I slept off and woke up sometime later in a small room. There was a small window through which light filtered in. I was lying on the bare floor with my hands tied with wires. 
 Shortly after, the door opened and a stout looking man with a fleshy face entered the room. He was followed by two men, one of whom I recognised as part of the gang that had invaded Shade's party.
 The man, who looked not much older than me, stood gazing haughtily down at me, a contemptuous look on his face. 

 "So, you are the idiot that has been 'eating' from a dish meant for Princes and not 'commoners' like you?" he said.
 "Who are you? And what's my offence that you dragged me here like a common criminal?" I queried.
 "Oh! You don't know you are a criminal? You took away something precious to me. And nobody does that to Prince Adedayo, the Crown Prince of Ijede kingdom," he said.

 So, this is the Prince then, my rival, I thought, studying him even more closely. He was dressed in a navy blue, richly embroidered buba and sokoto attire made with brocade. On his right wrist was a single string of red coral beads.

 "You were warned to stay away from Shade. But the stubborn goat that you are, you refused to listen," he noted.
 "Prince or whatever you call yourself, Shade doesn't want you; it's me she loves. Let her go! Stop forcing yourself on her!" I stated defiantly.

 He smiled, an evil glint in his eyes.

 "You don't understand, do you? In unions like ours, among royalty, love does not come in. But why will a commoner like you know these things. Anyway, the only way to make stubborn goats like you fall in line is to flog them with whips," he said. He signaled to the two roughnecks who stepped forward.

 "You think you are a fine boy. Fine boy, no pimple! By the time my men finish with you, even your own mother won't recognise you! Guys, get to work!" he ordered, before marching out of the room. 

And with that, the goons descended on me with their fists, legs and knees...

  Life at risk
 The vicious beating from those bastards landed me in the hospital. I was lucky to still have all my limbs and vital parts intact but I had bruises and cuts all over. 
 My mother wept when she saw me, lying there on the hospital bed, looking half dead.
 "Those men must be monsters! How could they do this to you?" she cried, touching my arm that had a deep gash. I winced with pain. My whole body felt on fire as if pepper had been rubbed all over it.

 "Francis, you have to leave that girl before the Prince kills you. I heard he's a very wicked person," my mother added.

 I told her nobody could intimidate me to give up Shade.
 "She's mine. Ten Prince Dayos can't take her from me," I said, in a weak voice.

I was in the hospital for about a week before I was allowed to go home.
My angry parents wanted to press charges of unlawful detention, assault and battery on the Prince but Aunty Jo, a sister to my mother advised otherwise. 
 "His father is a top traditional ruler in the country. They have influence, money and power. You can never win a case against such people in this country," she said.
"So, we should just leave him after what he did to our son?" my father stated angrily.

 "The only solution to this problem is for Francis to leave the girl alone. I heard they've been engaged for years and were planning to marry until Francis came on the scene. Let her go if you don't want to die young. There are so many other ladies around. Why must it be Shade?" she asked.

 But her advice fell on deaf ears. I had come too far with Shade and I was not ready to let go.
 Shade too could not stay away from me.
 She came to see me after my discharge from the hospital. I was glad she was alright as I had not set eyes on her since the birthday party.

 She narrated how the Prince had taken her to his father's palace and kept her there against her will for days.

 "My Dad later came and took me home. I heard what he did to you and I had to come against my father's orders. I can't believe 'Dayo did this to you! Is he crazy or what?" she stated when she saw the injuries on my body. "I'm really sorry, darling. All this happened because of me. Dayo must be mad! I'll deal with him! If he thinks he's going to marry me by force then, he's in for a surprise!"

 As it turned out, we were the ones taken by surprise. Some days later, I was seeing Shade off after one of her daily visits to me. We stood holding hands and chatting by her car, parked outside the gate.
 She was about getting inside the car when a black SUV drove up on full speed. A man, with a gun in his hand stuck his head out of the window on the passenger side. He shot several rounds into the air, threw a piece of paper at us and zoomed off. At the gun shots, I dived to the ground, pulling Shade with me.

 "Are you alright?" I asked in a shaky voice when we got up.
 She nodded.
 "I'm ok. Hope you are not hurt?" she asked worriedly. 
 I was fine too. Picking up the note, I quickly read through it.

 'The next time we see you with her, the bullet will not miss its target. Be warned! Fool!'

 "My God! What is this? Why won't this guy leave us alone?" Shade said on seeing the threat.

  This time, my parents decided to act before that 'royal thug kills you!' as my mother put it.

 They contacted a lawyer who advised us to bring the police into the matter since its a matter of 'threat to life.'
 He also suggested I should go into hiding for sometime until the case was resolved.
 I was not too keen on the idea. "Why should I hide from him? Am I a criminal or what? He should be the one hiding after what he did to me!" I stated angrily.

 But my parents prevailed on me to do as the lawyer suggested.
 "You are our only son, Francis. I'll die if anything should happen to you. The Prince is obviously crazy. Who knows what will happen next? Just do as he says. It's for your own good," said my mother.

 She made all the arrangements. She contacted a business partner of hers in a neighbouring country who agreed I could stay with him as long as I wanted. I felt bad leaving Shade behind but it was a temporary separation.

 "Until Prince Dayo comes to his senses and finally lets me go," she had said on our last day together.

 My parents and Shade's father who is now supporting us are still trying to resolve the matter. I've been in 'exile' for months now and I miss home and Shade. We speak often on phone but it's not enough.
 I want her with me. Hopefully soon, we shall be reunited, never to be separated.

 So, was it all worth it? All the hassles, harassment and threats and pain I have suffered all for love. Well, all I can say is that there are certain kinds of love you just can't let go, that you keep fighting for. 
 Like the type between Shade and I

The End!


Names have been changed to protect the narrator and other individuals in the story

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