“Oh Jesus, Alex, you’re bleeding!”
He looked down at his arm and saw the blood that had stained the part of his shirt that covered his upper arm. He gently lifted the cloth off his arm to reveal a bloody cut. I looked around and saw no one with a gun. Where did a bullet come from then? My mind was already processing the worst possible scenario.
Aisha o, Spiritual bullets are after you! Very interesting, that imagination of mine.
I stepped closer to Alex to inspect the injury. “Oh, thank God. The bullet didn’t pierce your arm. It just tore past your skin.” I surreptitiously turned away to wipe the tear that was about to drop from my eyes.
“Well, it tore enough to get the blood flowing,” Alex said. He must have seen the terror in my eyes because he added, “It’s not that bad, Aisha. I’ll be fine.” His attempt at reassurance didn’t help much though. I was visibly shaken and my eyes kept darting from left to right. “Who could be shooting around here?” he asked, surveying the forest.
The universe decided to answer his question. We started to hear footsteps, approaching quickly. Like that of a man running. We headed quickly for the car. We couldn’t let this guy perfect his aim on our bodies.
He saw us. We couldn’t get out of sight before he saw us.
I jumped when I heard the voice.
“You with blood – wait nah! I sorry. I no want to shoot you!”
The voice was slightly high-pitched and strangely loud. I definitely was not about to trust any words formed with that high-pitched voice. He could have been a hungry cannibal for all I knew. How had I managed to amass so much bad luck in just twenty-four hours?
The man came to the vehicle, inside which we were ensconced, and he peered in through the windscreen. When he saw the blood on Alex’s arm, he started talking even louder. Then he jumped on the bonnet of the car and continued begging Alex to come out and let him atone for his mistake. When that didn’t work, he got off the bonnet and got a log large enough to block the road. All this happened while we sat tight in the car, wondering what exactly was playing out before us. After this obviously Hausa man blocked the road, he came around to Alex’s window and continued begging us to come out so he could clean Alex’s wound. I was so tired. There had been so much activity in the past few hours and I thought being a Chief Bridesmaid was stressful. I swore to myself that when I got married, all my close friends would have to drive down to the wedding, even if it was a destination wedding!
When the pleading at the window didn’t work, he went back to the bonnet and camped there. Which kind life? We couldn’t move forward and kill the man, or reverse and throw him on the ground. So we stayed put.
After pleading and rolling up and down on the bonnet, he sat up, still on the bonnet and started to talk through the windscreen. “Ayam a hunter. I saw moving, trees moving and something sounding. I think it is animal. And I shoot. I sorry. I very sorry. Please let me clean it. I have leaf to clean your hand.” He said, pointing at Alex through the slightly tinted glass.
It was then I took a good look at him. He was slim, almost gaunt and dark with a very apologetic look in his eyes. Turning away from him, I took some tissue from the car and began cleaning the blood around Alex’s injury.
He looked up at me as I dutifully cleaned and murmured, “Thank you Aisha.”
“Not just for this. I’m sure this is the craziest trip you’ve ever been on too. And it would have been a lot harder if you weren’t with me.”
I smiled. “That’s not entirely true. If I didn’t come on this journey with you, we wouldn’t have stopped for the meat or picked up the pastor, and then we wouldn’t have lost our money and had to gamble at the village and be on the verge of missing the wedding.”
He threw his head backwards and laughed. “So you really are the cause of the bad luck we’ve had on this trip. Who is chasing you from your village eh, Aisha?”
“Please joor, even with all my bad luck, you’re the one who managed to sound like an animal and get yourself shot.”
We both laughed at that.
“You’re wicked oh. You don’t know I could be dying.”
“You sure don’t sound like someone who is dying oh,” I returned, and then sighed before adding, “We can’t stay cooked up in this car forever though. And it’s getting very stuffy.”
“So we should come out and listen to what the man has to say? I don’t think that’s wise.”
“No, definitely not. We can wind the glass down a bit so we can hear what he has to say.”
So we did just that. We called the man over and let him explain yet again how he saw Alex from afar and thought it was an animal, as he had been out hunting without being able to catch anything for the past few days. I glanced at Alex as the man talked, thinking about how much he’d teased me about the village chief wanting me because he thought of me as fresh meat; he had turned out to be the one with the coveted meat on his bones. I didn’t have time to share my joke, because the hunter had moved on to begging Alex to let him apply his herb that would stop the pain instantly. It was the verge of daybreak and we didn’t even know how far from Kaduna we were.
As though on a sudden impulse, Alex just then opened the door, climbed out of the car, and without a word, followed the hunter to get this ‘cure’. I hurried out of the car after them, staring incredulously at Alex’s back. Hadn’t we just had an agreement not to pay any attention to the man? And now, he was following him, so that God-knows-what could be applied on the injury.
Our destination was a short distance away. It was still in the forest. The hunter immediately got busy, mixing his herbs with some seeds and pounding them together into a greenish-brown paste. When he was done, he rubbed it on the affected area on Alex’s arm, before instructing him to sit still. And then, he walked away from us, wondering off on some errand.
“Alex, come. Does this thing even look normal to you?” I finally burst out, unable to contain my exasperation. “I mean, with all your Harvard Education, you’re just as primitive as this man. How can herbs be a pain reliever for an open wound?”
“Where do you think drugs originated from? Most came from leaves and the man knew what he was doing. It’s easy to talk when you’re not the one feeling the pain.”
I could see the effort he was exerting not to snap at me. I let it go. It would have been insensitive of me not to, so I let him have his way. Alex sat on the stump for a few more minutes before he started to yawn.
“Why are we still waiting for the man?” I said, taking in the view.
“I don’t know. He said to sit still.”
“Please let’s go. We’ve gone through too much to miss this wedding now. Does it feel better now?”
“I really can’t tell, but I’ll rather not take the chance of driving. The GPS would help you though; it’s already programmed to get us to the house,” he said as we started back for the car.
“OK, but why do you sound like you won’t be beside me the entire way?”
“I feel really drowsy all of a sudden. I might have to crash in the back seat after a while.”
I went around to move the log that had been blocking the car and came back into the driver’s seat to get going. “OK, no more stops this time and no more incidents till we–” A soft snore interrupted me, and I looked to my side at who I was supposed to be talking to. Alex sat there on the passenger seat, sound asleep.
“Alex, wake up,” I said tapping his arm. After repeating this with more intensity each time for a few minutes and waving my hand back and forth under his nose to double-check that he was alive, it dawned on me that I was going to have to make the rest of the drive alone. I laid my head on the steering wheel in utter frustration.
“God, please I don’t think I can take another surprise today,” I heaved on a sigh. “Please, just help me get to this wedding once and for all.”
And so I drove down the bush path with Alex passed out beside me.
Written by Nky Otike-Odibi, tweets @Nky_Otk and blogs at legalwatchmen.blogspot.com