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The fourth day after Kaylah’s abduction, the army was still dilly dallying, and they had refused the Lagos state government from contributing half of the ransom as they had promised. Mr. Assanga was furious, he arranged for a press conference right in his wife’s hospital room, with all the machines plugged to her. The selected press people entered the room with their gadgets for live streaming.
Mr.Assanga: “I am angry at the Nigerian government and against the Army. A beauty queen with so much promise was kidnapped by the Niger Delta Avengers, and till now, nothing is being done about it. Instead the Army is asking me to fold my hands and watch them do target with my daughter’s life.
My wife is lying here in coma, and they want me to allow them use my daughter for target practice. If the Army wants to catch the NDA, they should do that on their own timetable. I will not sit and watch I shall pay the ransom money, let me see who wants to stop me” he said angrily into the camera.
That afternoon, someone was sent from the Lagos state government to talk to Kaylah’s family. Mr. Assanga refused to sit in; he told them to hold the meeting somewhere else, as he would like to be alone with his wife. He sat on the chair beside Kaylah’s mother’s bed and held her fingers. He began to massage her fingers.
Mr. Assanga: “Please, wake up. I don’t know how to go about this anymore. Our daughter needs you, wake up” he whispered. He was with her a long time, until he fell asleep. Malcolm had come in, for him to sign the transfer of twenty billion naira to the offshore account in Cayman Islands. When he saw how peaceful he slept, he told himself he would wait.
The days ahead were going to be tough, and his father needed all the rest he could get. Mr. Assanga was sleeping when he felt a soft touch in his palm; he stirred and remembered where he was. Then he raised his head abruptly.
Mr. Assanga: “Are you awake, Benita?” He anxiously asked.
Mrs. Assanga fluttered her eyes open and held her husband’s hands in a tight grip.
Mrs. Assanga: “We have to tell her the truth” she said feebly through parched lips.
Mr. Assanga: “What are you talking about, this is not the time for this, get well first” he rushed outside the room to call the doctor. The doctor came and began to run tests on her.
Mrs. Assanga: “Where is my daughter, Kaylah, Kaylah, where are you?” she began to jerk convulsively. Everybody became panicky. The doctor began to check the machines plugged to her. They injected her with sedatives, which made her unconscious.
Doctor: “Mr. Assanga, see me in my office” he said as he went out.
In the doctor’s office, the doctor intimated Mr. Assanga with the latest development. The cancer was progressing like they have never seen before; she needed to be flown out for an important surgery. Mr. Assanga was perplexed, how could he leave the country with his daughter in the hands of militants.
Mr. Assanga: “Oh God, where are you?” he murmured.
Doctor: “What will it be, do I set up the referral form? There is a specialist in India I can refer you to”
Mr. Assanga: “I will get back to you” he replied in a low tone, he was downcast.
Doctor: “Be quick in making up your mind, there is just no time” he retorted. Mr. Assanga walked out of the office with his head down. His mind was in turmoil. The country had abandoned them; the onus fell on him to get his daughter back, but how would he do that and still cater for his wife medical bills. If he had known he would have invested in a health insurance, he thought.
Mr. Assanga: “It is obvious that I can only save one person. Who do I save, my wife or my daughter” he said aloud, just as Malcolm entered the room. He was taken aback by what he heard, he had been away , meeting people, who could help with his sister’s situation.
Malcolm: “Choose, Why do you have to choose?”
Mr Assanga: “Your mother has worsened; she needs to be flown abroad for surgery. On the other hand, Kaylah needs to be rescued. I do not know what to do. We have to hope that Kaylah will not be hurt, but your mother could die”
Malcolm: “Dad! Kaylah could die too, these people are deadly. Perhaps, you can live with her death because she is…” he could not finish his statement, as his father bounced out of his chair in rage.
Mr. Assanga: “Don’t you dare say it, don’t you dare son, or I will never forgive you. I am having a hard time as it is, don’t make it harder. Kaylah is my daughter but I cannot lose my wife!” he yelled and walked out of the room, heading straight to the doctor’s office. Malcolm just looked on helplessly; he had never seen his father in that state. He brought out his phone and made a call.
Kaylah woke up, she had fallen asleep thinking of Ifiok, who refused her calling him that. She glanced down and saw that he had covered her legs with a blanket.
Kaylah: “He cares for me. There is still some good left in him, I will not give up on him, i feel like giving him a good kiss” she said aloud, and realized too late that she was not alone. Assasino was sitting opposite her and staring straight at her.
Assasino: “I knew something was fishy. Whenever do we care for our victims? But I see the boss caring for you like a house guest. But that is going to change, men loyal to me in the group will ambush him in Eket and kill him. Then I can be free to run this show as it ought to be run” he smirked and crawled to where she was sitting. Kaylah could not move or talk, fear had paralyzed her muscles.
Kaylah: “What did you say?” she whispered. Assasino burst into laughter and began to trace a line with his fingers, on her cheeks.
Assasino: “Do not worry about Stinger, worry about yourself, because if your people do not send the money today, I will quarter you up like a pig and send you in pieces to your stingy family and friends. But of course I will have a taste of you first” he said edging closer.
Stinger, through the years had developed an ability to listen to his instincts and they never failed him. He had told the men Assasino was sending to him, that he was in Eket, and truly he was there. He was here on reconnaissance mission; he did not want to be taken unawares by the government.
He thought of Kaylah, and for the first time in many years, a true smile broke on his lips. He was amused by her personality; she wanted to save everybody, even the whole world. He thought that she was still living in Disney world, protected from the real horrors of life and, man’s inhumanity to man.
She was not on the streets to see that the world has gone past saving, the only way to save the world, was kill everyone in it. But he didn’t blame, he thought that way when he was little, but now, he knew better. There lay the difference, Kaylah was a naïve girl, but he, has been to hell and back.
Stinger: “Even the devil is afraid of me” he barked out a laugh. It felt good to laugh, really laugh, not the mocking laughter he was used to.
Stinger: “They better pay up the ransom, or I might have to send her away regardless, before she makes me soft” he shook his head at the thought of letting Kaylah go without the ransom money. They needed the ransom money, the fight against the government and the oil companies must be won.
His instincts told him to leave Eket, and go back without meeting up with the guys, the work here was done anyway. He left on the first boat out of Eket town. So it was, that the men Assasino had sent to kill Stinger did not find him where he said he would be, and they were unable to communicate this development to Assasino.
At the Qua iboe jetty where his boat docked, he met a woman who was walking around begging people for alms. He remembered his time on the street as a six year old, where he had to beg for food, even water. Sometimes when people did not give him alms, he resorted to eating leftover food from dustbins. He rushed to the woman.
Stinger: “Mma, come with me, I can give you a job”
Abasiama: “A job, what would I be able to do for you, my son”
Stinger: “You could clean, for now you have to keep my girlfriend company, she is lonely. After a few days, we will move to the house where you will clean, cook our meals and all. I will pay you 10000 a week” Abasiama starred at him, she was turning the offer in her mind, she could make a lot of money and also have a place to stay while she searched for her children.
She knew it would not be easy, she didn’t know which part of Akwa ibom they would be in. She looked at Stinger again, she had bad inklings about him, but beggars were not choosers.
Abasiama: “I accept”
WATCH OUT FOR EPISODE 10