It was a dark and silent night, between 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM, usually, by this time, loud shouts and songs are heard from the public address system of a spiritual church

in the neighborhood, however, due to the recent activities of cultists and bandits in the area. Everyone scurries home for safety between 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM, otherwise, risk being a victim of the horrendous activities of cultists and bandits. Even the local vigilante group that was setup to check their nocturnal activities retires once it is 10:00 PM because of lack of the sophisticated weapon used by the cultists and bandits, some of them being as young as 15-16 years old, From my room, I could hear the sound of gunshots and footsteps making very brisk moves every now and then.

At the other end, RSP has just declared that he lived for nothing and wanted to die. I still hadn't success getting him to clarify his statement and coupled with happenings in my immediate surroundings, my fear heightened. I was beginning to sweat profusely even though it was a cold night. I could see the notification light of my phone indicating that I have received a message. And so I reached for my phone. Just then I could hear my ailing father calling my name "Meme! Meme!! Meme!!!" This scared me too. In my present state, every single sound was scary. Power Holding Company of Nigeria had withheld power supply for over two weeks. My room was in total darkness except for the light from my phone. My father called again, this time a little louder, as his major care giver, I knew when he needed my attention. I was torn between going to attend to my father and lying down in fear. My love for my father was stronger than my fears and so I dashed out of my room (I did not turn on the tough light of my phone because I wanted to conserve the battery).

DaddyonhissickbedI reached to where my father was. He was sitting outside on a white plastic chair, using his shirt to chase the mosquitoes away. "Thank you for coming to answer me. I was not sure if you would be awake" my father said. I was thinking, should I tell him about RSP and my experience just before he called me? Even without telling him, I could guess what my father's reaction would be. He would say "Meme, you have to be careful!" Afterwards, he would stretch out his hand and reach for my hand and say "Let's pray." As if reading my mind, he said, "Let's just say a word of prayer before we go to bed. "So I sat down beside him, on the pavement where he placed his feet. He raised a song which I joined after he had sung it through the first time. He quoted a passage from the Holy Bible and said a short word of prayer. Now, it had begun to drizzle lightly. He stood up to go to his bedroom, I too stood up. He waited till I got inside the house. I said 'good night daddy', in response he said "God bless you." Back in my room, I could hear my father locking the door and his footsteps moving slowly to his room. In my heart, I prayed that he would have been a sound sleep because most nights were sleepless mainly for him and sometimes for me too because he would come to my room to wake me up if he couldn't manage alone.

I remembered the message I was yet to open. I reached for my phone again to open the message. Immediately, I could hear my phone shutting down because my battery had run out. ‘O gini kwanu?!’ I muttered in frustration. I lay in bed facing the ceiling. Now everywhere was in complete darkness except for the lightening that filtered through my room window, preparing for what looked like there was going to be a thunderstorm. It was dead silent too except of course for the sound of the rain tapping musically on our roof. I was thinking of my experience with Real Strange Partner (RSP), imagining what he looked like, praying, and really praying for my father for his health was deteriorating badly. I didn’t know when I drifted off to sleep. I would never know the content or sender of the message until I power my phone. This suspense was taking the better part of me... Fortunately for me, the weather that night was conducive and I wouldn’t have bothered even if I shared my bed with a stranger… TO BE CONTINUED

NB: Meme is the name I am called at home. O gini kwanu ? (What is this?)

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