It was 1:10 am and we had just finished the pageantry when a fight broke out. Two different groups were fighting over who the winner of the contest was supposed to be. The next minute, someone broke a bottle and flung it in the air. We all scrambled out of our seats as more bottles were thrown into the air. I screamed as I made my way to the door. I ran without looking back and only stopped when I was outside the hotel compound. I turned around but couldn’t find any of my friends. I dialled their numbers but none of them responded.
“The police are coming,” someone shouted as he ran past me.
People began boarding taxi’s that passed by and it was then that I realized that I didn’t have money on me. I didn’t think it was necessary to carry any money because my friend had called a cab to bring us to the hotel and I assumed we would all go back together. The only thing I had was my phone and my friends were not answering their phones. Everyone was in a hurry that I couldn’t even stop anyone to ask for money or help.
I heard the siren of the police car and took off again and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. When I was far from the hotel, I stopped and stood there in the middle of the cold night, stranded and not knowing how to get back to the hostel.
I called my friends again but none picked. I was still thinking of how to get back to the hostel when I heard some footsteps. I turned to see three hefty men walking towards me. I was the only one standing on the road and I became afraid.
“What if these men rape me?”
I looked around but there was nowhere to run to. Nowhere to hide. No one to call for help. What do I do now? I didn’t know when I started running. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me.
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“Hey you, stop there,” they said as they ran after me.
“Oh God!,” I prayed. “Please save me.”
I tried to run faster but I was tired so I slowed my pace and they soon caught up with me.
“Who are you? What are you doing out here at this time of the night?”
I was shivering in fear and could barely say anything.
“Can’t you talk? Abi you be ashawo” one of them scolded. (A prostitute is sometimes referred to as an “ashawo” in Nigeria.)
“Nooo. I’m not an ashawo. I’m a student. I missed my way.”
“Where are you coming from by this time?” one of the men asked.
“What do you have with you?” another one asked coming closer to me.
“My phone,” I said showing them my phone in my right hand and my empty left hand.
“Where are you going to?” one of them asked.
“My hostel. But I think I missed the way.”
“You shouldn’t be walking about so late. Except you are an ashawo and we don’t allow prostitutes in this area. We are members of the vigilante group of this area.”
I was relieved to know who they were. Vigilante groups are usually peacekeepers that help protect the residents of a particular area especially at night.
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“Please, I’m not a prostitute. I’ll never stay out late again,” I pleaded.
“If our oga sees you on this road, he will not spare you. Come and sit in our security post until morning.”
“Thank you sirs,” I said as I followed them.
I sat at the security post, unable to close my eyes for fear of the unknown. By 6 am, I thanked them and told them that I would be on my way. I still didn’t know how I would get back to the hostel.
“Excuse me sir. Please can you give me 100 naira. I misplaced my wallet last night,” I lied.
“You this girl, you sure say you no be ashawo?”
He brought out a dirty 100 note and threw it at me. I collected it, thanked him and hurried off in shame.
“Where have you been?” my friends asked when I arrived at the hostel
“We were looking for you?” Isabella said
“Didn’t you see my calls?” I asked in anger
“We didn’t see it until this morning. You know how last night was. Everybody just scattered and there was no time to check our phones. We even thought you were with us until we got back to the hostel and noticed you weren’t here. We tried calling back but your phone was switched off.” Isabella explained
“My battery is dead. So how did you get back to the hostel?” I asked
“We boarded a taxi immediately. We got back to the hostel since 2 am or so. We thought you were here until this morning when we noticed you weren’t back. Then we tried calling you and it didn’t connect. Where were you?”
“Do you know I was stranded? And you girls left me all alone.”
“Why didn’t you take a taxi and come back?” Diana asked
“I didn’t have money. I left my wallet in the hostel last night.”
“Edidiong! Haven’t you heard about vex money?” Diana asked
“I know what vex money is. Is it not money a girl carries when going out on a date with a guy in case he abandons her there?”
“Yes. But that’s not all. As a girl, you must always carry ‘vex money’ in case of any emergency. It’s not only when you go out on a date. Even when you go out with your female friends or even family members, carry enough cash. Anyway, you’ve learnt your lesson. You are lucky nothing bad happened to you last night.”
I had learnt my lesson. It’s important to always have cash with you when leaving your house whether with a friend or family member. You never know what will happen on the way.
End Note: This is episode 6 of a fiction story series. You can read the previous episode by clicking here