As all these were going on, everybody at home seemed tensed as if we were under house arrest. In my mind I prayed that Baba would stay longer so that these men would leave by the time he didn’t show up. Mama in her usual hospitable and innocent attitude, invited these men into our house and even offered them some of the remaining beverages.
“Thank you Hajiya Tanko,” one of the men replied Mama. One by one the neighbors who came to celebrate with us sublimed from our house like camphor.
By 10:00pm, when most of the living were retiring to their bed as the darkness of the night thickened and the silence of the street became eminent, I heard the commanding steps of someone entering our compound from the back gate.
“Please God let it not be Baba,” I muttered silently. But as these steps trudged closer, behold it was Baba coming to his own abode like a stealthy reptile relishing the cool of the evening. I sat like a statue under the mango tree so that Baba couldn’t notice my presence. Tonight would be a long one, so I wanted to experience every bit of it firsthand.
When Baba finally entered the house, he was greeted by multiple voices of the men in black. But the voice that told Mama “thank you, Hajiya Tanko” stood out and was the one who seemed to be their spokesman. From my vintage point of hearing, the silence of the evening aided my eavesdropping on their conversations, though they tried to speak in low tones. The spokesman, whom I later found out to be Major Malik, went on to tell Baba that they came in peace and for an important business.
“We came as a team to first of all congratulate you on your promotion as CSO of Tirzah Security company,” Major Malik went on.
I forgot to add initially that Baba was also a retired Sergeant from the Nigeria Army. So he was conversant with the military drill of lower ranks carrying out orders from higher ranks. Major Tanko went to introduce the other men (Capt. Kasim, Lt. Audu, Lt. Dogo, Second Lt. Faruk, Sgt. Jamil, Sgt. Luka).
“We are called the ‘Special 7’, operating secretly in the Nigeria army.”
“We don’t take orders from anyone or any government.”
“We came together for the greater good of this country and that is why we came to identify with you immediately you were appointed CSO, because through you we believe we can do greater good.”
Major Malik continued to speak on, trying to establish a lasting rapport with Baba and an alliance that l sensed would culminate in mayhem and manmade catastrophe.
Though Malik never said anything that seemed like they wanted to make a deal with Baba, but the devil’s game is not played in a haste as it enjoys the subtlety of strategy. Major Malik spoke for close to an hour, trying to explain who they were to Baba without saying their actual mission.
At end of his speech Baba only reply was, “What then is the reason for your visit tonight?”
Silence stole the atmosphere after Baba replied with that question.
When Major Malik finally responded to the question after about two minutes of silence, he only said, “Like I said initially, we came in peace, but the reason for our visit cannot be discussed under the roof of your humble home. That is why we want to invite you to Dalhatu Inn at Idris Kareem Boulevard for a meeting by 8:00pm Friday this week.”
“We are going to pour our hearts to you at the meeting meanwhile come alone.”
The night ended in suspense as the men in black dropped some exotic wines and left our house. Baba never saw them off as the time was around 11:00pm, and I guess he was not satisfied with the reason for their visit. I was the only one still awake with Baba, but Baba didn’t know I was still under the mango tree.
So he was about to lock the main door of our house when I shouted, “Baba I’m still outside!”
“Isa, what are you still doing outside by this time?” Baba replied.
I said, “I was moulding a statue for my creative art assignment.” This was a lie I told to escape further questions from Baba.
I went to my room that night with a heavy heart, unclear about what the future held for my family. The events that unfolded that night left me in trance state as I anticipated a new day and the outcome of the meeting on Friday.