THE BEST YEARS (By Stephen Toochi)

“Give me that phone!” he shouted in Yoruba, his voice a menace to my ears.

Instinctively I replied, “Did you give me any phone to keep for you?”

The atmosphere was serene, albeit dark, save for a few fluorescent bulbs shining from the opposite building. It’s 5:10 am. The environment is a road. An estate road that led to a U-turn bus stop. Flanking the road are structures and pathways we call ‘close’. I sized him up. He was a short man and that gave me the edge. How could he harass me? I didn’t think of him holding a weapon.

I made to pass him but he pulled a knife. A sharp shiny silver blade. Ducking, I heard steps coming from behind. I turned and saw two people coming at me. Log of woods in hand. I knew what that meant.

The road was void of humans. The man I was hurrying to catch up with, already disappeared. And the one coming behind earlier with a backpack had run back.

“Oga, your phones and your wallet!” One of the people coming from behind said.

I didn’t reach for my pocket. I just ran without calculation. The next thing I felt was a plank ramming into my back. I fell forward. Another hit my neck. I stood in quick steps. That survival instinct is adrenaline. Even as the pain seared through me.

“Senior man…” I said in shock. They weren’t finished. They stopped my plea. The short one, the one I had neglected, came at me with the knife and stabbed…

It connected, ripped through my flesh. Leaving my skin open. The affected area was my elbow. And Blood trickled. They took the phones. Big and small, then turned to leave.

“Abeg oga, give me my sim cards. You can take the phone.”

“Your father! Are you mad?” This question was accompanied by a slap on my head. Just then, a motorcycle pulled up from the next close. For a moment I thought he was my saviour. The robbery took place a stone throw from a church. Christ Apostolic Church.  I knew for sure they had corporate security.

The motorcycle honked and my assailants ran towards it. They were facing me but running. As they climbed the cycle and zoomed off. The pains of their assault came crashing on me. My phones and wallet were gone. I screamed and sat on the road pavement. Gates creaked open. People cast glances before approaching me.

Words of empathy ran like water. A good Samaritan tended to my wound with his touch. Wrapping the gaping hole with a piece of cloth. He advised me to go back home but I wasn’t listening. I left for my tour. I’m a tenacious young man and their assault can’t damper my spirit.

I took three buses. And arrived at my destination. I dashed to their clinic and got myself treated. While treating my wound, I called my network providers thrice. In an attempt to block my lines. But it would seem they were asleep. None got through to their representatives.

I left and dashed to the bank. The time was 7:45 and the security personnel asked that I wait till eight, which is the resumption time. I was shaking as I stood because my small phone held everything banking.

I got in as the first customer and by the time she, a beautiful young lady would check my account. Three hundred thousand Naira had disappeared to an unknown destination. I didn’t cry. I just hit her desk and screamed. The bank and its customers turned in my direction.

“You mean you lost your phone this morning and they have moved this amount?” she asked, concerned and surprised.

I didn’t hear her.

“Please can I withdraw the remaining balance? ” I found myself asking. She nodded. I got the money and dashed to the second bank. Luckily for me, that hadn’t been tampered with.

I bought the goods my money could afford and left for home. I didn’t tell anybody. Not my sister. Not my mom. Neither did my father. After I mulled over everything. I decided to tell someone. My girlfriend.

In the twilight of the evening she came, all gun blazing. She was complaining. First of how my lines weren’t going through, second on how the agreement we had, exceeded the deadline. And third on how tired she has become of our relationship.

On a normal day, I’d have pacified my spirit. But that day was abnormal. The worst of its kind.

I said nothing and watched her ramble.

When she realized I wasn’t responding. She was pissed. I think someone from the office offended her and she decided to take it out on her understanding boyfriend.

“Hey,” she shook me, “What’s wrong with you? I have been talking to you and you’re just ignoring me.”

“Have you asked what happened to my phone?”

“What else could have happened if not that you finished the battery.”

“Babe I’m not cut out for this right now.”

There was a change in her attitude immediately. She stared at me, hard. I thought she could read my trouble so I kept a sober face. How would I have known that she lacked empathy or sensitivity?

“You’re not cut out for this, right? Well, I’m not cut out for this relationship either.” she snapped.

Alarmed, “What do you mean by that?”

“It is over between us. That was what I came here to say.”

My eyes fluttered. “You mean our relationship of three years is over?”

 “I’m sorry.” she meant it. It was over. I tucked the on-rushing emotions in, raised my hand to wipe the heat on my face when her mouth gaped at the bandage on my elbow. I spoke fast.

“Don’t be… It was nice while it lasted. But one thing I’d want to know is why? Why today of all days?”

She stuttered and I laughed. A hollow laugh that summed my whole day.

“It is okay. When you gather your reasons please tell me. I deserve to know.”

“What happened to your elbow?”

“Oh, you now care? Forget it.”

She flashed me a smile and skulked out of my place. As she walked, thousands of thoughts riddled my mind but the most critical was the question.

Who said the twenties are the best time of one’s life? Because for me it is the worst.

PS; this is partly fiction and nonfiction.

©Stephen Toochi


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About the author

I'm Dav-Oz, and  I'm the Chief Editor of The Dav-Oz Blog, a graphic designer and upcoming fashion designer.

I'm just your regular young Nigerian lad with dreams and hope for a better future.

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