The night breeze whirled. The stars displayed their beauty. There was something on my mind. It happens whenever I have an appointment with somebody. Isa would visit me tonight. I know he would come to tell me about his fiancée, Talatu. Maybe they had some misunderstandings which I must reconcile.
Isa had sacrificed his life for Talatu. He had been in love with her for a long time, spending extravagantly on her and visiting regularly at the university with provisions, apart from the additional burden of catering for her family needs. But Talatu, instead of showing gratitude in reciprocation, grumbled, saying he didn’t love her. She asked for money as if he breathed them out from his mouth. She insulted or tore his shirt whenever her friends told him that they saw him with another girl. Meanwhile, the girls were always his relations or platonic friends. I used to be the judge. With all her bad points, Isa still loved her. “Being jealous of a partner is a sign of faithfulness,” he always defended in the face of her tantrums. I agreed with him, since that was how he viewed it.
I was thinking of him when he arrived with his younger brother behind a scooter. He brought two containers of confectioneries, cosmetics and some money and asked me to deliver them to Talatu, saying he was taking his brother to the clinic. I asked him why he was sending her all those gifts when he had sent almost the same things the previous week. He replied that he liked to surprise her with presents.
I was thinking about Isa’s love-is-blind attitude in a taxi conveying me to Talatu`s hostel in the university when I saw her sitting on the passenger’s seat of a Volkswagen car. I didn’t want to return those items, so I asked the taxi driver to pursue the beetle driver whom I suspected to be her relative taking her home. The taxi was not fast enough but when we caught up with the car, it was parked outside a hotel. I dropped from the taxi with the bag, paid the fare and went into the hotel. I enquired from the receptionist about the owner of the beetle. After some convincing words, he directed me to the room.
My heart thumbed as I knocked on the door. The door opened and the man appeared in shorts. I pushed the door open and what I saw of Talatu was a shock. With my mouth agape, we stared at each other. The bags fell from my hand. I didn’t know when the man hit me hard on the head. I slumped and he continued pummeling me hard. I was too weak to retaliate.
The sound of the beating drew the attention of guests and some staff of the hotel. I heard the man furiously telling them that I forced Talatu to the hotel. I tried to reply when a security officer smashed my mouth with a baton. The hotel manager stopped the security man and asked to hear my side of the story. I told them I was not a kidnapper, saying Talatu knew me. But surprisingly, she replied that she never knew or seen me before in her life.
“I don’t know how I followed you here. I must have been hypnotized to this place to be raped,” she screamed.
The man and the onlookers further beat me mercilessly. I only to recover in the hospital with bandages on my forehead, arms and legs. I saw photojournalists taking pictures of me, while a senior policeman was briefing some reporters. The media most surely had enough of me for their newspapers the following day because of their large number. In fact, it took the efforts of a policeman, who was guiding me with a pistol, to control the other mammoth crowd milling around my hospital ward to catch a glimpse of the professional rapist.
As I received hospital treatment, Isa walked in with friends and relatives. They gaped at me silently. I sympathized with them, knowing they would not believe me even if I told them the truth.
Talatu then came into the ward, looked at Isa, then at me and people in the ward. Her sight looked horrible and she voluntarily confessed that the man she had followed to the hotel, was a traditional herbalist who wanted to help her with local concoction for a permanent relationship with Isa. She told the bewildered people the true story of what had happened. She added that she didn’t know how things ended up that way. Turning to Isa, she passionately asked him for forgiveness.
As people became puzzled with her confession, she quickly snatched the pistol of the policeman guiding me and shot herself twice in the chest and embraced Isa. In few trembling words, she begged Isa once again and slumped on the floor.
This literary fiction by Yushau A. Shuaib was originally published in Sunday Triumph October 14, 1990