It was the only place that came alive at night. Mami market!
The smoke from the suya place filled the air along with the delicious aroma of roasted meat and pepper.
Her stomach grumbled in response as she diverted her route from Nigerian’s breweries to the hausa man roasting the meat.
She didn’t have much on her, just her bicycle and transportation allowance she had collected earlier. But it was enough for her to splurge a little on herself.
“How much is a stick of suya?”
“Two hundred naira.”
“Wallah!” the Hausa man said “but e sweet well well. Gashi…” He cut a piece of meat and dipped in pepper before handing it over to her. Adanna collected it and put it into her mouth, relishing the juicey flavor of the meat.
It was good! “Give me one stick.”
“Just one? Haba madam!”
Adanna smiled. She wished she could have more, but It wasn’t expedient. “Yes!” her phone vibrated and she pulled it out to to check her message from Bukky. Bukky had insisted she came out to hang with her and some friends. She wasn’t looking forward to it but it was better than being cooped up in the hostel.
The seller handed her a pack of suya, rolled in news paper with two toothpick stuck on it. She received it and immediately noticed that it was heavy.
“Mallam, how many sticks are these?”
Her eyes popped “I said two.” She tried to give it back but the Mallam refused to collect it back. “take.” She gave him her 200 naira note with the packed suya. “I want just one stick. You made a mistake.”
“No mistake, dey don fay por you.”
“Who did?” she questioned and looked round about her, but saw no one.
“Who?” she asked again but the man just ignored her and continued with another buyer. She wondered who paid for her. It was so weird because this was not the first time someone had paid for her food or drink. Since her admission 4 days ago, when she got a big breakfast, she had been getting free meals. She wondered who it was. As she headed over to Nigerian breweries, where a show was going on, she saw a group of soldiers seated and she found herself scanning for the captain.
That was another weird thing. Since that night they talked in the clinic she had not seen Captain Jude. She found herself often, searching for him at the parade ground, at SAED and public lectures but he wasn’t there. It was as if he just vanished. She worried she caused it somehow, but how? Was it because she didn’t answer his bombarding questions about her financial status. Was it because of the question she asked him about his career? Why was he in the clinic with her that night? Nothing made sense to her again, not even the fact that he was on her thought everyday all day or the fact that she wanted to see him again and talk to him again.
“Hey Bukky.”Adanna tapped her friend and sat down beside her. The table was filled with guys who were drinking and two if them were smoking. As soon as she looked across the table, one of them winked at her and Adanna quickly looked away.
“Bukky who is your beautiful friend? Introduce her to us now.” One of the smoker said and tapped some ash on the ash tray.
Bukky smile enthusiastically “This is Adanna my very good friend. She is very chilled so you guys should be nice.”
“Do you drink?”
Adanna shook her head and the guy looked shocked “are you a virgin or what?” He teased.
She looked away uncomfortably. Coming out seemed like a bad idea already.
“Bukky, I want to charge my phone; I will be back.” Adanna left her pack of suya with her friend and stood up to go to the charging spot. She walked past a lot of people, some laughing, talking loudly and others singing along to the song- ‘Mad over you by run town’ that was playing loudly.
She went to her favorite charging spot and plugged her phone but spent a little more time chatting with the guy, so that she wouldn’t have to go back to meet Bukky. After a few minutes, she bidded the guy goodbye and started for Nigerian breweries slowly.
From the corner of her eyes, Adanna saw Gerald walking with some guys so she hurried up towards the clinic.
He stopped and turned around to face her “Hi Adanna how are you feeling?”
“Much much better. No dizzy spells, I am doing great.”
“That’s good to know.” She started walking slowly with him towards the clinic. “Where you at the parade today?”
“Yes I was.” Adanna nodded and kept with his pace.
“So did you hear the announcement at the platoon meeting that held after the parade?”
“The one about the cultural dance competition? Yeah I heard.”
“So did you put your name down?”
“Why would I?” she laughed.
“Because you can dance.”
“Where did you get such information from ?”
Adanna rolled her eyes. That girl!! “Yeah I can, but I am not ready to put myself out there.”
“Are you shy?”
Adanna laughed “Nope!”
“Then? Atleast do it for the platoon and have fun at it.”
“Well…” Adanna contemplated.
“I will think about it!”
“Great! I will tell Harry to write your name down.”
“Anyway” Adanna said, as they arrived at the clinic. “Thank you so much for the other day. And for the food. You really didn’t have to but thank you so much.”
Gerald Laughed “Would you please stop thanking me, I only brought the food, I wasn’t the one that bought it.”
“Really? Who did then?”
“You don’t know?”
Adanna’s face was serious now. “No I have no idea. I thought it was you.”
“No. it was the captain.”
Adanna was stunned. Her heart stopped beating for a while and then it resumed beating faster than ever. Was he the one secretly paying for all her meals? “Ow okay. Thank you all the same Gerald.”
“Thank you too and don’t forget the dance.”
“Okay.” She turned around and started her journey back to Mami market all alone. The area leading to it was dark, so she increased her pace.
As she walked back alone, she pondered on why the captain had bought her breakfast.
The more she thought about it, the more confused she became. Her train of thoughts halted as she heard faint steps behind her.
“Who is there?” Adanna peered into the darkness around her but got no response. She turned around and bumped into someone. Adanna jumped back from the shock and maintained her distance cautiously.
“Adanna…” he called her name and there was no mistaking who it was.
“Good evening sir.”
He stepped closer to her until she could make out his face “Jude is my name Adanna.”
She swallowed nervously, not knowing what to say to him now that he was so close to her. So close to smell the seductiveness of his cologne.
“Don’t tell me you are tongue tied today.”
“No! It’s just.. it’s just that…”
He chuckled lightly and Adanna loved the sound of his husky voice.
“How are you feeling today?”
“Very well. Thank you and thank you for the breakfast. Gerald told me. You shouldnt have. I really appreciate…”
“You don’t come out at night. Why tonight ?” He cut her off. He was fond of doing that she noticed.
“No, but my friend made me. How did you know…”
“I am the camp commandant sweetheart, I know.”
Sweetheart? Adanna decided not to take the pet name to heart. “But you haven’t been around for some days how did you know I haven’t been coming out?”
Jude was also happy to know that Adanna noticed his supposed absence. “I know everything.”
“Where have you been by the way?” She couldn’t help but ask.
“You know… meetings here and there.”
“For your political career?”
Jude studied her briefly “Yes!”
Adanna was quiet as she watched Jude watch her.
“May I know what’s on your mind?” Jude asked.
“Just wondering what kind of politician you will make.”
“I like to think I will make a good politician.”
Adanna scoffed “really?”
“You don’t think so?”
“No! I think you will be like every other politician. Power hungry individuals that misuse their power when given the opportunity.”
“And you drew this conclusion from…”
“From how you treat people. I have seen the way you punish the corpers here. It’s not fair. And I think such punishments are unnecessary. ”
“It’s called discipline Adanna.”
“Discipline or torture?”
He shook his head “have you ever experienced solitary punishment? Or been wipped severally with a koboko ? Or been tortured with hot iron?”
“Have you experienced such?”
He ignored her question.
“Was it at your short service?” She asked softly.
Before Adanna could process what he just said, Jude pushed her to a tree and held both her hands in a death grip. His hard body was pressed against the softness of hers and he leaned in towards her until his lips were just an inch from her ears “there is a thin line between discipline and torture and I have experienced both so I know. I discipline, I don’t torture.”
Adanna’s breathing was thick. Her heart was ponding so hard against her ribs that she thought it would explode.
“Adanna…” he breathed her name so delicately, that his fresh breath fanned her cheeks and it was too soon that he released her.
“Goodnight.” He turned and disappeared into the darkness again.
Not even the fact that he had gone, eased the way her heart was ponding. Adanna found her way back to her hall with shaky legs. She climbed her bed without pulling off her cloth and gazed at the ceiling
She didn’t even realise that she had totally forgotten her charging phone or her friend Bukky.
To be continued…