Niyi watches his phone ring out. He had been stunned by Osi’s revelation and was still trying to process it when Akata’s call came in. He shuts his eyes for a few seconds. Osi is a girl?
“I know this is a lot to take in but there is an even bigger reason why I’m here.”
Niyi looks up at her not allowing his mind to even contemplate what the bigger announcement is.
“You will not be hearing from John anymore after…”
“Wait…you know John?” Niyi cuts in.
“Yes, I do. And I’m afraid that channel is closed. He gave you an assignment?”
“John. You were supposed to report something to him…”
Niyi rises from the table and for just a few seconds Maria looked confused.
“Listen Maria, Osi or whoever you are, I’m sorry but I have to leave now. This very minute. Have a great day.”
Niyi walks swiftly out of the restaurant. His head swimming in confusion. All he wants is to put a lot of distance between him and whoever this person is. He quickly gets into his car and checks the rearview mirror to be sure he isn’t followed. Then he chides himself. This is Nigeria not a Hollywood movie. The engine turns and he drives off.
He remembers how he had met John. He had found John, not the other way round. So, how possible is it that they chose him? Chosen for what? He shakes his head vigorously as if that can clear it. He approaches a traffic light and has to slow down. He needs to think. “Think, think,” he commands himself.
He voice dials John and gets a programmed response: The number you have called does not exist on the network. He tries again. Same response. He turns off at the next exit and parks the car. He should send Osi aka Maria a DM, apologising and saying he is coming back. He needs to get to the bottom of this. He searches her name. Her account has been shut down.
Niyi’s phone shows an incoming call. Akata. He had not got round to returning her call yet. He picks it.
“Hi! Sorry, I couldn’t take your call earlier.”
“It’s okay,” Akata responds. “I need your help.”
Niyi exhales. “Shoot.”
“I have this mail I want to send you, please confirm the mail is from Nasir.”
“Presidential media aide?”
“Yes. And if it is, then advice me on what to do.”
“Okay, send it.”
Zainab unlocks the door to her one bedroom flat and walks in. She is beginning to feel claustrophobic in this environment but she can’t afford anything else at the moment.
“Why don’t you come back home.”
So many times she has felt like giving up and going back to her home, her mother’s home. Like now.
She sits on the bed and lies back. Her personal life is such a mess. She hasn’t had a boyfriend in forever and it is not because there has been a shortage of candidates. She just feels an emptiness inside that she knows a man’s love cannot fill. She has tried a number of times but only ended up hurting people that truly love her. She had since stayed off love, off men.
The shrill of the old phone ringtone shatters the silence in the room. Zainab is startled as her heart does a small jump. She realises it is the phone. She takes the call at the second ring.
“Talk to me, ” she says in lieu of hello.
“No one here is aware of such an order.” “Are you sure?”
“Thank you, ” Zainab says and hangs up.
Niyi looks at the email. He finds one Nasir had sent him in the past. Match. Obviously, Nasir is being used to clamp down on anti-government blogs. He wonders how someone who had been such a strong voice in opposition using the same blogs to speak up against the last administration could now want to clamp them down. He is saddened at the whole mess.
Nasir needed to be stopped but he would rather Akata does not do the calling out herself. He sends her a DM stating his position. He then sends another DM to Yemi. She was one of those who seemed really close to Osi. In fact, at some point there was a rumour that they were in a relationship. They often exchanged tweets laced in double entendre right on the timeline. If there was anyone on Twitter who should know why Osi closed his account, it would be Yemi.
Akata makes her way through the parking lot. Zainab had called to say they had to meet urgently. She spots her seated inside one of the payutes and heads towards her.
“Hi,” Akata said knowing Zainab won’t respond.
“Do you have history with Nasir?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“Well, whatever he is doing, he doesn’t have the backing of the President. Want some ice-cream?”
Akata nods both in answer and in acknowledgement as Zainab waves to one of the attendants.
“I’m having @KitchnButterfly’s agbalumo flavour. What would you like?”
“Whatever you are having is fine.”
Zainab nods and places the order. She knows Akata is processing the information she just gave her.
“What I don’t know is whether all of this is somehow connected with the attacks on our site,” Zainab continues.
“Well, it won’t be a stretch to link the two. Only thing I’d say he holds against me is that I don’t use all the stories he mails me.”
Akata’s phone beeps as the ice-cream arrives. She picks her phone and reads Niyi’s DM.
“Niyi says the mail is from Nasir. But he doesn’t want me calling him out myself…I understand why.”
Zainab empties the last bit of ice-cream straight into her mouth and then looks up at Akata.
“So, what do you want to do?”
“There is only one other person I know who has the clout to do the calling out.”
Akata’s eyes meet with Zainab’s and hold.
“No, Akata. You are not reaching out to Victor. How can you go dine with that devil?”
“I guess I’ll just have to use a long spoon.”
(Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)