A short story written by Ibejigba Caleb
"Lock the doors! Put off your phone, close the windows," Jide told his wife as he rushed to drag a box from above his wardrobe. But his 5'6" height made it a bit difficult, so he stretched till his hands held the handle of the box before dragging it down.
That night, Jide had just got back from work. He drove like a mad man and parked the car too close to the entrance of their home. His wife, Tola, who was placing their three-month-old son in his cradle, stood straight and walked to her husband with her face wrinkled in confusion.
"Easy, you are going to wake the baby up and we both do not want that. You know…", before Tola could complete her statement, Jide had ran to the windows, pulled down the drapes and shut the louvres. He paced back and forth as if looking for something.
Tola, now sitting on the edge of their king-size bed, became more tensed and started asking questions: "What's happening? Where are you going by this time of the night? What have you done?" Jide stood still and said nothing as if he was observing a five-minute silence.
After what seemed like the 400 silent years, Jide opened a compartment in his ward, pulled out a vintage suitcase and poured its content on the bed. The suitcase contained a flash drive, pictures and many documents. Tola tried to make sense of them but nothing was adding up.
"They are coming for me love, every one of them is coming for me", Jide whimpered.
"Who is coming for you?" Tola asked with her hands shaking and sweat dripping from her forehead. She felt her airways becoming narrow, the walls caving in and the room becoming smaller. Tola tried to breathe but her face was turning purple. Tola is asthmatic and her attacks are easily triggered. Before it gets worse, Jide quickly found her inhaler. It has been a regular routine in their two-year marriage.
"Pele my dear", Jide said as he soothed her back not minding the droplets of sweat on his forehead. He continued: "I have proof that this government rigged the election". For the first time since he came home forty minutes ago, he smiled. "Inside this flash drive is enough evidence to put away the politicians that committed the crime for good. Good riddance to a long time".
Jide spoke with so much light in his eyes, you could tell he was proud of the work he had done. But his happiness didn't last long. He dropped the flash drive and fell on his knees in front his wife like a penitent sinner. "But I've been betrayed, my love. One of the editors in my office has told one of the political godfathers about the story, and now they have sent their mercenaries to get me", Jide said. "I had to take a detour to dismiss the car that was tailing me when I left the office".
The government in power is the worst the people had experienced in recent years. It looks like a democracy but it is far from it. Journalists are arrested every day, especially those who speak against the regime in democracy cloak.
Jide kissed Tola's forehead, carried his box and walked to where his son slept peacefully unbothered by their commotion. Seeing the smile on his son's face, Jide felt proud that he was making the country a better place for him to grow up.
"Take this flash drive and suitcase, I am going to fake my own death tonight and escape to a nearby country. Once I feel safe, I will contact you through a secured line", Jide said, turning to his wife. "Upload the video on this drive and publish the story on my blog if I get caught”. Jide wrapped her palm round the drive, while both of them sobbed.
"You do not have to do this. Don’t leave us. We just had a baby three months ago. I cannot do this all by myself,” Tola said in muffled tears. But she knew that as much as she wanted him to stay that he had to go. They held each other's and Tola said a silent prayer for her husband.
Jide broke the hug first and left, while Tola watched through the window as he drove off. How would he get out of the country without being spotted? How did he plan on faking his own death? The more she thought about it, the more vague and unrealistic the plan seemed to be. But a desperate man does not think well in the first place. She curled up on one side of the bed, held her pillow tightly and cried herself to sleep.
The sound of a crying baby woke her up. At first, she thought she was dreaming but as the pitch increased, she realized it was her baby boy that was crying. It was already sunrise and she didn't even remember when and how she slept off. She breastfed and rocked her baby till he was calm.
Tola walked into the living room to watch the morning news. But there was nothing about her husband or a dead John Doe. She settled by the TV and watch all the news bulletin across different stations. It was getting late and she was about to retire for the day when one of the stations reported a breaking news. Her heart skipped a beat and she rushed for her inhaler in case of an asthma attack. The news was clear as daylight but untrue. Jide, her husband, has been arrested for insulting the presidency and conspiracy to commit treason. Tola couldn't believe her eyes and collapsed unto the couch.
With her anger boiling like a blacksmith furnace, she gripped the remote in her hands till it broke and cut her hand. Not minding the blood dripping from her palm, she walked straight to the laptop in the room with Jide's words echoing in her head.
'PUBLISHED' were the words on the screen of the laptop as Tola looked at her hand. The battle has been drawn. She waits patiently to see what the world do when they read her husband's story.