Linda thought of all that she could do with the money in the safe beside the woman but the fear of being caught in the act of stealing discouraged her from going for it. She had heard tales of how petty thieves in Lagos were burnt to death and she was afraid of becoming a victim of such jungle justice.
Linda: “who are you and why should I trust you?” she asked the mysterious voice.
Mysterious voice: “your mother trusted me and did all my biddings even after she knew that I was dead, who are you not to believe me?” the voice bragged.
Linda: “Well, I am not moving an inch forward towards that money if you don’t tell me who you are and why I should trust you enough to risk my life like that” she said logically.
Mysterious voice: “like you have a choice? What do you have in you that can give you such confidence? Only those who have HIS spirit can argue with us and cast us out”
Linda: “Who is He?”
Mysterious voice: “you need not know who HE is for it is for our own good if you do not know HIM” she said. She was referring to God but Linda didn’t know.
Mysterious voice: “now go for that money and stop wasting my time for I am short tempered just like my master” she barked.
Linda edged forward with fear like one who was hypnotized. She went close to the woman who was busy counting her money and opened the safe beside her. She almost screamed at the bundle of naira notes that she saw in the safe but she suppressed her scream with her hand just before it escaped her mouth. She picked one bundle then another and another. When she was satisfied with her lot, she began to walk away with such confidence that could only be attributed to the so called invisibility status that the mysterious voice had bestowed on her.
The woman jerked up from her trance to see someone making away with her money. She cleaned her eyes just to be sure that she was not dreaming.
Woman: “Hey, where are you going with my money?” she barked causing Linda to freeze in her track.
Linda: “what! You can…can you see me?” she stuttered.
Woman: “No, I cannot see you. I guess you were told that I am blind, that is why you have the guts to come here and steal” she said.
Linda: “you mean you could see me even when I took the money?” she asked again.
Woman: “of course I can. Who do you think you are that you think I cannot see you? Even ghost, I can see talk less of a living being like you. Do you know who I am? Do you think I will own such a business in this part of the city without fortifying myself? Now, give me back my money and go and tell the native doctor who did the invisibility charm for you that his charms are not potent” she said rising from her wooden chair and adjusting the edge of her wrapper.
Linda: “Which money? Did I carry your money” she heard the voice speak through her.
Woman: “Are you running mad or something? Give my money now before I descend on you”, she threatened.
“Run!” the mysterious voice said to Linda.
Linda: “What did you say?” she asked the mysterious voice but the woman answered thinking Linda was talking to her.
Woman: “I said give me my money before I call people here to give you the beating of your life” she replied.
Linda: “Madam, will you just shut up? I was not talking to you!” she said in a voice she was sure was not her own.
Mysterious voice: “What are you still doing here? Run for your life” she screamed and Linda took to her heels on reflex.
Woman: “Thief! Thief! Thief o! Somebody help me and all the customers in the restaurant were thrown into pandemonium not knowing which direction to go in search of the thief for it was dark.
Linda ran as fast as her leg could carry her and got outside the compound that housed the joint. She turned and suddenly ran into an old woman who was coming in from the opposite direction. She crashed into the woman and they both fell on the ground. The old woman held on to Linda and began to scream at the top of her voice.
Old woman: “she is the thief o, don’t allow her go. She must die today” she said holding tight to Linda’s dress with such strength that was a direct contrast with her age and physical frailty. Linda tried to ease herself from the old woman’s hold and run away but it was late as her pursuers caught up with her and began to rain blows on her.
The woman whose money she had stolen caught up with them and grabbed her money from underneath Linda’s dress where she had seen her hid the money as soon as she had stolen it from the safe.
Woman: “that is the useless girl that stole my money” she said to the teaming crowd who were hitting Linda with anything they could lay their hands on.
Linda saw the old woman that had held on to her smiling mischievously among the crowd. Then she was shocked to hear a voice, exactly like that of the old woman talking in her mind.
Mysterious voice: “Today is your end. You think running away from the village will save you? Your mother already mortgaged your soul to me even before you were born…hahaha” the voice laughed aloud. Linda watched with shock as the old woman nodded at her and vanished from the crowd without saying taking a step.
Crowd: “oma shey o, how can such a fine girl be a thief? Kai this world don spoil finish” a woman in the crowd that had gathered said.
Linda: “I am not a thief, please have mercy on me” she pleaded as someone kicked her with his jungle boots causing her to fall back in excruciating pain.
Crowd: “Gbe enu re so jor (Shut your mouth please) if you are not a thief, how comes this woman found her money in your dress? Is it not better for you to go into prostitution than for you to steal?”
Linda: “I didn’t want to. The voice asked me to do it”, she pleaded.
Crowd: “which yeye voice? Okay, na witch you be ba, so no be only steal you dey inside, you follow be witch?”
Linda: “Okay, recession made me steal, I was hungry and I don’t have a place to stay here. Please stop hitting me, I am dying” she lied to see if they would have pity on her and let her go.
Crowd: “Recession oshi wo ni yen? (What sort of a stupid recession is that?). Are you the only Nigerian experiencing the recession? What if everyone decides to steal? Are we the government that have no palliative measures to cushion the effects of the recession?”
Crowd: “Where the witch and thief dey, oya make una shift make we pour her petrol burn her to ashes before she disappear” one young man, obviously dressed as a tout said making for her with a gallon of petrol and matches.
Crowd: “Yes, e go better for her make she die. Wetin person dey do for this Nigeria if the person no get wetin to eat and where to stay? Just go back go report the situation of things in Nigeria to God” another tout remarked.
Linda: “No, please help me. I don’t want to die like this, no!” she screamed as she heard the voice laughing inside her.
Question: Looks like Linda has reached her end at her prime just like her mother did. Who could be responsible for this? Her late mother or her step mother?
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