Dusty wind blew fiercely across the compound. The sun had set for a while, Ameena shielded her face with her veil. Her head was spinning already, with different conclusions on the open door. None were good.
“I swear I locked it.” Madina insisted, swaying the keys in her hands.
Even though Ameena wasn’t sure why the door would be open, she believed hwer xousn. Madina could be careless, but she had seen her fumbling with the locks before they left. Did someone come back when they were away? Was it mom? The cook was visiting her sick grandmother in the village, the cleaner didn’t work on Saturday and the gateman Bulus, was having a day off. As far she she knew, there were only 2 keys and mom had one. The other was with Madina.
“Mom could be inside,” Khadija offered.
“Or maybe grandpa felt sick and they decided to bring him back.” Aliyu added.
Ameena bit her lip o hard it drew blood. “They wouldn’t leave the door like that. You know how mom gets about security. I think we need to call the police.”
Bala laughed, looking at her like she had grown two heads overnight. “See what those criminal movies have turned you to? First we need to make sure no one’s inside. Ishaq, stay here with them. Trying calling mom first.”
She stepped in front of him, “but you cant just go inside. What if theres someone dangerious there?”
He rolled his eyes, patting her gently, “don’t worry about me, ill be fine. If I don’t come out after ten minutes, don’t come inside. Call the cops.” They watched as he walked towards the door, then disappearing int o the darkness.
“He should have taken something to protext him,” she whispered. Ameena counted the seconds as they went by. She couldn’t make sense of what was happening. Maybe Madina did forget to lock the door, sshw ttried telling herself. She wanted to hold onto, something that was normal, not the thought of someone breaking into their house.
A sound of a car driving in broke her out of her reverie. They all ran towards Dads car, rushing to tell what happened. Mom raised a hand, signalling them to lower their voices. “Ya isa haka, what is it?”
“We came back and the door was open.” AMeena blurted.
“Yaya Bala is inside, checking if someone is in. it was all Madina;s fault,” said Aliyu.
Madina quickly interrupted him, her lower lips ytembling, “No, I swear I locked it.” she was desperate for someone to believe her. Ameena put her hand around her shoulder, whispering, “Calm down, cuz. We know you didn’t.”
By now, Mom’s face was looking grave. “How could you let your brother go in? oh my God,” she turned towards her husnad, “Call the police now.”
“Moom, seriously this isn’t a police...” Hauwa began. She had been feeling achy all over her. A hot shower was what she needed. Now, the police were sure to bring a set back.
“Madina is right. She locked the door. We came back after you all had left. I forgot my charger and my phone was about to die. I even considered calling you, in case you were at home, to bring it. after I left, I locked the door. And now, someone might be inside with your brother.” She concluded, fuming. Alhaji Aliyu looked gravely at his children. They knew what that meant. A talk was coming up. He dialled a number and turned away, talking to whoever iti was in a desperate tone.
Bala came out, rushing towards them, his face in a mnot of worry. “Someone broke in. Dad’s office is in a mess. One oof the sitting rooms and the game room as well.” He announced.
“The police are on their way. Everyone stay here. We are going to get to the bottom of this.” Dad reassured, making his way towards the gate.
Ameena silently sat on the porch, discerning the situation. What is happening? Just when I think its all going to be okay. Now this! Maybe this was the perfect time to tell them of the things she had seen. They mught be hlpful to them. Oh God. Never in her wildest dreams, had she ven thought of the police at heer house. What would they find? She wished they had next foor neighbours, then maybe they would have seen something. Deep in thought, she ddint know when Sadiq sat next to her. “Don’t even thing of it,” he whispered with gritted teeth.
She turned towards him, “and what am I thinking of?”
“you want to tell of what we saw.”
“you know me so well.”
“yeah, and that Is why I don’t think its right. Don’t forget we already told mom. The popice ill be here soon and then everything will be solved.”
It still bothered her, keeping it to themselves. What if it was something huge? Were they keeping quiet about a serious thing? Would it backfire on them? But it wasn’t like they keot everything to themselves. they had told mom. And she had told everything to grandma too days back. She didn’t even know what the old lady was up to these days. “do you think it was it?”
“the door open. Do you think it was what we saw?”
“its possible. But it looks like it was someone that broke in.”
“But who?” That was the question they were all asking themselves. Ameena studied their faces, as concern laced the happy face they had on earlier. She couldn’t help but feel sorry for her grandparents cooped up in the un-comfortability of the car. They were all eager to go back inside, but due to the situation, they were not allowed to touch a single object until the cops arrived. She had seen many crime shows to know that any little mistake from the culprit could be the evvidentce. It could be a pfingerprint, an object that mistakenly fell from the intruder, or maybe even the shape of his shoes. Less than ten minutes later, two police cars blaring with sirens drove into the compound. Ameena, Sadiq and Madeena who had joined themnot long ago, had to leave the porch for the investigations to start. They sat on a swing at the backtard, waiting nerviously. Khadija followed them silently, playing with her phone. She sat close to the pool, shoulders hnched.
“I wonder what theyre saying,” Madina broke the silence, fidgeting with her bag. He had been quiet since this whole thing began.
“I hope they find whoever is doing this, Wallahi,” Sadiq shook his head.
Ameen got tired to waiting, her anxiety too much to bear. She decddd to tiptoe towards the edge of the wall, straining to hear whatever she could. “trying to find something...”
“No, it was definitely not a mistake. Whoever did this...” the words were lost again. She turned back, defeated. From what she understood, someone was looking for something, taking in the way some parts of the house, especially the office was. What really happened? Who invaded their house?
The sun set leaving a yellowish trail , bits of white clouds scattered across the sky. She jerked forward, aware of the red Toyota that was parked in the compound. Her uncle and aunt came out, looking disturned. Mom had already texted them to come back home earlier. Ameena saw, as their son, Aliyu , rshed towards them. Ameena wondered what he might be telling them. Though she didn’t need to hear it, she already knew. The entire house had been abuzz with it. as she sat alone in her room near the wondow overlooking the compound, she couldn’t help feeling scared. Yes, she had every reason to be. Everything that happened tofay seemed like a dream. What bothered her more was how worried Dd was. He never got so worried like that. Mom was the one always doing the oworrinh. But today was different. Adter the cops had left, he called them all to the large sittingh room. He explained what the cops told him – someone broke in, it seemed whoever it was was looking for something. Some parts of the house needed reconstructing. “No one must go out from now on ecept when necessary.” He had concluded his speech. They had all frowned. That was not what they were expecting
Thinking about it made her furious. She took a swig of her soda, as the door opned. Sadiq, Madina, Khadija, Suleiman, and Halima flooded the room. Each carried a worrying look. “Is out outing now cancelled?” Khadija broke the silence.
“Who is even thinking about outing? We are in danger.” Sadiq replie,d in a harsh tone.
Madina chewed on her bottom lip. “Whoever could have done this...” She said alomt to herelf.
“Guys, I think someone Is messing with us. No big deal.”
“Ha. No big deal, Suleiman? Someone broke in...”
“exacrly. They just broke in. they didn’t take anything..”
“Whatever. The point is that they destroyed the place and that’s it. we just need to be careful and watch our surroundings. That’s it.”
“yeah. That’s it. you make it sound like childs play. Ugh.”
At that moment, the door shoved open, Aliyu walking in. hads akimbo, he annnunced, “Dad has called the workers. Theyre gling to install security equipments and more wirings first thing tomorrow moring.”
Whoever did this probably wanted this to happen. The question was who was thi? Was it someone they know? Or a random psyho that had deided to target them? Did they mean them harm/ or was it st a sort of joke. A sudden thought struck her. She felt the saliva dry in her mouth. “guys, what if whoever this Is, is doing it on purpose?”
“to mmake us shitscared?” Suleiman laughed.
“Well, yes. They left the door open right? And its obvious they has a key. There were no signs of the door forced open. And everywhere else was locked. So whoever this is, left the door open.” Ameena replied.
Sadiq tsked, “that means, they want us to know they have a key and they can come in at any time.”
“Oh no.” Madina murmured, colour draining from her face.