The whole apartment was trashed. The sofa was moved to the wall behind it, my stool was on turned over on the ground. A little cupboard that was made for kitchen ingredients, was thrown across the floor wide open, some spices spread across the floor.
I slowly made my way to the kitchen. I looked around and my heart clenched in pain. There were kitchen utensils and plates scattered on the floor, some broken and others still whole. My gas cooker and cylinder were nowhere to be found. The liquid dish soap was on the floor under the sink.
At this point, I didn’t even want to go into our bedroom to even look at what had been done there. Judging by the kitchen and living room, it was going to be a total mess. I slowly pushed open the bedroom door and true to my assumptions, it was like a hurricane occurred inside the bedroom.
I didn’t have much but however, did this made it look like I had so much with all the clothes strewed across the floor. My black suitcase was placed upside down near the foot of the bed, my mattress was on the other side of the room. Zozo’s birth certificate along with some other files were scattered at the front of my room just before my feet.
“Who would do this to me?” I muttered to myself as I crossed over the files and into the room.
I didn’t even know where to start from, what to pick up first or even tell what was missing. I felt so overwhelmed with emotions, I just stood in the middle of the room with tears sliding down my face, looking at the mess that was made.
I heard Noah’s voice from the living room. He was speaking to someone on the phone, I couldn’t make out what he was saying neither did I want to. My mind was too scrambled to even think properly.
The company files!!
I quickly rushed over to the wardrobe where I had kept the files. I flung the wardrobe open, some of the clothes that I had neatly hung on the iron rail were laying on the first board. I flung all the clothes on the board unto the floor as I searched frantically for the bag with the files.
Oh my God!! No, No, No.
My heart rammed within my chest. I couldn’t lose those files, it could cost me my job. My chest almost exploded when I cleared the first board and found nothing. My eyes roamed the second board that I used it to keep Zozo’s clothes and kid products. I noticed that they didn’t really go through her things when they noticed it was a child’s clothes. Zozo’s suitcase was only zipped open but that was all. The floor section of the wardrobe was where I kept our shoes, so I didn’t bother looking there.
I got on my knees throwing the clothes and body products out of my way. I sighted my black bag in a corner by the wall. I rushed to the bag and the files were the first thing I saw.
“Oh thank God” I placed my hand over my chest.
“The police are on their way” Noah stepped into the room with Zozo still in his arms.
“Yeah. I called my mom and she made some calls to a high police official she knows. They are sending some police officers over here” he explained.
I nodded mindlessly as I turned my focus to the disaster around me.
“Hey” I felt his arm wrap around me from behind. “I’m here for you”
I turned to face him and then wrapped my arms around him, resting my head on his chest. I just wanted to feel safe and at ease, and I could only feel that in his arms.
I felt Zozo squirm in his arm and I quickly wiped my tear stains. She slowly lifted her head up from Noah’s shoulder and her eyes met with mine. She immediately reached for me and I took her in my arms. She wrapped her arms around my neck and leaned on me, it was like she could feel my pain and immediately wanted to console me.
Loud sirens filled the air the next second and it got louder the closer it got. I heard the police van pull into the compound, after a couple of seconds the sirens went off. Noah walked ahead of me to the front door to meet with the policemen.
A tall, dark and muscly man in an all-black uniform walked up to us. Two other men in light blue and black uniforms walked up behind him; One of them had them was average heighted and leanly built. The other man was short and stout.
“Yes” Noah said firmly.
“I’m Inspector Aliyu Garba” The man in black said with outstretched hands.
Noah took the hand in a brief and firm shake. “Noah Wilson”
Inspector Aliyu turned to the two officers behind him. “These are my subordinates”
“Officer Chinedu” he pointed to the lean officer. “And Officer Solomon” he said pointing to the short officer
They nodded their heads in greeting and we returned to the gesture.
Noah turned to me. “This is my girlfriend Ijeoma and it’s her apartment that was broken into”
We all walked into the apartment and the policemen spread out looking around the whole place. Officer Chinedu was holding a small jotter and pen, he scribbled a few things into his jotter as he walked out of the kitchen. Noah and I stood in the middle of the apartment, watching as they moved about.
After they were done with inspecting the whole apartment, they walked back to us with the inspector in the lead.
“Is anything missing?” Inspector Aliyu asked in his heavy Hausa accent. (Hausa- One of the major tribes in Nigeria)
“I don’t really know. My gas cooker and cylinder are missing but other than I can’t really tell... as you can see, the whole place is a mess” I said in a soft tone.
Officer Chinedu jotted down a few things as I spoke.
Officer Solomon nursed a stoic expression on his face. He had his chest buffed out and his hands lodged in his pockets as he observed the surrounding.
“Oga, this na small matter nah. Only gas cooker and cylinder dem carry, all this things we dey do no necessary” Officer Solomon said in a nonchalant tone. (Sir, this is a small issue. It was only her gas cooker and cylinder that was taken. All this questioning is not necessary)
If I said that was he said was in the least bit surprising, I would be lying. Most of the policemen in this country didn’t take anything seriously until someone was badly hurt, injured or worse. Everything about the security sector in the country needed a huge turnaround.
“What do you mean by it’s a small matter? Can’t you see how thrashed this apartment is? My girlfriend lives here with her daughter... a two year old daughter” Noah raised his voice in anger. “Do you know what would’ve happened to them if they were in, at the time of the break in?”
“Sir, please calm down” Inspector Aliyu said to Noah before turning around to caution Officer Solomon.
“Sorry, sir” Officer Solomon said to Noah, clearly surprised by his outburst.
Inspector Aliyu cleared his throat. “This looks to me like a petty robbery. Whoever did this must have been looking for something valuable to steal and when they couldn’t find anything, they grabbed whatever they could. That explains the missing gas cooker and cylinder.”
“Why would they think I have something valuable in my apartment” I said more to myself than them.
“Well... judging by the type of area you live in and the kind of car your boyfriend drives, it’s plausible for people to think you might have something of value inside your apartment” Inspector Aliyu said
I slightly nodded my head in understanding.
“There’s nothing we can actually do here. Although, we would keep an eye on the area but that’s all” Inspector Aliyu concluded.
“Thank you so much for coming down here” Noah gave the Inspector a firm hand shake.
“No problem. We’ll take our leave now” Inspector Aliyu said before stepping out with the two other policemen.
Noah walked out with the policemen to see them off to their van. I gently placed Zozo down on the sofa and then began to clear up the living room.
“What are you doing?” I heard Noah say from behind me
“Clearing up this mess” I said not bothering to turn around
“No, stop that. You guys are not staying here” he said
I turned around to face him. “What do you mean by ‘we are not staying here’?”
“Exactly what it means. I’m not going let you guys stay here, you guys are moving in with me” Noah said
“No, we are not” I said. “I’ll get someone to fix the locks but we are not moving”
“Well, for one. Moving in with you is against my nature. Two, a lot of things need to be considered before making such a move, Zozo’s school schedule for example.” I gesticulated with my hands, moving to and fro. “Her school bus picks her up by 7:00am and drops her by 2:30pm while I’m at work and she stays with my neighbor till I get back. Who is going to take care of her wh—”
“Can you shut up for a second and REALLY listen to me” Noah interjected as he held me in place by placing his hands on both sides of my shoulder.
I exhaled deeply and nodded.
“If this whole thing is partly my fault, then I won’t be able to sleep knowing that you guys might be in inherent danger. So I want you to go in there and pick all the stuff you and Zozo will need. We’ll figure out the rest later. Okay?” He stated
I nodded slowly. “Okay”
I walked into the room Zozo and I shared or used to share at this point. I grabbed my black suitcase, placed in on the bed frame and began to pack all my stuff.
Two suitcases and a small portable bag later, we were standing outside my apartment. Noah was busy placing our bags into the boot of his car while I was saying my goodbyes to Mr. and Mrs. Okafor. They had really been God sent, helping with Zozo while I worked. I could never forget them for how good they had been to me.
“It’s for the best, my dear” Mrs. Okafor said as she hugged me.
“Thank you so much, ma... for everything” I said in her embrace
“No problem. It was out of my heart” she said as we pulled apart.
I nodded in agreement.
She picked Zozo up. “I’ll miss you oo”
I left her with Zozo and walked up to Noah. “Are we set?”
“Yeah. Everything is in the car” he nodded.
“I just hope I’m not forgetting anything” I muttered to myself as I looked over to my apartment.
It was a bittersweet feeling. In as much as the apartment was small and the neighbourhood was crappy, it was my home. It housed me for close to two years after I had moved from Lagos state, it was a place I called my own, a place I rested my head after a tedious day at work. I would miss this place... a little bit.
“We can always come back for anything you forget” Noah said
I nodded. “Okay”
With one more round of embrace between us and the Okafors, we set out to Noah’s place.
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