Night time had fallen and a still silence pervaded the atmosphere. Three figures emerged from a bush path; Victor, a dark complexioned man with an afro led the way, cutting through the thick shrubs with his cutlass. His steps were slow and he swayed as though he had had too much alcohol to drink. A short potbellied man, clutching a briefcase and an elderly, fair complexioned woman walked side by side behind him. They stopped in front of a ramshackled house, fenced with a small white gate that had been securely locked with a chain and padlock.
‘This is the place,’ Victor announced. He pulled out a bunch of keys, unlocked the chain and swung the gate open. The three of them stepped into the compound.
‘Where are they?’ The short potbellied man asked.
Victor let out a shrill whistle that sent chills down the woman’s spine. He made some strange clicking noises with his tongue and then all was quiet as they waited.
Finally, the sound of approaching footsteps was heard in the distance. The trio looked up to see a woman in her mid-thirties coming out of the small shack accompanied by two little girls. She held one of them by the left hand and carried the other with her right. Both girls were barely six years old. Their eyes were red and heavy, like they had just been woken up from sleep. The woman paused at the door and looked unsurely at the visitors.
‘Come closer,’ Victor beckoned and she obediently fell into step beside him, drops of sweat trickling slowly down her face. A faint greeting escaped her lips and the strangers grunted in reply. The elderly woman stepped forward and took the children from her. She tried to set the second girl down on her feet but the girl limped and couldn’t stand up straight so the woman carried her again.
The pot bellied man opened his briefcase to reveal bundles of crisp naira notes arranged neatly together. Victor inspected the bundles carefully. Nodding in satisfaction, he closed the case and took it.
Without any goodbyes, the potbellied man and elderly woman turned and went out as silently as they had come, taking the children with them. The little girls looked terrified, fear written all over their drowsy faces but Mama had warned them to be very quiet so they held unto their wafers and made no sound as the strangers led them away.