At the bank, Nicole, the lady they had come to see, was not in the building but she had left a message for them to wait, so Abel and Santos sat and waited in the banking hall.
It was one of the new generation banks and Abel had once read that they were called “boutique banks.”
Architectural masterpieces, their decor were always top notch and walking into the banking halls one had the feeling of walking into a 5 star hotel on the island.
Abel could still remember the days of Progress Bank and Savannah bank, when the big banks were just First and Union.
In those days, a bank wasn’t a fun place to be. It was a place you went to when you were sure there was nothing urgent because you almost always ended up spending the whole day there.
Now, it was all different and sitting in the banking hall and looking at the pretty, well-turned-out girls manning the booths, you didn’t feel like going anywhere in a hurry.
A booth was free and the pretty girl in the counter motioned at Abel as if to say “hey, I am free.”
Abel smiled and waved to say no, I am not here to withdraw or make a deposit.
His phone vibrated and he dug in his pocket to fish it out. It was a text message from Calista.
“Hey Mister Okolo, r u still coming 2 Alausa?”
“Do u want to see me?”
“sure, silly, where r u @”
“In ikeja. Waiting at the bank to see my broter’s account officer.”
“Haven’t met her before. Why do you ask?”
Curious? Remember what killed d cat?”
‘yes. Buzz when u r done. Got news 4 u.”
By the time Abel put his phone off and looked up a scene was playing out.
“You know me, abi? Don’t you know me?”
A thick set woman in jeans and tee shirt was standing in front of the pretty Customer Care Officer and there was an electric air of menace around her. Her voice was loud and her gestures were aggressive.
The girl was sitting down but you could see there was fear in her eyes and she wanted to be anywhere but there.
“How may I help you, ma?” She asked again and the woman slapped her.
It was a hard hitting slap that knocked her off her seat.
“You have helped me enough. Ashawo. You have helped me enough by fucking my husband, you prostitute.”
The woman was screaming now and towering over the girl who was crying.
“Security. Call security,” someone yelled just as Abel sprang to his feet and walked towards her.
“Madam,’ he said reaching out to touch the woman who whirled round and gave him a withering look.
“Oga, mind your business,” she said and reached for the bag she had dropped on the table.
Abel stepped back, thinking that it was all done and from the corner of his eyes he could see two security men approaching.
What happened next would stay imprinted on his mind for ever.
The woman picked up the bag, pulled out a yellow plastic container, unscrewed the cap and threw the contents at the young woman who was struggling to get up from the floor.
“Acid!” Abel heard someone scream as the girl cried out but it was not acid. It was something worse, something more shameful, something more atavistic, a throwback to an ancient shaming ritual; she had bathed the young woman with shit.
The banking hall was a mad house. The stink was suffocating and the security men couldn’t approach as she brandished the container like a weapon.
It was a sight to behold. The guards shouting at her to drop it, the young girl screaming as she tore her clothes off, the woman cursing and raging with righteous indignation, her tirade punctuated with screams of Ashawo as if it were the refrain to a very angry song.
Finally a mobile police officer entered with a gun and threatened to shoot. That was when she let the container drop as she broke down in tears.
“Bros na wa o,” Santos kept saying when he finally found his tongue. “See as dat woman just crase. Kai, e no good for woman to love man too much o, haba!”