Someone had stolen her delicious egusi soup, made with Shaki and kpomo and left the empty pot, again. This wasn’t the first time. In fact, they had stolen her food more than five times. Even when she managed to hide them in her cupboard and lock up, the thief somehow managed to crack open her lock and steal her food. She was beginning to get tired of this nonsense. She wasn’t the only one. A lot of girls were also complaining about thieves stealing their items. And these thieves were among them in the hostel, she knew it.
She was also quite aware that a lot of students receive little or no money from their parents. The economy was bad and it was affecting everyone. The hostel was beginning to look like a jungle. Survival of the fittest. Girls were stealing pure water, even pure water. Nawao, she shuddered.
The other time, someone stole her bucket of water. There had been a water scarcity. And after standing on the queue for more than four hours, she managed to fetch one bucket. Only for her to come back from lectures and her water was gone, including the bucket. She had to buy a bag of pure water to have her bath. As if that wasn’t enough, they stole half bag, leaving her the other half to manage.
“Babes, how far? You’re back already.” Brenda entered, smiling cheerfully.
She didn’t smile back. “Someone stole my egusi soup.”
“Again? Ah-ah, why now?”
“Are you asking me?” She replied, irritated.
“Why are you talking to me like this? Am I the one that stole your soup?” Brenda asked, defensively.
“I don’t know.”
“Wait, are you accusing me of stealing your soup?”
“Someone in this hall stole my soup. That’s what I know.”
Brenda stared at her, outraged. “Come Dera, if this is a joke, stop it. I don’t like it. How can you accuse me of stealing your soup, ordinary egusi o? Me that’s just entering.”
Her angry voice had attracted other girls. They were glancing around and talking.
“She said someone stole her soup.”
“Again? Nawao, someone cannot cook her soup and eat in peace in this hall.”
“God will catch that thief.”
Dera ignored them.
Three months later, she went to the ATM to withdraw some money to buy some compulsory text books and pay off some debts. There was a long queue. By the time it got to her turn, she was very dizzy from the hot sun and very pressed. She quickly made her withdrawal, jumped the nearest keke, got to her hostel, dumped her bag on her bed and ran to the toilet.
Done, she went back her to her corner and freshened up to go out again. Then she checked her bag. Fiam, the money was gone. She blinked and checked again. No money. Twenty whole thousand naira gone like that!
She realized she was screaming when the other girls gathered around her.
“Dera, what is it?”
“My money o! Jesus, my money o! It’s gone! It’s gone!”
“Twenty thousand naira! My last card.”
“Hey!” The girls exclaimed in shock.
“The way you people steal things in this hostel–” one girl was saying.
“Who is ‘you people” Another girl challenged. “Are you not living in this hostel?”
“At least I’m not a thief.”
“As if e dey show for face.”
“You dey craze…”
Dera cried her eyes out. No one could console her. She ran to the matron and reported. Later that night, the matron, a heavy set, middle aged, ‘radical for Jesus’ woman visited and gathered all the girls.
“I’ve been hearing that you girls steal any how in this hostel. But enough is enough. One of you stole Dera’s money. Don’t deny it because the thief is in this hostel. I won’t bother to tell the person to come out. But I give her twenty four hours to return the money or face the wrath of Almighty God!”
Dead silence everywhere. Everyone knew the woman meant what she said. She was a Pastor.
“Twenty four hours!” The matron continued, her voice booming like an avenging angel. “Or she shall continue stealing until you die in Jesus name!”
“Amen!” The girls echoed.
“Her family and the next generation will be useless and they shall die young!”
“If I be a woman of God, she will not live to see the New Year!”
“I curse anybody that has stolen something in this hostel, even a cup of water in this hostel in Jesus name!”
Nobody said Amen.
That night, stolen items started going back to their owners.
“I have seen my five thousand naira!”
“My Okro soup is back!”
“I’ve seen my pant and bra o!”
“My laptop! I’ve found my laptop!”
“I’ve found my Iphone 7!’
All the girls turned to prayer warriors. Everywhere you went, people were playing gospel songs and casting and binding.
The next day, Dera returned from lectures. Her twenty thousand naira was waiting for her on the bed.
“I’ve found it! I’ve found my money!” She squealed in excitement.
Brenda ran in and blinked at her in surprise.
“Oh, you’re back.”
“Yes, I’ve seen my money.”
“On the bed.”
Brenda smiled. “Thank God for you. Eh, are you hungry? I made Egusi with shaki and kpomo. Shebi Bible said we should be our sisters’ keeper.”