I think the word ‘stalking’ implies that you’re not supposed to like it. Otherwise, it would be called ‘fluffy harmless observation time’. When someone is stalking you because they think you are stalking them, it makes you wonder who really the true stalker is.
Often you don’t know whether you’re the hero from a romantic comedy, some low budget Nollywood movie or the villain on some Hollywood movie until danger arrives and knocks on your door.
And what are you going to do then? Are you going to live in the dark, locked in your bedroom, afraid to look out? Are you going to answer the door? Or uproot yourself and leave? Yes, he’s out there, and he’s clearly not going to leave you alone until one of three things happens: he hurts you and gets arrested, or he makes a mistake and gets arrested, or you stop him.
If you have never stalked someone close to you, I highly recommend it. Check out how it transforms them. How they become, and how infinitely necessary and justified the stalking becomes when you realize how little you know about them, how mysterious every aspect of them seems at a distance but with close examination.
Stalking is fun.
Now where was I?
Jovi’s cell phone rang. He hesitated, most likely because he hadn’t known what to expect.
“Go on, pick up the phone,” Bankole urged him.
“Hello…” Jovi answered when he finally did. His mind had been too muddled up to see whose name was showing on the phone’s screen.
“Oh, hello, sir.” Alice voice spilled from the phone’s speaker into his ear. “I’m sorry I’m taking so long. There’s traffic at Lekki toll gate o. I hope the photographer is not around yet?”
Jovi felt the sigh of relief rush out of him before he could stop himself.
Instantly, Alice knew something was up. “Is everything okay?”
“Um… Yes. Yeah, everything is fine. Just get back here soon.”
Jovi’s cell phone rang immediately after he put the phone down on the table, catching the two occupants in the room by surprise like an electric shock. Unlike when Alice called and he hadn’t checked to see who was the caller, Jovi glanced at the caller display window. The caller ID was blocked.
“Hello, Jovi.” The raspy voice of the caller was definitely male, his tone calm.
The way Jovi flickered his gaze at Bankole suppressed the need for words. “What can I do for you?” He tried not to let his fear spill into his voice.
“Well for starters, put me on speaker.”
With a shaky hand, Jovi switched the call function to speaker.
“Good. Hello, Bankole.”
Bankole cleared his throat and moved to stand beside his business partner. “I’m sorry, we didn’t catch your na –”
“This isn’t a conversation, mister,” the caller interrupted him. His voice was still calm, silky. “You’ll shut up and listen.”
Bankole and Jovi shared a quick look and were silent. With the videos they had both received, and the caller’s tone of voice, they knew dismissing the call as a prank would be a mistake.
“You’re probably wondering how I got this number.” Without waiting for a response, the caller laughed. “Information, information, people. It’s all out there. You just have to know how to get it. But guess what?” There was a hint of amusement in his voice.
“You want to tell us your name?” Bankole said.
The caller gave a more animated laugh this time. “Not quite, but I do have something for you.”
They stayed quiet.
“I’m assuming your laptop is in front of you, Jovi,” the caller said. “And it is connected to the Internet?”
“Y-yes, it is.”
The pause was pregnant with anxiety.
“Good. You’ll type the address I’m about to give you into the address bar. Ready?”
Bankole looked at Jovi. Jovi stared at his laptop screen.
“Are you ready?” the caller reiterated. “Trust me, you’ll want to see this.”
“I am ready,” Jovi husked.
“Very well. Type in Karmanemesis dot com.”
Jovi did. When the page loaded, there was nothing on the screen. It was completely dark. He checked the web address again to see if he had mistyped it. He hadn’t. The laptop screen flickered just once before the darkness dissipated from the screen.
“Are you online?” The caller’s voice was filled with mocking amusement. “Because what you’re about to see will be of utmost interest to you two.”
As images took form on the screen, confusion edged its way onto Jovi’s face. What he was looking at seemed like a live broadcast in daytime at a mall. The mall looked very familiar. The camera was moving with the crowd, sailing along like nothing was wrong in the world, as if handled by a professional filming for the nine o’clock news.
There were people everywhere. Mostly young adults, dressed in different outfits. Some were in a queue at the sharwama stand, some leaving stalls with bags of what they’d purchased, others holding hands while some were seated and having lunch.
It was hard to tell, as the camera angle was straight and narrow, like a tunnel vision. Both Jovi and Bankole could see people coming and walking past the camera, but the peripheral vision was blurred.
“Are you still there?”
“We are,” Jovi answered.
“Isn’t it a great city we live in? The mall is always full. Anytime, any day.”
Neither of them answered him.
“And as you well know, Lagos has its downsides too, what with people rushing off somewhere, occupied with their problems, obsessions, loved ones and thoughts. Sometimes, too busy to notice what other people are doing around them. I mean, no one is looking at me right now to notice that I’m filming them. No one cares for the other person. We aren’t our brothers’ keeper in this country. Nigeria. Giant of Africa. How pathetic.”
“Well, if you feel so strongly about being your brother’s keeper, why not tell us your name, why you’re filming these people and why the hell you’ve got us watching with you?!” Jovi’s busness partner snapped.
“Ah, Bankole Ajayi, I presume?” The caller laughed. “I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. You’ve got to have patience, man. It’s not like you have any though, since you decided to cheat on your wife of thirteen years when she couldn’t give you a child. Michael – isn’t that the name of your two-year-old son? The son you and your wife’s sister have together? I wonder what her husband will say about this.”
For the first time since entering Jovi’s office, Bankole’s stoic demeanour shattered. He’d come in here prepared to eviscerate his partner, with all the outrage of one who knew his own secrets were under lock and key.
“Cat got your tongue?” A laugh came through the phone’s speaker. Considering how he was bringing down the worlds of the men in the office, the laugh was entirely without malice. “Now, keep quiet or I’ll let your wife know of your two-time homosexual experience with your nephew.”
This was news to Jovi as he turned to stare at the man who’d walked over to the chair on the other side of the desk and slumped into it.
“Please, what do you want?” Jovi’s voice cracked a bit.
“Patience, Jovi. I know you’re known for that.”
A woman was walking slowly with her teenage son, coming straight toward the camera. They both moved left, stepping out of the way.
Inside Jovi’s office, the world stopped moving.
Standing in direct line with the camera, about fifteen feet away were two people Jovi knew. Two people he’d been intimate with. One of them, he was cheating on me with.
The other person was me.
Written by Vhar