Shattered, I walk into the main building. I cannot believe my eyes. Lanre? Smoking? Not just cigarrettes but something wrapped up in a white paper. I am not so exposed but without an iota of doubt, I know that must be weed. I’m not that naive. I can still perceive the pungent smell minutes after I have left the back of the school building where I found Lanre, with the rest of his gang smoking, gambling and drinking.

We were dressed the same as kids

Here was my twin brother now rolling with the gang members of campus. We have always been so close though never doing everything together. We were from a very close knit family. I was the more boisterous of the two of us. Lanre was a generally quiet person. He kept to himself a lot. He got along well with our parents and with people. He hardly argued with them but would always do exactly what was on his mind.  I, on the other hand, would fight, shout, argue and make sure I made it clear when I disapproved. He would always ask me, ‘Femi, why you dey disturb yourself dey follow dem argue?’

He was the smiley and cute one

Because of his cute and innocent looks and his amenable disposition, he was never suspected when things went wrong in the house. Whenever there was a problem, mom would scream, ‘FEMI, what have you done again?!’ She automatically attributed all the blame to me and that is how Lanre and I have lived our 21 years on earth. I knew him so well. I knew he had a strong heart that could handle much more than his face gave away but I never believed it when I started seeing signs that he had become a gang member.

Lanre had become worse since we enrolled in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) in Ogbomosho in 2009. He has always had latent tendencies to be unruly and headstrong. Despite the fact that I’m no saint, he constantly makes me appear so in comparison to the magnitude of his atrocities. His gang was not the typical secret cult. No. They were involved in fraudulent activities ranging from Yahoo Yahoo to credit card fraud to drug smuggling abroad. It was a very well organised gang. They were a minute piece of a very big puzzle and I heard rumours that they worked for Chief Philip Nduka. Philip Nduka is one of the richest men in the country. He has several companies and businesses but most people know that these businesses are just a front for the main thing he does which is 419.

The saddest part of the story is that in order to join this gang, they make you swear, take blood oaths and peform all other rituals. I shudder to think that this is the depth to which Lanre, my own blood has sunk, all in a bid to become rich, famous and powerful. What happened to all the training we got as children? What happened to all the Sunday School? What happened to the good upbringing we had.

As I walk into Malomo Hall and into the room I share with Femi and 8 other guys, the tears flow freely down my cheeks. I see people cast puzzled glances at me, wondering what is wrong. For the first time in a while, I am actually scared. It is as though I have lost my brother. He is a different person now. Seeing him smoke that stick confirmed all my worst fears about him.

Lanre, why?!

***

It has been 6 months since I caught Lanre with his fellow hooligans. He has since moved out of our campus room and gone on to live with some of his friends in town. I begged and begged him not to. As I begged, I knew it was of no use. There was this strong resolute look I saw in his eyes  and that look told me, ‘Femi, abeg don’t waste your breath. I’ve got my mind made up and I won’t turn back’. I was weak. I knew Lanre would limit his wrongdoings here on campus but living with fellow gang members off campus gave him the freedom to do as he wished. I was so sad about it. I hated to be the snitch but I badly wanted to pick up my phone and call our mom and tell her all I knew. Yes mom, not dad.

My mom is a rugged woman. Very strong. Way stronger than my dad whose soft heart won’t be able to take such news well. I dwelled on the thought for a few minutes as I watched Lanre throw in the last one of his shirts into his brown leather Samsonite box. Lanre and I were the only sons of our parents. Our 19 year old sister, Ariyike nicknamed Mami by the entire family took after my dad with her tender heart. I couldn’t tell her either. So I just stood there as he dragged the box and shut the door behind him.

This is not the brother I knew. We were not your average outwardly close twins but we shared a very deep and strong bond which cannot be explained. Lanre was not a fighter. He is a very calm person yet I remember vividly that day in JSS 3 when he had fought for me back in FGC, Ijanikin when I was being bullied by some seniors. He fought like a lunatic that day. Even I was shocked. We don’t go everywhere together but we were very ‘together’. We lived together. We could tell each other everything. We would talk for hours in our room back home every night whilst everyone else was asleep. My parents were always puzzled at what we had to discuss every single night. But that was how we were. Brothers. Friends. Twins.

I am not exactly a religious person but Titi, the girl on whom my eyes were on campus had advised that I pray and fast about Lanre. She had even taken me to see her Pastor, Pastor Eugene Ayobami, in Molete, Ibadan about 1 hour 30 minutes from Ogbomosho. Pastor Eugene advised that I become born again and begin some special prayer sessions.

‘Femi, ko si nkan ti Olorun oleshe’ (there’s nothing God cannot do), he said.

‘Adura lopa Kristiani, a oma gbadura lo in’ (Prayer is the battle axe of the Christian, we shall carry on praying).

I knelt down as he prayed and prayed, drifting from Yoruba to English to some deep Oyo Yoruba and then back to English. I said ‘Amin’ with my whole heart. Anything for Lanre. I can’t see him go down and do nothing. Pastor Eugene nicely offered to drop myself and Titi at the bus park where we would get a public taxi back to Ogbomosho. We entered his blue 504 which took forever to start up. Eventually, it responded to his kicking and we arrived at the park in Oluyole, Ibadan.

As we entered the taxi with 8 other passengers, Titi held my hands and smiled at me. ‘Femi, don’t worry, Lanre will change’. I smiled back wistfully, hoping she was right. The journey was long. The taxi was hot with all sorts of body odours emanating from it. The driver looked like an Alfa (muslim cleric) with his white cap and fairly long beard. He had Fatai Rolling Dollar’s Won Kere Si Number Wa blaring out of the rickety looking radio. I had bought LaCasera and Gala for myself and Titi from the hawkers in the park for the journey and were now happily munching away, lost in our individual thoughts. Twenty five minutes into the taxi ride, the car broke down. After about 15 minutes, a bit of pushing, putting some water in the radiator and checking on the carburetor, it had been revived agan. Titi had fallen asleep beside me and had placed her head on my shoulder.

She was so fun and happy

She was so beautiful. Very upbeat and happy go lucky. Not your average pretty girl. She had a small mouth, pimpled face and wide bushy eye brows. I smile as I remember when her room mate had begged her to get those brows shapened. I kind of liked them like that. She was very petite, couldn’t be an inch past 5 4′. She was dark skinned and had beautiful small nails, not long at all and not too short. Just perfect and very well groomed. She had an extra piercing on her upper left ear which I thought showed her wild side though she always denied its existence. I’m guessing she must be a size 8. Her hips were very well rounded but she had a small waist. Her legs were ever so slightly bow and I loved seeing her in skinny jeans and extremely high heels. Her body was made for skinny jeans and heels. Amazing!

All in all, I found her very attractive. She was a natural beauty, only putting on make up on Sundays to Church. She was fun too. Always helping me take my mind off Lanre’s wahala. She showed signs of liking me too though she was still in the ‘playing-hard-to-get’ phase. She was wise enough however not to let that hinder her introducing me to someone she believed could help Lanre. I must have slept off, laying my head on Titi’s as I thought about her.

***

The shrill sound of my ring tone woke me…and Titi up. I struggled to get the small Nokia phone out of my pocket and narrowly managed not to  miss the call.

‘Hello’, I said.

‘Good afternoon, is that Femi Oludara’, the female voice asked. She clearly was not Yoruba given the way she pronounced my name.

‘Yes, this is he’, I responded.

‘Well, Femi, Lanre your brother is in Ogbomosho Central Hospital and is being treated for stab wounds and two bullet wounds. His friends asked us to call you. I’m really sorry’.

An instant migraine developed on my right forehead and I struggled to remain coherent. ‘Erm, please, ple..please is he alive? Will he survive? Please ma please tell me’.

‘All we can do is pray, Femi. Come over as soon as you can and contact your family too. We, here will do our very best. See you’. And then I heard the beep sound as the line went dead. By now, the migraine had developed into a full blown headache that had spread throughout my entire head. Sweat beads had formed on my head as well as I looked lost at Titi.

Titi said not one word to me. She held my two hands and right there in taxi began to pray out loud. Every single person joined in and began to say ‘Amen’. Some even began to speak in tongues. I was struggling to be strong. But I am not Lanre. He is the strong one. Till we got to the park in Ogbomosho, I wept. I wept openly. I could not even join in to say ‘Amen’. Titi just kept praying for thirty minutes or so, non-stop.

As we got to the park, the driver urged everyone to get down and offered to take us to the hospital. People wished us well as we drove off. Upon arriving at the hospital, Titi handed over 3 hundred naira notes to pay the driver but he refused it and told us to run along. We thanked him and ran into the hospital.

‘Where is he?!’, I screamed. The receptionist looked lost. Titi calmly spoke to her. ‘Good afternoon ma. We are here to see Lanre Oludara. He was brought here today with stab and bullet wounds. Please where is he?’ We were taken to a room. On the door was written ‘Intensive Unit’ in red. As we stepped in, I saw several badly injured people. I scanned the beds for the one on which Lanre lay. There he was. His sides we heavily bandaged and yet, the red stains could be seen through the white cloth. He was unconscious. I went to his bedside and wept afresh. Even strong Titi could not hold back her tears as she prayed. He looked like he was beaten before being stabbed and shot. His lips were swollen. His eyes were bloodied and swollen too. He looked very bad.

‘Can I see you for a minute’ the doctor asked me. He led me into his office and I sat down as I braced myself for what was to come.

‘Things are not looking good, I must be honest. The stab wounds have caused various contusions and lacerations around his body. The perpetrator was ruthless. The bullet hit his left arm, his right side and his leg causing his tissues extensive damage. Blood and fluid have collected under his skin causing ecchymosis which is the discoloration you see as well as edema, that is the excessive swelling and pain as you can imagine. There is also internal bleeding…’He went on and on. My tears flowed and flowed. But I was not sobbing. Neither was I listening. I was praying.

He interrupted my inward prayers. ‘Have you notified your parents?’ ‘No sir’, I reply. ‘Please do so immediately. It is only right that they are aware of what is going on. Keep praying. God is a Healer’.

I know God is a Healer but when a doctor tells you to pray, it gives you reason to fear. It means they realise it is getting beyond their powers. As I leave his room, I scroll through my phone book and go past ‘Papi’ to ‘Pastor Eugene’. I told him what was going on. As usual, he tells me to be strong and that he will commence fasting and praying for Lanre. At this point, I knew I had to call my parents. I sum up all my courage and strength and ring my mom.

‘Ekasan ma'(good afternoon ma)

‘Ah Femo, how far?’, my ever funky mom asked. Within a split second, she could tell something was wrong.

‘Femi? Femi?!’, she shouts.

I am there but totally silent. I had no words.

‘Femi, please what’s going on? Femi!’

‘Mom, it’s La..nre’, I stammered.

‘Kiloshele si Lanre?’ (Whats’ wrong with Lanre?)

‘He had an accident’, I reply. How could I tell her he got stabbed and shot? Who gets stabbed and shot?

‘OLUWA OOO!!!’ She screamed.

After a few minutes, I hung up. I had given her a modified account of what happened. She and dad were now driving down from Lagos and would be with us shortly. It was Saturday night so the driver had gone home. Knowing my soldier of a mom, she would have driven down herself but I managed to convince her to call our family friend to give us their live-in driver, Mukaila, to drive her. It was Mukaila who was now driving them down this night. After speaking with mom, I was relieved. It felt good to know they were on their way.

I went back into the Intensive Unit Ward where Titi was with Lanre. She seemed to have gone tired and was sitting with her face in her palms. She jumped up as she heard me walk in. I narrated what the doctor said and told her my parents were now on their way. Together we watched Lanre. Praying, looking at each other, lost in thoughts and then praying some more.

At about 1 am, my parents arrived at the hospital. It was just 10 minutes after they walked in that Lanre started panting and breathing heavily. In panic, Titi and I screamed, calling out, ‘nurse! nurse!! doctor!!!’. The doctor and three nurses ran in after a short while and shoved us all out of the room despite our pleas.

At the lobby, my dad was seated on the floor sobbing uncontrollably, so was I. My mom was pacing about, untying and retying her wrapper. Titi was knelt down praying in tears. Titi had organised some of her House on the Rock campus fellowship people to come over. We could hear them praying loudly.

‘Lanre, you shall not die! The devil has no right over your body! Your parents shall not bury you! With your two legs, you shall walk out of this hospital! You are made whole!’

I said ‘amen’ in my heart but wept outwardly.

‘God please save Lanre’, I prayed. God please, this last request and I will become fully born again. I will preach sef. God please’, I wept.

After about 3 hours of agony and anticipation and tears, the doctor walked briskly towards us. Upon a quick scan of the scene before him, he realised rightly that my mom what who to approach.

‘Ma’, he began.

By this time, I had used my hands to block my ears. His eyes gave the news already. I could not bear to hear him say the words.

‘After trying and struggling, we were able to revive him. He is now stable’. It was Titi’s shout and joyful leap that made me realise that it was good news indeed.

In glee, I jumped on the doctor, giving him a bear hug. So did my dad after which we composed ourselves.

We all came together and wept aloud thanking Jesus for saving Lanre’s life.

***

It has been 6 months since the incident. Lanre was transfered to UCH, Ibadan three days after we received the good news. He was still kept in the intensive unit for another 3 weeks before being moved to LUTH, Lagos so that he could be close to home. After 2 months and 3 weeks of being in LUTH, he was discharged, almost as good as new.

That’s just Part I of the good news. The greater news is that what Pastor Eugene and Titi told me all that while was true. Lanre is now born again! As in, not my own kind of born again that still goes for parties oh. Lanre is now a brother. He gave his life to Christ in UCH where Pastor Eugene used to visit him almost everyday. He underwent a deliverance programme and renounced his group. Thankfully, he had not performed the final stage of initiation which is the blood oath, though even that would have been broken by the overriding Blood of Jesus.

Mom and dad decided to have him transfered to a private university and he is starting with the next set of Covenant University. After pleading and writing extensive tests, he was permitted to join them in second year which means he will only miss one year.

Titi and I will be celelebrating our 2 month anniversary tomorrow. Yes oh, she fronted for long but it was well worth the wait. I know beyond any iota of doubt that it is she that I have been made for. She is perfect for me and she gets along so well with mom, Papi and Mami who finally convinced her to thread her eye brows. I miss the bushy brows.

I hope this encourages anyone who has a ‘bad sheep’ in their home. It could be your dad who drinks and hits your mom, it could be like me, your gang loving brother, it could be your beloved sister who sleeps around. Whoever it is, God can change them. Don’t tire of praying for them. But please, don’t cover up like me, tell someone. There’s nothing difficult for God. He does not want any sinner to die in sin. He loves sinners but loathes their sins. If he could change Saul that was persecuting the saints and made him into Paul who wrote all those great books of the Bible, if he could change Paul Adefarasin from a druggie to a renowned preacher who organises great crusades like The Experience, if he could change Lanre who is now a full time preacher to be, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD OH! Hold on to him.

The only issue I have now is fulfilling my vow to God to become a preacher, lol. At least I have started with this my testimony. Like TESCO, every little helps.

NB: I have been posting frequently these days and am very proud of myself. The truth is that I might be going quieter from next week so I thought to milk myself for now.

That’s all folks (for now)

Temiville.xoxo

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