The walk to the stream is quick, like someone is on my trail. I shut out the voices in my head and pull the face cap closer. I shove my hands in my pocket and reach my upstream area when it’s still dark. The stream is quiet. This way, I can’t miss anyone’s approach.
I pull out my handset from my pocket, and use its light to survey the area. I notice a track that leads to where Bisi stood last Saturday. I follow it a little and realize it’s quite close to the village. If she’d come that way, she’d have stopped before getting to where I lay and if she’s not observant or never imagined anyone there, she’d not have seen me.
I feel a little relief and hang my benefits of doubt on that. I’m relieved she’s not a loose girl who would take her bath on purpose knowing full well a man watched.
I find my way back to the spot I sat last week. It’s mean and dirty of me to wait and hope. At least, I’ve made a logical discovery about her virtues. Instead, I lower myself to the same spot as last week, and draw my face cap closer to my nose. It’s now proven beyond doubt I am a shameless man but no one needs to know that.
It’s not yet 5a.m and I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait before she shows up, if she does. But I’m a patient man and considering the torture I’ve been through in the past few days, an hour or less is not a bad wait.
Some girls arrive the down side of the stream first, and make a lot of noise, swimming, jumping in and out of the shallower part. I lay on my back and wait, my heart beating so hard, I fear it will give me away. I don’t even know if this is her Saturday ritual. I only hope.
I feel dirty, and stupid. And horny.
I hear her voice before I see her. “Stay there. I’m coming,” she says in her dialect.
I ease myself to a sitting position and see her. Glorious evil, she’s facing me now. I bite my lips. She can so easily see me. And she seems closer. It also means I will see her front view, and with darkness lifting…I break out in sweat.
She turns away, and unties a big scarf of clothes. She makes small talk with the person she came with, and starts to wash. It’s boring to watch her wash but I endure. She will have her bath afterward.
My wait is not long. She packs the washed clothes into another scarf she earlier folded on the ground, and begins to undress. She’s a sight to watch. My heart beats rapidly. I swallow to ease my dry throat. She’s so beautiful. I can’t find the words to describe her.
It’s worse, and better that she stands sideways almost to my full glare. I can see her bosom and oh my, clothes don’t flatter her half as much as her natural endowments.
She rubs the local cheap ‘soda’ soap on her body, and soon, she’s covered in white foam.
Then my cheap ‘china’ phone rings.
In the dead quiet of the environment, it is an alarm.
Bisi turns toward my direction and screams. “Thief, thief!”
The person she was conversing with raises his voice, a male voice. “Where?”
She comes to bath with a man? Anger mingles with the fear clutched in my stomach. But right now, I need to escape. If I run through where I came from, it will be easy to see me and to know it’s me or one of the youth corpers. It will be easy to investigate. It will be too humiliating. Instead I tear into the bush and run.
Bisi continues to scream and I can hear her loudly. The man she is with runs after me. The thick brush makes getting away difficult and to my dismay, I have to clear the path for the person behind me. Adrenaline pushes me on though, and I continue to run like my life depends on it.
My phone stops ringing and then starts again. How could I have forgotten to put it in silent knowing I planned to stalk Bisi while she’s having a bath?
The man behind me throws a stone. It’s small but it catches the tip of my ear. The pain is excruciating but I cannot stop now. I don’t know where this bush leads to, or how close my assailant is. I lose breath but I keep running.
Another stone hits the back of my head and this time I trip and fall. I turn quickly and see no one. I crawl on my back and make to rise. But a third stone hits me between my eyes. The stoner shows up then, running. He’s not even a man but I can swear the voice I heard was deep and cracked.
He’s almost as fair as Bisi, and they have the same face. I know him from the school, Bisi’s younger brother, Ajao, in junior secondary year two. I have to admit the boy is a good target. He looks as shocked to see me as I am to see him.
He holds a bag of stones hung around his neck, a hunter indeed. I slouch on my elbows. What a shame!
His deep voice is low now. “Tisha.”
“Please, please don’t tell Bisi.”