As narrated by Aara:
Did I really want to be driving through Bruma at 2am?
I acted tough but the truth was..I was scared as hell…I didn’t know what I was going to see or if anything bad would happen to me…I acted on impulse…one phonecall..from a person who didn’t identify herself…all she said was ” Nemo is in Bruma,up to no good” and mumbled an address and I was off!
It would be wrong to call Riza at this hour…buck up Aara…you can do this..
I took in a deep breath as I approached the address I had been given…hoping that it was a false alarm, but my heart sank when I saw Nemo’s golf parked outside.
I zipped up my jacket and put the knife I had once stolen from Sahal into my pocket and I stealthily approached the entrance. A big burly Nigerian man stood at the door.
Me: I’m with him (and I pointed to Nemo’s car)
He didn’t budge.
He still didn’t budge.
I took out a R200 note and offered it to him but he still didn’t budge!! I took out another one and this ass let me in!
I strained my eyes as I entered the room…it was so poorly lit and there were clouds of smoke all over. Where do I find you Nemo?
No one inside seemed to really notice me as I made my way past groups of scantily dressed girls and ONLY Nigerian men! Still no sign of him.
What if he wasn’t here and someone had stolen his car! Oh God why did I come here!
I turned around to leave when something caught my attention at the corner of my eye….I was about to face one of the most disappointing sights of my life…
I swallowed hard and walked towards Nemo…lying on a torn couch with something in his hand…and he was smoking it…and no it wasn’t a cigarette…His head was on a girls lap and he carried on smoking as though it were the last smoke he was ever going to have!
Me:(trying to hold back the anger building up inside me) Nemo…Nemo!!
Nemo: (squinting his eyes) heyyyyy Aaraaaa (and he tried to stand up but slumped back into the couch) come here babyyyy
Me: (trying to hold his hand) let’s go please…
Nemo: go where?
Me: home…let’s go home please
Nemo: why do you want to go home? Come on sit here (rubbing his eyes)
Me: we are going now!!
Nemo:(screaming at me) oh for heavens sake stop mothering me!!
Me: (tears building up in my eyes) please Nemo…please let’s go
Nemo: get lost
Me:(raising my voice) I am NOT leaving you here!!
Nemo ignored me and carried on smoking.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him up…but he jerked my hand away causing me to stumble backwards.
Nemo: go away!!! Nemo don’t do this Nemo don’t do that!! Why the hell can’t you just let me BE???
“Is there a problem?”
I turned around to face another big burly Nigerian.
Me: (plucking up all the courage I had left in me) there’s no problem…I just need to take him home…please
Man: we don’t force our clients to leave
Me: I’m sure you don’t (shut up Aara shut up)
Man:(his bloodshot eyes sending a chill up my spine) please leave before we use other ways to make you leave
Me: I cannot leave him here..please…sir…he’s all I have…please let me take him away
Man: (laughing at me) he always comes back home doesn’t he?
Me: what do you mean?
Man: he’s here every night woman…and he leaves when he wants to..this is one client I can’t force to leave…now you…get out!
Me: (my head was spinning) I’m not leaving without him
And I felt a pair of arms lift me up and carry me!
I screamed out for Nemo…
Me: Nemo help me! Please Nemo wake up!!!
But he just stared…
Me: (crying hard) Nemo please
I kicked and cried when another man approached me…
Nemo: OK!!! Bra please leave her..she’s harmless…here take this..(And he took off his watch and gave it to him) I don’t have any more cash..I’ll be back tomorrow
And he grabbed my arm and dragged me out of there.
Me: WHAT the hell are you doing here!!!!!
Nemo: just….please not now okay
Me: get in the car
After much arguing he got into his car and I followed him home. How he drove was beyond me because his car kept swerving, making my heart jump straight into my mouth.
We finally reached Nemo’s flat and I ran up the stairs before him and opened his flat with my set of keys.
Nemo slumped onto the sofa.
Me: now talk!
Nemo: what Aara what!!??
Me: what’s wrong with you?
Nemo: you know what…nevermind…just go home or wherever…just go
Me: no I’m not going anywhere!!
Nemo: I just want to have some fun okay..ever heard of the word fun? I’m not doing anything wrong..it’s just a little…release(putting his head back)
Me: this is not fun Nemo…where you were is such a bad place to be…don’t do this please Nemo…I’ll help you(my hand on his)
Nemo: (jerking my hand away) I don’t need your help!
Two weeks later…Linden…4am
After making a promise the day after I dragged him out of Bruma…Nemo seemed to be “normal”
But two weeks later I got another anonymous call…”Nemo is in Linden-his life is at risk”
This time, I wasn’t going alone.
Riza and I were silent the entire way there. I felt so embarassed…Nemo was my friend longer than Riza’s and Riza had warned me over and over that Nemo was heading down this road but I always gave Nemo the benefit of the doubt…
Linden was horrible to say the least. At this hour, the street was literally buzzing!
Riza: there he is (pointing at Nemo lying on his car )
Me: (my heart beating so fast) Riza…that’s blood!!!
Riza hadn’t even parked the car and I had already jumped off and ran towards Nemo.
Riza: Aara wait it’s dangerous…
But I heard nothing. All I could see was Nemo with his shirt covered in blood…
Me: (tears blocking my vision) Nemo…Nemo are you okay?
Nemo: heyyyy sweetheart (trying to hold my face)
Me: (looking at him in shock and disbelief) Nemo what…
Riza: (running towards us) Nemo…bro…what happened??
Nemo: (trying to sit up) I got into a fight with someone…nothing serious…heyyy sweetheart don’t look so worried it’s just a little bit of blood
Riza: a little bit of blood? You look like you may need stitches
Riza looked at me and shook his head. I put my head down…yet again.
My final year of campus was spent in this way…every few weeks we were picking Nemo up from dodgy places…sometimes he was so out of it that he would put up a fight with us…sometimes we would find him lying unconscious…
And every time he made new promises to us..that he won’t do it again…and every single time-he broke it.
He wouldn’t talk to us for days on end on campus…he would hang out in his own group..always a new girl hanging on his arm.
And when he felt like it, he would join us…he would remember that I existed and everything would be normal…until he went off the rails…again.
I could see that Riza was getting tired. And he could see that I was too….I had lost a lot of weight, my eyes seemed sunken and I was just pulling myself from one day to the next.I either cried myself to sleep every night or just lay in bed and stared at the ceiling…waiting…waiting…what if Nemo is in trouble tonight? What if I lose him tonight? It ate away at me like a parasite.
But the worst was yet to come…And what happened on that one fateful night…was the last and final straw…