‘So this is it’, I sputtered. The words hit the door and stuck to it. Room 101C. ‘You said what sir’? The hotel attendant replied thinking i was speaking to him. He leaned closer to check for signs of lunacy, I think. Because the perplexity on his face suggested he doubted my sanity. He tapped me mildly on the shoulder, rousing me from my reverie. That was when it dawned on me that I had been standing in front of room 101c, transfixed, muttering to myself. ‘Oh not you, I was just lost in thoughts that’s all’ I stammered, picking up my briefcase. ‘Thank you mister, I can take it from here’ i say waving his fawning ass goodbye‘. I don’t like him. ‘If you need anything call the reception, we are available 24hours’ he says, wanting to have the last say. I let him. I waited for him to go out of sight before continuing my contemplation. I had to. This was the legendary room 101c after all.
The myth of Room 101c is as old as time. Oral legend has it that this room makes ghost like apparition in different hotels across Nigeria, amongst many other mystical stunts. The room had been spotted in different hotels across Abuja, Maiduguri, and even Warri. Yes, Warri.
Omotosho, a friend, once told me a story of his own brother’s encounter in room101c. His brother had dreamt that their father was secretly building a duplex for a new wife, which turned out to be true. He credits the room for the revelation. But the idea of one single room, possessing such mystic powers, was pure hogwash to me. I didn’t buy it.
I thought it one of those anecdotes Nigerians like to peddle: like the one uncle Tariq told me when i was much younger about India beating Nigeria 99-1 in a football match; with the ball turning into a lion whenever Nigeria’s goalkeeper wanted to catch it. He also said the ball turned into a stone whenever Rashidi Yekini wanted to score the Indian goalkeeper. A story which was palpably apocryphal, to say the least - But room 101c, I hear, is different.
The legend is strong and the story consistent: this is no ordinary room. Some say the room is the mid-point of heaven and hell. Others claim it is the headquarters of Nigerian witches and wizards. I have also heard some say it is a secret underground passage from Aso rock so the president can escape in the event of a coup de tat.
I was in Abuja that Friday to negotiate an agreement with the federal government. The Lagos state ministry of finance, who I work for, was trying to impress on Abuja how much money Lagos had spent repairing federal roads in the state. We came up with a nine figure sum, and my job was to make it clear to whoever the federal ministry of finance was sending that the figures weren’t dreamt up. This was true, to a large extent. The trip was unplanned so i had no idea I’d be travelling. I had other plans; Rolake was visiting. I had spent the entire afternoon thinking about the things we’d do to each other that Friday night. I thought of her full breasts and how handy they always were. How she would make me lie on my back while she heaved the full weight of her breast on my face. Sometimes she would drench them in honey while i licked it off her nipples. ‘You’re supposed to lick it slowly with the tip of your tongue. You need to work on your tongue game’ she once chided me. ‘If you can’t lick this one properly how can I trust you with the real one down there’? ‘Challenge accepted’ I told her.
Rolake was a final year English student at the University of Lagos. I had finished from Unilag myself, graduating with second class upper in accounting. We met during one of my nocturnal frolics to moremi hall. She had planned to stay the weekend so when I called to tell her I would be travelling she hissed and ended the call. I didn’t call back to explain. Although our relationship was purely sexual at first, fondness of her crept up on me like night, and I can’t say I haven’t thought of marrying her. I know she has been thinking the same too. Two weeks ago we were at her cousin’s wedding and she introduced me to her family members. Not to mention the one hundred thousand naira Aso Ebi she forked out of me.
I booked Santi hotel via hotels.ng, Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking website. I had read about them on the internet, and their light skinned founder, Mark Essien.
Perhaps this is a good thing, I thought, still standing in front of room 101c. Maybe providence brought me here to finally dispel this mystery I was sick and tired of hearing. I enter.
I could taste calamity on my tongue the moment I entered room 101c. My fears were confirmed when I entered the bathroom to take a warm bath; the shower was dripping blood, endlessly. I dash across the room in a flurry of confusion and horror, but …………………….
I wake up in a dark room, disoriented. I stumble around, hitting my head against the wall until I located the door. The door led me to the dimly lit corridor of an unfamiliar building. The corridor was narrow and nothing like the wide corridor of santi hotels, which had ornate decorations and bright lights. I hear some audible voices below and I made my down the stairs. I see a building with the inscription ‘BAR’ written in bold letters with bright red lights. ‘Please where am I’ I ask a man at the bar. He wore a red shirt with the name tag ‘Nduka’, he looked like the barman. ‘You’re in Lagos’, a man with a big belly replied from a near table, I hadn’t noticed him. He wore a white Jalabia and held a bottle of gulder in his left hand. ‘Or did someone kidnap you’? So we can call the police.
A small crowd had gathered around me now.
‘Wait, tell us again. Where did you say you lodged in’? ‘Abuja, I said Abuja. I lodged at santi hotel ’.
‘But this is Lagos. Lagos Island to be precise’ a short man wearing a yellow polo shirt blurted out’ ‘Do you remember the number of the room you lodged’? ‘Yes I remember. It’s room 101c’. ‘Hahahahahahahahahaha’ the men burst into delirious laughter, some rolling on the floor. ‘You mean you saw a room with the number 101c and you entered it? Then I must say you deserve your woes’, a man in suit says. He looked like a lawyer. ‘Ok guys, it’s enough. Let’s help the man with some money so he can find his way home’ a man says from behind the crowd.
‘Where you dey stay for Lagos’? the security guard asks as he led me to the gate of the building
‘Ah e no far’.
‘Just cross to the other side of the road, you go see Obalende bus. You suppose see Ojuelegba bus from there’
‘Wait. Na true se you no sabi as you reach here’? ‘Wetin person eye no go see for this world’
I was still speaking with the security man, trying to rationalize my woes, when a man and a woman walked passed us. They both came out of a G-wagon. The man wrapped his arms tightly around the woman’s waist as though he was afraid she would change her mind and go with someone else. The shape of the woman was one I thought i knew well. Her height, body frame, and even the red dress she wore looked familiar. I turn around to face them so I could have a clearer view: It was Rolake.