This story actually happened to me.
I am making up none of it.
It was just another boring day in 1987.
I left my house early in the morning for the University of Ife where I was teaching art.
My battered Volks Beetle, nicknamed Bintu by my friends and foes, was always ready.
I lived on Old Ede road, a dusty patch that started from the university gates and wound its bumpy all the way to Ede.
My relatively isolated house was less than a mile from the university gate.
Whenever a vehicle passed in front of my house, a dust storm rose and settled on the plants on both sides of the road.
No longer green were the poor plants by the side of the road, as they had been buried for years under cakes of dust that even the heaviest downpours or rainstorms could not rinse.
When vehicles making their way to Ede drove past my house, a good chunk of the dust they raised ended up inside my sitting room.
After months of such exposures, the dust had coated the upholstery on the seats in my parlor with a fine brown dust layer.
My first task every morning was to bang the upholstery with my fist and against the wall and shake off as must of the dust as possible.
Then, when I had any strength left, sweep up the dust that settled in what we called the parlor—or what they now called the sitting room.
So, that wonderful Monday morning, I did my dust routine, jumped inside Bintu and made my way to the university campus.
My schedule was a routine: once I left in the morning at about 7 am, I would not return until 7pm, when it would get dark.
But that fateful day, as I got to my office, one of my senior colleagues told me he needed some cyclostyling ink to produce his cv.
In those days, we used the cyclostyling machine to duplicate documents, and you needed the cyclostyling ink to do it.
Since I had some of this foul-smelling black ink at home, I told him to wait so I could go and get it for him.
I jumped into my Bintu, and made my way back home.
As soon as I got near the large gate of my house, I noticed something weird was going on.
The gate, which I had locked when I left home was open.
A truck was parked in front of my house.
And some men, wearing facemasks, were loading my properties from my house into the parked vehicle.
A couple of them were holding what looked like weapons to me.
I did not wait to find out what sort of weapon they carried.
I simply pretended it was not my house, and kept driving on the dusty Old Ede road for the next twenty minutes.
I had gone really far on that road—to give the robbers enough time to finish their business—before I stopped, turned Bintu around and drove back.
I saw that the truck packed in front of my house was gone.
I heaved a sigh of relief. The gate was also left open. I opened it and went into my house.
The lock had been broken.They had removed all the dusty seats in the parlor. I opened the door of my bedroom.
They had removed all my clothes from the closet.
I didn’t have many anyway, lol.
But, lo and behold, they had not touched the cyclostyling ink which was lying on the floor of the parlor.
I picked up the tube of cyclostyling ink and returned to Bintu.
I entered it and slowly drove back to the university campus.
If you were in my shoes, would you have done the same thing?
In 1987 there were no cellphones to call the police.
And even if there were cellphones, in those days the police in Nigeria would not answer calls if you called them on your house phone.
Did I do the right thing? Or should I have been a brave man?
I didn’t make up any of this thing. It actually happened.