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LIVING IN BONDAGE: A SHORT TALE
LIVING IN BONDAGE: A SHORT TALE
...I took the Blackberry Porshe from her and navigated to the message icon. It was filled with many goodwill messages from friends and friends of friends. There wasn't anything new from the previous mails. But when I opened a particular mail, I nearly fainted. My heart raced faster, hands shaking like a leaf blown around by a violent breeze and fear gripped me. Breathing hard and fast, my heart pounding like the sound of a heavy gong...
I am sitting down on the puffy brown-spotted rug with pen and paper, writing my thoughts out. It is right in the parlor, the dark brown colored electric fan is some meters up hanging on an iron rod. As quiet as a lion about to pounce on a prey, the room is lightly lit because of no electricity light.
It is almost 5:00PM and I have nothing to do but think. The story I am about to tell happened some years back, a story with too many a lesson. I can hear the voice of the gate man speaking in his hausa-accented Pidgin English. With a pot-belly that seems to increase almost every day. His mouth stinks of alcohol most times and he is always with his small radio. On his black face is a long stretching vertical tribal marks complementing his enormous fat body. His jovial nature always amaze me unlike some of his people who are hostile showcasing pretentious life of a 'no nonsense man'.
'Baba' I always call him and his response always cheerful. Since I brought him as my gate man, I have never seen Baba with a woman and sometimes I wonder if he actually make use of his 'third leg'
There is movement and rotation as the wall fan sprang to life. The halogen bulb light is brighter than ever making the glossy screen of the 52" sleek design LG3D series Television in the parlor glitter. It is standing on a three layer glass stand. Also is a woofer DVD Home Theatre Player, a DSTV decoder, UPS and many other electronic appliances. The buzzing sound of the wall Air Conditioner came with it a refreshing puff of chilly breeze making me feel so good.
Enough of me, time to tell my tale.
'Well I will see what I can do' John told me.
I met John in Lagos. He was already a top notch executive in the Lagos branch of the Oil and Gas firm called AEOE oil and gas group. John was a riffraff who knew nothing back in school. I made a second class upper while he came out with a mere third class in Mechanical Engineering. But his brother, a member of parliament paved the way for him immediately after graduation and National Youth Service. While he got work in an Oil and Gas firm through his brother's connection, I was busy going from one firm to the other practically begging for a job. The numerous online CV application and submission had been nothing but a child's play.
Well, that was it. I never saw John again.
From one city to the other he traveled and I never met him again. Frustrated and angry, I returned to Benin hoping to start life anew. I met Ehis, a self-made 'cyber-crook' who fleeced peoples' money via the internet. His popularity soared beyond Benin City and he was a sacred cow with billions of dollars.
Ehis my childhood friend and the most popular man in Benin was so stingy that you could hardly get a 'kobo' from him. He prefers to take people out, buy drinks, food and even pay for girls but can hardly give cash to his friends. I was no exemption.
When the rhythm of the music became too difficult for me to dance, I wanted in and that began my journey. It was risky but I had to take my chance and help my family.
The night it happened, Ehis took me to a shrine right inside an unknown village. We met an old man with white beards; on his forehead was the drawing in white an eye. He walked with his hand on the back and had a hunchback. He was short and wore a red wrapper. Bare-chested with marks made of white chalk, he spoke in bits and his voice tiny. His face was hairless and body wrinkled and frail.
'All I want is more people' the Native Doctor explained. He sat on the mat and wrote some signs on the floor. As I kissed the circled form on the floor, Ehis cheered me on.
Big money did not come immediately but Ehis changed from his 'not generous' manner and gave me chunks of notes. As the months passed by, so did my money increase in number. Ehis tutored me and taught me the trade but that wasn't enough.
Then my big moment came.
Posing as a representative in a construction firm, with the contacts and connections I needed; I set out to meet a potential client. Having been provided with original letter headed document of my target company and fake proposals, I waited for it.
But the problem was that I had to travel to India to sign the deal worth 600million naira. Ehis advised me not to go stating that deals outside our shores are too risky.
Dressed flamboyantly in a black suit, blue shirt and black (tie), I introduced myself as the Financial Consultant of FincaP Construction Company. My ID card hanging down from my collar with an over stretched fancy badge holder. My teeth are shining white and my face is smiling. The deal was for a distribution supply worth 600million Naira.
It was a hot afternoon in New Delhi inside one of the Five-star hotels. The room is well furnished, a flat screen TV, gigantic bed and a small bar. I brought out about fifteen letter headed documents and I explained briefly the purpose and objectives even though I have done that in our former correspondences. With pen clicking, signing and within a short while the deal was closed. I laughed in my heart as they filed out after shaking hands. We even took pictures together with my Ipad. The Indian was heavily bearded; he had 4 bodyguards and one accountant who clutched a black (suitcase). Inside the (suitcase) was a laptop which he used to wire the money to an offshore bank account in Switzerland. The initial down payment was 400million naira. Then when the deal is almost done the remaining 200million naira will be paid.
I was ecstatic when I arrived Nigeria, I settled all my collaborators. It was a huge sum of money and I hardly knew what to do with it. When I bought my 4th car, I had already invested in stocks. I also bought and opened about five different boutiques stocked and stuffed with latest accessories. I built a duplex for myself and family. Life was on cruise control. I became so popular that my name appeared on billboards, newspapers and I was even featured on music videos and many other big events. Then 'Ovation Newspaper' and 'Channel O' came just to feature my house and cars in their respective shows. Girls came in different shapes, sizes and colors all by my side. Even the people that once rejected me came begging - musicians, actors, politicians and many more. I was in control until something happened.
That morning, I woke up and felt a sharp pain near my abdomen. It was like a piercing burning sensation that continued for days and months without cure. Most painfully, my manhood lost its abilities. I staggered then fell down gasping for air. I felt like someone was choking me with an invincible pin.
My eyes are red, a hot stream of sweat washed down my body. The car key fell off my hand and before I knew it, I was already in coma. That was the last time I used my legs comfortably because it became swollen and numb. From one hospital to another, the fight for my life began.
'Our enemies are at work' Mama shouted
She was sitting at the edge of the bed near the big open door in the private hospital. She wore a tight jean trouser, a pink sleeveless top and had elaborate makeup.
'American baby' that's Mama's pet name.
I know Dad wouldn't be happy seeing Mama dress this way. But Dad was long dead and Mama floricked around with different young boys for pleasure. She had no restrictions.
'Madam, his condition is not improving. I'd advise you take him to a specialist hospital' the Doctor told my Mother.
I ᵃm just 26years for crying out loud. What could have been the problem? Why would I have to suffer now I made money? Why is the world so unfair? So my enemies did not see me when I was suffering? Why now?
Tears ran down my cheeks as I contemplated ...
'This life is wicked'
'Mama' I called out in my faint voice.
My Mother came rushing in. Inspite of her wayward lifestyle, she valued me more than anything. Even all of my other siblings have disappeared with my phone, money and cars but my Mama stood by me.
It is over one year since I made that enormous money. But this strange illness have denied me peace and enjoyment.
'I don't think this place is good for me' my voice sounding so much like that of a baby. It was even harder. Mama was already crying because our last resort was to visit the herbalist in the village but it had terrible consequences. People who solicit for such help always pay dearly.
'What can we do?' I asked
She came near me and touched my palm. They were as dry as dry meat, very skinny. She wept without words. I was at the brink of death, the cause of my illness unknown. It was really sad. While my siblings enjoyed my money, I lay on the bed fighting for my dear life.
'Damn the consequences' Mama shouted. I thought she was fighting with someone outside but when she came closer to me; she whispered 'My son, we will be leaving for the village'
'I knew why, and I will die after all' that was just what crossed my mind.
So the evening of the following day, the Nissan Murano I just bought some few months back was already waiting for me. My siblings were in the car too. I was hopeful to say the least. But all my hope got squashed within seconds. Standing near the Jeep, I waited to catch my breath.
'Brother, you need to read this mail' Angel my younger Sister came running. She had my Ipad4 and my three mobile phones. One Iphone and two BlackBerry phones.
'I took the Blackberry Porshe from her and navigated to the message icon. It was filled with many goodwill messages from friends and friends of friends. There wasn't anything new from the previous mails. But when I opened a particular mail, I nearly fainted. My heart raced faster, hands shaking like a leaf blown around by a violent breeze and fear gripped me. Breathing hard and fast, my heart pounding like the sound of a heavy gong.
'Oh my god am dead!' I didn't even know when those words escaped from my mouth.
The mail read in part.
'...You have five days to return my money or you will be a dead man...
I slumped and lost consciousness. It took almost a day before I regained consciousness. When I did, I found a new rare energy. Spurred by fear, I rushed out of bed like an able athlete. Everyone thought I was well, but I was far from being well. All that I could hear in my subconscious mind was 'five days' as I imagined Mr Sighnam's bearded face and husky voice.
'Mama, there is fire on the mountain' I shouted. They were all seated in the dining room whispering to one another.
'I said Mama there is fire on the mountain' I shouted again with the last energy in me. Pacing up and down in deep thought,
'Don't worry son, we all read the mail' Mama said beckoning me to have a seat.
O-O-O-O-O-O so you read the mail and you'll are still sitting down there eh?' I ᵃm going to die in four days if nothing is done' I shouted back, desperation and fear getting the better part of me.
'Calm down son' Mama said
'According to the mail, Mr Sighnam the Indian you duped wants his money back. He gave you five days to return the money or you will drop dead' My younger brother read out from the Porshe Blackberry. My only sister just listened carefully while tears dripped down her cheeks. Now it dawned on her that something very bad is about to happen to me.
'Thanks to you brother we are returning to poverty' my younger brother chipped in quite comically.
'May thunder fire that your stinking mouth' I fired back at him.
Finally, we sold the cars, mansions and some of the buildings to raise the equivalent of 400million naira in Rupee. Some of my friends were very helpful.
Voodoo, juju or whatever they call it exist and I had firsthand experience.
Still frail, fidgety and almost dying; I was ready to return back all my loot. As I set the money on fire, I read the mail over and over again to be sure.
'...you have five days to return my money or you will be a dead man. All my money must be returned not even a rupee should remain. Gather the money and BURN IT...
So I burnt the two 'ghana-must-go' bags after emptying the money. The money was ablaze but something pricked my mind. What if all these was just a fluke? That means I will lose my life and money. What if I don't get well after all? As the red and green color of money blazed away in the fire, the smoke raging as if commanded by an unseen force; my Mom sat on the floor palms covering the jaw and my two siblings lined up as if they were footballers waiting for a handshake. I contemplated the end-result of my life. How carefree, wayward and unworthy I have lived it.
The desire for money and the need to belong led me into such heinous and risky crime. I swore to turn a new leaf should things workout. Even prayer I had never thought of before became my only solace. Hands outstretched, knees knelt begging for forgiveness. Tears flowing, the fire blazing and smokes forming as time stood still in our eyes.
20minutes passed after the fire finished burning and the smokes disappeared into thin air. I looked at the wound that had recently formed on my upper limb. It is still red, painful and moist. The painful marks on my back are still there; my wrinkled face and bony body still the same. Then I knew we just sat down to break the palm kernel nut for the fowls.
'Chai! I am finished...' I shouted
I felt like dying, my Mom exhausted and tired, she lay flat on the floor crying. I opened my hands in tears on the floor uttering gibberish. Suddenly, I stood up as if carried by an invincible spirit and went straight to the bathroom. There I shouted with tears of joy.
Truly, bad don't pay!