Victim of Greed
By Tony Chuks Modungwo (Nigeria)
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I’ve realized that a greater influx of money doesn’t necessarily bring about happiness.
“What is the use of money without love?” Biola once asked.
It took her tragic death for the full meaning of the statement to dawn on me. When she was killed, I lost interest in life despite my wealth. I’d found out the hard way that happiness and joy came only when one was doing something for the progress of humanity not the reverse.
When my father told me: “My son, it’s not wise to measure one’s success in life by one’s worldly possessions,” I waved him off as a religious fanatic and a man gone senile.
Greed had left its indelible mark on me. What hope for the future could there be for me, when the past had been so ugly and could probably remain so. It could be worse, I told myself in the privacy of my bedroom. I could have been dead. For the thousandth time, my mind scanned the details of my unpleasant situation, searching for some overlooked clue that might explain how the revolt that claimed the lives of my wife, Biola and my child, Ngozi. Who started it?
With bitterness, I recalled the speech Barrister Dums made in the rally of Conscience Peoples Party I once attended. “The masses can no longer bear the endless oppression. They need us to save them. It’s better to die fighting the oppressors, than to die of starvation.” This might have brought some bastards to the conclusion that there was such a thing as justifiable homicide. I shook my head, clearing it of the haunting memories of the past months.
It was now four months; Amina went back to London to complete her master’s degree. She’d written quite a number of times, but I had never replied.
“I’m willing to help you make a fresh start,” flashed into my mind. I was still confused. The Accountant in Harrison Holdings had come to meet me, over four times, since I returned to Lagos, to request me to come back to the office to assume duty, but I told him, I was not yet ready to discuss business. I’d leased a modest duplex in Surulere, where I lived with Austin and his immediate junior, Kenneth.
As I was ready to move to my new house, my father called me to sit down. “Chika, it is not too late for you. Repent now. Just as a mother rejoices on the day she delivers a child, so does God rejoice the day a sinner is delivered to Him. Focus on the future.”
“Dad, I’ve heard you. Thanks for your advice.”
“What is past is past, and will never return. We all have been tempted in this world and when we were young, we hadn’t the strength to fight and hold our own against strong temptations, except with the help of God.”
“I think I’ve learnt some lessons now, I’ll be more careful in the future.”
“That is good news. God proscribes trespassing upon people’s rights or to use your gains to injure others or prevent them from the pursuit of happiness to which they’re naturally entitled. Right from the ancient times, our culture has always upheld the sanctity of human life. But today, politicians hunt fellow human beings like animals. They regard human life like banana peels which can be discarded without qualms. When one kills a human being, one has not only sinned against man, but also against God, who told us in the Ten Commandments that, ‘Thou shall not kill’. What a man sows he must reap. To kill a person is to impose eternal burden on one’s life,” he said, his face contorted with rage.
Since one month I’ve lived in my new house, I’d been trying to learn to write with my left hand.
I believed in the axiom that the end justified the means. So I went to any length --- lied, deceived and killed when necessary to arrive at my goal. But the end was not as altruistic and good as I originally thought. An African proverb said that: “Beneath anything that is sweet, lies a choking bitterness”.
Six months I moved into the new house, Amina returned to the country. The following day of her arrival, she was in Lagos to see me. She was very happy I’d moved to a more comfortable accommodation. I spent five hundred thousand naira approximately to have the apartment refurbished. While, painters, plasterers and plumbers worked on my new apartment, I checked into Millionaire’s Hotel to be able to supervise them.
“How are you, Chika?” She looked at me inquiringly.
“I am fine,” I said hesitantly.
Amina couldn’t understand why the aura of sadness and regret that surrounded me had refused to dispel. Remembering the brutal murder of my wife and son was still unsettling. Most times in the night, I whispered her name “Biola”. But this was totally insane I always chided myself.
Some women passed through a man’s life without leaving a trace, but people, like Biola left an unforgettable memory.
“Oh, Chika! You don’t know, how much I’ve missed you, all these years.” Her eyes sparkled flirtatiously. “After I learnt you were married, I felt there was nothing more to expect, but to pray for you. But I was crushed and I couldn’t understand how you could do such a thing to me. My studies, yes, God knows I put in my best, but one was human, one wanted someone to love and to be loved. I can recall my mother’s efforts to arouse my interest in one eligible man after the other. Her definition of “eligible” was young, good-natured, handsome, and, most important, of a fine family background. I remember one particular man, very handsome, educated and young. His parents were friends to my parents. I could’ve gone further with him, if it hadn’t been for you. Always your image came between me and any other man.”
All I wanted was to be left alone. As I listened to her, Amina struck me as a very unselfish woman, with great ideals, but I’d seen enough, so I wasn’t easily moved.
“I felt hurt deep inside me when you left me and married Biola. My love for you was like fire burning inside me. I tried to quench it but it always flared back. When I learnt of what happened, I felt so sorry for you, because I know you loved your wife. Nothing could be gained by dwelling on something that couldn’t be changed.”
I turned to Amina, my eyes filled with pain. “I can’t stop looking for Biola.” The word was wrenched from the depth of my soul. “My mind wouldn’t accept that she’s gone. I keep expecting to see her come through the door. The thought of never seeing her again was tearing my heartstrings to shreds.”
Perhaps it was for the compassion in Amina’s eyes, but for some inexplicable reason, I found myself confessing to Amina my deep and haunting anxiety. Suddenly, embarrassed by exposing so much of my dark thoughts to her, I said, “Please forgive me, the way I behaved. I know you came with good intentions.”
“Honey, you can’t afford to be sentimental forever, you’ve to be practical. Why won’t you pick your life and go back to normal life?”
“I wish I understand why? I don’t know if it’s pride or hurt or anger. For whatever reasons, I’ve lost interest in life. The death of my family and my narrow escape from death burnt the bridges connecting me with my formal normal life.”
“Chika, you’re thinking too much. I loved you during our youth service and I even love you more now,” she said, as she held me tight.
“After my terrible experience, I have been afraid to love a woman?”
“Are you still afraid?” she asked softly.
I had hoped that when I saw Amina again, I have had my feelings under control. But her love for me was too strong and I could not deny the powerful emotions that gripped me as she stood close to me. I couldn’t stand this agony any longer. I love this girl and there was no point in fighting it or denying it any longer.I stopped the attempt to disguise the feelings that swept through me.
“No. I don’t think so,” I replied. My gaze moved to the distant horizon, my eyes suddenly clouded with painful memories. “You’ve almost succeeded in making me view life in an entirely new light. You’ve been great in getting me out of my current emotional entanglements,” I said pulling her against my chest, feeling comforted beyond measure by the sensation of Amina’s soft breasts on my chest. My fears and sadness seemed disappeared. Amina couldn’t suppress her happiness. I was afraid her heart might burst with joy.
“You’re all I have. All I ever will have. I firmly believe that the most painful period is behind us.”
Gently she cupped her hands on either sides of my face. I experienced an odd sense of relief, when Amina pressed her full length on me. Shaking my head at the outrageous audacity of Amina, I used my left hand to encircle her neck and that tingling sensation of her breast pressing against my chest enveloped me. She smiled and snuggled closer, I felt warm and contented. In my eyes was my expression of undying gratitude.
She was taller than Biola had been. It felt strange to have a woman in my arms after all these months. In seconds, I gave myself up to savoring the sensations of her full lips. Her lips parted wider, offering me an unambiguous invitation to indulge in more than a fleeting flirtation. I found myself in the grip of a sudden surge of emotion. I was fully at the receiving end. I’d not tried to withdraw from her, but lay back docilely. I made no attempts to stop her. I sucked in my breath as she lightly ran her nails up the insides of my thighs to my throbbing, erect organ. The force driving us was a reunion, a new beginning, a forgetting of old wounds. I wanted her and she wanted me. It was a celebration of the end of such a dark season of sadness.
“Sorry, Amina. I’m awfully out of practice. Thank you for your care.”
“I’ve been waiting patiently for this moment.” Amina grinned. Her infectious grin brought a warm glow to my heart.
I was seized by an irresistible craving to engulf Amina who now clung to me fiercely, to melt into her body. A violent sexual yearning took hold of me suddenly, fueled by months of abstinence, and stoked with a hunger that had been driven for too long by dutiful denial. I pulled her down on the bed once again and smothered her body beneath mine. Amina had awakened feelings I’d hoped were buried forever. In her subtle manner, she’d restored my confidence in my manhood.
Driven to near-madness by the force of my long-denied masculinity, I went wild. I stroked hers thighs, her lips, her ravishing breasts; I couldn’t seem to get my fill of Amina. Even at this peak of emotion, I was experiencing a disturbing blend of pent-up desire mixed with an overwhelming urge to think of my painful past.
I succumbed to the urgent, unswerving compulsion to fuse myself to her. With infinite grace, she parted her long legs and whispered a seductive invitation that told me, she was a woman who knew exactly what she wanted – and that she wanted it now. I offered a silent prayer of gratitude to Biola, for having taught me to cherish a woman as well as desire her. We later fell into an exhausted sleep.
The presence of Amina added a new and significant dimension to my life. I felt alive---really alive, since Biola died. I came to appreciate the difference between living and merely enduring life.
The appearance of Amina brought me some joy, but fate was to play another trick on me.
On one of my visits to my parents, I met my father looking sad. My mother had gone to the market.
“I’ve been retrenched,” my father said.
“Too bad,” I replied. “I’m sorry. But it’s really terrible to wake up in the morning a worker only to return in the afternoon a jobless man. When did this happen?”
“Last week Monday.”
“Did they give you notice?”
“They’ve been saying that the government wants to reduce its workforce, but no exact date was given, only for two thousand of us to be given letters of retrenchment last Monday.”
“The malfeasance of men in authority is too much. They’ll only retrench those who are engaged in day-to-day battle for existence. Nothing happens to them at the top, but they are the ones who have bank manager friends, who can grant them loans to start a business, let alone their huge retirement benefits.”
“You’re right,” my father said. “What is the salary of a laborer? The retrenchment of one of those inefficient directors will take care of the salary of twenty laborers. Many of them swear affidavit frequently to change their ages so as not to retire.”
“I don’t know of any nation that have developed with massive unemployment and large scale retrenchment of workers,” I said.
“Retrenchment is nothing short of life sentence of humiliation and deprivation,” my father said. “Most government policies work to the advantage of the wealthy, the better educated, and the politically well-connected people, not people like me. Do you know that our director lives in a government furnished bungalow in Ikoyi and pay only two thousand naira for it, while I pay one thousand for this one room in this dilapidated building in this dungeon.”
“Such is life.”
I was still discussing with my father when my mother walked in, carrying a heavy bag.
“Welcome mom, you’re back early. How was the market today?”
“Every bad,” she replied.
“What happened?” my father asked.
“This morning, Town Planning Officials accompanied by three policemen and a bulldozer came and destroyed all our stalls in the market, claiming they were illegal structures.”
“I’ve been retrenched and now your stall has been destroyed, how do we survive? What kind of life is this?”
“I rushed to salvage my goods before the bulldozer got to my stall. As I removed the last item to safety, the bulldozer pulls down my stall. The officials poured gasoline on the destroyed stalls and set them on fire. All our cries for mercy fell on deaf ears.”
“Don’t worry, the injustice to which holders of power are always prone, usually have a boomerang effect,” my father consoled her.
“What is the worth of my wares that they expect me to rent those expensive stores in the market? Even to get allocation of a store from the Local Government office is not easy, except you’ve connection with any of those corrupt bastards. They usually allocate the stores to non-traders, who now rent them out to traders at exorbitant prices, and one is required to pay for two years rent in advance. Where do I get that kind of money?”
“How much is the rent for a store for one year?” I asked.
“Twenty four thousand naira,” my mother replied.
I left that day promising to do whatever I could to help. The next day, I sent Austin to the Local Government office with a note to one of my friends there, and forty eight thousand to pay for a store for two years. He returned with allocation paper and a receipt for forty thousand naira.
“Why is the receipt reading forty thousand naira instead of forty eight thousand,” I inquired.
“The cashier said that, that is how it is done. The eight thousand naira he said was for their logistics,” Austin explained.
“Logistics indeed.” I hissed.
I gave Austin twenty thousand naira and told him to give the allocation paper and the money to my mother.
Despite the fact that I was already up to my neck in waters they were definitely rising.
Despite the fact that I was already up to my neck in waters they were definitely rising .I woke up and tuned my radio to listen to the seven o’clock morning news in Radio Nigeria. The radio hummed for some minutes and went dead.
“What is wrong with this useless radio station,” I complained aloud. “Our local radio stations are always off air, but one can hear VOA and BBC, so clearly as if they were next door,” I said. I stifled a yawn.
I tried again after thirty minutes to listen to the news update. Martial music oozed out of the radio.
“Jesus! Coup! Oh my God!’ I exclaimed, apparently with a touch of surprise.
I went to the window of my first floor bedroom and peeped out. I saw many citizens trooping out to the streets, jubilating and expressing solidarity with the new military government. I was still transfixed at the window, looking at the jubilating crowd, when I heard a voice over the radio.
“Fellow Nigerians, on behalf of my colleagues in the military, I, Colonel Dauda, wish to inform you, that there have been a change of government in this our beloved country.”
I left the window to sit on my bed, near the radio, bending my head toward the radio, as if I was partially deaf.
“The happenings of the past five years and especially the recent events in this country, have given us in the Armed Forces great concern, hence, we’ve decided to intervene so as to save our country from total collapse.
“First of all, let me assure you that there is no cause for alarm. It’s a shame, we’ve gain independence from colonial masters, but bad leaders have hijacked the country and everything in it. They don’t want to leave power and the more they stay, the more they loot and consequently, the level of poverty deteriorates. Few people keep recycling in power, doing things the same old ways that never worked. Unemployment has reached unacceptable level…”
This speech will be repeated every thirty minutes on Radio Nigeria stations, another voice said at the end of the broadcast.
“Bastards,” I shouted.
I picked up the radio and smashed it against the wall. The radio scattered into small pieces. The thunderous noise brought Austin running.
“Brother, what is wrong? I hope you’re fine? I heard an explosion just now.”
“The bloodthirsty and power hungry soldiers have overthrown the government,” I said. “Only God knows how many people they have killed.”
“Why are you so angry? Afterall, you’re not a member of this government.”
“The worse democratic government is better than the best military rule. What did the former military rulers, achieve? You’ll soon see series of arrests. I’m sure they would have started by now.”
“What do you do? Won’t you escape?”
“Escape to where? I haven’t done anything wrong?”
I stood up and went to the bar and collected a bottle of whiskey and glass. I sat down on the settee and started to drink. I brought out my cigarette and lighted it with my gold lighter. I was still drinking and chain-smoking when four soldiers broke into my sitting room.
“Don’t you see the bastard drinking,” one of them shouted.
“You’ve come to the end of the road. While the masses starve, strive, sweat and toll for a living, you and your types live soft and grow rosy cheeks,” another one said.
“What’s my business about the suffering of the masses, am I in government? I wanted to help, see what they did to me.” I pointed to my empty sleeve.
“You and your late father-in-law perpetuated a lot of corruption, you abandoned many projects after collecting mobilization fees, inflated contract fees, hoarded essential commodities. Harrison Holdings fraudulently acquired the license to import essential commodities. The list of your corrupt activities is endless.”
“We were doing business. Harrison Holdings is not a charity organization. The government is still owing us millions of naira for jobs we did, and the supplies we made.”
“You wasted the nation’s money buying expensive cars and houses abroad for yourself and your girl friends.”
“What I do with my personal wealth is my business not yours.”
“You’ll now come with us to give account of your several misdeeds. Private, arrest him,” the colonel leading the soldiers ordered.
“Get up,” the private ordered, pointing his gun at me.
“You are just opportunists. It is sanctimonious hypocrisy for soldiers to accuse civilians of corrupt practices, misadministration, irregularities, lack of sense of direction, in order to bulldoze yourselves into power only to perpetuate to a greater degree the very things you accused civilians of or for which you set out to correct,” I shouted at them.
“Keep quiet, you bloody civilian. You must be drunk, that is why you’re talking like this,” the private said.
“You’re the one who is drunk.”
He slapped me. “If you open that your mouth again, I’ll shoot you. Bastard.” They dragged me to their Landover and drove me to the army barrack. My mind continued to whisper to me, have courage, have courage.
I was thrown into a dark, filthy cell with some other detainees. The offensive smell here was unbearable. I couldn’t sleep. I crouched down at a corner, unable to realize that this strange happening, after my last experience, was a part of real life. I felt I was dreaming; surely I would suddenly awake in my own bed at home.
In the cell, I was able to recognize many prominent politicians, former ministers and a few former governors. Some soldiers on sentry duty were marching up and down the corridor of the building.
Once again, I felt myself floating in a surreal world, adrift in the emotional wreckage of the past months and the present shocking events.
After a week in detention, I felt better. I made a few friends, with whom I’d some discussion in order to retain my sanity.
“President Audu regime was actually a corrupt and incompetent government,” a businessman friend of mine in the cell said.
“How did you come about that conclusion?” I asked.
“The politicians helped to destroy the government of the day. They were living in a world of self-interest, where little mattered except the unending gratification of their personal desires and ambitions. Nothing proved it better than the scrambling for contracts, posts and special favors. Their undisguised selfishness stifled all feelings of conscience or even ordinary decency.”
“But it wasn’t President Audu that did all these things?”
“In any nation, all over the world, leaders are held accountable for failure or for success. No matter who did what, to the president belonged the blame or credit.”
At this point,the key turned and the door to the cell swung open, two soldiers entered the room and pointed to me, “Follow us,” one said.
I stood up and followed them. I’d lost weight because the food was bad. We were only allowed one hour in the open every day. My clothes were already dirty. No visitor was allowed to see us, not even our lawyers. No one had formally told us what our offences were. I followed the two soldiers to a spacious office that was well furnished. Five men were sitting on a long desk facing the door. I walked to the front of the desk and was told to sit down on a single chair by my side. I complied. Three of them wore army uniforms, one was dressed in suit and the fifth wore a flowing garment and a hausa cap.
“What is your name?” the man in suit asked.
“My name is Chika Okafor.”
“Do you know why you are being detained?” One of the soldiers asked.
“You’re here because you corruptly enriched yourself and your late father-in-law. The abject poverty in this country was as a result of corruption unleashed on the populace by people like you. Bribery, the advance-fee fraud,money laudry and other forms of corruption had undermined the rule of laws and weakened the institutional foundations upon which the economic growth of our country depended.”
“I wasn’t involved in any corrupt practices,” I replied.
“Were you not the General Manager of Harrison Holdings?”
“Yes, I was. But late Senator Harrison was the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman.”
“Your company abandoned many government projects, after collecting mobilization fees.”
“The inflation trend in the country was unpredictable, so, at times; the contract fees we discover cannot complete the project. When this happens, we stop the project and apply for variation, which is not always.”
“But it was allege that the contract fee is always inflated so why do you run into the type of situation, you just described?”
“I don’t believe that. Most contract we won, were subjected to competitive bidding.”
“In the last election, you rigged the election by corrupting the electoral officers. Is that true?”
“I didn’t corrupt anybody. I won the election because of my plans for my people.”
“We are suspecting that Senator Harrison is not dead after all. His private jet is missing from where it was usually packed in the airport. I sent my men to sieze it but they discovered it had disappeared. What do you know about it?”
“I don’t know anything.”
“What is the name of his pilot?”
“Captain Truman Lawford.”
“He is of what nationality?”
“Where does he live?”
“50 Slover Avenue, Ikoyi.”
“Corporal,” the most senior army officer called.
“Take him back to the cell.”
“Mr. Okafor, we shall send our report to the superior authority. You shall soon hear from him.
On the day, I completed the third month in detention; I was set free without any further interrogation. There was no explanation of why I was released nor was any apology rendered for my detention. My international passport was seized.
Immediately Amina learnt of my release, she rushed to my house. I saw her eyes filled with tears. She squeezed, pressing her eyelids against her eyeballs, forcing the tears back.
For a moment, I studied Amina’s dejected face and thought how wrong I’d been at the time of our first meeting. Since then, I’d learned that Amina was the entire woman I would like to spend the rest years of my life with. She wasn’t only beautiful, but intelligent, compassionate, and a wonderful lover.
“Thank God, you’ve been released.” His calm voice soothed my ruffled feelings.
In a lightning stroke, everything changed. I saw what I’d not seen before, that the woman who stood before me was a rare breed and always had been although I didn’t know it until now.
“You brought much light into my life.”
“How was the detention experience?”
“Bad. Let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about us.”
I took her hand I led her to the bedroom.
“I love you, Chika,” she murmured, deliberately pressing her midsection firmly into my pelvis, signaling in this unmistakable fashion that she was acutely aware of my being aroused. I closed my eyes and allowed the delicious cravings of my body to prevail.
“Promise you’ll never leave me again,” Amina said. For a long moment I lay gazing with torment into her eyes, before I closed my eyes again in meditation.
I opened my eyes and smiled into hers, which glowed with the warmth of her love. I love you and will never leave you again till death do us part.”
Then her face curved into an impish grin. I slipped the palm of my left hand at the top of her blouse to gain access to her breasts. Amina gave a little moan and pressed herself with abandon against the length of my body.
The next day, I decided to tell my parent about my plan to remarry. Amina drove the car. I told her to drive to the market so that we could pick up my mother because I wanted the two to be present when I broke the news.
By the time we got to the market, there was noisy atmosphere, a hallmark of the market. Traders were loudly canvassing for customers to clear some wares heaped by the roadsides at “give-away” prices. Some of the traders in second hand clothing were ringing bells and shouting at the top of their voices to attract customers. The ubiquitous women and teenagers hawking milk, soaps, sweets and minerals shouted at the top of their voices.
We met my mother singing light-heartedly as she arranged some goods. She was in high spirit.
“Chika, what are you doing in the market? My daughter welcome.”
“We’ve come to drive you home. I have something to tell you and my father.”
“About your detention?”
“No. I’ve put that one behind me.”
“Thank God. What then?”
“Wait till we get home.”
I’d hardly finished when five soldiers approached the store. I thought they were coming to arrest me again. Even Amina and my mother had the same thought. One of them asked for the prices of some of the items in my mother’s store and she told them.
Immediately they seized the goods and started to auction them. My mother watch with her mouth agape, as the soldiers sold her goods at economically suicidal prices not considering the exorbitant prices she paid for them.
I was shocked at the sadistic joy on people’s faces as they carried away the goods. Under the confused atmosphere, in the market, rogues stole some of her goods. My mother started to cry. I consoled her.
“Amina help her pack some displayed goods into the store and lock it,” I said. Scarcities sent prices of goods soaring and the military hierarchy was trying desperately to solve the problem of food supply by forcing down the prices. Some traders hoarded goods and created artificial scarcity.
Due to the action of the price control committee, other traders locked up their stores and went home.
“But why do you have to sell those food items and some essential commodities at high prices. There have been complaints that market women were fond of raising prices whimsically and capriciously,” my father said, when we got home.
“It’s not our fault. It’s the distributors and shylock middlemen who increase the prices.”
“I learnt that Harrison Holdings warehouse had been forced open by the soldiers and the contents auctioned,” my father said.I pretended not to have heard him.
“Mom and dad, I’ve come to inform you I’ve decided to remarry.” I didn’t want any argument to distract my attention from the purpose of the visit.
Despite my mother’s initial sadness, she smiled broadly, “I’ve been waiting to hear this for a long time.”
“And who have you decided to marry?” my father asked.
“Amina of course,” I said, pointing to her.
My father asked us to knee down and he prayed for us. “May you have a happy and fruitful marriage in Jesus name, Amen.”
When we got back to my house, I decided, to present to Amina the engagement ring, I’d bought. I drew a small velvet box out of my coat’s pocket and laid it on the table before her.
“Open it,” I said.
Her hands trembled, so that she was clumsy with the catch. I waited. It was a sapphire engagement ring surrounded by small diamonds.
“How do you like it?”
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
“Here, put it on. Try it on.”
But that was I, in spite of all reverses and defeats; I still sought grandeur or my version of it. I took the ring from her and slipped it on her finger, where it looked exactly right. What was more, it fitted.Amina held up her hand and look at the jewel from every angle, admiring it.
“It is magnificent,” she said. “Thank you, darling.”
Two days later, I wedded Amina in a small church in Surulere. As I dressed, my cheeriness fled. “Who’ll knot my tie?”
“You’re alive Chika. First and foremost,” Kola reminded me. “Here, let me do it for you.”
I smiled. “You’re fantastic.” Then flowed unashamed tears of happiness.
I invited only a few friends. Kola and Toyin were present. There was reception in my house. I’d bought hundred bottles of champagne. Amina was excited.
“Chika I wish you a happy marriage,” Kola said.
“Chika, thank God, you were able to make up your mind to remarry,” Toyin remarked.
When they left I lifted my glass of wine. “To us and our new beginning. I’ve made so many mistakes in life. This time I’m going to do things right,” I said.
“Yes,” she murmured. “To a new beginning.”
We drank our wine.
After the marriage, the next day we traveled to Yankari Games Reserve for honeymoon. Yankari Game Reserve was a site of great natural beauty about 2,500 square kilometers in size and 225 meters above sea level. The government had developed the Reserve to international standards. It yielded a lot of revenue to the government due to the influx of tourists.
Cosy accommodations with excellent, modern amenities were available. English, continental, oriental and native dishes were served in the restaurant. Yankari Game Reserve was one of the few places left in my country, where wildlife could be seen in an almost completely natural state.
The next morning, Amina rolled over on the bed and opened her eyes. She snuggled closer and kissed my cheek. Her face looked very relaxed. She looked soft and vulnerable in her white, transparent nightgown. Her hair, which had been dressed, was ruffled.
“Good morning dear,” I said.
“How are you today?”
“I am fine. I’d a nice sleep.”
Her eyes brightened with enthusiasm. “Do you remember we are going on tour of the wildlife today?” she asked.
“Certainly,” I replied.
Gazing into her adoring face, a feeling of comfort and harmony came over me.
I stood up and went into the bathroom to brush and shave. When we were fully dressed, we went to the restaurant to eat breakfast. After the meal, we joined the other tourists outside, to wait to be taken on tour of the Game Reserve.
By ten o’clock, we mounted a three-meter high, open-backed, Mercedes Benz lorry. It had two, long, foam-padded benches for about twenty-four tourists. An unarmed guide took us on the tour. He was ensconced at a vantage point in the lorry, where he could show us around and drew our attention to the presence of some wild life.
We saw elephants, in their natural habitat, hippos, antelopes, giraffes, lions, leopards, crocodiles etc. It was a memorable day for both of us. In the Game Reserve, an uplifting harmony seemed to prevail. The environment and the presence of Amina, seemed to sooth and assuage my wounded soul. The incredible beauty of the surrounding lifted my spirit another notch. The wildlife kept my mind off my unutterable sadness. Both of us recognized that we needed privacy to take our relationship into a higher level.We left after two weeks.
Three days we returned from our honeymoon, something untoward and unexpected happened. I was discussing with Amina when our door bell rang.
“I’ll get it,” I said as I walked to open the door.
“Jesus Christ!” I exclaimed when I was Senator Harrison standing at the door with a six-man security force.
“Darling, what is it?” Amina asked.
Senator Harrison embraced me in the way that men do only with their wives, their children, and those with whom they had faced danger.
“Chika, how are you. I know you’ll be surprised to see me.”
“I can’t believe my eyes. We believe you’re dead,” I said.
“But as you can see, I am still alive. Will you allow us in?”
“Why not? I was just surprised by your sudden reappearance. Please come in.” I threw the door wide open and Senator Harrison and his security men walked in. Could this be real or was I dreaming? I wondered.
“Welcome sir,” Amina greeted.
“Thank you fine lady.”
“What type of drink do I offer you?” I asked.
I was struck by his appearance. He was still his vivacious self but his hair seemed dusted with gray. He looked mentally fatigued and physically exhausted. There was a strange, almost vacant smile fixed on his face.But he still had both nerves and characters of granite.
“Chika, I learnt my daughter and my grandson were murdered by a scoundrel in Coastal State claiming to be a revolutionist, “he said with his drink in his hand. Amina had withdrawn to the bedroom. Senator Harrison was sitting with his leg across a knee, shaking it briskly.
My mood changed. The name of Biola reawakened the pains of the past. “Yes,” I replied.
“What a tragedy there is in this life.” he said. “I would have preferred it was me than Biola. But God knows the best. I am going to track down all those who destroyed our properties and kill my daughter and grandson and make them pay. Our safety lies in eliminating the danger.”
“Have you heard that your friends have given you an elaborate burial?”
“Yes. I have even visited my grave. It was interesting to know that while some were out to kill me, I still had some people who loved me. What an irony?”
“How did you escape?”
“As a smart politician I sleep in different places different nights, so the night my house was burnt down I was in a hotel in a neighboring town. When the news reached me. I left straight to the airport and flew to London in my private jet. I have been there since monitoring events.” Senator Harrison was a very sophisticated political observer.
“Why then did you come back because you would have heard that the military has taken over. They soldiers have been looking for you.”
“I am aware.”
“And you still came back?”
“Yes. I am not scared.”
“They claimed that Harrison Holdings was into corrupt practices.”
Senator Harrison leg stopped moving.
Senator Harrison leg stopped moving“Nonsense. Are they not corrupt? I have a dossier on the top military officers in the present government. Any attempt to harass me will spell doom for them.”
“I have instructed my lawyer in London to release the document to international press on the event of my arrest.”
“Is that why you have not been arrested?”
“Nobody have tried to arrest me since I arrived two days ago. Soldiers have no theoretical preparation, no political schooling, no ability for governance, and no political will. In the place of these qualities they have an inflammable temperament and the kind of eloquence which operates neither upon the mind or will but upon the nerves.”
I was surprised that Senator Harrison refused to give up. He was still preoccupied with politics. Yes, men like this didn’t appear every day.
Senator Harrison’s heart was frozen and he couldn’t feel. The nearest he got to feeling anything was the pursuit of power. That was what excited him. He loved money because it brought power. That was why he could never get enough of money.
“Why have you come back?”
“I am back to plan how to take over from the present military government. I hope to be the next president of this country. I am here to tell you that no matter what happened in the last election you should not give up. Life generally is studded with hazards and that does not mean we should stop living. You will still be the governor of Coastal State whether our political enemies like it or not.”
“How are you sure the military regime is ready to relinquish power?”
“I have got in contact with my international connections in the superpower countries in the west to apply pressure on the regime. Military rule is no longer fashionable. I shall be in touch.”
He stood up and left with his security men.
Some superstitious people suggested to me that some sinister force had to be responsible for the tragic events in Senator Harrison’s home. His wicked political activities had brought the wrath of God on his family, they claimed.
To them anybody close to Senator Harrison will die. So I was advised to keep far from him. The terrible conviction was all the more powerful because everybody around him had perished. For me I didn’t know who to believe .I only felt that time will tell.