Victim of Greed
By Tony Chuks Modungwo (Nigeria)
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Uche and Jayne weren’t happy when it was time for us to leave New York. But we promised to return any time we had the chance. They organized a send-off party for us in their house. It was a memorable occasion. Jayne promised to visit us. She’d become very friendly with Biola.
We’d spend three weeks in New York, every day better than the last.
“It has been beautiful here,” I told Uche.
We’d walked, picnicked, read and talked unendingly. We laughed and loved throughout the day and night. We played cards, chess and read American bestsellers. We’d bath together and explored each other’s bodies.
On the eve of our departure, I cast a glance at the numerous packets of clothes and shoes, boxes of jewelries. “Our trunk will not be enough to hold everything we bought in London and here,” I said.
“Let’s go and buy another trunk, then,” Biola said.
We hurried to a department store. It took us some time to decide upon a suitable trunk. After Biola paid for the purchase, the clerk assured us that the trunk would be delivered to our hotel within the hour. After a hasty breakfast the next day, we embarked on packing.
When we landed at Murtala Mohammed Airport, I expelled a sigh of relief. I’d read of many air-disasters in the newspapers that I didn’t feel safe in the gigantic streamlined metal case. When the plane taxied to a stop at the terminal building, I looked at Biola and said: “Welcome home.” She hugged me and we kissed.
We joined the queue of passengers leaving the aircraft. My camera hung on my neck and my traveling bag on my shoulder. We waited patiently for our luggage, but some of the passengers ran towards the luggage trucks instead of allowing the conveyor belt to bring the luggage to the customs checking counters.
“Why all this rush?” Biola asked hoarsely.
“To collect our luggage, of course,” one of the passengers, replied.
“Can’t you collect it when they’re carried down by the conveyor belt?”
“It looks you’re new in this airport. You better go and collect your luggage from the truck or some of them will be missing before you know it,” he shouted back as he ran towards the truck.
“There’s more possibility of the luggage missing under this chaotic situation,” Biola said.
“Disorderliness is considered a virtue in this airport,” a woman standing by our side said.
When we walked into the arrival lounge after collecting our luggage Senator and Mrs. Harrison were waiting for us. Biola ran and hugged her parents. I was somehow depressed because none of my relations was at the airport to welcome me back. Senator Harrison’s arm remained about Biola’s shoulder as they moved toward me.
Although it was unlikely they would’ve come even if they knew. Senator Harrison and my father had not been best of friends. They were as friendly as oil and water. Senator Harrison had tried to be friendly with him but my father didn’t encourage him. The Senator had even tried to find him a better job but he refused.
“I’m content with my present job,” he replied.
Senator Harrison, shaking his head in amazement, said, “You’ve remained a complex enigma to me.”
How an individual could be content with a job he’d done for twenty years without promotion baffled me.
“Welcome Chika,” Mrs. Harrison said. “I hope you enjoyed yourselves in London and New York?” She grinned widely. The action as always drew attention to the gap between her front teeth. She was a woman of few words. The driver carried our luggage to the awaiting Mercedes 500 SEL.
“We enjoyed ourselves ma’am,” I replied “I’ve never left this country before, so it was a pleasurable experience. Thanks to you and Senator Harrison.”
“You’re welcome,” Senator Harrison said.
We made our way to the car. The driver opened the door for Senator Harrison and Mrs. Harrison gave a bow and then, with a slavish grin on his face, he went around to his own door. I sat with the driver in the front and Biola with her parents at the back.
Before the driver drove off, some excited journalists pressed forward to interview Senator Harrison. Soon the phalanx of reporters had surrounded the car. Tungsten light mounted on top of the television news camera harshly illuminated the car’s opulent interior. The press was perpetually after him. Senator Harrison bestowed on them a broad smile, an unusual gesture.
“Can you tell us how you feel today, sir?” a lady journalist asked, the microphone held in her outstretched hand inches from his mouth.
“I feel very happy.” Senator Harrison smiled his contentment.
“Why did you finally give in to the marriage, you vowed it will never take place in your lifetime?” she demanded, looking pleased with her retentive memory.
“I gave in because Chika has proved himself to be a courageous man. He equally proved his in-depth love for my daughter by risking his life to rescue her from her kidnappers. This is what our police couldn’t do. I owe him the life of my daughter due to his gallantry. He’s a worthy son-in-law. Thank you.”
A policeman elbowed some reporters aside and rapped sharply on the chauffeur’s window until the glass glided close. Immediately he entered the car, the police van in front switched on its siren. As the siren was blaring, the entire vehicle on the road cleared for us to pass.
It was on the way to Victoria Island, that Senator Harrison told us that a reception had been organized for us. Senator Harrison enjoyed giving enormous parties. The Police had planned the route with care, and managed to avoid the roads notorious for traffic jams. We arrived at the house by eight thirty and the party was to start by ten o’clock. Many of the trees surrounding the house had been decorated with colored lights, giving the whole area a festive appearance. When I opened the car door I could hear the faintly insistent beat of country music coming from the house. In preparation for the reception party, the busy household buzzed like a beehive. The servants chatted happily as they rushed about arranging things. We’d enough time to take our bath and changed our clothes before guests started arriving.
Biola wore her spectacular Yves Saint Laurent’s black evening dress bought while we were in U.S. It breathed wealth and position. Biola’s appearance captivated the guests. I caught the glint in Biola’s eye. It was a flash of pride.
Senator Harrison’s list of guests reads like a “Who’s who” of the rich and famous.
Major General Ngulu and his wife were the first to arrive. He was a disciplined army officer, who always kept to time. They welcomed us back and asked many questions about how we enjoyed our honeymoon. Alhaji (Dr) Idris and Chief (Mrs) Idris were the next couple to arrive. They were from Ghana, I was told. Alhaji (Dr) Idris was a business tycoon. Other guests arrived almost at the same time. I was surprised at the elaborate party being organized just to welcome us back home from our honeymoon. Wealthy people had a way of doing their things.
It was with a tremendous effort I faced the prominent guests, overwhelmingly conscious of being the focus of numerous pairs of eyes, many of them examining me with the faintest degree of approval. Having come of age on a strictly controlled budget, waste on the part of Senator Harrison shocked me. I seemed in a daze as I watched the ceremony unfold. In the party, the passion of Nigerian women for jewels were displayed on their heads, necks, ears, wrists and fingers.
They seemed to have insatiable appetite for celebrations, I said to myself. Senator Harrison circulated among his many friends and acquaintances. Biola was very happy. She went from one guest to the other exchanging greetings. I was just being initiated into this social stratum so I knew only a few of the guests I met on our wedding day. Though I’d seen the pictures of many of them in the newspapers.
Whatever feeling of inferiority I’d about my performance in the public arena, had been magnified by my lack of personal money and a domineering father-in-law. I finally admitted that the Harrisons were public figures who fed on publicity, while I needed to preserve some degree of privacy in my own life. I had no alternative but to learn to make accommodations to the family into which I had married.
Pride gleamed in his dark eyes. What all the guests had in common was the handsome look of wealth. And this continued to astonish me. Here in this room with gold chandeliers, flooding the room with light, champagne chilling in ice-filled buckets, assorted food on display, expensive dresses, exotic glasses, it seemed as if the austerity didn’t exist.
When it seemed that all the expected guests had arrived, Senator Harrison made an opening speech.
“Governors, Senators, Honorable members of House of Representative, Ministers, Chiefs, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it’s my great pleasure to see that you all honored my invitation. I invited you here tonight to dine and wine with the Harrison’s family on the safe arrival of our beloved daughter and her lovely husband from their honeymoon. This is not a night for long speeches so please go to the tables over there,” he indicated by pointing, “just mention what you want and you’ll be served. Thank you.” He smiled like a football coach taking quiet pride for his boys who’d performed with distinction on the field. My life in Ajegunle hadn’t prepared me for the gay and extravagant life of the rich.
Uniformed waiters and waitresses appeared as if by magic. Then Senator Harrison picked a glass of champagne and raised it in the air. “Attention, my friends.” The guests quieted down to hear the Senator announcement. “I offer a toast to my beautiful daughter and her handsome husband. There was clinching of glasses.
“Cheers,” a chorus of voices responded, and they took the obligatory sip.
There were much to eat, and drinks flowed like Atlantic and Pacific oceans combined. At midnight, Senator Harrison addressed the gathering again. He thanked them again for honoring his invitation and wished them safe journey to their respective homes. When he finished, he invited Biola and I to stand up and presented us with a bunch of keys each. “These keys are for your house and your car,” he announced. “I wish you a happy married life.”
At the end of the party, Senator Harrison called one of his drivers to drive us to our new house. The house was at Ikoyi and we were driven there in our new posh, Mercedes “C” class. It was a duplex. The compound was decorated with assorted flowers, planted in different patterns. I marveled at the beauty of the compound. All these things looked ordinary to Biola, evidence of our different backgrounds. She noticed my surprise but said nothing. I opened the front door and we moved into a spacious, luxuriously furnished sitting room. Whoever decorated it had taste. The boy’s quarter was far more beautiful then any house in our area in Ajegunle.
I was surprised when Biola told me that she wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the furniture in the house. She contacts Jide Ojuola, a prominent decorator to redecorate the house.
“The color of the upholstered chairs is nauseating,” she complained. I was outraged.
Soon the whole house was furnished with new set of furniture, Persian rugs and antiques. For one month there was rearranging of furniture, switching of rugs, moving around of paintings, framed photographs and some art works. By the time they were through, Biola had incurred an expense of five million naira and Jide had submitted a bill of five hundred thousand naira for his effort, which Biola passed over to her father. However, the fashionable decorator did a slick job.
Ikoyi was a seductive part of Lagos. For men would give anything to live in Ikoyi, where food, wine, women and money was in abundance. It was meant for the high echelons of the society. Some said it was the best area in the nation. You wouldn’t believe that Ikoyi was in the same Lagos with Ajegunle and the smell.
As I walked around, admiring the exquisitely furnished house and its luxurious fittings, I grudgingly gave credit to who credit was due; Biola appeared to have no peer – she’d high taste.
Immediately, we entered our bedroom for the night, Biola said, “Chika, I want you to make love to me like you never did before,” she said in a husky murmur.
I began to unbutton her bodice. He breasts were soon exposed to my hungry gaze. Biola reached up and slipped her arms around my neck.
“I adore you sweetheart,” she said.
“We’re good together, I can make you happy. Happier than you’ve ever been,” I replied.
I lowered my head and my tongue began to toy with the sensitive peaks of her breasts. She shuddered and relaxed. My mouth closed over one breast and I began to suckle.
“I love you Chika,” she whispered, pressing my head to her breast. Closing her eyes to shut out everything except the exquisite sensation I was creating, she tipped her head to the side to allow my lips more freedom.
I rose from the bed and disposed my clothes. Back to the bed, I lay on Biola. The taut nipples of her breasts were crushed against my bare chest as she kissed me. “I want you inside me.”
I slipped my fingers between her legs seeking the throbbing core of her womanhood. My strong, long finger found the sensitive nub, I stroke it, as she writhed and groaned. Driven to the highest echelon of passion, she sobbed my name, pleading for mercy.
When I entered her, she gasped with rapture as I filled her and she tightened around me. The tempo of my thrusts increased in a sublime moment of ecstasy. She cried out in rapturous ecstasy when her body erupted with tremor upon tremor.
“No man has ever aroused me as you have.”
“I love you because you’re so exciting. And I love the way you love it.”
“Only with you,” Biola whispered.
I woke up the next day still feeling I was in a dream. The simple fact that I married the daughter of a rich man had transformed by life overnight, from Ajegunle to Ikoyi. What a transition? When unobserved, I flung myself into a crazy dance, just for the joy of freedom from poverty.
We had to hire a full-time cook. Biola couldn’t cook; not even the simplest meal. She had grown up with maids and cooks. She wasn’t particularly interested in the mechanics of housekeeping, so we had to hire a maid, because she insisted that all the six bedrooms and four baths must be tidied; all the windows kept clean; carpeting vacuumed three times a day (morning, noon and evening). The marble floor mopped twice a day.
The pealing of the wedding bells had barely faded when Senator Harrison appointed me to head his group of companies.
He brought out his cigar and lit it with his gold lighter and smoked for a while before he continued. “Since I joined politics, I’ve been looking for someone young and strong, who understands business and who at least can be taught and trusted. It happened that I found that man in you.” He looked at me questioningly. “There are great opportunities in this country for a young man who is sharp, and I’ve found out that you are sharp. I do …”
He suddenly halted, mid-sentence, as if he was becoming increasingly unable to choose his words properly. After some minutes, he continued, “I do a great other things beside contracts. You’ll get to know all before long. It’s not enough to get rich. Once, you’ve got it, you’ve to make it work for you. So, you see, I’ve been branching out. I transact business all over the country and I’ve branch offices in London, Paris and New York.” He was obsessed with the accumulation of wealth.
I listened to Senator Harrison with rapt attention. I was confused if I could handle this job. I remembered when I was in the university before I developed love for material wealth I was one of the protagonists in anti-corruption crusade. One particular one was the bloodiest. The fees in the universities were increased with the excuse that the government didn’t have enough money to subsidize our upkeep, when a few individuals had stolen billions into their private accounts. On that particular day, we trailed the streets chanting war songs. We carried placards, crowbars, stones and catapults in anticipation of an encounter with the anti-riot policemen. The anti-riot policemen came as expected. We whistled, jeered, and hurled insults on the police. The police with their clubs raised came to meet us. There was an initial hesitation in the front, but some daring students challenged the police. Missiles were thrown. There was confusion, people struggled to join the battle, and other tried to escape. Cries of pain, fear, anger and hatred went up. The police swung their batons and some students fell down moaning in pains. But some students surged forward. When the police officer that led the operation saw that the students were gaining upper hand, he ordered his men to open fire on us. When we saw our fellow students lying dead, we fled in different directions, shrieking and crying.
The masses didn’t support our strike either; they regarded us as part of the privileged elites. The authorities dismissed our protest as that of over-pampered children suffering from youthful exuberance. Nothing was done about our dead colleagues. We only declared the day they were slaughtered as a lecture free day. We never achieved what we fought for. It was a lost battle.
During my graduation, our Vice Chancellor spoke extensively against the lust for wealth.
“Young men and ladies, you should be proud and worthy ambassadors of this great university. You should extol virtues such as sincerity, forthrightness, tolerance, justice, truthfulness and fair play. You should shun vices like indiscipline, corruption, waywardness, consuming quest for luxury, seeking easy way out of matters ordinarily requiring perseverance, devotion and self-sacrifice.”
We all listened in that attitude of motionless attention, which encouraged him to go on.
“You shouldn’t become obsessed with the lust for wealth to the point, that you take leave of your senses. Put your trust in time, everything will come to pass. In contemporary world, we face many conflicts, trials and test of character. Therefore, you need to constantly ask yourselves, whether, your responses to each situation is one that enhances your personality or fails to live up to your ideals of conduct.”
He stopped to take a sip of water from a glass by the podium.
“The more troubles and difficulties you face, the greater opportunity you’ve to acquire knowledge and understanding and help you progress towards your highest ideals. Children are not well brought up these days because their parents are out running after money. No time to inculcate discipline to their children.”
But I was trying to lead an organization with no other business than corrupt and criminal practices. I reminded myself that I’d vowed I must get rich by any possible means, so I went ahead. I was so tired of being poor, of struggling to survive.
The first day I resumed, I was shown to an opulent office. I surveyed the office with obvious admiration. It had a resting room attached, with bed and a fridge stacked with canned food and soft drinks, in case I worked late. There was a red bulb outside the office door and a sign that read: “When light is on do not enter.” Senator Harrison introduced me to the members of staff as the new General Manager.
“There’s different range of strengths in almost every organization. But in Harrison Holdings, in order to accomplish our lofty goals, we worked as a team,” Senator Harrison explained to me, when we were back to my office. “By establishing the links among our different divisions, we have been able to achieve goals that were previously unreachable.”
He treated his employees like a family. He expected them to work hard, and he rewarded them with gifts and pay rise. He equally took care of them in other ways. He gave scholarship for intelligent children of his employees qualified for college education. This was why his employees were so loyal. Many of them had stayed in his employment for years.
I sat behind my massive desk in the opulent office, listening to Senator Harrison.
“In this country, hundreds of leading organizations, government agencies and individuals has come to depend on our unique ability to do business. So if you’re approached for any business never accept anything is impossible. We have used incentives to especially government functionaries and aggressive business methods to be ahead of our competitors. You’ll see that with the right incentives and attitude, just about anything is possible.”
“What type of incentives do you give them, sir?”
“We pay them twenty percent of the cost of contract, and give them some other small gifts. In today’s turbulent Nigeria, the value of sound advice is more important than ever. Try to reach me, if there is anything that confuses you. Because, no matter, how insurmountable the obstacle might seem, there is a good chance, I can do something tangible about it.”
I employed Komoko as my personal driver to keep him out of crime. He was grateful. I felt obligated to help.
In the office, I found myself very busy. It was a backbreaking job. I wrote comments in the files, signed orders, promotions, contracts and attended series of meetings with business associates and senior government officials.
At first, feeling my way through the job, I relied on Senator Harrison for guidance. Those having business with me start coming in as from ten o’clock. A security man escorted them to an anteroom, where they sat and filled out visitors’ form. My secretary, Rose would send the forms to me. I called them in, in order of importance. While the visitors waited, to be called in, they leaf through books, newspapers and magazines depending on individual’s choice.
Two guards were stationed at the main entrance to the office. They had no function except to open and close the door for visitors.
On my desk, I kept a large diary of my daily appointments, scrupulously entered in my own hand. It was the duty of my secretary to open official letters, file them and place the files on my desk for my attention. When I drafted letters, she got them typed, passed them for my signature and later sent them by the appropriate means.
To the despair of the employees who’d hoped that the withdrawal of Senator Harrison would mean a modification of the working pattern, I quickly made it clear that I would closely abide by my father-in-law’s principles. Senator Harrison gave me the powers to give post to whomever I liked, to listen or ignore any advice from the staff and to hand down dismissals without explanation.
I hated scenes and found it impossible to sternly criticize or dismiss a man to his face. If something was wrong, I preferred to give the employee a friendly reception, comment gently and shake hands warmly. Occasionally, after such an interview, the employee would return in the morning to meet a letter regretfully asking for his resignation.
In the office, it was improper for any of the employee except me to speak to Senator Harrison without being spoken to, and when walking with chairman, as he was popularly referred to, friends didn’t greet each other or even notice each other’s existence. Chairman’s restless temperament, his vanities and delusions, his rapid plunges from hysterical excitement to black despair kept the employees in a state of constant apprehension.
At the early time of our marriage moments of glamor intermingled with moments of crises. For Biola it was party, party, party. At a point, I became bored by the frequent parties. Biola installed a special lighting device in the living room. On flip of the switch the room will be brightly lit. Another flip of the switch the lights become dim. And another flip of the switch the room was dark with moon and stars shining in the darkened ceiling.
She hosted a lot of parties and birthdays. Her parties became famous because of the guests list. It was studded with the names of persons both gifted and celebrated, most of them from the world of music, science, theater and business. When she was not hosting a party, she was attending the ones being hosted by her friends. The parties gave me the opportunity of meeting many celebrities.
I’d been inhabiting a totally different world, I wasn’t enjoying well-off people and the kinds of things they liked to do. Her social group didn’t think too highly of me because my father was neither a rich and well-connected business tycoon nor a powerful politician. It was difficult for me to live in the shadow of Biola in a male dominated society like Nigeria. This created an inner conflict, which arose whenever I attended any social occasion with her.
If Biola wanted to do something, she didn’t want somebody telling her not to do it or criticizing her for doing it. She was strong-willed and independent. We argued, just like every married couple, but we always patched up our differences.
In one of her parties, Biola drank too much champagne, and danced and flirted with every man within her reach. To my uttermost surprise at a point she moved over to Bolaji.
“Bolaji, let’s dance,” she said, drawing him into the midst of the gyrating figures on the dance floor. They were soon gyrating as enthusiastically to the earsplitting noise of the disco as everyone else. When they finally pushed their way off the crowded dance floor, Bolaji embraced her and planted a moist kiss on the side of her face, a gesture she relished.
I was mad. I resented her male company bitterly, growing more jealous as the months went by. And this was Bolaji that caused Senator Harrison to throw me out of Biola’s birthday party embracing and kissing my wife. I felt like going over and giving him a hot slap. I managed to maintain my cool till the party ended.
I attacked Biola at the first opportunity we had of being alone. “ You seem to have no sense of shame, flaunting yourself at every male guest in the way you did.”
“You’re just too jealous. When I have dinner with someone, dance with someone, smile at someone, take a walk with someone – immediately you will say, we must be having an affair. How do you want me to respond to something like that? You are not even willing to dance with me. So what do I do?”
“That is not enough reason for you to be flirting shamelessly with every man in the party.”
“I’m not without principles or immoral or for that matter particularly interested in the opposite sex for any sexual purpose.”
“But it looked as though you really enjoyed having the men following you around with their tongues hanging out.”
“Go away! Go away! You must be mad.” She turned abruptly and stalked into her bedroom, slamming the door violently behind her and threw herself on her bed, before giving way to a paroxysm of violent, angry weeping. She stared with unseeing eyes at the bedroom ceiling – “How dare you? How dare you? You don’t care anything about me, you’re an unfeeling brute and I hate you.”
I felt a sense of compassion when I saw the lines of strain on Biola’s face. It had been a difficult moment for her.
I must be mad --- crazy! I told myself. I had no proof whatsoever that Biola had been unfaithful. I had overheard her tell some of her friends that once you’d been with Chika, no other man would do, when they wanted to know why she married me.
I sat on a sofa near the bed and waited until gradually her rage dissipated.
“I thought I’d got your sort of attractions out of my system, but you only have to fix those your big brown eyes on my face and I forget every wrong you’ve done me. You’re a virus ravishing me inside,”she said.
She was in love with life and knew how to have fun. However, she was able to separate business with pleasure. She didn’t play with her job.
“I am sorry ,Biola. I misjudged the situation please forgive me.” I said. “I love you, hence I am jealous.”
I was in the office, one afternoon, when my secretary informed me through the inter-com that I’d a female visitor. I told her to send the visitor in. I was attacking the mountain of papers on my table requiring my signature or remarks.
“Hello Chika,” Sally greeted.
I was surprised to see her. I hadn’t seen her since I left the ministry.
“How are you? What a pleasant surprise,” I commented wryly.
“You look very busy.”
“Oh yes. I’m always very busy. This company has a lot of business transactions going on both within and outside the country. Where are you coming from?”
“I’ve come just to say hello. It has been quite a long time. Since you left, you’ve never deemed it fit to visit us.”
“It is not intentional. I’m a very busy man as you can see.”
“So how is business?”
“Everything is going on fine. What do I offer you? I’ve beer, fruit juice and soft drinks in the refrigerator. I also have brandy, wine and whiskey.”
“I prefer wine.”
I brought out two glasses and a bottle of Matteus Rose. I poured liberal quantity of the wine for her, before pouring myself some brandy. Kola had inflicted his taste for brandy on me.
“Cheers,” I said lifting up my glass.
“Cheers,” Sally replied.
I took a sip. I placed the glass on the table and brought out my cigarette packet from my coat’s pocket. I lit one with a gold lighter bearing my initials set in diamonds. I pulled at the cigarette and released a cloud of smoke through my mouth. I lifted my inter-com and my secretary answered.
“Don’t let in any visitor,” I instructed.
“Yes, sir.”She flipped a switch and the red bulb in front of my door lighted.
I turned back to Sally. “You’re still looking beautiful as ever.”
She smiled. “Your skin is glowing. You’re really living well. I learnt your company is the major importer of essential commodities.”
“That is correct. Harrison Holdings has been able to conform to Corporate Affairs Commission guidelines and also passed the acid test of the Central Bank. We’ve the necessary human capital, the necessary information technology, and necessary procedure in place to do international business. Government appointing our company as the major importer of essential commodities shows of international confidence of how we are uniquely set in Nigeria. It is an endorsement of how we’ve positioned ourselves to the service of our people.”
“It has been difficult to buy rice in the market, what is happening? There are not enough of it in circulation.”
“Do you like rice?” I asked, avoiding answering her question.
“Yes. It is a very scare commodity now.”
“Not for a beautiful lady like you.”
“How? I can’t afford to pay the outrageous price. You know the salary we’re being paid in the ministry is very poor.”
“I shall give you a note to collect a bag from our warehouse, when you’re going.”
“A bag? Where is the warehouse?”
“Don’t worry, a driver will take you there and drop me at home.”
“That is wonderful. Chika, you’re a darling.” She shrieked with joy. She ran toward me and threw her arms around my neck.
At this point, Biola walked in. My heart jumped into my mouth and my throat went dry. Clearly, Sally wished for a hole to crawl into.
“You again!’ Biola shouted, ignoring Sally’s greeting. “What are you doing here?” I knew instinctively that a great deal of turmoil was lurking below Biola’s suave exterior. My secretary had switched on the red bulb in front of my office after Sally entered, but Biola ignored it.
Sally was so shocked and embarrassed she could not say anything.
“She came around this area and called in to say hello,” I explained, my thoughts moving like troubled wanderers looking for a place to rest.
“The last time I met her in your office, you told me you had nothing with her, I believed you. Now, she is here again. Why is she always looking for you? Even now that you have long left the ministry?” Biola asked skeptically.
“Believe me, there is nothing between us. It’s just courtesy call,” I explained, as something ran up and down my spine, light fingers of fear, and excitement.
“What an ungrateful son-of-a-bitch you are!” growled Biola. If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have had this success that has so clearly gone to your head. You are everything to me. Without me, you would be nothing.”
I had to admit there was some truth in what she said. Before I met Biola, I was nothing and had nothing. With stubborn determination, I focused on the many pleasant things in my life and shut my ears to Biola’ unpleasant outburst.
Biola walked up to Sally and slapped her. “Leave my husband alone or I’ll kill you,” she threatened.
I stood up quickly and rushed to hold Biola.
“Please darling, don’t create a scene here, please,” I pleaded.
“You asked for it.”
“Please calm down. This is just an ordinary visit,” I insisted.
As I engaged Biola’s attention, Sally hurried out of the office. Biola bolted out of the room as if going after Sally. I went after her. One of Biola problem was that she could dole it out but she couldn’t take it. She was too sensitive for her own good. She was the most insanely jealous woman I had ever met. By the time I got home, she was still seething with anger.
“Before I met you, I never believe there could be such utter happiness in this world, such a feeling of unity between two human beings. Now you want to destroy this happiness, this unity,” she said.
“Biola, my love for you is intact. I love you, and I can stake my life on those three words. I’ve done it before and I can still do it again.”
I stretched out my arms, into which she came in with automatic obedience, I clasped her, kissed her, and clasped her again.
Most of the contracts we won were grossly inflated. Our organization enjoyed absolute monopoly of most government contracts. This was achieved before my arrival by bribing corrupt government officials. They usually got twenty percent of the contracts fee, ten percent higher than the universally accepted bribe rate in Nigeria. The organization had some members of staff who were experts in kickbacks and palm greasing. Apart from slow pace of executing contracts and use of inferior materials, we could abandon any project especially after collecting mobilization fees without fear of any stringent penalty.
Biola’s greatest weakness was her apparent life of luxury. Despite the fact that she earned well, her father still supplemented her income. But all these money were quickly squandered. She adored luxury and lived life to the fullest. For this reason, our marriage had gone through a period of dramatic highs and desultory lows.
She would stop at nothing to possess anything that met her fancy. Her wardrobe closet was crammed with clothes. She had three hundred pairs of shoes still she bought more. During our honeymoon, she bought a lot of souvenirs for her friends.
She was generous to a fault. She would remember birthdays and wedding ceremonies and anniversaries of friends with generous expensive gifts. She gave away invaluable gifts, not only to friends and acquisitions but to complete strangers. In some of the shops we visited during our honeymoon, she bought some gifts for courteous sales clerks.
In a party we attended in London, she gave away one of her expensive gold necklace because her friend admired it.
“Your necklace is very fine.”
“Do you want it.”
“No. I was just admiring it. It is quite beautiful.”
“You can have it if you like it.”
“You must be joking.”
“No. I mean it. I have too many necklaces.”
She unclasped it and handed it over to her friend. I wasn’t particularly happy but knew better to argue with her.
Even Senator Harrison at a point was angry over Biola’s prodigal spending. On the other hand, he was to be blamed for the problem. Since her childhood he had encouraged her in her spending.
“You’re wasting a lot of money with your reckless spending,” I complained when I could no longer bear it. The moment I spoke those words, I regretted it. After all, it was not my money.
We argued back and forth for maybe ten minutes before Biola became more and more hysterical.
“Imagine you I picked from the gutter trying to tell me how to---” The instant those cruel words were out of her mouth, she wished she could take them back.
I opened my mouth, ready to reply angrily. To my surprise, the words wouldn’t come. The incident had a chilling effect on me and was a sharp blow to my pride. Biola’s anger immediately faded.
“Chika, I am sorry. I don’t mean to hurt you. Please forgive me. I don’t know how I could have lost my temper so badly. I love you.” Knowing how stubborn Biola could be, I realized what it must have cost her to offer apology and declare her feelings for me.
There was sincerity, a kindness about her that immediately put a person at ease. My anger disappear as quickly as it had come and was replaced by amusement.
“Has anyone ever told you how pretty you look when you’re mad?”
Trying to pick up the broken bits of my pride, glue them together, and get on with my life, I dropped my arms casually around Biola’s shoulders, I caressed her skin tenderly and with great affection. Tracing the beautiful contours of her profile, her brown eyes softened and glowed with adoration. I took her hand and walked toward the bedroom.
One afternoon, Kola came to my office. I was surprised to see him because he rarely visited me in the office.
“Chika, do you know that for one month now, we haven’t eaten rice in my house.”
“I haven’t been able to buy it. It has turned a precious grain for the consumption of the aristocrats only. And I heard from a reliable source that you have thousands of bags of rice and large quantities of other essential commodities stored in your warehouse.”
“That is correct. We bring in the goods; the middlemen buy and sell them. It seems complicated, but basically it is a trade and very advantageous to all. That’s how it works.”
“Why are these items not in the market? You’re hoarding them to create artificial scarcity, so that you can make a lot of profit. Imagine hoarding food when people are dying of hunger,” he spoke deliberately fighting disgust.
I gave a short, unpleasant laugh. “Kola, you would have phoned me and I’ll send some bags to you.”
“If you give me some bags because of our relationship, how about those who are not lucky to know you? Chika, open your warehouse and sell the goods to those that need them. It worries me that you can be so mercenary.”
“Kola, we are running a business not a charity organization.”
“When the whole world is responding with all forms of aids to the food shortage in Africa, which includes Nigeria, you and your father-in-law hoard food materials, and sell them at outrageous prices. You’ve gone crazy with greed. Chika, you’ve changed. Remember you were once very poor. What do you and your father-in-law want to do with all the wealth you’re accumulating? I learnt you’ve gone into currency trafficking,” Kola accused.
“Oh yes. Hence our banks can’t cope with the amount of foreign exchange, the citizens of this nation need, we decided to help. We’ve agents who sell all types of foreign currencies to desperate students to pay their school fees, businessmen and travelers. Our agents are at all international airports and top hotels in the country.”
“The police may arrest the agents one day and you’ll be in serious trouble.”
“They’ve arrested some of them a few times, but when Senator Harrison name was mentioned, they were quickly set free. Nothing is impossible in this country as long as you know the right people. And Senator Harrison knows them.”
“The People’s Voice of yesterday wrote that the contract awarded to Harrison Holdings to build roads and build housing estates for civil servants have been abandoned after collecting mobilization fees. And where you’re executing the contract at all, the pace is slow and inferior materials are being used.”
“The People’s Voice is a useless newspaper. It is fond of spreading rumors. Don’t be angry with me. Must we think alike on everything to be friends?”
“No. I’m not angry, only that your present behavior surprises me. I’ve no objection to your living well, even luxuriously as a result of hard work. But you even deal in arms and ammunitions. Arms dealers live well with other people’s lives. That’s unfair and unacceptable.”
Before I worked for six months, I was in money. Such that my father had never seen since he was born and would never see till the day of his death. I tried to help my family. I’d been in the darkness of poverty and now in the brilliant light of abundant wealth and I wanted my family to enjoy its glow. Austin my immediate junior had gained admission into the university. I took responsibility for all his needs. I sent all my younger ones in the secondary school to the boarding house. I tried to rent another house for my parents but my father refused. “I don’t want to have a share in your dirty money,” he said.
I didn’t like the idea of my parents living in squalor, while I lived in human-designed heaven. My mother tried to make him change his mind but she didn’t succeed.
“How can you described your son’s money as dirty?” my mother asked.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know how he got his money. I rather die a poor man than touch money acquired through corrupt and illegal practices, ” he grumbled.
“What? Chika is gainfully employed. He is doing a legitimate job?”
“So you think. Do you know what they do?”
"Yes? Execute contracts.”
“Fine.” He smirked. “You don’t know anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your son is a smuggler and currency trafficker.” Dishonesty, for whatever reason, was an abomination to my father. “Clean living and hard work have their rewards.”
“That is a lie. Chika is it true?”
“It isn’t true. We do business,” I said tolerantly.
“What type of business?” my father asked scornfully.
“Importation and execution of contracts.”
“What do you import?”
“And they have disappeared from the markets,” he replied indignantly. “Senator Harrison joined politics in 1978, when the military who had ruled Nigeria for many years, accepted to handover to civilians. He has made an unbeaten record as the most corrupt politician Nigeria ever had. One must develop a certain obliquity of conscience, an elastic attitude towards the truth to be an effective politician in Nigeria. Senator Harrison like most politicians has placed his personal glorification, materialistic insensitivity and power lust before that of the nation and her citizens.”
“You never liked Senator Harrison. What did he do to you?”
“During the Second Republic which began in 1979, prices of food commodities went up like balloons in the wind. Toilet soaps, vegetable oil, sugar, detergent, common household items became classified as “essential commodities”. A committee was set up to ameliorate the unprecedented shortage of the essential items but their activities worsened the situation. Senator Harrison being a friend of the chairman of the committee got import license to import and distribute a large quantity of essential commodities.”
“What is wrong with that?”
“Instead of selling the items direct to the masses at control prices, he sold them at high prices to middle-men who diverted them to their private shops and supermarkets. Things that could be bought across the counter before were no longer displayed. They were hidden in the stores from where they were doled out in small quantities to privileged Nigerians who could afford the prices. In most cases, prices were three hundred percent higher than the approved prices. Rice became a golden grain only to be eaten by political leaders and their families and other privileged citizens. The social and economical situation in the country today is such that day-to-day suffering is growing and life has become an ordeal for the living and death a better alternative for the masses.
“This illicitly accumulated wealth coupled with that from arms smuggling made him live in comfort in a comfortless country, and the remaining wealth was lodged in a Swiss bank. Swiss banking system offered the facility of permitting unlimited quantity of money to pass in and out without government control or interference. Unlike Nigeria, where accounts in the bank could be frozen without notice at the discovery that the source of the money was dubious.”
“What does that mean?” I asked my dad.
The essentials commodities are kept in your warehouses than in the markets. The artificial scarcity you’ve created has skyrocketed prices so that you can make four hundred percent profits. You and your father-in-law are useless to this country.”
“Dad, what you call hoarding to me is a business strategy. If you studied economics, you would have understood the “Demand and Supply’ theory. The major objective of establishing our business organization is to make profit. It’s not a philanthropic organization. We can employ any method we deem fit to improve our profit.”
“Even when people are dying of starvation?” he challenged querulously.
“So it’s normal that you should stock your warehouses with millions of bags and cartons of essential commodities especially foodstuff, while people are dying of hunger?”
“I know times are hard, but anyway we sell to those who can afford the prices.”
“It’s unfortunate we live in an age when there is a false glare on the things of the time and a great fog over the thing of eternity. Son, change your ways before it is too late. Your life is worth more than any material wealth. Read your bible and try to acquaint yourself with its contents.”
“I doff my hat for the ancient writers in Israel who’d recorded all the words and deeds of their teachers and leaders in such a brilliant way that they formed the content of a holy book.”
“Are you saying that the bible is a literature book?”
“I’ve not said that.”
“I’m sorry for you. You’ve become a racketeer and a swindler. The bible in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “Those who are determined to be rich --- have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”
I continued to take care of my mother and my relatives and left my father alone. It seemed to me that he was born to suffer. Although one way or the other he benefited from my benevolence. Life was a short thing and strict adherence to stern morality did not contribute to its sweetness.
Another areas of our business that yielded real money were currency trafficking. We had agents who sold all kind of foreign currencies to desperate students, businessmen and travelers at high cost. The business venues were top hotels, and international airports. Our agents were well paid and therefore fearless. Any time they were arrested it didn’t last twenty-four hours before they were released because of Senator Harrison’s influence.
When the next election started to approach we went into arms smuggling. We smuggled all sorts of sophisticated weapons, which we sold to important politicians to arm their thugs. This was an area we showed no party loyalty. We sold to members of any political party who was willing to buy and had the money.
Many Nigerians decried the proliferation of arms and live ammunitions in private hands but Senator Harrison said they were crazy. We brought them in containers and forged customs clearance papers to avoid detection. Anytime ,our men were at police or customs checking-points, Senator Harrison’s name was the magic password.
Biola’s association with men was a source of constant disagreement between us.
She invited Bolaji to her 36th birthday. Immediately he entered our living room, Biola went to welcome him. He embraced her and lifted her off the ground. Later that evening I still saw them huddled together in a corner. They were paying a lot of attention to each other. I became afraid that something was trying to develop between them.
That same week there was report in a gossip magazine about this supposed romance between Biola and Dan Ryan, the managing director of her company. The magazine claimed there was definitely a relationship between them. This proved embarrassing. I was afraid to think what my parents would say if they heard that my wife was having affairs with other men, especially my father, who was a religious fanatic.
The degree to which I reacted to Biola’s presumed flirtation with men shifted according to my moods. But as time passed I became increasingly philosophic. “You can’t have everything.” The thought didn't last.
I had an explosive disagreement at the weekend. We were invited to a dinner party by a Lagos socialite, Nike Peters at her Victoria Island apartment. Ken Okoye, son of a very successful industrialist, Anthony Okoye was there. Before I knew it, Biola had gone off with him.
I went out to the garden and wept. But how could tears ever relieve the agony I felt, this pain that ravaged my soul? Biola didn’t love me. She had never loved me. She had used me – used me viciously to satiate her lust, I felt.
On getting home, I complained seriously about Biola abandoning me in the party and going off with another man.
“I only went to discuss a business deal his company is having with our company. It is a multi-million naira business, we needed a quiet place to discuss it.”
“Why did you not tell me before taking off?”
“I am sorry, it escaped me I didn’t inform you.”
“Do you know what Kola told me about you? We had quite an interesting conservation when I newly met you.”
“Biola turned reluctantly. “What did Kola tell you.” Her clenched fists at her sides.
“He told me that you were a bitch, and a whore.”
Biola gasped and leaned for support against the door frame. “How could he?”
I ignored her interruption and continued: “He warned me that you would sleep around, as when you felt like it.”
She pressed her hand to her chest. “I don’t know if my heart can stand very much more of this.”
“You’re a beautiful and sensual woman, and you use your obvious assets shamelessly.”
“Most men seem to think I’m just ripe for the picking, some come claiming. I’ve magnetic effect on them, others seem to be pretty taken by my family’s wealth. But God knows I have never been unfaithful to you. I love you whether you believe it or not.”
I had spent much of the night arguing with Biola.
We were both bitter, disillusioned, withdrawn, and silent as if afraid that conservation would deepen the wound. The breach between us widened. There had been talk of divorce between us. But it was only talk.
Biola tossed and tossed restlessly for what seemed like an hour. She then sat up in the middle of the mattress wrapped her arms around her legs - and pensively rested her chin on her knees. Quivering violently, she took several deep breaths to stern the rising hysterical that threatened to overwhelm her
I felt so convinced that Biola was having affairs with men so I hired a private detective to watch her and give me a report every two days. I wanted an evidence to divorce her. Biola was pregnant and I wasn’t even sure I was responsible.
Davies was a private detective who pride himself on getting highly sensitive information on anybody with good speed. Surveillance was something Davies was exceedingly good at. He was a former secret agent.
I arrived at my office early one Friday morning to find the expected pile of work, on top of which was a note from my secretary, Grace.
“The Minister of Civil Consructions wants to see you by 2 o’clock in the afternoon.”
I sat behind the large oak desk trying to concentrate on the ledgers before me. From the wall opposite me, a clock tolled the eleventh hour. The office was busy. Staff were moving around the corridor. The air-conditioner in my office was humming to keep the room cool. I rose and walked over to stare out into the street below. Cars and people were in motion. I returned to my chair. I propped my elbows on the desk and rested my head in my hands, wondering what had delayed Chief Okonkwo. I loosened my tie and rolled up my sleeves, preparing to go down to work.
There was a knock on my door. “Come in,” I shouted.And Chief Okonkwo walked in.
“Chief! Chief!” I hailed. “You’re welcome.”
“Chika, how is business?” he asked. “I’m sorry I came a bit late. I was held up by visitors.”
“Business is fine. Please have your seat.”
“Thanks,” he said, as he settled in one of my visitor’s chairs.
“How are you preparing for politics?”
“It is getting tough. Last week, I narrowly escaped assassination.”
“As my convoy neared the venue for my declaration for Conscience Party, in my state capital, my driver saw an object hurled from the crowd. He pressed down the accelerator, the car jumped forward and a bomb which would have landed on the car, bounced off the rear of the car and exploded behind, killing some people standing by and injuring the occupants of the next car. The man who threw the bomb mixed up with the crowd and couldn’t be identified. My driver quickly drove me home, by the time, I got home, I was shaken and furious. Can you imagine, people using bomb to welcome me to my own state! I know it’s the handiwork of the incumbent governor.”
“Why will he want to kill you?”
“I’m going to contest for the gubernatorial seat in my state, and he is aware I’m very popular.”
“What do you want to do now? Have you changed your mind because of the attempt on your life?”
“No. I’m going ahead. I shall return fire for fire. In fact, I’m here to buy guns. I hope you have some in stock?”
“Yes. We’ve large stock of SMG, Assault Revolver, AK 47 and Pump Action guns and all sorts of ammunitions. Which type do you need and how many?”
“I want thirty AK 47.”AK 47 ranked high among weapons of mass destruction.It was often referred to as Russia’s most enduring contribution to the science of war since 1947.It was capable of dispensing death within the range of 1,350 meters with magazine capacity of thirty.
“They are available. When do you want them?”
“Right now, they have declared war on me and I must fight back.”
“You can’t collect them now. You can pay now, then come to our warehouse to collect them by midnight.”
“How much is for the thirty AK 47?”
I collected my calculator and worked out the cost and showed the figure to Chief Okonkwo. He brought out the briefcase he came with and counted the exact amount on my table.
“Can I’ve a look at a sample of the weapon?”
“For sure.” I stood up and crossed to my wardrobe and brought out one AK 47, where I hid it and handed it over to Chief Okonkwo.
“Hey Chika, you’re a strong man. This is exactly what I want,” he said, as he examined the weapon. When he satisfied himself, he handed the weapon back to me.
“I used this gun during the Nigeria/Biafra civil war and it was beautiful. I shall send my boys to collect the weapons as arranged. How about the ammunitions?”
“They are equally available. What quantity do you want?”
“About five thousand to start with. I shall come for more, later. I shall send the money with my boys; when they are coming to pick the weapons.”
“Thanks. That will be fine. Chief! Chief!” I hailed.
“That is me, ” he replied. “I think I should be going. You know this is a very busy period.”
After he left, I stood up and put the money in a private save in my office, till the next day, when the Accountant will pay it into the company’s account.
When it was three o’clock, I got up and went downstairs. The car was waiting at the door.
“Komoko,” I said, “there is someone I want to see at the Ministry of Civil Constructions.”
He drove without waiting for direction. There was no place, he didn’t know in Lagos. On getting there, I walked straight into the Minister’s office.
“The Minister has been expecting you,” his secretary informed me.
I knocked and entered. “Afternoon, sir.”
“Chika, you’re welcome. Please have your seat. I’ve been waiting for you.”
“I’m sorry, I was busy in the office.”
“I want your company to apply for the contract to rehabilitate the Lagos – Benin expressway. The common rate of executing contract on our roads is seventeen million, but put in twenty million per kilometer. I hope you know what will happen to the excess. The seventeen million is even for virgin land.”
“I hope we will be able to win the contract.”
“That is for sure, but remember you will give me my share immediately you win the contract. I am not going to wait till you are paid at the completion of the job.”
“That is no problem. You’ll receive what is your due, once we win the contract.”
“I also want you to buy some project vehicles for my ministry, for supervision of our road projects.”
“That will be nice.”
“I will order for fifty cars. Just buy thirty cars and we will share the remaining money. I think you understand.”
“I shall be expecting your application tomorrow. And by the time, you’re here, the order for the fifty cars will be ready.”
“All right, sir. I shall be back tomorrow.”
We shook hands, and I left the office.
“Where are you going,” Komoko asked, when I entered the car.
“Home,” I replied.
I met Biola at home. She was already back from work.
“Chika, you look tired,” she said, resting her hand on my shoulder. “And you’ve been looking too anxious. Please slow down. You’re working too hard.”
“It is the work that keeps me relevant in this setting. If not the work, I would have been miserable.” At least, I was no longer dependent so much on Biola for anything. I paid the bills. If it were not for the work, I should be completely without use or purpose. It was the work that saved me.
I soon made a billion of naira and threw a bash to celebrate it. I made a short speech at the beginning of the party. “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it’s my great pleasure to see that you honored my invitation. I invited you tonight to dine and wine with my family for the wonderful gift God has given us. He has been faithful and has rewarded our efforts beyond our wildest expectation. This is not a night for long speech, so please mention anything you want and you’ll surely be served.” There was resounding applause and I sat down. I was already sounding like my father-in-law.
There were four bands in attendance. They entertained the guests in turns. Uniformed waiters and waitresses of a catering outfit I hired took charge of service. There were too much to eat, and drinks flowed like Atlantic and Pacific oceans combined. Senator Harrison and my mother-in-law were among the guests. They left at midnight.
The more profit we made the more I defrauded Senator Harrison. He was in so much money, he couldn’t detect. I opened a number of businesses of my own and diverted Senator Harrison’s materials. You would now understand why I earlier told you I’d talent for greed but never knew before.
I acquired ten acres of land in my village and commissioned an Italian, to build me a house, which would outshine any other house in Coastal State.
I built a house that people always came to watch. It had well-maintained lawn, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a long tennis court. Almost everything in the house worked by pressing of buttons. I spared no expenses to make it luxurious and comfortable. It was a sort of terrestrial paradise. “Live each day as if it’s your last” became my philosophy.
I ate in expensive restaurants. I liked eating in small restaurants as opposed to more expensive restaurants. Biola would not stand for that kind of places, which she labeled as unsophisticated. To belong, I had to change from out-of-the-way restaurants to classic restaurants.
Women who before wouldn’t spare me as much as a grin, who treated me as if I was an invalid with contagious affliction, waved at me, whenever I drove pass them. They came to me they way pins went to magnet. Anytime, I made public appearance I received uninhabited adulation.
After my marriage to Biola, Amina realized that her dream of being my wife was over but couldn’t accept it. She wrote several rather pathetic letters to me and continued calling but I never reciprocated.
I bought Mercedes and Lexus for Biola and Hallmark Jeep for myself. I spent most weekends abroad with girlfriends. I was known and respected in most expensive hotels in London and New York for my lavish spending. “It’s difficult for me to believe that less than a year ago, I’d to struggle just to stay alive. My girl friends were of various ages, professions and stature. Biola still indulged herself in extravagant spending. Women like Biola never changed
Since I took over the management of the Harrison Holdings, I’d been very busy. I received visitors and phone calls without end. I spent long hours in the office.
Senator Harrison came around, whenever he could; to check the progress in the company. He made it a duty to go over the quarterly accounts of the company.
When I arrived in the office, on the day, I was expecting the Chairman to visit the office; I called the Accountant to my office.
“How far with the books, Chairman is likely to come around today to take a look at them?” We kept ledgers for business purposes but actually he had mental records of every transaction.
“We’ve covered everything for now. The goods have been paid for and the accounts books are in good shape, as good a shape as anything can be,” the Accountant replied.
A few hours later, Senator Harrison came into my office, I rose with a speed intended to show my pleasure at seeing my honorable guest, Senator Harrison took his seat, and leaned back into it. His body language showed vigor. It was time to talk business. He demanded for the books. I sent for the Accountant to come along with the books. After about an hour of careful study, Senator Harrison closes the ledger with a thud, and leaned back on the chair and stretched his long legs.
“I’ve no regrets, whatsoever, making you the General Manager of this company. You’ve done a nice job,” he commended. “Harrison Holdings is solvent.”
“You made it possible, sir.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You gave me the free hand to run the company.”
“It’s because you’ve a sharp brain, that’s why you caught on wonderfully well.”
It was true. I’d even astonished myself. I didn’t only catch on fast, but was able to add a few touches of my own to the business. For instance, I made friends. I made friends easily with some prominent government officials. And through such contacts, I was able to win a lot of contracts. I employed new strategies to increase the projects of the company, because I was afraid of what failure will do to my relationship with Biola and my father-in-law. I invested in real estates with materials left from executing government contracts.
“Chika, I’ve decided to offer you thirty percentage of the shares of this company. It’ll not only be more incentive for you to do better, but to let you know that this company will eventually be for you and Biola on the event of my death.”
“Thank you, sir. I’m really grateful.”
When I got home that night, I told Biola what her father said. She was happy, that her father was impressed with my efforts.
“The only sad thing is that my work takes so much of my time, which I would’ve preferred to spend exclusively with you. Tomorrow I’m going to Kano,” I said.
“Again? Must you?” Biola asked. She was looking tired and bored, flipping the pages of a fashion magazine.
“I have to. I’ve business that has to be taken care of quickly.”
“How long will you be gone this time?”
“It depends how things work out. A couple of days, maybe, but I’ll be back immediately I’m through with the business.”
The job gave me far more money than I dreamed of. What it didn’t give me was marital happiness.
“I’ve had it up to here with you,” she said as she clutched her neck.” I cannot understand you. All you do nowadays is to roam the streets with the excuse that you’re on official tour. You’re never in the place as I am. If I’m in the house, you’re in the office, if I’m in the office, you’re at home.” After a pause she continued. “I know my father is enormously wealthy and he gives you a lot of money which you now squander on young girls in town. You want my father’s money but not me.”
What Biola said was a big surprise. I launched a counterattack to weaken her accusation.
“I work very hard to earn the money your father pay me. The time I have spent in his company has been a period that has severely tasked my inner resources and sense of self. ” I took her hand in mine and held it tightly. “For women, I am too busy for such triviality,”I lied.
The private detective and my personal surveillance after a month yielded nothing amorous. Biola’s extra-marital meanderings were limited to escorted luncheons, dinner, and harmless nights out on the town. I realized my accusations were baseless.
In one swift movement, I drew her to me after I read Davies’ end of month report. Biola’s cry of protest was effectively silenced by the swift descent of my mouth on hers. Her response was instinctive and immediate.
“You want it just as much as I do,” I said with husky intensity. “Don’t fight it.”
I now remembered the intensity of her expression and the note of sincerity in her voice when she was denying any unfaithfulness. If only I didn’t always jump to the very wrong conclusions where she was concerned. She had every right to be angry with me, but I found her animosity melting away. She had decided to forgive me my instinctive distrust.
As we lay on the bed, Boila resting her head against my chest, I felt my doubts slip away. What a fool I was, what a complete fool to let me hurl stupid accusations at the woman that loved me so dearly. Of course, there would be adjustments we’d have to make. But as long as she loved me, and I loved her, everything would work out fine in the end.
The nearness of her was as intoxicating as strong liquor. A sudden rush of desire for her surged through my loins. Like a spider, she had spun her web and I was firmly caught in her feminine charm. I put my hand up her dress and discovered she wore no underwear.
I went to London to buy a house as a holiday resort and a Rose Royce car, when “LIFE AID’ concert organized by Irish rock star, Bob Geldolf for African’s famine victims took place. I attended the show in London with Biola who accompanied me to London so as to advise me on the best area to buy the property.
The stars that participated were greeted with cheers, whistles, standing ovation and the thrusting of clenched fists into the air. Vociferous cheering broke out from thousands of fans when Bob Geldof and his group came on stage.
Music was supplied buy superstars like, David Bowie, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Phil Collins, Howard Jones, Paul Young, Nik Kershaw, The Who, Wham, Sade, Paul McCarthy and many more.
“I was surprised by this indescribable show of solidarity by musicians. This is another case of charity begins abroad instead of at home,” Biola observed.
“Our African musicians are busy singing praise songs for our despotic leaders who are unleashing melancholy on the people because of their insensitivity,” I said.
“This is one of the times in my life, I see modern technology in good use,” Biola said, as we listened to high-powered sound emanating from the speakers. “It’s being used to appeal to the conscience of the world about the abysmal condition in Africa through music. We’re used to weapons made from modern technology being used to destroy Africa in many senseless wars and insurgence.”
“With the number of the people in this venue, the people of the world responded in far greater number and with greater vehemence, than I suspected, showing that they care. These musicians have proved that in this era of enmity and brutality that love for fellow beings still exists,” I said.
“I learnt that all the persons, superstars, engineers, security guards et cetera who made the show possible gave their services free,” Biola said.
“Feed the World’ was used to adorn the revolving stages. There were thought provoking banners also like: “Our hearts to out to you Ethiopia”, and But can we’ve bread not bombs.”
“This last banner couldn’t be better written. The crazy fight for military superiority between the superpowers should cause universal concern. I don’t think the world will survive World War III. The lethal games these superpowers are playing with our future should be condemned by all the peace loving people of the world,” I told Biola, as she pointed to the banner.
“But it’s really surprising that while some people dedicate their lives to medical researches to improve human life, some use music to ease tension, then some scoundrels only think of the most efficient and the quickest way to annihilate a large number of people in the shortest possible time. It’s a devilish invention. Can’t the world divert the talents and large sum of money used in weapons research to research on how to produce enough food for the world?” Biola asked.
“I think you’re right. If the money spent by world leaders in arms race is spent on food production, there’ll be more than enough food in the world,” I agreed.
As I was just finishing my statement, “Do you know it’s Christmas” rent the air. Many people especially young girls went mad with ecstasy. They had long been expecting the song. It was the moving song of the show. I couldn’t help tapping my feet to the music.
“A lot of money must have been collected by the organizers,” Biola said.
“If this show was organized by African musicians, people might not have responded as they did, because of the suspicion that the money collected to help the famine victims might end up in a few individuals’ pockets,” I told Biola.
A few months before the ban on open political campaign was lifted, Senator Harrison pursued me to join politics. This was where I made a life mistake and came to understand that the road to ruin was a short one.