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Venom of ego (II)

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Two days later, the two ladies – Nkiru and Lola – met at one of the relaxation joints in the city of Zaria, Kaduna State. It was a moment each of them longed for, to assert the least. The time was three O’ clock in the afternoon on a Saturday. Since they left their secondary school in Lagos and consequently secured admission in different universities, they had individually been looking eagerly forward to seeing each other once again, not until forty-eight hours back when fate decided to reunite them at Ever-Ready, the ever-bubbling supermarket in Zaria.

“The least I expected was to meet you in Kaduna.” disclosed Lola as the two sat at one of the roundtables in the joint. “Same here.” responded Nkiru. They were seated opposite each other in separate single back-chairs. Both of them were cutely dressed that anyone who walked in could easily spot that they were classy ladies.

Nkiru was in a grey mini-skirt, ash top, ash pair of sandals, and wore gorgeously plaited hairs. On her part, Lola put on black weavon, black trousers, pink top and pink high-heeled shoes. In a few seconds time, one of the waiters walked to them toward ascertaining their wants. “What can we offer you, ma.. ams” the stewards inquired.

“What’s your menu?” Nkiru replied. “We have both foods and drinks,” he answered. “And also, Africana.” He added. “Okay,” quoth Nkiru. “What do you care for?” she added, facing Lola. “Hmm,” said Lola. “Smirnoff would be okay.” “And food?” Nkiru supplemented. “Well, he should get Nkwobi.”

She demanded, referring to a native dish which was a mixture of goat meat and other cultural recipes. “Alright,” said Nkiru, facing the waiter. “Get us two bottles of Smirnoff and two plates of Nkwobi.” “Okay ma.” He tendered, calmly turned his back on them and walked towards the kitchen side.

Five minutes on, the waiter who was clad in uniform returned with a stainless tray containing the requested items coupled with a bunch of straws and two bottled water. He quickly emptied the tray by dropping each of the items where they deserved to be on the white plastic table and thereof left the ladies for elsewhere.

As they were enjoying themselves, a certain young man who had been seated alone at one corner of the outlet, gently walked up to them. “Hello, beautiful ladies!” the stranger hailed while standing, waving his both hands. “Hi!” Nkiru reciprocated as Lola became suddenly mute.

“Helloo..!!” the man reiterated, facing Lola. Lola was apparently not interested in his presence or knowing about his identity but it seemed she was the one the dude was attracted to. He was dressed in brownish shorts, red polo and a pair of black leather slippers. Looking at his wears, he was not that attractive, thus his presence could repel any lady let alone a classy one like Lola. Although he didn’t possess a bad physique, every exposed lady of the time looked forward to meeting a man who had good taste for fashion. He was average, plump and chocolate in complexion. “Hi.” Lola managed to reply.

“I am Nnamdi.” He cheerily introduced, stood still. “You are welcome.” Nkiru said. “Thank you.” he appreciated. “Please, can I have a word with you?’ He added, looking at Lola. “Me..?” said Lola, squeezing her pretty face. “Yes.” He responded, nodding. “As you can see, I am busy.” She bluntly replied.

“So, I can’t.” Nkiru stylishly tapped her on the lap, enjoining her to loosen up and stop being unnecessarily rigid. But she refused to adhere to the candid instruction, hence wore an unfriendly look. Therein, Mr. Nnamdi who appeared to be in his late thirties changed his interest, thus thought it wise to excuse the jovially-looking one for a private chat. “Please, can we see?’ He asked, shifting his attention to Nkiru. “Sure,” Nkiru cheerfully answered. “But where are you up to?” she verified. “Just somewhere around here.” He clarified, gesticulat-ing. “Alright.” Nkiru responded, stood up and joined him.

They left the point for elsewhere which was about five metres away, leaving Lola alone. Lola who could sight them as they got seated, got irritated over what she described as ‘cheap attitude’ of her friend. Nevertheless, on the contrary, Nkiru was only trying to play nicely. Of course, a final year student of a university needn’t be told when a man was for real or not. In other words, she knew she could take care of herself without anyone’s assistance as regards such circumstance. After all, considering her age, that wasn’t the first time she would encounter such a scenario.

In the process, she learnt Mr. Nnamdi was the owner of the Ever-Ready supermarket whom her friend Lola had longed to meet. It would be recalled that Lola had earlier confided in Nkiru and told her that she was ever ready to be accepted by the yet unknown entrepreneur as his second or third wife, as the case may be, until she was told the man in question was still a bachelor. Little did she know that he was the very person that pleaded to spend a few seconds with her in the local joint.

When Lola was informed of such fact after their departure from the joint, she felt like strangulating herself or better still, take acidic solution and leave the seeming unfair planet. Obviously, nothing could be reversed as Nnamdi and Nkiru eventually found love. Months later, fate joined them as a couple.

It would interest you to note that prior to the epochal wedding ceremony that took place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE), Miss Lola was asked to be the chief bridesmaid of the occasion but she declined perhaps owing to shame. Years on, Nkiru was happily married with the tycoon Nnamdi and the marriage was blessed with bouncing kids, whilst Lola was still searching for her missing rib. If you were in Lola’s shoes, what would have been your reactions after all these? Think about it!

 

 

  • Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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Short Story

Standing alone (II)

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The crook, Femi was silent, never bothered to utter a word as the DPO conspicuously boiled over his seeming threat. He wasn’t disturbed or intimidated by anything as the other cops in the room violently showcased their pistols, not even the eye sockets of the DPO that appeared not unlike that of a hungry owl.

It’s noteworthy that the culprit, whom was still single, was acquainted with most of the corrupt politicians in the town and beyond. He was their accomplice during electioneering eras.

Every thuggery activity as regards electoral matters within the arena was solely piloted by him and his men. Due to this connection, each time he was arrested by the past DPOs, he would surely be released through the efforts of the politicians.

Apparently, he was yet to realize that the current DPO in charge of the Division, DSP Rasaq Ahmed was totally a different police personnel. And, the said boss wasn’t ready to compromise his determination to disabuse the detainee of his silly notion. “I bet you,” the DPO furiously exclaimed. “You will rot in jail.” Femi dished out a deep and annoying smile. “This man must be a joker.” He thought as he fixed his gaze on the DPO. “Take him away.” the DPO ordered in a very loud voice, dashed out of the room for his office. Within a twinkle of an eye, Femi found himself in the cell. In five minutes time while the DPO was bitterly seated in his office chair, his cell phone rang. “Hello..!” He said the moment he took the call. “Good day, my dear.” the caller greeted in a thick voice. “Good day, sir.” responded DSP Ahmed. “Who is this, please?” “Please, am I unto DSP Rasaq Ahmed?” the caller verified.

“The DPO of Osungule police station?” “Yes sir.” “Okay,” said the caller. “This is Honourable Bayo Ologun.” The DPO was calm and amazed. That was the least of the names he expected to hear. “The Honourable representing Osungule state constituency.”

He landed. “Oh,” the DPO exclaimed. “My Honourable!” Both parties were yet to meet since DSP Ahmed was posted to the Division. Hon. Ologun got his contact from someone else as soon as he received the news of Femi’s abrupt detention. “So, how is work?” the lawmaker enquired. “Very fine, sir.” “I am glad to hear that all is well.

”“Thank you, honourable.” “Please, don’t be offended we haven’t met.” Hon. Ologun pleaded. “I will surely make out time for it.” “No problem, honourable,” DSP Ahmed said. “I understand.” “I learnt one of my constituents is in your custody?” the lawmaker tendered after five minutes of exchange of pleasantries. “What’s his name, sir?” “Mister Femi.” he replied. “But they call him Bale.” “Oh,” the DPO exclaimed.

“That criminal?” “Calm down, my DPO.” “So…?” DSP Ahmed curiously dished out as he sensed something fishy. “Please, release him,” Hon. Ologun urged. “Okay?” “I don’t understand, sir.”

Don’t worry,” said the supposed honourable. “When we see, we will discuss extensively.” DSP Ahmed was silent, couldn’t utter a word. “Just release him, okay?” “Hmm…” the DPO murmured. “I will be in your office by tomorrow,” Hon. Ologun assured. “Unfailingly.”“Is not as easy as you think, sir.” the DPO politely notified. “You mean, coming to your office?” He verified, confused.

“No sir,” the DPO replied. “I meant, releasing the culprit as you demanded.” “Why are you stubborn?” the legislator quarreled. “I thought you are familiar with the system?”

“I beg your pardon, sir.” “Okay,” Hon. Ologun chipped in. “We shall see then.” He hinted, angrily banged the call. The previous DPOs had been complying with the corrupt politicians.

All the latter needed to do was to ask and their demand would be instantly granted to them. Hence, Honourable Ologun was deeply surprised to receive such ill-treatment from DSP Ahmed. He was yet to realize it was no longer business as usual. Subsequently, he and his fellow politicians of like minds couldn’t bear the circumstance. The general elections were fast approaching and they could do nothing without Femi alias Bale. Consequently, they were left with no choice than to take the case to the state Commissioner of Police (CP). Five days later being August 18, 2002, DSP Ahmed who was seemingly standing alone was suddenly transferred to another Division having refused to comply with the commissioner.

The man who replaced him was mandated to release the culprit unconditionally. The aggrieved DSP Ahmed wrote to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and thereafter was retransferred to the Osungule Division having been promoted to the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP) for his uncommon charisma.

Within same period, the state CP was suspended indefinitely, and was immediately replaced with another police personnel who was posted to the state to act in his capacity till further notice. Afterwards, SP Rasaq Ahmed – formerly DSP Ahmed – once again apprehended Femi and charged him to court. Verdict was consequently served, thus the so-called Bale was jailed for twenty years.

The jail term brought endless jubilation in the entire Osungule land. At the time, encomiums were poured on the fearless and no nonsense SP Ahmed by the good people of the territory and beyond.

 

The rest is history, please.

 

  • Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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Short Story

Standing alone

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“Sergeant Okoro!” DSP Ahmed furiously called in a very high tone while standing in-between his office executive chair and table the moment the said sergeant hastily stepped into his office. “Yes sir!” Sergeant Okoro responded accordingly, facing the boss as the ethics demanded. He stood seriously right before the DSP, posing not unlike one of the soldiers that fought the Second World War. Both were in their uniforms. DSP Rasaq Ahmed who was in his early forties was the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of one of the notable police stations situated in one of the South- Western states in Nigeria.

He was widely and famously known for his unrelenting vibrant and dogged approach to issues pertaining to security of lives and property from the very day he joined the Police Force. To say the least, he was unarguably a no nonsense police personnel, that, he became the role model of any police officer that intended to discharge his/her duties or serve the country selflessly and efficiently without any iota of fear or favour, as might be the case. On that day, precisely 13th August 2002, he had earlier sent for Sergeant Ekene Okoro within a twinkle of an eye he received a report on one local ‘champion’ in the neighbourhood named Femi who was accused of rape.

The notorious Femi who hailed from the locality had been terrorizing the residents of the area and its environs, and his dastardly acts coupled with other misdeeds were condoned by the previous DPOs. He was popularly known by his accomplices as ‘Bale’, which literally implied the Monarch of the territory, based on their native language Yoruba. DSP Ahmed who was barely one month old in the Division had vowed to deal ruthlessly with anyone in the area of any questionable character having been intimated on the unwarranted anomalies that were on the rampage in the locality. He was actually posted to head the quarters owing to the ordeal.

“Go and get me the so called Bale.” DSP Ahmed ordered. “Right now.” He supplemented, stood still, looking like one who just lost one of his own. “Yes sir!” replied the seriouslooking sergeant who was already aware of the ugly incident. “Don’t keep me waiting.” He warned. “Yes sir!” He signalled the sergeant with his left hand as he frowned, urging him to leave immediately.

The sergeant hurriedly tendered his last salute positioning his masculine chest forward and dashed out of the office like a breastfeeding monkey as requested. “Non….sense!” the DPO exclaimed as soon as the sergeant departed, quickly resumed his seat, looking pale and anxious. Considering his physiognomy, it was obvious he couldn’t wait to behold the accused person. Within three minutes, Sergeant Okoro organized a 5-man team comprising no nonsense and well experienced cops including him, and headed for the consignment with their black patrol vehicle. * * * * * “We have him, sir!” Sergeant Okoro disclosed in a high tempo the moment he dashed into the DPO’s office, posing as usual.

This was taking place barely twenty minutes after his departure with the team having successfully apprehended the culprit as instructed by the boss. “Good job.” the DPO applauded, nodding his big skull. “Where is he?” He added while standing from his chair.

He was instantly led by the seeming fearless sergeant to the room where the hooligan was kept in handcuffs. Femi who could not be confronted by anyone, not even his King, couldn’t believe he was in the police net.

“So you are the Bale?” said the DPO in a mean tone within a second he found himself in the room. The boss stood directly in front of the suspect who was seated on an Iron back-chair. Among everyone in the room – including the DPO and his men, he was the only one who had a seat. As he felt relaxed in the chair, he calmly looked up to the DPO’s face and remained mute. The huge, dark-looking and about 5.5-foot tall Femi, who seemed to be in his mid-forties, was clad in black jeans, blue polo and dark-blue trainers.

The stylishly carved beards on his chins and lower jaw were enough to form a forest within his skull. By merely taking a glance at his appearance, you needn’t be told that he was a kingpin. That was the first time the DPO would set his eyes on him. Prior to that moment, the former was only familiar with the latter’s names especially his sobriquet. Aside DSP Ahmed, there were other three cops in the room, which was virtually empty. They included Sergeant Okoro and one female officer.

The DPO, DSP Ahmed who was in his police uniform alongside his junior colleagues signalled the female cop who stood adjacent to him to uncuff Femi. She hastily complied with the instruction and returned to her initial position. She was standing by the left side of the detainee, Sergeant Okoro stood directly at his (Femi’s) back whilst the other male cop was by his right side. It suffices to say that the hoodlum was surrounded by the four cops present in the room.

“I learnt you have been terrorizing the whole town?” the DPO proceeded. “And now, you have diverted to rape.” Femi remained speechless, looked mean. “Are you dumb?” DSP Ahmed shouted. Femi stylishly glanced at him.

“I promise,” he said. “You will surely regret this.” “What …!” the DPO exclaimed in a high voice. The other male cop rushed to hit him but he was resisted from doing so by the DPO via a commanding sign. The cops including the DPO became preoccupied with extreme rage.

They, excluding the boss, kept their pistols handy; the DPO’s was lying on his belted waist. “So,” quoth DSP Ahmed. “You are threatening me?” The other three cops simultaneously shook their heads in disappointment. “Even in my office?” the DPO added, looking bitter. To be continued, please.

 

• Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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Short Story

Suicidal fugitive (II)

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Afam was seated adjacent to the couple who was making use of the only two-in-one upholstery chair in the lounge. The couple was dressed in Pyjamas of different colour patterns while Afam put on dark-blue jeans, purple T-shirt spotted with strips of white colour as well as black shoes. Ujunwa stood up, leaving only Chief Okeke in the seat. “So what do we offer you?” She asked Afam. “Don’t bother yourself, ma.” “How?” she said. “You don’t care for any drink?” “No ma.” Afam responded, waving his right hand. “Afam, what did you mean you don’t care for any drink?” Chief Okeke quarreled, frowning. “I am Okay, sir.” “What about food?” Ujunwa chipped in, stood still. “Or, have you taken your breakfast?” “Ma, I am Okay.” reiterated Afam.

“Thank you very much.” He added, smiling in false pretence. It was obvious that the young man wasn’t looking bright. He conspicuously seemed pale. “Na wa ooh!” Ujunwa exclaimed, calmly went back to her seat. “Afam,” Chief Okeke called. “You don’t look happy.” He observed. His wife nodded in agreement. “What is wrong with you?’ quoth Chief Okeke.

“Sir, that is why I am here.” The couple looked each other in surprise on hearing the last clause. “Madam, please excuse us.” Chief Okeke urged. It appeared the chief host was already aware of what was on Afam’s mind. Sure, even a blind man could spot the bitterness written on the latter’s physiognomy. On receiving the request, Ujunwa hurriedly stood up and walked to her matrimonial room leaving only the two in the parlour. Afam abruptly became mute as he sat quietly in his seat, couldn’t utter a word. “Is it about your trade?” Chief Okeke guessed. Afam looked at him amazingly. “How did you know, sir?” Chief Okeke smiled.

“Because I saw it coming.” He succintly replied. “Saw it coming…?” uttered Afam. “How, sir?” “Never mind, my boy.” There was absolute silence at this moment. “Sir,” Afam truncated the silence. “My business is really giving me troubles.” “Like I said earlier,” quoth Chief Okeke. “I saw it coming.”

“I don’t understand, sir.” Afam said, profoundly confused. Chief Okeke became speechless. “Afam,” he eventually broke the muteness. “There is more you need to know about this trade.” He disclosed hesitantly. Chief Okeke who was densely rich was a member of an occult confraternity, but Afam was not yet aware. And the tradition of the cult was that any apprentice who was settled by any of its members having concluded his apprenticeship would never be successful in his trade unless he joined the group. Afam quickly left his seat for that of his boss, sat very closely to him. “Sir, is there anything you are not telling me?” He anxiously enquired. “Meet me tomorrow at Braxton Hotel,” Chief Okeke enjoined. “Room 116.” He supplemented in a jiffy. Afam was shocked. He apparently least expected the invitation. Braxton Hotel was one of the most exotic hotels in the city. Afam was yet to know how its interior parts looked like because he had never been privileged to be there.

“We need to talk.” Chief Okeke landed. * * * * * * “Young man, remove your shirt,” the Grand Master of The Classic mandated Afam in a thick and frightening voice. “For you are in the presence of Ogbojiji.” He added. ‘The Classic’ was the name of the confraternity in question. ‘Ogbojiji happened to be the name of the god or the Supreme Being worshipped by the members of the cult.

This was taking place at about some minutes past eight at night of Wednesday June 29, 2011 – exactly three days, or the fourth night, after Chief Okeke met with Afam at the ‘Braxton Hotel’. During that meeting, Chief Okeke succeeded in cajoling him into joining the secret society. There were about seventeen men, including Chief Okeke, uniformly clad in black overall in the enclosed hall. They were all on their feet creating two parallel lines among themselves, and were facing each other as the tradition demanded.

The two lines were about two metres apart. The arena was undoubtedly fearful that even the blind could testify to it. Afam, a plump, chocolate and about 1.7-metre dude who wore corporate native attire, hastily complied with the directive. Chief Okeke who stood directly opposite Afam, nodded in appreciation to Afam’s knee jerk reaction. “Come forward, my son.” the Grand Master as he was addressed, urged. “It is time for you to be cleansed and duly initiated into the big family of Ogbojiji.” Afam immediately stepped toward the beast-like creature (the grand master) that was standing ahead of the group and was equally facing the entire members. The initiation, which was accompanied with series of incantations, lasted for several minutes.

“My son,” said the Grand Master. “Congratulations!” He excitedly applauded the moment Afam went back to his initial position. There was some seconds’ silence afterwards. “By this time tomorrow,” he proceeded. “You shall bring your mother to Ogbojiji for the final ritual rite.” He ordered, pointing at a huge basin filled with water that was positioned at the centre of the gathering.

The white-coloured container was displaying the image of Afam’s mum to his greatest shock. It’s noteworthy that the master pointed at it with the symbol of authority he held in his right hand. Afam who became astonished on hearing the demand, couldn’t believe his ears as well as eyes. It was like a mere joke until the reality dawned upon his person.

Prior to this period, right from when his boss joined the cult about fifteen years back, he had sacrificed his both parents and two siblings apart from the non-members of his family he offered as requested by the confraternity. More so, based on the cult’s norm, he – likewise other members – was not entitled to have or boast of any male child. After several days, in spite of the series of importunities from Chief Okeke, Afam insisted not to comply with the weird and ungodly request. He remained resolute to the extent that he began to avoid his boss who was functioning as the cult’s delegate or intermediary. Two weeks on, having exhausted the grace given to him by the occult group, the fugitive who felt not unlike taking his own life was eventually overtaken by madness. The rest is history, please.

 

• Nwaozor – novelist, playwright and poet, is Chief Executive Director, Centre for Counselling, Research & Career Development – Owerri

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