FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE

Sunday Triumph 1989

I had faith and strong belief in the manipulation of falsehoods and found it cheap, simple and recommendable, though only in winning girls’ love. I was a stunt professional of the deceit, but I didn’t realize the repercussion of this misdemeanour since I had used it successfully to achieve my desires until I found myself in my present pitiable predicament. I justified my inherent wish, knowing fully well that ladies, especially the acada type, had the extreme desire of accumulating material wealth and prestige through whatever means. They regard material acquisition and association with the big shots in the society, as the main thing than preserving their dignity, virtue and chastity.

I always preserved catchy smiles that could not be easily ignored whenever I intended to woo and entrap them into my lust net. Sometimes, I create well-phrased endearment that could liquidate hardened lasses’ hearts and even concocted on-the-spot convincing lies for quick acceptance.

I found it easy on several occasions to exaggerate my background, making out that I came from a prominent and opulent family in the country or portray myself as a son of a powerful politician. On other occasions, I might present myself as a son of a popular pastor or Imam, once I recognised my to-be-victim was the religious type whereas my poor parents had died many years previously in the village. Thanks to the Torrey ( abandoned children) home where I was brought up and nurtured to the university level. Without these forms of lies, a person might remain deprived of those affections which mostly male students craved for as belonging to the exclusive Casanova class. In my notorious escapades, my habitual lying betrayed me only twice. I was yet to recover from the second embarrassing incident.

I could vividly recollect the first incident while I was hungrily wolfing down gari with kuli-kuli, a cheap local staple in the university. I added nothing - not even a drop of water, to the gari, when suddenly I had a terrible stomachache, almost dragging me to a state of coma. I was quickly rushed to the campus clinic, where, like a pregnant woman, I held tightly to my belly as I was taken to meet the doctor.

In the face of the agony, I could perceive the presence of a “bird” in the doctor’s consulting room. I managed to open my eyes widely. Behold, there was an elegant champagne finger tip of the lady-visitor. My stomachache almost disappeared on the sight of the young lady, probably a new student, I assumed. There was this urge to further catch a good glimpse of the lady, but I neutralized that. Afterall, there would be enough time after the treatment to talk to her, I mused to myself. I had, before the doctor attended to me, tailored a sagacious expression of my affection to her.

“What did you eat, young man?” the doctor asked, interjecting into my thought.

“ I ate rice with plantain, chicken, egg, graced with salad cream and washed down with lemon and apple juice after taking my usual Lucozade appetizer, ” I bubbled out the word in such a way that I might win sympathy from the young lady.

The doctor, on the spot, gave me two capsules to swallow which I did while still examining my body temperature. In few seconds, I started feeling very uneasy from my stomach to the throat and up to my mouth. My saliva gave me a melting sensation.

“Don’t worry. The food you ate might be too much or contaminated, hence the stomachache,” the doctor continued. “ You are going to vomit the food.” I vomited the disgusting chewed kuli-kuli and gari, in the presence of all. What a shameful reaction of the drug, a pitiable situation excited by guilt. Not only my friends and doctors, but the lady also joined in the laughter. The expression from her face was that of disgust and hatred towards me.

The second palaver started a month ago, when I approached and talked to a damsel, a fresh student in our school. Many things were unique about her, sexy eyeballs, well-constructed visage, pointed nose and an inviting smile. She was in a different class from the other girls I had come in contact with. Her immaculate attire made her elegant. I quickly told my feeling and insisted on taking her to the neighborhood for relaxation in my father`s Mercedez V Boot car, the talk-of the-town brand of car which I had lied that the driver had gone to fuel. She agreed to the relationship but not to go out, especially as we had just begun the relationship.

Poverty pushed me to the wall like a cornered rat on the campus the following weekend as I ran out of money and food while all my roommates, who could have assisted me, had guardians off campus and had gone for the normal weekend break. I found it extremely necessary to, as usual, go to town to solicit for assistance from one of my friends.

I walked into a class mate in the city to lend me five Naira with the assurance that it would be refunded once I received my scholarship. Waiting for him beside a parked sports car, I saw this particular girl, my new catch, with her sister, coming out of the most sophisticated house in the area. Was she dwelling in this area? I waited not for an answer as I quickly sat on the bonnet of the car.

A thought then came to my mind. I crossed my leg and removed my room keys and jangled them while whistling a tuneless song.

“What are you doing here?” she asked with her finely molded lips.Though the question sent shivers into my nerves and bones, I was ready for it. “ I came with my mother who came to visit a relation” pointing at one of the intimidating buildings.

She gazed at her sister in utter disbelief and turned her back to me “You mean this car is yours?” her face changed like that of a chameleon.

“Yes, my father bought it some weeks ago from Japan.” A man whom I later learnt to be their driver interrupted me as he opened the back door and nodded at them obediently. Alarm bells started ringing in my brains. They hardly got into the car when he told me to get off the bonnet. I loved my honour and reputation. Knowing my messy situation, I protested to the driver, claiming that the car belonged to my father. We shouted at each other. I made several attempts to wink at the driver to understand my situation. Instead, the driver ignored me, shouting “thief, thief . . . thief.” I also shouted back.

A crowd had now formed a ring around us. I heard some people saying the car belonged to the father of my girlfriend who owned the sophisticated mansion. Some people even called me an armed robber. I was seriously beaten. I wanted to tell them the truth but my mouth had been battered like that of Jerry Okorodudu after his fight with Joe Lasisi. My eyes could not see clearly as a result of the thorough blows I received. My girlfriend didn’t sympathize with me as she also thought that I was truly an armed robber. Feeling of worthlessness, guilt and shame became part of me. I am now in the police cell, very remorseful, trying to convince them that I am not an armed robber but a liar, for the sake of love.

 

THE MOTHER OF HUNGER

Sunday Triumph 1990*

 “Wayyo Allah” I screamed loudly with fear gripping me. It is coming nearer and closer . . . I have the desire to meet it but now I am afraid of the friendship. I anticipate that it would eat me raw. Like a child whose eyes recognize the syringe brought forth by the nurse to perforate his tender flesh, I cried for cover.

“Somebody, please come to my rescue! Help me!” Nobody cares to listen; nobody wants to give me succour. Everybody was ready to be arrested. But me! I was a coward . . . I didn’t want to jump into the bandwagon . . . a spiritual goal.

“Help!” I yell and cry till my voice cracked. Into one-month detention I find myself. An injunction is given that states that I should neither drink nor eat, not to even chat with the charming Juliet in my neighborhood. Why?

Friends in detention gaze into my face and say I look more of a skeleton, so pale and emaciated. Scared, I glare at myself in the mirror and see that not only do I look like rake, a thin northern sugarcane, but my neck is now lanky like that of a giraffe. I felt more scared and stunned.

The sun is never a friend. Wherever it peeps out and smiles at me, I wouldn’t return the smile, because then, my stomach pinches and kicks furiously and my saliva dries from my tongue. I find it hard to converse with every Tom, Dick, Jack or Harry.

Ten days to go from the purification, I am about to jubilate for freedom when I am held back. The remaining nights are for more supplication, sacrifice and remembrance of the Highest and the Almighty, I am reminded.

If I’m freed from this detention, I would eat and drink, drink and eat. Not Guilder or Stout (God forbid) But c-o-l-d water, Fanta, Seven-Up, Brahma and Kunu. I would sip at them hurriedly as a revenge of 30 days of confinement. I would not spare a second glance at Tuwo, Amala, Waina, Eba, Ogwuna and Danwake, as I would wolf them down. If Chicken George opens for the day, I would buy all the splendid meals on the table. I would not, however, taste them. This show is to exhibit my happiness and joy.

I would visit my companions and invite well-wishers to dine and wine with me on the glamorous occasion, I would frolic and shout cheerfully with that remarkable greeting, Barka da Sallah. Then I would beam a smile to all. I would be proud I am a warrior, a brave returning soldier, not a coward or sissy, from a 30-day `Mother of all hungers.

 

(Dedicated to Muslims who observe the Ramadan Fasting)

 * The date not clear

 

  MISDEED OF SIR DEATH

Sunday Triumph January 20, 1991

 Oh, Death! Why? Why is it that when affection grows stronger, you remember to snatch away beloved ones? Why, Death? Why is it that notorious gangsters and corrupt people who, with pens or speeches rob and loot public funds, stay safe from your clutches? Why is it that only my darling satisfies your appetite? Why?

“ I never wanted her to be infected with the odious disease of this world,” Sir Death replied. “She had laid a good example for others to emulate.” Nevertheless, you should not have killed her in that ghastly road accident, you should have saved her somehow to spare me the agony of sorrowful bereavement. I continue to feel some impressions of her, the peacefulness, truthfulness, powerful composition of thought and wonderful patience, which bound our souls together. The terrible accident that occurred while she was returning from the distribution of our marriage invitation cards to numerous friends is painfully unforgettable. The ceremony would have been held today but for this pillage which is all too much for me, the only survivor. The taxi driver and my bride died instantly. Only the few words she uttered remained of her. “I wish to be a good example to deserters and divorcees, but I can’t make it,” she gasped out heavily in the face of death. “Many ladies would better their matrimony if only they remain patient and obedient. I’m happy you will be alive. Treat your new wife well.” This statement continued to re-echo in my mind.

She is indebted to my special dirge. I wish some parts of my flesh could be put in place to replace her mangled parts so that our dream becomes a reality. How can I ever forget her cards, letters and messages that continue to encourage me to have a successful life? She once warned me against bad friends who might put me in disrepute. “It’s better to have one great friend of value than many good-for-nothing friends,” she always told me.

She was a lady who didn’t crave crazily for monetary and material benefits from relationships, but cherished our being and distinct personality. I remember whenever I gave her brothers money, she was always concerned that such kinds of gratification are tempting which must be discouraged but that I could show my love and affection to her family through humility and good conducts.

To sum it up, she was a doctor to my sickness, an architect of my achievement, an engineer to my behaviour, a counsellor to my soul, and successfully extinguished the flame of my anger and loneliness. Whom do I have next?

 I pray other women will emulate your memorable conduct. I will remember you forever. May you rest in perfect peace. Amen.

  

TURN OF EVENTS

Sunday Triumph March 1991

THE ASSORTMENT of opulent cars, well-dressed people in different fashions, ranging from local attires to modern European gowns stormed the ground of this glamorous occasion. It could easily pass for an automobile fair or a fashion parade. But it is neither of the two. It is the visiting day of the Government Girls School where my beautiful wife-to-be attended. I felt like a pauper among these people. I was still a student and had not got to the stage of accumulating extravagant things, jealously, I consoled myself. I was envious but I knew my Jamilat would wipe away the envy from my heart with her soft consoling voice.

 “She is coming,” the lady I sent to call Jamilat informed me. I thanked her, then she appeared in a tip-top shape with some of her friends. Some guests and a couple were removing their eyes from their companions just to catch a glimpse of my natural, God-sent comforter, Jamilat. Never would I exchange her for silk or even a Roll Royce. Being an honest fiancée, she shunned many people who asked for her hand in marriage just to fulfill our long vow of betrothal for future union. She apologised for keeping me waiting as she had just received her mother and sisters. She had a charming smile that could only be bought by a powerful king or a rich man. It made angry men, by it, satisfied. She used it to introduce her friends to me. I replied their greetings with a light banter. They laughed heartily.

They went off later, leaving Jamilat and one of their friends who had been looking at me throughout the exchange of pleasantries. Her name was Talatu, and with her, we went to where Jamilat’s mother and sister sat. They received me warmly as they always did to me and warned me not to push their daughter.“Never shall I do that,” I respectfully reassured them.

I strolled about the school compound with Jamilat who introduced me to her new friends. I was so proud to have her by my side and that made me swagger. Still, Talatu was with us.

One sunny day, during their holiday at home, Jamilat walked into my room accompanied by this girl, Talatu. I was shocked as she didn’t tell me she was coming, I gave them bottles of soft drink and a photo album filled with Jamilat and my pictures. I could see Talatu scrutinizing the album as policemen do with drivers’ particulars at check points. Later, I saw them off.

From all I could remember that day, it was Talatu who did the talking, boosting her ego and saying that she was a captain for some games, official of some school club and so on, but my Jamilat kept mum and smiled. That night, when I visited Jamilat to thank her for her visit, she told me it was Talatu who insisted that they should visit me. She added that Talatu was an honest, trustworthy and faithful friend whom she relied on. Three days later, I heard a knock on my door. As I opened it, I saw Talatu, indeed I received her as a honest friend of my fiancee. I bought biscuits and a bottle of soft drink and played my best Michael Jackson track, BEAT IT.

She liked it and even danced to the music, urging me to dance with her, which I refused to do, saying her friend might come over to look for her. She replied that Jamilat was not aware of her coming. I started to be suspicious, really suspicious of Talatu`s apparent behaviour. I didn’t want to disappoint Jamilat by informing her about her so-call good friend.

Talatu`s visit became more often. A week to their resumption date, she brought a cassette of a music and played it. She implored me tactically with innocence to dance with her. I was enticed and Satan signed this scene. We started dancing as I put her arms around my neck. She played with my hair, kissing me on my cheek and on the lips and gradually, I found myself in bed with her. I felt guilty to let myself get seduced by Talatu. Even if Jamilat forgave me, my conscience would never forgive me.

Three months later, Talatu was suspended from school because she was pregnant. She came to my room and told me the tidings. “To hell with your pregnancy!” I shouted at her. With tears and curses, she went away. My whole life became a turmoil. I prayed that Jamilat did not connect me with the pregnancy. In my state of confusion, I heard a radio broadcast announcing that a prize-given-day was coming up the following day at Jamilat`s school.

What! I must go there with my camera, knowing my Jamilat would at least receive a prize as she did every year. But, why didn’t she write me, knowing that I was always eager to have her picture taken on such occasions? Or did she know about the horrible incident? The guest-speaker delivered his speech and prizes were given to outstanding students. Jamilat received her award before I came into the hall.

She was called upon again to collect the well-behaved student of the year prize. I went over to take a picture of her. When she turned to my direction and saw me, her smile evaporated. She suddenly turned her face away.

“Ja-Jamilat, please turn this way so I can take a picture of you.” I didn’t know when my shaky voice went through the microphone, emitting a pitiful sound to the hearing of the audience. She didn’t turn.

When she turned, her visage was no longer of innocence and her eyes were red and with salty fluid. The audience was more than surprised, as if they had seen a ghost for the first time.

Miraculously, her voice went through the microphone as she said: “If ever I talk to you again, let God put me in hell fire. Go back to Talatu!” Her statement continued to echo in my brain till I got home and learnt that Talatu had died while attempting abortion.

 

THE SHIELD OF LOVE

Sunday Triumph October 14, 1990

The night breeze whirled. The stars displayed their beauty. There was something on my mind. It happens whenever I have an appointment with somebody. Isa would visit me tonight. I know he would come to tell me about his fiancée, Talatu. Maybe they had some misunderstandings which I must reconcile.

Isa had sacrificed his life for Talatu. He had been in love with her for a long time, spending extravagantly on her and visiting regularly at the university with provisions, apart from the additional burden of catering for her family needs. But Talatu, instead of showing gratitude in reciprocation, grumbled, saying he didn’t love her. She asked for money as if he breathed them out from his mouth. She insulted or tore his shirt whenever her friends told him that they saw him with another girl. Meanwhile, the girls were always his relations or platonic friends. I used to be the judge. With all her bad points, Isa still loved her. “Being jealous of a partner is a sign of faithfulness,” he always defended in the face of her tantrums. I agreed with him, since that was how he viewed it.

I was thinking of him when he arrived with his younger brother behind a scooter. He brought two containers of confectioneries, cosmetics and some money and asked me to deliver them to Talatu, saying he was taking his brother to the clinic. I asked him why he was sending her all those gifts when he had sent almost the same things the previous week. He replied that he liked to surprise her with presents.

I was thinking about Isa’s love-is-blind attitude in a taxi conveying me to Talatu`s hostel in the university when I saw her sitting on the passenger’s seat of a Volkswagen car. I didn’t want to return those items, so I asked the taxi driver to pursue the beetle driver whom I suspected to be her relative taking her home. The taxi was not fast enough but when we caught up with the car, it was parked outside a hotel. I dropped from the taxi with the bag, paid the fare and went into the hotel. I enquired from the receptionist about the owner of the beetle. After some convincing words, he directed me to the room.

My heart thumbed as I knocked on the door. The door opened and the man appeared in shorts. I pushed the door open and what I saw of Talatu was a shock. With my mouth agape, we stared at each other. The bags fell from my hand. I didn’t know when the man hit me hard on the head. I slumped and he continued pummeling me hard. I was too weak to retaliate.

The sound of the beating drew the attention of guests and some staff of the hotel. I heard the man furiously telling them that I forced Talatu to the hotel. I tried to reply when a security officer smashed my mouth with a baton. The hotel manager stopped the security man and asked to hear my side of the story. I told them I was not a kidnapper, saying Talatu knew me. But surprisingly, she replied that she never knew or seen me before in her life.

“I don’t know how I followed you here. I must have been hypnotized to this place to be raped,” she screamed.

The man and the onlookers further beat me mercilessly. I only to recover in the hospital with bandages on my forehead, arms and legs. I saw photojournalists taking pictures of me, while a senior policeman was briefing some reporters. The media most surely had enough of me for their newspapers the following day because of their large number. In fact, it took the efforts of a policeman, who was guiding me with a pistol, to control the other mammoth crowd milling around my hospital ward to catch a glimpse of the professional rapist.

As I received hospital treatment, Isa walked in with friends and relatives. They gaped at me silently. I sympathized with them, knowing they would not believe me even if I told them the truth.

Talatu then came into the ward, looked at Isa, then at me and people in the ward. Her sight looked horrible and she voluntarily confessed that the man she had followed to the hotel, was a traditional herbalist who wanted to help her with local concoction for a permanent relationship with Isa. She told the bewildered people the true story of what had happened. She added that she didn’t know how things ended up that way. Turning to Isa, she passionately asked him for forgiveness.

As people became puzzled with her confession, she quickly snatched the pistol of the policeman guiding me and shot herself twice in the chest and embraced Isa. In few trembling words, she begged Isa once again and slumped on the floor.

 

THE DREAMER

The siren blared continuously. To both sides were my body guards and behind me was my security orderly. It was my first day of assuming office as the Governor after a successful election. The gentlemen of the press had filled up the venue of my maiden Press Conference.

“ Gentlemen of the Press may I welcome you all to the first public engagement of our Excellency the Executive Governor of our State,” the Master of Ceremony introduced me to the audience.

“Yeah . . . yeah . . . yeah,” came the noise from my political supporters. The voice of the poor masses rented the air with thunderous applause.

“Thank you, thank you” I muttered while waving my hands cheerfully.

“ Your Excellency, Sir,” came the voice from one of the journalists, “you seem to be the only Executive Governor who is not married, how do you reconcile your position in our culture which sees an unmarried leader as irresponsible and an unserious person who may not know the pain of the electorates. What can you say about this?” “Hmn . . . Hmm...” I was not prepared for this insult a direct assault on my first day in office and I managed to control my burning temper. “You see marriage is voluntary, but I agree with you that a public officer must be married and be seen to belong to the acceptable norms. Very soon you will be invited to the wedding ceremony” “ Is she going to be a First Lady with a portfolio?” came another question.

“Let’s wait till then,” I beamed a smile but inside me I was becoming very uncomfortable.

“ There are some rumours going round that you intend to marry, the Chief’s daughter after you have dumped an undergraduate whose father had seen you through your education. Will your action be fair?” “Added to that question, your Excellency, is it true that you have many girlfriends and that some of them may likely be appointed as commissioners in your administration?” “I think you are getting most of the information wrong.” I attempted to parry the questions to avoid further hostile queries from those irritating journalists. “Appointments to my cabinet will be purely on merit, relevant qualifications and experience. Friendship is a relative term when you qualified it with the opposite sex. A lady who is neither my sister nor from my immediate family, is better qualified as a girlfriend.” “Please sir how many intimate girlfriends do you have?” “May I also ask you, how many platonic girlfriends were you told I have?” There were agitations amongst my supporters and the journalists on the relevance of those questions.

“ Please gentlemen of the Press, you should know that our Executive Governor will be commissioning some new projects today after paying a courtesy call to our traditional rulers.” The MC seemed to have rescued me. “So please let ask relevant questions on how to move our state forward.” “You are about to commission new projects executed by your predecessor, why won’t you initiate yours...” “ The projects were awarded and executed by the Governor’s companies before he comes to power,” the MC interjected again sarcastically.

“Does it mean your companies will be undertaking all the state’s project henceforth?” Another mischievous journalist asked.

“Where is the Director for Publicity?” I whispered silently to the MC. I wonder if he did not see the journalists before the briefing.

“I don’t know sir!” “ Thank you, gentlemen of the Press,” I said through the microphone before me. “I will make my first public Address tonight. So I will recommend that you all tune in your radio and television set at the News Period. Thanks.” I turned to the direction of my body guards who led me to my dark official car with tinted glasses. I waved at the public before I pushed myself in.

There were bottles of juice and wine in the limousine and state of the arts facilities including video, television and telephone sets. I was briefed that nobody could kill me while in the car, except atomic bombs because it was a bullet proof car.

“Take me round the city,” I instructed the driver.

For few hours I was moved round the city with the siren blaring and my outriders demonstrated their expertise in manipulating the motorcycles. I could see the old and young trooping out to salute their new leader. The pretty ladies were amongst the spectators. I could see some of the so-called girlfriends. I could not stop to talk to them before the prying eyes of the maddening penpushers in my convoy.

“Back to Government House!” I instructed angrily so that I could have the time to write my maiden speech for the State Broadcast

The office was full with commoners and contractors. I told my ADC I wouldn’t like to see anybody until after the broadcast. Within an hour I had accomplished the task of scripting my speech. My Study Room was arranged for the live broadcast.

After the microphone had been adjusted with some makeup on my face to make me look more presentable, I read my address:

“Fellow compatriots. I thank you all for voting me into this office and I must promise that non of you would be disappointed. I would like to be very brief in my maiden address. I will therefore declare as follows: No more contracts to local people who cannot compete with the developed world. No more beggars and hawkers on the streets who have become nuisances to the society. No more sensational headlines in the media. No more unnecessary gathering of people which may be the ganging to suppress our hard earned democracy. No more gratification for whatever purpose in the name of gifts, presents, more especially for journalists, civil servants and public officers.

“By next month I will get married and a public holiday will be declared for the wedding. To serve as leadership by example and minimise promiscuity, henceforth any unemployed person whether graduates or illiterate will be deployed to the farms immediately to help improve the neglected agricultural sector. All unmarried but eligible adults are hereby given three months by which they should get spouses or be prepared for mass marriage to be chaired by my First Lady after our wedding.

“ The State House of Assembly will receive the bill on these new laws for immediate passages.” Before I finished my address, I heard thunderous noise outside the State House. Before I could stand up, two hefty soldiers walked into the room and gave me dirty slaps. I fainted only to wake up and discovered that I was dreaming. I looked at the time, I was almost late for a lorry driver job interview I had applied for last week.