1. Temitope Treasure Adeyemi
First position: Taking Chances by Tega (3points)
Second position: An Ace for Oscar by LarrySun (2points)
Third position: The Firewall by Kayemjay (1point)
2. Janet Bright Azare
First position: Betrayed by My Body by Peju Amadi (3points)
Second position: An Ace for Oscar by LarrySun (2points)
Third position: A Twist of Fate by Karo (1point)
3. Esther Ugbaja
First position: Official Dossier by Franklin Ndubuisi (3points)
Second position: Betrayed by My Body by Peju Amadi (2points)
Third position: Reflection of My Mind by Nwaze Nwosu (1point)
4. Akin Oteshile
First position: Do No Evil by Frank Anozie (3points)
Second position: Taking Chances by Tega (2points)
Third position: Breath by Royver (1point)
5. Bunmi Oyenekan
First position: paint Me Purple by Tarina Jones (3points)
Second position: The Clone by Echi Mathias (2points)
Third position: An Ace for Oscar by Larrysun (1point)
6. Uren Okpor
First position: Breath by Royver (3points)
Second position: Alone With My Thoughts by Emmanuel Chika (2points)
Third position: A Little Too Late by Emma Ohi (1point)
7. Chamaka Wachukwu
First position: The Firewall by Kayemjay (3points)
Second position: A Little Too Late by Emma Ohi (2points)
Third position: Breath by Royver (1point)
8. Aishat Hussain
First position:Breath by Royver (3points)
Second position: Taking Chances by Tega (2points)
Third position: One for the Master and One for the Boy by Flow1759 (1point)
9. Kehinde Adekunle
First position: An Ace for Oscar by Larrysun (3points)
Second position: The Revenge by Tiffany (2points)
Third position: Betrayed by My Body by Peju Amadi (1point)
10. Sekgobela Karabo Mighty
First position: Breath by Royver (3points)
Second position: Don’t Mess With David Sharpard by Prince Peters (2points)
Third position: An Ace for Oscar by Larrysun (1point)
First position: Breath by Royver (3 points)
Second position: Not Unto You by Doris Oniha (2 points)
Third position: Reflections of My Mind by Nwanze Nwosu (1 point)
12. Yemi Adesanya
First position: Don’t Mess With David Shapard by Prince Peters (3 points)
Second position: Not Unto You by Doris Oniha (2 points)
Third position: Taking Chances by Tega (1 point)
13. Abiodun Amusan
First position: Reflections of My Mind by Wanze Nwosu (3 points)
Second position: A little Too Late by Emma Ohi (2 points)
Third Position: Do No Evil by Frank Anozie (1 point)
14. Molatelo Flaviour Malema
Breath by Royver (2 points)
Betrayed by My Body by Peju Amadi (2 points)
The Revenge by Tiffany (2 points)
15. Rasaki Y.I.
First position: Revenge by Tiffany (3 points)
Second position: An Ace for Oscar by Larrysun (2 points)
Third position: Don’t Mess With David Sharpard by Prince Peters (1 point)
16. Omololu Arobadi
First position: A Liitle Too Late by Emma Ohi (3 points)
Second position: An Ace for Oscar by Larrysun (2 points)
Third position: Revenge by Tiffany (1 point)
17. Khomotso Nwagto
First position Revenge by Tiffany (3 points)
Second position: The Clone by Echi Mathias (2 points)
Third position: Taking Chances by Tega (1 point)
18. Gabriel Ayida:
Alone with My Thoughts by Emmanuel Chika (2 points)
The Firewall by Kevin John (2 points)
Betrayed by My Body by Peju Amadi (2 points)
19. Chikukutu D.
First position: Betrayed by My Body by Peju Amadi (3 points)
Second position: Revenge by Tiffany (2 points)
Third position: Paint Me Purple by Tarina Jones (1 point)
We will continue to update as we get more results. Thanks for your patience.
LATEST ON OUR BOOKSHELF – THINGS LOVERS DO BY OLA ADEPEGBA
The judgment lasted for about thirty minutes. The entire court room was silent. The court remained silent even after the judgment had been pronounced. It wasn’t a high-profile case, but that was not the reason for the unusual silence. Everybody was silent because nobody was sure whether the judgment was in their favour or against them.
To the family of Akinwale, who were the victims in this case, justice had not been served. There was nothing to be jubilant about in the judgment. A drunk driver had knocked down their breadwinner in the prime of his career. They were not clamouring for a murder case. Everybody knew that it was manslaughter. But they believed that such careless act should carry a minimum punishment of ten years behind the bars. They were almost consoled when the judge handed him a punishment of seven years prison term but was disappointed when he gave an option of a fine. They couldn’t understand why a man that carelessly turned sour their happy home should be allowed to walk free just for a fine of a million naira, not even for all the naira in the Central Bank.
The option of fine would have triggered jubilation in the camp of Leke. Everybody knew he was guilty. Everybody on his side in the court that day was only hoping for a miracle. Even the best lawyer could not save him in that case and he could not even afford the service of the worst lawyer. He had to use the government-appointed lawyer, and the poor man tried his best. The case had already been lost at the spot of the incident.
Leke was drunk that night and was driving his boss’ car. Medical tests showed a high level of alcohol in his blood. The CCTV camera at the party he was coming from showed that he drank more than eight bottles of beer that day. At the time of the accident, he was driving at a speed of 180 k/hr in a region that had a limit of 80km/hr and he had no driving license. No lawyer could win such a case.
So, at the mention of the option of one million naira fine, his lawyer felt relieved. He believed that he had saved him from going to prison. But Leke didn’t believe the same. To him, the option was useless because there was no way he could get such amount of money. He had no relative and among his friends that had come to witness the case, he knew that only Precious, his girlfriend, could make any attempt to look for the money. And even if the fine had been one-tenth of what it was, he was sure that Precious could never get it. She was a student and her parents were as poor as church rats, maybe, poorer.
The judge gave him seven days ultimatum to pay the money or go to prison but if the judge had given seven month ultimatum, the prison option would still be the only feasible option for him.
Everybody remained quiet. Nobody jubilated. Quietly, members of the Akinwale family stood up and headed towards their cars. Without making any open comment on the judgment, they drove away.
Leke’s lawyer went to where Leke’s friends were standing. He wanted to know their decision. Leke too was escorted by the police towards them. He knew he couldn’t afford a kobo, so he kept quiet.
“What are you going to do?” the lawyer asked.
“Of course, we are going to pay the fine,” Precious replied as if she had the money in her bank account.
Jennifer wanted to talk but Annabel gently tapped her. Everybody knew Jennifer didn’t know what not to say.
“We have seven days,” the lawyer said.
“Yes, how much can you guys get?” Precious asked facing a group of Leke’s friends.
The young men looked at one another, and then Sam replied “We can’t say now, but we will try our best.”
“I know you won’t be able to say. Look, it is everybody’s concern; don’t heap everything on Precious’ head alone. You guys should go and look for half a million naira and we girls will look for the remaining half,” Jennifer said.
Leke remained quiet. It was his life and future that they were discussing and unfortunately, he couldn’t contribute to it. He had no dime. There was nothing he could sell to earn any amount of money and he had nobody to go to for favour.
The police officer told the lawyer that it was time for Leke to be returned to custody.
“Let’s meet at my office tomorrow morning,” the lawyer said and called off the meeting.
It was 9 o’clock on Tuesday morning. The weather was cold. It had rained all night. Undoubtedly, many people would still be in bed if they didn’t have to go out by compulsion. Such was the case of Jennifer and Annabel. They still had their blankets over their bodies. But Precious had woken up since 5 o’clock. She had been chatting with everybody she knew on every social medium available to her. She knew she couldn’t get one million naira from a single person. Nobody in her world was worth that amount of money. But she hoped she could get one hundred people that would give her ten thousand naira each. But the truth was that in her circle, ten thousand naira was still a lot of money.
For the past four hours that she had been chatting, nobody had promised her a kobo.
“Lk wateva u gv me wl reduce the total moni am luking 4” she would type, but all of them gave a similar reply.
“Dias noffin I cld gv u dat wl mk any difference” they would reply. Funmi was even specific. She typed
“If u subtract #500 from 1 milla ao much remain?”
She looked at the time. It was exactly 9 o’clock. She dropped her phone and ran to the bathroom. She quickly took her bath and dressed up. She didn’t use any make-up, maybe she forgot; maybe she didn’t see any reason for it.
She took her phone and called Sam.
“Hello! Good morning.”
“Morning,” he replied lazily. Obviously he was still in bed.
“Are you ready to go?” she asked.
“To the lawyer’s office. He said we should meet there this morning.”
“What for?” Sam asked as if he was not there when the lawyer said it.
“To discuss the way forward.”
“Precious, the only way forward is the money. I have no money with me now, so I don’t see any reason to go there.”
“It may be more than that Sam. We may appeal the judgment or at least attempt to extend the ultimatum.”
“Look, I don’t even have money for transport and I can’t trek from here to that man’s office,” Sam said and terminated the call.
Precious stared disappointedly at the screen of her phone. She angrily threw it on the bed facing her. It hit Jennifer.
Jennifer removed the blanket from her head.
“Easy, baby girl, wetin I do you?” she asked.
“Sorry,” Precious replied casually and went to sit on a chair.
“What is the problem?” Jennifer asked.
“Look at the people we told to go and look for half a million. Sam couldn’t even get money to take a bike to the lawyer’s office.”
“Are you really expecting half a million naira from the guys? Even half a million Indonesia rupiah, I’m sure they couldn’t get.”
“But at least he will come to the lawyer’s office and we will plan together.”
“You are disturbing yourself, Precious. Why not let the guy go to prison. He is just 27 years. He will come back 34, you will be 31 then. You can still have your wedding.”
Precious didn’t respond. She took her bag and started walking out of the room.
“I’m off,” she said and left.
“Hey! Precious, where did you put the remaining spaghetti?” Jennifer shouted.
The office of Barrister Collins was jam-packed. A group of people were there shouting on top of their voices. The lawyer tried for several minutes to put things under control. When things were settled, he followed them out. At the reception, he saw Precious waiting for him.
“I am sorry, dear. I have an urgent case to attend to now. I will be back in a moment,” he said as he left with the group.
That “moment” lasted for over three hours. Precious waited patiently. Her lectures usually started by 11 o’clock on Tuesdays and ended 3 p.m. but she knew that she couldn’t attend any of her four classes that day.
“When the lawyer returned, he apologized for delaying her and then invited her to his office.
“How much have you got,” he asked.
“Nothing, sir. Absolutely nothing. Those that have the money wouldn’t give me; those that can give me don’t have.”
“So what are you planning to do?”
“I am thinking that maybe we can appeal the judgment.”
“No, that is not a good idea. We got the best judgment,” Barrister Collins said.
“What about asking for the ultimatum to be extended?”
“It is not possible, my dear. It is part of the judgment.”
Precious took a deep breath and said “So I have just six days more to produce the money now.”
“I don’t think you have up to that,” the lawyer replied.
“Why? Today is Tuesday; the judge gave us seven days.”
“Yes, but he didn’t specify that the seven days should be seven working days, so it will be taken as seven calendar days.”
“What is the implication of that?” Precious asked anxiously.
“The seven days started counting on the day he gave the judgment. That was yesterday. So you have till Sunday night to produce the money, but the office we are to pay to doesn’t work on weekends and knocks off by 1 p.m. on Friday. So you have till 1pm on Friday to pay the money,” Collins explained.
Precious was surprised.
“Today is Tuesday, so I have just three days to pay the money now.”
“That is it,” The lawyer said and looked at his wrist watch. It was exactly 1pm. “You have exactly 72 hours more to look for it,” he added.
“72 hours to look for one million naira from nowhere,” Precious said in despair.
Wednesdays were always busy days for final year students of Business Administration. On Wednesdays, Precious usually started her lectures as early as 8 o’clock in the morning and ended it by 5p.m. with only a one-hour break. This particular Wednesday, apart from lectures, she also had two tests to write, but she did not prepare for any. In fact, she did not write any.
She left her room as early as six o’clock in the morning and returned some minutes past seven in the evening. She was busy looking for money and all she got was a sum of five thousand naira.
The man that gave her the money specified that it was for her transport fare. He asked her to call him back the following week, by then, he would have collected his salary and would be able to give her something tangible. Precious explained to him that she had but two more days to pay the money but the man couldn’t help further.
The other people she visited only told her about how the bad economy had affected their businesses – how they couldn’t sell their shares in the stock market, how the Boko Haram insurgence had stopped the supply of their goods from the north and how the inconsistency in the electricity power supply had reduced their daily production. All of them told her that they wished to help but only that the time was a wrong time.
“You mustn’t allow this to affect you too much. Remember if you carry-over a course at this level, it is an extra year,” Annabel told her.
“Thank you Ann, but I must do something.”
“Did you eventually get something tangible?” Annabel asked.
Precious opened her purse and took out five one-thousand naira notes.
“This is all I got,” she said.
“Lemme see,” Jennifer said, jumping down from her bed.
“We didn’t call you into this,” Annabel snapped at Jennifer.
“Tell her,” Jennifer shouted at Annabel.
“What?” she asked back.
“Tell her what your boyfriend told you.”
“What did Bode say?” Precious asked.
“He wasn’t sure but he said his uncle can help you. You know the man is very rich,” Annabel said.
“Then let him talk to him,” Precious shouted.
“He has talked to him, but I didn’t understand what he was saying,” Annabel replied.
Precious didn’t speak further. She took out her phone and called Bode.
“Hello,” she said on the phone.
“Hi, Precious! I sent Ann to you,” he replied.
“I couldn’t understand what she was saying.”
“Okay, are you in your room now?”
“I am coming.”
“Thank you. You are a life-saver.”
“Don’t say that yet,” Bode replied and terminated the call.
Bode arrived about 15 minutes later.
“The man is a psycho, a drunk and a weird person. I told him and he said he can give you the money with a condition.”
“What is the condition?” Precious and Jennifer asked together.
“He didn’t tell me. He said you should come yourself, that he will tell you when you come.”
“We all know the condition. What other condition can a man give a pretty babe like Precious?” Jennifer said.
“No, I don’t think Uncle Jude is a womanizer,” Bode said.
“Look Bode, link me up with the man. I am ready to accept any kind of condition,” Precious said.
“Serious?” Jennifer screamed. “You mean if he asks for seven rounds without condoms, doggy style, BJ, anal sex… ”
“Shut up, Jenny! We are discussing an important issue here,” Annabel shouted at Jennifer.
“I am sorry. I am going back to my studies. Thank God I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“How will you have one with this kind of character?” Annabel asked.
“It is better not to have one than to have the one that will make you accept all kinds of condition,” she replied as she walked towards her bed.
Prince Jude Adelakun was a tall man of 55 years of age. He was slim and looked older than his age. Obviously, the man was a heavy drinker. The ash tray on the table in his office showed that he did not only drink, he also smoked.
Precious wasn’t comfortable as she sat in front of the man who kept staring at her. A lot of things were going on in her mind. She wondered why men couldn’t help without strings attached. She asked herself repeatedly what extent she could go to get the money. She couldn’t get any reply to the question. She decided not to assume anything until the man had told her what he wanted. But she knew she wouldn’t have enough time to think deeply about it. It was Thursday morning, she had only one more day to pay a million naira and all she had was a sum of five thousand naira.
“I was told that you need one million naira to save your boyfriend,” Jude finally said.
“Yes sir,” she replied.
“I believe you have been told that I can give you the money right here in exchange for a favour.”
“Yes, sir. But sir, why not just see me as your daughter?”
“Exactly. I have a daughter, RST, she is just your age.”
“But sir, if you do and you understand that I am doing this for my boyfriend, you won’t request for a favour.”
“You think I am going to ask for sex? If I need sex, I won’t spend that much. I will get it for two thousand naira at Allen. What I need is far more than sex.”
Precious was surprised.
“What do you want sir?” she asked.
“I have a dying daughter. I want you to save her life.”
“How?” she asked curiously.
My daughter became sick about six months ago. After several medical tests, it was discovered that her two kidneys were not functioning. She needed a transplant. Since then she had been on periodontal dialysis. She has her blood being purified by a machine twice every week. It has been a very terrible experience for her. She lost weight and lost appetite. She can’t get involved in many activities. There are limited types of food she can eat, there are certain environments she must not expose herself to. She must not get angry, she must not get too excited and she must visit the clinic twice a week.”
Precious listened attentively.
“Despite observing all these strict rules, she frequently gets dizzy and even faints at times. That is what my 24-year-old daughter has been passing through for the past six months and recently, it’s getting worse.”
“So how do I come in?” she asked.
“For the past six months we have been looking for a kidney donor. I would have donated one of mine if I am a match, but I am not. Her mother is nowhere to be found. So I am telling you this on the assumption that you will be a match. If you can donate one of your kidneys for my daughter, I will give you the money you need.”
Precious fixed her gaze on him.
“You are asking me to sell my kidney to you?”
The man giggled and said “It depends on your interpretation. All I am asking you to do is to donate one of your kidneys to save my daughter from death and I will donate a sum of one million naira to save your boyfriend from going to prison.”
“Are you sure you really want to do this?” Annabel asked.
“Yes, Ann. I’ve made up my mind,” Precious replied.
“And do you think any man is worth that?” she asked again.
“Leke is worth everything to me.”
“Hmmm, love is as strong as death, says King Solomon,” Annabel quoted the Bible.
“Here, love is as strong as a kidney,” Jennifer interrupted.
“Have you done the test?” Annabel asked.
“Yes, I am a match,” Precious replied.
“So when are you doing the operation?” Annabel asked again.
“But doesn’t he have a kidney himself? Can’t they go to wherever they are keeping him and take his own kidney? Must it be yours?” Jennifer asked three questions at a time.
“That’s true. You said something reasonable for the first time, Jenny. Can’t Leke donate his own Kidney?” Annabel asked.
“I have considered that, but he is in no condition for a surgical operation now. He has been in police detention for the past four months. He is too feeble for such a thing,” Precious replied.
“I see. You are the strong one, Mighty Igor, a cheerful giver. I am sure one day, I will tell you ‘didn’t I warn you?’” Jennifer said.
“That day will never come,” Precious replied.
The operation was successful. It took 48 hours before the doctors allowed anybody to see the two ladies involved. The first person to enter Precious’ ward was Leke. Annabel and Jennifer followed him. As Precious saw Leke, she struggled to sit down on her bed.
“I can never forget what you did for me Precious.”
Precious smiled and said, “I’m glad you appreciate it.”
“I just hope he keeps his word,” Jennifer said.
“I will, I promise and a promise is forever,” Leke said.
“How are you doing, girlfriend?” Annabel asked.
“I am okay. I hope I will be discharged tomorrow. I wasn’t in school throughout last week.”
“Just relax till the doctors say you are fit enough to go,” Leke said.
Then the door opened and a young lady, supported by Prince Jude and Bode entered.
“This is the lady that donated her kidney for you,” Jude said.
“You saved my life. What is your name?” the girl asked.
“Rachel Stallone Temitope.”
“All three?” Jennifer asked.
“I think we can call you Rachel,” Annabel said.
“No, call me RST,” she replied.
It was a rainy day yet a busy day. Despite the fact that the rain refused to stop, people of Lagos refused to stay at home. One major thing that caught the attention of Leke was the variety of umbrellas in Lagos. He was ashamed to go out with his own umbrella as it was old and one of its frames was out of its position. But when he got out with his wretched umbrella, he was surprised that his was better than the average one outside. Many umbrellas he saw people using were a little bit better than baskets. He saw many people under umbrellas still totally wet. Some people held their umbrellas with the right hand at the base and supported it at the top with their left hand. Leke soon developed a habit of comparing every umbrella he saw with his.
He stood in front of a mall looking at a young girl with an umbrella that was not different from a cloth. The umbrella was soaked, so was the girl under it. He still fixed his eyes on her when a car suddenly stopped beside him.
“Are you going towards the island?” RST asked.
“Hey! How are you? I can see that you have fully recovered,” Leke said excitedly.
“Yah! And your girlfriend?”
“She is also okay.”
“Are you going towards the island?” she asked again.
“No, I am going back to Yaba. Thanks.”
“Okay, can I have your number?” she asked.
“No problem,” Leke said and they exchanged phone numbers. Afterwards, RST drove off.
“Who was that?” Jennifer asked coming from behind him with a very small umbrella.
“How did you manage this small umbrella to cover the whole of your body?” Leke asked.
“Answer my question. Who is she?”
“RST, can you still remember her?”
“I have been watching you exchanging numbers with smiles.”
“Comm’on, she only asked for my number.”
“I see,” Jennifer said and walked away immediately.
“All I saw was that they were exchanging numbers and he was smiling like a village girl that just got a new dress as a birthday gift,” Jennifer said.
“Is there anything wrong in exchanging phone numbers?” Annabel asked.
“I know it when I see a man falling for a girl,” Jennifer said.
“That is why you have never seen any man falling for you,” Annabel taunted.
Jennifer turned to Precious and said “And you are looking like a zombie, you can’t even say anything. If you like, let her take your kidney and your man.”
Then the door opened. Leke entered.
“Talk of the devil,” Annabel said.
“You don’t even care if we are in panties,” Jennifer accused him.
“I am sorry, I thought I knocked,” Leke apologized.
“And you thought you heard all of us shouting ‘come in, Mr. Handsome’. I don’t know why you cannot act normally; at least you are not the one that lost a kidney,” Jennifer said.
“Hey! What is the meaning of this Jenny?” Precious talked for the first time.
“Sorry *tokotaye, love wa tintin. I’m going back to my studies,” Jennifer said and walked towards her bed.
“I am very sorry for not knocking. I have so many things on my mind,” Leke apologized again.
“I see; so many things like a date with RST,” Precious said.
“She has been feeding you with news, right?” Leke asked.
“Are you hiding the news from me?” Precious queried.
“You know me very well, Precious. After all you did for me, I can never go after another girl.”
“Listen Leke, if you break my heart, I will kill you and kill myself.”
Leke smiled and said. “I won’t break your heart.” Then his phone buzzed.
“I can bet my last naira on it, she is the one calling,” Jennifer said from where she was lying.
Leke took his phone out of his pocket. He looked at its screen. The call was from RST. He became confused.
“Answer it, we will all close our ears,” Jennifer shouted.
“Can’t you pick up your call? Do you need my permission?” Precious asked.
Leke kept staring at the phone as it continued ringing.
“Trust me baby. I have no idea why she is calling.”
“Just pick up your phone,” Precious replied.
(*Tokotaya – husband and wife; Love wa tintin – overwhelming love)
Leke had never been to KFC eatery before. He looked around as he entered the hall. It seemed he was odd. From what he could see, he was the only person dressed with his shirt not tucked into his trousers. He was also the only person wearing sandals. He was sure he must be the only person without a dime in his pocket… He looked around, quickly searching for RST before others started noticing him. He saw her sitting alone at one corner. He quickly walked towards her, drew the chair facing her closer and sat down. Without greeting, he asked “What do you want from me?”
“Relax boy, I’ve ordered for chicken, I am not here to eat you. I am a friend.”
“What exactly do you want?” Leke asked pronouncing the words one by one.
“Maybe I am making a mistake. My dad told me everything.”
“Everything about what? About how he bought my girlfriend’s kidney for you?”
“Yes. Even though I was the beneficiary, I pitied her. One million naira is nothing to my father, but it cost the poor lady a kidney.”
“So are you here to pity us or to remind us of how poor we are?”
“None. I am here to help you. To help you get a good job that can pay you that one million naira in two months.”
“What kind of job is that?”
“I don’t have anyone in particular in mind, but my father is a top director in ZP Telecommunications. He can use his influence to get you a good job there.”
“That is very nice of you. So what do I …” Leke suddenly stopped talking.
RST had no idea why he stopped. From where she sat she couldn’t see Precious and Jennifer approaching them. Leke knew they were there to create chaos.
“Don’t cause any drama here, Precious. It is for our own good,” Leke said as Precious got to their table.
“Our good my foot,” Precious replied and face RST. “Listen, you bitch, there are five million guys in this city alone. Can’t you look for your man elsewhere? You took my kidney, now you want to take my man.”
“I don’t need your man; I don’t need your embarrassment as well,” RST replied angrily, hissed and left.
“My daughter told me about you. She said you will come with your certificates. Are you with them?” Jude asked while pouring himself some whisky as Leke took out copies of his certificates from his folder.
“Here they are, sir.”
“You can keep them. What is your qualification?”
“First degree, sir.”
“Mining Engineering and you want to work in the telecommunications industry.”
“RST said ….”
“Forget about what she said; we don’t need you,” Jude said.
Leke became speechless. The office remained quiet for about two minutes, and then Jude said
“I will help you.”
Leke became relieved. Jude continued talking.
“A South African mining company has just got a license to operate in Nigeria. They have started operation few months ago but are still recruiting more staff. If you are employed, you will be in the head office in Abuja for a few months before you will be posted to the field. Will that be okay with you?”
Leke couldn’t understand why Jude should ask him that question. He would be the most foolish person to say working in Abuja won’t be okay.
“Yes sir,” he answered.
“Then you can leave copies of your credentials with me. I will ensure they get to the appropriate quarters.”
Annabel entered the room hurriedly and threw her bag on the bed. She glanced at her wristwatch briefly and quickly opened her wardrobe. She was searching for the right outfit to wear. She picked one, threw it on the bed and was about to pick another one when Jennifer threw the clothes back to her.
“Take it easy, baby girl. Why must you throw your undies in my mouth?”
“Hey, sorry! I didn’t know that you were there, but shey that one na undies?
“What is the reason for the urgency? Where are you going?”
“Bode will soon be here. We are going to the movies.”
“Wow! I’ve never been to the cinema before.”
“Because you have never had a boyfriend before.”
“Do you need a boyfriend before you can go to the cinema? It is because they are too expensive,” Jennifer said.
“They are not too expensive, it is because you are too poor,” Annabel replied her.
“Same thing. They are too expensive for me.”
Annabel took three clothes and walked towards Jennifer.
“Which one should I wear?” she asked.
“You want a sexy one?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“One that will reveal your boobs?”
“Then go for this,” Jennifer said and touched a red gown.
“You think …” Annabel started but was interrupted by a knock at the door. “That is Bode.”
Holding the clothes, she walked towards the door and opened it. She was surprised to see RST standing at the door.
“Can I come in?” RST asked.
“Sure, you may come in.”
“Leke does not live here. Didn’t you collect his home address?” Jennifer said as soon as RST stepped into the room.
“I didn’t come here for Leke. I actually want to see Precious but if she is not around I can leave a message.
“I am around,” Precious said standing at the door.
“Oh! Good. I’ve come to apologize for causing problems between you and your boyfriend and to let you know that there is absolutely nothing between your man and me.”
“He has explained everything to me. I think I’m the one that owes you an apology,” Precious said.
“I am glad you believe him. I am a nun, I don’t need a man,” RST said.
“Who is a nun?” Jennifer asked.
“A Catholic sister,” Annabel answered her.
Jennifer jumped down from her bed and walked towards RST
“Gimme five. I am not a nun but my honey has never been tasted. In fact, I have never been milked, if you understand what I mean.”
“That’s very good of you. Chastity is a pride,” RST said as they shook hands. She then faced Precious and Annabel “I want to be friends with you girls if you’ll welcome me into your circle”
“With all pleasure,” Annabel said.
“Same here,” Precious said.
“We are friends already. We’ve got something in common,” Jennifer said then the door opened.
Bode and Leke entered the room.
“Dress up, girls. We are all going to the cinema,” Leke said.
“You didn’t tell me you’d be taking me to the cinema” Precious said.
“I want to spoil you tonight,” Leke said.
“So much for a kidney,” Jennifer said. Leke ignored her and said,
“I’ve got something to celebrate. Guess what?”
“Whatever it is, at least I am going to the cinema for the first time today,” Jennifer said excitedly and started looking for the right clothes to wear.
“Precious, guess what I am celebrating,” Leke pushed again.
“Your landlord is dead” Precious retorted.
“You’ve been invited for an interview,” Precious attempted again.
“I’ve not been invited for any interview; I got a job straight away,” Leke said and turned to RST “Your father made it happen. I got a job without an interview.”
“Congratulations! I am very happy for you,” RST said and turned to Precious “Can I hug him?” she asked.
“A lady wants to dance but she cannot dance alone. Can all male volunteers come forward, please?” the MC of the welcome party organized for the new employee of ZC Mines announced.
Within few minutes about eight men had climbed up the podium.
Then the lady was called upon. She came up majestically. She was extremely beautiful and was dressed in an elegant style. Obviously, she wasn’t a Nigerian.
The lady was to choose one of the men. He looked at them thoroughly but quickly, and then picked Leke. Everybody clapped for him. The music was put on and the two started dancing.
It lasted for about fifteen minutes and ended with a lot of applause. Leke was a good dancer just like the lady. Immediately the music stopped playing, the lady disappeared. Leke walked back to his seat as the other men kept hailing him.
The party continued till around midnight. It took place inside a hall located at the staff quarters of the company. The hall was a walking distance to Leke’s apartment but he hated walking alone at night. He was still searching for any of the few people he had started associating with among the new employees to keep him company when a hand tapped him from behind.
“Hey!” the lady he earlier danced with greeted.
“Hey! How are you?” he asked.
“I’m sharp. You danced very well.”
“So did you.”
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“That doesn’t sound Hausa,” Leke said.
“Do I look like a Zainab?”
“Must Zainab be Hausa?” Leke asked back.
“I have many Hausa friends; all of them are Zainab.”
“That’s interesting. So where are you from?”
“Mzansi,” she replied.
“Where is that?”
“Oh! You are from South Africa. Welcome to Nigeria.”
“I should be the one welcoming you to Abuja. I’ve been coming here since I was ten.”
“I am still the host. This is my fatherland”
“Sharp, can I have your tens?”
“What’s that?” Leke asked.
“Sorry, I’ve forgotten that you use eleven-digit phone numbers here. In Mzansi, we use ten digits.”
“So you want my elevens?”
“That doesn’t sound nice. Don’t copy it. Gimme your phone number.”
Leke dictated his phone number to her and she did the same to him. As she left him walking towards her SUV car, Leke fixed his gaze on her.
She was light in complexion, with a slim body but big buttocks and a perfect feminine shape. She wasn’t too tall nor short. As Leke kept looking at her, he concluded that she was beautiful.
It was exactly 11 a.m. when Leke’s phone buzzed. The sound of the phone woke him up, and he could still feel the effect of the alcohol he drank at the welcome party the previous night on his body. Lazily, he took the phone and looked at the screen. The caller was Lerato.
“Hey, Leke!” Lerato greeted cheerfully.
“Hey!” he replied.
“Were you still sleeping?” she asked.
“You are a lazy man. What’s your flat number?”
“I am coming over now,” she replied.
Leke wanted to ask why she wanted to come but before he could talk she had already terminated the call.
Quickly, he stood up from the bed and went immediately to the bathroom. He brushed his teeth and took a quick bath. He was returning from the bathroom when he heard a knock on the door.
“I’m coming,” he said, throwing away the towel. He quickly applied his body cream and dressed up. Then he went to open the door.
“Why did it take you that long to open the door?” Lerato asked putting on a seductive smile.
“I was dressing up,” he replied.
“And you didn’t want me to see you naked?”
“That will be weird,” he replied.
“Weird my foot. Many girls must have seen you naked before and I have seen many guys naked. So for me, it is weird when a man keeps a lady waiting outside for fifteen minutes just because he didn’t want her to see his dick. That is weird.”
“Good morning, you have not even greeted me,” Leke said, trying to change the awkward subject.
“Oh! I forgot. Good morning. How was your night?”
“Terrible. I’m not good with alcohol, yet I keep drinking it.”
“Bad for you,” Lerato said. “Do you smoke?” she asked.
“Nope. I tried it once, men! I couldn’t breathe.”
“You are a small boy. Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Are you here to interview me?” he asked back, pretending to be irritated by the endless questions.
“Funny you. Do I look like Amapour? Just answer me. Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Yes, her name is Precious. She is in Lagos.”
“Iyoh! You mean you have to go to Lagos before you have sex?”
“Do I need to have it all the time?” Leke asked back.
“So how often do you have it?”
“What do you drink Lerato? I mean what should I offer you?” Leke asked, no longer comfortable with the direction of the discussion. He started walking towards the fridge.
“The drinks in your fridge are not better than those in my fridge. I didn’t come here to drink.”
“So what did you come here to do?”
“To tell you how much I admire you; how much I want to be close to you.”
“I am sorry, Lee. I have a girlfriend and two will be too many.”
Lerato looked sternly at him and said “Two girlfriends will be too many? Another weird attitude.”
It was Leke’s first ‘working’ day at work. The past few days he had spent in the company were for orientation. He quickly got used to his new environment and knew immediately that he was going to enjoy the job. The official time for lunch break was 1 p.m. He was about to go for lunch when the intercom in his office buzzed. He picked it up.
“Hello!” he said.
“Hello! Miss Mighty will like to see you in her office now. Seventh floor, 7-115.”
“Alright! I’m coming now,” he said and started wondering who Miss Mighty could be. He knew the Mighty family owned the company but knew only Mr. and Mrs. Mighty.
He immediately took the elevator to the seventh floor and quickly looked for office 7-115. When he got there he saw a young secretary who directed him to an inner office. He was surprised to see Lerato in the inner office.
“Are you Miss Mighty?” he asked.
“Anything wrong in that?”
“Nothing. Just that I didn’t know.”
“Because you never cared to ask.”
“I first met you last Friday, Lerato. I couldn’t have asked everything.”
“Alright! My name is Lerato Mighty, if you want a fresh introduction.”
“What’s your position here?” Leke asked.
“I am a supervisor,” she replied.
“I hope you are not supervising me.”
“No, and I am happy with that because if I am to supervise you, it will be bad for business.”
“That is the reason we should keep our professional lives professional.”
“I’ve got a personal life to live and my profession can’t dictate how I live my personal life,” Lerato argued, defiantly.
“So why am I here, ma’am?”
“It’s lunch time. I want to invite you for lunch,” she replied.
Leke looked at her surprisingly.
“You really mean business, Lerato. Thanks for the offer but no thanks.”
“You mean you don’t want people to see us together?”
“I don’t care about people; I care about myself. Lerato, you are too beautiful for me to resist. I have to keep my distance.”
“And who says you must resist me?”
“Precious. My vow to Precious says I must resist every other lady.”
“That’s nonsense. I am not asking you to drop your Precious. She is not here, she is in Lagos. My boyfriend is in Johannesburg. I am the one you have here, you are the one I have here, so let’s enjoy this moment. I see no harm in that. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her. ”
“You may not see any harm there. I can see it clearly.”
“So tell me, what is the harm in jigajiga?”
“I think I have to go. I am officially on break,” Leke said and stood up.
“Sit down. There is one more thing.”
He sat down.
“Yesterday I checked your profile on Google,” she said and paused.
“Why?” Leke asked.
“Because I want to know more about you.” There was a silence, and then Lerato continued. “I discovered that you have a criminal record. You killed a man and were convicted.”
Leke remained quiet. Lerato continued.
“The head of Human Resources owed me a favour so I asked for your file. He had no option but to give me. I checked and realized that you didn’t declare in the company forms that you filled that you have any criminal record.”
“I didn’t fill any form here. I only submitted my application letter and credentials.” Leke protested.
“Then someone filled the forms for you. Someone even submitted a police clearance certificate for you because it is part of the requirements here. And the certificate clears you of all criminal offences. It must have been forged.”
“So you are blackmailing me?” Leke asked.
“Why will I blackmail you with information that is freely available on Google?”
“Then why are you telling me this?”
“I want to assure you that your job is secure here. My father owns this company and I draw a lot of water here. The company frowns a lot at criminal cases and very soon some busybody will discover your record. Someone, unlike me, that will not have any soft spot for you. He may want to blackmail you and if he is your friend, may advise you to resign before the company will get to know but I am assuring you that you need not worry about the issue. I have it completely covered. We make the law and we can break it.”
“And what do you want in return for this favour?” Leke asked.
“Nothing. I can’t force you to love me. But I will continue to persuade you. I am your friend and you can always count on me. I will defend you here with every influence I’ve got.
“That is very nice of you, Lerato. You have just assumed a new position in my …”
“I don’t want to say that.”
“Alright! Put me in any position anywhere you like. Are you still not having lunch with me?’
“No. The time has gone already and I also want to make it special.”
“How?” she asked.
“Let’s have dinner tonight, after hours, at Transcorp Hilton. On me” Leke said.
Lerato became excited.
“Wow! That’s a very expensive place you wanna take me to. Very exclusive and cosy. I can’t say no.”
“You are paying for the food and drinks as you promised,” Lerato reminded Leke.
“Yes,” Leke replied.
“But if you really want to enjoy this place you must lodge in one of their suites. I’ve booked one. The bill of that is on me.”
“Yes, serious. Let’s go and take our drinks there.”
Lerato stood up and led the way while Leke followed her like a sheep being led to the slaughter. They took an elevator to the room. It was an executive suite.
“Wow! This is too expensive for us,” an astonished Leke said.
“We deserve it. We have good jobs, so why can’t we spoil ourselves once in a while?”
“Lemme pour you a drink,” Leke said and went towards the fridge.
As he turned back, he noticed that Lerato had removed her gown. Her bra was just falling down at the moment Leke’s eyes caught her body. He was amazed with the massive size of her breasts. He turned his face away immediately.
“Where are you running to? Haven’t you seen a naked lady before?”
“What… what are you doing, Lerato?” he stammered as he turned to face her. Her breasts stood firmly, pointing directly at him.
“What does it look like I’m doing? Do you think I am here to drink wine?”
“So why are you here?”
“I am here to get laid,” she replied and then pointed towards her handbag and said “I have a pack of condoms there, if you wanna play safe.”
Leke couldn’t concentrate at work throughout the week. His conscience was disturbing him. Even Precious knew that something was wrong as he wasn’t as cheerful on the phone as he used to be.
“What’s troubling you Leke?” she asked during one of their telephone conversations.
“Don’t give me the nothing stuff. I can sense that you are disturbed.”
“Maybe stress. Stress from work.”
“OK. You don’t expect that much salary just to sit down and play in the office.”
“That is it, but you know that I am new to it.”
“Maybe I should come over the weekend to cheer you up.”
“No, … I mean, it is not necessary. I will cope. Let me not disturb you.”
Precious was surprised. Leke had been constantly asking her to visit him in Abuja but she had been using her final year undergraduate project as an excuse.
“When did visiting you become a disturbance for me? You’ve been asking me to come all this while, now I offer to come and you are stopping me.”
“I am not stopping you, Precious. It’s just that you are in your final year and need all the time to focus on your studies.”
“Let me worry about that. Is there something you are hiding from me? Or even someone?”
“Why are you thinking like this? I am not hiding anything.”
“Leke, if you dare break my heart, I will kill you and kill myself.”
“Stop saying that. If you want to come, I will send you my address.”
“Please send it. I’ll be there on Friday evening.”
Leke wouldn’t take chances. He told Lerato immediately that his girlfriend would be spending the weekend with him and begged her specifically not to do anything silly. Lerato promised him that she would do his bidding.
Friday night was memorable for Leke and Precious. They had sex as if they had been starved of it for years. They started sleeping around dawn on Saturday. Leke was still sleeping when his phone buzzed. Precious picked it up and discovered that it was an alert. He had set the alarm to wake him up by 6 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends.
Precious put off the alarm and wanted to return the phone to its initial position but later changed her mind. She decided to go through Leke’s text messages and online chats.
It didn’t take her more than two minutes before she saw a message that shocked her. Lerato wrote
“Boy! Sex with you was hot, just like you!”
She threw the phone away quickly as if it was a bomb she was holding, and screamed.
Leke woke up and was terrified.
“What is the problem?”
“Who is Lerato?” she asked.
Leke was surprised and confused.
“Lerato? I don’t know anybody by that name.”
“Liar! Cheat! So her message and name just jumped to your phone?”
Leke became afraid and more confused. He couldn’t remember receiving any message from Lerato.
“I don’t understand what you are saying.”
“Look at the message on your phone,” Precious managed to say and started crying.
Leke took his phone. The message was still on the screen of the phone. He read it and became very angry with himself. He remembered receiving the message the previous Tuesday evening. Then he was coming from the club with his friends, drunk. He thought he deleted it immediately and was very surprised to still see it there. It meant he must have deleted another message, maybe an important message, but the message he deleted instead of the message from Lerato did not matter to him now. How to handle Precious now was the utmost thing.
When he was in the university he dated three girls at the same time in the same hostel. He knew the rule very well. When you are caught you must never admit it. No matter how unreasonable your excuse is, you must give an excuse and never admit that you are cheating. But at that point, he couldn’t think of any excuse.
“I still don’t understand this. How can somebody I don’t know send me a useless message like this,” he said finally.
“I see. You don’t know her, so how did her number get to be saved on your phone?”
Leke remained silent.
Precious walked swiftly towards him and collected the phone from him. She dialed Lerato’s number
“Hey, handsome” Lerato said cheerfully.
“Bitch, who the hell are you?” Lerato asked, fuming.
“Oh! Precious, how are you?”
“I see, you even know my name,” Precious replied and terminated the call.
“So you are even talking about me, right? When you fuck her you compare her to me, ba? That makes it more fun, shey?
Leke remained quiet.
“She screams louder than me, ba? That’s why she said it was hot, huh?. Talk, can’t you just say something?”
“I don’t know what to say, since you won’t believe me.”
“Oh! You are expecting me to believe you. Oya lie, I will believe it.”
“I swear there is nothing between us. She must have mistakenly sent the message to me. Maybe she wanted to send it to her boyfriend.”
“Or MTN mistakenly delivered it to you. Tell me, the telecommunication service in Abuja is so bad that messages used to roam about and enter any available phone, shey?”
“You are turning it to a joke now, Precious,” Leke said, pretending to be serious.
“Who is joking with you? You said you don’t know anybody by that name and the name was saved on your phone. She has your number as well and even knows my name. From ‘I-don’t-know-anybody-by-that-name’ it turns to ‘there-is-nothing-between-us’. Please, lie some more. I will believe you. That’s what I came to Abuja to do. To be taken for a fool,” Precious finally concluded, venting all her anger on the hapless Leke.
“I am not taking you for a fool. When I say I don’t know anybody by that name, I mean there is nobody by that name that is special to me. So many Leratos around, Precious.”
“So many Leratos around, how come I’ve never heard that name before in my life?”
“You know it is a South African name and this is a South African company.”
“I don’t know anything. And, by the way, all the female employees are South Africans. All of them are Lerato and all of them know that sex with you is hot. Maybe you don’t even know the one that sent the message among them. It could be any of the many Leratos around. I can bet it, all of them have tasted it.”
“Now you are taking it too far,” Leke said and moved near her, thinking he might manage to placate her a little.
“Don’t touch me. Don’t even come near me. Now I understand why you didn’t want me to come to Abuja.” she said and started parking her belongings.
“What are you doing?”
“I am going back to Lagos,” she replied.
Leke did everything to stop her but realized she wouldn’t budge. He decided to allow her to go. He knew she needed time to be away from him. He concluded that he would visit her in Lagos the following weekend. She didn’t allow him to follow her to the taxi park not to talk of taking her there in his official car.
After she had gone, Leke sat alone blaming himself for everything and then his phone buzzed. He looked at the screen. The call was from Lerato. He ignored it and allowed it to continue ringing. The phone didn’t ring more than once. After about ten minutes, he walked to his fridge, took out a bottle of scotch, and started drinking right from the bottle without using a glass.
“Don’t kill yourself,” Lerato said from the door way.
“You’ve ruined my life,” he said.
“Co’mmon! I’m here to help you rebuild your relationship”
“Do you know what happened?”
“Yes. After that call from her, I sensed that something terrible might have happened. So I drove close to your flat and watched. I saw her going out and you begging her. I need not be told that all was not well. She knows?”
“She saw your message on my phone. I thought I deleted it that day.”
“Poor you! Did you confess?”
“Good. I will help you.”
“What will you do?”
“I will call her. I will tell her you told me everything and I was surprised too because I didn’t mean to send the message to you. That it was for another person.”
“Good. We think in the same way. That was exactly what I told her.”
“We are meant to be together. I will tell her that you always talk about her at work. That all our colleagues know that your girlfriend’s name is Precious.”
“That is a brilliant idea. You are a life-saver,” Leke said, relieved.
“But I will do it with one condition,” she said.
“What is the condition?” he asked.
Lerato gradually pulled down the zip at the side of her gown. The gown fell down. She took a step out of it towards Leke. She was then in her panties and bra alone.
“She has gone to Lagos, hasn’t she?” Lerato asked.
“No, Lerato, I am not doing this,” Leke protested.
I left in a hurry; I forgot to bring condoms. So you are gonna ejaculate inside my vagina, but don’t worry, it won’t kill us.”
It was around ten o’ clock at night. Jennifer, Annabel, RST and Bode stood at a junction. They were coming from a friend’s party. Bode and RST were about bidding Ann and Jenny goodnight.
“Come and kiss me goodnight,” Bode said.
Annabel moved close to him and hugged him. Then they kissed slightly.
“Hey! This is a public place,” Jennifer protested.
“And so what? Let’s do it again,” Annabel said to Bode and they started another round of kissing. It lasted for a longer period this time and was more passionate.
“Easy now, we don see you,” RST said.
“What is the meaning of this nonsense self?” Jennifer asked nobody in particular.
“I want the two of you to know what you are missing out by not having boyfriends. I’m sure Precious is doing even more in Abuja now,” Annabel said when they eventually disentangled.
“I am sure she is not doing her own on a roadside. She is doing it in the bed,” Jennifer said.
“I am not missing anything. What is the big deal in romantic relationships? You can’t imagine what I am gaining in consecrating my life to God. Jenny too has started experiencing it,” RST said.
“I am not experiencing any stupid thing. When I see a man I love I will go into a relationship” Jennifer sharply replied.
“Let’s show them one more time,” Annabel said and started kissing Bode again.
“Nonsense! I am out of here. Meet me at home,” Jennifer said, turned back and started walking towards their apartment. “Goodnight, RST” she added.
“Goodnight,” she replied her.
Jennifer got to their self-contained room, opened her handbag and took out a key. She slotted it inside the key hole and then realized that the door was not locked. She was surprised. She was sure that she locked it when they were leaving the room in the afternoon and she had been in the same place with Annabel since then. She became a little afraid but later summoned the courage and opened the door.
The moment she entered the room, she knew someone was inside. Precious’ bag lay carelessly on the floor. Her phone was on the table. Jennifer was surprised. Precious was supposed to be in Abuja.
“Precious,” she called out to her. “Precious, are you back from your pre-honeymoon?” she shouted more loudly this time.
Nobody replied her. The whole place was silent. She became afraid.
Slowly she walked towards the bathroom. She opened the door carefully and was shocked.
Lying in the water tub was Precious. Her legs floating in the water, her head and one arm out of the water. The remaining parts of her body were deep inside the water. She left a note and a pen beside the tub.
“Jesus!!!” Jennifer screamed.
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