CHAPTER THREE ⃝ THE SUBTLE BLACKMAIL

ǁǁǁ Leaving his blasted office, I drove straight home and marched into my studio; changing into my work clothes and smearing colors on prepared canvas unconsciously; all the while in deep thoughts about the man I thought was an excellent retirement prospect. How could I have been stirred so wrong? Who was he really? How did he know so much? Why did he come to me? Surely I was not the only digger in the Capital city. Well, maybe the best……but still.

The outcome after five hours of color smearing was an abstract painting that was questioning me. Looking at it now, there was no message. Another artistic crap. I stopped and went to take a long swim in the pool. That relaxed my nerves and got me feeling better in minutes. I knew I would hear from him again and soon. Until then, worrying was not going to help. Got out of the pool, toweled my impressive figure and headed straight to the pool bar. Drinks and nuts minutes later and I went to take a shower.

Stroking Tessy’s head as she slept peacefully beside me on my large bed; staring and admiring my abs and voluptuous curve in black lace undies in the mirror above my bed; one thing was clear.

Akhmed Danjuma Bricks found me out, I did not.

The continuous rhythmic buzz told me Uche was at the door for the hot gossip; I dragged myself off the bed and went to open the door without peeping. Tessy was already at the door wagging. Only Uche and Tony knew this house and with this buzz, even Tessy knew it was Uche. That brought smiles to my face. She was going to grill me on every detail for sure. So sad I couldn’t tell her anything real. Pushing the thought out of my mind, I opened the door.

“Akhmed???” I was out of breath the moment I opened the door to see him standing on my doorstep in casual jeans and blue polo. Of course he was wearing 212 for men-eyes roaming like MTN. The slamming of the door shook the whole house as I ran back for a robe; Tessy momentarily confused then ran after me. My face was hot. What was he doing here? How did he know my house? Too much questions and I was PISSED!!! Pulling my navy blue robe from the wardrobe, I threw it on and marched back.

Angrily snatching the door open, he spoke before I ordered him gone. Wetin sef!!! See me standing in my lace bikini with uncombed hair. I hate being caught off guard jor. Mtcheeew.

“I came to apologize. Obviously I wasn’t a gentleman” he said holding a finger up and awkwardly keeping a straight face. Sure he found it hilarious but did not make reference to my state of dressing.

“Go on” I said crossing my arms while Tessy was wagging her bushy tail looking from me to the calm stranger. Traitor Tessy.

“I’m sorry for making that statement about your father, offering to pay you to marry my father and coming to your house uninvited” he said bending to pick up Tessy. The heavy bark that came out from the little animal got him taking a step back to take another look. Good one Tessy I thought and beamed.

“Come in” I said picking up Tessy and walking to the kitchen. She needed a drink for a job well done. Dropped her in her room and rushed to my room to put on a long white night shirt with “gŎŎd nIGHt” largely written across my chest and a pair tights-check prints. Finger-combed my hair into a bun and headed to my sitting room a little frazzled.

“Nice paintings” he commented as I walked back to the sitting room totally at ease. He did a quick appraisal. I did not mind.

“Like anyone in particular?” I asked standing by him as we looked at a work I had done some years back. Of course he didn’t know that.

“I like this one, the turmoil in the mind creating chaos all around him and he vents out in a roar” he said after a long study. I was impressed. That was the message.

“You are lucky, it is on sale” I said walking to the bar to pour a Frontera. Something told me the night was just starting. He had come to use the subtle approach. I was on guard.

“Hahaha! I’d love to” he said coming over at my signal for his glass.

“You should have a look at my gallery sometime. I know you are not here for just a drink and say good company?” it was rhetorical.

“You caught me. I’d like to talk to you about my proposal again” he said with a stress before taking a sip.

“What is the problem? Financial trouble and dad wants to disown you?” I asked suspiciously.

The look in his eyes gave him away. I had played around and opened the Pandora’s box.

“Can we seat?” he asked.

“Why not? Please” I said indicating he could sit on the violet single arm cushion. An art piece Uche and I picked out for a make-over. The pure white walls and black glazing marble tiles throughout the house had to contrast all furniture and decors.

“How much do you know about the Bricks?” he asked taking a comfortable position.

“Old money, Kingmakers. Always wondered where the “Bricks” came from though” I said taking another relaxed sip. It was pretense. My back hair was all up.

“My great grandfather dealt in red bricks so he got the name Mai Jan’Laka in his community. My granddad got it translated into English when the Missionaries came. He thought it revelation, like Peter the rock, he was Dan’Ladi Jan’Laka that is Dan’Ladi Bricks. He made it a brand. Sold mostly clothes, distilled local  perfumes and loaned out large sums with interest while his numerous wives and concubines tended to the field. He made good sales to local agents gathering crops for exports. My Dad helped build the brand and established it. I’m sure he will tell you about it someday. It gets people raising their ears” he said with a smile that came from knowing you have an interesting history.

“So what is burning?” I asked all the while nodding and smiling. It was time to get to the crux of the matter. He lost the smile.

“I’m about to be disowned. Meaning lost inheritance, frozen assets, business cancellations, foreclosures…..the list is endless. Should my business competitors get a wind of this? I will lose everything I have worked for” he said sadly looking into his drink as if down at the bottom he would see the solution. He stared long and hard.

“I am listening” I said detached.

“I am not the son of Ali Kyari Bricks” he finally let out in hot breathe.

“Adopted?” I asked totally keeping the shock off my face and voice.

“No. A product of an affair with my father’s sworn enemy; Alhaji Yerima Dotun” he said as if I knew who he was. I didn’t ask. I looked on. He continued.

“It was my mother’s way of getting back at my father for denying her position on the board of trustees and neglecting her. Plus an affair with a “white woman” crowned her unreserved hatred for him. Don’t ask me how they got together” he said with another sip. His glass was almost empty now.

“Rather deep. How did he find out?” I was not about to be judgmental. You all know what I do for a living……oook! I have two jobs. Give me a break.

“My father has recently declared me an “enemy of state”, threatening to freeze my trust fund and all. Having a grave site as a point of contact with the one person who can give me answers and who is responsible for this chaos does not help either. What was she thinking post-dating a confession from the grave on the old man’s 50th birthday? What good was it? The enemy is dead. She is dead! I am guessing she didn’t like me every much” he said squeezing his forehead. I was pretty sure childhood thoughts floated around now.

I should get a private investigator……To-Do-List.

“Have you taken a DNA test?” I tried another angle.

“The moment he got the delivery, it was a matter of a visit to the doctors. Do you know she actually gave her lawyers the mandate to deliver the parcel on his 50th birthday? My God! She had it all figured out. A long letter of destruction. If you ask me, I will say she really wasn’t a mother. She was a power-starved demon” he concluded downing the entire liquid in the glass. His eyes had gone red with the excessive rubbing and squeezing. His mother sure knew how to “scr**w”. Sorry for the choice of word. Guess we all have our sad stories

Tip #5:  Do not fall for sad stories, real heart wrenching ones too. Stay aloof. Take all the emotions in and go “Life is unfair. Deal with it”

“Do you have anything stronger?” he asked looking at me with the reddest of eyes.

“I do” I made to get him a bottle of Vat 69, blended.

“Thanks” he said quietly as I came back and handed him the chilled bottle. I did not bother asking him the results of the test. We won’t be having this discussion if it were negative.

“So you came up with the plan of getting him married? Why marriage?” I asked after a while.

“Knowing my father, when he is hurt and betrayed by family, he trusts the next neutral person with a lot of his assets. Moreover, I overheard a discussion with his close friend Dr. Lanre Onilenla; he seems to be ready for “love” now before it is too late. In his words that is. A new wife to him will validate the fact that he is lovable and not because of his worth” he said rolling his eyes as if the old man had lost it.

“And you don’t believe in love or the possibility that he can be loved without his worth being a motivation” I said noticing his long slender fingers gripping the glass.

“I didn’t say so” he said looking up.

“You certainly think so” I pressed with a quiet smile. He shrugged.

“With his new found “cause”, he will throw himself to grooming her to take over from him. I need that woman in my corner” he said suddenly losing the pity-party posture and sitting up.

I was beginning to see where he was going.

“So you need the wife to be your Queen on the board” I summed.

“Not in actual sense. But yes, I need her on my side and use her new status to fostering my investments. I have worked too hard and too long to see this fail. I can’t and won’t have it”. He declared with new determination.

“Why did you pick me? Assuming of course that I’m the only recruit” I asked with a resolve to ask as many questions as I could without getting attached. It was a gift and since discovered staying unattached helps me stay ahead.

Tip #5B:  Everyone has got a truck load of shit. Don’t be the dump ground.

“You are my first recruit. You fascinate me” he said with a forced smile.

“We know that’s not it. You have my” file” remember?” I said jokingly. He laughed.

“That was necessary. However I have got a good feeling about you. If anyone can pull this off, you can” he looked quite convinced. Motivational prep talk101. Sannu Akhmed mai speaker.

Opening my mouth to a reply, the doorbell interrupted.

I wasn’t sure who was at my door, seeing that I was slow in my detective prowess tonight.

“Excuse me” I said springing up. I used the peep hole this time. It was Uche.

I opened the door.

“Hey you” she said cheerily with a hug.

“Look at you! Where are you headed?” I asked taken back by her appearance. Gosh! Mini gowns ought to be reappraised. She oozed sexual appeal.

“See wetin bankers dey wear for night o….I bin tink say una go still dey wear dat una eva-lasting uniform go dinner na” I teased with a wicked throaty laugh. She shooed me and rolled her eyes.

“Got a date, told him to pick me up from here” she giggled mischievously letting herself in.

“And you gave him my address?!!!” I asked wide eyes with a shout. Now I know why I was suddenly getting “new” visitors. Her quietness told me she had seen Akhmed.

“Hello” she said politely; standing and awaiting introductions. Akhmed was already up.

“Hello, I’m Akhmed” he did the honors with a hand shake.

“Uche” she said with a big smile and returned the handshake enthusiastically.

“My bestie” I added coming to stand with them.

“So you have a man over!” it was Uche’s way of teasing me and helping my “cause”. She need not have.

“You don’t have men over?” Akhmed asked raising an eyebrow at me. That explained opening the door in undies.

“Don’t ask me” I made a face.

“I should take my leave” he said after an awkward silence. We had to continue this another time obviously.

“Don’t leave on my account” Uche said heading to pour herself a glass of champagne-Courvoisier.

“More can’t be said tonight. Dinner tomorrow night?” He asked facing me. Uche looked from the bar. Ofofo!!!

“Sure” I replied easily to which Uche cleared her loud throat. Akhmed laughed, his cute adam’s apple doing a little flip.

“Good night Uche. It was a great honour to meet with you” he said in his usual style. She beamed. I saw him to the door.

“So I pick you up by 6pm? We have a lot to talk about. A lot to do in little time. Sooner will be better” he pressed one last time in low voice. I knew what he meant. He needed to know if I was on board or not.

“I understand”

“Ok. Good Night Didi”

“Night Akhmed”

He walked to gate and I stared after his tall departing self. His walk was striking as was his looks. Sad he wasn’t going to be the Mine. I was drawn to him and deep down I knew I was going to agree to his plans. God help me. Adamu of course had let him in based on some language exchange. I will have a talk with him in the morning.

I closed the door.

“So, So, dish dish” Uche was quick to get down to business.

“Well, he seems to be biting, dinner tomorrow. He is hooked. We are in business” I said in winks and beaming smiles.

“Tell me story jor. Wich one be biting and dinner. How did he get here?” she asked the obvious question to which I did not have an answer.

“He followed me home” was the most reasonable answer I could come up with. I hope that part was true.

“Ehen, so una meeting go well be that na” she grilled eyeing me with wicked laugh forming at the base of her throat.

“More than I hoped for” I smiled.

“Okay o! dis one wey you dey hold gist so, I go dey wait for you after dinner tomorrow night. I go sleep over sef. So just leave your key for me” she said as she picked up her vibrating phone.

“I’m coming out now” her date was out.

“Stop using my house as pick up arena!” I said after her as she laughed her way out of my house.

“Used one stone to kill two birds dear” A peck and she was gone. I shook my head.

Tessy was peacefully sleeping in her cot by the time I found her. She looked so cute.

The night was still young but the thought of going out made me tired. An early night with a bowl of ice cream and a good movie was a good one.

Vibrations told me I had a call. It was Akhmed.

“Yes?”

“I’m at your door” and he was off.

The door opens to him with a bland look.

“Sorry, left my keys” he said sheepishly.

“Of course you did” I said sarcastically.

“Can I pick it?” he asked.

“Sure” stepping aside to let him in.

He found the bunch of keys few seconds later.

“So good night?” he said standing in close proximity.

“Yes” I nodded.

The swift move took me by surprise as he bent to plant an airy kiss on my lips. He tasted of faint toffee sweets with smooth soft lips. Hmmm, I liked it.

“I have always wanted to do that. Before you become Mrs Ali Bricks” he laughed devilishly at the look on my face. I was stunned.

“You devil” I shook my head at his audacity with a lop-sided smile. I was going to marry his father for sure. My mind was made up. I needed a game; I got more than I bargained for.

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The next day had me in the office-meeting with our client in need of an already developed shopping mall for sale-the Sky-Jet. An all glass 9 floor storey building at Jahi district, a fast growing district in the Capital city. There was an encumbrance on the land and an active mortgage on the proposed mall for sale. I hated having insincere clients!

Mr Sahib should have told me all this before giving me the brief to dispose of. Thanks to Tunde’s networks and attention to details, now we know why he was ready to let it go at 500 million naira. A property that was worth over a billion naira!

Who was going to clear up the piled up ground rent, unprocessed fees and mortgage was the buyer’s question. I found it fair that the seller should either clear it up or have it deducted from the sales price. By the time we were done; the seller (his lily-livered representative) was not making a commitment and our buyer wasn’t about to budge either.

It was a stale mate.

We would get back to them. Mr Jackkie with the double K (as he always insisted) mouthed to me that we should get him another property. That was what I hated about the job. It doesn’t take much to get you back to square one. At least, our “Oyinbo” still wanted us to get him another property. I wasn’t out in the cold.

I put the “disapproving” call to Mr Sahib immediately they cleared out of the meeting room minutes later.

“Good afternoon Mr Sahib, how are you today Sir” I greeted with an edge.

“Didi! How are you?” he said lightly. I’m sure he sensed the edge in my voice.

“I am fine Sir, How’s work?” I asked politely waiting for the right moment to launch.

“Work is good, Work is good” in repetition.

“We just finished the meeting. I’m afraid we cannot dispose the sky-jet just yet. We just discovered the loan and ground rent issues. You did not mention this at the hand over. Why was this?” I reported smoothly and asked in quick succession.

I wanted to let him have it but Tunde was wise to stare at me while I made the call. Being my professional “partner” for 5 years, he was quick to learn my shortcomings and we sure worked well.

“Yes, Ben briefed me of the meeting just before your call came in. You see, I was hoping to have sorted it out before now. You know how it works. I will keep you posted on the progress from now on”. I calmed down a bit.

“Well, I hope you clear it soon, we just lost a potential buyer” I said with suppressed anger. I knew how many months we have worked on this.

“Yes, Yes. I will have it sorted out. Sorry for the trouble. Send Tunde to the office. Sorry my dear” he said in his usual cheerful self. I smiled despite myself.

“Yes of course, Sir. Thank you. Have a nice day” ending the call.

“You too dear” he used endearments a lot. I looked at Tunde.

“Check him in the office. He should give something to compensate the office” I said.

“Okay, I will do that today. I wanted asking if we could submit a proposal for the valuation job, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Company” he asked as I stood up from my desk. I wanted to go pick a dress for my dinner. Maybe new shoes too.

“Have fun. I’m done for the day. Let me know when it is ready for submission. I will give Oke a call”. Oke was our valuation network. He knew how to get valuation jobs.

“Alright. We will get to it then” he said meaning the 4 new staffs. I had no relationship with the staff. Oh! Wait…I do. I was the employer and pay their salaries promptly too.

“Thanks. I’m going out now. See you tomorrow?” I asked. He knew what I meant. I was done for the day and asking if my attention was needed. I close at midday most times; having an office at home helps.

“That’s all at the office” he said with a knowing smile. I was gone. It was 12:25pm.

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3pm had me rushing home to eat my take-out lunch of a bowl of Edikaikong soup without the “swallow” with lots of “animal and mami-water action” from Gopro restaurant somewhere in Wuse II. One foremost Calabar Kitchen wey dey siphon my money…choi! Buh dia food sweet die. The smell sef go flood your throat with scented spit. Tessy sef dey lose self-control when she perceive am. We ended up sharing the bowl of soup and took a nap.

 “Pick you up by 6pm”

It was Akhmed. A text. I stood up to get ready.

Throughout the day, I made mental notes of questions for direct clear answers. By God I was going to get them.

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Dressed in a pair of white skin pants and fitted sleeveless gold shimmering blouse with plunging neckline in delicate folds, the “Didi-pair” settled in comfortably and made appearances only when I made a deliberate masterminded move to get eyes re-focused. My new pair of black Christian Louboutin gave the exact carriage I needed to pull off the sophisticated seductive look.

Opening the door at 6pm, he stood there with a practiced smile and looking good. The ever-raised left eyebrow went higher as I stepped down in silence with a red clutch. We walked to his car parked outside the gate. Adamu had been reprimanded and had informed me before letting him in. He was quiet and looked thoughtful tonight. He stood aloof as he held the door opened. The chilly air licked at my exposed arms before I entered his car that was equally freezing. I studied him as he walk over to his side of the car and positioned himself behind the wheel. He looked so in control; one would never guess this man’s business empire was about collapsing.

“Can we have it off for a minute?” I asked pointing at the air conditioner.

“Sure” he said as he studied me for a while and smiled before switching it off.

“Where are we having dinner?” I asked after a minute of silence that was increasing becoming awkward.

“No name” he said simply. He was not in the mood for chatter. Memo received. We both had a lot weighing on our minds.

“How was your day?” he finally asked as we walked into the restaurant and had the car parked.

“Had better days” I curtly replied.

“Good evening Sir, Ma’am” it was the receptionist. He was well known here of course. The secluded building was located in an unknown Close. Of course, my eyes had a map drawn already for personal visit if I was impressed with the service.

“Good evening Mimi” he said with a warm smile. Another well-dressed female ushered us to a secluded corner on the first floor. The beautiful chandeliers gave the room a glow that was breath taking and the serene setting was suitable for the night.

“Thank you Belema” he said again to which she nodded and smiled.

“Have a good evening Ma’am” I nodded too with a bright smile. I had the red Revlon on.

“Nice place” I stated making to move my seat backward. He helped.

“I like the privacy” he said. His intimidating height was alluring as was disturbing. I became aware of his maleness and the feeling of the airy kiss came back in a rush. Boohoo…..

“You quite the gentleman” I said with a wink.

“I believe the word is cultured” he said flashing me the first smile for the evening.

“Hahaha! Cultured is not bad”. He took the opposite seat.

“Thank you” he said. A bottle of Merlot came in without order, then the first course of steaming fish and vegetables. The sizzling fish was exquisite and well prepared. “Excellent fish” I said after the first taste.

“The first bite was all it took for me too” he said studying my face.

“Akhmed?” I called his name indicating I was ready to continue our conversation from where we left off.

“Didi” he called too.

“What is your plan?” I asked with the fish “dissolving” tastefully on my tongue. Sparks went off my brain-the fish scatter my brain jare…….proper English no go tell the feeling as ei do me.

“Get married to my father, gain his trust, he puts you in charge of some offices and you throw business my way. You are in real estate, that will gain his confidence for sure” he said with steady eyes.

“How do you suppose he trusts me enough to do that? He didn’t trust your Mother remember? Moreover, he will get me off the moment he learns of throwing “business” your way” I said taking another chunk. Thank God for the water-proof lipstick, I did not have to worry about swallowing red cosmetics tonight.

“You are good at what you do, real estate to be precise. You have good clientele and you have closed all deals so far. Throwing business to new companies without me in the picture won’t set him off. I will take care of that” he said confidently. He was going to front some companies for sure. Who exactly where we taking on? Yet to look at Ali Bricks’s résumé.

We ate in silence for a while. Finally it was time.

“How did you find me?” I blurted out.

“Chucks Eke” he said with a piercing look. As if daring me to deny.

“Chucks?” I couldn’t believe it. He was the second Mine that I dug. That was like forever! He was quite the lover boy that had me begging for ****clears throat***. Chucks alright could hold a grudge.

“He is my childhood friend. He gave you that house as a birthday gift yes?” he said referring to my apartment. He was right. If anyone was to boast about his conquest and extravagance, it was Chucks. I’m sure he must have told him all he needed to know about me. Hopefully not the intimate details……I “blushed”.

It was sad to use his double-mindedness as an excuse to pick my tools and call the expedition quits but the more I dug, the more I got dirty. The Mine was empty. He was bitter at the time and had followed my every move.

“I see” was all I could say.

“He knows of my pending predicament and suggested I device a way of maintaining the cash flow while Dad gets used to the idea of Mum’s betrayal. Knowing my Dad, it could take years. By then all plans for Green city will be long forgotten. Other competitors will swoop in like vultures the moment they get wind of the inability of the company to finance it. That wouldn’t be so bad if I had not mortgaged the company and stocks on several markets to finance this project. I cannot afford to lose all I have labored for overnight”. He had lost his appetite. He was in a dilemma.

“But some stocks are of Bricks, that would negatively affect your Dad” I said trying to make sense of his father’s readiness to lose a fortune because of some vendetta.

“He is willing to lose everything if it means the ruins of his enemy”

“But you are his son. Guess is more of pride at play!” I reasoned and shrugged.

“I was” he said in an even tone before putting another piece of fish in his mouth.

“And my father?” I asked the question that kept me up for hours last night.

He took a moment to answer me.

“I bought the property” he said simply.

The look that came across my face must have showed him the extent of my surprise. Akhmed Bricks was the invincible buyer?! I remember the sale of my Mother’s uncompleted hotel like yesterday. The secrecy of the “Oyinbo” buyer that didn’t make an appearance till the deal was completed was finally exposed. That was my first sale. The money went to the orphanage. I did not intend to use the money at all. I just couldn’t bear to see my father win one more time.

“So you didn’t consider the rumours of it being cursed?” I asked getting vibes I didn’t like.

“I didn’t. It seemed a good investment at the time. Moreover, the accident was just unfortunate” he said trying to look uninterested.

“That doesn’t answer my question” I took him back.

“After Chucks told me about you and of course your expertise, the name struck a chord. Went back to old documents and got a private eye to have you checked out. The eye was of the opinion that with the animosity established between you and your Dad, it wouldn’t be too much to conclude that you had a hand. He also said you could do the job. You come highly recommended” he said steadily looking at me for a reaction. My heart pounded under my blouse and sweat suddenly pouring out of my pores but I retained a calm expression. Plus the cool air conditioner helped dry the sweat.

“Brilliant private eye I’d say” was all I could mutter again.

“That’s why he is on retainer” he smiled brightly. He was quizzing me.

“Hahaha! You don’t say” I faked a dry laugh and was a little relieved that Segun wasn’t mentioned. Without Segun, I was home free. Where was he anyway? I asked myself inwardly while taking more pieces of the fish absent minded.

“Segun is dead though” he offhandedly continued with a look that gave me chills. I almost shot up. The look on my face leaked a little before I replaced it with my bland look. The sweat pouring overpowered the air conditioner and all of a sudden the fish tasted pepperish. Was he a mind reader? If he was, I was done for. The slow motion as I chewed what would be the last of the fish had me fixed in a tight corner. I took a quick drink to push the remaining un-chewed fish. Still no words.

“So 30 million dollars is a lot of money. Are you willing to consider this or not? I’m afraid I do not have much time” he stated as a matter of urgency with a blackmailing undertone. It didn’t look like he was giving me much of a choice springing Segun’s name like that. This was going to be his last offer. I knew it. Whether I took it or not, he was going to blackmail me and get me caught in the nicely sprung trap. I might not get the 30 million dollars. I am Didi Trap; I make the traps goddammit!!!

He wasn’t going to let me in on Segun as he kept chewing-his-cud and looking at me without blinking. It was almost as if he dared me to ask the question that kept coming to me.

“Who is Segun?” I would ask with a feigned expression. That would just put me in a tight spot. If his “eye” got Segun’s part in the accident, then he must know that I was involved. It was better to ignore the sentence and find out exactly what he knows and how he knew these things. Until then, I was going to keep low. Didi, get your “eye”…….to do list.

Tip #6: Never approach your opponent with little or no information. The man who said “Knowledge is Power” was not having too much spit in his mouth.

Asking about Segun after my shocked silence would implicate me too. Should I ask about how he knew about Segun? Will that prove my guil……my involvement? I decided to keep mum. If he didn’t bring it up, I won’t either. I needed a private eye of my own ASAP. This game was getting technical and arming myself with information about who Akhmed’s real father was and how many dirty pools he has played in would give me a sense of security.

Private investigator was the long term answer. For now, only one option was valid.

After a long paused my eyes came to rest on Akhmed. Funny how games turn out……………..getting married under “duress” for 30 million dollars. It wasn’t a bad deal. He had few years left; the media was all about the news of his recent world tour and charity work. Recently referred to as an eligible old bachelor for the modern woman, he wasn’t a bad catch. What if he had secrets in the closet? Will I be tempted to use a “Segun” again? What if Akhmed was springing me to take his fall? What if he finds out that I betrayed him? Gosh, the longer I stared at Akhmed, the more the questions spiralled without control. I smiled and played with the fish. The white flesh stared back unappealing. I took a deep breath. This was it.

“It is a yes. I will marry your father” the rush of air from both our lungs told me he was hoping he didn’t have to use the last card. We both took a deep drink from our glasses. The hurdle crossed.

“Do I get to sign a pre-nup?” I continued after I dropped my glass.

The laughter that filled the room was one of acute relief and pure joy. His sexy throaty laughter got some hits from the quiet occupied tables. He must have considered other ways of roping me in. Glad he didn’t have to I bet. Cute bastard…..how true was that?!!!LoL.

“You never cease to amaze me” he said still chuckling.

As if on cue, the main course for the evening made its way to our table.

“You interest me too” I said looking at the steaming Irish porridge spiced with what looked like lot of shredded shrimps and greens. My appetite was getting back up.

“I do, don’t I?” he said with interest. Now that the deal was settled, the air was lighter and it seemed natural to talk as if we were old acquaintance.

I foresee lots of mind games.

“So I get the blue prints tomorrow?” I asked him meaning his plans……whatever they are.

“Ummm, yes. I will mail them to you” he said taking a mouthful of his plate.

“So, do we talk about you or my future husband?” I joked thanking the waiter as he left.

“I’d rather we talk about you” he looked a little longer and shook his head as if to clear a thought.

“Oh! There isn’t much you don’t know already alias brilliant eye” I said sarcastically to which he gave another throaty laugh.

“That seems fair. You are an engaging woman. It is shame you are already betrothed” he said with a grin.

“It’s a shame you got me betrothed. I had such good plans for you” I divulged. That got his eyes popping.

“Such as?” he asked taking another mouthful.

“You weren’t the only one doing the staring where you?” I asked mockingly.

That got a laugh. We got two hits from the table at the far end of the room. Obviously he was getting the attention.

“Is that so?” he looked intrigued.

“You don’t want to know” I teased knowing he will ask that he be told.

“I so do!” he said dropping his cutlery.

“You were a good retirement plan. Seems in one way or the other, I got what I wanted” I said with smiles as he smiled even more broadly.

“Seriously? You wanted to marry me for money?” he asked incredulous.

“No, I wanted to dig in your Mine”.

That got the whole room looking at our table. Akhmed was in a laughing frenzy that he coughed out loudly because the food went the wrong direction. I couldn’t help myself either.

The evening took a fun turn. The die was cast. I was on a mission.

Let the game begin ǁǁǁ.

<<<< I dropped the volume at last. It was 8:30pm. I slept off and had woken up by 6:45pm to continue reading. Standing up, the sharp ache I felt in my head left me dizzy. I held the reading desk to steady my shaky legs and pounding head ache.

I needed to go lie down. Maybe eat. I still was not hungry but my body told me otherwise.

“Iya, please send dinner to my room” I said seconds later into the intercom.

“Yes Ma” she said simply. Picking up the next volume, I walked slowly across the hall. The quietness intensified as I headed to my room at the far west wing of the house.

The tray told me Iya was already here. I wondered what was inside those silver wares. Strolling to my bathroom, I had few moments easing my bowels and felt better. A quick shower and I was good to go. Switching on the TV to another bomb blast in Kano #Mute. It was going to make headlines tomorrow; the act would be condemned and trend for a day.

Sitting down to the meal of mouth-watering pasta and peas, the intercom rang. Hmmm! What now?

It was Akin.

“Madam, the Mr Akhmed is here again. What do I tell him?” he asked obviously irritated by the persistent fellow.

I was too but now I knew the man better.

“Let him in”

***************************************************************************

I got dressed and made my way to the visitor’s apartment-an extension to the East of the main building. Didi received her visitors there. He was already there. Backing me, he stood studying a mosaic piece on the wall. I took a deep breath and studied him too. It seemed he felt my presence and turned.

“Good Evening Ma’am, sorry to come back this late” he said approaching me with an ease I found quite unsettling.

I walked to the middle of the huge sitting room cum gallery. The central sitting arrangement in the large room had her works and a couple of her collections from her travels hang on the wall and placed on surfaces.

“It is no problem. Please be comfortable” I said taking his hand that surprisingly softer than mine. Mental note to use more hand lotion.

“Akin ring for coffee” I turned to Akin who had mysteriously appeared during the introductions and stood by the door. The choice came out before I could think.

“Coffee yes?” I turned to ask him.

“Please” he said with another dazzling smile. He was fine. I found myself studying his features. Looking through Didi’s eyes I was.

“So?” I asked taking a seat opposite him in my blue faded jeans and green woolly turtle neck top; a gift from Didi. The hair was packed in a carelessly bun and my eyes were swollen red and I sure looked terrible with lips that was brushed pink under the hot bath I just came out from. The ache was slowing mounting again and of course it showed on my recently washed face devoid of makeup.

“I came to offer my condolence” he said with a sad look. The ache returned.

He already knew. He already knew? How was that possible?

“You know?” was all that escaped from my rapidly closing lips that formed an “O”. He nodded in the affirmative. I swallowed unconsciously. How did he know that? His private eye? Didi kept contact? My mind wandering what Didi must have written about him. I couldn’t wait to get back to the journals. I did not ask him how he knew. I just looked on and dropped my countenance.

“Yes. I’m so sorry for your loss” he said with a sad look, my eyes watered again. I looked away to see Iya chef and her tray.

Dropping it, she disappeared discreetly as she came.

“How are you holding up?” he asked minutes later. No one made attempt to open the coffee pot; the sweet smell escaping in steam.

“Good” I said simply looking at him. I cleared my throat again taking my eyes to the geometric art work behind him for a split second and then back on him

We shared a sad chuckle and then awkward silence.

“I’m Unen Ameji” I said suddenly uncomfortable and at lost for words.

“I know. I believe you know who I am” he said carefully studying me.

“I do not” I denied with a bland expression.

“I’m Akhmed Danjuma Bricks” he said quietly as if the name would make an impression. Still, I looked on and smiled politely.

“Well, nice to meet you Akhmed. You were a friend of Didi’s?” No atom of recognition whatsoever. I did not know him but just what Didi had written.

“No, her husband” he said with a dead-on look.

I sat up.

Was this some joke? What did he mean her husband? I wanted running back to my room to get the journal….flip till I see Didi weds Akhmed. But that would have to wait. For now, he was sitting here and was looking at me.

“Okay?” I replied with a look of disbelief.

“She didn’t mention it?” he asked with a little bit of bitterness that didn’t escape me.

“She did not” I stated calmly. He took a deep breath turning to look at the door that Iya had taken. He looked for long.

“When is the final burial? I need to pay my respect” he said after a long awkward silence. I held my hand together in between my knees. I felt cold.

“Umm, she has been buried” he looked up sharply with anger. I continued.

“She made a written request to be cremated in Indian but I have some of her here for final goodbyes” I said as my eyes watered and I blinked away. The last part of the sentence got caught in my throat.

“And have you fixed a date yet?” he asked.

“No. I guess you can set the date and handle it” I said quickly relinquishing the duty I was too afraid to perform.

“Okay. I will be happy to do that” he said coming to sit beside me. A stubborn tear had escaped and I had my head down to hide it.

“You will be fine. Shhhh” he stroked my hair as I silently cried. My shoulder’s giving me away.

I quickly recovered and cleaned my eyes with the back of my hands. My eyes were red for sure.

“You can sleep anywhere. I will see you tomorrow to plan then?” I said standing up. I rang the bell.  Iya appeared.

“Please get the visitor’s bedroom ready for Mr Akhmed. He will be staying the night”. She nodded.

“Good night” I said turning to him as Iya made haste in the direction of the bedroom.

“Sleep well”. I smiled, nodded and walked back to my room.

I was going to take another shower, heat my food and read as much as I could till morning. I needed information. Moreover, sleep was far from me.

The days that follow should be interesting.

It was 4:55am before I closed my eyes>>>>

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CHAPTER TWO ⃝ AKHMED’S PROPOSAL

ǁǁǁ The continuous rhythmic buzz told me it was Uche. She calls before my alarm gets the honor of waking me up. It was Monday already and I was still on my bed at 7am. Opening my eyes, I felt Tessy rigorously wagging and fanning me with her white bushy tail.  I pulled her close and she snuggled up to me with head first as if to say “pet me”. I did, gave her a peck and a frisk. She seemed contented as she ran off the bed to the kitchen.

“I’m coming” I said after her cute departing self. She was trained to take a piss out of the house and eat afterwards in the mornings. I took a moment to quietly stare at my image from the ceiling, I felt the phone buzz; again I ignored it. I have always wanted a mirror on my ceiling and I had that done that the instant I acquired this house a year ago. #Spoils from last expedition.

Mouthing a thank you to the universe, I stood up to get the back door opened for her before she ran back. I should have that door cut to accommodate her ins and outs but then, Adamu the handyman was NOT a fan of keeping track of Tessy and getting rid of her droppings. The image of his squeezed Fulani face with tribal marks muttering Kanuri under his breath got me chuckling. Adamu!

The screaming doorbell told me Uche was at my door. Gosh! That girl never gives up. Tessy was done and was standing by her pink customized plate for her breakfast. I went to open the door laughing as I peeped to have her eyes blocking the peep hole. Crazy girl.

“Open this door! You sleeper!” it was Uche.

“Hahahahaha! You no dey sleep for house?” I replied as the door opened to an already dressed Uche. I hate the corporate life.

“I sent you messages since last night and have been calling you. Where you keep your landline?” she asked, Tessy running up to her to be picked. Uche and Tessy, they were a pair. Scooping her into her hands, Tessy nuzzled as we went to my room.

“Landline dey bedside. You know I hate Mondays” I said picking up my “landline” as she fondly called my phone.

“You hate all workdays……You have a meeting by 9am remember?” she said rolling her beautifully lined eyes and giving me the mouth.

“Yups and I don’t feel like it” I said playfully with a child dance.

“Hahaha! You no serious sef. You are going to the office sha” she asked rhetorically.

“Nopes. Indoor today. I will reschedule the meeting with Akhmed and call Tunde to facilitate the legal search process for some of the properties. Idris just dey call me die; told him to be patient. All dis agents. Buying without valuing and checking no wise especially with all this 419ners wey dey parade town” I said as we walked to my spacy kitchen to get Tessy her food and have Uche browse through the pile of food and then decide on berries. She always did that; starving herself to lose weight. I knew what exactly makes her lose weight………..heartbreak; telling her that would make her give me the finger and it was a sore topic we both avoided like a plaque. She just had the unforgivable knack for picking the Sons of B*****.

“Player Player, You are good” she said picking the bowl of berries true to my prediction.

“You should have a full breakfast with lots of protein. You won’t fill hungry throughout the day” I could not resist. She looks good and losing weight did not make sense to me. She gave me the “eye” and I dropped it.

“So work in 30minutes?” I said dropping a filled plate of Nutro. Tessy dived in as if I had starved her for weeks.

“Yes”. Berries were being crush under her heavy jaw as she walked aimlessly round the kitchen. Uche worked with a bank she loathed but never had the nerve to quit. It seems every time she prepares a resignation letter, the next day comes with either a raise, bonus or boss just was nice. The letter never made it to Human Resource.

Felt like having a large breakfast but found myself taking out my packed special recipe of peppery carrot sauce comprising of carrots, peas, green beans, pepper, tomatoes, cabbage, smoked Titus, beef and diced pieces of “kpomo” to microwave. Yes, I eat before brushing. Sue me.

“Temptress” it was Uche.

“You are getting late o” I reminded her.

“You have not rescheduled o”. She retorted still mashing the berries.

“Let me do that now sef” I said picking up my phone; then my room to get my purse for his card.

Please I would like to reschedule meeting to Tuesday, 9am.

An unforeseen circumstance.

Didi.

Good Morning.

Sent.

“So we settled for tomorrow?” Uche asked heading out. Tessy followed.

“I hope so” I said.

“You eh! Choi! Have a good day Boss” she said playfully as we hugged.

“No like work abeg” I said with a wave and dashed back to my breakfast.

9:30am, Tunde checked, Breakfast digesting, Bath checked. I went back to bed.

***************************************************************************

Hope you do not reschedule tomorrow.

We need to talk.

Akhmed”

That was the message that greeted me at 3pm. I slept almost all day and got up to go take a long steam. Was tempted to send a reply but decided against it.

The ringing phone got me rushing out of the Jacuzzi an hour later. It was Tony.

“Hey”

“Hey buddy, where are you?” he asked breezily.

“At home. U”?

“Coming to pick you up by 6pm”.

“And we are going?”

“Party crashing” I chuckled and went to my wardrobe for an evening dress wondering whose party we were crashing.

10pm had me waving Tony a good night with shoes in hand. It was his friend’s party.  Had a nice time.

Lights out 11:25pm

**************************************************************************

8:45am on Tuesday found me seated in an all glass and steel cold reception. The mixture of tinted glass and sliver-plated steel was breath-taking as it was intimidating. The receptionist keep glancing at me as if she had the premonition that I was soon running out and never coming back. I smiled politely at her every glance to which she returned one of hers pleasantly.

“Good Morning, I’d like to see Mr. Bricks please?” I had said earlier in a turquoise colored cotton jacket with an olive green chiffon camisole that did little to conceal the slight jiggle of my ample bosom at every step; accessorized with a long knitted black muffler and a pair of straight black pant that accentuated the curves I was blessed with on heels. How I love you Lord!

“Name please?” she asked

“Didi Trap” the name got her ears pricked and she looked up sharply to the unusual name. I always got that reaction.

“One minute please” and clicks later; I was told to wait.

Taking out “Losing my Virginity” by Richard Brandson had Akhmed coming out of an office with a calm demeanor that looked like relief mixed with confidence.

“Good Morning Didi” he said with a firm handshake. I stood to receive it.

“Good Morning” beaming with smiles. My lips parted to reveal my improved white teeth.

“Please, this way” he said taking the lead.

The imposing atmosphere of the office had me wondering if there were secret cameras. The use of glass and steel had extended to the inner office with an interior décor that had Blue-Mahogany written all over it. The cold room could preserve a “mummy” and had me wishing I wore heavier cotton.

“So, you made it” he said taking a single settee gesturing me to seat anywhere I liked. The ante-space was conservatively decorated with black leathery settees with simple touches of different colours of square throw-pillows facing an all glass wall overlooking the city centre. An interesting view. The framed pictures of the Bricks ancestors in the “family tree-format” and great pieces adorned the wall at angles while his daunting yet impressive work desk made of polished black wood sat heavily few meters away. I couldn’t help it; this space was approximately 500 square meters without adjoining rooms. Obviously this was the pent house.

The secretary came in with a tray. Of course! Tea and business talks. Just great.

“Tea?” he asked as she poured in a hot cup without asking what I wanted. Presumptuous I’d say.

“Please” I replied with culture. Hope it wasn’t drugged. I shared a smile with myself as I caught his eyes looking at me. I smiled the more.

“So, what can I do for you, Akhmed?” I asked minutes later after the secretary left and we both had taken a sip of the steamy black brew almost simultaneously.

“I need you to marry my Father” he said with all the seriousness in the world that had my eyes popping out of my socket. Thank God I had swallowed the tea. I dropped the tea cup as fast as I could and had my lips curving for a startling laugh.

“What?! Seriously? He needs a wife and he cannot get one for himself?” I asked finally laughing and shaking my head at the absurd request. Wetin I no go hear for this business.

Bad market!!!

“I mean it. Can you marry him for 10 million dollars?” he asked with all weightiness that for a moment I considered marriage. Shook my head, I had vowed to never get married.

 

Tip #3:  Never ever consider the first offer. There is always room for negotiation and counter-offer.

 

“I can do anything for 10 million dollars but not marriage” I said matching his tone evenly. I needed to follow the conversation.

“So you can kill?” he asked again with a tone that told me he was all in for a serious talk but masked his face with a forced smile. The premonition that the game was taking a totally difference turn got me sitting up.

“Certainly I do not look like a killer, do I?” I asked raising a questioning brow.

“Never in the looks Didi dear” he said in a condescending manner.

“What exactly is this meeting about Mr. Bricks” I asked suddenly losing my patience.

“I need a bride for my father. You are perfect” he stated as a matter of fact staring right into my eyes.

“And you know this because?” I asked staring right back.

“Because you are a gold digger and I need your expertise” he completed quite distastefully with a satisfying smile as he visibly relaxed on the settee and took another sip. The steam was fast escaping. Thanks to the cold room. I centred on his dark brown pupils. I had two options: deny and walk out of here or find out how he came about this information. I choose the latter.

 

Tip #4:  When you are caught at your game, the only honorable way out is to acknowledge your profession and hold your head up high.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.

 

“Indeed, I see he has put his private investigator to work.” I replied crossing my long legs and taking a large sip. There had to be a video camera somewhere or we were being taped I thought looking at him.

All plans for getting him interested in me for a quick mine digging evaporated at the mention of the word “marriage” but I was drawn to finding out exactly how he found out of my noble profession. It is not like I go about posting profiles. Surely an ex-Mine must have spilled.

Chuckling, he dropped the tea cup and sat up straight.

“This is a business proposition. Knowing your potential business partner is paramount” he said standing up and taking few aimless steps in his large office like a caged animal.

“I see no fault in that. I appreciate the offer but he should have told you I don’t dig in Mines with a ring” I said standing up too. This discussion was over.

“Oh! Sure. That was under the drawbacks section. However, I figured with the right incentive, it wouldn’t matter much. Unless they gave you more credit than you deserve, I think marriage should be another feather to the cap” he said trying humour.

I wasn’t buying it. who was they?

“Have a good day Mr. Bricks” I said taking my briefcase. I needed negotiations not insinuations.

“The name is Akhmed” he corrected and continued.

“Let me get this straight; you do not get “married” to old men or you don’t have plans of enrolling in the institution ever?” he asked squarely.

“I don’t think marriage should be given a priority and I certainly don’t want to be pressganged into an institution created to subject women into informed slavery” I said with bitterness.

“Issues from the home front” he concluded. He was right.

I felt the first vulnerability. Surely he didn’t go down the family lane, did he? I sat back down. He joined.

My mother was the slave who served her master aka my father under hardship, abuse and ridicule. She died by his hands still apologizing for his mistakes and letting me know that love conquers and forgives all. It sure conquered her destiny. Don’t know about forgiveness though, he was buried under the weight of reinforced concrete slab few days later on the building site he confiscated from my mother.

That was all he did. Waited for her to get anything and then forcefully take it from her. A good pay back I’d say. Did I have anything to do with it? Heaven has all the records. He made it clear that men are the “appointed guardian” of the world but clearly he must have missed the session of “the place of leadership, love and responsibility in marriage and destiny”. Sounds like a tag line for a seminar****winks*** How did I know all this? I Didi Trap understand by books.

“Let me guess, Background Study section” I said sarcastically referring to his investigation reports to which he chuckled surprisingly.

“I see you don’t get ruffled easily” he said almost in what sounded like an admiring tone. I simply smiled back.

“30 million dollars” he said after a while.

Something told me I wasn’t just going to marry his father and the chills I got after the thought had me doubting my ability for the first time in years.

This was the end of this expedition.

“No thanks. Find someone else” I said standing up swiftly; ready to step out of this office and forget about this Mine.

Standing up too, he shook my hand and saw me to the door silently.

Then came the stinker.

“I know you killed your father” he said darkly into my ears as he made to open the door.  That stopped me in my tracks. The air froze. Tick… Tock… Tick…. Tock…………..the grand wall clock made the only audible sound in the quiet room. What was that I said about heaven having all the records? I take that back. Heaven on Earth wasn’t just a religious brouhaha after all.

I took moment to take a deep breath and steady my emotions before turning back with a devilish grin that meant more than the statement I made next. it was a threat in the affirmative.

“No, you do not” and I was gone. Akhmed wasn’t a goldmine. He was nemesis ǁǁǁ.

***************************************************************************

<<<< I was shocked. Akhmed was nemesis? What did she ever do? To think that he was here hours ago. Telling Akin to tell him there was no one he could talk to at the moment and that he could check back within the week was the right decision. I was not ready to face anyone just yet. Surely I would have been blindsided of some sort. It seemed the more I read, the more I got to know who Didi was and who these people were.

Iya Chef had set up my breakfast immediately Akin left to give the reply and I had finished the pot of coffee. I needed more. The honey-lemon covered waffles did  not excite me today. They were cold already. I rang for more coffee. I had more diaries to read.

The old clock said it was 2:55pm already. I stretched. Climbing on the long bed-like couch, Iya chef brought a fresh pot. She knew better than to ask me for lunch. The coffee was an improvement.

Opening the next page, my eyes closed unexpectedly. Did Iya drug me? She knew I had trouble sleeping. I hope not. I tried in futility to keep my eyes open.

I gave up. Dropping the opened page on my chest, I decided to take a quick nap to clear my eyes and get back to it.

I wonder what happens next.>>>>>

 

 

THE GRASSROOTS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR CHANGE.

Here I sit on my desk deeply disturbed by the deteriorating and devastating situation in my beloved country-Nigeria centring on lies, greed and dishonesty.

Just this morning, I read of the use of thugs by an alleged pension fund thief in our court to molest and intimidate journalists who were taking pictures for the prints. I must say here that since we ever hardly convict individuals who LOOT public funds and kill innocent citizens and offer presidential pardon to those who have been convicted elsewhere, the media alias the journalists are the only unbiased tool that can be used to instil the smallest feeling of shame for their actions. But even this I see is no longer enough to abate their unending thirst for swallowing huge chunks of the Nigerian oil money.

I will not be tempted to use big words, write eloquently or analyze the continuous declining state of the country but to say what is on my mind. After all the freedom of speech is my constitutional right or so I was made to believe but with the recent “arrest” of some journalists from the LEADERSHIP newspaper maybe I too will be invited for questioning at the police force for writing this. I hope not. With the zero conviction rate for public officers LOOTING public funds, consideration for the establishment of the “Boko Haram Commission” and failure of key government officers from Ministers, Governors, Senators, and Local Government Chairmen to do what they are paid heavily for, there is no break of dawn for us anytime soon.

More frustrating is to have a man who has the mediocrity mentally like most Nigerians head the state of affairs. Yes, I mean the President. I do not agree that he is clueless or frustrated by the “almighty cabal” but I see a man who will not go the extra mile; as we would say in pidgin “Him no go kill himself na”. I see a man who is far more interested to be called Mr. President-GCFR and accorded the benefits accruable to the position but not a man willing to lay his life for his people. I see a man ready to possibly run for a second term, a man that “freestyles” his way through his term. I see a man who walks in like Jesus did in the temple but instead of throwing out the “buyers and sellers” in the temple, he sets up his own corner. After all who wants to risk crucifixion? Definitely not Mr. President; certainly not me and most assuredly no Nigerian is ready to have his/her blood used to restore law and order, equity and fairness, accountability and true leadership. There is no one.

Here is a question; can our President recite the national pledge and anthem? Does he even still remember the words and the meaning? Perhaps if he does and recites it every day, it might sink in that he is here to right the wrongs, give justice to the people and make their lives better and not just draft a superb transformation agenda that only looks good on paper and takes forever to implement. While I agree that the piled up decay cannot be cleared over night, I must say that further dumping of dirt should be prohibited by severely punishing offenders while clean-up process is on-going. Even this he fails at.

Let me say this, There is no “Messiah” coming to save us as widely believed and postulated by many Nigerians. Clamoring for a man of honor, integrity, vision and gut is all good and hopeful. Maybe if we call long enough, the universe will bless us with one. But doubt this with my whole being. Why do I say this? Because there is no prophesy to support the fact that the Nigerian Messiah is nigh; we are left to our own devices. We are responsible for our change.

Does this mean that Nigeria will never recover from this terminal disease? Does it mean that the end has come? No, it doesn’t. It only means that if today Mr. President wakes up and decide that he is ready to change the affairs of the country or die trying, he would have taken the first step in history that will heal the land. There is no perfect leader; only great leaders who against all odds put the people first. It would seem that this article is targeted at the president and it sure is; who else is the first person to blame for failure in a country? Of course it is the number one man. He agreed to the terms and conditions of the office.

I’m reader of Femke Van Zeijl’s blog and had read her article on “Widespread Celebration of Mediocrity” before it made it to the Guardian’s front page on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013. Her views were enlightening and true. The “reply” by the Guardian’s editor Martins Oloja titled “In the beginning was ‘celebration of mediocrity” got my motor running. He is right on providing us with the Genesis, but I think we should know that change must start from the elect and not the grassroots as often proposed. Here is my opinion.

While most discussions and Martin’s article certify that corruption or mediocrity in Nigeria started from the military government and transferred to the new, unprepared, inexperience and shanghaied democrats aka “circumstantial beneficiaries” who are in the seat of power and hold everyone ransom; it highly irritates me when we turn around and demand change from the grassroots. This is Preposterous! Nonsense!! Unfair!!!

It is common sense for the man who eats from the plate to clean it; a man who uses the toilet should flush it. Who does a child look up to but his elders? The reason why corruption trickled down to the grassroot is because they learned by watching the government short-change them on everything. But alas our culture of reverencing elders has made it into our political arena also. The fearful, inexperience and failing power holders demand “admiration” be given to them whether they perform or not. Talk about washing the filthy plates and flushing totally messed up latrines by our so-called elders alias leaders. I will not subscribe to the talks on demanding change from the grassroots! No! I say that the ones who have soiled the Nation should clean it up. Is this attitude the way forward? My disposition at the present does not allow me to think critically; perhaps another article to answer that.

Why do I say this? It is because I am sick and tired of good intentioned speakers brainwash the populace with the phrase “change is not demanded but inspired”. In other words, if you want things to change, you have to change and look inwards. While this is the true, I submit that the target audience is wrong. It will surprise some immoral persons that there are some Nigerians that I know that would rather starve than short-change their “Oga’s at the top”, they would return extra change to a seller of a product than to declare it their lucky day and would return large sums and items to the owners than to say that the Gods have rained down manna. How have these people’s change affected the LOOTING going on? How has it translated positively to economic transformation? How has it changed the senseless killings that have being tagged “Economic, Political and Religious Boko Haram?” For God’s sake, Boko Haram is Boko Haram. People are dying!!! Nigeria is dying. Too much analysis is humorously said to lead to paralysis. Giving names and creating awareness is just an exercise in futility. It keeps us preoccupied-going round the mountain without making any head way. The youth are coming up with innovations that will expose the rot in the system, improve their lives and impacting their world positively yet the rot seems to bring more worms each time we wake up to new headlines. This is no longer a case for grassroots change but the need for change in leadership mentality at the seats of power.

Here is another way to look at it; leaders who manipulated their election or won their election on merits are there to first and foremost serve the country. A good leader is the servant of the people and as such they are at the bottom of the chain and have within their power the ability to cause positive change in the country. If indeed the corruption and rot in the system started from the government, it should be cleaned from there. A cancerous cell has to be cured to stop the rapid cell division that causes the terminal disease.

Till the elect do something right by changing the way they handle the affairs of the nation, the entire system will keep decaying and the next president might as well as not make Nigeria a better place. As appropriately said by Elie Wiesel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”. This is not the end.

Ranting from a dissatisfied mind. This is only the beginning.

CHAPTER ONE ⃝ THE MEETING

ǁǁǁ My name is Didi Trap and I am a certified gold digger. I remember introducing myself to my first “Mine” as that. Of course he laughed heartily and found me extremely interesting. He did not smile that much when I called from the Bahamas telling him it was over and that his old cream-enhanced mother was right about me all along. The part about his mother got me a name I would rather not share with anyone. Ever!

Tip #1: Depending on the “Mine”, a good gold digger should make the right escape route.

In Ebi’s case, it was a long distance call from Andros Island and in all fairness I told him who I was. He should have laughed less and be more cautious. Of course I kept the “keep-your-filthy-hands-off-my-son” pay off money from his mother. Don’t blame me; she did what she had to do. I was just as happy to negotiate higher fees and oblige her.

“So you are the new thing my son pants after now” it was Ebi’s mother in her plush all-glass office in the penthouse of one of the exquisite city malls in the capital city. Speaking with an acid tone Mrs Igwe was known in the crème circles as the stalwart of her family and as such ruled with an iron fist. Obviously, her human-fist had long being cut off!

“I do not know about Ebi panting after me, but yes ma, we are a couple” I said with an unflinching stare while bubbling with laughter. If all works according to plan, the buy-out offer should be coming soon. After series of subtle messages at family dinners and lunches, Mrs Igwe was about to let me have it in the open. I could see her itching to close my chapter; so was I.

Of course I had sweat licking from my pores; thanks to the chilling air conditioner and black tweed jacket, I stayed aloof. This irritated her. I had my heart beating so hard and loud that I consciously had to hold my breath at intervals to even out the beat-if only she knew.

“Oh really? She is so sure they are a couple” she said sarcastically with a smirk. She took a moment to look at me; swivel on her arm chair and blurted out.

“How much” she was quick to catch me on my game. I looked on as if without a clue. Gosh! I was an actress.

“How much do you want?” she asked again; eyes piercing through my soul. “How much for what?” genuinely astonished on her choice of words. I had played this scene a thousand times in my head but never did I imagine how I’d react if the question was ever put forward. Now I was improvising.

“How much do I pay you to get your claws off my son?” she asked calling her secretary to bring her cheque books. It was too good to be true. Nollywood gets the script right sometimes I thought as I watched the scene play out before me.. This was a good movie and I was playing Genevieve Nnaji. That gave me a boost.

“With all due respect Ma, Ebi and I have something good going for us right now. Why don’t you just give me a chance to prove that I am good for him? I understand your concerns to an extent but he is man enough to choose who he wants to be with” I said eloquently. Of course I had that rehearsed. Kudos.

“Don’t tell me about Ebi being man enough and you being good enough” she saying waving her long delicately red painted nails in the air.

“I know your type and I know what you want” with that she snatched her cheque books from Salome the timid secretary and took to writing. It took few seconds and the sound of tearing cheque leaf filled the office.

“Here, that is ten million naira. Break whatever flimsy bond you have with Ebi or you will be sorry you ever crossed his part” she said already dismissing me. Like that I was ten million naira richer.

“I cannot take this Ma, Ebi will be disappointed in me. Moreover, Ebi is very persistent and he will look for me everywhere. I do not think I have the will power to say no to him. I love him and will succumb to his reasoning of either eloping or getting pregnant to force your hand. I also know what you are capable off and will never dream of crossing your path. I need to leave the country till he gets me off his mind or gets married to the woman you want for him” I said sensibly with a helpless look that bordered on self-pity, sacrificial and heroic. It took several steady looks from the woman sitting across the large mahogany desk before she opened another cheque and wrote out a whooping sum. It was heavy and that was my seed money. I was on my way out of Nigeria in 24hours, Ebi’s chapter was closed and I wished her future daughter-in-law good luck. Was he heartbroken? I could only hope he wasn’t. ǁǁǁ

<<<Dropping the worn-out green diary on the king-sized bed dressed in Victorian fashion with many colourful feathery pillows, I was shocked by just what I just read. Didi? A gold digger? Was that an occupation? How was it possible that she skimmed men for the money? I sat quietly for minutes. Questions unanswered………, do I continue to read this? This was not what I had in mind when I wanted immortalizing my friend. Standing up, I walked to the window to see Akin dutifully mowing the lawn. Didi would want me to use this. She must have meant that when she said one day I was going to use her scribbling. Like “rhema” I went back to the diary, picked the box and headed to the library. It was going to be a long day>>>>

ǁǁǁ My “Mines” are of a stereotype; male, rich and handsome between the ages of 30-40 preferably mama’s boys. Weaned ones are just more technical. Trust me, you would have to apply all your creativity to get a “fair” loot. Note I didn’t say “play book”.

Tip #2: An excellent gold digger is flexible, resourceful, and innovative; ready to follow the terrain and most importantly never own a “play book”.

There are always new rules so I don’t bother having one. Why the tips? Just for you in case I eventually get a followership. **winks***

Didn’t care much for my Mine’s character or beliefs in early days till I got a scar on my collar bone and my favorite picture pinned to his wardrobe with cowries. Now, I prefer he has little religious streak in his bones. And oh! once I dug in a younger “Mine”, he wasn’t strong enough to support the carved walls. Took an intervention to get him off my space @finding him a wife! Don’t ask me how I did it. It was sheer genius and I am now a godmother.

Would love to give a fancy background gist but that would do nothing than to increase the “myth” that women from certain parts of the country are either good in the futon-room, chefs or “virtuous”. Let me set this straight; the “make-up” of a woman is not region-based. Find a good woman and stop using ineffective map tools #I-hear-say.

Heads-Up: I use lots of sarcasm, love dry humor and I write as I speak. Candid and rarely diplomatic. Very unusual writer………………..well, that goes to show I am a gold digger after all.

I’m simply a good house keeper; every time I leave a man, I keep his house or its equivalent without making it to the altar. Have been asked times without number why I am who I am and I always reply “It is not who I am, it is just what I do best”. Am I proud of what I do? It goes without saying.

With every “Mine” dug comes experience and innovation. This is what I treasure the most; the loot is just the ice on the cake. And I sure needed those now.

I knew my next victim and he was sitting within 3 metres from me. I think is time I get to the “fats and oils” as my god-daughter would say. She is pretty sharp for a 3 year old. Back on course Didi!!!

Okay, here we go. It started by taking a glance longer, maybe just 4 seconds longer. He knew he was being watched. He looked back and caught my bright eyes. Thanks to either good genes or lots of pure palm oil from the eastern part of the country. How true is that by the way? I would never know.

With the lighting in the bar illuminating my long-practiced ace smile and skilfully applied red Revlon on my full heart-shaped lips I waited to catch his eyes again. This time, he smiled back. Shook my head as he looked on, took the last sip, got up from the bar stool and walked out into the cool night air.

The ball was set in motion.

It was two weeks before I took an early drive to the Cabana again. It was a Friday and I needed the time out and the drink. Plus Tony kept me informed of “his” every day visit the last 14 days. Tony was my contact at the Cabana. Being a co-owner and manager, he was always there. A call to keep a look-out for my victims was his cue that he was in for another nice package but at the same time made him “jealous”. I’m generous and definitely do not eat alone. Dying alone is a given. The thing is Tony likes Didi. Didi does not want to dig Tony’s gold. Especially since he is starting out like me. Starting a relationship with him was out of the question. He loves the ladies and changes them as often as he can. His classic excuse was that “he is keeping in good form for me”. Your guess is as good as mine, he is a player and a time waster…………like me. Like-terms repel surely.

“You know I need to keep practicing for you. You deserve the best” was his classic line. That always got him a chuckle and a playful punch from me. He is a funny one and good as a friend and I intend to keep it that way.

Akhmed Danjuma Bricks was his name. Sole heir to the Bricks “congealed” wealth. It was rumored to be an “amass” so huge that it could purchase a country. Well, I think it did already. We just didn’t have the evidence. With eyes so intense and playful dancing smile, he gave out an aura of one who is ready to play games and win at it too. I was playing to win, but losing was an option I was willing and ready to take. That is me; I always try………..guessing it is one of the proverbs my meddlesome and emotional blackmailing grandmother unconsciously sunk into my retentive brain. “You would never know if your greetings will be answered unless you greet. Same goes with knocking on doors” or so it translates in English. That indeed is true. How do I know if digging this Mine would be worth it unless I try? Have I heard of trapped Miners? You bet I have. But diamonds are still being mined regardless. Hehehe.

Having an enviable wealthy ancestral history; he seats top on the board of companies and named as the richest and youngest entrepreneurs in Africa. His net worth gives me the shivers to which I take a deep breath and smile deeply. Thanks to the new issue of Forbes Africa of which I am devoted subscriber, I had updates on targets and research materials for my little “investigations”. As unexpected, He is free of “encumbrances”, handsome and of an extremely impressive pedigree. At 34, he had used old money to build his empire of oil and gas, real estate, luxurious cars and jewelleries. Recently, he just signed a 500 million dollar deal for the development of African’s largest green city proposed to be world’s largest man-made city and he was surprisingly single. He was qualified.

Being a mama’s boy was hard to prove but I will be damned if I do not try. What have I got to lose? Moreover, retirement was just few months away for me. Digging this goldmine was going to be worth the while and will require the best of me. Was I ready? Not as much as would be required. I liked the uncertainty and the kick I got in my stomach every time I thought about my project.

Smiling at Tony as I picked my favorite lonely corner, He brought a bottle of Massimo, glasses and ice.

“On the house” he smiled sweetly taking a seat and opening the bottle. “Thanks Love” I said taking a quick look at my phone.

“Busy day?” he asked pouring a glass. “Yeah, need this and a cold bath” I replied as I took a mouthful. It was getting really harder to be a legit realtor and my first love-gold digging. The more reason I was going to make this my last not because Uche was constantly jumping on my back about “re-branding” and “re-investing” myself.

“You need it” he said with a smirk. I knew what he meant.

“So DJ comes around every night for few minutes at 8pm. Sup with the lookout Di?” Tony asked referring to Akhmed. I had called him the night after “casting the net” to check on the “catch”.

“I’d like to meet him. He seems like an interesting one” I said replying a message Uche dropped earlier about what my plans were for the weekend. “Sleep till 2pm” was the reply.

“Of course. He qualifies”. Rolling his eyes, he took a gulp and reclined on his seat. Looking at him, I knew he was miffed.

“Yes he does” I said staring at him through my raised glass.

“So, you taking him on?” he asked again with a smile. That was Tony, he didn’t dwell on “disappointments” that long or so I thought.

“He is taking me on” I said with a wink.

“Tony!” it was a face I had seen at the bar. A friend of Tony’s I presumed.

“I have been called” he said signalling that he was coming. Giving me a light cheeky peck, he was gone.

Humans kept taking seats and ordering drinks. Beautiful women and nicely dressed ladies either came as trophies or Miss-independents. It was fun deciding who was here to dig gold or simply to enjoy the evening. It was few minutes to 8pm when he entered the bar. I knew because the atmosphere had a different calm. Did I imagine whisperings? A quick scan told me he was alone and simply dressed for a quick check up. I smiled to myself. Tony was right about him showing up consistently this past weeks.

Looking over, his eyes fell on me seconds later. A straight look then a smile. Returning the smile, I went back to messaging Uche. Uche is my bestie. She is just “joy” personified. A renowned gossip and real friend.

“So he just walked in” I typed lazily. Smiling to myself, I was slowly becoming apprehensive. Will he come over? I doubted that.

“Hehehe….he don bite the hook. Carry go” she replied almost immediately. Uche was one person I could count on. Funny, witty and down-to-earth, she found it amusing that I dug Mines professionally. However, remembering our last discussion made me pause. She sees so much potential in me. I teared up a little after our heart-to-heart talk and promised her this was my last digging escapade. I meant it. She seems to worry for me these days………although she enjoys the gist.

“I hope so”. I said taking another sip.

“He has jor, if not him for not come to see weda you dey dia na” Uche said with so much Warri confidence, I had to chuckle.

“Abi, hope you is correcty” I said in pidgin.

“Of course I am” she replied a second longer.

On cue I raised my eyes to see him standing over me. Damn, the man was fine. Uche’s wise words of quitting gold digging didn’t make an iota of sense and momentarily wondered why I even considered it. Akhmed had that effect. This I was to experience over time.

He had it. He brought it.

“So, you made it” he said taking the seat that Tony had left vacant an hour ago; sitting casually as an old friend would.

“And we are not alone” he continued noticing Tony’s empty glass. Hmmm, a man sure of himself. An appraisal on-going.

“Good evening to you too” I said pleasantly. I bless my parents for the good genes. I have to say this; being beautiful and flawlessly attractive as a woman places you far ahead. With little practice and mannerism that I am constantly told mesmerizes, he was drawn to me as moth to flames. He took a minute to take me in before speaking again.

“What do you do?” he asked

“Real Estate”

“That’s vague”

“Your question does not specify” a reply to which he chuckled taking another minute to stare rudely. The eye dance? I invented it. The trick to maintaining a long stare is to slightly open your eyes to control inflow of air and have a monologue with opponent. That way, if he is smart and perceptive, he knows you are saying A LOT.

Finally, after long minutes of silence and intense eye match, he laughed out loud. It sounded controlled and endearing. More like “See this Babe o”. “You going to have a drink?” I asked with a genuine smile dancing on my lips.

“No. I have a proposition for you” he sounded serious all of a sudden. Obviously he had the “monologue” too.

“Sounds like business” I said totally relaxed and unruffled.

“Business unusual more like” he said with his well-manicured hands slipping to his gold-plate card holder.

“Here, I’d love to discuss this in my office Monday morning; 9am would be good”. Handing me what looked like his business card, I leaned forward to collect it. Almost immediately, his phone rang.

“Tani, I said I will be with you in 10 minutes” and he was off. Ok??? He was a rude son of a gun??? I hope not.

“We have a meeting?” he asked eyes begging me to say yes. He did not have to.

“We sure do, Mrrrr…..Bricks” I dragged to look at the card and back on his face with a smile. As if I didn’t have a “New Testament” on him in soft and hard copies.

“Thank you. It is a great honour to meet with you…………………” He waited for my name while extending a hand.

“Didi” I completed returning the shake firmly. He was using the Mandela-style of introduction. He was cultured and definitely a fan of “eyin-books”. Or it could be that he picked it from a personal contact with Madiba.

“Thank you for your consideration” to which he nodded and was gone in an instant. You know na, Uche got the rest of the gist.

**************************************************************

9:49pm found me parking my black Mustang V6 outside my apartment at Idi Fatokun crescent, Maitama. The love for ugly American cars was the beginning of my collections. I only had 1 occupant and it was Tessy, my Terrier for 5 years. She was so white and cute. Opening the door to an excited Tessy made most of my days. Picking her up, I walked to the Thermocool refrigerator I bought out of sheer advert pressure to get her favorite drink of cold milk and nuts. Did not spoil her, think Uche did. Hahaha! Trust me to bring Uche into it.

11:32pm. Lights out.ǁǁǁ

<<<<Hmmm, this sure was getting interesting. Didi had a life I knew nothing about. The diaries neatly packed took me to the next volume. Picking it up, I studied the diary. Genesis was written on the cover in her decorative handwriting.

The knock on the door got me attention. It was Iya Chef.

“Breakfast is served Ma” she said in proper English with a sad smile. Breakfast had been suspended since my return two weeks. I still did not feel like eating especially as I threw up minutes later. The trip back from India where she demanded that she be cremated should she not make it this time around took my will to do anything for weeks to come.

The fight against leukemia had us going from one hospital to the other; one Oncologist to the next. She was tired. I could see it in her eyes. The tears flowed freely and the pains that gripped my heart choked me till I exhaled deeply for days unending. Throughout the rite that was performed by her old friend, Guru Raji, I stood detached and looked on while she was cremated and set lose into the ocean.

Didi had the strangest of wishes. I took a handful of her in an urn and brought it with me to bury in her favorite place under an apple tree where Tessy was buried. The last look, the sad smile as if she knew she wasn’t going to make it. The feeling of helpless was overwhelming me again. I took a deep breath to steady my watering aching huge brown eyes.

“Please bring it to the library” I said politely with a gloomy smile looking at the old wall clock that said 9:08am. She hurried away as I took another deep comforting breath. I hope the food would stay down this morning.

Opening the cover, another knock sounded on the door. It was Akin.

“Good morning Ma” he greeted from the door unenthusiastically. He was sad too.

“Morning, We slept good?” I asked as was customary.

“Yes Ma. There is a man at the gate. He says he wants to see madam” he said referring to Didi. My eyes watered up a bit. No one seemed to know that Didi was dead. It was up to me now to give the news to her friends. I did not like this position but I had no option. She kept her life personal and when I asked; she would just say an only child and orphan has only few friends here and there. But I was her sister from another mother. Little did I know she was buttering me up for this moment. I cleared my throat loudly to keep my emotions in check.

“What is his name?” I asked looking at him with a sad countenance that was reflected on his face. We all loved her dearly.

“Mr Akhmed Danjuma Bricks”. He said. My throat dried up and my heart took a huge jump that accelerated my breathing.

This was not happening>>>>>

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Prelude

The quiet household, the sharpness of cold clean air forcing its ways into my nostrils, the shiny and echoing  marble floor, the sweet smelling lemon waffles made by Mrs Segun, “Iya chef” as I fondly called her and the classical music coming in from the library brought smiles to my face. I loved this household; the breath-taking scenery and architecture was what drew me to the mansion in the first place. It had such a pull. It was alive and I remembered ringing the bell for a quick look fifteen years ago.

“Hello, How can I help you?” it was a male voice. I was taken aback by the coarse voice streaming through the intercom I did not notice until the blasting voice got me looking for it; I had an image of a butler coming out from the mansion or a gate man appearing from the premises.

“Emmmm, I want to ask for an opening?” I cringed. That was a top-of-the-hat lie. Gosh, what if I’m kidnapped? Curious and afraid; I stood expectantly.

“There is no opening. Have a nice day” the voice went off abruptly as it came. Nice! I rolled my eyes and continued on my walk down the street.

I remember also coming to the gate daily for the next one week to use different “lies” from deliveries to taking a tour to impersonating a journalist from Ghana. None worked. But alas, I was to meet with the owner of the mansion the evening of my departure from Obudu Holiday Inn in Calabar, Nigeria. I was on a vacation to find myself and think about my marriage proposal to a man who was assigned to me by my overbearing father. I did not want to return and had cut off all communications………..but I had to. There was no escaping my father’s wishes. Taking what I thought would be my last stroll turned out to be the changing point in my life.

I remember noticing the walk of a graceful woman on the premises in breeches!!!; her name was Didi Trap. I was soon to know she owned the property and several others like it spread across the country. Increasing my pace I made haste to reach the side of the fence where my voice could be heard.

“Good Evening Ma’am, My name is Unen Ameji and I’m totally in love with this house. It is so alive and captivating. I have been here every day for the last one week and leaving Calabar tomorrow but I so so much want a tour. It would make my vacation complete. Who can I talk to please?” I asked earnestly with a shy smile. The depressing thoughts of going back to my former life flew away at the possibility of finally seeing the inside of this magnificent structure. I was in real estate and this was a must-see.

The awe and smile on her face made me smile widely too. I was sure she was considering the outspokenness and pleads for just a tour. Later she would tell me that she liked me that instant and had planned to keep me on her property. Of course she willed the property to me and I write from my favorite place- the library.

She had such a welcoming demeanor.  On getting closer to take a look at the “old” woman, I was surprised to see a young woman in her early forties that reeked class and absolute simplicity. In a pair of riding breeches and wool sleeves shirt, she walked toward me with such carriage, I was impressed.

“So why weren’t you allowed in?” she asked as we stood face to face with a fence of pure steel between us. An electric fence I came to know. Thank God I did not hold it.

“Well, I guess the electronic voice knew my voice on the third day and I was always confused on the right thing to say” I replied sheepishly. The sound of her rich laughter filled the evening air and I found myself laughing with her like an old friend.

“The voice is Chidi’s. Come in through the gate, I will show you round” and she walked into the house. I took a short run to the main gate and minutes later heard the beep and the opening of the 16inches thick metal gate signifying my freedom in years to come. The tour left me in awe for weeks, inspirations for new constructions and remodeling and interior decors. the style was superb and Victorian. Every detail was established. Oh! the columns!!! This should be featured in a magazine. Did we have magazine for most exclusive mansions in Nigeria? I wondered.

I would later call her to ask for a time out in her magical castle; yes Didi Trap was the owner of my magical castle and I had found a friend.

“Can I come spend a week in your magical castle” I asked after three weeks of my return to the hustling and bustling of “Eko”.  I could not stand one more traffic jam and the crawling humans and most of all I.D coming unannounced to my place almost every night for some bloody dinner!. I had previously lost my nerve the previous evening and told him to go back to his house the moment I opened my door to his face. I will not get married because my father wants to use me as “concrete” to cement his long friendship and business with I.D’s father. If he was desperate; he could give Dangote a call.   I was going to disappear again.

“Of course you can dear. I will be out when you come though” she said simply in a laugh. Referring to her house as a magical castle always got her rich laughing.

“Awww, I was hoping for riding lessons” I cooed.

“Chidi will help you with that” she teased.

“Nooooo way!!! Hahahaha!” I laughed.

That was Didi Trap for you. She was funny, witty and down to earth.

Of course I went for a week, then two weeks, then a month and on my next visit, Didi gave me a job. Managing her estates. I relocated. Dad contacted Dangote. I.D got married to a long childhood friend. My magical castle gave me the new life.

Walking into the imposing library, I felt her presence and for a moment saw her already seated in her favorite chair waiting for her reading for the day. Oh! How she loved the books. We would read and talk about every line; every paragraph and compare writers. We sure got a kick out of some hilarious piece and took some practicals. It was such a great phase in my life. One of such practicals involved gift discovery quest. While we evaluated ourselves in the house, on trips and in relationships, I came to know she had a sharp sense of identifying business opportunities and how best to harness resources. She had an eye for the deep. I on the other hand, well what can I say……you are reading this piece, aren’t you?

Slowly I moved around the library, tears stinging my eyes as her thoughts rushed through me, the pictures, the memories, the laughter and the tricks. Pulling out her favorite book, I walked to the old music player to stop the Spanish song that was playing. She made me love that too.

The tears rushed down my eyes.

“Don’t cry when you miss a person, write the feelings down” that was her way of dealing with emotions. The thought got me running to her room for her scribblings.

“One day, you are going to write about me, this will help you” That was something she always said when she was holding a pen and was scribbling. I knew what I had to do.

I was going to immortalize my true friend, mentor and benefactor. I was going to make the world know who Didi Trap was……………..she was going to help me from the grave.

I took the first diary, this was what I found.