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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4 thoughts on “CHAPTER ONE ⃝ THE MEETING

  1. I knew it!!! You are great writer and I saw it!!! Even when most people missed it on tlsplace, I SAW IT!!!! I’m soo proud of myself right now 😀
    I’m speechless secondary to your writing now so I’ll save my obviously positive appraisal of your writing till I find my voice.
    But for now, lemme rush to hit you up on twitter so we can discuss further on that collabo you hinted at.
    After reading this, I sure want to be associated with you 😉

  2. Sweety I’m loving this so much. Reading it took me back memory lane wen you used to write stories in note books nd ask me to read it since I read very fast nd tell u wat I think of it. This is absolutely amazing my dear, didn’t want to put it down even for a minute.

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