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HOSTAGE

BY


DAVID ENYIDA



Short Stories





David Enyida 2008

All Right Reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of
the copyright owner.





ISBN 978-077-716






COMING OUT SOON


1. Tentacles of Terror (a novel)
2. Taming the Bully (collection of short stories)
3. Im not Guilty (a novel)


To the fond memories of policemen who lost their lives in the line of national duty.



This book is a fiction based on contemporary issues of our time. The names of the
characters and locations used have got nothing to do with any place or anybody dead or
alive.


CONTENT


Hostage.....................
A Dance with the devil ................................
Be a dog or be a pig .................................
Aninta ......................
Glossary ...................................


Prologue
The Police is:
Denounced by the public
Criticized by the preacher
Ridiculed by the movies
Berated by Newspapers
And supported by prosecuting
Officers and judges (sometimes)
They are:
Shunned by the respectable
Hated by criminals
Deceived by everyone
Kicked around like football
Exposed to countless temptations and dangers
Condemned when he enforces the law
Dismissed when he doesnt.
They are:
Supposed to possess the qualifications
of a soldier, doctor, Lawyer, diplomat
Educator, with remuneration less than
That of a daily labourer.

- August Vollmer, 1929
Force Police Public Relation Department Force Headquarters, Lagos.


HOSTAGE

Inspector Victory Janim sped to the Area C Police Station at about l600hrs. The
traffic was becoming heavier because evening rush hour was gathering momentum. He
had rested sufficiently so he felt stronger, fresher and more focused. He was happy to
have gone home to rest. He was ready to take whatever pressure might come his way for
the next thirty hours. Even though they might be challenges or pressures from the pit of
hell, he would be able to stem them. Sometimes police officers failed, not because they
did not know what to do but because they did not rest fully in order to maintain a balance
between body and soul that was necessary to handle their jobs well.
Inspector Victory Janim was a young man of twenty-two years who enlisted into
the Nigeria Police Force after he graduated from Federal Polytechnic, Pida, with an HND
in Personnel Management. He enlisted as a cadet inspector and was trained at Police
Academy, Jisah. When he graduated, he was posted to Area C Division.
He was the officer commanding SITOS: Special Investigation and Tactical
Operations Squad, the new outfit that was put in place to checkmate the criminal
activities, which had reached so alarming a stage in the area, that the DPO*, Mr. Idagbe,
in his wisdom had formed the squad. He personally handpicked the inspector whom he
saw had the heart of a ferocious lion, for that kind of job required bravery: it was not a
job for the chicken-hearted individuals. The inspector then enlisted Sgt* Ade Ola and
Cpl*Caleb Ogutum from the rank and file; together they had worked tirelessly to bring
sanity to the troubled area. The squad had not failed. It had performed creditably well in
sanitizing the area of crime and criminals.
Area C Police Station was situated at the point where the North-South and East-
West Roads intersected. It was a kind of conference point. Commuters and travelers
converged there from the various parts of Iguocha Town. Originally, it was a ghetto- an
area set aside for the low-income class of the society, but it soon grew in economic
activities, in fact, it became the main economic hub of the town, which in turn attracted
criminal activities, that police and the government authorities deemed it necessary to
establish the Area C Police Station to curb its excessive crime.
When Inspector Janim got to the station, a woman rushed into the station wailing.
She was so disheveled that she could not be comforted as she lamented the more. He
quickly got out of his car and walked briskly to see what the matter was, because, a toad
does not jump about in broad daylight for nothing. It is likely something is after its life or
it is after something.
When he got close enough, he enquired what the matter was. The woman narrated
that a gang of four young men and a woman who had driven off in a BMW car had
kidnapped her only son. An hour later, they had demanded a ransom of five million naira,
if she desired to see her son again.
Where will I get five million naira from? she wailed. Please, police, help me o,
my only son o. My own don finish o, she cried out piteously.
I knew it. I said it before!, exclaimed Sgt Ade Ola.
This is just the genesis of catechism, affirmed Cpl Caleb.
I see Hostage coming. I see kidnapping and abduction! shouted Inspector
Victory. Kidnapping and hostage taking is not in our culture. But when greed takes hold
of the heart of men that ought to be servants of the people, when looting and unmitigated
show of affluence are the order of the day while around you is total decadence, hunger,
pain and impoverishment even of the mind, the resultant scenario is hostage taking.
Robbery. Abduction. He lectured his subordinate officers.
It baffles me, the corporal reflected, how leaders of the people would decide to
arm those whom the constitution expressly condemned to bear firearms but refused to
arm the organization which the constitution expressly allows to carry arms.
You know what, Coprito? the inspector asked in reflectively. If the police is
properly armed, these political thugs, political armies and political foot-soldiers will not
find space to operate. So the best way for them to succeed is to starve the police force of
the basic necessities and tools of its trade and then relegating it to the backwaters in social
reckoning, so that these unconstitutional or illegal armies will flourish, he lectured his
lieutenants .But one thing is certain, the officer continued, by the time these politicians
will retire from active politics these guns will be waiting for them at the threshold of their
door. And Hostage-taking, kidnapping, especially for ransom will be the order of the
day!
Sure?, the cpl responded doubtfully, but the disturbing aspect of it is that
innocent children and women will suffer, people who do not know anything!
Bad attitude, the young officer continued, is contagious. As the news of the
political cum big time kidnappers succeed with heavy ransoms, the lower, petty
pickpocket thieves will be attracted into the inglorious business. What will happen will be
that they will kidnap even the very poor even for N5,000!
Yes you are right, Sgt. Ade said approvingly. Everybody has his or her own
price, some N5,000, N10,000, N1 million, etc, and the criminal world is stratified as well,
they will operate as per their levels and prices. The situation is chaotic.
Boys, Janim called out with a clap of his palms as if pricked by a pin, the
politicians have betrayed the police force, They have handcuffed us behind our back.
They have abandoned us like orphans. Just look, no vehicles for patrol. No ammunition.
No much serviceable firearms, no paper even to take complainants statement. And most
of all, no good will from the people for whom we are staking out our neck. This is the
bane of our glorious profession. Cheer up and pray to God, that one day a messiah will
come and lead us to our promise land.
"But is it the same in other nations?" Cpl Caleb asked in despair.
"Gentlemen. It is not the same in other lands! I have the privilege to have visited
not fewer than ten countries. May I tell one broad daylight truth? I have not seen such a
madness and absolute neglect of police as found in this country. In other lands police men
are revered and held in high esteem but on our shore we are treated like orphans by all.
Never mind. One day the situation will change", he concluded solemnly even though he
knew it was a furlong hope.
Madam, it is alright. Dry your tears. By Gods grace you will see your child
again. How did they contact you? By phone or letter? he asked her.
By GSM phone, sir, she answered, then turned her face outside the circle of
men, and blew her nose as if in affirmation.
Where is the phone?
Here it is, sir, she handed over the handset to the inspector.
What can we do to stop this juggernauted business, the corporal asked with
anxiety stamped over him.
It cannot be stopped. The society asked for it and now the society has it. It is
impossible to stamp out, the sgt. answered dejectedly.
Yes, there is a way to curb this dangerous business, the inspector announced
philosophically.
What! How!? the two NCOs exclaimed at the same time in consternation turning
their attention to the inspector.
See, my brothers, the inspector started, You must have noticed that the power
of this kidnappers lies in the communication which GSM or mobile /cell phones provide
in order to contact and demand their ransom.
Yes! the NCOs chorused in unison, rapt in attentiveness. Whenever there is a
case like this, the inspector continued, the GSM phone service providers should be
made to disclose the locality the calls are coming from and inform us and the rest will be
up to us. You know, all the phone service providers keep records of such conversation
and can locate the very area with slim, degree of certainty. This way the business will
stop if the criminal world knows that yawa don gas in the business it will leave it alone.
He concluded.
Inspectorato himself, the corporal shouted praising the inspector.
Yes certainly, there lies the solution to the pestering sore, the NCO affirmed
happily.
Come with me, please, he said to the distressed woman as he led the way to his
office. The woman gave her name as Mrs. Susan Jumbo, residing at Number 5 Chiolu
Street, off the East West Road. She further intimated that she was a businesswoman,
married and the marriage was blessed with Chiosom, the kidnapped boy.
Where is your husband? the officer demanded of her.
He is away on a business trip, she replied.
Ill like to see him anytime he returns, the inspector requested.
Inspector Victory then ordered Sgt. Ade Ola to incident and dispatch the case
immediately at the counter while Cpl Caleb Ogutum recorded her statement. Then he
went to brief the DPO on the case.
An hour later, Mrs. Jumbos phone suddenly rang, jolting everybody to reality.
She informed the officer that the number on the sets screen belonged to the gangsters.
The inspector advised her on what to say. The voice on the other end of the line
commanded her to bring the money to the southern gate of the University of Liberal
Studies and warned her not to contact the police or else her son would be killed
immediately. Just then, the lads shrill voice was heard.
Mummy, Mummy, dont allow them to kill me, please. Mummy, please...! His
wail trailed off. Inspector Victorys heart was torn out of its sitting and he renewed his
resolve to help her, no matter the cost, just to bring joy to the faces of both mother and
child.
Sir, Cpl Ogutum said conspiratorially, let the woman mobilize us, at least, to
buy paper.
Are you mad Cpl? Just look at the woman. Just see the sorry state she is in. What
cursed money are you talking about? I will not be a party to it and it will riot be done here
as far as I am in charge. Look, for goodness sake, it could have been you or somebody
you know, he chided the corporal.
Sir, Cpl Ogutum pressed further, there is no vehicle at our disposal. The patrol
vans have broken down. The undercover car has no fuel and now no money to refuel it.
What do we do?
Dont worry, Inspector Victory replied, I will think out something. He then set
about planning the battle strategy to rescue the distressed lad. He collected two
medium-sized sacks (Ghana- Must-Go) bags and went about cutting newspapers, the size
of currency notes and stacking them into the bags. At last, he filled the sacks to their
brims. He overlaid the last layers with N100.00 notes. When he finished, he educated the
woman on what to do and encouraged her to put her trust in God, to be confident, and that
she should not make any rash mistake.
I am inspector Victory. You must have heard of me. I have never failed and I will
not like to fail in your case. We abhor failures because if we dont, the common man has
no hope again in this country, he encouraged her. Madam, can you drive? he asked.
Yes. I can drive anything, sir, she replied.
Good. It will make our job a bit easier, he exclaimed. No, we will go by our
camouflage vehicle, he ended as an afterthought.
Sargey, you will drive the Honda which I came by to the station. You will be with
Cpl Caleb, he told his lieutenant. Madam, he turned and addressed the complainant,
please we must wire your body with this, he explained to her. He then directed woman
Pc Ego Nkanu to wire the complainants body with a two-way radio receiver transmitter.
The woman hesitated to comply. Do it madam. If you must work with us to save your
child, you must do whatever we ask of you. Have I made myself clear? We should not
waste precious seconds on irrelevant arguments," he cautioned the complainant into
submission.
At last gentlemen, he said, check your arms and count your ammunition. Is
everything all right? he asked of his colleagues.
Yes, sir, they chorused in unison; he went outside to test the radio set. Satisfied
with every arrangement, he produced a bottle of tommy lemonade wine, uncorked it,
drank from it and passed the bottle round to his colleagues.
Drink it. It is the token of our comradeship and allegiance to one another. We
must go as one and return as one. Whatever your differences, bury them deep, because
your life may depend on your friends hand. Good luck and God bless you, soldiers for
the emancipation of humanity. Bear in mind, that once you decide to lie low, society will
lose its sanity. Society will be hamstrung and shackled. We cannot accept such a
situation. Can we?
We are specifically selected as the best in the division. Our people believe in us
and we will not let them down. Once again, thank you, good luck and God bless! he
charged them. The DPO also briefed them, charging them as well as praying that they
returned in one piece.
Earlier, the inspector had given his colleagues direction on how to position
themselves after they had studied an improvised map of the university area.
* * *


Forty minutes later, they got to the place the kidnappers had designated - the
southern gate of the University of Liberal Studies, Iguocha. The inspector was behind the
wheel of the undercover car and the woman sat woodenly with the sacks in the back seat.
Fear was written all over her like the legendary handwriting on the Babylonian palace
wall. She was so visibly shaken that she could not focus well. The Inspector surveyed the
area before him.
The institution had three gates: the main gate was the northern one while the
southern one was rarely used. The road that led to it branched out and ran to the riverside,
forming a natural cul-de-sac, while the fence that ran parallel to it was lined with assorted
ornamental trees and makeshift eating-homes. In the evenings, the area boomed with
people from all walks of life: students and working class, criminals of all kinds and
shades abound.
The Area was jam-packed with people, for it was the peak business hour. There
were students who came to transact one form of business or the other or to eat their
dinner in the makeshift mamaput restaurants around the gate. Music was blaring from a
film/music CD vendor in one of the stores attached to the wall of the institutions fence.
There was a cacophonous mle in the immediate milieu that is synonymous with all
ghetto atmospheres. The confusion occasioned by the multitude suited the law agents fine
because it afforded them the easy task of melting into the crowd and concealing
themselves as planned, but worked against the hoodlums.
Madam, dont fear. I am with you. 1 am Inspector Victory. I dont let people
down. I dont abandon my friends or complainants because I am not a fair weather
police officer. You are trying me in the storm. Just wait and see whether I will disappoint
you. Everything will be all right, just do as I tell you. Now, go out.
The complainant hauled the sacks out of the cab one at a time, and dragged them
towards the centre of the clearing, which was a few yards away from the centre of the
throng of people in line with the direction given to her by the kidnappers.
The University of Liberal Studies immediate environment was notorious for all
kinds of criminal activities, and police had not been able to crack the gang and bring the
culprits to book. In fact, the fear of the area was the beginning of wisdom to policemen
and civilians alike as it was a criminal paradise. Policemen had been known to disappear
in the area without trace. Therefore, no police officer would venture into the area where
even angels feared to tread. The inspector was annoyed over the notoriety of the area.
How could such an area defy policing? If all the areas were as stubborn as that one, what
would happen to the image of the force? It was grossly unacceptable to them. This was a
jinx that they must break.
He was jolted to alertness by the dialogue on the radio transmitter between the
complainant and the leader of the kidnappers. He waited patiently and knew that his
colleagues were ready also.
Woman, do you bring the money? a husky voice accosted the complainant.
Yes, sir, she replied.
How much?
Five million, sir.
Okay, okay bringam here, he commanded her.
First, where is my son? she countered.
Do you come alone?
Yes, sir!
What of the taxi driver? he asked her.
He is taking a bottle of beer. He does not know what is happening, she informed
the kingpin.
Ok, ok, he said, and made a wild birdlike sound, which triggered off a sort of
action a distance away. The boy let out a blood chilling scream from inside a parked
BMW car.
Thats your son. I hope you now believe that he is alive, he said with pride, as he
moved forward and grabbed the bags and with the same motion, produced a Scorpion
semi-automatic-mini rifle from his back and pointed it at the woman.
Madam, thank you and your son. You will help us first, he told her.
Two BMW 318i cars sped into the clearing and screeched to a stop, their tires protesting
loudly.
The inspector then barked out orders to his colleagues to sweep down on the
hoodlums. He got out of the camouflage car, two berretta pistols in his hands, took
accurate aim and punctured the front tires of the cars rendering them immobile. The
kidnappers, seeing the ominous trouble dived out of the cars and fired at the inspector
who was down on his stomach, crawling in a zigzag manner like an overgrown python
from spiritus mundi. The multitude ran helter-skelter and dived out for whatever covers it
could find in the same manner that chicken do when sensing ominous sign of a hawk or
kites sweep. The whole blazing multitude melted like wax on fire that no single being
was seen on his or her feet. This suited the inspectors plans. He had no intention of
killing innocent persons.
He took accurate aim intending to maim unless he could not help it. Two of the
criminals were killed and the leader, a stocky man of about 27 years, with a chest the
width of two doors put together, got the boy and held the muzzle of his rifle to the boys
head, while ordering the inspector to disarm himself or he would kill the child. One of the
hoodlums seized the opportunity and pointed his gun at the screaming woman.
The inspector stood immobile for some seconds, made as if to drop his guns, but
spoke in a low voice into the mouthpiece of the small radio transmitter hidden on his
chest.
Sargey, do you have them in sight? he asked his colleague.
Yes, sir, the sergeant replied.
Coprito! What about you?
Boss, Im fine. My man is as good as dead, he replied joyfully.
Take them! he commanded and the report of the gunshots from the two NCOs
sounded like one, as the two captors slumped in movie-like slow motion. Blood splashed
about. The third threw down his gun and raised his hands in the air before the inspector
could pull the triggers of his guns. He was handcuffed immediately. The leader did not
die, even though the Corporals bullet severed the killers right arm.
Some seconds later, the NCOs stepped into the scene as the complainant and her
son poured words of gratitude to the police and to God.
Sir, what do we do with him? the Cpl asked. He will make us run into
expenses. Moreover, if he escapes, he will double up and attack us again, and he will be
more dangerous than ever. So, let him go with his colleagues that he led into crime, Cpl
Ogutum suggested to the inspector.
No, Inspector Janim replied, that is extra judicial killing. Life is precious and
sacred. We are not murderers; we are here to preserve life and not to destroy it.
What precious life does a useless criminal like this deserve? the corporal
retorted, gesturing at the writhing mass on the ground. Yes. I agree totally with you,
oga the cpl added as an afterthought. If we must preserve life, then we must eliminate
him and his likes at least thats our duty. I believe well be doing the society a disservice
if you preserve his life.
We are only investigators and cannot be judges and executioners at the same
time, the officer lectured his team. With this, the inspector moved towards the
immobilized BMW cars to fix the spare tires.
Mr. Kidnapper. . ., the sergeant addressed the wounded hoodlum.
No! the inspector shouted, knowing what the NCOs were about to do, ran
towards them.
.. we caught you red-handed in the act, the sergeant continued, addressing the
wounded hoodlum for the role you played in tormenting humanity and for shooting at
police officers. With the powers conferred on us by the constitution of this great country
to combat crime in order to save humanity from the clutches of social nuisances like you,
I hereby send you to hell, guilty as charged.
The kingpin, knowing he had no option for survival, fired first with a locally made
pistol concealed in his left cuff, and jets of blood sprayed out from the inspectors left
arm like a malfunctioning water tap. Cursing, the inspector responded fire for fire. As he
fired, two other shots rang out and their report mingled with the inspectors sounded as
one. The perforating machines spat fires of death on the left side of the hoodlums chest.
The inspector was shocked by the automatic action. It was as if a mechanical force
propelled them.
That was a close call. The officer exclaimed. How could I have known this
bastard had a piece of throway. Thank you boys. Yes, I like that. It is solidarity at its
best. It is a sign of our abhorrence of crime. It is the voice of unity and determination, he
proclaimed. This definitely will mark the end of the notoriety of this university
environment. I am pleased, he said triumphantly.
I told you, the cpl said triumphantly, that guy did not deserve to live.
The NCOs went about bandaging the inspectors arm 1ith handkerchief. They
recovered the bodies, the arms, the remaining suspect and vehicles. The complainant and
her son drove in the back-up Honda car, while both NCOs manned each of the BMW cars
and drove out of the gory scene of the shooting to Area C Police Station, like Trojan
warriors returning from battlefield. The whole operation lasted for about forty-five
minutes.
The DPO was overjoyed to see his men return victorious from the operation. He
received them warmly and felt that they had dealt yet another blow to the underworld
kingdom. He called the inspector to his office for a short personal briefing on the
operation. The inspector gave him a chronological account of the operation without
painting it with unnecessary artificialities.
Sir, he said, the hoodlums were not willing to release the hostage even after
they received the sacks, which they were convinced contained money. They took the
woman hostage. It was not acceptable to us. You can guess what happened back there.
Hell was let loose and four of them died in the shootout that ensued, including the female
member of the gang. We could only arrest one, sir. The whole affair is like a game of
chess to me, of course; with a deadly aftermath. If you play and outsmart your opponent,
you then win, he explained to the DPO.
Boy, you are bleeding! the DPO exclaimed. Are you okay? he asked, visibly
worried.
Dont worry, Sir, the inspector replied, Its just a scratch, nothing serious, sir.
And he slumped on to the rug, unconscious. The DPO raised an alarm and the division
was plunged into panic over the safety of the brave inspector. He was immediately rushed
to Zion Hospital for medical attention.


* * *



Sgt Ade Ola rushed into the hospital ward where Inspector Victory had been
admitted, brandishing a popular newspaper, a copy of the Daily Mirror, a day after the
fierce shootout at the university gate. Come and see nonsense. This stupid reporter
claimed we killed innocent Engineering and Medical students, that we could not tackle
the robbers and the kidnappers but mowed down hapless students. They are calling us
murderers and demanding our arrest and prosecution, he complained breathlessly.
It is the trade mark of our profession, my friend. Sometimes, those whom you kill
yourself to protect turn around and bite you on the nose. Take heart, he encouraged his
worried subordinate officer. I hope you recorded the statement of the surviving suspect
on video. You can never tell. But when the truth comes out, they will sing a new version
of the same song. With this, the inspector gently calmed the sergeant.
How are you today, oga? the Sgt greeted the inspector after he had calmed
down.
I am well, my brother, the officer replied.


* * *


Ten days after the rescue operation, the inspector drove into the station from the
hospital after seeing his doctor. He saw a crowd gathering in front of the police station, as
a woman shouted at the pitch of her voice.
I will show these stupid, good for nothing imbeciles that I am not a woman they
can play pranks on. They always do what they are not supposed to do and the things that
are expected of them, they cannot do. All they know is to extort money from hapless
civilians. Bribery and corruption is all they know. Foolish people. You will tell me why
you should arrest my husband. I will teach you a lesson, for encroaching on innocent
peoples privacy, she ranted and raved unceasingly.
Inspector Victory was cut short in his stride as he heard the accusations, which the
woman was heaping on them. This was Mrs. Susan Jumbo, the woman whose son had
been kidnapped earlier but rescued by the SITOS agents.
When the inspector got closer, he was enraged by the womans accusations. It
broke his heart, for he had thought that she, at least, would say a pleasant word for the
Force after all the risks police had taken to save her and her son from the clutches of the
kidnappers.
Madam Jumbo, is anything the matter? the inspector calmly asked as he drew
nearer to the crowd.
You have created many problems and you have the guts to ask me whether there
is a problem. Yes, there are problems. You have scattered my home! she shouted at the
inspector, and in a flash threw herself at the young officer of the law and slapped him
powerfully on the face. The inspector saw the blow coming but deliberately refused to
dodge or parry it out so that the womans evil nature would be revealed to all.
Madam, you slapped me? Madam, you raised your hand and assaulted a
policeman who risked his life to save you and your son? The police no longer mean
anything to you! he upbraided her rhetorically.
Two policewomen broke out to give her the beating of her life but the inspector
restrained them.
Leave her alone. A woman that is quick to forget what we did for her barely ten
days ago is not normal. Something is terribly wrong with her. It may be she is already
dead and is looking for someone to escort her to her grave so that she will point an
accusing finger at such a person, he told them.
Madam, what have I done to you? he turned and addressed her coldly again,
rubbing his fingers over the weal.
Why did you arrest my husband? Why? Why, stupid inspector? she spat at him.
Okay! Is that why you are behaving like a mad dog? Tortoise actually said it all,
that the lappa he tied around his waist had caused his downfall. If I were not lenient,
gentle, merciful and considerate to your plight, you would not have had the power to raise
your hand against me, or open your stinking vent against the image of the police. You
have bitten the finger that saved you and you will surely pay dearly for it, he promised
her.
Sargey! Corprito! Amanda! he called out. Bring the television set and the video
players and tapes, let us make this stupid woman the judge of our activities, he shouted
to his subordinates. In twenty minutes the sets were in order and playing in the DCB*
hall. It showed the only surviving kidnap suspect.
Madam, I hope you recognize this man, one of the men that kidnapped your son
and almost killed us? he inquired of her.
Yes, and what about it? she retorted dryly.
The suspect narrated how Mr. Jumbo, the womans husband and the father of the
boy, hired them to kidnap the boy in order to collect the ransom of five million naira. He
also revealed that Mr. Jumbo was the one who gave them her phone number as well. He
equally revealed that for the woman to part with the money, they had to hold the boy as
leverage. This, they did but did not reckon with the swift and brave actions of the
inspector and his team.
The next scene showed Mr. Jumbo in the interrogation room. He was defiant, his
eyes blazing like blobs of live coal.
Mr. Jumbo, the inspectors voice was heard from the television set, why did
you do it? Why did you kidnap your son? he interrogated the prime suspect.
Officer, he started, I dont have any grudge against you. You are doing your
duty. But Ill tell you one gospel truth. That woman you helped is a devil in a womans
skin. She made me lose my job; she urged me to resign so that we could go into business,
only to rescind the decision after I had resigned, thereby leaving me stranded like a fish
out of water, gasping and panting desperately for life sustaining air, only for that she
devil to turn me into a house help you could ever imagine.
I decided to pay her back in her own coin since she betrayed my love and trust,
because a rare kindness attracts a rare reward and conversely, a drastic betrayal evokes
severe negative reactions. I dont have any regrets for my part in the drama even though it
did not work out due to police intervention. At least, I must have dented her image, he
concluded dejectedly.
His statement was born out of anguish and despondency due to the evil treatment
meted out to him by somebody he held in high esteem. Mrs. Jumbo broke down and
wept.
My eyes have seen the back of my head o! Water don pass my gari o! Oh, what
do I do now? she wailed piteously.
Yes, Madam? How does it go? Advise us on what to do in a case like this. Have
you seen why we arrested your slave? Madam, I am forced to believe what your
houseboy said because of your attitude towards us now. I doubted his story, but I now
believed him. Madam, are you a human being at all? Do you have a heart in your chest?
Or, perhaps, it is a massive stone instead of flesh. Is it blood that flows in your arteries
and veins? I believe it is not blood but venom of the worst kind.
Amanda! Ada! the inspector called the two policewomen, arrest this woman for
serious assault. Search her properly and bring her detention order for me to sign. First
thing tomorrow morning, Sargey, recommend her case to be charged to court, she is an
ingrate. And ingratitude kills friendship and love, hard work and dedication to duty. She
is not a human being but a beast and it is better we send her to the state of nature so that
she will be out of circulation. With that, he stamped his foot in an air of finality and
marched off to his office.

THE END
























A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL


If you touch the devil,
He will not let you go.
When you dine with the evil spirit;
When you wine with the evil spirit
He will chain you down
The day you dance with the devil,
You are surely doomed.

A proverbial song of Ekpeye ethnic nation of
Rivers State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.




Uncle, please help me, Victoria cried from the cell, pleading with Police
Corporal Davies. She was being detained for almost seven days for armed robbery.
Vicky! What are you doing there in the cell? Corporal Davies shouted back at
her in surprise as recognition dawned on him.
Na police lo-ck me inside cell o, Uncle, she stammered.
Wetin you do?
I no do any tin o. I no do any tin on, she wailed in despair.
You no do any tin and police put you inside cell? Police don become mad, eh?
How many people wey dey waka pass for road and na only you police see come catch? If
you wan make I listen to you, you beta tell me wetin you do. The youngish corporals
reprimanded the female suspect.
Victoria was a young woman of about eighteen years of age. She was beautifully
made with strong physical features. It seemed God had lavished her with unequalled
magnanimity. She had an angular face that broadened toward her frontal hairline. Her
large eyes and smiling lips adorned her with a perpetual happy and pleasant facial
expression. Her general physique was almost a reproduction of Ann Njemanze, the
Nollywood movie actress. She exuded an aura for sexuality and a mannerism of winking
with her left eye, which her numerous male admirers always mistook for an outright
invitation to sexual feast. Her hair was healthy though unkempt: scattered like palm
fronds after a severe rainstorm.
She was the fourth child in a polygamous family of thirteen. Her mother was the
senior wife while her father was a retired army lance corporal. She speaks passable
Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and strands of Nigeria languages and dialects courtesy of her
father's numerous transfers and postings in the Nigeria army.

* * *

Police Corporal Davies was a young man of twenty, having enlisted into the
Nigeria Police Force at the age of eighteen and acquired the police basic training at
police College, Nuraku. He was a pleasant man though average in looks. He bore a
natural birthmark above his left eyebrow; arguably one of natures perfect
imperfections, which made him a gold fish without a hiding place even in a crowd.
Though what he lacked in beauty, his unbridled amiability made him charming and
likeable. A highly dependable junior officer that soon won the heart of the Divisional
Police Officer, that he posted him to the Finance section of the Administration of
Odoli Divisional Headquarters, in the suburb of Odagha city. The NCO realized that
an irreconcilable polarity and inconsistency existed in his life. No matter how
desirous and determined he was to overcome the black spot in his life, it remained
indelible like an indigo mark. This made him to believe that there was something
intrinsically good in the worst person and some degree of badness in the best.
Therefore, he strongly believed that no one should be condemned without fair trial.
Odoli Divisional Police Headquarters was situated in the heart of a small
community that housed about one hundred thousand people. The station was so situated
due to the incessant criminal activities, which resulted from the rise in economic activities
in the area.
The charge-room, which was part of the administrative block, was the very first
port of call for anyone coming to the station. At the front verandah on the right, ran a
flight of stairs that led to the offices upstairs. A five-feet high table-like counter
barricaded the charge room from the rest of the office; behind it sat numerous junior
policemen of diverse ranks facing the doorway. This was where complaints were
received. Behind the counter, the rest of the office was ranged with benches for suspects
about to be searched before detention. From there a passage led to the cells. There were
four in number, two on each side: Cells one to four. Cells three and four were reserved
exclusively for armed robbery suspects. This was where the corporal first encountered
Victoria that Sunday morning.
The previous Friday afternoon, the DPO had informed Cpl Davies that he would
deploy him to counter relief duty as Station Writer II, to be his eye and ear at the
station the next Sunday. The young lawman had protested vehemently, but the DPO
remained adamant to his directive, announcing that his decision was as final as the
switching off of an electric light. The corporal had recoiled in anger, as weekends were
his rest days he would not allow anything to interfere.
On that Sunday morning, he had arrived at the station, taken over duties and made
a tour of the cells to ascertain if the suspects detained in the cells were physically present
as stated in the diaries and registers that had been handed over to him.
Cho-a-on for Sergito! he called out. Good morning, sir.
Good morning, gentlemen and ladies, the sergeant responded.
Men on relief morning duty counter, taking over duty from the night duty men.
May I have your kind permission to carry on, sir? Corporal Davies intoned the familiar
mode of greeting superior officers.
Carry horn, the sergeant said laughingly.
Sta-a-ad-ad-ais, the corporal commanded his subordinates.
Tanda na-oh! a constable shouted at the Available, woman PC, Stella, and all
burst out in laughter.
It was during this tour of his duty post that he encountered Victoria in the cell.
After the initial greeting formalities, he had gone to the detention board to ascertain who
the IPO in charge of Victorias case was, and the particular offence for which she had
been charged. When he saw it was armed robbery, his spirit evaporated like mid
morning mist in the early morning sun.
Oh my God! Why not assault or affray or some misdemeanous offence? Why this
felonious offence? How can I get her off the hook? Did she commit the crime? I do not
know her family to be robbers. Neither have I heard that she had long arms. I know her
as a nice, beautiful girl from our village. When she gained admission into Polytechnic to
read Home Economics, everyone was glad but this happiness collapsed as she dropped
out of school for lack of sponsorship. Armed robbery is to policemen what treason is to
government, he said out aloud.
Na so, oga, the woman-available affirmed.
He was in this mood and did not realize that he was in the company of others, when the
woman Police Available at the counter suddenly exclaimed.
Coprito! What happened? You are not here with us. What is the matter? She
fired the questions at him like an AK 47 assault rifle shot.
Oh, I m sorry. I was daydreaming, Stella. I m terribly sorry, he apologized to
her. Two hours later, he obtained permission from the Charge Room Officer and took the
robbery suspect to the barracks, for bathing and feeding. They returned to his office
upstairs for a heart to heart talk, to enable him ascertain how and why she had landed
herself into the 'chameleon faeces.
Corporal Davies sat in his seat, his elbows resting on the table, which separated
him from the suspect, while Victoria sat on the visitors chair facing the law agent and
backing the door. The finance office was a small one: a ten by eight foot affair with filing
cabinets and shelves lining a wall. A four by four foot window overlooked the packing
space below.
The corporal had furnished it sparingly with floor linoleum and window curtains
whose colours blended with the sea-green colour of the walls, and contrasted a bit with
the pale colour of the ceiling. A pot that contained a raffia ornamental flower, stood
faithfully at attention by the window. When the corporal turned on the ceiling fan to its
maximum, the swish of air was welcoming. The flower danced and waved its slender
verdure as if rendering a special choral song to the duo.
Through the open window, he saw that the car park was deserted because it was a
Sunday. On weekdays, it used to be a mini open-air market. He noticed with displeasure
the lackadaisical way accidented vehicles littered the premises. He was obsessed with
cleanliness and neatness. The mid-March sun was fully high even though it was only
1000hours. The shimmering sun induced an eerie feeling; as the area seemed to have
been deserted save for the little team of policemen on relief duty.
He gazed out of the window at a lawn where assorted species of flowers were
rocking gently in the occasional southerly breeze. Suddenly, he was so overtaken by the
beauty and order in nature that he exclaimed, Life is beautiful after all! Take a look, and
take heart, he said solemnly to the suspect.
Sir, but I dont see anything at all, Victoria said, looking in the direction to
which he was pointing.
Never mind then, he sighed in resignation. Now, Vicky, tell me what happened
to you. I saw on the detention board that you are arrested for armed robbery. How did it
happen?
I did not rob or steal I know I am a bad type. I use my body to get what I want. I
hustle anytime and anywhere, but I am not a robber, she cried as tears gathered in her
lower eye lashes like early morning dew on fern leaves.
Ok. It is all right, Vicky. Just tell me everything-the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, he urged the fear-stricken girl.
As she was about to plunge into the story, there was a sharp rap on the door and a
constable put his head through it.
Yes? the corporal enquired of the intruder.
The CR0 sent me to check whether you are with the suspect, sir, he replied.
Ok. Tell him we are here, please, he retorted and the constable disappeared like
an appeased spirit from a village shrine. These gossiping sons of bitch, he
muttered to himself before turning to the dispirited suspect. Yes, Vicky, go on.
Uncle Davies, she began, you know the kind of family I come from.
Yes, I do, the corporal reassured her.
Since there was nothing I could do to save them, so I decided to use what I have
to get what we need: the basic necessities of life. I took to hustling - commercial sex
work.
That is prostitution, the corporal corrected her.
Yes. But we, in the profession, dont use that term. I started in our village on a
small scale, charging between N150 and N200, for short time. TDB attracted the sum of
N5O0 to N600. I was in such high demand in the area as my clients or customers were in
full supply that I made up to N15,000 to N20,000 monthly. With the proceeds from this
business, I was able to provide food and clothing for my father's family. Life became
better again, as hope returned to my family. I was not really happy, though the faces of
my family members radiated happiness again. This was at the detriment of my happiness,
health, dignity and future. I hope you know what TDB and short time are?
Yes, the corporal replied. TDB means 'Till Day Break.
Tell me sincerely, Vicky, do you enjoy the work you are doing? he asked most
solemnly.
I... I, no! I dont enjoy it. It is most dehumanizing. It is an abuse of my dignity but
my sibblings must survive. I am prone to countless dangers and hazardous escapades so
that members of my family would find lumps of garri in their plates, she wept. She
stood up, went to the window, and blew her nose as loudly as the whistle of the referee.
Please take this and wipe your face, the officer said, handing her a handkerchief.
She accepted the white handkerchief and dabbed her face with it.
No one treats me with kindness, she continued. I dont know the meaning of
the word Love', she wept the more. The corporal allowed her tears to flow down freely
like waterfall for some time, before pacifying her once again. The narration was gripping
him with iron vice.
I find womens tears particularly unbearable. Tears have ways of melting my
heart, the corporal said, his eyes glowing red like police torch at checkpoints. You said
you dont know the meaning of love. But from what youve told me so far, I am
convinced you are one of the greatest lovers, and philosophers I have seen around. What
is philosophy? To me, philosophy is simply a stretch of the mind. Any mind is capable of
being stretched. Some are stretched more than the others. And I assure you that yours is
tautly stretched to its limits. Philosophy, simply stated, is a way of finding meaning in
mans situation. You have found meaning in the awkward situation of your father's
family. This is love in the specific, which is action; which is care. Love in the abstract, on
the other hand, is a nonchalant and unfeeling attitude to peoples plight. My dear, you
care so much that you did no regard your safety or consider the price to your person. In
order to save your father's family you became a sacrificial lamb. Vicky sat up as if
pricked by some invisible spikes.
Me, Christ-like? she queried.
Yes. At least to your family, the young man said gently to her.
These are the best and the gentlest words that have reached my ears in years.
Thank you for understanding me. She brightened up a little the way a flower unfolds
before the early morning sun, then continued her story.
After some time, my fortune in the village started dwindling. Also the other girls
and women became jealous of me. I was molested and manhandled on many occasions.
Moreover, as my nightly proceeds became smaller and smaller each passing day, I
decided it was time to move to greener fields. I came here to Odagha City at the
insistence of my school mother, Ada Agi, who operated a fashion business and enrolled
me immediately as an apprentice in the business of sewing...
Here in this city? the police NCO asked casually. Odagha City is a modern
Sodom. Anyway, where in this city?
Number 3, Chinwa Street, she replied. When I moved into Adas house, I
realized that she owned the building and had about thirty tenants, a car, and a workshop.
It immediately dawned on me that she had other businesses other than the sewing, and the
workshop was only a front for the others. I pestered her day and night to introduce to and
co-oped me into them. She paused for breath.
Go on. Im with you, Vicky, the corporal encouraged her.
Three months later, she continued, she agreed to incorporate me into them. One
midnight, she woke me up. Vicky, she said, you are a nice girl, as well as good
looking, so prepare your mind for the ordeal that lies ahead and all shall forever be well
with you. She then produced a small miniature axe, stiletto dagger, black bra, black T-
shirt, red bandana, a centipede bracelet, an earthen bowl with a piece of scarlet ribbon,
and other items I could not readily identify.
Auntie, what are these? I had exclaimed in surprise on seeing the items.
Never mind, my dear. These are the items that will make you rich, she had
assured me with an innocent smile.
Two nights after the assurance, we travelled to Abocha town. We started the
journey around 6:30pm and arrived there at 10pm. We lodged in a hotel till 1:00 am when
some masked people came and escorted us deep into the forest.
Er? The corporal corked his head like a dog that senses an unusual sound.
Thats the story, sir, she said calmly. The clearing was illuminated by log fire
in various points and spots. There were about sixty people who sat cross-legged, forming
semicircle, facing a crude platform on which a chief priest and his assistants sat in-like
manner, like some oriental monks in meditation. In the centre of the circle were almost
thirty to forty-five persons of various age brackets, all dressed in black blouses, which
barely covered their breasts; and red lappa around their loins, exposing their hillocks
behind them. They were dancing to the frenzied rhythm of drumming. Every now and
then, they were offered some kaikai and the performers would gyrate the more in
supernatural ecstasy.
Rubbish! Corporal Davies. shouted. He suddenly stood up and clenched his fists
so tightly that the knuckles turned reddish as he paced the office.
After the initial registration formalities, the chief priest called on Ada to present
me and he asked in a sing-song voice what my problems were. I narrated to them. To my
joy, he assured me that these hardships were history. He then took my dagger and pierced
my right thumb with it drawing blood in the process, which he collected into my bowl.
He then sprinkled some on all my items and also on the symbol of the god we served. The
others blood were also collected in like manner, and then mixed all into a large tripod
pot into which other concoctions were poured and stirred. After offering the mixture to
the gods as libation, it was served to all to drink in a ram-horn.
This is the covenant of the brotherhood, the priest said. The day you reveal our
secret, you shall surely die most miserably. But if you adhere strictly to our laws, you
shall have everything your heart desires. .
I was then ordered to participate in the dance while the high priest and his
assistants danced with me, splashing the concoction all over me. Their eyes revealed
some burning inner desire to have me, which they did of course. They did lot of things to
me, which I cannot tell you for the sake of modesty. During the dance, the high priest
whispered to me his desire to make me the priestess of the fraternity if only I would agree
to be his mistress. I was so happy that I accepted, because with that position would come
a lot of power. It was then I knew that I had gone too far into the devils territory. At the
end of the service, I returned with my auntie to Odagha City.
Exactly 2:00pm the next day, my aunty asked me to check my bowl. When I
opened it, I found the sum of fifty five thousand naira, and seven kobo in it, with a short
note that read: Victoria, take this and use it. It is a gift from Vulture. I reported this to
my auntie who smiled knowingly and directed me to use it but never to tell anybody that
was not a member.
It must have been a trick calculated to hold you in perpetual bondage. It must
have been placed there by your mentor to deceive you, the young man reasoned.
No, it was not that kind of trick but a more serious kind. The money did not come
from Ada. I am sure of that. Anyway, my life became better and beautiful. She
continued, I then slowed down on my hustling business. Whenever I lacked money, I
would make my request known to the bowl, and money would definitely be there the next
2:00am or 2:00pm. So I visited my shrine like a palm-wine tapper, two times daily at
these designated hours. The total take on these diurnal and nocturnal visits yielded up to
one hundred and ten thousand naira and fourteen kobo. I then sent money to my parents.
Food items started rolling down into the family as if a tipper discharged sand. With the
proceeds from this, I also bought sewing machines and other tools. Every now and then
my parents would send for more money especially as my father resumed his
drunkenness.
What kind of father is that? the Corporal asked with burning anger, as she
paused for breath. He then encouraged her to continue her story.
Go on, he encouraged.
No one warned me that there would be a payback time. No one informed me that
I was moving to my doom. There was nothing to stir up my suspicion that the plunge into
anarchy would be complete and deadly.

When we embarked on our next clandestine visit to the shrine, I was commanded
to name three persons I love most in this world. Innocently and ignorantly I named my
immediate younger brother as the number one, my grandfather and my youngest sister, in
that order.
Continue, please, the corporal urged.
The Chief priest produced the centipede symbol and a doll. He poured libation
and stabbed the doll with my dagger as he invoked the name and the spirit of my
immediate younger brother four times. The following day, news got to me that my
brother had died mysteriously the night before, around 3:00am, after vomiting blood
through his mouth and nose.
Hmm, he grunted.
Yes! Yes, I killed him, Vicky wept profusely. The remote cause of death, she
continued amidst sobs, was as illusive as the foot of the rainbow. I wept bitterly. I
knew I was the one that had cut short his vibrant life with the knife of the high priest.
The policeman stretched out his hand across the table and laid it on her shoulder,
comforting her as a father would his agonizing child.
This showed me that all is vanity. I laboured and killed myself to save them, only
to kill them in the process. What use is all the money in the world to me? she wailed
regrettably.
What happened next? go on, please.
I packed all the devilish materials, rushed to the shrine, and threw them at the
priests feet in hot protest. The priest promised me hell. He said I would swim in blood.
So once again, I resumed my hustling as I left my aunties home, though she persuaded
me to stay saying that she too had killed four of her brothers, adding that, if one needed
anything, one must be prepared to make sacrifices.
We suspected foul play in the sequential death of the four brothers, but we had no
evidence, he said intelligently.
I roamed about the streets for some days before I hooked up with Naked Wire,
the armed robbery suspect detained in cell 4. Each time Naked Wire and friends went out
in mask, they would return late with money and other valuables.
Seven days ago, we were watching blue films in his room when policemen
stormed the yard and arrested all of us for robbing a market woman from Idoku village,
dispossessing her of three hundred thousand naira, at gun point.
Since I absconded from the Vulture Fraternity, things have become unbearable
for me. Even after hustling, instead of payment, I always received sound beating. To
worsen the situation, my parents were sending for money and urging me to do whatever it
was I did that had poured money on their laps. They would not hear anything of my
abandoning it. This was how I landed myself into this mess, Uncle. I am not an armed
robber. I only had a romance with the devil she ended fearfully.
Well, well, well, he said after an electrified silence. It is indeed a dance with
the devil you had, Vicky.
The officer stared furtively, then solemnly at the large, glassy eyes and a pair of
puckered nostrils dripping mucus like the anus of a goat suffering from runny stomach. It
was around l200hours.
The next day, Corporal Davies went to Sergeant Okowah, the Investigating Police
Officer in charge of the case to ascertain the level of Victorias involvement in the matter.
The statements of the five armed robbery suspects highly implicated her in the robbery
escapades; there was no visible way of escape from the hangman.
Through the efforts of the Corporal, the IPO*, in his final report, absolved her of
the crime and granted her bail; but no one agreed to stand surety for her, not even her
father for whom she had laboured so much. The corporal tried to secure somebody;
sometimes they would agree due to the influence he wielded, but as soon as they learnt
that the suspect was an armed robbery one, they would withdraw like a tortoise into its
shell. Finally, Corporal Davies prevailed on his pastor who agreed to save the helpless
soul from physical earthly hell. At last, she was released from police cell on bail.

* * *

One gloomy Tuesday morning, Naked Wire and his cohorts were taken out of the
police cell and herded into a police patrol van. They headed towards Odagha main
highway. The patrol and guard officer, Mr. Wilcox Ojokota, ASP*, led the team in a
convoy. The convoy was made up of three vehicles. They drove at breath-taking speed to
the SCID* amidst solemn wails of siren while police emblems and red pennant flustered
in the air as they sped by, signifying danger.
Later that evening, the team returned and reported that the robbery suspects were
killed while attempting to escape. Obviously, Victoria would have been among them.


* * *

No matter your sins, Christ is mighty enough to pardon you completely. .No
matter how dark they might have been. He has a detergent strong enough to wash you as
white as snow. No matter how wretched and downtrodden you may be, He is friendly
enough to draw you to himself. He has never failed before and he will never fail in your
case. Only take the giant step and accept him as your Lord and Saviour. Allow him into
your heart, and your life will never be the same again. He will turn your condition around
by remoulding you into a new child: for the former things, will never be remembered.
Come! Come now and be free from your guilt, the pastor pleaded with the congregation.
The Pastor sang solemn hymns as he made the altar-call after he had rendered an
emotional sermon that fifth evening of their evangelical campaign at Okpele Village
Square. The villagers had turned out en mass, pouring into the arena from all directions as
if running from leprosy. Many had responded to his call and stepped out in faith to
receive spiritual cleansing from various dark habits. Among them was Victoria.
She had learnt of the crusade and its speaker, and had rushed immediately to the
arena. She owed this pastor her life. The pastor and Corporal Davies were the only ones
that did show genuine concern for her, even more than her parents. They were the only
ones that did not demand sexual gratification from her. Surely, they must be true children
of God. So she resolved to follow them.
Victoria stepped forward, fell at the foot of the platform and broke out in spasms
of weeping. Victoria, the Wait And Take! Victoria, the shrewd. Victoria the
cultist. Victoria, the devilish daughter of discord. Victoria, the husband snatcher.
Victoria, the home breaker. And Victoria, the prostitute, killer and robber! To the
astonishment of the entire village, the notorious Wait And Take Your Own,
the Evine, too, accepted Christ. While some sneered in disgust, others were arrested in
consternation at the power of God in saving the most unlikely sinner.


Six months later, Davies was promoted to the rank of sergeant and he married
Victoria, the retiree prostitute and cultist. They set up their home in Okpele village as
well as in Odagha city. She turned out to be the best of wives. She did not cease to amaze
her man who always thanked God for such a precious gift in the person of Mrs. Victoria
vies, his wife.
Sergeant Davies used his numerous connections and secured one form of
employment or the other commensurate to his father-in-law and the other grown-up
children in that family. Life returned to normal as the family knew peace and happiness
again.
The couple found that Victoria was infested with sexually transmitted disease
related infections and that she had also transmitted them to Sgt Davies. It took a
concerted treatment to effect a decisive cure. Her pregnancy testified to the potency of the
treatment.

Can you guess what the sex of the child is, my Davies? she had teased him one
afternoon when she returned from antenatal and ultra sound scan test.
Of course, it is a girl, he replied.
This time around, you are mistaken. It is a boy! Are you disappointed?
Disappointed? To God be the Glory, even though I desired a girl, for it is easy for
one to become a grandfather, if the first child is a girl. All the same, I am happy because
children are special gifts from God, the Almighty Creator, he said as he lifted her off her
feet playfully.
It was then he realized why he had been scheduled for relief duty that Sunday.
Arguably, it was to save Victoria, the wretched sinner, from the pit of hell!

THE END




























BE A DOG OR BE A PIG!

Do not join those who drink too much...
For drunkards and gluttons become poor
And drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Proverbs
The Holy Bible.


It was a Thursday evening. Amezhinim had constructed a simple cage in which he
would keep the puppy he was expecting from his father.
Daddy, where is the puppy you promised me yesterday? Amezhinim cried to his
father who was just staggering in through the door.
Never mand, ma Oyibo, his father drawled in reply, I will bay ya the dag nast
week.
Daddy, your next week no dey come, he wailed sorrowfully. I know it is
useless to tell you to buy anything for me.
Oyibo, Oyibo, be caalm, be caalm with your papa, his father mumbled
incoherently as he sat heavily and abruptly fell asleep before the boy could say anything
else.
Amezhinim! his mother called to him, leave your father alone. He is soaked
already. It is no use, my son. Dont worry yourself.
Amezhinim was twelve years old, in Junior Secondary School One, a brilliant
child that showed lots of promise for a vibrant future. He was a favourite of his teachers
in each class be had passed through. He enjoyed the compliment showered on him on
account of his academic brilliance. Many delighted in addressing him as Oyibo, a name
he cherished so much. At birth, many parents had traditionally mock-betrothed their
daughters to him. His happiness was marvelous to behold in his happy or joyful moments.
However, one of the darkest spots in his bright horizon was the shameful condition of his
father.
One day Amezhinim returned from school with a heavy face and his mother
became worried.
Ame, my Oyibo. Ame, mummys fair sun, how was school today? What is the
matter? Your face looks like you swallowed a swarm of bees. Did anybody beat you at
school? Ame, talk to your mummy. Amezhinims mother was visibly worried.
Mummy, nobody beat me. But it would have been better if he had beaten me with
koboko, he replied solemnly.
He? Who is it this time?
Is it not Chimaji, Mama!
But Chimaji is your close friend, his mother pressed him further.
Yes but our friendship does not extend to his dog, he responded. I played with
his small dog and he pushed me away and carried it. He said if his father were in the
bottle like my father, he would not have bought him the dog. Go tell your papa to stop
bathing in beer, and then he will buy you one. Now, leave mine alone, he shouted at me.
Mama, can you believe it? he reported tearfully to his mother who was visibly moved.
Never mind my son. I dont blame him. Your father is to blame. If the basket
bearer did not fall and spill its content, the bystander would not have laughed, she
counseled him despondently. Look at the house we are living in; no chair, no carpet,
nothing worthwhile. Only the good for nothing black and white television and this ancient
JVC radio set we bought before you were born. If only your father can sober up, together
we can do anything for you. A dog? Even a dog that costs less than five hundred naira, he
cannot buy for you. Never mind. Remember, auzhi Ii ol uka, * my son, she held the
child to her body and rocked him gently in pacification.

But Mama, do you really believe that tomorrow holds the better portion for us?
he queried doubtfully, obviously in dire need of reassurance.
I will buy you a big bull dag. I will build you a big house. I will buy you and ya
Mama a big car. No, a big tipper. No! A train! his father continued in his usual drunken
singsongness.
Ame, come. He is already on the moon. No need to argue with him. Come, let us
go to bed, she said angrily, almost dragging the boy behind her into the bedroom where
she switched off the electric light.
His father was a drunkard of the worst kind. At times, Amezhinim would be called
upon to rescue him from drowning in the open drain after he had saturated himself with
alcohol during drinking bouts at a bar situated enroute to his office at the Ministry of
Labour and Productivity where he worked as a cleaner. His father was a constant and
eloquent disgrace to Ame and his mother.
How can I be happy when my papa always rides Okada inside gutter every
evening? the boy said aloud in bitterness. Ones father remains so, no matter how bad
he is, my teacher says, he resignedly reflected that night.
What a hopeless atmosphere it was that beclouded the family as a result of his
fathers undignified habit, Amezhinims vista of sunny brightness demeaned it.
Other children enjoy precious gifts from their parents. Mine is shame and
poverty. I have requested for a gift from my father. I know that my daddy is willing to do
anything for me but this desire is hampered by his poverty. But why is my father always
poor? Why does my daddy not measure up to the level of other fathers like Papa Chimaji?
The parents of these other children, like Chimajis, are not as lucky as mine, who
is an employee in the government ministry. Others are farmers, Oguaja, or labourers.
The answer to these questions hangs on the fact that my daddy is a shameless,
irresponsible drunkard, known all around this Udobu village.
Any time he received his salary he would head to the bar from where he would
stagger buck home, way after midnight. Most times, the salary would not follow him
home. Some other times, children would sing and clap him home. This, the child knew,
was the source of his fathers downfall - in fact, the stream from which their woes flowed.
Thus he decided never to drink any kind of alcoholic beverage ever.


* * *

Amezhinims mother, realizing that she could never make any headway in life by
depending on her husband alone had sought and received a loan of three thousand naira,
which she invested into petty trading. The wares only filled up a small table. With the
proceeds from this business, she was able to keep her home together - feeding, clothing
and caring for Amezhinim and his education.
She did not leave any stone unturned in her bid to turn Papa Amezhinim around
for the better. Time without number, she had reported him to the elders of their family but
all their pleas had fallen on deaf ears. She would have divorced him but Amezhinim was
the unbreakable cord that bonded them together. If he had been like this from the
beginning, she would not have married him. He had developed this habit shortly after the
birth of Amezhinim. She did not know his reason for turning to alcohol; it could have
been the influence of his friends.
Papa Amezhinim had grown pale and emaciated in stature. He hardly stood
upright and steady during pay week. He would have been sober after these periods, but in
the bar, alcoholics were generous breed of people. So Papa Amezhinim would hang about
bars for free drinks.
The Personnel Officer, in the Ministry of Labour anid Productivity had threatened
to sack him from work on many occasions. The situation was saved because Papa
Amezhinims family was the landlord of the ministry. The family and the ministry had
signed a memorandum of understanding to employ the members of the family in some
level commensurate to their status. Since Papa Amezhinim had no qualification, though
he could read and write fairly, he had been employed as a cleaner and gardener. Due to
drunkenness, the number of days he absented himself from work far outweighed the days
he was present but the ministry could do nothing about this because of the memorandum.
Consequently, he had been with the ministry for eighteen years. He was on grade level
three and received a monthly salary of twelve thousand naira. Out of this amount, he
spent at least one thousand two hundred per day on kaikai, ogogoro and beer. Sometimes
the money would not last till the tenth day.
It was only when he ran out of money that he would give thought to the sorry state
of his home and other pressing domestic problems, and then plan on what to do as soon as
he received his salary only to renege or rather forget all about it as soon as alcohol took
over his senses.
Mama Amezhinim was not happy with the situation in her home. Fifteen years of
marriage and they were still occupying a two-room apartment in the old family house that
leaked like basket whenever rain fell due to old age. Amezhinim's father inherited the
house from Amezhinim's grandfather. It was among the oldest in the village of Udobu.


The village was a suburb of Omake town. No one came into the town from the
south road without passing through this village and invariably, Amezhinims home.
Dog keeping was in vogue in the area. People kept dogs for diverse reasons in the
village of Udobu: one group kept them for hunting, another for security purpose, and to
yet another group, dogs were pets. It was becoming prestigious to own a dog. In order to
assuage these various yearnings, another group kept them for business. Among this group
was Mama Ununuma. This dealer was becoming so rich from this simple trade that other
dog sellers sprang up along the major roads and routes of the village. Puppies were sold
at the rate of five hundred naira.
If only my daddy can buy me a puppy, I will be happy. How I will love to show it
to my friends especially Chimaji! It will also boost the image of my family. Why is it that
I am the only one among my friends who doesnt own one? When I grow up, I will buy as
many dogs as I want: bull dogs, alsatians, hounds, spaniels; all the different kinds that our
Inter-science teacher taught us about. Just wait and see! I must show Chimaji yet, he
said to his mother.
I will never drink kaikai and Ogogoro and tombo and yes, beer. Never! I will
never be like my father! he said out loud, as he turned about in his bed.
Ame, please sleep my dear, his mother said to him. I know you will make us
proud.
For the first time, he had asked his father for a puppy he desired to keep as a pet.
He had reminded him to buy it from Mama Ununuma, the dog seller, whose store was
adjacent to his fathers work place. He had chosen this particular date because his fathers
payday was a few days away. So on this Thursday evening, being his fathers payday,
Amazhinim had prepared to receive his puppy from his father but-alas, he had returned
empty-handed again. The childs heart had sunk like a piece of metal in water. Since
Amazhinim could not sleep that Thursday night, he came out into the sitting room where
his father was singing drunkenly and confronted him again.
Daddy, you have failed me again today! Why? What have I done to you to suffer
this? he cried. Look at the cage I have prepared to keep the puppy in. Tomorrow is
Friday and I want to take it to school and play with it like Chimaji and all my friends do.
Oh, ma bo-oy. Tomorrow, I will buy you the dag, he drawled drunkenly. As the
boy was poised for further altercation, his father slumped slowly onto the floor.

Ineh! Come o, Daddy has fallen down again, he shouted to arouse his mother
from her slumber, inside the bedroom.
Leave him alone there! his mother shouted from the bedroom.
No Mummy. Let us carry him into his bed, he cried as he dragged him toward
the bedroom. Just then a rooster crowed; it was 3.00am.
The next morning, Amezhinim wrote a note on a piece of paper and planted it
inside the pocket of the faded jumper his father always wore to the office. This jumper
had seen countless Christmas seasons. He knew his father would wear it to work that day.


His father trudged home from work; he searched his pocket to ensure that the
money, which he would use for the last minute swing of alcohol, was there. He found the
piece of note. At first, he thought he had been given as change a piece of paper for a
genuine currency note.
Papa Ame, e le o! a boy called out to him from across the road.
How a ya my bo-oy ? he responded, as he continued to stretch out the note in his
palm. Through blurred vision, benumbed by hangover, he read the simple message:
Daddy, please dont forget my puppy today. Ame.
Oh ma booy, 1 will not forget it tuday, he smiled wanely to himself. With this
resolution, he made almost a three hundred and sixty degree turn, back to Mama
Ununuma, the dog sellers store. He purchased a beautiful puppy for his dear son. He also
requested a tag around its neck with this inscription: Puppy Horsky, a precious gift to
my son, Ame: Best of love, from Daddy.
With eager steps, he trudged home in his bid to show his son the precious gift he
had bought for him. As he marched, homeward bound, he came by Madam Beer Bar, he
hesitated a shade too long and moved on, hesitated again and weighed the matter in his
soaked mind. Should he take a last swing of alcohol, just for the road? He turned and
went in, leaving the dog in its cage on the veranda of the liquor hall. The presence of the
bar made this section of the town bubble with activity every evening. The bar, as usual,
was full, as customers took up almost all the tables. There were about twelve men and
women in number. Papa Ame squeezed himself into a chair at a table in the centre of the
room. The noise in the room was at its cacophonous peak. Some people were dancing
while others were singing, laughing and talking at the top of their voices. The light was
dim blending with the din of the inn, testifying to a large extent, to the hopelessness of
the habitual alcohol consumers.
Hey Grace, look who we have here! Sola called out to her fellow waitress.
A ha-a, it therefore means we go sell more beer this evening, Grace replied,
giving her colleague a conspiratory wink.
Sola, go and serve Papa Ame drink. You know his kind of drink. Anytime you
see this man here you must servam drink without delay. He is our important customer. If
you pursuam, I will deal with you. You hear me so? the proprietress called out the
warnings to one of her female attendants.
Madam Bee-yah, give eberybody one one bottle of stout, Papa Ame shouted to
the proprietress.
Baba o, we hail o, the other customers chorused in unison as they anticipated
free drink from the generous poor man.


While he was having a good time inside the bar, an army of boys that was playing
football in the vicinity of the bar noticed the cage and rushed there to inspect it. Chimaji,
the leader of the children told them that Papa Amezhinim must have bought the puppy for
Amezbinim as a result of the quarrel with him some days earlier. He then coaxed his
colleagues to replace the dog with a piglet from his fathers sty, which was nearby. At
least this will ridicule him before his son, Amezhinim. Moreover, it will teach him a bitter
lesson-never to leave precious items around carelessly for a glass of kaikai or tombo. His
words drew malicious laughter from the children. They could not help but remove the
puppy, and substituted it with a piglet.
Papa me, eagerly staggered out of the liquor chamber, carried the cage and went
home.
Ame ma boy, he called out laughingly cam and take your poppy, plis.
Daady, Daaddy Oyo, yo, yoo! Daaddy, Daaddy Oyo, yo, yoo!. Ele o! Welcome
Daaddy. Tank you, Daddy for buying me the puppy, Amezhinim sang. His happiness
knew no bounds, as he took to wings and flung himself at his father, hastily collected the
cage from him and opened it. What he saw drained the joy out of his heart.
Daddy, oh Daddy! I requested for a puppy but you have bought me a piglet. Why,
Daddy why? he wailed. Papa Amezhinim was jostled to sobriety as the force of the
childs emotion laden accusation hit him like a tornado.
What! I bought a pooppy for you. Look at the receipt. It says a pooppy and not a
pig. Moreover, I saw it was a pooppy and not a piglet.
Daddy, you must have been very drunk to mistake a pig for a dog, Amezhinim
lamented at his fathers feet. Papa Ame was confused as to how a dog could
metamorphose into a pig.

You should be ashamed of yourself for being unable to know the difference
between a dog and a pig, Mama Amezhinim fired at her husband.
Angrily he carried the cage and rushed back to the dog seller. He got to the bar
again and decided to take a glass of beer to steel his nerves as the matter before him
demanded alcohol to fathom the reality surrounding the mystery. Again, he kept the cage
in the courtyard and went in for a glass of beer. Instantly, the children reappeared and
replaced the puppy inside its cage and scooped up their piglet.
Presently, Papa Ame resurfaced, for he could not dare waste time anymore
because a rare mystery required urgent action to unravel. He collected the cage and
rushed to Mama Ununuma with noisy complaint.
Mama Dog seller, he shouted, I dont know what I have done to you. I bought a
pooppy from you. Why did you give me a pig? he accused her.
Papa Ame, I did not give you a pig but a dog, she defended herself.
Ok, take a look. The argument in defense of a man with hernia is to undress him
for all to see and assess, he raved.
E-hem! the onlookers thundered in agreement.
Lo, when the crowd that gathered around opened the cage, it was the puppy with
the tag that sat snugly in a corner, wagging its smallish tail at the prospect of release from
its temporal prison.
Is this a pig? Answer me. Is this not the small dog I sold to you? the dog seller
shouted at him.
Wonders shall never end! This man cannot tell a dog from a pig, a member of
the crowd observed.
It is kaikai wey makam confuse like dat. E don drink sotay ino fit no the
difference between dog and pig, another shouted hilariously at the crowd to the shame of
the alcohol consumer. He jerked up the cage and swayed home in disgrace like a rain-
beaten masquerade, as the crowd jeered and booed at him.
When he got to the liquor place, he closed his eyes and ears and passed. He walked
and ran with alertness. He got home just as Amezhinim came out falteringly, halting
every two steps, unsure whether it was a dog or the pig that inhabited the cage his father
was bringing him. Reluctantly, he collected the cage and opened its lid. Lo, puppy horsky
was sitting in it!
Wow, wow! It barked and wagged its smallish tail at Amezhinim who was
arrested by consternation and happiness at his fathers precious gift to him.

Mummy, come and see what daddy has bought for me, he called out to his
mother who tumbled out of the building on the double.
Where is it? she asked as she raced toward father and son, adjusting her lappa in
the process.
Watch out! See that block, Mama Ame. Look out, you will fall, Papa
Amezhinim cautioned her.
It doesnt matter, she replied in exhilaration.
Amezhinim lifted the puppy out of the cage and held it up, cleared his throat and
cautioned it.
Now, look ya and listen to me puppy, if you want to be a dog, be a dog; and if
you want to be a pig, be a pig!
From today onward, I will never touch or taste alcohol, Papa Amezhinim
vowed.
Daddy, what of kaikai ?
I will not touch anymore.
And tombo, my dear husband?
No! No way!
Daddy, what of ogogoro?
Never again, my son!
Maybe a small glass of beer, Papa Ame?
No way, no more!
Wow! Wow! Wow! The Puppy barked, as if giving its approval to the
resolution.
You are my sweet Daddy! the child exclaimed in happiness and together they
piled into their building. No one could tell who was the happiest of the quartet.

THE END























ANINTA


All that glitters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold
Gilded tombs do worms unfold;
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgement old; . .

Williams Shakespeare
Merchant of Venice

Mama, Mama, Uyodhu called her mother from the kitchen, tonight you will tell
us the story which you've been promising us for a long time. When her mother did not
respond, she pressed her further. Mama, I hope this evening will pass by without you
telling us the story. Will it?
No, it will not, Uyodhus mother, affirmed.
Uyodhus siblings brightened up at the prospect of hearing the all- important story
that their mother had been evading to narrate; so the little ones doubled up their efforts of
tidying up their domestic chores.
It was around eight in the evening, when nature around the village was preparing
to sleep and humans were either preparing or eating their supper. Some families were
already telling stories to their children around bonfire in the open space of their
compounds.
Storytelling was the major pastime in this rural community. Parents who failed to
tell stories to their children were considered not knowledgeable in the ways of their
people. It was important because it was one of the media to transfer the norms and values
of their people to the younger generations.
Today, my dear wife, Chief Egbe Moli said, you will tell the children the story.
They have endured enough. Havent they? he jokingly teased of his wife.
Yes, they have, my dear. Tonight they will hear it, Uyodhus mother replied.
Moreover, they are grown-up now, she concluded with an air of finality.

She had been keeping the story from the children for a long time. It was not
possible to conceal it anymore. So the family of Chief Egbe Moli gathered around the log
fire in the compound. The householder sat on an easy chair, his long legs stretched out in
front of him and his arms folded across his chest.
Adanta, Uyodhus mother sat on a low kitchen stool and stretched out her palms to
be warmed by the fire, while the children ranged themselves around the fire with eager
expectation written over their youthful faces.
Other children played hide-and-seek at the nearby playground. The older girls
practised new dance steps, which they would present on the Maidens day of the Hunting
festival. While young men lurked about in darkened corners in their nocturnal amorous
adventures. Fowls, crickets and other lower creatures sang all kinds of lullaby. The
community was taken over by a cacophonous symphony, which formed a natural
symbiosis that was an undisputed trademark of any rural community like Oshi village.
The natural choral rhythm was broken by the staccato created by the sound of pestle
against mortar as some families, noted for late night supper, pounded their foofoo.
The crescent moon, which rose stealthily over the great Ube tree that stood
between river Uteke and Ika farmland also seemed to add its presence to the
conduciveness of the evening.
Chief Egbe Molis compound was situated in the heart of Oshi village. The
community was known for its simplicity and industry. The people were renowned
farmers, hunters and fishermen so foodstuffs were always plentiful in their seasons. New
Yam and Hunting Festivals were the major occasions that everyone looked forward to.
Dances and tale-telling formed the highest points of these festivals so the preparations for
these great occasions were daily affairs. Evening by evening, these nocturnal conferences
would convene till late unless the rains disrupted them.
At last the little family that gathered by the fire waited attentively.
E-E-he-e, Uyodhus mother made the cautionary call to the little gathering.
Iyia, the children responded and beamed hopefully around. But their father
remained woodenly in his chair. If not for the slow mechanical rocking of his legs, one
would have mistaken him for a statue. Uyodhu adjusted the hem of her skirt, folding it
delicately into her laps. Her mothers face beamed beautifully as it glowed in the
flickering flame of the log fire.
Adanta was the belle of Olodhi village in her early days before she married Chief
Egbe Moli. Uyodhu was a chip off the old block, as she resembled her mother closely.
The difference between them was age; while the older one was thirty-eight years, Uyodhu
was eighteen. If it were not for the gap in their age, one would be tempted to believe that
they were sisters.
'Once upon a time, Uyodhus mother started, in the village of Olodhi Okoma,
there was a beautiful young woman called Aninta.'
Mama, that is your village, isnt it? Uyodhu asked her mother in bewilderment.
Yes, it is. The story I'm about to tell you is not a fairy tale about tortoise and
rabbit but almost a real life one, she answered her daughter. 'There was no beautiful
woman like her in the village. She was the toast on every ones lips and all loved her. She
was as fair and gentle as the early morning sun and as innocent looking as the sunflower,
though she was not as intelligent as she was beautiful. Another thing was that she was a
shade too proud for the liking of all.'
'By the time she was nineteen, almost ten suitors had sought her hand in marriage
but she rejected them all as she found a short-coming with each successive one. Her name
became synonymous with pride and defiance. The suitors: young men, old men, rich men,
and honourable men, poor men, handsome men and ugly men: all had come, but Aninta
could not find one good enough. Her parents were visibly worried about her stance; more
so as they could not influence her decision otherwise.' She paused for breath.
Why did Aninta reject every one of them? Uyodhu asked with childish anger
registering on her beautiful face.
My daughter, her mother replied, 'you are growing older and soon, you will
understand why. You see she was waiting for 'Mr. Right' or 'Mr. Perfect' for she wanted
the best without an iota of blemish,' she explained.
'When everybody had lost hope, Marshall returned from Port Harcourt for the
Christmas holidays. At twenty-six, he had established himself as the best in the clan. He
had a fleet of cars and streets of palatial-styled houses-in the village as well as in Port
Harcourt where he resided,' Uyodhus mother continued.
'He also floated a scholarship programme that catered for the underprivileged
persons in the clan. During the festival seasons, he would bring in pick-up load of bags of
rice and vegetable oil and distribute them to all in the community. This way, he endeared
himself to the hearts of everyone, as his magnanimity knew no bounds.' The fire
crackled and cackled as Uyodhus younger brother, Udo, stirred it and added more twigs
to it.
Yes Mama, the children chorused, we are listening. What happened next? they
asked in unison.
Patience. Please, patience, she cautioned them.

'Everybody knew him as an importer of rice from ula igbeke. He was therefore
the dreamed ideal husband for the best young woman, especially as he neither smoked
nor consumed alcoholic beverages in public places. He was the undisputed model whom
every parent yearned for his/her child to emulate-an epitome of success!'
'It was not surprising when Marshalls parents visited Anintas parents seeking
Anintas hand in marriage for their son.' "
Did she agree this time? Ebe, Uyodhus immediate younger sister hastily asked.
'Yes, Uyodhu's mother replied, Readily, Aninta accepted the marriage
proposal. It was beautiful match and both parents could not wish for anything more than
this angelic union.'
What a match, Mama! Uyodhu exclaimed.
Yes, so everybody thought then, my daughter, Uyodhus father interjected
without warning and continued the slow mechanical motion of his legs.
Yes Mama, Mama, what happened next? Did they marry? Uyodhu fired at her
mother.
Thats the story, my daughter, Uyodhus mother replied. 'Two weeks later, the
marriage was consummated.'
Thank God! the children sighed with relief.
'Early in the New Year, she continued, the man and wife left for Port Harcourt.
They radiated peace and happiness and oozed generosity. In Port Harcourt, they resided
at Ubola Street in Uya Estate, a palace fit for a prince. All these added to Anintas sense
of security in life. She continually thought she had forever bidden goodbye to poverty.
Her sense of security was also heightened as her husband gave her a Toyota Corolla Car
as a bridal gift. She felt her wait and search had paid off at last. In fact, it was worth all
the trouble and names that trailed her.'
'A month later her husband commenced business and money rolled in again. But
the snag was that he would disappear for days or weeks only to reappear unexpectedly.
The attendant anxiety was swallowed up by the huge amount of money he would bring in.
One day, Marshall left for business as usually and did not return. Still she did not worry.
It was his usual method.'
But Mama, Uyodhu asked solemnly, what kind of marriage was it, that you
cannot find your husband when you need him?
E-hemm! It is money marriage, Sista, Uyodhu's siblings answered before her
mother could say a word.

Daddy, Uyodhu started, when I marry, I will like my husband to always he
around as you are. She glanced in her fathers direction.
Iyiama-a, her parents echoed in benediction.
Mama, mummy, the children shouted, please tell us what happened next.
'Aninta was worried when for three nights she could neither see nor hear from
her husband and there was no way for her to get in touch with his friends. So she spent
sleepless nights.' She paused, drawing in a lungful of air.
'On the morning of the fourth day, a team of policemen came to Anintas house
to find her.'
'Are you Mrs. Aninta Marshall?' the learn leader, a tall bullish-looking police
man asked her.
'Yes, I am,' Aninta replied as she shook with fear.
'Your husband was involved in an accident and wishes to see you. He is in the
hospital. Please come with us.'
'Chei! My God o! What!' she wailed with fright.
'Easy, maam,' the officer calmed her.
'How am I sure you are real policemen?'
'This is my service warrant card, maam.'
'Ok,' she admitted, even though she could not identify a fake card from a
genuine one, then she followed them.'After about one hour, they arrived at the station.


"A Divisional Police Headquarters was situated along Seaport Road in Port
Harcourt. The policemen at the Station were at alert since the arrest of some notorious
criminals. She was ushered into the office of the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) who
later took her to a private clinic across the road. She was about to protest when she caught
sight of her husband lying in a heap, in a pool of his own blood on the bare floor!'
E-w o oh ! Uyodhu exclaimed.
Jesus e e! the other children shouted.
Mmm, their father grunted, such is life. There are bad things under the sun and
this moon that is looking down upon us, my children.
'So?' the officers had enquired of her.'"


'Marshall, what are you doing here? she asked. But Marshall kept his lips tightly
sealed. She wailed uncontrollably. Marshall then made to rise but his right leg had
shattered and a broken femur had pierced through his stomach and ripped it open. His
innards had spilled out, yet he did not die.'
Thank God o! one of the children exclaimed.
'Officers!' Aninta shouted at the policemen, 'Why dont you give him medical
attention if he is an accident victim?' She was furious at the seeming callousness of the
policemen and the nurses.'"
'Your husband does not deserve to live because he is an ARMED ROBBER!'
Amu gini? the children exclaimed fearfully.
'SAmi wetin?,' Aninta had shouted at the police officer."
'Armed robber, madam,' the DCO answered her. 'Moreover he refused the bed
and medications reluctantly offered him. It seems he has resigned all hope, maam!' the
officer continued."
'Madam, your husband went for a robbery operation. They ambushed our men on
specie escort* on the highway flyover. They were five in number. There was a fierce
shootout and fortunately, our men overpowered them, got one arrested, while three of
them died instantly in the crossfire. A police constable died while another sustained
severe injury; he is in critical condition. It may interest you to know, that your husband is
the leader of this Hawk gang whom we had been looking for, for over two years now.
This is why we are maintaining maximum security around the station to forestall any
attempt of attack,' the officer paused for breath.
'When your husband saw that he did not stand a chance in the shootout,' the
police officer continued, 'he flapped up an umbrella and, using it like a parachute, sailed
down the flyover bridge, but the sergeant that led the team saw him and punctured the
umbrella; this made him crash down and break his legs which in turn pierced through his
stomach and spilled out his intestines as you can see. I shouldnt have told you all this
detail. I see that you did not know your husband intimately.'
'We would have killed him there but we are not murderers. Madam, the officer
defende. 'All the money he has amassed came from armed robbery.'
No,' Aninta argued, 'my husband is a rice importer and not a robber.'
'Yes, thats what he tells those who do not know him. He used that business as a
cover, the officer lectured her patiently.
'Oh, my Marshall, tell me it is not true. It is a lie,' she wept and wailed. 'Marshall
could not withstand the sight. He knew he had no hope of living anymore, as he would be
killed either by hanging or firing. He then drew out his intestines. Shouting in pain as he
did so, he suddenly confessed in croaking, defeated voice, 'I am an armed robber. I have
killed so many people and I have no regrets about it. I only pity you. I wanted to resign
after this operation. But well, thats the way the guyman crumbled. Aninta my wife, I
love you, goodbye.' He bit at his intestine, severing it into two and gasped as the throes
of death gripped him." Adanta paused for breath.


'Aninta fainted. When she woke up, she was in a bed in the hospital.' Uyodhu's
mother continued. 'A few hours later, Aninta returned to her home and found that
policemen had confiscated everything they had, except her personal belongings. That
same day, she boarded a bus back to her village. The news of Marshalls true self then hit
their community like a polluted tsunamic air. Aninta learnt the true meaning of the
saying, All that glitters is not gold. That is the story my children.'
Uyodhus mother finished her story, sobbing pitiably.
Mama! the children shouted, You are crying, Mama.
Why, Mama? Uyodhu pressed her further.
It is because she was the A-N-I-N-T-A in the story! Uyodhus father said biting
off the words one after another as if afraid to drive home their import. It was one year
after these unfortunate happenings that she changed her name from Aninta to Adanta.
This is the reason why she had been reluctant to tell the story. But now you are getting
older and very soon, suitors will be arriving at our doorsteps, seeking your hands in
marriage. Bear in mind that not everything that glitters is gold, some are mere useless
iron dross coated with gold on the exterior; so you must look properly before you leap.
By the time they packed their seats, the fire had died down, and the moon had also
gone to bed. Even noisy nature was silent, as if observing some minutes of silence in
honour of the solemn story.


THE END










GLOSSARY

ASP Assistant Superintendent of Police. It is the rank above that of
Inspector
Auzhi li oluka The future holds the better portion.
Corprito A corrupt version of Corporal. An informal form of address by the
lower officers to close members of the corporal rank
CPL Corporal is the rank below that of Sergeant.
CRO Charge-room Officer.
DCB Divisional Crime Branch
DCO Divisional Crime Officer
DPO Divisional Police Officer
DS Desk Sergeant. The non-commissioned officer in charge of the
charge-room
E-ehe-e It is a cautionary word made by the storyteller to draw attention
before he starts his story, in Ekpeye language, an ethnic group in
Rivers State, Nigeria.
IPO Investigating Police Officer
Iyia It is the response given to the cautionary word, E e he e. When
this response is heard, it is a way of informing the storyteller to
proceed, that the attention he sought has been granted.
Iyiama-a This is a form of affirmation or benediction in answer to
supplication. It is an Ekpeye language version of Amen or so be
it.
NCO Non-Commissioned Officer: that is the ranks of corporal and
sergeant.
SERGEY A corrupt version of sergeant, a slang used by junior police offices in
addressing an intimate member of the sergeant rank.
SCID State Criminal Investigation Department.
SGT Sergeant.
SITOS Special Investigation and Tactical Operations Squad
SPECIE ESCORT Evacuation of money under police escort from one place to the bank
or from one bank to anther destination.
ULA IGBEKE Overseas. Foreign Country.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Enyida holds a BA degree in English Studies, from University of Port Harcourt,
Nigeria. He is an old boy of Government Secondary School Borokiri, Port Harcourt,
Nigeria. He was born about thirty-nine years ago in Okporowo village Ahoada East LGA,
Rivers State; Where he attended primary school.
He enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force 19 years ago and has risen to the rank of
Inspector. He has served in various capacities such as patrolman; beat duty officer, crime
investigator as well as finance officer in Borokiri, Ahoada, Mini Okoro and Elekahia
Divisions, all in Rivers State, Nigeria. Hostage is his first literary work. Others to be
published soon are:
*Tentacles of Terror
*Taming the Bull
* Im not Guilty.