Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Trajectory Episode 5

Dele was a publicist’s worst nightmare,  he had a bad image. Most people who knew him simply regarded him as a proud young man benefiting from the largesse left behind by his illustrious father. And they weren’t particularly wrong. He was truly and indeed a spoilt, lazy, and proud personality. My headache was how to successfully re-brand him. I needed to create a new image. I had to create a new personality. Fortunately, he had friends in high places. His late dad’s friends and associates were ready to stand by him, not really for him but for his dad. Again, it reminded me the role of a father can never be over-emphasised. Leaving a good legacy for our children is a must but there is also the need to teach them how to build legacies on their own.

Dele was practically bad at most things, he didn’t have much business or entrepreneurial skills and though he was in charge of his dad’s many business empires on paper, he only shows up at the office out of necessity, he does nothing save to sign documents and sit at board meetings where his contribution is worth only the seat on which his buttocks rested.

Privately, I told myself I can never vote such a man, I mean he knows nothing yet he wants to speak on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden. But my job was to create a brand capable of winning elections and that I did. We hired a professional photographer and our first point of call was the popular Lagos BRT.  It was hell trying to make Dele agree to work with the concept, but as always, Modupe came to my rescue.

“It makes no sense, why will I board a BRT?

“Because the people need to see you as one of them; that you understand what they are going through and you have solutions. People don’t easily warm to someone who intimidates them. It’s why the poor man finds it difficult sustaining a conversation with a rich man. He is intimidated by the man’s wealth. But a rich man with enough effort can come down to the level of the poor man and relate well”

“I don’t care dude. My campaign team say I don’t have to do it”

“That’s because they are rich idiots like you” I said irritated. He gave me a look that said I can destroy you in a second but I wasn’t about to back down.

“Are you out of your mind? Turning to Modupe, he said “really who is this guy? I am not doing that shit and that’s it”

Modupe who had been quietly observing us as we quibbled back and forth stood up and firmly said “Yes you are going to do it okay? You have to listen to him”

She then turned to me and said “Etuhu, can you please excuse us for a few seconds?

“Sure” I said as I walked out of the room. I opened the door and shut it after me but rather than move away, I stayed by the door and listened to the conversation. I needed to have an idea what was been discussed.

“What is all that crap Dupe, I don’t need you embarrassing me in front of some wimp” I cringed at the language. What a complete joke.

“What is wrong with you? I heard Modupe reply. “The reason we brought him was because the idiots you gathered as a campaign team have made absolutely no success in the last three months. You are a spoilt brat and we needed someone who can rub it in your face and teach you humility. Etuhu is that guy”

“Oh really? Why don’t you date him then?

“Come on, don’t be a baby. You cannot continue acting like a ten year old. What has dating him got to do with this? She said and I detected frustration in her voice.

“I am repeating it again, I am not doing that shit” I heard his footstep approaching the door, he was going to walk out on her, I made moves to run but Modupe’s reply stopped me. I heard her say “If you walk out of that door, its over between us” It made the same effect on Dele as the footsteps stopped abruptly.

“What is that supposed to mean? Dele said in an emotional laden voice. He was still close to the door. I knew I needed to be careful, so I walked away from the door. I wished I could hear the next part of the conversation, wisdom however demanded that I left.

__________

When I was recalled, Dele was sitting on the sofa like a subdued lion and I couldn’t help but wonder how the conversation ended. I really needed to understand the type of relationship between them.

“Thanks for your patience Etuhu; we will do the BRT strategy so just give us the concept”

“That’s great” so I gave them a brief of the plan.  “I have hired a few of my social media friends who would retweet it live. we will use the hash tag #DeleIsOneOfUs and . He would dress in casual jeans and polo. He would interact with the people on the BRT and ask them what they think should be the focus of his agenda if he is elected. Basically, what we are trying to show is that Dele is humble and down to earth”

________

Whatever Modupe told Dele worked like magic. He was calmer and unusually gentle as I taught him for two days what he needed to do for Project BRT. He was a good learner and grabbed issues at once. I rarely had to repeat myself. I was so impressed with his conduct.

The campaign worked. Dele interacted with a pregnant woman. He sat beside her and asked how comfortable it was for her to board the Bus, he spoke to a school boy and gave him a box of chocolate. He laughed and made jokes with others on the bus. At a point there were too many people coming into the Bus making it all hot and smelly but his altitude was on point. He didn’t give away his frustration even though I knew he must have been at a point.

Our photographer did a good job with the images produced; they really projected what I had in mind.

Before we alighted from the bus, we made sure everyone on board was at N3,000 richer. That was the idea of the Campaign team and it also made sense. Money dictates a whole in our political arena.

For two hours we had twitter on lock down. #DeleIsOneOfUs trended for days. we got people talking and that is the first step in re-branding: change the conversation.

It was a great strategy and I was happy at the result.

However, crisis soon dialled the social media team and the entire Dele4Rep Campaign Organisation, totally knocking us off our perch….

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Trajectory Episode 4

The events of the previous day were baffling but it was indeed very true. I once read a story ‘Lagos….. And my polythene bag’. It was very popular on Twitter at the time. The story centred on a young unemployed man who came into Lagos with only a polythene bag, he squatted with a friend in Lagos, walked the entire length of the city scouting for a job. He found none. With nothing to do, he took solace in social media, Facebook and Twitter and within a short time, he had gathered a strong followership. He was soon contacted by a Governorship aspirant to head his social media team, after a massive social media blast and rigorous campaigns, victory was achieved. He became a big boy and got hooked up with one of the most beautiful girls in the city. The story gave me hope until the writer twisted it. The guy was actually dreaming while on the long journey to Lagos. He discovered he just arrived in Lagos with his polythene bag still as his only possession.

That story was annoying but the reality jolted me, how many come into Lagos everyday with big dreams of becoming rich but end up becoming wretched, returning to their villages worse than when they left. Infact, many don’t ever return to their village because of the shame that accompanies it. My story is different though, I had always been in Lagos and I have parents who can continue to feed and clothe me if I allow them to but I had chosen not to let that happen. They were irritated when I left home without having a steady source of income. They felt I should stay at home until I found a well-paying job but I didn’t want any of that; to be pampered by my parents when people of my age are busy influencing the world, no.

So I got a fat cheque from Modupe and later that very evening she called that she was sending a driver to pick me up to meet her dad. I went with the Driver. The house was gigantic. I was kept gaping around like someone from Olorunda village. Once in a while, you get to see real wealth and you know you don’t know anything about it. Merely living in this kind of environment, even as a servant, would change one’s worldview. I am sure the servants consume what some rich men can never dream of eating.

Anyway, I met her dad. He was such a simple man; you would think that someone that wealthy would be sophisticated. He wasn’t. There is a sickness that seems to plague most of the rich men in Nigeria, an abundance of wealth causes them to lose their ‘humanity’, and they metamorphose into Zeus; while every other person becomes grasshoppers in their eyes. Chief Alabi remained human and humane.  I met him watching a replay of an Arsenal match.

“Good evening sir”

“Etuhu, Mr Twitter” he said laughing.

“Interesting, your daughter told me you follow me on Twitter. That’s amazing sir. Really amazing”

“You know, I intentionally didn’t use my name because I want to be on a low key on the platform since my companies have verified accounts and are doing well”

“Hmm”

“You think otherwise?

“Yes Sir, many of the World’s top business moguls and influencers have verified accounts and they manage it personally.  Even the Pope is on Twitter”

“Yeah that’s true. Daily Mail reports that his tweets are retweeted 17,000 times. I followed the 2014 Twiplomacy report. Obama came second with 14,000 retweets. Ok I will open a new account. You will help manage it though. I won’t always have time for it. So you’ve got yourself a new job”

“Thank you sir, but I doubt if that’s the main though”

“It’s definitely not. Modupe’s boyfriend is running for a seat in the House of Representatives and I want you to create and manage a personality boosting account for him on all social networks” he said.

————————————————–

So I got engaged to promote a guy of my own age. The dude was a spoilt brat. His dad and Modupe’s were friends. Grew up, went to school and began a business partnership together. He lost his dad while he was studying at the University of Pennsylvania. I deduced that the relationship between Deji Obadele and Modupe was arranged. Of course, Chief didn’t say it that way but erm, I wasn’t born yesterday. I saw them together that evening and my intuition told me something was wrong but that was none of my business. We sat down and discussed strategy and formations and I asked him to mail me details of his life.

“Why don’t I just say to you now and you develop it” He said like the brat he was.

I don’t like this guy”. Maybe I should walk away from the deal; after all, politics has never been my thing. However, life is not always about what we like. So I insisted that we work on my terms.

“We’ll send it to you” Modupe offered.

“Ok, thanks Ma’am. I will look at it and then work begins tomorrow. What should be priority please? I mean I am working for you, for Chief and for Deji”

“Deji takes precedence” Chief said.

“Alright, I will have to close my other engagements and dedicate my time to the Alabi’s social media business” that made everyone laugh. Modupe has such charming laughter.

That night, Chief wrote me another jaw-dropping cheque. My fortunes just got bigger. As I entered the car to be driven back to my apartment, I heard Chief asking Modupe why her one of her drivers was taking me home. “He doesn’t have a car” she whispered to him.

“Etuhu” he called.

“Yes sir”

“Someone will bring you a new car tomorrow ok?

_________________

Looking at the ocean as I was being driven home, I could not believe my luck. Politics brought me so much in 24 hours. Who would have believed that? Shopping for work materials is the first agenda tomorrow. _________________

My shopping list: generator, air-conditioner, printer, an IPhone, scanner, original beats by Dre, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, Microsoft surface pro 3, Samsung K zoom camera, three new suits, ten H&C shirts (my favourite designer), fridge, yes fridge, I will be sitting by the laptop all day, come on, a chilled drink every hour is not a bad idea. And off course plenty foodies. I was finally able to richly tip Mama Ada. It had always been on my mind, but my pocket didn’t help. I gave her N50,000. She danced like one who just received a million dollars. I told her to vote for Deji. Having just received N50,000, she had no choice. She didn’t even know who Deji, I told her his posters will soon be everywhere. Work had started after all. I could do some offline influencing.

__________________________

I tweeted “get your PVC, vote Deji Obadele”

Immediately I saw

@Etuhu who be Deji?

@Etuhu, when you start to dey tweet political stuffs?

Na lie!!! @Etuhu wants us to vote a certain Deji. Who be?

Indeed work had started, I smiled as I settled down to reply them one after the other, with evergreen song Öta mi deyin leyin mi by Ebenezer Obey music ringing loud in my ears.

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Trajectory Episode 3

In that instant, my mind attempted to conjure up why her dad will require the services of a blogger, from my research her dad was one of the top businessmen in the country. He has chains of businesses within and outside the Nigeria. His advertising agents probably rake in millions of naira annually for their services, so why would he require the services of a bloody blogger with some followers on Facebook and Twitter unless of course he is……

“Yes and he asked specifically for you”

“That’s impossible, does he even know me?

She smiled. So beautiful!  My brain registered again. “You underrate yourself my dear, you really do. Daddy is on Twitter and because you tweet for corporate organisations, he knows you. One lesson, in life you don’t know who is watching you”

I was stunned but still didn’t believe her; it was difficult for my mind to picture a multi-millionaire following my work on social media. I would have known haba!  It’s not true. A big man following you and you won’t know?  His account would definitely be verified and I always check out the profile of verified users who follow me. I have influential business men following me and retweeting me though none of them even come close to Chief Alabi and that’s because I did one work or the other for them for some ‘chicken change’. Most of them refused to even pay believing that retweeting me should be sufficient for my effort. What a bunch of losers.

If Chief Alabi was following me, I would have known.  But again he might be using an unverified pseudo handle; I know a lot of men of high standing in the society who are on twitter. They stalk timelines in search of things with which they could freeze or fry other users. Once I had helped uncover a tyrannical University Vice-Chancellor who uses his students’ tweet as grounds for instigating disciplinary actions against his students. The students kept wondering who the ‘Judas’ among them was, until we found out it was a handle used by the VC. He would often join the hashtag #VCmustgo and send out tweets receiving thousands of retweets from the tired and frustrated students. Such is the nature of things on Twitosphere.

“What are you thinking about” she must have been studying me as I quietly reflected.

“Does he have a pseudo account?

“Something like that”

“What’s the handle?

“Come on, you know I cannot tell you except you agree to work with him”

“Who is he spying on?

“Oh Etuhu, you aren’t new to this are you? He has used it to conduct some one or two opinion polls. Twitter has become like a market place for young Nigerians. It has different type of people with different idiosyncrasies and differing opinions”

“Why are you speaking English Lady? I tried to lighten things up; it was a failed attempt as I noticed I was beginning to crawl under her skin. I was unnecessarily getting too familiar. “I should stop questioning you; what does he really need me for?

“You will have to hear it from the horse’s mouth so if you are interested I can set up a meet. What do you say?

“That’s fine with me?

“Great. I will get back to you” she said. “Denis” she called out to a waiter. It was obvious she was a frequent customer from the way he rushed down to our table.

“Yes Ma’am”

“Please attend to my friend here, bill is on me” turning to me she said “Order whatever you want ok, I have to leave now if you don’t mind”

“Its fine, we will see later”

“Meanwhile I expect to see some work this evening”

“Definitely, watch my handle tonight. You will be wowed”

And she walks beautifully too, my brain registered as I kept my eyes on her, watching her walk away.

“Etuhu, the twitter Lord” someone’s voice brought me back to reality. I noticed it was Denis the waiter. The look on my face must have told him I was lost. “Haba, half the people behind those phone and Ipad buttons have seen one or two pictures of the famous Etuhu now. Don’t look so surprised” he added.

“Denis, this Bros no dey always remember say Twitter na big thing for Nigeria now. People treat you like some celebrity even if you no get ‘shingbai’ for pocket”

“Na true sha, I was expecting you to come with a ride when Madam told me she was meeting with you. As I con see you dey waka dey sweat, my mind tell me say this guy na hustler. But I am sure the story is about to change”

“Why you talk so?

“You met Miss Modupe Alabi, that’s enough”

“Hmmnh”

“Anyways, I enjoy and respect the mind behind @Etuhu and it’s great to finally meet you. Remember the time you did a survey of the best restaurants on the Island and a certain @BabaDee disagreed?

“Yeah I cannot forget that convo, it was one of the best I had last year. BabaDee is Baba Denis?

We laughed and went over the incident again.  I was running a media blast for a newly renovated hotel, restaurant and bar at the time. Not many people had as much details and experiential knowledge on hoteling and hospitality business in Lagos as @BabaDee so I engaged him. He gave a ranking totally different from mine placing my client close to the bottom of the rung. I had to earn my fee so I strongly disagreed with him and we went on and on for days. No victor no vanquished.

“No wonder you just dey spill facts anyhow, na correct restaurant you dey work”

“Now you know” he replied laughing.

Can I ask you something?

“Sure!

“Is my Madam recruiting you?

“It depends on what you mean o”

“Abegi, we both understand, look I want to join your team. I need a break from serving tables and all. She pays us well o, so no be that……”

“Wait a minute” I cut in. “She owns this place?

He looked around and nodded “But people don’t know”

“Why you con tell me?

“You be correct person now”

“Oga no dey trust people anyhow like that o. Na Lagos you dey no be your bush village” I replied with another round of laughter.  “But seriously you said something about my team, what team?

“It’s a social media team, political media blast and all”

“What? I don’t do political shit now. How many times have you read tweets on politics emanating from my handle?

“Oga forget that thing o. Think about it. You can make your money from here. You have sweated enough for these corporate organisations. You no even get car, I have a car and planning on getting my wife one at the end of the month simply from serving the Alabi family and especially Madam. You are not doing anything illegal now. Oh come off it” he spoke like we had known each other forever. I took a long at him; somehow I felt I could trust him, I felt I could trust a complete stranger. Life can be funny though.

“So is Chief Alabi running for Governor or something? I asked.

“Not really”

 

to be continued….

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Trajectory Episode 2

 

Twenty minutes later I was done with the final draft of my proposal. I dragged myself into my bathroom; I live in a ‘self-contained’ apartment with an adjoining bath and a kitchenette. The apartment is a hell-hole, a tiny window serves as the only source of ventilation and even that is further inhibited by a massive fence separating my compound from the next. My window is a few inches away from the fence making ventilation extremely difficult. I turned on the tap; as usual it was not running. Disgusted, I rushed outside and drew a bucket of water from the Well within the compound. The harmattan was strong; I would have been too lazy to take a cold bath but not today.

__________________________

Some minutes later, I came out of my compound dressed in my nicest shirt.

“Oga Etuhu” I heard someone shout, of course I knew the voice only that I was not in the mood so I ignored it. Increasing my pace, I expected her to get the message and let me be. She didn’t “Oga Etuhu! Oga Etuhu!!

“Haa, Mama Ada, good afternoon. How business, abeg we go talk later, I get appointment and I don late”

“shey you no wan answer me before ni, I con dey shout dey shout” she sputtered. How anybody with such low income could ever think of having six children has never stopped to amaze me. I asked her once why and how she has so many kids, she replied that children are from God so provisions for their sustenance will be made by the Almighty. Her Husband was a cobbler while she sold some local munchies. Roasted plantain and yam, roasted corn or fried beans cake depending on the season. There must be some level of restriction on child bearing or perhaps we should adopt the Chinese policy though extreme, there are too many Madam Ada in the country. I thought.

“No vex Mama Ada Ada’ I patronised her, she smiled, she couldn’t be older than my immediate elder sister yet she already had six and still counting. I couldn’t determine if the bulge in her tummy was another baby or excessive imbalanced diet.

“Na one question I wan ask you o, the question dey important gan. Who you think make I vote for for this election wey dey come?

I had to stop myself from hissing. “Which kain life be this now, of all things na election this woman dey delay for” I thought in pidgin, it was clear she really wanted my opinion on the matter. I looked at my wristwatch and my disgust heightened but I pushed it back. Politics had never been my thing but this woman was waiting for an answer.

“Mama Ada, look at your children and ask yourself which one of them go make their future bright” I gave a non-committal answer in bad pidgin.

She looked at me like an idiot “Oga Etuhu I no know na, na you go school” she said obviously frustrated

“Ok, make I quickly go see the person wey I wan see first and we go talk for evening” I didn’t wait for an answer, I simply dashed off.

“No forget o, abeg I wan vote for the right person. I don collect my peefeecee ehn. Even sef na one full day I spend dey wait for am before dem finally give me, no forget o” she screamed.

“I no go forget” I screamed back

By the time I got to the Bus stop, my wristwatch told me the conversation with Mama Ada had set me thirty minutes behind schedule; I quietly prayed for light traffic. There was no available BRT, though it was the better option I couldn’t wait for another ten minutes so I took one of the yellow buses. The bus conductor grabbed a sachet of Chelsea dry gin from a road side seller, gulped it, then banged the bus to indicate to the Driver he could proceed.

“CMS one person, CMS” he shouted as the bus took off. “abeg I no wan competition for N1,000 o, make una give me your N200 change”

“Omo na 1k I get for here o, you no talk say you no get change before we enter na” one heavily perfumed girl beside me replied. Whatever cologne she was wearing would have been nice save that it was too much, I was choking. I looked at the closest window to me and it was wide open.

“Shey your brain no tell you say make you hold change ni” the conductor reacted.

The girl immediately went berserk. “Na God go punish you, punish your papa. Punish your mama, punish all your family. Stupid man” she shouted boxing the air as she did.

“I go slap you o, ma lo ro pe mogbadun o, mi o gbadun at all” he returned.

“Come slap me, na Kirikiri you go sleep this night, if na your Mama born you, con try am”

“I know una type, hustler” he hissed.

“Yes I be hustler and I get boys wey go put you for jail”

“Na lie, why you dey enter bus? You be poor hustler. Cheap olosho” He won’t back down.

People tried to calm her, she refused. The verbal word would continue for half of the journey. Then at a point, she said “I don’t blame you, I blame the government. Idiots like you should have been deported from Lagos like your brothers who got deported about a year ago”. This was the first time she said a complete statement in English and I was impressed. I must have assumed she wasn’t educated.

I opened Twitter on my phone.

“Crazy day already and I wish you were in this bus to watch this free Nollywood” I tweeted. Within five minutes, nineteen followers had retweeted it. I smiled, benefit of being a twitter Overlord.

I really wanted to pay attention to the conversation but I soon lost interest.

I had thirty minutes.

______________________

By the time I located the Mackles, I was forty five minutes late. I looked round the restaurant and spotted her at a corner. It was as I expected, she was beautiful.

“Hi Modupe”

“Etuhu, you are late” she said but I didn’t detect any hint of accusation in her voice.

“I apologise, I was caught up in traffic” I dropped the much abused Lagos excuse.

“It’s fine ok? By the way, how did you know it was me?

“Google”

“Oh. I forgot Google is your friend” we laughed.

We continued this way for a while and then got down to business. I handed my proposal to her and made my pitch on how to promote her business on the internet. She loved it and didn’t argue the figures. I could hardly believe my ears. Right there and then, she wrote me a cheque. The figures on it made me emotional.

“This is 75% of my fee?

“Yes I know. I believe you won’t dupe me or will you?”

“You can trust me”

“Etuhu, there is one last thing and I think it’s the most important. I want to hire you for something else”

“We haven’t even started one transaction, what is the other?

“My Dad needs a top blogger”

“Really?

 

to be continued….

 

Tosin is a Christ follower, Lawyer, Arsenal fan

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Trajectory Episode 1

UP Nepa!!!!

I heard the screams from my from the other side of eternity, sluggishly opened my eyes wondering whether the day will arrive when Nigerians will stop celebrating mediocrity in the power sector. With hazy eyes I checked my mobile phone which also serves as my time manager; 12.21pm. The celebration whenever power is restored irritates and irks me greatly. It makes me query the seriousness of our nationhood. We rejoice at a meagre eight hours of power supply in a 24 hour day; though I’m then reminded of another fact: the people of my fatherland are rated to be the happiest people on earth, we are simply a mirage wrapped in an enigma.

I struggled out of bed, it creaked as I did. Inherited it from my loving grandmother who insisted it must go with me the day I resolved to move out of Dad’s house. She had insisted I would always be her ‘baby’ and so long as my night is spent on it, we will never be disconnected. What nonsense, I had thought at the time but strangely it felt true. I fixed my laptop to the electronic socket and powered it on. After what seemed like forever, it came on. “You need another laptop” . I inserted a modem of one of the one of the internet service providers in the country and got into my mail box after almost fifteen minutes, querying again if simple things will  ever function as they should.

Two things are important for what I do, power and the internet. Unfortunately, both are embarrassingly non-existent. I often have to run my much maligned power generating set. There is no use saying that the Tiger TG650/750W generator capable of producing just 0.65 KVA of electricity earning it the famous nickname “I better pass my neighbour” had come to my rescue on several occasions. I do pity the wails from its engines each moment I begged it to save my soul from the shackles of the power holders whose happiness seems to emanate from frustrating us with thirty intermittent minutes of power. If the power holders release their stronghold for eight straight hours, it would be great but they love to make mockery of us so they release it for thirty minutes; sometimes even ten minutes and grab it back almost immediately.

It is difficult to exonerate these powers holders but we know it is really not their fault; it is why I pity them each time people pour heavy torrents of curses on them. The curses are heavy and generational in content. People don’t care that the power holders are ordinary citizens like themselves; people with needs, wants and longings; people with family and financial struggles.

he no go better for una family o, useless people” is the normal greeting after each episode of power holding.

But who can also blame the curse producers, they are made to pay exorbitantly for services they don’t ever enjoy and daily intimidated by the sound of their neighbour’s giant Mikano Generator. Service charge of N750 is fixed every month regardless of your usage. The privatisation of the power sector in the country though right, is yet to begin showing any impact.

I checked my inbox and saw several comments on my most recent piece and it brought a wry smile to my face. Who doesn’t want recognition especially in this age of on-line publicity where everybody is a self-acclaimed publicist? however, comments don’t necessarily translate into traffic, any blogger worth his onion will tell you that.

Scrolling down my mail box, I saw an email that made me sit up. I picked my phone immediately and dialled the phone number on the signature of the sender.

“Please let this be true” I muttered.

As I dialled the phone number, I was informed by my service providers that I had no credit.

Una be thief? What of the #400 I loaded in the morning?  I screamed, dialling the number again. This time, perhaps intimidated by my question the sweet pre-recorded voice kept quiet.

“Hello”

“Hello, Good afternoon. I’m Etuhu, I run Etus.com. I got your email” I made an effort at composure. I wasn’t sure it worked but at least I tried.

“Oh. Hi Etuhu. Yes I need a publicist and I believe you can do the job. Perhaps we can meet to discuss” the voice was captivating.

“A meeting will be great”

“Alright, let’s meet by 3pm at the Mackles on the Island. You know the place?

“Definitely” I lied.

“Ok, I will see you at 3pm. I expect to see your proposal”

“I’ll get it ready.”

Dropping the phone, my first impulse was to check my wallet to confirm if it had enough quid to transport me to the Island and back. I heaved a sigh of relief and swiftly opened Microsoft Word. The proposal I had was three months old, besides only my eyes read it. If a prospective client is going to look through it, it must be convincing or else …  With the aid of Google, I found the nature of her business and I could see why she needed the publicity. I had the impression she was wealthy or at least had someone with deep pockets around her and it made me wonder why she chose me. “I don’t care, I must get this one. Enough of free publicity for these bollocks who don’t ever pay” ….

 

to be continued.

 

Tosin is a Christ follower, Lawyer, Arsenal fan.

Ola Daniel: Nkechi The Pepper Seller

November 16, 2003, I was posted for my NYSC and Adetoun, my ‘angel-turned-sister’ as I fondly call her, wasn’t too happy it was to one of the States in the East. But I had no choice than to serve my father land. After 3 weeks, I was officially posted to a clinic at the outskirt of one of the remote villages in the State. Bachelor’s life wasn’t easy though, but I had to cope. I had to struggle between work, washing, sleeping, seeing friends, and annoyingly; cooking. ‘Cooking’- actually the times I didn’t eat at the canteen, I cooked Indomie. I really wished I had a lady that was helping out with the cooking. May be that was what brought me to my fate.

It was a sunny Saturday and I had nothing doing. I was chronically bored. It was in this loomy mood that I heard a lady hawked pepper. The catalyst that moved me off my bed is still to this moment a mystery. I swiftly dashed out and saw the lady; may be in her twenties. I was totally in awe of her beauty and the melodies in her specially trained hawking tones. I beckoned at her and then…..actually, I ignored the sprinkles of beards that were pointing at me, even though they were somewhat competitions with my ‘a-year-yet-not-grown’ beards and in my tribe, only a witch has beards. I muttered quietly “that’s my future wife, and that’s what matters to me”. I steered into her eyes for minutes and then still in the euphoria of my ‘wonderland’, ‘ignoringly’ she said “brother, why you dey look my eyes sote you con open your mouth yagada? You wan make fly enter am”

That broke the silence and startled my confidence for a while. I was left in a persistent vegetative state. Just lifeless! I had to change the ‘topic-to-be-discussed’ and sheepishly eulogised the redness of her pepper, as much as the tenacity she displayed while hawking it. She practically watched me displayed my unpremeditated ‘madness’, then she said “Oga, you wan buy pepper?!” I wittily said yes without thinking and I dipped my hand into my pockets and found nothing but a squeezed paper which I felt its hardness while my hand was still wandering about. I knew I had ridiculed myself in front of a village pepper seller.

She steered at me like a hunting ghost in search of its murderer and I had to cover up my stupidity by feigning complete ignorance of the disappearance of the money. I took the giant of faith and removed my hand with the hard paper but what I saw indeed saved my ass. It was a ₦500 note I had mistakenly washed with the trouser. It was nothing but a miracle. I confidently bought all the pepper on her tray and demanded to know where she resides to contact her whenever I need to get some pepper. She obligedly took me to her place and gave me her Econet number. My unnecessary constant visits at her place spoke loud my real intention and we could discuss any issue- and I mean any issue. It was always fun being around her and couple of times, her uncle who lived a distance away visited her. Guessed she must have explained to him how much I loved her and my marriage proposal. He suddenly became friendly and accommodating. They were fond of calling me “Docki” and she was given open permission to visit me at my rented apartment.

Oh, I forgot to tell you she didn’t complete her studies at the Technical School, but I loved her the way she was.

On one of the visits, she was engrossed with my mouth-watering-tongue-licking stories of the life I live in Lagos and my utmost intention “to marry a respectful Ibo girl”. Something led to something, we smooched and smooched and then……..and then nothing happened.

A month after our divinely orchestrated meeting, I completed my Youth Service program, then myself and Nkechi moved to Lagos, where I immediately got attached to a well-paying Hospital. Two months later, we walked down the aisle not minding the ‘beard’ and her being an orphan who incidentally was a dropped-out due to her paralysed perpetual fixation on the financial wheelchair.

The wedding was “not-too-elaborate-but-spicy” as one of my colleague once opined. Nkechi’s uncle was unable to come down to Lagos for the wedding on the basis that he was sick and “bla bla bla bla bla”. Anyways, that’s by-gone now.

Six months later, Nkechi was delivered of a baby girl. I thought the baby came to life earlier than expected but with no complications. Nkechi’s uncle sent a congratulatory letter and included the baby’s proposed name Nkem, “just to honour Nkechi’s deceased parents’ wish”; and we actually did respected their wish.

It’s been a decade now but we’ve been struggling with the persistent decay of Nkem’s health. August 14, 2010, she was officially diagnosed a Sickle-Cell Anaemia patient. I thought through the Report and couldn’t logically reconcile how the combination of ‘AS’ and an ‘AA’ could possibly result into a ‘SS’. I was an ‘AA’ until I read Nkem’s series of medical test results. “Was?”-no, I’m still.

That was our fate stormy fate until Nkem was at it again and the medical personnel requested a blood transfusion and a DNA test. Nkechi had to stay back at the Hospital and then I came home for some running-rounds. I took the test result home that night, shovelled in into our family medical file in my wife’s wardrobe and then the next thing I saw was…………………………….

Nkechi’s uncle’s medical test report during his ailment 10 years ago was part of the documents in the file. Never knew her uncle was a Rheumatic, and he didn’t look like one. I had to return the things I moved out of the wardrobe and then a paper flipped off.

It was a letter for Nkechi from her uncle congratulating her for the safe delivery of “our daughter”, how it wasn’t easy for him to let go of “my belle for that Docki boy” and how “he believe am say I be your uncle true true”.

I was stunned but I needed more confirmation. “Wait, what more confirmation?”, I inquired but since there was no one to answer my question, I rechecked the medical report belonging to her uncle, and then he was an ‘AA’. That explained Nkem’s mysterious genotype.

I felt like strangling myself and was unbecoming for some minutes. At least I felt like injecting Nkechi with a Mitochondrial toxin.

Don’t bother about the name, it’s a poison.

In the midst of the horrible ‘feelings’, Kelvin coughed in his room from his sleep, I rushed down there and then the thought streamed quietly in, “whose is Kelvin? Mine or Uncle’s?

 

Hamza Fetuga: Book Review of Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed”

I’ve heard a lot about Khaled’s books. From friends to goodreads.com and finally Quora, I was awash with tales of how great his books are, so I decided to give it a spin. I purchased two of his books, And the Mountain Echoed and the Kite Runner earlier this year; and I’m glad I did.

And the Mountains Echoed is an exceptional story about two Afghan siblings, Abdullah and Pari, who lost their mother when Pari was born, and had to survive under underwhelming conditions in a village called Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, a very hardworking man, would do anything, ranging from digging of wells, to menial work at construction sites, just to make ends meet for his family. He cared dearly for his children and made a good storyteller. Every night, his kids would look forward to hearing a bedtime story, often to get disappointed because he was usually tired from the day’s toil.

When Pari was two years old, she was sold to a wealthy family in the flourishing capital, Kabul for an arguably worthy cause. Her father wanted Pari to be educated and lacking nothing. Saboor’s brother-in-law, Nabi who worked as a chef at the Wahdati’s was responsible for brokering the deal. His intentions however were rather questionable.

Nabi was awestruck and in love with his boss’ sterile wife, Nila. The Wahdati’s marriage was strained and dysfunctional up until the moment Pari came in their lives. Prior to this time, Nila would spend several hours chatting with Nabi, who drove her around the city, and was fully aware of all her sexcapades. Pari’s arrival heralded a rekindling in the marriage life of the Wahdati’s and subsequently, Nabi lost all the attention he previously enjoyed and craved for.

Meanwhile, Abdullah had left his father’s village shortly after Pari’s departure as he didn’t feel whole anymore. The firm bond between his sister and him had been broken overnight — unannounced and unanticipated, and unfortunately, he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

As the story unfolds, Mr Wahdati fell terribly ill and suffered from paralysis. Nila couldn’t keep up with her nagging mother, endless influx of visitors into the house and especially, taking care of Mr Wahdati’s needs. Hence, she fled to Paris with Pari who was still very young, never to return again, leaving Saboor to cater for Mr Wahdati. In spite of the monotony and arduousness of the task, he stood by Mr Wahdati till the last of his days.

With the overthrow of the government of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the country deteriorated and Kabul had its fair share of the ruin. The once-elegant house of the Wahdati’s deteriorated as the war wore on, though Nabi managed to maintain its interiors. Nabi later found out Mr Wahdati had been in love with him from the day he was recruited. After Mr Wahdati’s demise, Nabi refused to remarry. He highlighted his clearly-thought-out reasons, which raises questions on what people look out for in marriages or companionship.

With the influx of humanitarian Aid workers into Kabul, there was a high demand for housing. Nabi generously gave out the house to Dr Markos, a plastic surgeon, and his colleagues. The story of Dr Markos and Thalia, his childhood friend, is another sweet tale of undying love- one that isn’t deterred by distance or facial beauty. The doctor was greatly responsible for connecting Pari to her roots by carefully following Nabi’s instruction before his death. This eventually led to the reunion of brother and sister amidst bursts of emotions

Reading this book, I got a picture of the happenings during the Afghan war and the role the Taliban played. Khaled spices the story up with various important aspects of Afghan culture ranging from the food, their language (Farsi) and their poetry. The poetry was highlighted when Nila once said

“Even your graffiti artists spray Rumi on the walls”

Earlier in the book, there was a brief scene where two schoolboys were trying to woo teenage Pari’s stepmother’s sister with some catchy lines from Rumi’s large collection of poems.

I swear, since seeing your face, the whole world is fraud and fantasy,
The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf or blossom.
The distracted birds can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare

Another important thing Khaled did was highlight the human part of war-torn Afghanistan. Amidst all the fighting, I could sense the disconnect between the average people, and the Afghan government and their supporters. Virtually all characters in the book who were in Afghanistan during the war were victims, leaving me with the impression that the war wasn’t a true reflection of the grievances of the common people. While reading, I had to pause severally to ponder or argue certain seemingly sincere actions carried out by different characters. Several philosophical arguments are highlighted in this book.

I was marveled by how palpable Khaled’s descriptions of old age were. It made me spend time imagining how people come to terms with the fact that they’re aging and certain parts of their minds and bodies were getting vestigial.

Overall, it was a super amazing experience. Awesome story told through great writing. Definitely my best book this year so far.

Rating: 9.3/10

Ola Daniel : My Sold Selling Point

 

Not again! He just left the kids and i without even uttering a word as to his where about. Most probably, a third party would have thought he vexingly left the house due to his perpetual complaint of ‘it’s better not to add salt! Is your hand salty?!!’

He forcefully smashed the door of his car and drove angrily without minding the wailing cute chick being crushed by his car with its blood and intestine irritatingly on the cemented ground.

July 7, 2007 was indeed a day to remember. I personally call it the ‘7th’ or better still the ‘perfection’. We had been dating for 6 faithful years and that special day made it the 7th year. Can you now see how special that day was? It was indeed a ‘sweet’ day, at least for me.

I hurriedly packed some of my newest outfits and I was sure I didn’t forget my sexy spaghetti dress. I was sure I was going to ‘give it to him hot’. I had always been keeping ‘it’ for so many years and I had concluded I was going to give my ‘husband’ the next second after my wedding ceremony. But this time around, i was sure the old cherished vow was broken in my heart even before I left my house that day. The thought of ‘how would it be, would i enjoy it?’ was anxiously in my head throughout the journey.

That night, i was more than happy i gave my body to the ‘love of my life’; at least he was my husband-to-be. He had always been demanding for it; so that night, it was a golden jackpot for him. But for me, it was a sweet sensational experience!

The relationship became sweeter and fulfilling as he was always fond of being around me; wouldn’t know if it was a show of greater degree of his love for me, or because we always end up sweating on one another. We were never concerned if the love was genuine or not, but we were sure the affection was vividly overwhelming and we wanted nothing but to walk majestically to the exalted altar. Was the altar really exalted or we were the one exalted?

Five months after our ‘heaven-on-earth’ wedding, my sweet home turned sour and I could only imagine if I were a destitute in my own home. He makes great details of minute deeds and harshly reacts as if I were a slave in his ‘kingdom’. When I cook, instead of receiving a romantic peck, I get pecked as if he were a vulture. He shuns every avenue for us to have deep talks and only visits my ‘world’ whenever his mood doesn’t give way to throwing some cash at any of his numerous whores. I became a relegated slave and a ‘nonentity’ entity in my own home. He suspects every of my moves and checks my phones on daily basis to see if there is any ‘advance’ from guys. The most annoying was when he came from his office on a certain Friday. I already planned to make sure he smiles at me that day. I set the dinner table with different delicious cuisine; arranged his wardrobe; laid the bed, arranged his shelf and of course worn my sexy night gown. As i was moving close to give him a warm hug, i received the hottest slap of my life and i felt like peeing inside my sexy night gown. He pushed me and shouted ‘You are shameless! You’ve been having sexual affairs with Saka!!’

Please don’t tell me you are thinking it is Saka of the MTN I don port advert? He said. I was stunningly surprised with my mouth agape. I’m sure you don’t still understand what was going on. Saka is our…our…Saka is our ‘mallam’ Gate man! I was mad at hearing this allegation, but i was feeling too demeaned to even utter a word. I couldn’t hold it any more when he said ‘you have no value!’. I wondered for days to get the conceptual analysis and deep meaning of the words ‘no value’. Two weeks later, uncle Akin visited and i hurriedly dashed into the kitchen to prepare the breakfast. I was about coming to the living room when I noticed a quick change in their topic of discussion. ‘Did I just hear my name’? I had to hide behind the door to get a flint what was going on. Uncle Akin inquired why my husband treats me ‘that way’ and he whisperingly replied, ‘uncle, that woman gave herself too cheap to me before our wedding. If she could give herself to me without waiting until we were married, then she can be giving it out to anybody that cares to taste it’. I realised he lost trust in me the moment I gave my virginity to him before our wedding. It was then it dawned on me the beautiful nonsense i did. I thought I did him good, but 7th July, 2007 took away my real joy. I wish he is still begging to have my virginity! I have no choice than to live in perpetual damnation and boredom, consciously awaiting my earthly grave.

This writer tweets from @dkingschamber

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo: Best Served Cold – Episode 10

He scratched his head, cusp his face and stood for the second time that evening. I had never seen him so disturbed. He was always calm. ‘I think I might be partially responsible for his disappearance. I think I triggered it by writing him that cheque’  ‘What cheque?  I wrote him a cheque of 500 million to open an endowment account for your kids. I totally didn’t consider it as important when he was kidnapped. It didn’t even occur to me to check if the money was ever lodged into an account in his name’  Mama looked at him as if he was uttering some vulgar words not expected of a man of his age. I could hardly believe my ears. My Dad bought a husband for his dearly beloved daughter. And the hired husband duped his supposed father in law. What can I say?  Was he ever in love with me? I asked. ‘Shouldn’t the money have simply been an extra motivation? You cannot claim to love a woman and then be wicked enough to dupe her father and dump your own family. But I knew Mama could not have been that callous so I didn’t bother asking her if she and her family were part of the scheme. There are people who prefer to live with what they have and be happy and Mama and her husband are a perfect example of that; and there are people who are so poor the only thing they have is money.  “Haaa, haaa, haaa, haaaa! I heard Mama wail.

I gawked at him as he recounted the pains of the past. Indeed, the old man had gone through a whole lot and I again had a clearer view of why he had to do what he did for Gboye.  ‘Jide called me today. Sandra is marking her birthday her 50th birthday this weekend and Moyo, your sister is getting married by the end of the year. She is getting married to Gboye…..  .  .  .  .  .

How does a son ever think such callousness is the best repayment for good parenting?  I thought of how best to have my pound of flesh on Gboye despite the fact that he is the father of my son. We were all lost in our different thoughts when Mama said ‘Olagboye has not had his bath, let us attend to the one what we have and mourn the absconding son later’  The ritual of bathing Olagboye and Daddy rocking him continued even though he was now about three years old. It was while bathing Olagboye that Mama brought up the issue again. I was sitting on the edge of the bed preparing Olagboye’s clothing with Mama bathing him when she brought up the issue again.  ‘What are you going to do? Even with a long distance between us, I could see tears in her eyes.  ‘I don’t know. What I know for sure is that he doesn’t deserve any of us, if he won’t call to tell us what made him leave us all and in the circumstances he did’  ‘Adenike, he is your husband. Don’t you want him back?  Mama, if I didn’t know all these things I now know, I will do anything to have him back in my arms but then Mama, how will I live with such a person every day. How can I wake up on the same bed with him every morning knowing full well he is nothing but a charming chameleon?  ‘I understand my daughter’ she sighed. ‘But what could have made him do it? If there was ever a lesson his Father rang in his ears, it was that you must not earn money from dubious means’  ‘I know that Mama, I know you and all I see radiating from you is virtue inspite of your circumstances. Each day I see pride in your eyes, only that it is pride for what you have earned by working honestly with your hands. I cannot understand how he could have done this. He told Dad he needed to cater for Anuoluwapo, Olatumise and Iretiola but he abandoned them too. He is a charming chameleon, a very charming one’ I concluded.

We waited for over a year before we heard from Gboye again. It was Emeka who tracked him down and told him of the responsibility he left behind in Nigeria. When Emeka told me this over the phone, I complained he shouldn’t have bothered but he said he had no peace of mind. He had to talk to the Organizers of the Uzbekistan Conference who gave him Gboye’s number. He called the next day after Emeka gave him my number and threatened to expose him among his International network of business friends. He had no choice but to comply.  He came back to Nigeria after four years of kidnapping himself. Of course, he had no explanations. He orchestrated everything. His Dad disowned and unfortunately died of heart attack three days after his return. Mama didn’t tell him of the fact that we knew a year earlier that he was alive. She said she couldn’t bring herself to tell him and that the shock will take him to the grave and truly the shock and disappointment killed him. He died without forgiving his son. But Mama couldn’t do same. She accepted him back. Even though I didn’t really want him in my life any more, he was the first to bring up the subject saying we could not deceive ourselves into a forced marriage. He loved me but was scared of the commitment and responsibility; he also needed to fulfill the dream of owning a business empire. And it was why he ran. Of course I knew the idiot was lying so I didn’t bother arguing. The time spent arguing will be better channeled towards planning his doom. I told him to get the hell out of my life. I refused to grant him any form of access to Olagboye.  . He built Mama a new home, the poor woman asked me if she should move into it and I could not deny the woman access to what she rightfully deserved. How mothers can be so forgiving still baffles me. He said he had created an eight hundred million endowment account for Olagboye but I told him not to bother. My son does not need filthy money.  That was the last time I saw him until he walked into my office today claiming he didn’t know I was in charge of the office. How could he not know? And why will they put him in charge of merger and acquisitions when he owns 58 % equity in the company?

I honked at the majestic gate of Dad’s house. I had once told him I wanted to move out but he begged me with tears not to take Olagboye from him. When I suggested that he could come over to my house every evening to have his ‘rocking’ session, he refused. Anyway, I had a second thought. James, who had been our gate keeper since I was seventeen, opened the gate; I waited for him to fully throw the gate open before driving in.  ‘Welcome madam’  Thank you James, how are you? Please bring everything in the car’ I left the car door ajar and I ‘snailed’ into the house.  ‘Mummy……’  I had shining eyes as I gathered my son into my arms. I was proud of the handsome little boy he had become.  ‘You are tired, sit down’ he ordered and sauntered off, I watched his back as he ran off and I could see the shape of his father in his tender body. He came back with my favorite fruit juice and a tumbler. He set it before me, poured it into the tumbler which already had ice and handed over to me. ‘Tell me how your day was?  He is my closest ally and partner in crime. How a seven year old could be as brilliant as he is simply amazes me. Dad once joked that he is a chip of the old block, after all, his father and mother that is Gboye and I are ‘book people’. We gist like adults and often the wisdom from his young mind guides me. I still haven’t told him about his dad. Maybe Mama has told him. It’s possible he had been introduced to Gboye while on a visit to Mama’s house. If he knew, he hasn’t asked me. And I don’t know what I will tell him the day he chooses to ask. The question will come soon, I can guarantee that.

After Dinner and safely tucking Olagboye in bed, Dad dropped another bombshell on me. He said Mum had an affair while I was two years old. He was outside the country trying to tie up a business deal. She told him about it. He had a hard time forgiving her especially when the fruit of that escapade came to limelight. Mum got pregnant. He allowed her have the baby. Jide, dad’s unmarried friend and his fiancé accepted the baby girl, and Dad and Mum moved on with their lives although Mum never conceived again.  It was shocking.

I gawked at him as he recounted the pains of the past. Indeed, the old man had gone through a whole lot and I again had a clearer view of why he had to do what he did for Gboye.  ‘Jide called me today. Sandra is marking her birthday her 50th birthday this weekend and Moyo, your sister is getting married by the end of the year. She is getting married to Gboye…..  .  .  .  .  .

THE END

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