Odinaka, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time but it always skips my mind. Ndudi told Odinaka his friend.
Okay, I’m all ears. Odinaka said and supported his cheek with his hand.
Odinaka, I don’t think what is happening to you is ordinary. Look at you na. For the past six years, you lost everything you couldn’t get back on your feet again. And is not like you don’t hustle. You do but you have nothing to show for it. Ndudi said.
I’m still listening, you have not said something I understood. Odinaka said looking at Ndudi.
Guy, what I’m trying to say is that something is wrong somewhere. You are here again to tell me you are going for another keke na pep on high purchase. Odinaka for the past six years I’ve been signing surety papers for you and before you know it, it will be one problem to another and the owner will take back his keke…
So, what are you insinuating? Odinaka interrupted Ndu.
Guy, calm down nà you déy interrupt me. See Odi, somebody or something is behind what is happening to you. Is not ordinary. I can beat my chest to tell you that. You need to look for what is after your fortune before taking a step toward getting another keke. Ndu said.
So because I came to tell you to come and sign a surety papers for me that’s why you are telling me this after six years. Is obvious you are tired to sign surety for me. Okay, tell me, what is after your fortune because you are not looking wealthy to me? Isn’t somebody behind it? Odinaka asked Ndudi looking and waiting for him to answer him.
Odinaka, you and I know that I’m where I am today because of you. You gave me one million naira eight years ago when money was still money and since then that’s what I still have in my business. I would have bought a new keke for you if I had because I owe you a lot. Ndudi said.
Don’t you think something or someone is also behind what is making you not do well in your business? After eight years I gave you one million you have not grown more than the levels you started from. Odinaka jokingly asked.
Everything sounds like a joke to you but you need to think about what I’m telling you. Ndudi said.
I don hear you man but are you signing the surety papers for me or should I take my wife along to sign it for me? Odinaka asked.
Ngwànû(go ahead) tell her to sign for you then ónyé ala (màd man). I will come to your house tomorrow let me sign it.
Tomorrow is perfect. But come in the afternoon. Odinaka said.
Okay then. Ndu said and they both shook hands and Odinaka left.
Nna, did Ndudi agree to sign the surety papers for you? Odinaka’s wife Ebele asked him.
Does he have any options? He’s the only one I have that will do that and he has to. Odinaka said.
Chai, Ndudi has tried. If it were to be another person that has been facing police cases for being your surety every day the way Ndu does the person would have been tired by now. Ebele said.
Yes, you are right but I think Ndudi is tired too because today he started saying I should look for what is after my downfall before going for another keke. Imagine such talk. I suspect he’s looking for a way to excuse himself. Odinaka said.
Hmmm, Odi, you know I once told you something like this before Ndudi repeated it. Ebele said.
Please I’m eating. I wouldn’t want this food to choke me. Let’s talk about this when I’m in the mood for it. Odinaka dismissed his wife.
Oooh, sorry oo. Ebele said and left him to eat.
The next day, Ndudi came to Odinaka’s house for them to go and sign the surety papers.
Odinaka, so all these men in your compound none of them are working again? This Wednesday afternoon full grown-up men are sitting down playing draft and making noise while men are out there hustling for their families. Ndudi said holding his waist with his two hands.
Won’t you sit down? Is it today you know they are jobless or do you want to ridicule them? Odinaka asked.
No, this is not a matter of ridiculing na. Odinaka, those men sitting down there were men who were well-to-do in this town those days. Men that drove cars and the latest cars in this city. Do you know if you are mentioning people who own the city those days you will count these men first including yourself Odinaka? Ndudi said with so much bitterness.
My friend, sit down! All the time you keep bringing up the past into the present. Don’t you know things change? Is it where is written that one will be rich forever?…
And is there where it is forbidden that one will not be rich forever? Odinaka wake up and be a man! Why are you not reasoning the way I do? You were once a rich man. Not just a rich man but a wealthy man. So were those guys out there many years ago. All of a sudden you all started falling one after the other. You are just the last man that lost all his businesses among them. If I didn’t know you when we were boys and that you packed into this house as a rich man and met these men here too as rich men I would have said you all did rituàls that later failed you all. Ndudi angrily interrupted Odinaka.
Alright, go ahead and accuse me of being a ritualîst. Go on! Odinaka said looking disappointed at what his friend Ndudi said.
C’mon, I didn’t accuse you of being a ritualîst. I’m only concerned about you brother. Forgive me I won’t talk about this again but I pray one day you will reason with me. Ndudi promised and crossed his heart.
Better! Sit down let me take my bath let’s go. Odinaka said. Odinaka said.
What about your children, are they not yet back from school? Ndudi asked.
You remembered them on time. When you were running your mouth like a woman did you remember to ask of them? Anyways they went to the market to help their mother sell moi-moi. Odinaka said and entered the bathroom.
Odinaka and Ndudi went to where they will sign the surety paper. They were told no high-purchased keke was available. They left.
Fast forward to seven months later. Odinaka has still not seen any other keke but he keeps searching. One day he was informed a Keke was available. He hurriedly went to the place but he was told he has gotten a bad record of how people’s Keke spoils in his hand without completing his pay. He pleaded all to no avail. He continues searching. Getting to two years they keep telling him nobody will ever release their keke to him unless someone who has not heard his story about how he damages people’s Keke. Odinaka got tired and became frustrated.
To be continued…
Written by Amaka Ember