The Day He Showed Up

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Nikki ran a few paces after the bus, “Ole! Thief!” She looked for something to throw, and found nothing. “Thunder faya you dia. Oloshi!”

The bus conductor had just hopped on the bus and told the driver to drive away, with her ten Naira change. Mud spewed from the tires of the fleeing bus and Nikki reflexively raised a hand. She was just in time to save her face from the mud, but her dress wasn’t so lucky. The blue and black woolwork – one of the only two dresses presentable enough for her to wear on jobhunts – was now artlessly crisscrossed by slimy brown mud.

Nicki sucked her teeth. “Wicked people,” she exploded, “e no go beta for una. God punish you!” Ignoring the placating pleas of bystanders, she continued screaming even after the bus had long gone. In addition to the ruined dress, she mourned greatly the ten Naira change she just lost.

It was her last hope, that ten Naira; she was going to use it for digestive biscuit. Four small circles of sweetened wheat that would be her last meal before death or a miracle, whichever came first. She sighed repeatedly, shaking her head as she walked to her face-me-I-face-you room. It was a tiny space that held her belongings – a Ghana-must-go bag of clothes and oddities, a mat, and a lantern. It struck her as funny that even that tiny space would soon be lost; she hadn’t paid her rent in six months, and Baba Jide would soon surely throw her out. She recently scanned bridges and shop-areas more attentively, because one of them might be her sleeping-place sooner than later.

“Sister Nikki, welcome oh,” Mama Aina greeted. Nikki swallowed as she passed by the elderly woman’s table of wares – where she would have bought her digestive-biscuit last supper. For the past couple of weeks, she ate those four circles daily to help ward off hunger and get through another 24 hours. It was like Mama Aina greeted to remind her to buy the biscuits.

Nikki thought about ignoring her, but then words rushed out of her mouth without her consent. “Mama Aina, good evening. How market?”

“Fine oh, sister Nikki,” she pronounced her name like it should have been on a biscuit wrapper, Nikki biscuits. “No biscuit today?”

Nikki smiled, “Not today jare, I don chop belle full for office.” And she walked off, effectively shutting down further conversation. She knew her lie was obvious, but she didn’t care what Mama Aina thought. She felt bad enough as it was; not because she had lied about eating, but because her ten Naira would have helped Mama Aina feed her six children. The thought was crazy – like TEN Naira, seriously? But Nikki believed it. She really wished she had the money.

She walked on, negotiating the puddles and make-shift bridges with an ease born of familiarity. Her sandals weighed more and more with every step she took, lifting them became harder. All this poto-poto everywhere; no be say person get food for belle to do this kind hard work.

She continued along, doing her best to rid her feet of fast-caking mud and grumbling for all she was worth. To her right, a Christian fellowship was singing and dancing. A wry smile curved Nikki’s lower lip. Where did they even get the strength?! Everywhere she looked, the stink of poverty ruled supreme; here, people suffered for a living.

Nikki was one of those who believed in God, but a lot of times, she wasn’t sure. She hoped He existed, but it did not make sense that He let people suffer. It was better for her to assume He didn’t exist; then and only then did suffering make sense. But somehow, against her better reason, Nikki just believed.

She continued walking, her pace slower, praying for her room to get closer. The sting in her stomach intensified and she tried to suppress the thought of not having anything to eat anywhere. A thought crossed her mind, and the Ludacris of it made her smile. If to say you dey hear person like me nau, she directed at the skies, I for beg you fried rice and chicken with chilled Malt.

Immediately, she burst out laughing, a weak sound that echoed off the inner walls of her empty stomach. As quickly as it started, it died away. If only He was beside her listening, she mused and shook her head.

“Nikki, you don come?”

Nikki hissed. “I dey your front, you still dey ask if I don come. Kunle, abeg  I no get strength”. And she made to brush by him, but her ever-jovial next-door neighbor only laughed and moved to block her path.

“Nikki-lo-lo, Nikki-fire-for-fire,” he teased. “You know say only you ehn, na Anti-bomb squad!”

“Kunle,” Nikki was nearly in tears, feet hurting, head banging, tummy wailing, “what do you want, please?”

“Nikki, wait first jare make I knack you gist. For office today ehn, come see owambe. Babe, I chop scarra come carry take-away commot sef. But as I reach house na im my spirit just dey tell me ‘give Nikki’, ‘give Nikki’, ‘give Nikki’”. His rumbling laughter punctuated his theatrics, as he extended a bag to her. Nikki stood rooted to a spot, she was too dumbfounded to either be vexed or amused. Was this a joke?

She thought to lie at first, to just blurt out something along the lines of “oh thank you, I’m not hungry” or the Mama Aina line – “I don chop belle full for office.” But she couldn’t do it. She was hungry.

Her hands moved of their own accord. The warm feel of the nylon bag jerked her body back into consciousness – it was for real, FOOD. Tears sprang to her eyes and the ‘thank you’ she tried to say came out sounding like the final noise Kunle’s I-pass-my-neighbor generator made every night before all went quiet. The man himself, surprised at her reaction, immediately withdrew into his room. “Good night oh!” he yelled from behind his firmly shut door.

Nikki’s hands trembled as she fit the key into the door. Inside, she sat on the floor and opened the nylon bag. There was a plastic plate with yellow fried rice and a large golden-brown hunk of chicken. Something still weighed the bag down even after she had taken out the plate; Nikky dipped her hand and took it out – a pretty bottle of malt lay calmly sweating in her hands.

Nikky cried. He was beside me, listening.

By Winifred Adebayo

5 SECRET TIPS HOW TO NOT BE A FRAUD’S-STAR.


Fraud – internet/electronic fraud especially – is on the rise and that is only because many of us fall prey every day. Inspired by a recent experience, I shall in this post, spill the secret tips of how to not be – or be, depending on your birthstone – a fraud’s star.

Who is a fraud’s star? You don’t know?!!

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Well, the story – which is totally unfounded by the way – goes that Casanova at the dawn of his philandering career lived in a mud house. A very old, broken down, mud house with the ever-dirty raffia sweep posing sentry just outside the door, beside the up-turned clay pot with broken rims and…you get the picture. The legend goes that a French princess from Serbia was on a voyage through Italy and spied Casanova’s hut from the window of her cabin. This princess had known sparkles, colors and light all her life, so she was completely enamored by the drabness of the man’s hut. So drawn was she that she had to see more, so she had her vessel parked beneath a tangelo grove and went on shore.

Casanova met her at the door. The rest of the story is a haze between that meeting and her eventual departure but it was said that before she left, she told Casanova to ask her for anything he desired and she would give it. He asked for a jewel to remember her by and she gave him her neck pendant.

After she left, he melted the golden pendant and formed it into the shape of a small star which he hung from a beam in his roof. And it became a way for him. At the closure of every conquest, Casanova took a piece of jewelry from the broken-hearted dame he was leaving behind – they always offered more but his calling was obviously not for pecuniary gains. He then melted the jewelry and formed it into a small star which he hung from his roof. Nobody knows how many conquests Casanova had in his lifetime but suffice it to say that years later, the ailing Casanova breathed his last beneath hundreds of shiny stars.

To this very day, that mud hut stands beside the tangelo tree on the southern bank of the Le Riviere Faux Pas in Venice, and Casanova-wannabes visit it to hang up the stars of their conquests. THE END.

Now you know what a fraud’s star is; if you still don’t, you need jizeees!

On to the secret tips then. These tips on how to not find yourself hanging from the roof beam of some fraudster’s mud hut are five in number but are meaningless if you do not remember to be wary of greed. Fraud preys on the intrinsic greed in every man and only when this is acknowledged, can the tips in this post come in handy.

What I received this morning was a text message which read:

“Your Line Have =N=30,000 Airtime with NCC. Just Because Your Sim is Register. To Load It Now. Logon To WWW.DATANCC.COM Your Code is 3232 You Have 2hrs Left”

Sender was ‘NCC-CARD’.

I bet you’re laughing now and thinking, “oh, who would fall for that?” and my answer would be you. Us. I can bet some of my hanging stars that had such a message popped into your phone prior to this blog post, your brain would have auto-transformed it so that to your eyes, it would have read:

“Congratulations!! Your line has won =N=30,000 airtime with NCC. To load it now, kindly log on to WWW.DATANCC.COME with the code number 3232”

But thank God for this post 🙂 , we now know to remember to not be greedy. Having remembered that, the first tip comes in

Tip #1. Nothing good in life is free – in real life at least.

Read it again, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. If it appears to be free, you have either paid for it, are paying for it, or will pay for it. Realizing and accepting this for what it is – fact – permits your brain to wander onto the next tip.

Tip #2: Locate the catch. Or the red flag.

Be careful not to confuse a red flag with a catch. In matters like this, there is always a catch. Always. Whether it’s genuine or fake – especially when it is genuine – there is a catch. Red flags however, only accompany the fakes.

The first thing you should do is search for the catch which in this case (had this been genuine) might have been a condition or a requirement of some sort which is the price for the ‘free’ gift. Next – and especially if you couldn’t find a catch – search out the red flag. The red flagS in my case were namely, the sender ID: NCC-CARD. No offense but who?

Another was the time restraint. “You Have 2hrs left” sounds more to me like, “We don’t want you taking any time to think about this, because then you’d find us out”. That and a third red flag prelude the next tip.

Tip #3: Think about it. No, really, THINK.

First, who or what does this NCC stand for?

Next, assume that it stands for Nigerian Communications Commission. If you were the manager for the PR or Sales or Free Airtime Distribution department at the commission, why would you want to reward subscribers for registering their sim cards? There could be some business sense in it for telecommunication companies but for you as the NCC, what?

Then, assume there is indeed some – however minuscule – business sense in running such a promo. How would you do it? How would you spread the information, first to the public and then to the winners? Of course, the commission wants to get maximum credit – pun fully intended – for the give-away so how would you make that happen?

I would love to read your answers as I’m sure will all be super creative. The one which you just might take for granted – because it shouldn’t be optional of course – in answering, would be assigning the task of informing winners to somebody with a above average grasp of the language used in communication. That is absolutely gbagaun-ist but I bet you agree.

Tip #4: Ask somebody.

It could be a friend who works in a related industry (in my case, the telecommunications industry), family, or good ol’ Google. Of course you will have yourself alone to blame if you go asking an ex whose heart you broke into pieces scattered all over Yaba cemetery. In asking, you will need to keep Tip #3 in mind so you don’t end up dangling as a star still, only from the roof of a different fraudster. In my case, I shared the text message – minus the four-digit code – with friends. NOBODY had heard of any such thing. If nobody you know, including Mr. Google, knows about it, and they know nobody who knows anything about it, chances are someone’s waiting to melt and form you into a star.

Tip #5: Test the water. With a long cane!

For those of us who are who are border-line optimistic or honestly, idealistic; whose minds will continue to resonate with the questions “So what?” and “What if I am the first?”; this last tip is for you. You still like to imagine that there is a chance it is genuine, right? Good, so let’s test it out. But while doing that, you want to keep yourself as insured as possible.

How? Still using my case as reference, here is an answer from my experienced friend in the telecomm industry: “Log into the site, should they require any details of yours besides your name and number (even the name is asking too much) get off”

Merely logging in was a risk; testing the water is a risk, even if you’re doing so with a long cane. Be aware of the magnitude of the risk you’re taking should you decide to press up to this point, and insure it as much as you can.

This is what happened after I took the risk…

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I hope you noticed even more red flags. Still testing, I entered the pin:

3-2-3-2. ENTER

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And I burst out laughing. I sent a reply too…

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You can see it did not deliver; I must have hurt her feelings.

Do you have more tips to add or opinions on the tips above? We can’t wait to read them in the comments.

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

P.S. If you’re an EFCC official and you rushed onto this here page hoping to find a ‘big catch’, how disappointed you must be now tickles me black breaks my heart. The good news however is that I you read to the end so hopefully, you learnt a thing or two about how to catch the real fraudsters. Don’t forget to pass on my blog address to the Chief; we are on the same team after all. Besides, this blog could sure use some celebrity hits. Cheers 😉