By Bunmi Sofola
About a fortnight ago, I ran into an old friend on the Island. I was really glad to see him. He’d simply disappeared from the social scene with his family. After the usual pleasantries, he told me he had to leave the country when he did as his life was virtually falling apart. He explained: “I was thinking of what to do with my life after I was made redundant when I heard the good news that a bosom friend Leke, was being made a top dog in one of the local governments. What a stroke of luck!
“After series of meetings with him, he agreed I wasn’t really the businessman material. But if I could provide fund, the fund would be invested with contractors who had little or no cash to effectively execute their contracts, and regular returns would be made to me on my capital. I was ecstatic. All my redundancy pay and the little I’d put by from some of the petty contracts I’d done in the past were handed over to him. Talk about watching your money grow! Since he was the over-all boss, my cheques were paid and my investment almost tripled. My Camry car had had its share of refurbishing. This was the time to buy another car. And none of the tokunbo variety either.
“I went round a few car dealers and collected prices of cars that would now suit my new status. My capital was still in my friend’s outfit – all that I would be spending would be the interest and this was after my friend had taken his share! I also had money to buy my round of drinks at the Club and at parties. Life was good.
“Out of greed, I told my friend I wanted a really showy car. Could I lump my savings with the capital and re-invest so that the returns would be high? He was agreeable to this but when next I saw him, he told me some nosey external auditors were looking through the books with a tooth-comb. He, therefore, suggested that we cool things for about six months. Since he complained that the company we used featured too frequently in their books, I suggested we register a new company. He reluctantly agreed. His reluctance led me to pump all the money I had into this new company knowing the returns would be higher. After that, if my friend wanted to take things easy, I would be gone with my nice windfall. I was stuck in one of the long queues that were the norm in those days, and was getting really impatient by the long wait when a friend spotted me and walked over to my car. “Isn’t it sad about Leke?”, he asked. I spluttered, “What happened to him?”` Didn’t you hear/ He died this morning.
“This conversation took place late in the night. As soon as I filled my tank, I drove straight to Leke’s house. It was a bit quiet but the night guard confirmed what I just learned. I didn’t know how I made it back home. I woke my wife and was crying like a lunatic. My tears were for all the fortune I would be losing by Leke’s death. What would happen to my five children for goodness sake? My landlord had also reminded me that my annual rent would be due soon. Now, my wife was really upset that I took things so much to heart. I hadn’t told her the shady deals we did and how much Leke and I were making on the side.
“He was buried a week later. His remains were laid in his house for about two hours before he was taken away for burial. I wanted to be there. To see his body. To really confirm that he was now helpless to retrieve my money for me.
“His body wasn’t the most pleasant sight I’d seen. He looked grotesque and almost unrecognisable. How could you? I screamed at him silently as I paid my bogus last respect. How could you die now with all that money at stake? I staggered out of the room and went back home. There was no point going for any funeral service or the actual burial. I didn’t feel up to it at all.
“About a week later, I went back to his office. Because Leke and I were very close, I never dealt with his staff directly. It was Leke who always collected the cheques and he always promised to take care of the `boys’. It was one of them who told me, along with the contractor we always used, that the auditors were around if I wanted to talk to them. The auditors told me after I’d said my piece that my money was a small drop in the ocean of misappropriation they were trying to sort out. They said I should write a formal complaint in triplicate and bring them back to the office. They would look into my case after they’d dealt with the big ones.
“I never went back. What was the point? I was now in my late fifties. What sort of job would I be looking for at my age? And since all my savings were now wiped off leaving me in debt, what capital could I boast of to start a new business with? I finally relocated to Britain. We are all British citizens and my pensions were being paid already. Life was bearable but I missed home. It was at this point my wife started talking back whenever I scolded her. She said I was a tyrant and a bully. That she stuck it in Nigeria because I refused to encourage her to work. Well, that was over, she threatened.
“One more violence from me and she would deal with me! She’d never in her life spoken to me like that before. I was blind with rage and I struck her. She rushed out of the house and came back with the police! They told me politely that my wife feared for her life and didn’t want me around her and her children as I was a dangerous man. Could I pack a few of my things and leave? I felt really defeated, I’d forgotten that you don’t get away with domestic violence in Britain. If a family were to break up, its the husband that is asked to leave. So I left and that was the end of my marriage! My wife has found some caring jobs to do, my children are in good schools so they don’t really need me.
“I found a modest accommodation and have since picked up the pieces of my life. I have a British passport, so girls are no problem as they believe I would re-marry and make my new wife a citizen. I don’t intend to do any such thing. And I don’t intend to tell them either. Since women are deft hands at deceiving and using men, I intend to play them at their own games ..”
Too much of a good thing (Humour)
Mrs. Kelly is at the shops when she bumps into Father Flaherty. “Hello, Mrs. Kelly!” he says. “Didn’t I marry you and your husband two years ago? “Yes, Father”, she replies. “And any wee ones yet?”, “No, not yet”. Father, “Well, I will light a candle for you and your husband”. `Oh, thank you’, she says.
Some years later, they meet again. The priest asks: Mrs. Kelly, how are you these days? Oh, very well, Father, she replies. “So, have you any wee ones yet?” `Yes, Father’, she tells him. `Three sets of twins and four singles 10 in all’. “That’s just great”, the priest says. “And how’s your husband? Mrs. Kelly replies curtly. `He’s gone off to Rome to blow out your blasted candle’.