Monday, 24 February 2014

THE ONE POUND COIN EPISODE 13 (FINALE)

EPISODE 13 (finale)



Nora looked through the daily devotional book that Alex had given her some time ago. She had never really read through it before, but that evening, as she got back from work, she felt a strong instinct to read through it.
Her phone rang and it was her mother.

“Mummy, I was going to give you a call this evening. How are you?” Nora said.

“I’m fine my dear. How are things with you? And has Alex returned to her mother’s house? I don’t want you to get in the middle of a mother and daughter fight.”

“She’s still here, but I’m planning to talk to her today, and I’ll go with her to beg Aunty Lisa.”

“Okay. When will you come by the house, or when can I come and see you?”

Nora paused.

“Em…I will come. I hope there’s no problem though.”

“It’s the Landlord o. He’s really on my neck. And then we need some food stuff too.”

Nora rolled her eyes. There she was trying to get a clean break from Bankole and her mother was asking for more money.

“Mummy I don’t really have much, but I will send some money through Bright tomorrow.”

Her mother was silent for a bit.

“What about MD? How is he? I should even call to say thank you for the food stuff he sent last month…”

Nora knew where her mom was headed with this. She would call Bankole and the latter would begin to ask if she was okay and doing well, and would send her some money through Bright.

“Mummy, please leave MD out of this. You already said thanks before. I have said I will send money to you tomorrow.”

“Okay o. Take care and good night.

“Bye bye. Greet Vivian and Comfort for me. Later.” She said, and hung up.





***


Joan Okeke parked her car by the end of an empty street then got down from her Jeep. She was wearing a black scarf and sun shades. She had told her driver to go home and had insisted on driving herself that evening. As she crossed the un-tarred road, the person in the Black Mazda honked and then she got into the car.

“Madam,” The dark skinned man who drove the car greeted Joan. His name was Risky.

“Risky, how far? Is everything set, and did your boys find out the hotel they are using tonight?” Joan asked.

“Yes Madam. Everything is under control. I just came to get the deposit.”

“I don’t know why you made me come here though. I would have just transferred it to you with online banking.”

Risky shook his head in disapproval.

“That’s not the smart way. I don’t want any traces. I always do a clean job to the last piece.”

Joan nodded.

“So, I just want you to teach the Nora girl a lesson. Treat her as you wish but don’t kill her. I repeat, don’t kill her. Nothing must happen to my husband o.”

Risky laughed.

“Yes Madam. You will hear from me when it’s done.”

Joan handed him a brown envelope and walked out of the car, back to her Jeep.




Alex saw Nora’s many missed calls but continued to ignore them. She knew Nora would ask where she was and if she told her she was on her way to meet Ejike at the club, she would get mad and ask her to leave. Ever since she had heard that message at church last Sunday, Nora had started acting different. She had even said she wanted to apologize to Bankole’s wife for everything. Alex thought it was a stupid idea though, and that it was better to let sleeping dogs lie.

She looked at her wrist watch. It was 8.00pm already. She decided she would just call Ejike and ask him to meet her outside instead of going in and wasting more time. Tomorrow was a working day and Lagos traffic was not going to reduce.
Ejike saw her call and smiled.

“My yellow pawpaw, oyibo baby.” He teased.

Alex laughed.

“Good evening Sir.”

“I have told you to drop this Sir. Call me Ejix.”

Alex rolled her eyes.

“Okay o, Ejix. Please meet me outside. I don’t feel like coming inside.”

“Okay. Give me five minutes.”

Risky watched from his car as Ejike walked out of the club, and after a few minutes, Alex came out from her car, and then hugged him.

“Should we go in my car or in this your jalopy? I will upgrade your car for you if you treat me right today and pass this your exam.” He laughed, beating the top of Alex’s car with his big hands.

“Let’s go with mine. I don’t want anybody to see me with you and harass me.”

She thought of Aunty Joan or Rhoda, or one of their friends.

He got into Alex’s car, and she drove off.

Risky drove behind them, at a reasonable distance.



***


Lisa Udeh sighed, as she gulped another glass of water. She had just entered the house, and she had forgotten her phone in her bedroom that morning. She picked up her phone and saw Alex’s missed call. She had called in the afternoon, but Lisa had been in a meeting at work all day. She missed her child, and wanted to bring her back. They say, you rebuke a child with one hand, but pull him back to you with the other. Maybe she had been too harsh on Alex. It was probably her fault that Alex was proud and unapologetic. Lisa Udeh was a very proud woman when it came to apologies, and it was only natural Alex had inherited this trait from her, since that was what she had grown to see and learn.

The phone call to Alex went through the first time. Alex didn’t pick it, and Lisa knew her daughter was angry. She called two more times, and then decided to send a text message.

“Alex, come home this night. We need to talk. I forgive you. Love, Mummy.”

Nora had been dialing Alex for a while and Alex hadn’t replied her calls. She was getting worried, and then it suddenly hit her. Maybe she was with Ejike. She called again and finally, Alex picked up the call. She was speaking from the bathroom because her voice echoed.

“Hi Nora, what’s up?” She said in a low voice.

“Alex, are you with Ejike?”

Alex was silent.

“Yes. He’s going to give me the money.”

“Alex I told you to stay away…please just come home.”

“I can’t. As soon as I get the money from him it’s going to be the end of this affair. I won’t come back to him. My conscience is pricking me enough already.”

“You can! This thing is addictive. You think you’ll quit but you won’t be able to. Have you done anything yet?”

Alex paused, and she looked at Ejike who was taking off his buba.

“No. I’m about to. He’s giving going to give me thirty million for the account. Yusuf embarrassed me like crazy today, and I can’t let that happen again.”

Ejike called her name out loud from the bedroom, and she cut Nora’s call. She saw her mother’s text message, and hissed. A simple apology by SMS wouldn’t suffice for how her mother had told her to get out of the house. She had called earlier in the day when she needed her help, but she had refused to pick her call. She deleted the text message and put the phone on the table as she stepped out of the bathroom.

Risky walked into the hotel, paid for a room with a false name, shortly after Ejike and Alex, whom he thought was Nora, walked in, and hurriedly, he followed them at a distance, and saw the room they were lodged in.

In about twenty minutes or more, Ejike had begun comforting Alex who was crying over losing her virginity. He pleaded with her that he did not know she was new at this, and promised to compensate her with more money. Just then, there was a knock on the door.

Risky knocked on the door and it was the usual “Room service” excuse. Ejike said they had not asked for any service, and then Risky said he had been instructed to fix something in room by the Manager.  Ejike finally opened the door, and Risky walked in, locked the door, and brought out his hand gun.

Alex saw the gun and screamed but Ejike covered her mouth so as not to infuriate the intruder.  Ejike snatched his briefcase and began to count some money.

“Please how much do you want? Don’t kill us please.” He said.

Alex began to cry and Risky yelled at her then turned to face Ejike.

“Keep your cash. I’m not a robber.” Risky said.

He looked at Alex, pointed his gun at her, but he decided not to shoot her. After all, Joan had said not to kill anyone. She was already red with fear. She was very beautiful, and she was half naked. He smiled, pointed the gun at Ejike and pushed him into the bathroom, then locked the door. He began to unzip his trouser, looking at Alex with so much lust.

“Why are you giving what belongs to the boys, to an old man like that?” He laughed, and pushed her on the bed. She was shaking with so much fear. He was about to rape her when he heard Ejike’s lowered voice from the bathroom, calling someone on the phone for help. He was consumed with anger, and then kicked open the bathroom door. He snatched the phone, and checked the contact Ejike was speaking with.

It was “D.P.O”

He slapped Ejike’s face and Ejike tried to fight him back.

“Na me you call Police for?” He yelled angrily.

The trigger was pulled and there was a shot.



He dropped the gun on the floor, took the key, removed his gloves, composed himself, and walked out of the hotel, hurriedly driving away.

Ejike limped, as he walked over to the edge of the bed to grab the hotel phone.

“Please, we need help. Call an ambulance. The lady I came with has been shot,” He said, trying to keep his cool. “Don’t let the man escape. He just left this room!”




By the time the ambulance arrived, Alex was gone.



***



Life will go on. Nora will feel horrible and will continue to blame herself, up until Phillip comes to comfort her. He sees she is a changed woman, and gradually, through mourning Alex, they both grow to be in love with each other. They will frequent Alex’s tombstone often, but the visits will reduce after they get married, and have to focus on their own lives. Nora will keep mentoring and motivating people to live right, using Alex as a story to learn from.
Yusuf will be surprised, and devastated. So will Alex’s colleagues at work. But the bank will not shut down or wind up because a staff died and didn’t meet her target. They will pay Lisa a condolence visit, and in a week, two max, employ someone else, giving her another huge target.
Risky will get caught and be put in jail, but Joan will deny knowing him, and she will bribe her way through freedom. Nevertheless, she will resign from the oil company because she cannot bear to live with the guilt of working in the same office with the mother of the girl whose death she caused. She will live with this guilt till she becomes so depressed, and it becomes a mental illness, which leads her to confessing in her lucid intervals. Ejike bundles her to their village in Enugu, where she’s confined to a traditional mental facility. He does this to keep her from soiling his name. He takes a new wife later on.
Lisa will mourn. Yes she will. She will be broken down, but she will meet someone in five years, and he will comfort her with love. They will also get married and have a child. Lisa will name the girl Alexandra too, but the real Alexandra can’t be reincarnated. She will train the new child up in a better way, trying not to make the mistakes she made with Alex.




Life is worth living rightly. Nothing is worth dying for.
                                                -My two cents.
                                                -FisayoTalabi




Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised. For “yet a little while, and the coming one will come and not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back, and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
                                                                             -Hebrews 10.35-39.







Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.




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Saturday, 22 February 2014

THE ONE POUND COIN EPISODE 12

EPISODE 12



Fortunately, or unfortunately for Alex, Ejike had received an urgent call and had to leave the club. Earlier, Nora had gone back outside to bring Alex in, and Alex sat with Ejike, trying to make sense of everything that was happening.

“So you work at that Bank. I know your MD. He’s an old classmate. Dunt worry, I will give you the money. Is N25 million good enough?” Ejike had said.

It was weird having to pretend like she did not know his wife was Joan or his daughter was Rhoda. Ejike received the call and Alex had heard him say something about going to block the Deputy Governor of his home town at a guest house, before he left Lagos the next morning.

As Nora drove back to the house, Mafikizolo’s Khona played on repeat in the car. Nora loved the song. Alex always wondered what she liked about it, since no one knew the meaning of the lyrics. Alex’s own question was answered when she began to unconsciously dance a sitting position Azonto as the beats played through the powerful speakers. Nora glanced at her and laughed.

“You’re falling in love with the song too, eh?”

Alex laughed.

“Don’t worry about Ejike. He will fulfill his promise but you have to be good to him too. Bankole said Ejike can even do more for you. I’m planning to quit my job soon, and open a personal business. I think you should start saving towards same. Marketing can kill person, abeg.” Nora said.

Alex smiled, nodded, and looked out the window as they approached Law school.


That night, Alex couldn’t find any sleep. She had been thinking about what she was about to get herself into, and decided she would not do it. It was better she went to her mother humbly, like the prodigal daughter she was, and apologized. What would it cost her?


***


It was Sunday Morning, and Nora had insisted on catching more sleep but Alex had forced her out of bed. Since she had moved in with Nora, they hadn’t been to church much, and her conscience was beginning to prick her bit by bit. Nora finally agreed, and got dressed.

They were a little late and had missed praise and worship, but were just in time for the Choir’s ministration. That was Alex’s best part. She loved her church choir and was even considering joining them but she always claimed she didn’t have time for Choir practice.

Nora had looked entirely bored, as the choir sang Donald Mc.Lawrence’s  There is a King in you. Alex ignored her, and as usual, stood up and joined the choir in singing the song.

You come from royalty, an aristocratic dynasty, the goal of the enemy is that you don’t know who you are…
There’s power when you speak…”

The choir got to a part of the song that Alex didn’t know. She looked around and saw that she was the only one on her row that had stood up. She sat down quickly, to avoid any shame of chopping mouth. Nora had noticed though, and laughed at her.

The Minister came on the pulpit, and the church began to clap. He was a UK based guest minister who had been invited by the Church Pastor. Alex liked the Church pastor's sermons, but decided she would as well listen to what the guest minister had to say.


“We are talking about Realising who you are in Christ Jesus.” He started. Some people were already writing down the topic in their journals and iPads.

The guest minister brought out something from his inner pocket. The church camera projected it on the screen. It was a one pound coin.

Nora had been pinging someone on her phone, but she heard him mention the coin, and she remembered she had been tossing one sometime ago. She began to give the sermon some attention.

“I want to use this small but important legal tender, to pass a message across to someone today.
You see, the coin seems so small, but it is equivalent to about two hundred and fifty naira, depending on the exchange rate presently. So it’s not as inconsequential as you might think. I actually didn’t even remember I had it with me but once upon a time, I had been so broke that this one pound would have gotten me an item in my grocery list at the Pound shop in the United Kingdom.”

Nora sighed.

“Where is he going with this?” She nudged Alex.

“Just listen jo.” Alex whispered.

“There are two sides to every coin. But in this case, specifically, there is the head which is the Queen, and there is the tail which is the Royal Coat of arms. The Queen is royalty, and let’s just say the other side is established, to keep the royalty safe and functioning. But they are both integral parts of this coin, and they both have their roles to play in the system. Every society needs a ruler. Remember the times when Israel did not have a King. The people requested for a King because they needed to be governed rightly. How many of you studied Government in secondary school? Remember Thomas Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory and how the state of nature was nasty, brutish and short. Samuel had to anoint a King for the people, appointed by God because there is need for leadership and authority.1 Peter 2.12 also explains to us the need to obey authority."

The congregation began to open 1 Peter 2.12.

"As I have explained that there are two sides to this coin, that is the way human beings are brought into this life. We don’t all come rich. Jesus was born in a manger, but Jonathan, Saul's son, was born a prince. In fact, David was born short and ruddy, and girls would have ignored him, unlike Saul who was handsome and tall, as the Bible put it." 

Some people laughed.

"We don’t choose which families we are born into. We just find ourselves where we have been put. But know one thing, God put you in your families for a reason, irrespective of the financial situation, or genetic composition. Hey, some people are born and never have to work for three or four generations, but some are born and have to struggle from day one. Does that mean God is unjust? Of course not.
We don’t choose how we come, but we choose how we want to live, and how we want to spend eternity, because it is not the now that matters. It is the eternity, that really counts.”

Nora felt a chord strike in her heart. The guest minister kept looking at her and she almost felt he was speaking to her directly.

“Brethren, you need to understand that no matter what part of the coin you think you fall under; the head or the tail, Christ has made you the head always! I love the choir’s song this morning. There is a king in you, somebody! There is royalty within you! Christ has paid the price, and now, we reign with him as kings and priests unto our God. 
Somebody it’s high time you told the devil to stop messing with His Royal Highness. Somebody say to your neighbor, I am Her Royal Majesty…”

Nora smiled, and faced Alex.

“I am Her Royal Majesty Nora.”

Alex laughed.

“Always have it at the back of your mind that how you were born, is not your peak in life. God has given you so much, and all you need do is to realize who you are, and walk in the reality of life. Fast life never pays anyone. Be patient. God never fails in His promises. Has He said He will save you and bless you? Then He will surely do it, at His own time! Don't believe the devil's lies. He is the father of lies. He looks for who to prey on and deceive, and to steal from you because he has been cast off and can never be royalty. The devil always gives you a short cut but trust me, shortcuts never last…”

By the time he made the altar call for anyone that wanted to accept Jesus into their life, or re-dedicate their life to Christ, Nora jumped up, and went forward.



***


Alex noticed that Nora had been quiet all through the ride back home. When she couldn’t bear the silence anymore, she poked Nora.

“Are you okay?” Alex asked.

Nora shook her head.

“No, I’m not. I don’t want to go on living like this. I’m tired of it. I’m thinking of calling it quits with Bankole although I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”

Alex sighed. She didn’t know what to say.

“Alex I think you should forget about seeing Ejike. Don’t get yourself into this mess. Once you start, it will be difficult to stop. You will always want more money and it goes on and on.”

Alex nodded, and hugged Nora, as Nora started to cry.






Monday morning and Yusuf had made the office a living hell for Alex. He had embarrassed her in front of her other colleagues, and gave her an ultimatum of one week. 
She dialed her mother’s number, but Lisa Udeh didn’t pick up the call. 
Ejike’s call came through almost immediately.

“My dear, how are you? You haven’t called me since Friday. What is the matter, biko?” He said.

Alex closed her eyes. All she could see in her mind was Yusuf humiliating her more.

“Will you meet me tonight at the club?” Ejike asked.

“I will.” She replied after much hesitation.






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THE ONE POUND COIN EPISODE 11

EPISODE 11



Alex stepped on the brake, put the gear in park and turned off the ignition, then stormed into the house. She was getting frustrated with Mr. Yusuf’s pressure. She would have quit her job if she was on good terms with her mother, but the latter had refused to mend fences with her. She would have gone on her knees and begged but she wanted to prove she could make something for herself out of life without her mother’s help. Lisa had given her everything she owned in life and her job at the bank was the only thing she had achieved based on her own merit. Maybe her mother thought she wouldn’t survive without her help.
Yusuf had threatened that the bank was going to lay off inefficient staff and he wouldn’t fail to send her name in that list if she didn’t meet up her target. Where was she supposed to get a N20, 000,000. 00 account from?

Nora had been sleeping when Alex returned home. She joined Alex in the living room shortly after.

“Hey, Alex. Are you okay? Didn’t know you were back.” Nora said, yawning and stretching her arms.

Alex wiped her face which was now soiled from tears, and looked away.

“What happened?!” Nora rushed to Alex’s side. “Is your mom alright?”

Alex hissed.
“I’m on the verge of losing my job if I don’t get that N20m. Please Nora, help me talk to someone. Your MD or any of his friends, please I’m begging you.”

Nora sighed.
“Why don’t you go meet your mom or one of your rich relatives?” She said sarcastically.

“Nora, just help me, okay. I’m getting desperate.”

PHCN restored the interrupted electricity, and the standing fan and stabilizer came to life.

“Bankole has been complaining of some financial problems lately so I can’t ask him because that would affect my pocket in the long run.” She said. Alex sighed this time. She couldn’t argue because she lived under Nora’s roof provided by Bankole.

“But he has a friend sha…I can ask him to talk to the man on your behalf and pity your condition. He's a good man. ”

Alex jumped from the couch and hugged her.

“Thank you so much!”



***


Alex sprayed some of the Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue perfume that Phillip had given her some time ago, and then, applied one more layer of powder, before joining Nora in the living room. Nora was dressed already. It was Friday and they were going to the Ikoyi club where Bankole and his friend would be.

“Are you sure he’s a nice man and won’t bug me for sex or stuff like that?” Alex asked for the umpteenth time, as Nora ascended the Lekki Bridge. Nora stretched out her hand, gave the officer the toll fare, and drove off.

“Alex, please don’t piss me off. When you meet the man, you will know. I have told you there’s nothing to worry about.”

Nora hissed and cursed in her mind.

Bankole Saheed’s usual staff brought Nora and Alex into the club. Nora hugged him, and then whispered something into his ear. Alex stood, staring at them, clutching her purse.

“Good evening sir,” She said.

“My dear, how are you. You look so pretty!” Bankole said, running his eyes over her body from head to toe. Nora nudged him and he laughed.

In a few minutes, the good man joined their table, and exchanged pleasantries with Bankole Saheed. He was wearing a mustard Lacoste polo shirt and cream chinos, and his gold necklace with the dollar pendant shone bright like the diamond it wasn’t.  His belly protruded such that the polo shirt was sloppy.

Alex greeted the man, in the Yoruba courtesy by bending her knees a little. She wasn’t sure of his tribe but she assumed Yoruba since he was fluent with it, and that was the language he spoke with Bankole Saheed.

“Come and sit beside me, fine girl.” The man said.

Alex looked at Nora, who was already sipping from Bankole’s beer, as she went to sit beside the man.

“What do you want to drink?” He asked.

“Malt is fine, Sir.” She smiled; trying to focus on the reason she had come to see the man.

“No, no. Are you saying you don’t take alcohol?” The don’t sounded like dunt and the alcohol sounded more like alkuhul. Then, she guessed he was Ibo, from the accent. She liked Ibo people who could speak Yoruba. She couldn’t even speak Ibo well, let alone two native languages.

Her phone beeped. It was a text from Nora saying she should ask for Smirnoff. She sighed.

“Okay, I’ll do Smirnoff, sir.” She smiled. She caught Nora’s glance of approval.
The man touched Alex’s laps and she flared up.

“Nora, I’m leaving.” She hissed and stormed out. Nora ran after her.

“Are you out of your mind? Do you know how much you are throwing away by walking out on that man? Ejike Okeke!” Nora yelled at Alex.

Alex was surprised.

“Ejike?” She yelled too.

She actually had never seen Aunty Joan’s husband before. She only heard about him and knew he was very wealthy…and randy.

“That’s Aunty Joan’s husband. I can’t do this to her. She already told me he can’t help.”

Nora hissed.

“Ehn, let Aunty Joan give you the N20m and save your job. It’s either this man, or you go and beg your mom, or you get out of my house. I’m sick of your holier than thou attitude. You think I don’t know that you think I’m a whore for what I do, right? You know what, Alex, I want you gone tonight.”

Alex was shocked. Nora had never spoken to her like this. She wanted to walk out and leave but she had nowhere to go. She didn’t want to go back to her mother and beg. Besides, Aunty Joan had lied to her, and hadn’t wanted to help, she thought.

“Nora…” Alex shouted.

Nora turned back and eyeballed her.

“Please, I’m sorry. I’m just scared. What if he wants to sleep with me?”

Nora burst out laughing.

“Then you shall sleep the sleep with him. It’s not like it’s a crime, girl. You need to grow up from this baby butty box you’re in. This is the real world, not school days.”

“He’s my mom’s friend’s husband, Nora…I’m scared. What if she finds out? What if they tell my mom?”

“The link is long. Your mom's friend's husband. He's not your relative. You’ll be smart about it. Your N20m is in there. It’s your choice to make.”

Alex paused.

“But I haven’t…I…I’m a virgin.”

Nora looked at Alex. That was one thing she was really jealous about; that Alex was a virgin, and Nora had lost hers since secondary school days at the boarding house with the Food prefect for extra wraps of Fufu at School lunch.

“There is a time for everything.” Nora smiled.

“What if I get pregnant? What if …”

Nora shook her head.

“Let me go in and beg Ejike for you. I know you must have embarrassed him there.”



***


Anthony was one of the workers in the club. Joan had taken a personal liking to him, and usually gave him tips every other weekend. He watched from the bar, as Nora sat beside Ejike and said some things to him, then Ejike nodded, and hugged Nora.

“Madam,” He called Joan’s phone. Joan was already dozing when his call came through.

“Anthony, how are things?  I’m so tired today…”

“Oga Ejike is here, and he’s with that Nora girl you said you know.” Anthony said.

Joan sat upright.

“Oh my God! I’m tired of this man’s adultery. So Nora is sleeping with my husband now eh?”


After she had cut Anthony’s call, she scrolled through her phone, and dialed another contact. 




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