The last time I published this story, I mentioned that I was out for six weeks and it was considered too long and I made sure never to stay too long away. Now, six months later, I have returned to continue the story you love so much. I apologize for the generation without publishing. I have always wanted to return but fail each time, being completely owned by Chief Exhaustion and Ms Procastination.
Today, Moses’ birthday gave me the push and hopefully, I am back for good. Austin, this is for you. Live forever, prosper.
In case you missed the last episode, catch it here. In that episode, Aunty Peace having cried because the gateman said he liked her, I got to the block industry near my apartment and gave Bismarck Aunty Oge’s phone number just for the
violence love to go round.
Christmas was at the backyard, exams fever was storey-high, the date of the Christmas party had been named, and I was without 14 thousand naira. I had collected the one thousand naira each student was charged for the party, for my class, and I spent them as I got them. I was sure I could easily raise the money when it was needed.
It was now needed and I had no 14K.
I was, as was painfully usual, broke. Broke may not be the right word. I should say broken into pieces. If you were ordinarily broke, you didn’t have enough money for your basic needs. But since nothing of mine was ever ordinary, I was broken into tiny pieces, sharp-glassy pieces.
I didn’t have money for my needs. I was owing the school authorities.
Today, while standing behind during the assembly, I saw the school bursar with the corner of my eye, approaching. Mrs. Anozie was by my shoulder. “Do you have 15K you are not using before salary is paid?”
She smiled. “You mean if I have three-quarters of my salary still remaining?”
I saw the picture which I refused to take in. “Your husband is the biggest man in Nkwo Nnewi,” I said.
“Yea,”she agreed, “Maybe you should have his phone number.”
She scoffed. “I can spare 5K because because of your prophecy on my husband’s head,” she said.
I said no. “I get 5K from you, I get 5K from the VP, and another 5K from the local government chairman or whoever, during complete Babi Allah? Not me.”
She said something about someone having the ego of Ifeanyi Ubah but the pocket of a dry crayfish.
The bursar who had slowed down to answer a phone call was now before me.
“CBN governor,”I greeted her.
“Do you have a moment?” she asked.
“Everyone has a moment for the treasury secretary.”
“You have to be consistent with this titles,” she said.
“I will think about it.”
I followed her to her office in the first floor of the primary section.
“I need your help,” she said when I was seated.
“You won’t ask about the 14K I am supposed to remit?” I said.
She smiled. “You will remit it when you will. For now, a friend of mine is looking for someone to write a project. She just gave birth and just doesn’t have the energy for that.”
I sat back and crossed a leg on top of another leg. No, let me retake: I sat back and crossed a bony leg on top of another bony leg. “This sounds like exam malpractise,” I said.
“Some people see it as runs,” she said. “Name an amount that would make you see it as runs.”
I hesitated, she pressed on. “I have already remitted your 14K. So, whatever amount you name is minus 14K. But I would still give you something substantial to start.”
I said nothing.
She said, “I like how you didn’t even ask me the department, I am sure you would kill it. I love that. You know, she asked me to look for a sharp guy and your name came up in a 4K screen.”
I almost smiled. “Can I think about it?”
She made a little face. “You know, during WAEC, you are supposed to help the kids with English and Literature. I think you should begin to see these things as runs, as part of the occupational hazards of teaching in Mount Sinai.”
I didn’t like her tone. I rose calmly to my feet.
“You don’t have to make a decision now,” she said quickly. “I will expect an answer on Saturday.” Today was Tuesday.
I released a small sigh and turned to.
“Wait,” she said.
I stopped at the door. I faced her. She opened a file.
“Forgive me for eavesdropping but I heard something about 5K when you were talking with Mrs. Anozie.” And she counted ten five hundred naira notes. “This is a loan. If you agree to work for my friend, we will do plus and minus.”
And if I refused to work for her or her friend or both of them, whatever, I would be owing her 19 thousand naira, 6K short of my salary. Now, this is the stick aspect of the whole thing. She was giving me a carrot which was also a stick, a sticky carrot.
Say no, something inside me said to me. Say no, thanks then leave, the voice said to me.
I collected the money.
When you are broke, as broke as I was, broken into pieces, you don’t take every advice something inside you gives you.
To be continued…