We got to Benin a little after 3pm. The sun was blazing from
the sky. The traffic was jammed and the people moved around
as if everything was fine.
I noticed their young girls wore skimpy clothes that exposed
their upper thighs.
Hmm! Maria was going to be careful otherwise, just otherwise.
”Baby, I will be looking around the beautiful city of Benin while
you go visiting your friends” I had said to Maria.
”Uhhm nope, nope. We are going everywhere together” she
said while laughing at my ridiculous suggestion.
Our first visit was at the textile mill road.
Her name was Agnes. According to Maria, she was an old
friend who had tried to join their travel group to Italy but was
dropped at the 11th hour.
One could see that the grudge was still written all over her
face. I wanted to advice her on how to take life easy but it
wasn’t my business.
She started weeping when she saw Maria.
”Look at how fresh you look, you even have a husband now”
she had said between sobs.
What was she talking about? Husband.
Anyway I decided to allow Maria to enjoy her Benin visit. I
could be called her husband or her son as long as it made her
happy. I didn’t know what she had told them on the phone. I
had seen her made some calls but spoke in a native language
that I couldn’t figure out. Maybe she had told them that she
had returned with her husband.
She would pay for that when we returned to Lagos.
Enjoy your visit Mrs Maria Ozoigbondu.
After minutes of trying to console and control Agnes, she
calmed down and asked Maria when she was returning to
”I don’t think I will go back. Life is very difficult there” Maria
It was the most clever answer I had heard from her. She had
found out that telling Agnes when she would return could
trigger a new round of tears, therefore she tried to paint
Europe black. I liked her for that.
We left Agnes after 30 minutes. Maria gave her N5000. I gave
her nothing since I figured out that she was a desperate girl.
She could have gone to do some Juju with my money.
Our next call was to another lady called Aisha. She was half
Hausa and half Edo. I didn’t know how she came to be but I
figured out her father must have gotten hooked up with the
mother somewhere in the Northern Nigeria.
Aisha was pretty with a pointed nose. She was Maria’s
I wanted to tell Maria that I liked that one, but I didn’t know
what Maria had told Aisha about who I was. The way Aisha
looked at me and tried to serve me showed that she also
considered me Maria’s husband or Atleast a serious
boyfriend. Maria also gave her N5000.
Where did she hid all those money? It seemed that she had
some money but since we met, I never asked her how buoyant
she was. I only knew that we met at the beach and that she
drove a rav4. Most of the time that we had been out together,
I had taken up the financial responsibilities voluntarily.
We made our third and the final visit of the day to a Madam
Comfort. According to Maria, she was the mother of her
Madam in Italy. She had come to pay homage and had bought
her Breads and Juice. Madam Comfort was delighted to see
us but also said that some other girl was there two days
before with her husband too. She asked us to kneel down and
closee our eyes while she held our heads and prayed for us.
Close my eyes? In benin city, noo.
Gam!! That was the trap I had suspected. Well whether it was
or not, I wasn’t going to do that.
”Don’t worry ma. I am not a Christian. I don’t need the
prayers” I had said.
I wanted to tell her to say her prayers without holding my head
but a quick thinking asked me to deny Christianity entirely. Not
that it mattered but I remembered that Peter denied Jesus in
the Bible too.
Apparently it was a wise thing to safeguard yourself first. Then
take the blames later.
If Peter, who was called the rock of Christianity, the first Pope,
the keeper of Heaven’s gate etc denied Jesus despite being
foretold, who was I to think twice before denying too.
Madam comfort said her prayers anyway, wishing us many
Children and prosperity. When it was time to go, Maria gave
I on the other hand asked Maria to give her another N5000 on
”I will give you the money when we got to the car” I had said.
”I don’t have any more money with me here” Maria had
Hmm? The whole point was not to give the woman the money
by myself. The only other alternative was to send Maria to the
Dash hole to get the money by herself but I didn’t want her to
see the money I left there.
I had over N100,000 and another €500 in the pigeon hole.
I asked Maria to follow me to the car, She came and stood at
the passenger door. I opened the hole and gave her N5000 for
the lady. Maria said that I should go and give her the money
by myself so that she would know it was me who gave her the
The chicken brains at work!
I asked Maria to wait in the car. I walked back through the
gate and told Madam Comfort that there was no longer
enough money in the car. I told her that I would give Maria
money to give her when we go out to the bank the next day. I
didn’t wait for her to respond as I turned back and walked
quickly back to the car.
Before Madam Comfort was able to come out from the gate, I
already turned the car around and was already moving out of
”Did you give her the money” Maria asked me.
”What else did I went to do in the compound Maria. I don’t
like silly questions” I asked her. I was getting angry and I
didn’t want her to know that.
We got to a hotel and I packed inside.
”Go inside and check how much a room cost and if there is a
room available” I said to Maria.
She went into the hotel reception. Her bag was on her seat,
therefore, I opened it and saw a bundle of N500 notes. I didn’t
count them but I knew it was still more than N40,000.
Why on Earth did the girl told me she had no more money
when I asked her to give madam Comfort money on my
behalf? What exactly was she planning?
Two things were her possible plan.
First was to save money, maybe she had spent more than she
The second scary option was that she wanted me to give my
own money to madam Comfort, by myself too. It was scary
because even back in my own village, I was warned not to give
people cash. As a result, I had to direct the old men and
women to get the money from my mother who I had left some
money in her care.
What the heck was this Edo girl planning? Then I recalled that
the first time she said she was going to Edo, I had declined
going with her. She had said that I would lend her small
money which she would pay when she returned. I had read no
meaning into it but there at the hotel, my mind was racing.
I began to recount the money deals I had with Maria in recent
past days. There was really non. I had not given her any
money recently. My money had not gone missing too because
most of the time, I left my wallet and money inside the car.
I was almost tempted to leave Maria there and drive to
another location and sleep but I decided to play dumb until
the next day.
”They said a room is N5500 a night” she said.
I locked the car and came down.
”I guess since you said you don’t have any more money, I
should pay” I said as I followed her to the hotel.
I wanted her to think that I didn’t search her bag and It work. I
could almost see the smile on her face.
”We can never be too careful in the choice of our enemies”
I followed Maria to the reception hall where I paid N5500 and
took the receipt. We went upstairs and settled down. After
taking my bath, which I did alone, I laid down on the bed and
faced the wall.
”Are you Ok Baby?” I heard the soft voice of Maria said behind
”Yea, I am just tired from the long distance” I lied.
I wanted her to leave me alone. I didn’t want much chat or
even sex that night. I wanted to replay the events of the the
day on my mind.
Her phone rang. She answered it in Edo language. After the
call she tapped my back and as I turned, she said ” Madam
Comfort said you didn’t give her the money again”
”She is a liar” I said knowing that she won’t believe me.
”Mama won’t lie to me” she said.
I kept quiet.
”why did you lie to me that you gave her money when I asked
you” She said with a slightly raised voice.
”Why did you ask if I had given her the money” I said getting
down from the bed.
”I understand she was the one who called you now and told
you that I didn’t give her the money, Maria why did she do
that” I said, standing in front of her.
”Since you are so interested in me giving her the money
today, I am going back there to give it to her” I said as I
grabbed my jean trousers and started wearing it.
Maria placed her two hands on her waist and watched with
surprise as i put on my whole clothes and shoes, then picked
up my car keys and headed downstairs.
I got to the car and started the engine. It was getting past
8pm, but I knew that the city would remain lively until Atleast
I drove out of the compound as I saw Maria coming out of the
hotel reception. My phone was ringing. I checked and saw that
it was Maria calling me.
”Don’t worry, I will find the way to Madam Comfort’s house
and give her the money. I will be back before you know it.” I
said and switched off the phone.
I drove out to the old Lagos- Benin road and turned right
towards east. I didn’t know where I was going but I knew that I
was going to locate a new hotel somewhere down the road. I
came to a junction and turned left, then I busted to a major
road called Mission road. There was a sign down the road
indicating that a hotel was located there.
The gateman approached me as I drove towards the gate. He
didn’t open the gate as I expected.
”Oga, chance no dey inside again” he had said.
I packed the car outside, walked through the open smaller
gate and went into the reception hall.
The receptionist said that they had a room of N3000. I paid for
it and went upstairs. Since I had taken my bath at the previous
hotel, I just removed my cloths except the boxers, then I laid
on the bed and switched on my phone.
Maria called instantly.
”Baby please come back, I am sorry. It is dangerous out there.
Where are you…” I am sorry” she said in quick succession.
”Don’t worry Maria, you know nothing will happen to me. I
need some time to think alone. I will return to the hotel as
soon as my head cleared” I said and cut off the line. She
called again and again but I didn’t answer.
I wanted to switch the phone off but I felt that my cousin
could decide to call the DPO since I had given his number to
Sleep caught up with me later in the night and when I woke
up, there were numerous text messages on my phone. All from
one person, asking me to either forgive her or return to the
I sent her a message telling her to start going back to Lagos
when she finished what she came to do in Benin.
”I am going somewhere else and don’t ask me where or
when” I had added in the message.
She called as soon as she got the message. She asked where
I was and how she could come to me…
” I am in Madam Comfort’s house. I slept there” I said and cut
the line off.
After the phone call, I check the time and it was a few
minutes past 8am. The time was good enough to move,
therefore I ignored the bathroom and put on my cloths. I got
to the reception, dropped my keys and went out through the
As I looked left and right, I saw two young men hanging
across the road with a bike. They were looking at me but since
I had already covered my eyes with dark glasses, they couldn’t
figure out if I had noticed them or not. I was alerted. Actually I
had been on alert since I left Maria the previous night. I had a
feeling she could be looking for me.
I walked past the car without even looking at it. Down the
road, I saw a bike man and stopped him.
”Where is the nearest Police Station here” I asked him. He
said it was about 5 minutes away since the traffic was still
light that morning.
I climbed on his bike and asked him to take me to the Police
We got to the station and I paid him off. Inside the station, I
met a lady Police officer and told him that I saw some two
suspicious men trying to open my car with a knife. I told her
that they were with a bike and that they were looking at me…
She quickly alerted three other police men who asked me a
few questions before asking me to lead them to the place.
There was no car in the station, therefore, they had to join
bikes as I did.
The two suspicious men were still there when we returned and
so was Maria.
I pointed to the two men, ignoring Maria as she attempted to
approach me but stopped when she saw that the three cops
came with me.
One of the Policemen had pointed his old AK-47 towards the
two men and asked them not to move.
”What is all this” Maria said.
I ignored her like I did before and started my car, turned it
around and swerved left unto the road and headed towards
Lagos. The traffic was still very light, therefore I was moving
I knew that the Police would like me to follow them to the
station and make some written statements and possibly give
them money but I also knew that if the men got released while
I was still at the station, I could have been in a whole lot of
troubles. I had decided to take my chances and run.
If they caught up with me, the worst would be to return with
them to the station where I would twist the whole situation
and bail myself out with money.
As I crossed in front of University of Benin complex, My phone
rang. It was Maria.
”What’s up sweetheart. Are you Sending more thugs to stop
me again” I said.
”No, I only asked them to help me locate you Austin. I didn’t
send them to do anything to you”. She said slowly.
”Well, we can talk about it when you return to Lagos because I
am already half way back home” I said and put the phone
” We must respect the past, and
mistrust the present, if we wish to
provide for the safety of the future.”
There was a Police check point at the head of the Benin
bypass. They stopped me and asked where I was going, where
I was coming from and why I was where I was coming from.
I told them that I had come from Lagos the day before and
that I was there for a visit.
After checking my papers, they begged that I find them
I gave the N500, and from their obvious victory waving, I knew
that I gave them more than they expected.
On a high speed, I drove past Okada and the entire Edo state
and slowed down a bit when I crossed Over that small bridge
that demacated Edo and Ondo State.
I ate food at Ore and proceeded to Lagos. I believed that I had
cunningly escaped a tragedy in Edo state. I was so convinced
that Maria wanted me to give Madam Comfort money for a
reason. I was also so sure that they had discussed me before
we came to Benin. We lived in a terrible country. During the
small time that I had driven on Nigerian Roads, I had seen
numerous mad men and women who walked along the road
daily. Some of them were not naturaly mad. Some where made
mad by some mixture of events that went right or wrong
depending on the intentions of the perpetrator.
As I drove home alone on that warn morning, I wondered what
Maria had planned to do with me.
Was she planning to make me her husband by using charm
made with my money? Things like that could go wrong and
when it happen, one could become dead or mad or a puppet
Was she planning to perform some kind of rituals with me?
I even wondered if she knew what I did with Madam Grace.
”In this World of uncertainties, the safest way to be safe is to
suspect everything and trust nothing, don’t even trust yourself”
Yes, I didn’t trust myself too. That great book called Bible had
given us an example of what a woman can do in the books of
Judges chapter 16. It was a story of Samson And Delilah.
Whether the story was true or not, we were supposed to learn
something from it.
From that day, right inside my car, I decided that I would be
dealing with women on my own terms.
( The last time I met with a Nairalander at Enugu, I had to walk
around the premises where she directed me to come, had to
check the place out first before calling her that I was there. No
offence to the beautiful girl, It was just a policy).
The thing that helped me the most was that I suspected Maria
of planning something before we went to Edo. She had started
being such a nice and homely woman all of a sudden. That
was a girl I met at the beach on a transparent swimming trunk
sipping cocktail. That was a girl who initially went to night
clubs everynight, even when we newly started seeing each
other. How she turned to that nice home trained-house
cleaning-wife material overnight was suspicious and I was a
very sensitive person. Every single thing she did or said usually
got scrutinized and analyzed by my brain quickly. She was an
Edo girl who had conquered Europe like I did and returned
without smelling the prison house. She should be considered
dangerous and clever. ( No disrespect to Edo people. This is
entirely my opinion and not general)
I got home and rested until the evening. Then I called Daisy.
I needed to be with her for a while. She was the only one
whom I believed, had the purest of hearts among all the girls I
had been with. She didn’t pretend or tried to impress. She was
just herself. She was the type that could be trusted to a higher
degree but not entirely. She was the type who would be
excited if you meet with her people. But as fate would have it,
she was carrying the Osu tag. A tag that I could ignore and
face the consequences but since I couldn’t yet measure the
level of the consequences that would follow her, I had
decided to relax and stay on the background, Atleast for the
” Am angry with you” she said as soon as she answered the
I didn’t want to argue or ask questions, I just told her that I
understood why and that I knew how she felt. She said she
could come the next day but not sure.
As I awaited the return of Maria from the Edo state, I made a
mental list of everything in my house. I wanted to make sure
that nothing illegal or incriminating was there. There was non.
Maria could come with Police to claim one thing or the other.
I knew how silly some women reason sometimes. It was
important that I prepared for uncertainties.
I called Jude and asked him to meet with me the following
day. It was time to talk about the Marijuana business in the
” The one permanent emotion of the
inferior man is fear – fear of the
unknown, the complex, the
inexplicable. What he wants above
everything else is safety.”
Nigeria cultivated Marijuana in large quantities in some states
that included Ondo, Edo and Delta
Unlike the types cultivated in Europe, the Nigerian local weeds
were herbal. They cured diseases. However that does not
change the fact that it was still an illegal banned business.
Banned by who?
Nigeria is a country that danced to the tunes of its colonial
masters and other western agents. We had no sayings of our
own, we were not involved in any World trade organisation
deals except the oil which the west determined the prizes.
Since we had areas that efficiently grew Marijuana, it was a
business the federal government should have delved into, just
like the governments of Mexico, Colombia and other central
and South Americans delved into Cocaine.
The imperialists would never want the developing countries to
catch up with them. As a result, they termed most of their
natural resources Illegal just like they did in Afghanistan.
They go behind and use their military men to deal on those
drugs because they needed them to manufacture their artificial
drugs such as chloroquine, procain and other dangerous
injections. They knew that as soon as Marijuana, Opium and
other Drugs were legalized, they (the west) would be put out of
They had their laboratories where they manufacture diseases
only to also manufacture the antidotes to experiment on us.
”I got the contact from a friend of mine from Akure. There is a
large forest 20 kilometers away from the Owo highway. It is
where the Marijuana farm is located. The government forces
are aware but we settle them each time we want to shift
compressed weeds from the farm to town or to Lagos” Jude
According to him, he was still learning the ropes since he had
no contacts to supply it in Europe. After discussing the
Marijuana topic, it was clear to me that I would go into it some
day but not at that moment. I needed to make friends from
Ondo state first, then Edo state and Delta state. I needed the
insiders who were interested in Shifting the stuff to Europe.
But first I was going to go to Europe and find buyers.
Three days after the Benin events, Maria returned, or rather
called and said she had returned.
”Did you return with Madam Comfort or did she send you to
get the money alone” I had asked her.
”I want to come to your place so we can discuss this” she
I told her that I was not at home. She wanted to come to
wherever I was but I told her to wait until I returned. I was at
home anyway but it was becoming dangerous allowing Maria
to come close to me. I hadn’t given a serious thought on how
next to tell her to leave but I knew it was going to happen
Daisy called and said she couldn’t make it. It was a welcomed
news, the tension of the previous day had reduced
dramatically. I was already feeling like myself once more. That
soft spot part of me had been replaced by the non
compromising part that usualy pushed me to act before I was
Life itself was all about that; ”Don’t let the action come to you
if you can take the action first” .
sometimes the outsiders would understand the first action as
the offensive one, the bad one.
But all my lives, I recalled one Igbo saying that said : ”Rather
than allowing someone’s dog to kill my own dog, I would
rather let my own dog to kill the other dog first. It would be
better to pay someone for his dog rather than allow them to
pay me for my own dog”
Life is all about survival of the fittest, especially in our own
part of the World where over 90% of the populace were hungry.
Hunger was the biggest cause of our problems down in this
country and a hungry man could be motivated to do anything
instead of facing the imminent option which was death.
As for Maria, I knew that whatever she planned to do was part
of her survival plans. Maybe she wanted husband, money,
fame etc and she believed that she could get that by using
some kind of charm on me.
”It is only a tree that heard it was going to be cut down and
still stood in one place”. Since Ozoigbondu was not a tree, it
was important that I shifted because shifting was an
unpredictable manner that displaced things.
Maria had tried his luck and failed. However knowing who I
was, I needed to teach her some lessons never to try such
things on any other person.
It was time to get my revenge on her. Leaving her In Benin
was just a merciful punishment since I knew she had enough
money to get her back to Lagos.
A day after she called, I called Baba and his gang.
I told them that Maria had stolen my money and that I needed
to get it back. They were angry that after asking them to
recover money from Chukwudi, I went ahead and used the
I had to talk them down into taking the new job after making a
promise of fifty-fifty sharing.
Around 8pm, I got down from my house and walked up to
Emmanuel bustop along Adetola street. There was a small bar
along the street off Emmanuel bus stop. I sat there and called
Baba. He came with two friends. I told them that I was going
to call the girl and that she would stop at the Emmamuel bus
stop. They were to stand around there and grab her bag when
I called Maria. She was happy and thought that I had forgiven
and forgotten what happened.
Silly girl. I don’t forget. I may chose to forgive but forgetting
would put me in a similar situation like before.
She said she would take a bike to my street before 9pm. The
later the better.
” I am out of cash and I need some money from you”. I had
said to her.
Since she was ready to do anything, she agreed that she had
N52,000 in the house. I told her to get it for me.
”You will get it back the following week” I had promised.
” As to the deceit perpetrated upon women, let it pass, for
when love is in the way, men and women as a general rule
dupe each other”
”Help, somebody help” it was the voice of Maria.
Some group of unknown men had stopped her at Emmanuel
bus stop, a few meters away from the bar where I was
drinking. They had searched her and took some money from
her. They took her phone too. Therefore, she couldn’t reach
I wasn’t interested in the shouting. People had gathered
around the area and more people were joining. It was
becoming risky for me to stay there since someone might
have seen me with Baba and the other actors. I got up, settled
my bill and walked towards the opposite direction to a small
street called Balogun Kuku. The street stretched up and
busted out at Sanya street. I stopped a bike there and drove
Ten minutes later, a knock came to my door.
”Who is that” I had shouted.
”Its me Maria” the voice said.
”I have been trying to call you and warn you that some thieves
were in that bus stop I told you to come but your phone was
not ringing” I said as I opened the door.
She came inside and started crying.
”I told you that I have forgotten what happened in Benin. You
don’t need to keep crying over that” I said, pretending that I
didn’t know why she was crying.
”They took my phone and the money” she cried out.
I held her and asked who took them. She said it was the
thieves at the Bus stop.
I sat her down on the Sofa as my cousin walked in. We both
consoled her and told her that she should thank God they
didn’t kill her.
My born again cousin reminded her of some examples of
where thieves stole from people and even killed them.
”You need to go back to your place and rest. You will get
headache from crying. I wanted us to go somewhere this night
but you can’t go in this condition. I will take you home” I said
as I dashed inside to get my car keys. I didn’t give her any
chance to say anything.
I was going to recover the N30,000. I gave to her parents and
the money I spent in benin hotels. She didn’t just knew that.
It was good to pay good with good and evil with evil if you
can. But we must be careful of backlash when we pay evil for
evil for humans were created to look for revenge against every
I drove her home and promised to get her another phone as
soon as possible.
”The best way to get your enemies to pay and work for you is
to make them believe that you are still friends”
I knew good when I saw it and I believed every reasonable
person should be the same. However if gave you my heart and
you tried to betray or kill it, there was only one option left for
me. Just one.
I had bought her Valium 5 and paracetamol tablets to help her
sleep. I had also advised her to take three tablets of the stuff
instead of one. I knew it won’t harm her but would rather
make her sleep deeply. She needed the deep sleep. It would
help her to reflect on the things she had done wrong to
deserve what happened to her. I believed so much in Karma
especially when I inflicted it by myself.
Life is a very complicated thing but You cannot sow a yam
and harvest Cassava.
” I have yet to see a problem however complicated that when
you look at it the right way does not become more
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