Gbemiga returned home from work tired and hungry. He had
a cold bath, changed into a sleeveless shirt and a pair of
shorts, and went to the kitchen to make himself a meal.
About twenty minutes later, he strode into the sitting room
carrying a plate of noodles, fried eggs and plantain with a
large piece of smoked Tilapia fish. He settled on the only
chair in the room, a brown three seater leather chair. He
hoped to get the rest of the furniture he needed before his
wedding day. He had been given a two-bedroom flat like
every other staff in USAID and the only thing he had been
able to buy was a bed, a chair and a television. He had used
most of his money to move his family into a new
accommodation during the festive period. He also had a
wedding to prepare for and it was draining his account. He
didn’t know that couples spent so much on so little just for a
The traditional and church wedding had been fixed on the
same week, the last week of August. It was less than six
weeks away. He prayed that God would finance both events.
Although his family had promised to help, from both his
father’s and mother’s side, he didn’t want to put his hope on
The Da Silvas were also moving mountains on their side.
Abisoye was very special to them and they wanted the
wedding to be memorable.
He finished the meal, dropped the plate on the rugged floor
and stretched out on the chair. He picked up the remote and
flipped through the DSTV channels and settled on the Sports
channel. He began to doze off moments later, but, the loud
bangs on his door woke him up. He jumped down from the
chair and looked around.
Who was knocking at his door like that? He glanced at the
wall clock. It was past nine. The bangs persisted. He
frowned and marched towards the front door. He drew the
latch, opened the door and came face to face with six hefty
men. They were all in Police uniforms and they were armed.
“Are you Mr. Oluwagbemiga Phillips?” one of them asked.
He nodded and stared back at them.
“Do you work at USAID?”
He nodded again, his heart beat had quickened.
“Do you know Miss. Abisoye Da Silva?”
He blinked and nodded again.
“Who is she to you?”
“My… my fiancée.”
The men exchanged glances.
“Where is she?”
He swallowed hard, “I think… I think she should be home. I
saw her this morning at work. She left around noon on an
official assignment. She didn’t return.”
The men exchanged glances again.
“What is this about? What is going on?”
“Mr. Phillips, you need to come with us to the station.”
He frowned, “Why?”
The man who seemed to be the leader of the group stared
at him sternly, “Come with us in peace. If you resist, we will
drag you to the station like a dog.”
Gbemiga stared back at the man and swallowed hard.
“Let us go,” the man beckoned at him.
“I… I am not properly…”
“Let us go!”
“Like this?” he glared at the man.
The man signaled to the others. They grabbed him by the
elbow and pulled him towards the exit.
“Wait… I cannot go like this. At least, let me put on
something decent!” he cried out.
No one paid attention to him. He was dragged out of the
building and thrown into the black vehicle parked outside
An hour and forty-five minutes later, Gbemiga was dragged
into the police station. He was taken to a room illuminated
by a very small dim bulb. He was made to sit on a chair,
hands tied behind him, legs tied to the chair. The men left.
He noticed a tall dark figure standing a stone throw away
from him. He couldn’t make out the face of the man, but,
something about him made fear to crawl all over him.
“Mr. Oluwagbemiga Phillips, you have two options. One, tell
me the truth. Then we will take it from there. Two, lie and I
get the truth out of you.”
Gbemiga swallowed hard. What was he doing in a police
station? What crime did he commit?
“How long have you been working for USAID?”
“Em… About two, three months.”
“Good,” the man came forward. He was about six feet tall,
all muscled and stern looking. His dark eyes were cold and
emotionless and his bare arms were covered with ugly scars.
“Who is Miss. Abisoye Da Siva to you?”
He swallowed hard, “My… my fiancée.”
The man grinned. His teeth were charcoal black. Gbemiga
turned away. Irritation made him nauseated.
“When was the last time you saw her?”
“This… this morning.”
“Where is she now?”
He gave a shake of head, “Honestly, I don’t know.”
The man’s bushy brows creased in a frown, “You truly want
me to believe that you do not know where your fiancée is.”
“I… I think she is home.”
The man marched towards him and stared down at him, “I
can start with your genitals and believe you, me, you won’t
live to father a child in this life or the next.”
Gbemiga felt a pressure below his abdomen. He was about
to pee on himself. “Sir, I… I don’t know where she is.”
Unexpectedly, the man hit him across the face thrice. His
vision went dark for about a minute. The only thing he saw
were dozens of little shiny stars. The pain came, spreading
around his cheek bone, then down his jawline. He tasted
blood in his mouth. Was he bleeding?
“Where is Abisoye D Silva?!” the man bellowed. The man’s
voice echoed through the walls.
Gbemiga felt his ears throbbing. He knew he was in trouble.
Who was going to rescue him? He raised his head and
stared at the ceiling. The small dim bulb stared back at him.
God please help me.
The man started to laugh, “Are you praying?”
He dropped his head and looked at the man.
“Are you claiming to be one of those fanatic church goers?”
the man snarled at him.
“I am a born-again Christian,” he mumbled. It hurt to talk.
His face was on fire.
The man laughed again. “If truly you serve a pure and holy
God, why did you plan with your lover to defraud the agency
you work for?”
His eyes widened in shock.
“Abisoye served in the Accounting department and when
she was retained, she remained in that department.”
Gbemiga nodded quickly.
“All through her service year she redrew money from the
agency’s account in piece meal and transferred it to an
offshore account. She was so good with what she did that
no one knew until a few days ago.”
He began to tremble. He was really in trouble. He had no
idea that his fiancée had been stealing from the international
“In total, she siphoned the sum of one hundred and fifty
Tears brewed in his eyes. His head began to ache and he felt
very dizzy. Was he going to pass out?
“We have been monitoring her movements. She was
supposed to report to her boss this evening, but, she is
nowhere to be found. She is not in her apartment. She is not
in yours. She is not home in Ibadan, neither is she in her
uncle’s place in Lagos. Where is she Gbemiga?”
He shook his head again.
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know sir,” tears clouded his vision.
“Did you both plan this? Are you her accomplice?”
“No sir,” he shook visibly.
“Where is your rendezvous point?”
“Paris? U.K? Where?!”
“I don’t know… I don’t know anything,” he started to sob.
The man spat on him and backed away. “You are in soup
young man. Your fiancée is a professional thief and she is
wanted in Nigeria and abroad. The Interpol are looking for
her as we speak. You are her fiancé and you must be in on
it. I don’t believe that you are innocent.”
Gbemiga raised his head. The hate in the man’s eyes
“Start talking or I will break every single bone in your body.
When I am done with you, you will pray for death, but, it will
“I had no idea…”
“Stop lying and talk to me!”
“I don’t know… I didn’t know that she… I had no idea… “
The man dashed towards him, lifted him with the chair, and
threw them against the wall. Gbemiga collapsed on the cold
floor, bleeding and
The Phillips sat in the sitting room watching their favourite
television programme, Super Story. The door-bell rang, but,
they all remained seated. It rang again and again. The
couple exchanged glances then turned to their daughters
who were seated on the rugged floor.
“Someone is at the door,” Remi addressed the girls.
None of them moved.
“Won’t you go and get the door?” Baba shouted at them.
Lola and Kemi exchanged glances.
“Go and see who it is?” Lola tapped her sister on the lap.
Kemi eyed her, “Why me? Don’t you have legs?”
“I am your elder sister,” Lola stated as a matter of fact.
“Senior ko, junior ni,” She eyed her again, “We are just two
years apart. It doesn’t count.”
“You are mad. Something is wrong with your brain,” she
glared at her.
“And you are a fool. Instead of you to get married, you are
lounging in your father’s house.”
“Is it me you are talking to like that?”
Kemi hissed, “No, it is your shadow I am talking to.”
“I have been warning you,” she poked her on the head with
her finger, “Mind the way you talk to me. I am not your
“Abeg park well.”
Lola slapped her sister, “You are very silly.”
Kemi held the side of her face, “Oloriburuku ni ota e ni?”
Her elder sister slapped her again, “You are still talking.”
Kemi cried out in pain and lurched her weight at her sister.
They both exchanged slaps and blows.
Remi pulled off her leather slippers and threw it at the girls.
“Ah! Maami…” Lola let go of her sister, jumped to her feet
and held her head.
“Daddy…” Kemi turned to her father, holding her stomach.
“If you come near me, I will slap you,” Baba eyed her.
Kemi hissed and folded her arms across her chest.
Lola stumped her feet on the floor and slow walked towards
the door. She turned the key and yanked the door open.
Her heart missed a beat when she found her elder brother
standing by the doorway, “Brother!” she looked him up and
down. He stood there in
a black short-sleeve tee-shirt and jeans with a blue knap-
sack hanging on his shoulder. His face was lean and pale, he
looked thin and malnourished and was no different from the
kidnapped victims auctioned at the slave market in the
movies she watched recently.
Gbemiga limped into the flat and settled on the chair closest
to the door. He was so tired and hungry.
Remi and Baba jumped to their feet when they saw their son.
He was a shadow of himself.
“Gbemiga,” she rushed to his side.
“Where have you been?” his father seized him up. He barely
recognized the boy.
“What happened to you?” Remi didn’t like the way he looked.
“You and Abisoye just disappeared just like that. You were
both supposed to come home for your traditional and church
wedding,” Baba glared at him.
“Gbemiga,” Remi placed a hand on his forehead. His
temperature was a little bit higher than normal.
“We called the Da Silvas and they claimed that they haven’t
heard from both of you. Hope both of you didn’t elope to get
married. Why would
you do such a thing in the first place when you have the
backing of both families?”
He raised his head and stared at his father.
“Explain yourself. This is September. You were supposed to
be married in August.”
He dropped his gaze and met his mother’s questioning stare.
“Just thank God that I am alive,” his voice sounded hoarse.
Lola and Kemi drew close to their brother. They didn’t like
the way he was looking. Where were his luggages?
“What happened to you?” Remi looked into his sad eyes.
“I have been in the police’s net since the second week of
Silence filled the room.
“I was whisked out of my apartment, locked up in a hole in
the police station, questioned and tortured for a crime I
didn’t commit,” tears
glistered in his eyes.
“What are you talking about?” Baba seized up the boy.
“I almost died,” he looked from his mother to his father.
“Why did they arrest you?” Remi held back the tears
threatening to spill all over her face. It was hard to believe
that their son had been
suffering while they thought he was enjoying himself in
“Abisoye stole a hundred and fifty thousand dollars from
USAID and they thought I was involved.”
Remi placed both hands on her head, “Mo gbe, mo gbe, mo
gbe ooooooo!” she went on her knees and began to weep.
“She defrauded the agency and disappeared. No one knows
where she is, not even her family.”
Baba blinked back the tears gathering in his sad old eyes. He
couldn’t imagine what his son must have gone through.
“When they discovered that I was innocent, the agency
dropped the case against me. I was released, but, I lost my
job. My bank accounts
are frozen; they took everything from me.”
Baba sat beside his son, “But, why? If they found out that
you were innocent, why punish you? What’s wrong with all
these foreigners in our country?”
He turned to his father, “My association with Abisoye cost
me everything. They… they took all I had. Everything I worked
for… at least, I am alive,” he started to cry.
“Ahhhhhh! God punish all my enemies! Evil people! Enemies
of progress! They must all die by fire!” Remi rolled on the
floor, screaming and crying.
Lola and Kemi sat on the floor and started to cry too.
“You mean Abisoye is a thief?”
Gbemiga nodded and looked at his distraught father.
“How come you didn’t know?” he eyed the boy.
He sighed heavily and wiped his wet face with the back of
“You should have been sensitive enough to know the kind of
woman you were getting married to. I thought you were a
strong Christian. Look
at the kind of trouble you have brought on us all.”
He folded his arms across his chest. How was he supposed
to know? Was he a magician or a wizard? He didn’t know
and his ignorance had cost him everything. How was he
supposed to take care of his family now? Where was he
going to start from? He looked up at the ceiling and sighed
God where are you?
“What about my sister?”
He glanced at his father, “She was the one that paid for my
bail at the police station.”
Baba sighed with relief.
“She… she said she has washed her hands off my case,” his
“What nonsense?!” he became infuriated.
“She said I have shamed the family. She called uncle Tayo
and uncle Korede. Both of them said that they can no longer
sponsor my Masters program.”
“What have gotten into them?”
Gbemiga shrugged and sighed heavily. He was still trying to
wrap his mind around everything that happened to him.
“They can’t do this. A promise is a promise. They must
follow through on their agreement. They can’t just back out.
Are they saying that you
He looked at his father. The man’s anger was
understandable. He had also been upset when his aunt and
uncles dissolved the promise they made to him during the
family meeting. He came to a conclusion after many nights
of restless sleep. It was only God that would stand by him
and see him through the thick and the thin. No man would.
“I must speak to my sister…” Baba got up, “Where is my
phone?” he looked around.
“Daddy… daddy, leave her. Leave them. Let them go.”
Baba glanced at the boy.
“They are not worth it.”
He sighed heavily and sat back on the chair, “What they did
Gbemiga nodded in agreement, “It is well. Let’s just thank
God that I am alive.”
Bukky carried the bucket of wet clothes out of the bathroom
and headed out. She strolled to the back of the building and
searched for space on the long line. She moved some of her
neighbour’s clothes which were already dried and began to
spread hers. A smile spread on her face. She was super
excited because her fiancé called about two hours ago. He
shared the news that he would be coming home in less than
four months. He had also given her the go ahead to resume
the plans for their traditional and church wedding. They were
going to have a Christmas wedding. It would be so romantic.
She couldn’t wait. Finally, she was going to see the man her
heart beat for and tie the knot with him. God was good. God
had been really good to her and she would be eternally
When she called her parents to inform them, they were beyond
ecstatic. They promised to make sure that everything was
ready and perfect by the time Chike arrived. She also called
his parents and they intimated her that they had been
informed. They would be working with her parents to make
sure that her wedding turned out well without a hitch.
“Am in love, am in love, am in love. Am in love, am in love,
am in love. Sweet Holy Spirit, am in love,” she began to hum
the tune of her favourite song.
“Have you heard?”
Two of her neighbours came out of the building and stood by
the fence. Bukky heard them and turned. It was two of the
single girls living in the compound.
“Afternoon,” they chorused.
She returned her attention to the clothes she was spreading on
“Gbemiga is around.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, na. I saw him with my own eyes.”
“What is he doing back in Lagos? I thought he got a job in
Abuja after he completed his service year.”
Her friend clapped her hands in excitement, “So, I heard. I
heard that he was sacked.”
The other covered her mouth with a hand, “Are you sure?”
“He has been home for more than two weeks. What is he
doing back home if he truly has a job in Abuja?”
Her friend nodded in agreement, “You are right.”
“Do you know that he and his family have moved back to that
self-contain apartment beside the Nepa pole?”
“What?! What happened to their three bedroom flat?”
“One of their neighbours told me that they made a bargain with
the landlord that if they could find a new tenant, he would give
them the balance of the money they paid.”
“Ah-han! What is going on?”
“They paid for two years and they have only lived there for
about ten months.”
“So, did they find a new tenant?”
“Sharp, sharp,” she laughed.
“So, that means they needed the money.”
“Not just that. I guess, since Gbemiga came home jobless,
they reasoned that they won’t be able to afford the place.
While wait till their rent expire?”
Her friend nodded her head, “Smart plan. They shouldn’t have
moved there in the first place. They should have waited till
Gbemiga stabilize in Abuja.”
She hissed, “Don’t mind them. They have been claiming that
they were better than everyone in the area. Now, look at
“What about their properties?”
She laughed out loud, “They sold it all to the highest bidder.”
Her friend shook her head, “Total waste of money. I doubt if
they will recover the exact amount spent in buying those
“Of course that will be difficult.”
“I wonder what happened in Abuja?”
“Who cares? The Phillips have been brought to their knees.
Their arrogance and air of superiority has played out its
course. Now everyone will take their pound of flesh.”
Her friend shook her head, “I feel so sorry for them.”
Bukky picked up her empty bucket and walked back into the
building. She overheard some of the things the ladies said.
Were they just gossiping or was her ex-boyfriend truly back in
Lagos? What was going on?
She went back into her apartment, dropped the bucket in the
bathroom, retrieved her phone from the charging point and sat
on the bed. She searched for his phone number. It was no
longer on her phonebook. She lay back on the bed and typed
his full name on facebook.com search box. She found him and
clicked the friend request button. She dropped the phone and
Her neighbor said he had been sacked and he and his family
had moved out of their flat. Was it all true or was it truth mixed
with lies? The area was known for the way news about people
spread like wild fire. Her heart missed a beat. What if it was
true? She picked up her phone to check if her request had
She smiled when she discovered that he had accepted her
request. She sighed with relief and sent him a message. ‘Call
me Asap’. Almost immediately, her phone began to ring. She
sat up and picked the call.
She recognized his voice, “Gbemiga.”
“Hi. Em… I heard you were back in Lagos.”
“I heard somethings too.”
She heard him clear his throat.
“Are you home?”
“Let me come over.”
The line went dead. She dropped her phone on the bed and
got up. She went to her wardrobe, pulled off her sleeveless top
and shorts, and changed into a jeans and a red long sleeve
blouse. She went to the window and pulled apart the curtain.
What was going on? She scratched her scalp. It was about
time she loosened the weave-on and wash her hair. The style
was so good that she left the weave-on, on for longer than
usual. Now, her scalp itched like hell.
She heard knocks on the door. She hurried to it and opened it
quickly. Her ex-boyfriend stood at the doorway, in a jeans and
a white short-sleeve tee-shirt. He looked thinner than she
“Hi, please come in,” she stepped back in.
He walked in and went to sit on the chair. Bukky shut the door
and approached him. She sat at the edge of the chair. Her
questioning eyes observed his sad looking ones.
“Rumours have been flying about since I got back. Most of it is
true,” he met her worried gaze.
She swallowed hard, “What’s going on?”
He turned away, “I lost my job and returned home. I have been
job hunting since I got back. I didn’t know that the labour
market was a nightmare. There are hundreds of thousands of
us out there,” he lamented.
She folded her arms and watched him. He looked depressed
and frustrated. She felt so sorry for him.
“My parents and siblings quit their jobs when I relocated to
Abuja. Can you blame them?” he laughed sadly, “Now we are
all looking for jobs.”
She closed her eyes and opened it. She could imagine what
they were going through. The year she moved in with her aunt,
her father had also lost his job and her mother’s sales at the
market could hardly feed them all or pay the bills. There were
days they went without food. It had been pure torture and she
won’t wish that experience on her worst enemy. She and her
siblings had been shared among relatives in order for them to
“I am so sorry.”
He glanced at her, “I need a job fast. I can’t watch my family
suffer this way.”
“Em… what about your fiancée? How is she taking this?”
He blinked and turned away, “Abisoye is the root of my
He gave a shake of head, “It is a long story. Right now, she is
nowhere to be found and I am here suffering for her actions.”
She stared at him with concern. She wondered what his
fiancée did. She wanted to ask, but, sensed that he didn’t
want to go into details.
“It is well. I am alive and kicking. Everything will definitely work
out for my good,” he tried to smile and turned to look at her.
“How are you doing?”
She blinked and got up, “I am good,” she walked to her
wardrobe and brought out her bag. She counted a few naira
notes and returned to the edge of the chair.
When he saw the money in her hand, several thoughts ran
through his mind. There were a million things he could use the
“Please take. This is em… I just em… I pray that God will sort
you and your family out.”
“Thank you,” he collected the money and counted it. It was
eight thousand naira. He raised his head and stared at her in
“Please manage it, I know it is not much.”
She smiled, “You are welcome,” she got up again.
Gbemiga got to his feet, “I am grateful.”
“Don’t give up, okay. I believe that God will turn things around
sooner than you think.”
He nodded and headed for the door.
Bukky followed him out of the room and watched him walk
towards the entrance of the building. She sighed heavily and
went back in.
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