Ha! Oga do you know her? Dauda asked as he joined us at the table.
Yes I know her! I said as I sat down comfortably to eat my food.
Dupe so you know my Oga? Dauda asked.
Your Oga? She asked swallowing hard and drinking from the glass of water at her front.
Yes nah! He is the new Automation Engineer! Isn’t he cute? Dauda teased.
She nodded and rose up with her tray of food
Ahan! Have you finished eating? Dauda asked her; or are we the ones chasing you away?
She shook her head as she walked briskly to dump her tray at the remnants table. She had lost her appetite.
Oga what did you do to her, Dauda teased me.
Hmm, it’s a very long story Dauda! But first thing first, what is she here for? I asked
But I thought you said you knew her? Dauda asked.
Yes! That was several years ago! The last time I saw her should be about ten years ago when she just finished secondary school and I was in my third year in the same secondary school.
Ahan! Oga you mean she finished secondary school before you? Could she be older that you? Dauda asked.
I should be older than her with at least four years or so, but I did not start my secondary early. I was sixteen years old when I entered JSS 1. Guy! I have come a long way, but leave story for now and tell me about her.
Well, she works for a third party Labour provider. They are in charge of the sanitation of the brewery; they also carry out menial jobs in the brewery. She is a supervisor with the company.
So which section does she supervise? I asked.
The bottle sorting and washing section at the logistics department, Dauda said.
Okay thank you! I said.
I lost my appetite too. My mood became dampened. On one hand I was glad that Modupe had not done better than me in life, at least she would not intimidate me further. On the other hand, I was wondering at what could have befallen her and her mother to have made her to settle for such a job and to be doing ‘runs’ at night.
Memories of the past came flashing back into my head. I could not help but tell Dauda about what Dupe and her mother did to me and how Uncle Goke came to the rescue. When I finished the story, Dauda had not taken more than three spoon full from his plate of rice.
Oga I will personally see that she is sacked! I swear! How could she and her mother be so wicked? Dauda asked.
Don’t do anything to her! Leave her! I said.
She even has a son now! Dauda further offered.
A son? Is she married now? I asked.
I don’t think so! A fork lift operator that was sacked some months ago is the father of the boy. The guy is jobless now but still roams around the brewery premises looking for any job to do.
Which makes Dupe responsible for her child and her man? I asked.
Something like that sir! Dauda said.
Hmm, life, na wa o! I said.
We both left the canteen without eating up our foods, I only drank the can of Amstel Malta I had collected with the meal.
I closed from work at 4:30PM but I did not go home immediately, I went to the brewery bar for some beer and small chops. After gulping down two bottles of Gulder and two sticks of peppered Suya I went to the Logistics department to seek out Dupe. I could not take my mind off her since our encounter in the canteen earlier.
She was on her way out of the Logistics department when I walked in; she saw me and quickly turned around to take another route.
Come here Dupe! I commanded.
She stopped and stood still.
Some workers within ears shot turned to see what was about to happen.
Why are you running away from me? I asked her. I did not move further, I was like ten feet away from her. I was ready for a show down with her, so I raised my voice. I need a moment with you and that moment is now!
Workers started to cluster around us; she turned around slowly and walked towards me with teary eyes.
We went to an isolated area, an area marked for smokers alone; I sat down and told her to sit.
Modupe! I have just a question for you and I would like you to be honest with your answer. I asked you same question years ago In the presence of Akin and your mother and I am asking again! What did I do that made you to hate me so much?
She sobbed for some five minutes during which I was getting impatient:
I was naïve and immature! She finally blurted. You were the first boy to see me Unclad and it was in a very embarrassing situation, I expected you to have taken advantage of me like boys your age would have done but you did not! Instead you were laughing at me and looking me over with your lantern! I was Unclad and standing over my shit with your dog staring at me!
I don’t get it! I said: when did this happen?
Do you remember the night when I was defecating in front of your house in the village? I should be about eleven to twelve years old then. Your dog accosted me! I was standing Unclad and trembling over my Shtt! My pant was at my ankle and my blouse was above my waist, then you came with a lantern and saw me. You started to laugh at me! You really humiliated me and for that, I hated you! She said.
I can’t believe it! Just that? I don’t believe you sister! Even after that incident, you were good to me until I entered secondary school with you. When Baba Oloro’s children came for me I was in your house for over two weeks for protection! When I discovered the Alabi’s heist, you and your mother were like family to me so how could you have borne a grudge with me and still be good to me at the same time?
Not me! My mother showed you the love, not me. By then, I wished Baba Oloro’s children had killed you! She said.
Jesu Christi o! Just because I saw you Unclad and did not take advantage of you? Are you not supposed to appreciate me and respect me for that? I asked
Yes! It would have been better if you had touched me or done something that would guarantee me that you would not tell. You know how it was in the village. The village gossip and all that, I never wanted to be a gossip subject. I thought you would tell your friends and they will tell their friends and before you know it, boys will begin to bark when ever I walk past them.
I snapped. You gave me hell in secondary school! You humiliated me at every opportunity you had! You made me feel less than a dog! Okay, lets say you hated me because I saw you Unclad and God knows what else, did you ever hear it from anyone else in the village? Answer me! Did you hear of it from anyone else?
No! She admitted.
And is that the reason why you and your mother eloped with my money? I asked
She was sobbing silently, she was silent
You cannot answer that? I asked aloud
It is the devil, she said
The devil indeed! I said
So what is your story? You were in UNILAG or so I heard. You are supposed to be a graduate of secretariat studies. Akin your former guy told me, I said.
Ah Akin! She said
You still remember him, don’t you? I asked
He is married with Kids now; he is the biggest Cocoa merchant in the whole of Ekiti.
She flashed me a quick surprise glance and started biting her finger.
Yes! I continued; he has fleet of exotic Cars, his wife runs a complete school from crèche to secondary school in Ado Ekiti, he is also into real estate.
Akin? She interrupted
He dropped out of school after the death of his father! She said
He almost dropped! I corrected. He struggled to graduate eventually
Not much was left for him after the death of his father! She added.
Well, yes you are right, but you know, he put the pieces of his life together, he did some restitution and today, he is better off. He takes care of my dad when I am not around!
Your Dad? Or you mean to say your mum? She asked.
My mum is dead now, she came around eventually, we then discovered that Baba Land lord is my biological father! In other words you were my father’s tenant!
Jeez! She exclaimed
Yes o! It’s a long story, but the long and short of it is that I am no longer a bastard as you and others tagged me.
She slowly went on her knees. Oh my God! She said; Bolaji I don’t know how to apologize for all the wrong my mother and I did to you, I don’t know.
When things started going sour for my family I thought maybe you had gone to the village chief priest to curse us or your spirit was fighting against us!
It could not have been my spirit because I am not dead. Maybe it was my grand ma’s spirit sha! I said. You know her money was involved too; the clothes and jewelries we sold were hers! And for your information, that money that had my picture with it and the note about my secondary education were actually from my mother.
In fact we could not explain what happened to all the money we stole from you! Every business my mother we ventured into went down the drain! It was so bad that she could not see me through the university. I had to resort to hustling just to meet up and graduate. I ended up graduating with a third class degree and as such I could not get a job. Life has not been easy with me and my mum.
There is no peace for the wicked! I reminded her
Really we have not had peace! Bolaji I am so sorry!
You are married I heard! I told her.
I met Cletus in Lagos, he gave me the impression that he was an engineer with Nigerian Breweries Kaduna, we started an affair and before long I was pregnant for him so my mum and I moved over to Kaduna. It was when we got here that I found out that he actually drives a fork lift machine in the Logistics department. That was when our problem started, he could not meet up with our daily needs because his salary was meager and not regular, he got me the job I am currently on.
And what is your job? I asked.
Don’t make a mockery of me BJ please, I know Dauda must have told you everything about me.
Okay I am sorry! I just wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth, but go on please. I said.
I supervise the bottle sorter and washers; the job is out sourced to our company by the brewery, the cleaning of the brewery premises and the entire environment. We were managing our lives until Cletus went and connived with a Truck driver to steal some crates of beer from the company. He lost his job and the responsibility of the family fell on me alone. Cletus has taken to drinking and mama is loosing her health. The work is too hard for her!
Please stand up! I said. And what does your mama do? I asked
She paused as she cleaned her knees before answering me. She is among the workers that I supervise! She said.
Jesu Christi o! Your mother is among these people wearing hand gloves drenched in water washing and cleaning the Breweries! I exclaimed
Yes! She said, nodding her heads, now she is suffering from pneumonia.
Where is she now? I asked.
She has gone home! I told her that I saw you this afternoon. Her blood pressure rose and she had to go home to rest. She said she cannot withstand the fright of seeing you. If you see my mum now, you will not recognize her again, she is so thin and grouchy, and she uses every day of her life to pray for forgiveness for what we did to you years back.
And you guys think God will forgive you just like that? Did you guys ever think of coming back to Ijan to look for me to apologize? You are asking God for forgiveness when the man you offended has not forgiven you? I asked.
The thing is that even if we come to look for you, we don’t have the money to return to you nah! She said.
That is the more reason to come and beg! Well some people say life is not fair! I continued: but I think life is very fair! It is we humans that are not fair in our dealings with one another. But whatsoever a man sows, he reaps!” to tell you the truth Dupe, I am here today because of you!
Me? She asked
Yes you! You so much humiliated me in school back then that I cried when I am alone. You made me feel like a failure in life! You reminded me that I was a bastard and have no place in the world of your kind! Well look at me today! I think you were right back then when you said that water finds its level! I pushed my self hard to prove to the world and your kind that I was not doomed to failure! I went through a lot to be where I am today, but all is because I dared to succeed. Look at you today! Look at your mother! Look at me! Well, I thank you for giving me attention this evening and most especially answering my question. But the reason you gave was not good enough, I think it was more out of my back ground as a pauper than seeing you Unclad, I t was a class thing. That is my take on that but all in all, thank you for your time. I have closed for the day, can I drop you off? It seems you were on your way out, I asked.
No I am good. She said: I need to get some food stuff and drugs for mama before going home.
Please tell your mother that I have forgiven you guys. Tell her I thank you guys for what you have made me become today. If not for you guys, I will not be here today.
The fact is that I was happy that nemesis had caught up with Modupe and her mother and she has seen that it is not good to look down on someone who is not dead because no one knows tomorrow. But on the other hand, I felt that if Dupe had not run me down back then, I would not have taken my destiny in my hands and fought to be a man today. I felt vindicated, no more bitterness but pity and compassion towards Dupe and her mother. I imagined the once elegant mama Dupe now washing bottles and cleaning gutters in the Brewery where I am a manager, she and her daughter that denied me my only source for a good secured life. I cannot wait to tell Baba Fapounda and my father in law of this new discovery of mine. I cannot wait to go home and narrate the discovery to my pregnant wife, she will be due to deliver next month, Baba does not know of her pregnancy yet! have not spoken with him for close to a year now.
Feeling good and light in my feet I went to the Car park to drive home and call my wife.
Hope you enjoyed the story? UP NEXT, The Prognosticator