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Chief Olumide Lawson was one of those men who carried himself with an aura of power. Not only could one tell he was influential, but his flowing traditional attire always gave the impression of royalty. He had a slight paunch and a mustache that could be likened to Adolf Hitler’s. He coupled his outfits with a traditional chieftaincy cap and snake-skin or leather shoes depending on the occasion.
Nike had met chief at her cousin’s husband’s birthday party. Jide had flatly refused to accompany her, giving the excuse that he hardly knew the man and that his favourite team, Chelsea was playing a match that day. Barely having clothes to wear for the occasion, she had recycled an outfit she wore to someone’s relative’s funeral, praying and hoping no one would notice.
“Spitting image of your mother” said the voice of the hand that groped her shoulders from behind. All Nike could do was muster a friendly smile despite being very irritated by the weight of his hand and five stubby fingers that were caressing her bra. I’m reading, too much into it, she thought.
“Ah! Uncle Olumide! Is that you? How are you and Auntie Funke doing?” She responded, shifting her body a few inches from his grasp. Oh, she remembered him alright. He was her father’s friend and business partner based in Abuja who always seemed to call at her parent’s home when she was young. His wife, like him was very domineering in appearance and always wanted to make your business her business. Nike absent-mindedly scanned the crowd to see if his significant other was in the vicinity and braced herself for more bodily harassment.
“Chief. Call me Chief. Everybody does that these days.” He continued, explaining that his wife was ill and that he was in Lagos for business. He asked after her well-being and then if she was married and had children. Before she knew it, he had taken her contact details and explained that should she need anything, she should feel free to call him. As he left, Nike went around to greet people, a man in a blue checked shirt and baseball cap walked up to her.
“Chief, my oga, say make I go geeve dis to you” he said in broken English. Nike was sure the likes of him broke the language in the first place but reserved her comments as the man handed her a thick wad of cash. Handling such amounts these days was strange to Nike. She almost forgot what it was like to carry that much in raw cash but being the Nigerian that she was, quickly mentally calculated what would be 500000 Naira in 1000 Naira notes. Shocked, she stood rooted to the spot. When she came back to her normal senses, she called chief and thanked him for his generosity, punctuating every sentence with “GOD bless you, sir” and shamelessly kneeling in front of the man. This had to be her lucky day.
Arriving home, she found her husband asleep. She made a mental note to tell him about the money but also thought he would never believe her. Knowing Jide’s somewhat jealous tendencies towards other men, she was sure he would think she did something diabolical to get the money. So she did what she knew best—hid it from him or rather omitted that someone gave her a vast sum of money. To her defense, she also thought that Jide’s knowledge of the money would slow down his fervent hunt for a job. Being almost a full-time housewife herself, she could not bear to see his frame hunched over the couch every day, borderline joining the jobless generation of Nigerian youth. She believed he was capable of much more. And thus the fights began. What even angered her more was that he had not made an effort to get a job. Each day was the same. Yet he didn’t question her about where she got the money to buy groceries and other nice yet random things for the house. It was as if he didn’t care or give three damns to the fact that they were jobless, childless and supposedly penniless. In an uncharacteristic way, she became one of those women who overly nagged their husbands. She watched him leave home to come back empty-handed, complaining about Nigeria and its economy, each day her heart breaking.
In her desperation she called Chief to tell him she needed to talk to him. “Alright, I will send my driver in the morning at around 10am”. She really did not know what she had set out to achieve. In her head the following scenario played out: she would see chief, talk to him, tell him about her and Jide’s plight and being her father’s friend, he would give her money to start a business, a job or even hire Jide himself. It was that simple. The only problem is that she didn’t want Jide to know. Unknown to himself, Jide had a pride issue. Someone pulling strings for him to get a job was out of the matter. He would not take it unless he himself had found it and worked hard to get it. She hoped Chief would understand her position and succumb to her idea of “fake
Chief’s office building was large and looked more like it belonged in the vicinity of Palm’s shopping complex. Chief left a message for Nike, telling her to wait. She waited for almost 2 hours till chief showed his face and said “Nikky, Nikky. So this is you. Wait a few more minutes. I am coming. Let me sort a few things out then I will take you to lunch”. Nike tried to hide her madness with a smile and an “It’s alright chief”.
To lunch they went at the Sheraton hotel of all the places in the world. Nike hoped no one she knew would notice her presence with Chief and set the grapevine on fire. All that was in her mind was Jide, his lack of a job and her deteriorating marriage. Midway through a lunch game of “catching up with Chief”, one of his many cellular phones vibrated and Chief told Nike he had a business meeting but that she should wait for him in his hotel room: Suite 105. If she thought it strange that he had not yet built a house in Lagos, Nike did not say anything. Neither did she mention that it was odd that Chief wanted her in his hotel room when his office would have sufficed for the kind of conversation she had in mind.
Chief took the longest time to reach the hotel room. Nike knew it was getting late and her chances of getting transportation home were slim if not for the prospect of Chief’s driver. It never crossed her mind that he would decline her offer. She wondered about Jide, yet was entertained by the many programmes on the television. Arguably, it had been a while since she had such luxury. When last had she watched cable TV?
“Nikky, Nikky…sorry to keep you waiting. You know how it is, business is rough in this country. Have you had anything to eat? Drink? Snacks?” He said as he moved closer to her and started removing the top layer of his 3-piece regalia. “I’m fine sir”. She murmured. Ok, here goes, she told herself. “Chief, I wanted to tell you something earlier. As of the moment, my husband and I are having financial difficulty. He has been unemployed for a few months and I was wondering . . . wondering if you could be of help to us sir”
“In what way?”
“Sir, I was thinking you could help him with your connections and get him a job
sir. I just don’t want him to know I had a hand in it.”
“Ok. Is that all?”
“Yes sir!”. Nike was ecstatic; she could not believe her luck. It had gone better than expected. Chief did not bat an eyelid when saying “OK”. absent-mindedly, she started singing “we are saying thank you Jesus” in her head. The smile on her face grew thin as she realised Chief had removed another layer of his 3 piece agbada and was now down to his undervest and trousers.
“Chief, is anything the matter?”
“No, I should be asking you the question”
“Ah ah! Nikky Nikky! You have not begun to remove your clothes..”
“What do you mean sir?”
“I mean, what else did we come here for? You and I both know we want each other. Ever since you were little and started developing breasts, I knew you were juicy and succulent and my attraction to you grew”
”Sir, I don’t understand”. Nike was dumbfounded.
“You don’t understand what? Oh! So you think I gave you the 500000 naira for
nothing? All this ‘sir my husband no money’ business…mscheeeeew! What did you think I would do? Give you for free? Sorry, my dear, nothing in this life comes free”
“Sir, I still don’t understand. Are you joking?”
”Why would I joke about such? Nike, I love you. I can make you my mistress, nobody has to know. I will sort out all you and your husband’s money wahala. Better still, you can leave him and be well kept by me.”
“Sir, excuse me. I have to take my leave.”
“Go where? Mm you this girl are not serious! I am not joking! I will teach you a lesson”
Being 5ft 4 and petite did not help Nike at all. Chief carried her kicking and screaming and threw her on the bed. He proceeded to land a torrent of slaps across her face while squeezing her legs and removing his trousers. He tore at her clothes and she could feel his slimy saliva finding its way into her mouth and all over her body. Violently he rocked her back and forth screaming with rage, his anger fueled by the fact that she refused to open her legs. She was terrified and thoughts of Jide flew across her mind. She felt acid tears sting her face. “I can’t believe this is happening. Not to me. No…” she thought to herself.
In that instant, Nike gained supernatural strength. She kicked furiously until she was sure she had hit him square in the groin, then pushed his howling frame to the side.
With barely time to grab her bag or shoes, she ran barefooted down the hotel stair case and lobby outside. She had no idea where she was running to. All she knew was that she had to get home. Hitchhiking in Lagos at that time of the night was not something Nike would do on a normal basis, but then again, what happened with Chief was not normal either. She recollected how he had undressed her with his eyes at lunch time and all the times his mannerless hands touched her body. So that was all he wanted? I am finished she thought. Although he did not succeed, Nike felt like a victim of rape. How close he had been . . .
The friendly stranger who gave her a lift seemed to somehow guess what happened and took her home. Nike was initially scared to enter his car but his saying “I am a pastor” brought a degree of calm to her spirit. Even so, you never knew with men in general these days. She decided to risk it and thanked him profusely when they neared her compound. She ran for the front door and began knocking as if her life depended on it. In some way, it did. Jide, where are you? she thought and knocked even more frantically until she heard footsteps approaching the door . . .