***7 months earlier ***
It was 8pm and Mr Nwankwo just managed to jump the wide gutter without falling inside. He looked back at the gutter and the foot print of his near fall on the ground. He cursed silently, as he kept walking briskly towards the house.
He was confused, desperate and In dire need of money. By the time he got to the gate of the house, he was sweating profusely.
“Is your oga around?”
The gateman eyed him up and down suspiciously before replying “wettin you want here?”
“Your oga. E dey house?”
The gateman was still watching him suspiciously when two sergeants approached them. “What are you looking for sir?” One of them asked.
“I want to see Captain Bagro.”
“Who are you?” The second sergeant asked.
“Mr Nwankwo. He is expecting me.”
The first sergeant signalled to the second, who went into the house.
Mr Nwankwo stood at a corner by the security post and took in the beauty of the house. A white duplex adorned with bright lights, well cultivated lawn and garden, with the most expensive of cars parked in the drive way. He was able to count 5 cars parked, by the time the second sergeant returned.
“Thank you.” Mr Nwankwo followed the sergeant into the house all the while, conscious of his environment and the number of sergeants scattered around the house.
He was led to the sitting room that was decorated with beautiful chairs and large paintings on the wall. The tiles were black marbles that shone under the chandelier hanging high up. A large plasma TV was attached to the far wall and was showing a movie.
Mr Nwankwo lowered himself into one of the posh couches and uncomfortably sat at the edge of it, while waiting for the captain.
What he did not expect to see, was a young man who walked into the sitting room with a glass cup and a bottle of wine.
Mr Nwankwo quickly stood up despite his obvious confusion. Was this the person His friend Obinna recommended he asked for help ? This small boy?
The young man who was wearing a whiteT-shirt and dark blue sweat pants walked towards one of the couches and sat down, placing his bottle of wine and glass cup on the side glass stool.
“You must be Mr Nwankwo, I am Captain Jude zambrang Bagro. Please have your seat.”
Mr Nwankwo sat cautiously as he wondered how a man like him, a father, will ask this small boy for money. If it wasn’t that he was already there, he comtemplated damning it all.
“So how can I help you?” The captain asked before taking a sip of his wine.
Mr Nwankwo swallowed thickly and looked at the captain, who sat at ease on his chair. Expensive gold wristwatch on his wrist, clean shaven… how was he suppose to admit to this young boy that he failed as a father and cannot pay his daughter’s fees or even afford food on his table. Maybe he should just leave he thought but as he was about to get up, he remembered how devastated Adanna was when she came back home.
The captain looked at him and raised a perfect brow. “Obinna told me
You needed a loan for…”
Mr Nwankwo nodded “for my eldest daughter’s fees.”
“And how many daughters do you have?”
“What is your daughter studying ?”
“Business Administration, she is a first class student. The best in her class.” Mr Nwankwo bragged, as if to boost his deflated ego.
“Which University?” The captain asked and dropped his empty glass on the stool.
“Salem university sir.” Poverty had humbled him to call a small boy sir.
“And your wife?” He filled his glass again and took a small sip.
Mr Nwankwo swallowed and his Adam Apple blobbed up and down “she’s late.”
The captain assessed him for a long time as he sipped his drink. By the time the glass was empty he stood to his feet “I will give you the 700,000 naira. That should cover her fees right?”
Mr Nwankwo was shocked but managed to nod. “Yes… yes sir.”
Captain Jude placed his empty glass again and got off the chair. He headed inside for a short while and returned with a leather bag that held seven bundles of 1000 naira notes.
“Count it.” He handed the bag to him and went back to his drink.
“It is complete. Thank you sir.” Mr Nwankwo stood to his feet and tucked the money into the bag.
“Sure! I will like a pay back in 5 months. You can do that right?”
“Good.” The captain walked towards his bar and started pouring a different drink. “You can leave now.”
Mr Nwankwo turned around with the money clutched tight in his right hand and left the house. With his head bowed low, he carried himself through the security post until he was swallowed by the dark night. He was half way home when he broke down in shameful tears . How did he, a successful business man end up here? It all started with the fire that consumed his big wholesale shop and from there, leading up to his wife’s death, it was from one misfortune to the other.
He had tried everything to succeed again, but it seemed like the ground he was digging was made of iron. Adanna was the only hope he had now. And he could not let her fail.
As his house came in sight, he wiped his tears away and took determined steps home.
For his daughters he had to be strong. He had to, and for Adanna he would do anything.
To be continued…