When you made your first million, the world rejoiced with you. You were in you mid-twenties and that was a huge achievement. Your mother was ecstatic, now she could tie all the expensive wrappers to the next August meeting and climb the social ladder. You were not bothered, the woman had done so much for you and no amount of wrappers could equate that. Your only regret was that your father wasn’t here to celebrate this day with you. There were tales of his suffering from a mysterious sickness that defied medical attention. Your mother always seemed upset when you asked about him, what kind of things he liked to do, that eventually you stopped asking. Time and again, you would visit his grave at the back of the compound and talk about all you’d accomplished over a short time.
The best part however of being this rich was that you had so many people at your disposal, even elderly men. Everyone liked to associate with a rich man, and many others were willing players as your bus boys so long as you gave them a token, any token. Last time at the meeting with the umunna, a good percentage of the them always wanted to know what your opinion on every issue was, and then agreed with whatever you said. They would say, “I agree with Raluchukwu. The young man is wise” and nod their heads like the colourful Agama Lizard that lived inside the old Air Conditioner. Money did make a big difference.
Your friends were not left out. They took you from one bar to another to check out the babes. It was like an informal arrangement: you buy the drinks, they bring the girls. But you had always been a shy man and the girls didn’t hold much appeal.
“Guy you dey dull o.” Emeka roared over his sixth bottle of Star. Among his friends he was known as Nigerian Breweries for the alarming speed at which he downed his beer.
“What have I done now?”
“What haven’t you done?” Uche joined in. “All these chikalas and you won’t even bang one”.
Your laughter rang out across the bar. “I am looking forward to getting married, not bang.”
“Hah why marriage? You are rich, man. Stay this way and even if you turn seventy with grey hair sticking out of your bum, with your face as ugly as an Orangutan, girls will still be spilling out of your ears.”
“I just want to settle down with one sweet woman and have children.” You said taking a swig from your bottle “Besides my mother is getting older by the day and can’t wait to hold her grandchildren.”
That night you lay in bed and wondered about your future. You thought about marriage and kids, and if you were even ready to handle all of it. You would move to upstate with your new family and leave the village for Christmas visits. Tomorrow you would call Joe, the guy who helped you secure the deal that brought about all these wealth, and ask him to recommend a good area in Lagos that was family friendly. This marriage was going to work and not end up in shambles like Mr Emenike’s. And to think the man even asked you to tell him when you began to make plans. What would a person who could not keep his family together know about marriage? The man had failed to get you alone for months since you perfected your maneuvering skill. Your uncles always told you that people who sought your downfall would be lurking around, you would be careful. Surrounding yourself with wise men looked like the best option all round, and that was what you were doing.
Few weeks after, you broke the news to your mother. There was a woman, beautiful as they come, and you were going to make her your wife. You did not tell Mr Emenike about this, but you invited him for the wedding. It was a big ceremony. Everyone who was in attendance would speak about it for months. When you received your gift from Mr Emenike, he looked you in the eyes and you caught a faint glint in his. It felt like he knew something you didn’t. He squeezed your hand and muttered to your ear.
You would move to the city within the month. Your new bride was as happy as a Lark.
“What is Lagos like, will I love it?” She whispered all night, spinning stories of all she would do in a land she had only dreamed of.
You didn’t leave for Lagos that month nor the month after. That night you had come down with a fever that wouldn’t break. The doctors did all they could to make you better to no avail. Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months and years, still your condition only got worse. Your mother called on every neighbor who bothered to listen to her tales of woe, of how the devil tried to rob her of her only source of joy. Your wife cried and prayed all day, hopping from one prayer house to the other hoping for a miracle. Even Mr Emenike offered to bring you to Lagos in search of medical help.
Finally a native doctor proclaimed your ailment was a direct result of poisoning and had it been earlier detected, it may have been possible to cure. Pandemonium broke. Accusations flew like daggers aiming for the kill. They said your in-laws were into witchcraft and your wife was responsible, hoping to kill you and take your wealth. Others said your uncles were jealous you had succeeded even after they had tried to kill your father. Of course he was not really dead, no one knew what had happened to him. One day he left the house unsupervised in his state of lunacy and never came back. Some even said your mother had used her husband, and now the child for sacrifice to prolong her life.
You watched as gradually life seeped out of you, wishing you had paid a little less attention to the uncles and perhaps more to Mr Emenike. Currently he seemed like the only person who had been genuinely concerned about you.
That night when sleep came like an errant lover, you dreamt about your wedding day, the flowers, people, gifts and his words came back to you, Be careful, people aren’t always as they seem.