“Ah! What is this?” Jumoke murmured to herself as she stood baffled at the sight of the dead cock and a plate of palm oil placed at the entrance of her fiancé’s apartment.
“Impossible!” she shook her head, “Tade, can’t be involved in such fetish practices.”
Without much ado, Jumoke quickly dialed Tade’s phone number. Unfortunately, Tade’s phone was switched off. Panic-stricken, Jumoke knocked frantically at his neighbour’s door.
The door opened and she was taken aback at the unfriendly stare she got from the neighbour.
“Good afternoon, ma. Please, I’m asking for Tade,” she began all in one breathe.
“Which of the Tades do you want to see?” the lady probed, with a note of suspicion.
“Check the next door,” she heaved a sigh of relief.
“I know, ma’am, but there’s a strange stuff at the entrance of that door.”
She drew the attention of the lady to the weird objects.
“Oh, Jesus!” she screamed. “Juju, in this house?”
“Strange enough, his phone was switched off when I called him.”
Meanwhile, Tade was busy in the kitchen preparing his fiancée’s favourite meal, when he heard familiar voices outside his flat. No sooner had he opened the door than his countenance changed to that of shock and fear.
“What is this? Who left this fetish thing here?”
“You mean, you don’t know about this?” the neighbour asked, “then that means we’re no longer safe in this house…”
“Oh, honey, it’s about time you packed out of this damn house,” Jumoke blurted, “your life isn’t safe anymore.”
Tade looked a bit pensive and stiff as he resumed work the next day. The frightening thought that his landlord Mr. Kofo would employ diabolical means to get him out of his apartment left him with chills.
He had been a staff of Store Executives at Summit Healthline Ltd for close to 10 years without a commensurable remuneration. With his wedding ceremony only three months away, he had begun considering shifting it to the end of the year.
“Oh, boy, you look as though you had been handed a death sentence,” Charles, his colleague, shoved him from behind.
“The only problem I have now is how to raise the sum of seven hundred and fifty thousand naira,” Tade told his friend.
“For your wedding?”
“That can wait for now, Charles. My problem is more than wedding. I need the money to rent a new apartment because the grace period my landlord gave me to vacate my apartment has expired. And now, the old man is frustrating me with all sorts of diabolical means.”
“Kai! You’re in deep shit,” he laughed at the helpless man, “with all your high-level intelligence, you’re not even ashamed that a mere seven hundred and fifty thousand naira is causing you to shiver like a little boy chased by a masquerade.”
Tade felt insulted but somehow, managed to put up an undaunted stance. Although, Charles was fond of making light of serious matters, yet he knew his colleague was right.
“Are you ready to play the game?” Charles barged into his thoughts as though reading his mind.
“Come on, get out of my sight!” he fumed, “who told you I’m a fan of Baba Ijebu?”
“I’m not referring to Baba Ijebu; this game is a sure banker without any form of capital.”
“Okay, spill it out, man!” Tade grabbed him by the arm, “I’m all ears.”
“Meet me tonight at Mama Chichi Relaxation Spot, let’s talk business.”
The days that followed were tough for Tade. Through the intervention of his landlord’s friend, he had received an extended grace period.
His meeting with Charles at Mama Chichi Relaxation Spot was anything but productive. He was disappointed at his colleague’s ‘life-changing ideas’ for not only being questionable, but also criminal in every sense of the word.
“Any money which I can’t defend publicly, I can’t spend,” he had responded angrily before storming out of the relaxation spot.
Apart from the pressure from his landlord, Jumoke too had not made matters easier for him; the young lady had been complaining bitterly of his lack of financial commitment.
“I’ve known Jumoke for three years now, but her recent behaviour is what I can’t understand,” he complained bitterly to his cousin one day.
“Tade, your babe is such a pretty girl, I swear, no man can resist her,” the latter had responded.
“Kayode, I don’t think we’re on the same page,” he replied somewhat offended, “I’m pouring my heart to you in confidence, and you’re just…”
“Hold it young man!” Kayode interrupted, “my seemingly trivial response was just to prove a point that the longer you keep that babe waiting, the higher your chances of losing her. You’re a man for crying out loud; go and find out what other young guys like you do to make extra bucks.”
“God knows I’m trying my best. I even made arrangements with some parents in my neighbourhood to teach their kids Mathematics on weekends only…” Tade argued.
“You’re not going to accomplish much that way. You’ve played the role of ‘Tade is a good boy’, for so long. Why not try taking a different role, at least for once; something like, ‘Tade, the way master.
“I may not be an Accountant,” Kayode continued, “but I have a little idea of how these things work. You could alter some stock figures…I’m sure you know what I’m talking about; I can’t teach you what to do.”
“Kayode, you’re mad! Please leave my house immediately, if you have nothing meaningful to offer.”
Each passing week brought fresh fears upon Tade. He knew he had not fared badly; his finances would have been okay if not for the current recession that had gulped a larger chunk of his investment that he had financed through a loan.
As he pondered over Kayode’s seemingly juicy suggestion, Tade also thought about not compromising his integrity.
‘What did your late father get in return after putting thirty good years of meritorious service?’ the question a colleague once asked him kept playing on his mind.
“A 21-inch coloured TV and a plaque,” he had responded. His innocent reply then had been followed by a string of ridiculing jabs from his other colleagues present.
‘You’ve played the role of Tade, is a good boy, for so long…’ Kayode’s remark came ringing next as though the latter was still with him.
“A single attempt would not kill anything,” he muttered, as he rose to fetch one of the stock vouchers from the cabinet.
Being upright in a corrupt environment is damn difficult! He continued ruminating as he began to alter some of the figures. He was, however, taken aback at the conversation he overheard between two cleaners working behind the store.
“Have you heard the latest news about Tade Olowofela?” the first cleaner asked.
“What news have you heard this time around?” the other cleaner asked.
“Tade Olowofela has been nominated as the head of our new branch in Abuja…”
Tade was taken aback, and not wanting to be noticed, he quietly relocated to a hidden place to eavedrop on the rest of the conversation.
“And can you imagine that it was our MD’s aunty that recommended him for the position? The lady told our Oga that Mr Tade is a man of integrity.”
“But how did you get this information?” the second cleaner asked.
“The cook told me; but please, don’t say a word to anyone yet. The news is still a top secret.”
“Ah wait!” the other cleaner cautioned, “are you sure there is no one hearing us inside that store?”
“I don’t think so…those people there would be too busy for that.”
Tade was dumbfounded at the astonishing revelation. Although his MD’s aunt had visited their company a couple of times, yet he could not recall having any personal dealings with her, to warrant such a recommendation.
She must be the unseen eye who noticed what others could not see, he reasoned.
Feeling ashamed at the stock figures he had altered, he began to amend the figures.
“This folly, would have erased all my several years of trustworthiness!” he muttered to himself as he resumed work with a fresh zest.
The day Tade received his promotion letter was not just one of his happiest moments but also a very emotional day for him. His new position as a branch manager also came with attractive benefits one of which is a tastefully furnished accommodation.
As the management of his organisation applauded him, deep within him, he felt unworthy of the honour because he could have soiled his image if not for the news he overheard ahead of time.
With tears streaming down his face, which most people took to be tears of joy, Tade made a resolution to always uphold his integrity and remain unshaken in the face of any test or trial as he never could tell who the next unseen eye could be.