Ngozi sat in the dingy interrogation room of Oniru Police Station. It felt like she had been sitting there for twelve hours. There was no way to tell what the time was, as there was no clock on the wall. The windows had been filled in, so there was no sunlight seeping into the room. Even her jewellery had been seized. All she had for company were the noisy, dusty fan, the yellow bulb and the rusty iron table in front of her.
The place must have been furnished with the intent of getting confessions. It gave you the impression that unless you told the truth, this would be the sum of your life for the next few years. Dust, rust and solitude.
Just then, the metal bolts on the door creaked and the door came flying open. It was the policeman from earlier and another robust plainly clothed man with a notepad.
Deliberately pulling out the metal seat so it would scrape the floor, the robust one said “Ngozi Oriaku, it’s confession time.”
She waited for the policeman to put on the recorder and then she started to talk.
Ngozi allowed Eghosa lead her. They were the only ones there. The room was lit only by candles; their table was in the centre of the room. There was a violin playing, but the violinist was not in sight. And the candles were scented, some demure, sensual smell. It all looked just perfect. Candle lit dinner on a yacht sailing on the Mediterranean with the night breeze wheezing by.
Some girl somewhere would probably have already been in tears by now. Could the build-up to a proposal be any more romantic? Not Ngozi though, she pretended to be shocked and even stopped a few times as Eghosa led her to the table, using her palm to cover her mouth for dramatic effect and also so the photographer who had just come out of hiding could get some Instagram worthy shots; but she wasn’t surprised. She had all but planned it herself. From randomly showing him pictures of the types of rings she wanted, to actually telling Nkem, her best friend what to do when Eghosa asked for help with planning the proposal. She even noticed that Eghosa had bought a bouquet of white roses rather than the red ones she had told to Nkem to suggest to him.
“Don’t you think you should let me handle the rest? So he can actually surprise you like he wants to?” Nkem had asked her, when she reminded her to double check that the violinist would be available on time.
“Nkem, don’t act like you were born yesterday. You think all those girls on Instagram actually cry real tears? All na fake!”
While they were eating, Eghosa made to stand. Probably to kneel and begin to recite the speech, yet another product of Ngozi’s imagination, to her. After almost knocking over the glasses, He began “Ngozi Hannah Oriaku, how did I get so lucky? I ask myself over and over. What good did I ever do to deserve having you love me?”
Ngozi had made it short. No need to risk having him recite an essay and forget everything halfway. The ring had been the exact one she wanted. Consistency really was key. It had all gone as planned. Proposal at dinner on a yacht. She could finally check it off her bucket list.
It wasn’t that she didn’t love Eghosa. She probably did but she had never been the one to be ruled by things like love. Ngozi had too much ambition coursing through her veins to allow something as volatile as emotions even temporarily intoxicate her. Eghosa was the one with his head in the clouds. All the wealth his father had accumulated for him had left him soft. Maybe that was the reason he couldn’t get enough of Ngozi. She went after everything she wanted and she constantly pushed him out of his comfort zone. It was a trait he managed to simultaneously fear and admire.
Eghosa didn’t come home to as warm a reception. While he had been away, unwittingly getting roped into a marriage. He had left a window for the other yahoo boys involved in his father’s business to overthrow him as Kingpin. Eghosa was the son of Late Cassius. Cassius wasn’t his real name but that was the name he had taken on when his Internet fraud business became an empire and he needed a moniker to match his wealth. Cassius had grown the business to billion naira industry amassing wealth and a staff strength of over fifty men who started from where he did. When he suddenly died, Eghosa; the clueless son who had been kept guarded his whole life, stepped up to continue running the family business. It was clear that the boys knew that he didn’t know his left from his right. And so, they sucked up to him while he was around and in his absence, complained bitterly about the marks he had let slip through the cracks and how he was going to end the business.
They got their chance when he travelled with Ngozi. Their plan had been in motion for weeks, and so the execution only took a few days. They cleared out headquarters, moved all the laptops to a new place and even furnished the property and gifted it to a church as a satellite branch within the week Eghosa was away. Eghosa was so blinded by love that he didn’t realise his contacts had been remotely hacked and his phone scrubbed clean so he could not trace any of the boys.
He only started realising what had happened when he arrived in Lagos and needed to call one of the guys to check on a job. The phone might as well have been brand new. It had been restored back to its factory settings. Fuming, He found his way to HQ intending to fling the phone at one of the guys to fix. On getting there, he stormed in and met a church service in full swing in what used to be HQ. The church was fully decked out with equipment, pulpit, and chairs. Somehow it had even been repainted within the week. It took a few minutes for the reality of the situation to dawn on Eghosa. He collapsed into one of the chairs at the back and sitting there, blankly staring into space while the congregation sang praises; he realised that this must be what being left behind after rapture felt like.
“What do you mean we might need to move the wedding?” Ngozi shrieked.
“I don’t have any money babe. Don’t you understand they took the business. I’m locked out of all the accounts! The only numbers I have are your own and my own on this phone! I don’t have money to pay for a wedding now! Do you want me to steal?” Eghosa shouted, shame filling his eyes. This feeling of lack was new.
Ngozi laughed, the kind of laugh that wasn’t brought on by a joke.
“Look Eghosa, I have told the entire universe that I am getting married on the 14th of October. You have three months. I don’t really care what you do between then and now; but I’m not moving that date.” She snatched her phone from his hands and began walking away. Then she stopped in her tracks, turned and said “All you’ve ever done is steal Eghosa, whether with computer or with gun. Do whatever you have to do, just know I’m not changing that wedding date!”
Photo Credit: © Stefan Dahl Langstrup | Dreamstime.com