Hello Dears,
For the new season, we are revisiting the very first episode of the ‘Black Mail’ series which is currently ‘Faith Series’. This is for new blog readers and also for those who’ve read it before. I hope you enjoy it.
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Nosa stared at the empty plate before him, his stomach growled again and he struggled to his feet. It was seven pm and Iya Sikirat closed her business in thirty minutes, he had to get there as soon as possible or bear another bout of hunger tonight.  He stared again at the empty plate on his shabby-looking center table and hissed.
“Which kain life be dis ehn? A whole HND graduate nor even get money to chop!” He said in lamentation. “Why is life so unfair ehn? Look at my mates Chidi and Akpan, they are working in banks and look at me, I can hardly feed myself. Was my going to school of any use? An educated man like myself can’t even boast of five naira to his name? My account is in red, my life is in shambles.”
He hissed again and stood to his feet, shuffling his way to his door and opening it he stepped outside. The cold air hit him squarely in the face and he suddenly felt the urge to cry. Dipping his hands into his pockets, he hurried to Iya Sikirat’s stall.
Iya Sikirat was fanning the fire which she used to fry her akara balls when she saw Nosa stroll down the street, she slowly crouched before the fire and spoke to her daughter in a coded tone.
“Bisi…e don dey come ooo…tell am say we don sell all our akara finish for dis night…you hear me so?”
Bisi nodded and suddenly started re-arranging the already fried akara balls in the open pan and covering them with a transparent cellophane bag.
“Good evening ooo…Iya Sikirat…Bisi…how now? Wia Sikirat dey?” Nosa inquired.
“Sikirat go school, she nor come shop today…” Bisi replied stonily.
“Okay…make she read well ooo…” Nosa said, scratching his head and smiling. When he saw that the people he was talking to were busying themselves with other things, he spoke.
“Errr…una fit find me small akara make I chop? Even if na de small one wey you wan use as fisi or jara…or dat small small ones wey dey roam for inside bottom of frying pan. I promise to buy some akara tomorrow, my company has been owing me for the past six months and it’s been a struggle to make ends meet.”
“Dat na de talk you dey talk every day…” Iya Sikirat said as she bustled past him.
“Please…I am begging…the small garri I soaked this evening did nothing to help my hungry state and I am really famished…”
“He don dey blow im grammar for Iya Sikirat wey nor go school…kikikikiki…” Iya Sikirat laughed in an unbecoming fashion. “Dem tell you say, Iya Sikirat nor dey use money buy beans? Abi she dey pick am from road? I resemble Buhari pikin?”
“Please…make una assist me…abeg…”
“Customers dem don buy all de akara wey dey hia…even de one wey we never put for fire sef, dem don buy am…” Bisi said.
“Heii…wetin I go come chop? Please help me find something…please…” Nosa said to them, but at that moment, his phone rang in his pocket. “Please excuse me, I need to pick this call…”
Iya Sikirat and her daughter ignored him, hissing in turns.

Nosa looked at the caller ID it was a strange number.

“Hello…”
“Nosa!” The familiar voice floated down the line.
“Mama…how are you? How is everything? Did you change your number?” Nosa asked.
“Nosa na wetin I do you? How long you go tey for town before you come see ya mama wey born you for village?”
“Mama…things tough ooo…things hard for here ooo…” Nosa said in a near whisper.
“If things hard for town…come village abeg! Which one be, ‘mama things hard!’ All de money wey I pay for school fees don throway na…no be your mate Oghogho don buy motor give her papa? Na woman she be ooo. Nor be de same school wey you go, she go?”
“Mama…all fingers nor dey equal…Oghogho dey work for good place. You know how long I have searched for a job, it’s five years now and still, no work. I was a plumber’s apprentice for three months and after I became a certified plumber, the man didn’t recommend me for jobs…I work as a bartender for one of the new hotels around my area and its been six
months and they haven’t paid me salary. Mama I am suffering ooo…”
“Na me dey enjoy na …I call you because I nor understand de kain work you dey do for town wey even to come see ya mama, you nor fit, to send money nko, whosai!”

Nosa listened to his mother’s rants and after she had made her point, he hung up the call and shook his head in self pity. Iya Sikirat and her daughter bustled around busily, ignoring his hunger stares and attending sweetly to their customers, by the time Nosa stood there for thirty minutes and no akara was coming forth, he walked away.

*******
Amaka was bitter, she stared at the card painfully and tore it in two, breathing heavily, she picked up the torn parts, walked to her kitchen, lit her stove and watched the invitation card burn.
“Nonsense…she is getting married and so what? Rubbish!”
The wedding invitation between her best friend Soluzo and heart-throb Odili had been in her bag for days yet, jealously hadn’t allowed her bring it out to look at it properly. The wedding was to hold soon and she was the maid of honour but all she wished for desperately was for the wedding to be cancelled.
“So, when we go to the village, everyone will say, Soluzo is married and Amaka is not abi? Mtchewww! May thunder fire her and that wedding! May she never see anything good in that marriage! May her children bring curses to her, that is if she lives to have any!” Amaka proclaimed.
She stormed to the sitting room and sat down on her sofa in anger, suddenly she remembered she’d met Soluzo at the Girls secondary school in Okija. It had been a rainy day and Amaka’s parents had just dropped her off in school, Amaka’s parents  were a fiery pair, so mis-matched and angry at each other all the time that their incessant quarrels affected their children. Amaka’s parents had hardly dropped her off at the boarding house gate when they zoomed off in their car, leaving their daughter, whose first time it was in secondary school and a boarding school at that, alone to carry her bags into the school
premises, they hadn’t even bothered to say a proper goodbye to her.
She had broken down in tears when all of a sudden, she saw a young girl about her age as well, whose parents had also dropped her off at school and who had carried their daughter’s luggage into the school premises while their daughter tagged behind. Amaka was startled when the young girl stopped, turned to her and offered to assist her with her luggage saying,
“Let me help you with yours, my parents are carrying mine for me.” The girl said sweetly.
“Really? You’d do that for me?” Amaka has said in shock at the girl’s goodness.
“Sure…what are friends for?” The girl had said sweetly.
“But…I don’t know you…” Amaka had said.
The girl looked a bit downcast so, Amaka quickly took back her statement.
“I am sorry, forgive my manners, my name is Amaka and yes, let’s be friends.”
It was there that their friendship began, Amaka learned that the girl’s name was Soluzo and they became inseparable, most times, spending the holiday in each other’s homes even though between the two of them, Soluzo’s house was more fun and relaxing while Amaka’s was always in a chaos. When it was time for them to obtain admission into the
university, they both got in together even though Soluzo went for Medicine and Amaka went for Media, hence they didn’t graduate at the same time as Amaka was about three steps further as she’d spent just four years in school while Soluzo battled through endless medical school years.
Years later, the friends got together again like old times when Amaka had started working with a Television station while Soluzo was just through with her NYSC.
One day, while spending a short time in her friend’s place in Lagos, job hunting, they had decided to go out to one of the new clubs in town to unwind. That was where they met Odili, the truth was that two girls had seen him at the same place and at the same time and judging through time differences and whose eyes strayed to him first, Amaka was actually the first to spot him. Amaka loved tall hunky guys and Odili was her ‘speck’, and immediately she saw him she was out to get him. Soluzo saw him moments later
and their eyes met but then, being the shy one of the two friends, she turned away and spoke to Amaka about something unnecessary.
As the both of them stood there at the side of the club, nursing their drinks, Odili who was talking to a group of friends, left their company and started walking towards them. Amaka felt giddy with excitement while Soluzo bit her lower lip and stared at the ground. Then, Odili approached them and introduced himself and there, it was obvious, who he was interested in and it was none other than Soluzo. Amaka was instantly jealous, she wanted him for herself and all through her drive home with Soluzo, it was as though a knife was lodged in her heart, twisting it inwardly and painfully.
While Amaka drove them home, Soluzo sat in the vehicle laughing and chatting with Odili on a chat messenger on her phone while Amaka seethed in anger that Soluzo had been the chosen one instead of her. When Soluzo tried to tell Amaka what the conversations were all about, Amaka had suddenly murmured something inaudible and turned up the volume of the car radio.
That was three years ago and today, Soluzo and Odili were engaged to be married. Amaka was furious!
Amaka snapped back to present and fishing out her phone at the side of the sofa, she
scrolled through the picture icon and opening it, she stopped at Odili’s picture as he smiled back at her through the screen.
‘It’s not in my destiny to be the single one while bestie gets married, besides I finished before her, went for NYSC before her and even got a job before her…it’s only proper that I get married before her so…I am going to take a big step to ruin their love. Odili and Soluzo will never get married!” She seethed.
Proverbs 18:24 “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
To be continued….

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