Mike
was grumpy, he stood at the waiting room of the hospital and stared at his wife
and child. He wanted to run away.
“The
doctor hasn’t seen us yet, we are still owing the sum of one thousand five
hundred naira.” His wife said to him.
Emmanuel
lay on his mother’s lap, groaning in pain, he was very ill.
“I
don’t have any money.” Mike muttered.
“Huh?”
His wife looked at him.
“I
said I don’t have any money, I don’t even have five naira in my wallet.”

“Then
why are you here? I thought you went out today to look for money.” She said.
“I
didn’t see any…besides do you think that getting money is easy?” He replied.
Jennifer
looked at her husband and shook her head, she wished she hadn’t paid him any heed
when the going was good. Back then, he’d told her to resign from her job at the
bank as he could handle the finances of the family single handedly. She had
listened to him and stopped working in order to take care of their four
children but suddenly, things turned from good to bad when Mike was swindled by
a man he thought he trusted.
“Emmanuel
is very sick…I don’t know who to turn to ooo…” She said with a quivering
voice. “I asked my mother to loan me money the last time and I don’t want to
ask her for money again. She’s beginning to suspect that things are not going
well and I don’t want to get her worried.”
“No..don’t
ask her again…” Mike said sucking in a deep breath. “I’ll see if I can call
one of my friends to loan me some money…” He said.
Jennifer
looked at her husband and nodded, he walked out of the hospital and her mind
flashed to her graduate certificate in the bag at the top of her wardrobe. She decided
that as soon as they leave the hospital, she was going to search for a job, she
couldn’t continue living life as a pauper anymore.
**************
Mike
stepped out of the hospital and began to think of whom to call. Most of his
friends had helped him out with some money and he was yet to pay them back. He
looked at his car which he’d parked at the hospital parking lot and an idea came
to his mind.
“I
could sell it…” He said to himself as he stared at his car.
Mike
had no assets, he had lived big when he had the money and had spent most of it
sending his children to expensive schools, renting an over-priced flat and
buying cars. The car he’d bought for his wife four years ago, had been sold at
the beginning of the year when finances became tight because he had to pay his
children’s school fees and his third car which was used to take his children to
school had been sold some months ago to pay the house rent. He was still
staring at his car when he heard some one call out his name.
” Mr. Mike…Mike
Okonji!”
Mike
turned to see who was calling his name but couldn’t recognise the man, he
stared at the man for some seconds and turned away.
“Mike!”
The man called out, walking up to meet him.
The
first thing that hit him was the man’s scent, it was one of the most expensive perfume scents in the market and Mike knew this because he splurged on scents when the
going was good.
“I’m
sorry but I don’t know you…” Mike said to the man.
“You
mean you’ve forgotten Damien?” The man asked with a smile.
“Damien…”
Mike pondered, then his eyes widened. “Damien! My God! Is this you? My good
Lord!” Mike shouted and hugged the man.
“Yes
it’s me…” The man said hugging Mike back. “What are you doing here? I
actually came to check up on one of my employees who’s admitted at this
hospital.” Damien said.
Mike
knew Damien long ago when he was nothing but a small enterprising caterer who
came to his office to sell food to his staff and used the back of his bus as a
small canteen.
“My
goodness! What? I can’t believe this! Damien!” Mike exclaimed.
“It’s
been so long since we saw each other, how are you? How’s your company? I
haven’t been to your office in a while…” Damien said.
“Well,
my company story is a long one…..” Mike said.
“Really?
What happened? Don’t tell me you don’t run your business anymore.”
“Well…I
got swindled by someone who told me that he could help me get raw material for
cheaper outside the country. I gave him a huge sum and he disappeared ever
since.”
Damien’s
eyes widened.
“My
God!”
“Let’s
forget my troubles and focus on you. How’s your food business?” He asked.
“Have
you heard of DameandDema’s confectioneries?” Damien asked.
“Yes…that’s
the biggest bakery in town and in fact, my kids love the bread from that
bakery.”
“That’s
so good to hear because, the bakery is mine.” He said.
Mike’s
eyes widened as he stared at Damien in disbelief.
“What?
DameandDema is yours?”
“Yes
it is and it currently has sixty branches across Nigeria and even Ghana.”
“Wait…but
it was just yesterday that you…you were selling food from the back of your
bus.”
“Well,
time flies…” Damien said. “Do you know what? Why don’t we go somewhere and
catch up…I need to know what really happened to that booming business of
yours.”
“I
wish I could but my wife and child are inside the hospital.” Mike said.
“Really?
Who’s sick?”
“My
first son.” Mike informed.
“I’m
sorry to hear that…I hope he gets better soon.”
“Well…they’ve
refused to attend to him because I was owing for the last payment when my
daughter was treated here a few months ago.”
“Come
on, let’s go inside the hospital…I’ll help you settle the bills.”
“You
will?” Mike asked surprised.
“Ofcourse
I will, I still remember you as the only boss back then who actually ate my
meals and who encouraged his staff to do the same.” Damien said with a smile.
“Thank
you…thank you so much.” Mike said in gratitude.
An
hour later, Mike, Jennifer, Emmanuel and Damien were on their way out of the
hospital. Jennifer was holding a bag of medicine while Emmanuel clutched to her
hand.
“Jenny,
you can go home with Emmanuel. Take the car with you, I have a lot to discuss
with Damien.” Mike said.
“Thank
you so much for all you’ve done for us.” Jennifer said to Damien in gratitude.
“There’s
no problem…I did it because your husband was super kind to me when I was
still struggling with my business.” Damien said with a smile.
Soon,
Emmanuel and his mother were in the car headed home while Mike joined Damien in
his car and they drove off.
***********
“Wow….your
success story is so amazing. I still wonder how you were able to build so many buildings
in less than six years. Did you get a loan?” Mike asked, eating the first meal
he’d eaten all day.
“Loan?
Why would I get a loan from the bank when I have to pay it back? I don’t like
loans at all.” Mike said drinking a glass of beer.
“Then,
what…I mean, how did you suddenly grow your business in such short time? I
know it can be possible but your growth was super fast.” Mike said.
Damien
looked at him and smiled.
“Well…”
“C’mon,
I know we’re not really friends but I need tips to start mine from scratch. Can
you believe that I don’t have a dime to my name and if you hadn’t shown up at
the hospital, my son won’t get the health care he needs?”
“Sometimes,
desperate situations call for desperate measures.” Damien said.
Mike
looked at him, hoping that he would release some helpful tips to him.
“Are
you done with your food? Can we go?” Damien asked with a smile.
“C’mon…you
haven’t told me how to grow my business yet…” Mike protested.
“Let’s
go to my car…” Damien smiled at him.
Mike
quickly drank his water and stood up from the chair, he followed Damien behind
and they both walked up to his car. They got in and Damien reached into his
pigeon hole and brought out some money which he handed to Mike.
“Wait…are
you giving me money?” Mike asked in surprise.
“Yea…I
mean, you need it right?”
“Yes…yes
I do…thank you.” Mike said in gratitude as he accepted the money with both
hands. “But please, I am desperate, I beg you to teach me the ropes. I can’t remember ever being as poor as I am now, not even when I was still under my parents. I desperately need to get out of this situation, no matter the cost.”
“You
see Mike, like I said earlier, desperation can push a man beyond his limit but
that’s how we survive in this world of ours.”
Mike
nodded, waiting and eager to hear tips.
“I
want to help you…I really do and I can show you the way to bring back your business
from scratch but it’s a tough road. It’s only if you’re willing.”
“Sure…I
am willing…I am ready…” Mike said.
“No,
you can’t be willing all of a sudden…you need to think. Do you want to go
down my path or not?”
“I
want to…”
“I
must warn you that if you take that path, there’s no turning back and I want you to know that I’m telling you this because I know how deep you are in your troubles.” Damien
said. “I also know that sometimes, we face situations where things seem so tough and
there’s hardly any light at the end of the tunnel but if we persevere, we can
break through all of that at the end of the day.”
“I
have suffered enough, I am tired of persevering,  it’s been almost eight months since I was swindled and I’m
slowly loosing my mind. I need a way out.”
“Even
at the detriment of your soul?” Damien asked looking at him.
Mike
turned to stare sharply at him.
“My
what?” He asked.
“I’ll
drop you off at home, just direct me there.” Damien said as he started the car.
Mike
nodded and gave him the directions and as Damien drove, Mike pondered on the
words ‘even at the detriment of your soul.’

To be continued on Sunday….
Did you miss the last episode? Catch up here>>>

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