Sandra
was bitter, it was a Thursday morning and she wasn’t in school, last night she
had washed the dishes and scrubbed the floors till her fingers ached. Aunty Joy
had told her that her daily chores was a punishment for her sin of fornication,
the sin which she didn’t commit.

Now as she stood from the mat which she had
lain through the night, she sighed at her predicament. Her body ached as though
a trailer had been dumped on her and she was slowly experiencing signs of
morning sickness as she had thrown up in the bathroom all through the night.
She had hardly muttered her morning prayers when the bang at her room door
almost had her reeling for cover.

“Open
this door you little pathetic prostitute!” Aunty Joy screamed from outside the
door.
“Ma…I’m
coming…” Sandra said in a shaky voice as she ran over to unlatch the door.
“How
dare you lock the door in my own house? Do you have a house at all? Do you have
a place you call home? Wasn’t it after your useless mother died that my brother
and his wife decided to throw you a pity-party and allow you to live in their
home?”
“I
am very sorry ma…”
“Don’t
apologize to me…you owe me nothing!”
Sandra
bobbed her head and kept mute.
“Speak
up girl!” Aunty Joy shouted.
“But
ma…you said I shouldn’t…say…anything…” Sandra squeaked.
“What?
Me? When did I say that? Are you out of your mind? And how dare you accuse me
falsely? Did I tell you not to talk? Did I?”
“No
ma…please don’t be offended…” Sandra said quietly.
“Offended?
Are you trying to call me offensive?” Aunty Joy shouted.
“No…I
am asking for your forgiveness…” Sandra said, already clueless as to what to
say.
“Forgiveness?
Am I God?”
“No
ma…”
Aunty
joy stared at Sandra for a while and said.
“My
children are coming home today, they will be spending the mid-term with me as
well as the weekend. I need you to go to the market and buy some foodstuff.”
Aunty Joy said, bringing out some money from her wallet and handing it to
Sandra.
“Okay
ma.”
“I
didn’t ask you to speak.” Aunty Joy admonished.
Sandra
nodded, already tired of Aunty Joy’s behavior.
“Go
to the market and get fish, meat and Infact, look through the stuff we have in
the kitchen and see what’s missing. I will be out for a while, and by the time
I get back, let it be that you are back from the market with the foodstuff.”  Aunty Joy said and stormed out of the room.
It
was at the tip of Sandra’s tongue to ask her where the market was and how she
was supposed to get there but words failed her, she didn’t want to be shouted
at again. Slowly, she walked to the bathroom wishing for the cold shower which
would rid her off her worries.
******
Sandra
was clueless, she had waited for a cab for the past thirty minutes and she
didn’t know what to do. She had left the house about an hour ago, asking an
unwilling gateman who was also afraid of Aunty Joy’s palava to help her out
with directions. He had spat some nonsense about taking a cab to the market and
she didn’t understand it one bit. Now, standing at the road and shouting
‘market’ to every cab driver that passed with passengers, seemed futile as none
of them stopped long enough to pick her up. She was still standing when someone
tapped her from behind.
“Hello…”
A young man greeted.
“Good
afternoon.” Sandra greeted.
“Please
is this the way to Rumuokwuta?” The man asked.
“Excuse
me? I am new in the area and I’m even looking for a market, I need to get food
stuff.”
“Really?
Wow…then I think we are in the same shoes…we are both lost…” The man said. “My
name is Eddie.”
“I
am Sandra.” Sandra didn’t usually talk to strangers but there was something
about Eddie that drew him to her.
“Since
we both don’t know where we are going, I suggest we team up and find our way
out of this mess.” He said, but stopped when his phone rang and interrupted
him, speaking into the receiver he said.
“Hello…Admiral,
how far my guy…are you serious? Right now? Ha! I dey road ooo…no problem, I dey
come ya side now now…” He cut the call and turned to Sandra.
“I
really need to see my friend, there’s a huge business deal and he wants me in
on it. Do you want to join us?” Eddie asked.
“Join
you? How do you mean? I don’t even know you.”
“When
you come, you’ll see.”
“But
I have to get to the market…”
“Err…my
friend knows his way around and besides his girlfriend will help you buy the
stuff from the market too…”
“Really?
Okay as long as it doesn’t take time…” Sandra said.
“No…it
won’t take time…” Eddie said as he halted a cab quickly and they both entered
it.
*******
“So
how much do you think she’s worth?” An older man in his late fifties asked.
Sandra
looked out through the open window and sighed,
“I
don’t know…all I know is that my foster family has a lot of money…and that they
sent me here to stay for a while.”
“Hmmm….is
she a tenant in this Port Harcourt or does she live in her own house?” The man
asked again.
Eddie
who had disappeared a while ago, reappeared holding a sachet of pure water in
his hands.
“Aunty
Joy lives in her own house.” Turning to Eddie, Sandra asked, “Did you give your
friend’s girlfriend the money to buy the food stuff?”
“Yes…she
should be on her way back now, although the traffic is quite terrible.”
Sandra
stared at the men, she felt like she had known them all her life and even
though common sense told her to go back home, she felt quite comfortable in the
uncompleted building where they stayed.
“Well…if
you knew where her money was, we would have helped her double it…we have the
machines…” The older man said, walking over to the small bag by the corner, he
zipped it open and brought out a vial containing a blue liquid and a wad of
foreign currency.
Sandra’s
eyes widened at the sight of such huge amount of money.
“Are
those foreign currencies?” She asked.
“Yes
my dear, this vial is the main ingredient to changing naira to any kind of
currency you want.”
“Really?
How?”
“All
you need to do is, get some naira notes, and pour the contents of the vial in a
huge bowl of water, place the naira notes inside it and voila! You get the
currency of your desire.”
“That’s
big!”
“This
is why I want you to go to your house and bring money for doubling…”
“Like
I said earlier, I have no money…I don’t even know where my aunt keeps her
money.”
“Check
her room, there must be something there…or do you know her atm pin code?”
Sandra
shook her head. “No…”
“Na
wah ooo…Eddie how you come bring pesin wey nor get money come for me na?” The
man asked Eddie in clear desperation.
“Nor
worry…just calm down, Sandra will find the money…don’t worry.”
Eddie’s
words took her back a few years back when she joined a gang of gamblers at the
village all in order to make money for her mother’s medication. It was hell
then and she never wanted to be part of such life anymore. “Hasn’t your
friend’s girlfriend returned? I need the foodstuff please.” Sandra said,
already prepared to leave the uncompleted building as soon as she could.
Eddie
whispered a few words into his friend’s ears and he nodded in understanding.
“Well…let’s
go back to your place, I can accompany you there…so that you can search well to
see if there’s some money we could double or maybe some jewelries, gold trinkets perhaps or even IPad. I need to make you rich Sandra, you look like
one with a promising future.”
Sandra
nodded, she was already tired and needed to get out of the place as soon as she
could.
*****
By
the time she got home it was already noon, Sandra entered the house hurriedly
and was relieved to see that aunt Joy’s car was not parked in the compound.
Eddie was waiting for her outside the house, as soon as they had entered the street,
he had hidden himself around the corner. She ran into the house and for the
first time in her life went towards Aunty Joy’s room section of the house. The
door was locked but Sandra was a ‘pro’ at picking locks, she had been thought
well by the gambling gang. She opened the door in no time and was inside the
room, searching through wardrobes and drawers for any money that she could lay
her hands on. She spotted a drawer and pulled it open, there were three bundles
of naira notes inside, she was about taking it when she heard a voice behind
her.
“What
are you doing in here?”
Sandra
pushed the drawer shut, she startled and turned to face a young girl about her
age.
“I…I’m
sorry…I err…there…” Sandra stammered.
“Are
you a thief? Who are you?” The girl asked.
“My
name is Sandra…I stay with Aunty Joy.”
At
that moment, aunt Joy stepped into the room, immediately she saw Sandra inside
her room, she erupted.
“What
are you doing here? You are not permitted to step your dirty feet into my
section of the house.” Aunty Joy shouted.
“I…am…sorry…”
Sandra started and burst into tears, knowing at that moment that she was as
good as dead.
“I
told her to come into your room mom, I felt it would be dirty so, I told her to
come and clean it up.” The girl said.
“Vanessa
baby, what can I do without you? Thank you for the thoughtful gesture.” Aunty
Joy smiled at her daughter. Turning back to Sandra she asked, “Where are the
food stuff I asked you to buy.”
Sandra’s
lips quivered, how could she tell Aunty Joy that she had given it to Eddie’s
friend’s girlfriend? That’s if such person even exists.
“I…I….”
Sandra stammered.
“Don’t
tell me that you haven’t been to the market yet…” Aunty Joy screamed.
“She
told me that she was cleaning up for our arrival and that she’ll go to the
market as soon as she’s through.” Vanessa lied to her mother again.
“”But
she should have gone to the market ages ago…” Aunty Joy whined.
“Don’t
worry mom…she’ll go besides we ate before we came.” Vanessa said.
“Mtcheww…that
poison your father’s wife cooks and calls food…nonsense. I am going to fatten
you and your brother up and by the time you guys go back to that useless home
of your father, they’ll be shocked to see how healthy you look. By the way,
where’s Ezekiel, your brother.”
“Err…he’s
in his room playing video games as usual.” Vanessa said.
“Let
me go and say hello to my boy…” Addressing Sandra again, she said “I do not
need a soothsayer to tell you what I’ll do to you if you don’t get back from
the market on time and with all the foodstuff.”
Sandra
nodded and watched her leave, as soon as she slammed the door, she burst into
tears.
“I
don’t know why I covered for you, maybe it’s because I know my mother too well
and I know that you would have been dead by now if she had known that you
entered her room for mischievous reasons.”
“Thank
you so much…” Sandra said with gratitude in her eyes.
“You’re
welcome, now, please go to the market…”
“I
don’t have…the money and I’m too scared of stepping out of that gate…because….”
Sandra said, bursting in tears again.
“What
happened to the money?” Vanessa asked.
Sandra
launched into details of her ordeal and Vanessa shook her head in pity.
“That’s
wayo people ooo…I can’t believe you were duped. You know what, I’d have given
you some money but you can’t possibly go out there again. I’ll cook up some
kind of story for my mom, and give her back the money.”
“Why
are you doing all this for me?” Sandra asked with tears in her eyes.
“My
mom has serious anger issues, I have seen her almost kill a person before my
very eyes. Why do you think she’s separated from my dad? No one can stand her
except her brother, my uncle…I am her daughter and I can’t stand her, much more
you.” Vanessa said.
“Thank
you for the heads up.” Sandra said.
“Anytime
girl! So, will you tell me why you are here? Maybe later on…I want to know what
possessed you into the lairs of the big bad wolf.” Vanessa said.

Despite
the situation of things, Sandra smiled and Vanessa joined in. She was so lucky that Eddie and his friend had carted away with only the money that aunt Joy gave her for the market. Things could have been worse.

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